Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Seven Point Eight by Marie Harbon

Seven Point Eight is a twist of sci-fi confusion that asks some interesting questions. If you had special abilities to travel out of body, what would you do with them? Where would you go? What would secret agencies do with these abilities? And ow far could you go?
A physicist begins a quest to measure the soul but soon finds himself drawn into the world of the enigmatic Max Richardson, where research is sold to the military at the highest bid. However, he soon discovers another purpose when an extremely talented young psychic enters his life. He devises a project and builds a team to stretch the frontiers of exploration, only to make a reality-shattering discovery…

Ultimately this book has a great concept. It's very science fiction at it's core, that someone can find a way to project themselves to other parts of the world and then later, realizing they can do it to places as far away as other planets. There are other species if you will in the book, once again another science fiction element, and one done quite nicely. I didn't feel like anything was to contrived or didn't fit with the story. 

As with most science fiction books there is almost always an element of science that the author portrays to the reader, to explain how the mechanics of the world the story takes place. I felt like in this book the author did a pretty good job explaining everything on a level that was decently easy to grasp even if you didn't do so well in high school physics. 

That being said there were some confusion issues within the book. There were several times where I felt I had to go back and reread a couple of passages to makes sure I understood what was going on. I think it was partly a case of too much going on too quickly and partly a case of moving timelines. While the author does make an obvious effort to try and make it as easy as possible for readers to understand what is going on and when, I felt that sometimes it fell a little short. 

There is also a romanic element in this book, one I very much appreciated, mainly because it added variety to the situations and kept the book from becoming to one directional. That being said I found Tahra to be way more likable than Max. There relationship felt rather forced by Max through much of the book. And when you add in Paul I have to say that while he is more likable as a character his situation makes things precarious at best. 

Overall, I think this is a really intriguing concept, and it was decently executed by the author. I think there are a lot of elements which may have made it more difficult to make everything super easy for the reader to pick up on. I think if you like science fiction then this book should be a nice read for you, especially if you like a little romance in your science fiction. 

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Killer in High Heels

L.A. shoe designer Maddie Springer hasn't seen her father since he reportedly ran off to Las Vegas with a showgirl named Lola. So she's shocked when he leaves a desperate plea for help on her answering machine--ending in a loud band. Gunshot? Car backfire? Never one to leave her curiosity unsatisfied, Maddie straps on her stilettos and, along with her trigger-happy best friend, makes tracks for Sin City in search of her MIA dad. 
Maddie hits the jackpot, all right. She finds not only her dad, but also a handful of aging drag queens, an organized crime ring smuggling fake Prada pumps, and one relentless killer. Plus, it seems the LAPD's sexiest cop is doing a little Vegas moonlighting of his own. In a town where odds are everything, Maddie bets it all on her ability to out-step a vicious murderer. She just hopes her gamble pays off…before her own luck runs out. 

Once again another murder mystery with Maddie. I really liked the first book in this series, as I said in my earlier review of Spying in High Heels. I was super excited about this book, mainly because I had such a fun ride with the first book, and the authors tone is just so enjoyable to read. I have to say that I am glad to see that the authors tone has remained completely consistent, I love the humor infused through every aspect of the book. I could really see myself wanting to sit down and have dinner with Maddie, she's just so funny and likable. 

This second book is much more Maddie seeking out trouble, that trouble finding her. In the first book, he boyfriend just up and disappeared and she responding in a neurotic but somewhat normal girlfriend way. This book Maddie has to cross state lines to find the trouble, although in her defense she did just get a rather unnerving voicemail from her long lost father, so I can understand the desire to see him out. 

The one thing I didn't really enjoy about this book, and maybe "not enjoy" is to strong a term, but I felt like some of the threads in the story were not completely wrapped up. For instance, Maddie meets Felix, a writer for the tabloids, who helps/follows her around looking for his next story. When all the action is done, basically he disappears, Maddie picks up a paper and reads what he wrote. I could have done with at least some kind of after action interaction between the two of them, after all they did survive some pretty insane circumstance. 

