Monday, September 26, 2011

Guest Post by Jaz Primo!

Paranormal Fiction is Out of This World!

Hi, everyone! I'm Jaz Primo, author of the urban fantasy Sunset Vampire Series, and I'm proud to be with you today to discuss a topic near and dear to my heart: Paranormal Literature. The paranormal genre has become a mainstay in today's popular literature, and has exploded into a multi-million dollar industry in less than a generation. The paranormal segment of literature is among the fastest-growing genres in the world today. In fact, the genre has grown so large that it's no longer merely relegated to the sole label of "paranormal." In recent years, paranormal elements are bleeding ubiquitously into the romance, urban fantasy, young adult, and even science fiction genres with wanton abandon. But what is the essence of paranormal literature that has launched into the success that is has today? Let's examine this further...

The dictionary loosely defines paranormal as phenomenon "unable to be explained by science and therefore mysterious." The umbrella of elements that fit neatly underneath the canopy of paranormal are numerous. In recent years, a host of paranormal creatures are once-again abound in modern literature, including vampires, all manner of were-creatures and shape shifters, ghosts and revenants, angels and demons, fairies and fae, humans with psi-abilities, aliens, and undead creatures such as zombies. And yet, that merely touches the tip of the proverbial iceberg. Human folklore from around the world is replete with references to other-worldly and under-worldly beings and entities, thereby creating a wealth of creative sources for aspiring authors to draw from. One question remains: Why does it seem that paranormal literature is so popular all of the sudden?

As previously noted, human history is riddled with folktales, stories, and parables that include references to paranormal creatures and elements. People are inherently drawn to mysterious stories, and in the past, such references were used to help explain the functioning of the universe around them or to gain clearer insight into the human condition. One only has to look back to the Greek and Roman cultures, or Native American tribal histories, to see how strongly paranormal beings or stories have influenced or shaped the development of those societies. Granted, we have no way of knowing if ancient peoples fully believed in such gods and creatures, but it is apparent to archaeologists and sociologists that those cultures were greatly influenced by them. Today, though were are deemed far more technologically advanced in explaining the nature of the universe around us, people are still drawn to the mystique and intrigue surrounding paranormal entities and the creative stories surrounding them. While the exact catalyst for a renewed interest in all things paranormal is difficult to determine with precision, it is worth venturing that both film and television should receive some of the credit in capitalizing on an initial societal interest, and subsequently growing that following using visually-captivating creations via the latest technological advancements in visual and auditory special effects.

And yet, special effects and entertainment industry executives aside, no matter the mechanisms for feeding people's hungry paranormal appetites, the truth remains that compelling prose by equally-captivated writers and authors is at the root of paranormal's recent success. Without sound story and character development, people's minds would not be tempted to continue delving into such mysterious realms. As the author of vampire-related paranormal and urban fantasy storylines, I can only hope that readers will continue to be smitten with all things paranormal!

I hope that you have enjoyed our brief discussion of the paranormal genre. And hopefully you will appreciate the review of my debut novel, Sunrise at Sunset, on this blog and consider reading my Sunset Vampire Series. The first novel, Sunrise at Sunset, was published in October 2010, and the second novel, A Bloody London Sunset, was published in May of this year. A third installment, Summit at Sunset, is being released this November. All novels are available in both trade paperback and multiple eBook formats from major retailers including as Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-a-Million, and Apple iBookstore. My sincere thanks to Beatrice for her review and for the opportunity to appear on My Kingdom for a Book. And, of course, many thanks for her support of the Romancing Your Dark Side Paranormal Blog Tour that I'm currently participating in with six other wonderful authors.

Before I go, here's the teaser for Sunrise at Sunset:
When is a bloodthirsty predator the best protection against a psychotic killer?
When the predator is both a vampire...and the woman you love.

