Saturday, August 31, 2013

Review: Happy Hour in Hell (Bobby Dollar 2) by Tad Williams

Happy Hour in Hell
Author:  Tad Williams
Series:  Bobby Dollar 2
Publisher:  DAW, September 3, 2013
Format:  Hardcover, 400 pages
Price:  $25.95 (print)
ISBN9780756408152 (print)
Review copy:  Provided by the Publisher via NetGalley

I’ve been told to go to Hell more times than I can count. But this time I’m actually going.

My name’s Bobby Dollar, sometimes known as Doloriel, and of course, Hell isn’t a great place for someone like me—I’m an angel. They don’t like my kind down there, not even the slightly fallen variety. But they have my girlfriend, who happens to be a beautiful demon named Casimira, Countess of Cold Hands. Why does an angel have a demon girlfriend? Well, certainly not because it helps my career.

She’s being held hostage by one of the nastiest, most powerful demons in all of the nether-world—Eligor, Grand Duke of Hell. He already hates me, and he’d like nothing better than to get his hands on me and rip my immortal soul right out of my borrowed but oh-so-mortal body.

But wait, it gets better! Not only do I have to sneak into Hell, make my way across thousands of miles of terror and suffering to reach Pandemonium, capital of the fiery depths, but then I have to steal Caz right out from under Eligor’s burning eyes and smuggle her out again, past demon soldiers, hellhounds, and all the murderous creatures imprisoned there for eternity. And even if I somehow manage to escape Hell, I’m also being stalked by an undead psychopath named Smyler who’s been following me for weeks. Oh, and did I mention that he can’t be killed?

So if I somehow survive Hell, elude the Grand Duke and all his hideous minions and make it back to the real world, I’ll still be the most hunted soul in Creation. But at least I’ll have Caz. Gotta have something to look forward to, right?

So just pour me that damn drink, will you? I’ve got somewhere to go.

Qwill's Thoughts:

Happy Hour in Hell is the second novel in the Bobby Dollar series by Tad Williams. It starts off immediately after The Dirty Streets of Heaven.

Bobby Dollar is an angel. He works as an Advocate (litigates for souls to get into Heaven) in San Judas, California. He's wise talking, asks questions he's shouldn't, does things he shouldn't, and is a magnet for trouble. He's attracted the negative attention of both those on high and those below. In short Bobby Dollar is a wonderful character.

Bobby always seems to be a little bit out of his depth. This never stops him from pursuing his goals. He knows what he's doing is risky, sometimes stupid, and often dangerous. He escapes trouble through luck, the help of others, and the occasional plan. There's a mystery he feels that he must solve, the genesis of which was in The Dirty Streets of Heaven. He seems to have an inkling about what is going, but needs more information. He certainly knows enough that beings greater than he want him out of the way permanently. Much of this is tied to Eligor, the Grand Duke of Hell, who also has the woman (demon) that Bobby loves, Casimira, Countess of Cold Hands. Yes, an angel being in love with a demon is a problem. Bobby knows this and does not care. That's part of his charm.

Happy Hour in Hell takes place mostly in Hell (not a surprise). Kudos to Tad Williams for making it hellish to read about Bobby's experiences there. Just when I thought "enough!" Mr. Williams treats you to a new horror that Bobby must endure. My only quibble with Happy Hour in Hell is that Bobby's sojourn in Hell could have been a bit shorter to the same effect. On the other hand I certainly got that Bobby would literally go through Hell for the woman he loves.

I like the richly layered world building in the novels - Mr. William's versions of Heaven and Hell come to life. The earthly setting for the novels, San Judas, CA, is wonderfully detailed.  As in the first novel, there is an exceptional supporting cast. I'm particularly fond of Sam and Clarence/Harrison (both angels). They make welcome, though brief appearances, in Happy Hour in Hell.  Bobby has help from some additional recurring characters as well as some very well written Hellish new ones. There is plenty of action and some "will he make it" moments that are exhilarating.

Bobby Dollar is an angelic anti-hero whose halo (if he had one) would be very tarnished. From the ending of Happy Hour in Hell I've a pretty good idea of where he's going next and I can't wait.

Bobby Dollar 1

The Dirty Streets of Heaven
Bobby Dollar 1
DAW, July 2, 2013
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 464 pages
Previously released in Hardcover, September 4, 2012

Bobby Dollar is an angel—a real one. He knows a lot about sin, and not just in his professional capacity as an advocate for souls caught between Heaven and Hell. Bobby’s wrestling with a few deadly sins of his own—pride, anger, even lust.

But his problems aren’t all his fault. Bobby can’t entirely trust his heavenly superiors, and he’s not too sure about any of his fellow earthbound angels either, especially the new kid that Heaven has dropped into their midst, a trainee angel who asks too many questions. And he sure as hell doesn’t trust the achingly gorgeous Countess of Cold Hands, a mysterious she-demon who seems to be the only one willing to tell him the truth. When the souls of the recently departed start disappearing, catching both Heaven and Hell by surprise, things get bad very quickly for Bobby D. End-of-the-world bad. Beast of Revelations bad.