Another thread that wasn't fully wrapped up to me, was the relationship Maddie has with her father. Again when all the action was over with, Larry leaves Maddie a phone message, and she listens to it, but that is kind of where things end. You don't see the two of them getting together and really talking, no working anything out, or even a promise to keep in touch; just an unreturned voicemail. 

Those two things aside, I really enjoyed the book. It was another really fun time reading along with Maddie's adventures. There was some really interesting new characters to pop up, most I assume only for this book. But some characters have the potential to continue on with the series, like Marco, who was amusing for me from the beginning. I can't wait to see how things continue forward with Ramirez, I really love the chemistry between him and Maddie. 

Overall, this was a really solid second book, and I would recommend it to just about anyone. Who doesn't love a good mystery with some humor thrown in?

Monday, October 29, 2012

Fire Baptized by Kenya Wright

Lanore Vesta is marked with a silver X, the brand of Mixbreeds, second-class citizens shunned by society. She stays to herself, revealing her ability to create fire only during emergencies. All she wants to do is graduate college and stop having to steal to survive. But when she stumbles upon a murder in progress, she catches the attention of a supernatural killer. Now all she wants is to stop finding dead bodies in her apartment. 
Enlisting help from her Were-cheetah ex-boyfriend MeShack and a new mysterious friend named Zulu, she is steered through the habitat's raunchy nightlife. But their presence sometimes proves to be more burden than help, as they fight for her attention. 
While the corpses pile up, and the scent of blood fills the air, Lanore is left wondering: will she find the psycho or die trying?

I have to say that this book was very real written. It's super refreshing when you open a book and it's written really smartly. I enjoyed reading the book, and the descriptions were really spot on, I could paint a picture in my own head about what was going on. 

I have to say that Lanore is a pretty unique character, she's definitely her own girl, and I think if you lined her up next too characters from other books she would definitely stand out in her own right. She doesn't take crap from anyone, but she's also a really good friend. She's the kind of person you would want to have in your corner. Lanore has some really complex relationships throughout the book, especially with the men in her life. She has this whole triangle thing going on, and there is a lot of history to go behind it. I had a hard time trying to choose which guy I wanted her to end up with. I think that's a pretty impressive feat by the author. In most love triangle situations, sometimes I like both guys (as was the case with this book), but oftentimes it's super easy for me to choose the guy I want the girl to end up with, it's visceral, my gut instinct telling me which one I like more. I didn't have that with this book, I was genuinely torn. 

If I had to pick the one thing I didn't enjoy as much as the other elements it would have to be the level of violence. For me it just wasn't my thing. Now in no way did the book have violence just for violence sake, there was always a reason that the author painted, but for me I prefer books that are more character driven with a little less violence in them. I will say that I think the violence in the book helped keep the pacing level up higher, which I enjoyed. 

I think if you are looking for a unique take on the genre you should certainly give this book a try. There is a lot of action, some romance, and generally a little bit of everything, so I think just about anyone could find some elements within this book that they enjoy. 

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Spying in High Heels by Gemma Halliday

L.A. shoe designer, Maddie Springer, lives her life by three rules: Fashion. Fashion. Fashion. But when she stumbles upon the work of a brutal killer, her life takes an unexpected turn from Manolos to murder. And things only get worse when her boyfriend disappears - along with $20 million in embezzled funds - and her every move is suddenly under scrutiny by the LAPD's sexiest cop. With the help of her post-menopausal bridezilla of a mother, a 300 pound psychic and one seriously oversexed best friend, Maddie finds herself stepping out of her stilettos and onto the trail of a murderer. But can she catch a killer before the killer catches up to her...

So I bought Gemma Halliday's series in bulk, something I never do. I mean what if I hate the first book, then I am out all the cash and stuck with the rest of the books in the series. But as ashamed as I am to admit it, I decided I liked her before I even read the book, because of a cover of hers a saw (shockingly enough the cover I liked was of a book I didn't even buy). Well thank goodness, I loved the first book. I have already moved onto the second book in the series and I am enjoying it, but more on that later.