“We vampires are focused and tend to shape our own realities.”
My name is Katrina Rawlings, and I am a vampire. I declare that with neither pride nor ego. I am simply nature’s most dangerous predator. On occasion, it’s a very valuable quality. It helped me protect Caleb Taylor one day when he was very young. But that single, traumatic day is behind him now; wiped from his memory, or so I hope.
Caleb has finally matured into a rather striking young man, and believe me, I like what I see. I’ll readily admit that there are issues for us to confront and overcome, though a sense of mutual commitment isn’t one of them. I’m feeling hopeful for our future together, in fact. But an adversary from my past has returned to haunt me, and she’s trying to get back at me through Caleb. That was her first...and last...mistake. I’ll protect my Caleb at all costs, and I’ll make her regret the day she was born.
So, I suppose that I’m not just a vampire. I’m about to become someone’s worst nightmare!

You can also find or follow me at the following locations!
Facebook:!/pages/The-Sunset-Vampire-Series/223514840998333 Twitter:   @jazprimo

Monday, September 19, 2011

Promise by Kristie Cook plus Giveaway!

I am part of the Romancing Your Dark Side Tour, and today I am reviewing Kristie Cook's first novel in the Soul Saver series, Promise! I'm also giving away an e-copy of this book, and I'll include instructions on entering the giveaway at the end of my review.

Alexis has moved many times during her childhood because of her special abilities. Her mother refuses to tell her exactly what she is, but she is not human. She is able to heal faster than normal, and when she's angry, she's got enough strength to knock a nasty ex-boyfriend across the room with one punch.

She and her mother Sophia move to Florida where Alexis is already enrolled in college. On her first day of class, she literally runs into Tristan. She has a knack for knowing who is good and who is evil, and Tristan screams good guy to her. They begin getting to know one another, despite the misgivings of Alexis's mother. As time goes on, her mother is forced to start answering some of the big questions that Alexis has about who and what she is.

I'm not sure what I expected of this book, but I was blown out of the water! I really loved it. I started out feeling like it was more a novel that belonged in the Young Adult genre. The more I read, the more I felt like it was for grown-ups, too.

The romance was perfect for me. It moved slowly with the those moments that make your heart(and other parts) tingle! I'll be honest, there was a little bit of a wet panty factor going on. There wasn't a lot of profanity. It's not something I usually notice the presence or absence of, but one of the characters said "son of a witch!" a lot, and that made me chuckle a little. No one I've ever known has used that particular phrase when they were trying to avoid cursing. Toward the end, the f* bomb got dropped a few times, and that startled me.

I got the feeling that the author was a Christian. It doesn't bother me--I've read multiple Inspirational fiction novels, and even some paranormal that include characters who claim Christianity as their religion. I've also read some overly preachy sci-fi. I did not at all feel like this author was preaching at me, trying to convince me that Christianity was right. It was an undertone in the book instead of being an overtone.

The writing got better as I got farther into the book. There were some times at the beginning that I noticed some places where I would have written a sentence or two differently. The story pulled me in quickly enough that I quit noticing any places where editing might have been needed.

Overall, I highly recommend this book! I liked the characters, the story was strong, and the writing was strong as well. If you like the Sookie Stackhouse novels, Jessica Anderson's Skykeepers novels, and the Anita Blake novels, you will most likely enjoy this novel. It's not really like any of those books--it's a twist I haven't really read in any novels before.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Remembering 9/11/2001

I have not watched any news coverage about the attacks on September 11, 2001 since that day. I've rarely talked about my memories with anyone. I don't want to follow the crowd of people who are talking about their experiences, but it seems like it is time.

I was late to work at the small private college where I worked that morning. My brother had been sick and was home from school. I don't think he had anything to do with my tardiness, but I don't remember.

I listened to the radio during my drive and heard the announcers say that a plane had flown into the first of the Twin Towers. My first thought was that it was a joke! It was at the same time the cruelest joke I could imagine.

I reached my office still very disbelieving. It was much quieter than normal. I found one of the professors at a TV, and then I believed. They were showing the smoke, the collapse of the towers. The people walking out of the cloud of dust from the Twin Towers' collapse. The worst was the people choosing to jump from the top of the Towers and die as opposed to waiting for the buildings' collapse.

We watched hours of coverage that day. They replayed the same scenes over and over. There was a girl there whose father worked in the Twin Towers. She was beside herself with worry over his safety. I knew nobody in New York City, no one who worked in the Towers, and I watched with numb detachment. I don't remember if I cried or not.

It didn't stop with the Twin Towers, either. We heard about the Pentagon being hit and the plane that was bound for Washington, D.C.