Caught between the angry forces of Hell, the dangerous strategies of his own side, and a monstrous undead avenger that wants to rip his head off and suck out his soul, Bobby’s going to need all the friends he can get—in Heaven, on Earth, or anywhere else he can find them. You’ve never met an angel like Bobby Dollar. And you’ve never read anything like The Dirty Streets of Heaven.

Brace yourself—the afterlife is weirder than you ever believed.

The Giveaway

What:  One commenter will win a Mass Market Paperback copy of The Dirty Street of Heaven (Bobby Dollar 1) from DAW. US/CANADA ONLY

How:   Log into and follow the directions in the Rafflecopter below.

Who and When: The contest is open to all humans on the planet earth with a US or Canadian mailing address. Contest ends at 11:59 PM US Eastern Time on September 8, 2013. Void where prohibited by law. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 years old or older to enter.

*Giveaway rules and duration are subject to change.*

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, August 30, 2013

Review: Eight Million Gods by Wen Spencer

Eight Million Gods
Author:  Wen Spencer
Publisher:  Baen, June 4, 2013
Format:  Hardcover, 368 pages
Price:  $25.00 (print)
ISBN:  978-1-4516-3898-1 (print)
Cover Art:  Tom Kidd
Review copy:  Purchased

A contemporary fantasy of mystery and death as American expats battle Japanese gods and monsters to retrieve an ancient artifact that can destroy the world.

On Saturday afternoon, Nikki Delany thought, "George Wilson, in the kitchen, with a blender." By dinner, she had killed George and posted his gory murder to her blog. The next day, she put on her mourning clothes and went out to meet her best friend for lunch to discuss finding a replacement for her love interest.

Nikki is a horror novelist. Her choice of career is dictated by an Obsessive Compulsive Disorder that forces her to write stories of death and destruction. She can't control it, doesn't understand it, but can use it to make money anywhere in the world. Currently "anywhere" is in Japan, hiding from her mother who sees Nikki's OCD as proof she's mentally unstable. Nikki's fragile peace starts to fall apart when the police arrest her for the murder of an American expatriate. Someone killed him with a blender.

Reality starts to unravel around Nikki. She's attacked by a raccoon in a business suit. After a series of blackouts, she’s accompanied by a boy that no one else can see, a boy who claims to be a god. Is she really being pursued by Japanese myths—or is she simply going insane?

What Nikki does know for sure is that the bodies are piling up, her mother has arrived in Japan to lock her up for the rest of her life—and her novels always end with everyone dead.

Trinitytwo's point of view:

Meet Nikki Delany. At 20 years old, her life has been anything but easy. Nikki suffers from severe hypergraphia, the compulsion to write. Compounding her uncontrollable need for pen and paper in hand is the fact that her subject matter tends to be of a graphic and violent nature. Because of Nikki's mental illness, her mother, a powerful senator, sees her as a threat to her political career and insists that she is dangerous although she knows otherwise. In fact, Nikki's mom won't be happy until she can lock her daughter away in the confines of a high security mental institution. Eluding capture proves to challenge all her survival skills, but Nikki is clever and has a network of allies. After a close call, Nikki flees to Japan where she hopes to write in peace. There is an upside to her writing obsession. She has amassed enough money from the sale of her first novel, and an advance on her second, to be self-sufficient. Over lunch with her best friend, pink-haired, manga and anime loving, Miriam, the two discuss the progress of Nikki's second novel and the unfortunate death of all her potential main characters. In fact, her OCD which Nikki refers to as her muse, has compelled her to murder her latest character, in a unique and colorful way. Nikki learns that a murder recently took place in which the victim died exactly as she describes in her unfinished novel. Was the murder committed by a stalker who has hacked her computer or is she truly as crazy as her mother insists? Nikki discovers she must outwit shape shifting monsters, omnipotent gods, a scary secret organization and of course, her relentless mother, to avoid winding up another one of her unhappy endings.

Eight Million Gods intrigued me in many ways. The cover immediately grabbed my attention, and then the book description reeled me in. Sadly, the battle scene on the book's cover never came to fruition although the book description is spot on. An American in Japan, our heroine is suffering from a bad case of culture shock in addition to her myriad of other problems. I must admit to some culture shock as well. The terminology was confusing at times, and I found myself checking "Wen's not completely accurate GLOSSARY of Japanese terms" in the back of the book more often than I would have liked. Nikki is a great heroine. I love the fact that even through all her self-doubts and her imperfect life, she is a fighter; one smart enough to figure out how to turn her weakness into strength. She is the flawed, but capable and intelligent feminine character I always hope for but so seldom find. Nikki's struggle reminds me of a much loved quote by Nora Ephron, "Be the heroine of your life, not the victim." Nikki is so well written that I would love to see this book made into a movie. I know it would translate into something spectacular on the silver screen. Wen Spencer weaves an interesting setting, a complex plot, and highly unusual characters together to create a magical but gritty story fabric that whisks you into a world of gods and monsters in a blink of an eye.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Interview with Jason Mott, author of The Returned - August 29, 2013

Please welcome Jason Mott to The Qwillery as part of the 2013 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. The Returned was published on August 27, 2013 by Harlequin MIRA. You may read Jason's Guest Blog - The Power of Third Person - here.

TQ:  Welcome to The Qwillery.

Jason:  Thank you very much! Really excited to be doing this.

TQ:  When and why did you start writing?