I've always liked a good mystery, and I have always liked an author who can paint a picture of the main character with humor. I think Halliday excels at both of these. There were several points during the book where I laughed out loud. As a character Maddie is totally a mess. But she's a great mess. She is living in LA in a studio apartment, in a relationship with a man it turns out she doesn't know as well as she thought, and spends literally the entire book avoiding finding out something that could change her entire future. But I love that she is a mess, she's quirky, has a hilarious job designing kiddie shoes, and is constantly running from one drama to the next (all of which could have been avoided if she didn't have the ever-increasing desire to find out what is going on, but where's the fun in that?)

I also really love the cop in the story, Ramirez, he just rolls with the crazy that is Maddie. She follows him all the time in her bright red Jeep and she is so convinced he doesn't notice her, but of course he knew every time and thinks it's funny. I think part of the reason why I enjoy the dynamic between Ramirez and Maddie is because Halliday is so good at creating anticipation between the two of them. I found myself waiting for the two of them to be in the same room together, and then I kept pulling for them to find a way to be together. Halliday is also really good at making the reader (i.e. me) believe that Ramirez is super hot. I can only imagine how good he looks.

I have to say that in terms of the mystery element, I thought I had it figured out. And to be fair, I was pretty close to being right-ish. It wasn't until like 2 pages before Halliday revealed all that I had actually figured it out correctly. It was fun reading it, and I did enjoy watching all the different elements of the mystery coming together.

I would have to say just about anyone would enjoy reading this book. It's got a great mystery, a lot of fun humor, and a great steam factor that I can only hope gets better in the next book. Give it a try!

Saturday, October 27, 2012

The Shattered Dark by Sandy Williams

McKenzie was a normal college student, save for one little twist: she's a shadow reader, someone who can both see the fae and track their movements between our world and the Realm. It's a gift for which she has been called insane, one for which she has risked family and friends-and one that has now plunged her into a brutal civil war between the far.
With the reign of the king and his vicious general at an end, McKenzie hoped to live a more normal life while exploring her new relationship with Aren, the rebel fae who has captured her heart. But when her best friend, Paige, disappears McKenzie knows her wish is, for now, just a dream. McKenzie is the only one who can rescue her friend, but if she's not careful, her decisions could cost the lives of everyone she's tried so hard to save.

I was a really big fan of Williams' first book, I think if I had to boil it down to one element that took her first book over the top for me, it would be her pacing. It was one of those books you really didn't want to put down, and so I had big hopes for her second book. I am happy to report that The Shattered Dark has the same awesome pacing as her first, and I really didn't want to stop reading until I finished (thank God for caffeine or I never would have made it past 3am).

I really like McKenzie, I feel bad for the hand she was dealt in a lot of respects. I can totally understand her desire to have a more normal life. After the events of the last book McKenzie is literally in the middle of some big time fae events, and the stakes couldn't be higher. And now with her friend Paige missing it just makes the stakes even bigger for McKenzie.

One of things I really love about Williams is the way she paints the relationships between characters. Oftentimes I feel like authors need to take time out of the action in order to give the reader a full sense of the relationships between characters, but Williams has an amazing way of keeping the action jam packed while putting together relationships that the readers not only understand but can pull for. I really enjoyed this book further exploration of McKenzie and Aren. I liked Aren from the minute I read him on the page, so being able to find out more about his backstory in this book was great. Plus I love watching/thinking what is going to happen next between these two. Kyol is also in this book, although not to the extent of the last, but he definitely keeps things interesting.

I think maybe the think I enjoy the most about McKenzie is that a lot of things that happen to her are completely beyond her control, but she makes decisions that are true to herself even when in the hardest of positions. I like that about her. She is really a fighter in every sense of the word. She's super enjoyable to read, and an extremely likable character.