The stories were, and still are heartbreaking. I am proud beyond measure of the Fire Department and Police Officers in New York City. They heroism, their bravery exemplifies what a Fire Fighter or Police Officer should be. They are among the noble professions. Those men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice that day are among the saints, I truly believe. There is no more tragically magnificent way to die than to die saving the life of another.

I am a child of the cold war, but I remember nothing of it. The first tragedy I remember is the explosion of the Challenger. I remember the Oklahoma City Bombing vividly. After 9/11 happened, a bombing seemed so much less terrifying than using airplanes filled with innocents to commit terrorism. It was also terrifying simply not to know who had committed these crimes against the American people for so long, even though there were suspicions.

My world has always been safe. September 11th changed that.

Friday, September 9, 2011

A Grief Examined

Where there is great love, there is also great sorrow.

I am one of those people who has a great capacity to love others. I have found so very many wonderful people in the world! I consider myself very lucky and I would never trade my friends for anything in the world. I would even dare to say that my friends are more awesome than your friends! Just kidding. I hope that you have friends as generous, caring, and reliable as mine.

At the same time, it hurts to have so many wonderful friends. It hurts to live most of the way across the country from my friends. I miss my California friends all the time. I wonder how their school years are going and if my little gang is getting together at Canter's diner to have lunch or dinner without me. Just being friends on Facebook isn't enough. I want to be close enough to go out to dinner with them, too.

It also hurts when they die. I had a dear friend from California pass away over the weekend. She was smart and funny. She was generous with her heart and her home. She was everything you could want in a friend. She was diagnosed with cancer about a week before she died. If cancer is the thing that's going to get you, it's the best way to go--right away before the chemo, surgery, and pain can eat away at your joy in life. At the same time, she deserved the right to fight! I can't find words for my hatred of cancer.

I've begun to wonder how much grief one soul can absorb and not completely unravel. I feel like I've barely recovered from one loss when another hits. It is magnified so many times, an algebraic effect. Every time someone I love dies, I remember the pain of all those other deaths. I re-live the grief of the other deaths on top of the new one.

I think that some people have the inclination to draw away from others and close their hearts to loving new friends and family. I don't do that, but my greatest wish is that the people I love stop dying.

Rest in Peace
Sandy McCoy
Ron Bramon
Harold Sweet
Margaret Reese
Helen Classcles
Avery Edward Adkins McCoy
Amy Rion Chesbro
Anne O'Donohue Lainhart

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Developing a Title, Guest post by B.K. Walker

First, let me apologize for the tardiness of this blog post. A dear friend of mine passed away over the weekend, and I've been somewhat mired in grief over that. 

Secondly, I have 2 e-copies of B.K. Walker's Night Secrets to give away! Anyone who comments on this post, follows me publicly on Google Follow, votes in my poll, follows me on Twitter, and retweets the contest will be eligible. Please leave one comment per entry! In addition, each person who comments will be entered in a contest to win a free Kindle! Check out for more information and for an expanded schedule of the Romancing Your Dark Side book tour!

I think this has to be the second worst thing in writing, editing being the first. Title creation does take some time and creative thinking. We want the title to be catchy, to make a reader think "What's this about?" If you were looking to buy a book, the first thing you look at is the cover, the second thing the title. If a title said something like, "The Life of Copper Dugan", that isn't so interesting, but if it read, "The Life and Times of Copper Dugan" or "Would the Real Copper Dugan Please Stand Up", now that's more likely to have the reader turning the book over to find out more.

So how do we authors come up with titles? It's a process, and sometimes we have the title before we even write the story, but that's a rare occasion, at least for me. Usually the title will come to us in an "Ahh hah" moment during the writing process. Other times, we have to work it out, sit down and really think about our story, what does it tell, what words would represent it best. Sometimes it's easy to come up with a title, other times it's mind boggling. For Night Secrets, it was easy to come up with the title as Night Secrets, a club in the story plays a significant role in the storyline. This is where a lot of the action takes place, not to mention that it's also a secret underground where vampires seek sanctuary. This making it the basis of all of the Night Secret books, it was an easy decision.