Jason:  I started when I was around thirteen or fourteen. I grew up loving the classic heroic tales such as BEOWULF, THE ODYSSEY, etc. Then, one day, I came across an excerpt from John Gardner’s book GRENDEL. I hadn’t imagined that writers were allowed to take pre-existing stories and build something new and unique from them the way John Gardner did. Well, it was a watershed moment for me. Not long after that, I started scratching out my first stories—most of them were alternate adventures for characters in The Odyssey or Beowulf. They were a lot of fun.

TQ:  What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk?

Jason:   I love writing with really, really bad movies playing in the background. I love B movies. They’re just so much fun. And, when I’m writing, I’ll often put one on to serve as background noise.

TQ:  Are you a plotter or a pantser?

Jason:  When it comes to novel manuscripts, I’m a plotter. For me, they’re just too large or an endeavor for me to fly blind. So whenever I want to start a novel, I draw up an outline first. That helps me keep a general heading when I’m writing.

TQ:  What is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

Jason:  Overcoming that voice inside me that says whatever I’m working on is a terrible waste of time. It happens with every project at some point. I start hating the idea, the writing, the characters. I lose faith in everything eventually and just want to walk away. But I’ve learned to push through that. I just keep writing, even if I think I’m writing badly. A bad day writing is always better than a good day not writing.

TQ:  Describe The Returned in 140 characters or less.

Jason:  What happens when those we have lost to death are suddenly thrust back into our lives?

TQ:  What inspired you to write The Returned?

Jason:  It all started with a dream. My parents have both passed away, and in the summer of 2010 I had a dream that I’d come home from work and found my mother sitting at the kitchen table, waiting for me. For the rest of the dream she and I simply sat and talked. I told her about all the things that have happened in my life since her passing—she even gave me a hard time for not being married yet…as mothers do. Haha. Well, it was one of those very vivid dreams, the kind that, when you wake, you’re uncertain of whether it was a dream of reality.

That dream stayed with me for weeks. I talked about it with a good friend and he said “What if that really happened? And what if it wasn’t just her?” That was the very beginning of The Returned.

TQ:  What sort of research did you do for The Returned?

Jason:  I spent a little time talking to people about loved ones they’d lost. I posed the hypothetical question “How would you feel if they suddenly showed up at your door one day?” The responses were interesting. The initial answer was that they would be elated. Everyone talked about how much they’d love to see these people again. But then I followed it up with a second question: “Imagine it’s six months later and this person is still ‘back,’ does that change anything?”

This was when the answers got more complicated. People began talking about how their lives have changed since the passing of their loved one. In many cases, they’ve changed. I’m not the same person I was when my mother passed away in 2001, so if she returned today, she’d be meeting a different version of her son. There are many things that we may have agreed up back then that, now, I feel differently about. Lots of the people I talked to about this had similar responses.

TQ:  Who was the easiest character to write and why? The hardest and why?

Jason:  The easiest character to write was Harold. He’s one of the central characters and he was just pure fun to write. He’s an ornery old man and, frankly, I hope I grow up to be just like him.

The hardest character to write was Agent Bellamy. He became my proxy character and there was a great amount of my personal story wrapped up in him. Watching him deal with certain things dredged up personal memories of my mother’s death. Those made for tough writing days sometimes. But, in the end, it helped me work through some things.

TQ:  Without giving anything away, what is/are your favorite scene(s) in The Returned?

Jason:  Haha. This is going to be tough because my favorite seen is a bit of a “spoiler,” so I can’t go into too much detail. But I will say that it occurs near the very end of the book and, for one of the characters, it’s a bit of a revelations about their motives. I really enjoyed writing that scene and seeing that character come to a better understanding of themselves.

TQ:  What's next?

Jason:  Right now I’m working on my next manuscript. I’m always working on something. I’ve got another novel due to my publisher soon and, after that, I’ve got a couple of other projects I’m chopping away at as well. I’d love to get my feet wet in the realms of graphic novels and screenwriting if I can.

Also, the big thing for me right now is watching the production of the upcoming television series. Television rights for The Returned were picked up last year and, over the winter, a pilot was shot. Well, in May ABC picked up the pilot and it will become an ongoing series titled RESURRECTION beginning early next year. They’re actually just about to go into production on season 1. I’m thoroughly excited about that!

TQ:  Thank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Jason:  Thanks so much for having me!

The Returned

The Returned
Harlequin MIRA, August 27, 2013
Hardcover and eBook, 352 pages

Harold and Lucille Hargrave's lives have been both joyful and sorrowful in the decades since their only son, Jacob, died tragically at his eighth birthday party in 1966. In their old age they've settled comfortably into life without him, their wounds tempered through the grace of time…. Until one day Jacob mysteriously appears on their doorstep—flesh and blood, their sweet, precocious child, still eight years old.

All over the world, people's loved ones are returning from beyond. No one knows how or why, whether it's a miracle or a sign of the end. Not even Harold and Lucille can agree on whether the boy is real or a wondrous imitation, but one thing they know for sure: he's their son. As chaos erupts around the globe, the newly reunited Hargrave family finds itself at the center of a community on the brink of collapse, forced to navigate a mysterious new reality and a conflict that threatens to unravel the very meaning of what it is to be human.