There is so much more I would love to say about this book, but I don't want to give everything away. This book is such a great ride, finding out what is going to happen next is so much fun, so I don't want to ruin that for anyone. But that being said, if you enjoyed the first book, you will certainly enjoy the second. And if you haven't given Sandy Williams a try yet, than you should. She has great characters and amazing action. I can't wait to find out what happens next!

Sandy Williams Guest Post

The Origins of The Shadow Reader World

One of the questions authors are often asked is, “Where do you get your ideas?” Oftentimes, the answer is, “I don’t know,” but in the case of THE SHADOW READER, I can pinpoint the exact moment the idea. Well, not the moment as in the date and time, but I know what triggered the idea: the music video for Evanescense’s Bring Me to Life. About three minutes into the video, Amy Lee is hanging onto the edge of a building. Paul McCoy is standing over her, angry and singing, but trying to pull her back up on the ledge. I loved that song and loved that scene, the dark, desperation of it. It stayed with me long after the video finished, and now, whenever I hear Bring Me to Life, I can picture it again vividly. 

Bring Me to Life hit the airways in 2003. I didn’t begin writing THE SHADOW READER until November of 2008 (three years before TSR was published), so that scene, that idea, simmered in my mind for five years. I thought about it off and on, speculating about what that scene could turn into, and sometime between 2003 and 2008, I became a huge fan of science fiction romance (namely, Linnea Sinclair’s sci-fi romance). I thought this scene would be perfect in a sci-fi book.

I knew instantly that the woman dangling off the side of the building and the man leaning down to save her were enemies. I needed a reason for the man to save her, something she could do that no one else could. At the time, I thought that special skill of hers would be to track ships when they disappeared into space in a flash of light. She was going to be working for the Government at some military installation, and the guy - who excels at crazy, risky schemes - breaks in and steals her away.

That setup is almost identical to what I ended up writing in the first chapter of THE SHADOW READER, only I’d recently fallen in love with urban fantasy, and I’d just finished writing a book where a fae played a small, but important role. I was intrigued by that fae and her people. I decided it would be a good idea to write another urban fantasy, so I took that scene in my head and tweaked it, making it take place here in the real world. Once I found McKenzie’s voice, everything fell perfectly into place.

Other songs have inspired scenes in my head. Music is just so good at capturing anger, distress, love, and fear. When I write, my goal is to reproduce those emotions, only I try to do it using my words, not an artist’s voice. I can’t wait to discover the stories the song-inspired scenes in my head turn into after they simmer for a while.

Sandy Williams 
 Sandy graduated from Texas A&M University with a double major in political science and history. She thought about attending law school. Fortunately, before handing over her life’s savings, she realized case studies weren’t nearly as interesting as novels and decided to get an MA in Library Science instead. She worked as a librarian until her husband whisked her off to London on an extended business trip. She’s now back home in Texas, writing full-time, raising newborn twin boys, and squeezing in time to play geeky board and card games like Settlers of Catan, Dominion, and Runebound.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Anderson O'Donnell Guest Post

A Biopunk Stew

I’ve got a little secret to share: the best part about blog tours, at least as far as I’m concerned, isn’t talking about your own work. And yes, while the throngs of adoring fans, beautiful women, private jets, and piles of money might seem glamorous…well, they are. But even the decadence gets boring after a while. The thing that never gets old, however, is also my favorite part of promoting Kingdom: the opportunity to talk about the novels that influenced my work, and the writers who changed my life.

The following is a list of the 10 books that had the greatest impact on both myself as a writer, and on the ideas and styles that, when mixed together, yielded the biopunk thriller I call Kingdom. 