For Near Suicide, the main character was in such a turmoil that her entire life she thought about committing suicide, and when I revised this I just needed to think of something that also represented being Near Suicide, and with the cover I developed, Death Upon Me was what became close to tell what the story was.

Immortyl Kisses is based on the kiss of an immortal, and just to change it up a bit I changed the spelling.

Dares And Dreams, again was based on a bar in the book, where a lot of the action takes place. I have a tendency to lean towards a specific name in my storyline that I can create a decent title from.

I usually find something in my story that I can base a title on though. An overall theme that is both intriguing and telling of what the book is about. I will admit too, that I've even used a Title Generator. These are fun because it just randomly generates a title, and if I see one I like, and many times I do, I can pick one that best fits my story. The trick is for me, if it makes me want to find out more from a book, then most likely a reader would too.

Find BK Walker:
Facebook -
Twitter - @bk36

BK Bio:
BK Walker currently lives in Central Pennsylvania with her three children, Brittney, Hunter and Danny, her dogs Rancid, Sadie and Haven, a cat named Whiskers and a goldfish named Fat Albert. She has always had a love for reading and writing, even as a child she created stories reading them to her stuffed animals. With a love for vampires and werewolves, you will not be disappointed with her writing as she mixes up the paranormal juice. Aside from writing, BK also supports Indie Authors organizing virtual book tours, helping them to market and promote their work. Her book review site, BWB Reviews, is just another small way she contributes to the reading world. With many stories floating around in her head, she writes when she gets the time between working as a Pediatric Home Care Nurse, being a single mother, and continuing her college education in Graphic Art Design. When BK's not fighting with her muse, Mouthy Mary, who has much to say way too often, you will find her at a baseball game with her children, or relaxing with a good book in her hand.
Night Secrets Blurb:
Keara Crosby had the perfect life. Her family was not hurting for anything. When her parents are suddenly killed, Keara must learn to live without them. After mourning their death for two months, Keara starts to live again. She follows her favorite band, hangs with her best friend Jared, and falls for the new kid on the block.
When her favorite band is playing at Night Secrets, a new club downtown, she takes her first outing since her parents death and finds this mysterious boy watching her. Mesmerized by his lapus blue eyes, she can't help but feel drawn to him. Her body responds to him in ways she never thought possible, and she needs to figure out why. What is it about Channing that has her yearning for his touch?
Not only is Keara drawn to Channing, but the owner of Night Secrets seems to be drawn to her. Giving her special treatment, she can't help but wonder what he's hiding, and the sense she's seen him before. When she's attacked in the parking lot, her world turns inside out, literally. Keara will soon learn that secrets of the night, just may be the death of her.
     Tonight was the night ‘Shot In The Dark 357’ would be
playing at Night Secrets. I wasn’t exactly sure where it
was downtown, so I drove around earlier today to see if I
could find it.
     It was on the south side of town, in what used to be an
old abandoned, run down factory. Pretty much in the
middle of nowhere, I wondered how they thought they
would make any business out here. They did fix it up nice
though with the outside being black, with a shiny exterior
that reflected like a mirror around the entire building.
Painted on the left corner of the front, were the words
‘Night Secrets’, angled in a white ghostly script that
dripped beneath each letter like wet paint from a paint
     I couldn’t help but think how perfect the name was, as
the whole place put off a secretive, seductive effect.
Tonight would be their grand opening. No wonder
Buddha seemed so excited, they were the band chosen
for the grand opening.
     I rummaged through my closet looking for the perfect
outfit. It would have to be black, to match the theme of
the club. That seems to be all I wear anymore anyways.
     I settled for black jeans with a baby tee that sported
‘SITD 357’ in florescent green, with my new Buddha
hoodie. I straightened my hair, pulled money from my
wallet along with my ID to place in my back pocket.
Doing a quick turn around in the mirror, satisfied, I
headed to the club.
     Jamison met me at the bottom of the stairs, holding
my keys. “Thank you Jamison.”
     “Anytime Miss Keara.” He grinned.
     I smiled and kissed his cheek. “Don’t wait up.”
     Pulling into the club I couldn’t believe all the people
surrounding the building. The parking lot was full, people
lined up from the door of the club, down to the street
corner. It was going to take forever to get inside.
     I drove around in circles for fifteen minutes before I
finally found a parking space and pulled in, centering my
car perfectly between two others. Turning off the Jeep,
nervousness swarmed me. I wished Jared could have
come. Jared had made plans to go to dinner with Russell
though and he was going to try and stop in before the
night was over.
     I anxiously looked around the parking lot, pausing on
my rear view mirror. ‘Him’. What is he doing here? Our
eyes locked in my mirror. His eyes seemed to glow even