With spare, elegant prose and searing emotional depth, award-winning poet Jason Mott explores timeless questions of faith and morality, love and responsibility. A spellbinding and stunning debut, The Returned is an unforgettable story that marks the arrival of an important new voice in contemporary fiction.

The eBook Prequels

The First
The Returned Prequel 1
Harlequin MIRA, June 1, 2013

In Jason Mott's haunting and unforgettable debut novel, The Returned, an impossible miracle is occurring all across the globe. Read how it all begins in this short story, The First.

It's been just over a year since Edmund Blithe died, and just over a month since his fiancée, Emily, stopped wearing her engagement ring. Emily has finally begun to move on... Until Edmund mysteriously and inexplicably returns, sending the world--and Emily--into a tailspin.

Edmund is only just the beginning. Around the world, people's loved ones are returning from beyond, seeking only to reenter the lives they left behind. As the world dives deep into uncertainty, Emily and Edmund are determined to find their way back to one another...even if it means risking everything.

The reappearances continue in The Sparrow, and look for The Returned from Harlequin MIRA, a moving tale of a family given a second chance at life and a world where nothing--not even death--is certain.

The Sparrow
The Returned Prequel 2
Harlequin MIRA, July 1, 2013

In this short story by Jason Mott, author of The Returned, one determined couple seeks to reunite a young girl with the father who thought he had lost her forever...

When Heather and Matt Campbell find ten-year-old Tatiana Rusesa on the side of the highway, she is thousands of miles away from her village in Sierra Leone. She hasn't seen her family in almost two decades, not since she and her mother were killed by rebel soldiers. Now Tatiana has inexplicably returned, a lost orphan with no place to call home.

As the world dives deeper into uncertainty and chaos, Heather is determined to save Tatiana and help her find her way back to her family. But how much is she willing to lose to protect a girl she doesn't even know?

Learn how the mysterious reappearances begin in The First, and don't miss Jason Mott's unforgettable debut novel, The Returned, from Harlequin MIRA, a moving tale of a family navigating this unusual new reality and given a second chance at life.

The Choice
The Returned Prequel 3
Harlequin MIRA, August 1, 2013

In this short story by Jason Mott, author of The Returned, a man is forced to choose between the life he has now, and the one he thought was gone forever….

Peter Galvin was just seventeen when Tracy Whitland,— the love of his life—, vanished without a trace. In the years after her death, he had finally moved on, gotten married, started a family. He is content with his life now—happy, even…. Until Tracy suddenly and inexplicably returns.

For weeks, Peter and his wife, Samantha, have been watching mysterious reports of people's loved ones returning from beyond, the world spinning into uncertainty and chaos. But they never imagined it would happen to them. With Tracy's unusual homecoming, Peter and Samantha must decide where they can possibly go from here, and whether their family can survive….

Read more stories of the Returned in The First and The Sparrow. And don't miss Jason Mott's haunting debut novel, The Returned, a story of one family given an extraordinary second chance.

Note: The 3 Prequels are presently free at Amazon, Barnes and Noble and iTunes. The Audible editions of the 3 Prequels are presently free at Amazon.

About Jason

Jason Mott lives in southeastern North Carolina. He has a BFA in Fiction and an MFA in Poetry, both from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington. His poetry and fiction has appeared in various. He was nominated for a 2009 Pushcart Prize award. He is the author of two poetry collections: We Call This Thing Between Us Love and “…hide behind me…The Returned is his first novel.

The Returned has also been optioned by Brad Pitt’s production company, Plan B, in association with Brillstein Entertainment and ABC. It will air on the ABC network early next year under the title “Resurrection.”

Website  ~  Facebook  ~  Twitter @JasonMott

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Interview with Sarah Pinborough, author of The Forgotten Gods Trilogy and more - August 28, 2013

Please welcome Sarah Pinborough to The Qwillery. Sarah's most recent US publication is The Shadow of the Soul (The Forgotten Gods 2), published by Ace on August 6, 2013.

TQ:  Welcome to The Qwillery. When did you know that you wanted to become a writer?

Sarah:  It was always there since I was a little girl - I have vague memories of writing stories from as soon as I could write. My mum is an avid reader so there were always books in the house. As I grew up I wrote bits and pieces and short stories but I guess it wasn't until I was about thirty I started to take it seriously with a mind to writing my first novel and getting published

TQ:  Who or what inspires your writing today?

Sarah:  Oh, so many people. Every time I read a book I really enjoy I feel inspired by it. As for content I'm currently fascinated with real people and past crimes and events. That will pass no doubt and then it will be something else.

TQ:  You are the author of The Forgotten Gods Trilogy, The Tales From the Kingdoms series as well as several stand-alone novels in a variety of genres. Do you have a favorite genre? And if so, why?

Sarah:  I also wrote a fantasy YA trilogy under a different name which I really enjoyed doing, and in fact my next book for Gollancz is a kind of New Adult book, although not fantasy. I don't think I have a favourite genre, but all my books tend to have a dark tone to them. I like trying different things. Perhaps I'd be more financially successful if I picked one and stuck to it, but that's just not the way my story brain works.

TQ:  Out of the books you have written, do you have a favorite? Or are they like children, you love them all the same?