  • ·      The Stand. Apocalyptic masterpiece. I read it, for the first time, over the course of several sweltering July nights in high school. One of the first times I remember really wanting to be a writer; being envious of a story someone else had written—a jealously that drove me to try and get better at telling more complex stories.
  • ·      Varieties of Religious Experience by William James. A collection of James’ Gifford lectures on natural theology, this book is the source of a number of ideas I tried to weave into Kingdom. I’m still not sure how successful I was in this endeavor, but James’ philosophy will continue to play a large role in the final two parts of the Tiber City Trilogy.
  • ·      Quinsigamond Series: The Resurrectionist by Jack O’Connell. I’m sure everyone following the promotion for Kingdom is sick of hearing me rave about Jack O’Connell, but the man is a mad genius, a neo-noir pulp prophet, and the godfather of biopunk. If you aren’t familiar with his work, check it out. 
  • ·      American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis. Not much that can be said here that hasn’t already been said. Over and over and over again. But one thing that gets lost in all the hype and hoopla over the violence and misogyny is that, at its heart, this is a morality tale. And BEE can turn a sentence like few other writers, living or dead. His mechanics can be complex, but trying to mimic his prose added, for better or worse, added a level of sophistication to my writing
  • ·      The Bible. Regardless of religious belief, these stories are killer. And a cultural literacy, at least in the Western world, demands an understanding of these tales of creation, death, and resurrection.
  • ·      Hamlet. Literature’s first forgotten boy, the Prince of Denmark was dragged into the modern world kicking and screaming. At least initially, anyway. The blueprint for Dylan Fitzgerald.
  • ·      Ovid’s Metamorphoses. A collection of stories that fueled so much of the great works of the Renaissance—the stories that sparked Marlowe and Shakespeare and a host of other geniuses.
  • ·      Dark Tower Series. King at his best. If I had to pick one, I’d go with The Gunslinger. “The man in black fled across the desert, and the gunslinger followed.” One of the best opening lines in fiction.
  • ·      American Tabloid by James Ellroy. The writing is like a shotgun blast, and the audacious narrative is executed with such efficiency that Ellroy’s novel has colored my understanding of America in the 1960s. Honestly, I sometimes confuse Ellroy’s plot twists with actual historical events. Is there a higher compliment one can give a work of fiction?
  • ·      Sprawl Trilogy by William Gibson. Even though Neuromancer is my favorite novel of all time, I included the whole trilogy because, when considered together, these three books create the ultimate sci-fi reading experience. The Sprawl, along with Ridley Scott’s visual presentation of Los Angeles in Blade Runner, were critical to the creation of Tiber City. 

Is there a common thread here? I don’t know—and if there is, I’m not sure I want to know. But these books are the essential ingredients that give Kingdom its unique biopunk flavor. So if you dig Kingdom, and haven’t read these books, give them a shot. And if you don’t like Kingdom, don’t hold their influence on me against them—they still deserve a read.

Thanks for giving me a chance to share my thoughts, and I hope everyone enjoys Kingdom.

About the Author
Anderson O’Donnell presents a biopunk, dystopian noir-esque thriller in this amazing read, KINGDOM. Most people are familiar with the term “cyberpunk,” but “biopunk” is harder to nail down. In many ways, biopunk is similar to the cyberpunk genre, and shares many of the same themes and archetypes: the dystopian future; the overreliance on technology; mega-corporations; a constant and overwhelming flow of data; the anti-hero—these elements are integral parts of both genres.

Both genres are fueled, to some extent, by the sense of rebellion and desire for individual freedom expressed by the original punk rock revolution. But the main difference—the most important difference—is that while cyberpunk focuses on invasive technological modification of the human body, biopunk explores the dehumanizing consequences of biological modification, of re-arranging our DNA in the pursuit of perfection.

Anderson lives in Connecticut with his wife and 2 sons. Anderson himself deems Kingdom as “a thrill-a-minute, bio-punk myth that manages to wrestle with the most pressing issues of the new millennium. O’Donnell has crafted a kickass novel of tomorrow night, when the big party gets raided by the monsters we’ve been building for the last half-century.”

His debut novel, Kingdom, a dystopian, biopunk thriller, is now available in paperback and ebook format. Kingdom is the first part of the Tiber City Trilogy. Look for part two, Exile, in the summer of 2013.