brighter than before in the moonlight and again I couldn’t
bring myself to look away. He was beautiful.
     Demanding my eyes to blink, which took extreme
effort it was almost like being hypnotized by ‘him’. When I
reopened my eyes, he was gone. I took a steadying
breath wondering if I imagined it, then departed from my
car to wait in that dreadful line.
     There was a lot of excited chatter in the long line.
Everyone was waiting in anticipation, not knowing what
to expect once they got inside and a lot of talk on how
great it looked from the outside.
     I stood there listening in to a couple of girls, watching
their reflections through the building. Feeling someone
grab my arm I turned sharply to see who it was, meeting
dark eyes.
     “I’m sorry. I thought you were my girlfriend.” He was
my height with long dark brown hair, a go tee, and silver
hoops in his ears. His voice was deep, mysterious with
an edge to it.
     “It’s okay.” I answered, eyes wide with surprise.
     After several seconds, he loosened his grip on my
arm, looking around in search of his girlfriend. Watching
him walk away, feeling bad he had lost her in this
treacherous line, I noticed he kept glancing back at me
causing a bit of unease in my gut. Why does he keep
looking at me? He already established I wasn’t her.
     “Keara!” I heard my name being called. I looked to
see where Buddha was, already recognizing the Irish
     “Hey Buddha.” I yelled back, raising my hand.
     “Aye. Come on girl. Yer comin’ wit me.” He grabbed
my hand and led me inside. “Wait till ya see this place. It
so grand.” He said with enthusiasm.
     Following behind him, I realized I’d probably follow
Buddha to the ends of the earth. As long as he had his
     We walked past a bouncer checking ID’s at the door.
Very very tall, an obvious well built body builder his arms
were huge, the muscles bulging from under the sleeves
of his tee. He was wearing dark glasses and I wondered
how he could see in this darkness. He gave Buddha a
nod as we passed by.
     “He didn’t even ask to see my ID Buddha.” I
     “He'd be a weird one. I 've not ’eard em speak much.”
Buddha whispered back.
     We walked through the main doors into an entry way
coming to a narrow hall, coat racks lining each side.
There were several doors on either side of the hall after
the coat racks, with tinted double glass doors at the end.
That’s where we were heading.
     Buddha opened the door and stood off to the side
waiting for me to pass. I smiled at him, “Thank you.”
“It’s me pleasure. Wait till ya see this bloody place
     I couldn’t believe it. This place was beautiful. You
would never know it was an old factory the way it looks
now. As soon as you walked through the doors, you
could hear music playing. A mild classic rock, not too
loud, yet not too low you couldn’t hear it at all. In the
very front of the room, just past the doors, were a set of
stairs, leading to a circular bar. The bar was shiny and
black, and sat about five feet off the ground floor. The
platform that surrounded the bar was big enough to have
five people standing next to each other with their arms
outstretched and was full of people.
     There were tables on the ground floor, all stationed to
be able to see the stage that was off to the back. The
floors were glossy black, with the words Night Secrets in
the center with the ghostly dripping effect as on the
outside of the building. The stage too was black, with the
white letters again against the back wall.
     This was just the ground level. As I looked up, there
were three more levels of floors, all able to overlook the
stage. It was almost like a cell block, without the cells.
Each level had a railing to keep patrons from falling, and
there were people hanging on them looking down to the
ground floor. Large screen televisions hung on the wall
and from the ceiling, displaying the video to the song that
was playing.
     I was in complete awe. It was beautiful, shiny and
new. “It’s amazing.” I managed after realizing Buddha
was staring at me.
     “I told ya. Ya wer n’t gonna believe this here place. It’s
purdy awesome eh?”
     “I don’t think there are words to describe it Buddha. It
must have cost a fortune!”
     “I’m sure it did. I ‘ave n’t met tha owner yet, but I ‘ear
he’s purdy extravagant.”
     I continued to look around. This place was just too
amazing. I have never seen anything so….amazing.
Wow. Just wow.
     Buddha excused himself to go get sound checked.
Wandering around like a kid in a candy store, wanting to
see everything they had, I went up the first flight of stairs
to the next level. The stairs were cement, but had black
carpet lining them. At the top of the stairs, the walls were
of that mirrored black like outside. A bar centered in the
middle, in the shape of a horseshoe and the floors were
shaped in a half moon, with stairs at each end. There
were several doors again off the back wall, and tables
lined up in between the doors. Black stools lined the bar.
Again the bar was shiny black, and this time I could
see that Night Secrets was engraved in the wood of the
bar, which was stained black, the letters stained white,
and a clear lacquer finish on top. Behind the bar were
mirrors, and in front of the mirrors were shelves lined with
     The bartender here was built, much like the bouncer
at the door. His hair was black, his skin was pale, and
he too wore dark sunglasses. What was up with the
sunglasses? How can they see? It’s just as dark in here
as it is outside. Weird.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011