Sarah:  The book you're about to start is always your favourite! I don't love them all the same but I'm very proud of The Forgotten Gods and my YA trilogy The Nowhere Chronicles - and also Mayhem and the fairy tales. I'm proud of pretty much everything I've done in the past four years. In fact, now I'm thinking about it perhaps I'm proudest of The Language of Dying (Quercus 2013) because it was based on such a personal experience and seems to touch everyone who reads it.

TQ:  How is writing for television (the BBC) different than writing novels? What do you enjoy most about writing for television? What do you enjoy most when writing a novel?

Sarah:  Weirdly, the thing I like most about writing for TV is that it's quite collaborative - there are lots of meetings and people throwing ideas around, whereas what I like about writing novels is that they're all mine. Screen writing is great for improving your dialogue in novels. I think TV writing is also far more pressured because of the cost of making television.

TQ:  In The Forgotten Gods Trilogy (which I note is called The Dog-Faced Gods Trilogy not here) which character surprised you the most? Which character was most difficult to write?

Sarah:  I think Mr Bright surprised me the most - I love both him and Cass equally - but the most difficult was probably Claire May. I wanted her to be accessible and sweet without being sickly. I tend to write more men than women so it was a bit of a challenge - although now I've done the fairy tales I think my writing of female characters has got much better.

TQ:  You've written two Torchwood novels - Long Time Dead and Into the Silence. How difficult or easy is it writing novels in an already established world?

Sarah:  It's actually quite good fun. Especially for something like Torchwood where there were only two series at the time and so the canon wasn't vast. I watched them all back to back to get a real grip on the characters and how they spoke etc, and then it's great to be able to add your own stories in. I enjoyed doing them far more than I expected to.

TQ:  What's next? And thank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Sarah:  Next I have to write The Death House for Gollancz and then another book for Jo Fletcher Books/Quercus. I've also just been paid to write the first episode of my own TV series and I have to do the final pass on my horror film script that's in development, so busy busy busy!

The Forgotten Gods

A Matter of Blood
The Forgotten Gods 1
Ace, April 2, 2013
Trade Paperback and eBook, 352 pages

In a world steeped in darkness, a new breed of evil has fallen…

London’s ruined economy has pushed everyone to the breaking point, and even the police rely on bribes and deals with criminals to survive. Detective Inspector Cass Jones struggles to keep integrity in the police force, but now, two gory cases will test his mettle. A gang hit goes wrong, leaving two schoolboys dead, and a serial killer calling himself the Man of Flies leaves a message on his victims saying “nothing is sacred.”

Then Cass’ brother murders his own family before committing suicide. Cass doesn’t believe his gentle brother did it. Yet when evidence emerges suggesting someone killed all three of them, a prime suspect is found—Cass himself.

Common links emerge in all three cases, but while Cass is finding more questions than answers, the Man of Flies continues to kill...

The Shadow of the Soul
The Forgotten Gods 2
Ace, August 6, 2013
Trade Paperback and eBook, 352 pages

The author of the “diabolically clever”* A Matter of Blood returns with another gritty supernatural thriller featuring hard-boiled homicide detective Cass Jones…

A devastating terrorist attack has crippled London. To find a perpetrator who is more than human, Special Branch turns to Detective Inspector Cass Jones.

Cass is already investigating a series of student suicides, but saying no to Special Branch isn’t an option—even when he’s hit with a much more personal and deeply disturbing mystery: a message left for him by his murdered brother revealing that Cass’s nephew was stolen at birth.

Cass’s investigations and his search for the boy lead him down a dark labyrinth to the shadowy Mr. Bright and his otherworldly allies—and into the middle of an ancient and deadly feud, with no less than the fate of humanity hanging in the balance…

*F. Paul Wilson

The Chosen Seed
The Forgotten Gods 3
Ace, December 3, 2013
Trade Paperback and eBook, 320 pages

The tables have turned, and now Detective Inspector Cass Jones is a wanted man on the streets of London. Framed for murder and hunted by his former colleagues, Cass needs every ally he can get—including a very unexpected figure from his past.

While detectives Hask and Ramsey search for the killer behind the lethal Strain II virus, Mr. Bright continues to pull strings from the shadows, and there are dire warnings of a final battle that could tear everything apart.

As he searches for his kidnapped nephew while eluding his own pursuers, Cass is determined to find the answers—even if he has to confront the darkest secrets of the history of humanity to do it.

About Sarah

Sarah Pinborough is a critically acclaimed horror, thriller and YA author. In the UK she is published by both Gollancz and Jo Fletcher Books at Quercus and by Ace, Penguin in the US. Her short stories have appeared in several anthologies and she has a horror film Cracked currently in development and another original screenplay under option. She has recently branched out into television writing and has written for New Tricks on the BBC and has her own series in development with World Productions.

Sarah was the 2009 winner of the British Fantasy Award for Best Short Story, and has three times been short-listed for Best Novel. She has also been short-listed for a World Fantasy Award. Her novella, The Language of Dying was short-listed for the Shirley Jackson Award and won the 2010 British Fantasy Award for Best Novella.

You can follow her on Twitter @sarahpinborough

Website  ~  Twitter @sarahpinborough

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Interview with Samantha Shannon, author of The Bone Season (Scion 1) - August 27, 2013

Please welcome Samantha Shannon to The Qwillery as part of the 2013 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. The Bone Season (Scion 1) was published on August 20, 2013 by Bloomsbury USA.