On my Twitter profile, I describe myself as someone who thinks there should be more Steampunk in the world. The more Steampunk I see, the more I think it's awesome. Steampunk is one of the coolest parts of the sci-fi/fantasy world. There is so much you can do with it!

My first real exposure to Steampunk was at Dragon-Con a couple of years ago. The coolest this I saw was an awesome modded Steampunk wheelchair! I'd love to see some more Steampunk in movies. Wild Wild West with Will Smith and Kevin Kline is the best example of Steampunk in movies. Unfortunately, it was more hokey than cool. The Golden Compass had some Steampunk elements, but those were more in the book than the movie.

My dad fell in love with Steampunk, too. He has some skill with a soldering iron, so he's started making his own Steampunk jewelry! I am glad that he has found something to occupy his time since he's retired. I also think that his work is pretty awesome. The photo on this blog post is one of his creations. He has just started his own Etsy shop, and I hope that my awesome readers will check it out! He is Gears and Glass Guy on Etsy. Click on his shop name for more photos of his Steampunk jewelry. He plans to have stained glass pieces up soon as well!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

A Wild George R. R. Martin Appeared!

The signing last night was fantastic. I went with my little brother, the guy in the dark blue shirt behind me. It was cool to get to spend time with my brother. He is 14 years younger than me, and sometimes we don't have a lot in common. He turned 18 in May, and it's getting easier.

One of the things we DO have in common is that we're both big fans of George R. R. Martin. I discovered his books in the paperback racks of the Los Angeles Public Library's Central Branch. I took it home with me and encouraged my roommates at the time to read it, too. After we had all three read the books, we played "Cast that Character" and chose our dream actors and actresses to play Sansa, Arya, Tyrion, and the rest. I've continued to recommend the series to everyone I know who reads fantasy. I badgered both of my brothers into reading A Song of Ice and Fire. My little brother even gave up his W.o.W. account this spring so that those funds could go to paying for HBO.

Martin's Q & A session was short because there were so many attendees, but he answered some of the FAQs. His favorite character is Tyrion, and he's the easiest to write. He loves the HBO show and writes one show per season. My friend Heather asked a question about women in his books, and received a very nice response. Basically, he said that his books are based on history and the women in his books have a lot to overcome(!).

Martin had great things to say about our local independent bookseller, which was awesome. The store guy says that he requests to come to our bookstore. We were his last stop on the tour. He said that a non-reader lives only one life, and a reader lives thousands. Such true words!

Unfortunately, there were so many people who were there that there was no personalization or photos. Well, other than the guy at the end of the line snapping people. I very much wish that I had still been in town during one of his earlier signings at the book store! I am amazed at his stamina. He signed books for over 600 people, and with a limit of 3 books each. I am sure that not everyone had more than one book--my brother and I each had one. If he did, he would have signed over 1800 books! The really amazing thing is that he did it in only two hours! Even with those downsides, I am very, very glad that I went to the signing. It was by no means a waste of my time, and I'd do it again in a heartbeat!

Monday, August 1, 2011

I'm collecting authors

My newest hobby is going to book signings! You know what your favorite actors and actresses look like, but who knows what their favorite author looks like? I'm out to discover what my favorite authors look like and hear the sound of their voices. As of last Saturday, I met author #5. On Tuesday, I'll be meeting author #6! I am very lucky that my local bookstore has a host of signings for awesome authors.

It is a lot of fun to meet these authors. They sometimes read from their latest book, but most of them simply take questions from the audience. You get a chance to ask them personal questions when you get to the table to get your book signed. You can usually get your picture taken with the author as well. That's pretty awesome if you ask me.

I was really impressed with Jim Butcher who was the author I saw on Saturday. I thought he was really funny. There were a lot of fans there. They did the order of signing by giving us tickets that were alphabetized. My ticket was I, and it took 2 1/2 hours before we got a chance to see Mr. Butcher. I can't even imagine spending 2 1/2 hours signing my name, smiling for the camera and making small talk. If I ever make it as an author, I would totally sign books and take photos for 2 1/2 hours or more if my fans could wait for 2 1/2 hours to see me!

In 2008, I met
  • Diana Gabaldon (who said that her grandmother shared my name, very cool!)
  • Peter S. Beagle (who went to school with two of the writing instructors at my alma mater, Gurney Norman and James Baker Hall. I had to give him the unfortunate news that James Baker Hall had passed away.)
  • I got a peek at Charlaine Harris while asking for her publicist's information
In 2010, I met
  • Kelley Armstrong!
In 2011, I have already met
  • Kim Harrison (who is a fellow Dr. Who fan!)
  • Jim Butcher
and will meet George R.R. Martin tomorrow!

If you've never met an author before, do it! It's an excellent experience!

(My brother took this picture, so it's totally his fault that it came out blurry!)

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Dead Reckoning by Charlaine Harris

I have been a fan of Charlaine Harris for several years. I'm probably one of the last to join her fandom. I started reading after the first season of True Blood. I knew that Anna Paquin had been cast as Sookie while I was reading the books, and I could hear her in my mind as I was reading. I hadn't seen the show at the time, but I have now. I have to admit that I was disappointed in Paquin as Sookie at first, but I feel like she is coming into the character finally in this fourth season. I appreciate the show and the books as separate entitites now.

I think I'm probably one of the last to read this book as well! It was my first time reading a book as an ebook. I don't have an ereader, so I was reading on my computer. My feelings on ereaders is an issue for another post, however.

The book felt shorter than the rest of the books. However, that may be because I was reading it on my computer. It was apparently 247 pages long. It was a very typical Harris novel with plenty of sex, blood, and violence. I always enjoy her books, and they never fail to deliver. They keep me turning the pages, and I am always sad when the story is over.

Sookie is living with her fairy relatives Claude and Dermot while happily dating Eric. Things are never quiet for long in Bon Temps, however. During Sookie's shift at Merlotte's, someone throws a molotov cocktail into the bar. Meanwhile, Eric is struggling not to let Victor, the regent of Louisiana anger him enough to make his death a certainty.Underneath all of this, Sookie has to wonder if her fairy relatives have ulterior motives for living with her. They claim that they become more powerful when they live together, but Sookie is not convinced. She also discovers that Sandra Van Pelt is out of jail and (yet again) gunning for her. Sookie also finds out some things about her heritage that are unexpected. It all culminates with a very bloody, gory battle.

Sookie has some serious issues that she has to deal with. I don't know how I would deal with it if I were in her situation. She has more tolerance, more perseverance than I would. There are a lot of issues associated with the paranormal that aren't necessarily predictable, but I think Harris has done a good job of anticipating those things. She doesn't show relationships with vampires as being any easier than relationships with other humans, and I appreciate that about her novels. I feel like there is a depth to the Sookie series that is lacking in many other paranormal novels and series.

Obviously, I highly recommend this book! I love Harris's novels and had the opportunity to see her if not speak to her at Dragon-Con. Sometimes I am surprised that novels like these come from an older lady like Harris! If you haven't read these books yet, go pick them up NOW. They are fantastic!

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Black Blade Blues by J.A. Pitts

I've been thinking it for quite a while and I've probably mentioned it, but Urban Fantasy is definitely my favorite subgenre. This book just reminded me of that fact!