TQ:  Welcome to The Qwillery.

Samantha:  Thank you! Glad to be here.

TQ:  When and why did you start writing?

Samantha:  When I was about 13. I'd always loved books and I really just fancied trying my hand at writing something myself. I've written ever since.

TQ:  What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk?

Samantha:  I use the word 'turn' a lot. That's my writer's tic.

TQ:  Are you a plotter or a pantser?

Samantha:  Bit of both. I do plot, though, so I should probably say plotter.

TQ:  What is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

Samantha:  Finding the right voice was a big challenge, but now I have Paige's voice and am working on Book 2, the most difficult thing at the moment is finding time to sit down and just work on the manuscript. I like to get into a routine when I write. I'm hoping to have a few weeks over Christmas to get a lot of work done.

TQ:  Describe The Bone Season in 140 characters or less.

Samantha:  A strange, dark fantasy about clairvoyant criminals - and their enemies. A nineteen year-old woman must fight for her freedom or die trying.

TQ:  What inspired you to write The Bone Season?

Samantha:  I was working in Seven Dials, a small district in London, and had a strange daydream about a girl having exactly the same day at work that I was, but she happened to be clairvoyant. There are a few shops in the area that sell crystal balls and tarot cards, which is what introduced me to the idea of clairvoyants in that district.

TQ:  What sort of research did you do for The Bone Season?

Samantha:  I wanted my clairvoyant society to be a cross-section of historical types of divination, extending right up to encompass twenty-first century parapsychology. I did quite a bit of reading about classical and Renaissance impressions of augury, soothsaying and so on. After that I moved on to nineteenth century Spiritualism, mainly using The Book on Mediums by Allan Kardec. I also integrated Native American legend for Paige’s gift. Although I did a lot of research, I wanted to put my own spin on each type, hence the Seven Orders classification system.

TQ:  Who was the easiest character to write and why? The hardest and why?

Samantha:  Paige was both easiest and hardest. Her voice came to me naturally, but she's a complex character and I'd often have to think for a while about how she would, or should, react to certain situations.

TQ:  Without giving anything away, what is/are your favorite scene(s) in The Bone Season?

Samantha:  The organ scene, the whole of Chapter 18, the Trafalgar Square scene, the butterfly's dreamscape scene.

TQ:  What's next?

Samantha:  Book 2, which will be set in London.

TQ:  Thank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Samantha:  Thank you for having me!

The Bone Season

The Bone Season
Scion 1
Bloomsbury USA, August 20, 2013
Hardcover and eBook, 480 pages

It is the year 2059. Several major world cities are under the control of a security force called Scion. Paige Mahoney works in the criminal underworld of Scion London, part of a secret cell known as the Seven Seals. The work she does is unusual: scouting for information by breaking into others’ minds. Paige is a dreamwalker, a rare kind of clairvoyant, and in this world, the voyants commit treason simply by breathing.

But when Paige is captured and arrested, she encounters a power more sinister even than Scion. The voyant prison is a separate city—Oxford, erased from the map two centuries ago and now controlled by a powerful, otherworldly race. These creatures, the Rephaim, value the voyants highly—as soldiers in their army.

Paige is assigned to a Rephaite keeper, Warden, who will be in charge of her care and training. He is her master. Her natural enemy. But if she wants to regain her freedom, Paige will have to learn something of his mind and his own mysterious motives.

The Bone Season introduces a compelling heroine—a young woman learning to harness her powers in a world where everything has been taken from her. It also introduces an extraordinary young writer, with huge ambition and a teeming imagination. Samantha Shannon has created a bold new reality in this riveting debut.

About Samantha

Photo © Mark Pringle
Samantha Shannon was born in west London in 1991. Between 2010 and 2013 she studied English Language and Literature at St Anne’s College, Oxford, specialising in Emily Dickinson and Principles of Film Criticism. In 2012 the Women of the Future Awards shortlisted her for The Young Star Award. The Bone Season is her first novel and has been sold in twenty-three countries.

Blog   ~  Twitter @say_shannon  ~  Pinterest  ~  Tumblr  ~  Facebook

The Bone Season Website  ~  The Bone Season Facebook Page

Review: Thirteen by Kelley Armstrong

Author:  Kelley Armstrong
Series:  Women of the Otherworld 13
Publisher:  Plume, August 6, 2013
     First published in Hardcover July 2012
Format:  Mass Market Paperback (Premium), 480 pages
Price:  $9.99 (print)
ISBN: 9780142196748 (print)
Review copy:  Provided by the Publisher

The gripping, epic finale to the bestselling Otherworld series

A war is brewing and the first battle has already been waged. After rescuing her half brother from supernatural medical testing, Savannah Levine—a young witch of remarkable power and a dangerous pedigree—is battered, but still standing. The Supernatural Liberation Movement took him hostage, and they have a maniacal plan to expose the supernatural world to the unknowing.

Savannah is fighting to save her world as witches, werewolves, necromancers, vampires, half-demons, and all the forces of good and evil—including the genetically modified werewolves known as hell hounds—enter the fray. Uniting Savannah with Adam, Elena, Clay, Paige, Lucas, Jaime, Hope, and other denizens of the Otherworld, Thirteen is a thrilling conclusion to this blockbuster series.