Sarah is a blacksmith who works shoeing horses during the day, moonlights as props master for a local film company, makes swords for fun, and is part of a Society for Creative Anachronisms(SCA) group on the side.

She's purchased a black sword at auction and after it is shattered during a movie scene, she decides to reforge it. She has an audience consisting of her girlfriend and a man who claims he is a dwarf. Things grow steadily stranger after the dwarf asks her to slay the dragon using the sword. Apparently, the dragon is an investment banker!

This is my newest favorite book. I couldn't put it down. I really loved the characters. I totally understood Sarah's dual feelings about her sexuality, her upbringing versus the truth of who she is. Her relationship with her girlfriend seemed very realistic to me. I do have a friend who would complain that all lesbian relationships are portrayed in a very angsty, abusive light. I felt like Sarah and Katie's relationship was surely angst-ridden, but I wouldn't say that Sarah's behavior was abusive. It was more confused.

In addition, I've thought that the fantasy genre could always use more lesbians. I'd say the same about gay men, but they just aren't macho enough for sword fights. Fencing, yes. Sword fights, not so much. It would be totally awesome if the next book had some gay guys in it. I won't have long to wait-the next installation is coming out soon, and I am very excited!

Sarah reminded me of Buffy in some ways. She was reluctant to stand up and take her place in the overall story. Once she did, she kicked ass and took names. She also pushed herself to her limits. Sarah is the kind of person that I would like hanging out with, and that's really at the heart of what I liked about this novel. I don't want to read books about people I don't like. It's distasteful.

At the same time, Buffy was someone who couldn't have a "normal" relationship. I don't feel that way about Sarah. I think that while there was a lot of indecision and figuring things out in this book, she won't have the same problem in the next book.

In addition to liking the heroine, I have to say that I felt like there was a twist in this story that I didn't expect. There were some questions raised that weren't answered, and I am looking forward to having at least some of then resolved. I liked the elements of pop culture that were included, too. It was really cool how the author took a skill that is somewhat archaic and turned it into something that made our character that much more vital. I am a knitter and while I enjoy the craft of it, it's not something that is altogether useful in the grand scheme of things. Blacksmithery is important in small circles, but not in the grander scheme of things. I guess it's an appreciation for the finer, more obscure arts that appeals to me.

If you like urban fantasy, you'll like this book! If you've ever been to a Ren Faire or are a member of SCA, you'll like this book! If you're a fan of Viking mythology, you'll like this book! If you're looking for something new to read, go find a copy of this book. You won't be sorry!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The Last Eunuch of China by Jia Yinghun, Translated by Sun Haichen

I'd been looking for this book for months before I finally put my hands on it through the Interlibrary Loans at my university library. It seems like a strange subject to read about, but the history is absolutely fascinating. Chinese history is one of the areas where my education is lacking.

For hundreds of years, China was ruled by an emperor. Traditionally, the imperial family was served by eunuchs. It was considered proper to have eunuchs, especially for the imperial wives and concubines because castration was seen as putting a stop to sexual desire. Eunuch-hood was seen as a possible way for peasant families to get rich, and would often castrate their young boys and send them to the palace for training as eunuchs.

Sun Yaoting was castrated at the age of 7! in the early 1900s shortly before the imperial family was dethroned. How horrible to have gone through that pain and suffering(two MONTHS of recovery time with a quill stuck in your urethra!) only to discover that it was for nothing! Sun Yaoting was sent to the palace by way of a nobleman anyway, when he was a teenager. He was able to serve the royal family for quite some time until the People's Liberation Army claimed China.

Yaoting's life was really interesting. He talked about the imperial family in what seemed to be a very frank light. He had plenty of negative things to say about them. At the same time, I had to wonder if there was more negative to say about them simply because of censorship in China.

Likewise, there was much to say about being a eunuch. There were some eunuchs that served the Imperial family who had families before they were castrated. Others adopted children. Yaoting talked often about eunuchs who would have affairs with maids. Obviously, castration does not remove physical desire.

The book was written in a rather formal style. For the most part, it was a very good translation. There were some times when I could tell that it was translated, but those were few. I was left with a desire to read more about the imperial family of China, especially that of the last emperor.

I would recommend this book for anyone interested in history, especially Chinese history.