Melanie's Thoughts:

I was a late comer to the Otherworld series so I got to enjoy about the first 7-8 books back to back and then had to wait eagerly for each new release. I have to admit that I let the big release of Thirteen pass me by because I refused to pay as much for the e-book as I would for the paperback. The release came and did a whole year before Thirteen came back on my radar. I am glad that I waited to read it. I am sure for most of you that reading reviews about this book are bit old hat by now. I will endeavour to be clever and say something you might not have heard before. Fingers crossed at least.

I am tempted to say that Thirteen starts immediately where Spellbound leaves off but it doesn't. Armstrong decides to takes us back to the fact before Bitten with a prologue from Elena's POV. We get another snippet of Elena's life back in Toronto and before the start of the series where she struggles to hide her supernatural side. I thought this was a unique and daring way for Armstrong to remind us where her journey as a writer and our journey as a reader all began. We then slide almost seamlessly back into the action that leaves Savannah and her brother Bryce having just escaped a bomb blast. The story progresses with our favourite band of supernatural heroes fighting to save themselves and all the magically inclined from the nefarious activities of the Supernatural Liberation Movement who want to expose their kind to the public.

Armstrong allows each of her female characters to tell part of the story and we get to hear from Elena, Eve, Jaime, Hope, Page, and Savannah. The majority of the story is told by Savannah and there is a great rounding of her character as she accepts what her powers, friends and family really mean to her. There are some quite touching scenes early on in the story between Eve, Jaime and Savannah that could almost get you reaching for a tissue if there wasn't so much death and mayhem blended in. By allowing for multiple POVs Armstrong demonstrates that she isn't playing favourites and that each of these characters have developed and grown throughout the course of the series. She even mentions in the author's note that some of her die-hard fans complained when she wrote Dime Store Magic because the focus moved away from Elena and Clay towards Paige, the witch. This book was, however, the turning stone for the series as it brought in fans who like other types of supernaturals.  Throughout the series and through Thirteen we get to see what life is like for the whole supernatural community and the threat that the Supernatural Liberation Movement really means to them as a collective.

I am trying very hard not to give anything away by telling what happens. What I can say there are some fantastic surprises in store for Savannah as she battles to save the day. While there is quite a bit of gore and mayhem I still finished the book with a sigh as I waved my favourite characters good-bye feeling satisfied with Armstrong's conclusion to their story. I think this is a series you can quite easily dip in and out of during the early books (before book 9) although you won't have the same satisfied result at the end.  Kudos to Armstrong for finishing the series and not being tempted to keep the spells going.  A great series, a great read and a great author.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Interview with Kait Ballenger, author of Twilight Hunter (The Execution Underground 1) - August 26, 2013

Please welcome Kait Ballenger to The Qwillery as part of the 2013 Debut Author Challenge Interviews and the Twilight Hunter Blog Tour. Twilight Hunter (The Execution Underground 1) will be published tomorrow. You may read Kait's Guest Blog - The Specialties of the Hunters of the Execution Underground - here.

TQ:  Welcome to The Qwillery.

Kait:  Thanks for having me! I’m really excited to be here.

TQ:  When and why did you start writing?

Kait:  I wrote several short stories as a kid, but I first started writing seriously right after I graduated high school in 2008. I started writing because I love reading and I wanted to tell stories that would make people happy or affect their lives in some way.

TQ:  What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk?

Kait:  Hmmm. My only writing quirk that I can think of is that I always feel like my house has to be cleaned before I can sit down and start writing. Otherwise, I just feel really disorganized, like the environment around my effects my mood. This can cause me a lot of trouble when I’m on deadline and I don’t really have time to clean lol.

TQ:  Are you a plotter or a pantser?

Kait:  A bit of both. I’m naturally a pantser, but my books lack a solid plot structure when I write that way, so I force myself to write vague outlines before I start writing, so then the plot arc is solid.

TQ:  What is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

Kait:  The most challenging thing is probably just butt-in-chair, which seems silly since once I sit down, I enjoy writing, but starting can sometimes be difficult. Despite that I get paid for what I do and being an author is most certainly a full-time job, when you work from a home office, it’s hard to take yourself seriously at times. If I want, I can go to work in my pajamas every day and I can also go to work at any hour of the day, which is absolutely great for flexibility, except for when you’re feeling a little lazy and need someone to crack the whip and you have no one but yourself. It takes a lot of self-discipline.

TQ:  Describe Twilight Hunter (The Execution Underground 1) in 140 characters or less.

Kait:  A werewolf hunter partners with a female wolf to hunt a sexual sadist, while he confronts his own two-natured identity and his growing feelings for his partner.

TQ:  What inspired you to write Twilight Hunter?

Kait:  I actually started out writing YA urban fantasy with strong romantic elements. I wrote that for several years and when the manuscript I was working on at the time wasn’t hooking any agents into offering representation, I thought I would try my hand at one of the other genres I love to read: adult paranormal romance. Needless to say, it worked out well and was a perfect fit. When I was brainstorming ideas, I wanted something different and thought that it would be great to make a series where the heroes were primarily humans who hunt supernatural creatures, rather than supernaturals fighting other supernaturals like in most paranormal romances. I’m a big fan of the T.V show Supernatural and the main characters from that, Sam and Dean Winchester, really inspired me to want to write about humans involved in the paranormal—with my own original characters and unique twists, of course.

TQ:  What sort of research did you do for Twilight Hunter?

Kait:  My research has been more focused on all of the books rather than each specific one. There were characteristics about the city of Rochester and the surrounding geography which I researched for the series as a whole. I wanted to make sure I had some events in the novels occur in specific places around Rochester. For example, there is one scene in Twilight Hunter that takes place in Manhattan Square Park on top of a large metal structure in the park—that’s a real location, along with several other places throughout the book. I also researched different types of guns for the hunters to carry, their cars, and their poisons of choice (their favorite liquors haha), since I’m not super familiar with any of those. In Twilight Hunter, Jace uses a Mateba revolver, drives an H3, drinks Bushmill’s Irish whiskey and smokes Marlboro Reds. Something I researched specifically for that book alone was Norse mythology. Readers will see why once they get about mid-way through the novel. I don’t want to give any spoilers.

A fun fact: my husband took me out to the shooting range and taught me how to shoot all the different types of guns he has in his personal collection, which is a lot lol, as I was writing Twilight Hunter. I’m actually a decent shot now and it helped me describe how the guys would use their weapons. I already knew fighting and disarming techniques from being a black belt in Tang Soo Do, so I just needed to learn the weaponry to make it authentic.

TQ:  Who was the easiest character to write and why? The hardest and why?

Kait:  Jace’s character is the easiest I’ve written thus far in all of my books, including my YA ones, because he is such an open character emotionally. He’s very reactionary and speaks his mind in a really frank and blunt way, so I never have to second guess about how Jace feels about something; I just know. The hardest characters I’ve had to write are a tie between Damon, David, and Robert. Damon, the leader and founder of the Execution Underground, was hard to write at first because he was so mysterious, especially in Jace’s book, but once I wrote Shadow Hunter (Damon’s prequel story), which you can find in the After Dark anthology alongside a novella by Gena Showalter, he’s been easier to work with. It was really helpful for me to be able to tell his origin story even though it’s one I never intended to tell. I can’t wait to write his final full length book, Dark Hunter. Before, I was dreading it lol. David, the hero of book two, Immortal Hunter (Feb 2014), and Jace’s closest friend has been difficult because he is the character that is the least like me. He’s very calm and level-headed when he needs to be, something I am not, and he also has a really good sense of humor. Since I’m not used to writing humor, it was difficult to get into his head. His book was a bit of a struggle to get started with, but once he and I got into a rhythm, I was able to find his narrative voice well. Robert, who is the villain of Twilight Hunter, was difficult to write just because his point-of-view is so disturbing. Really gruesome stuff.

TQ:  Without giving anything away, what is/are your favorite scene(s) in Twilight Hunter?

Kait:  Oh gosh, that’s a difficult one. A scene in Twilight Hunter I really like is a love scene later in the book between Jace and Frankie. Jace shows up on her doorstep in the middle of the night, a little inebriated, and confesses a lot of things to her he’d never say otherwise. Once he sobers up, he realizes the impact of all he’s said and from then onward everything is kind of out in the open between them. I like the vulnerability of his character in that moment.

TQ:  What's next?

Kait:  My next release for this series will be Immortal Hunter, David’s book, which releases in early February 2014. I also just turned in the third novel for this series, Shane’s book, which will follow David’s in early July 2014, and my agent is currently starting negotiations for books four, five, and six. For my adult paranormal romance, this series is my sole focus at the moment. But readers hoping for another adult series from me can periodically check my website. I keep it up-to-date with my newest releases.

Readers can also look for upcoming YA paranormal novels under my maiden name, Kaitlyn Schulz.

TQ:  Thank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Kait:  Thanks so much for having me! It was a pleasure to answer all your questions! I’d love to be back again sometime.

TQ:  I'm sure that can be arranged as we'd love to have you back!

The Execution Underground
Twilight Hunter
The Execution Underground 1
Harelquin HQN, August 27, 2013
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 384 pages

Hunters of the supernatural, the Execution Underground are an elite group tasked with protecting humanity...but what happens when danger collides with desire?

Jace McCannon has one loyalty: the Execution Underground. Despite his mixed blood, his hatred for the werewolves he hunts is legendary. But in his search for a sadistic killer, Jace finds himself face to face with a stunningly seductive packmaster…and longing for a night with his mortal enemy.

Nothing can stop Frankie Amato from defending her kind--or catching the rogue responsible for killing women in her territory. For that, this alpha female needs Jace’s skills more than she wants to admit. But as their investigation exposes evil truths, need burns into a passion that dare not be fulfilled. For to do so will have deadly consequences for them both…

After Dark
Gena Showalter and Kait Ballenger
Lords of the Underworld and The Execution Underground
Harlequin HQN, June 25, 2013
Trade Paperback and eBook, 336 pages

A Timeless Seduction

A Unique Temptation

And a Whole World of Dark Desires...

From New York Times bestselling author Gena Showalter

The Darkest Angel

Winged warrior Lysander has been alive for centuries, and yet he's never known desire-until he meets Bianka. Spawned from the bloodline of his enemy, the beautiful but deadly Harpy is determined to lead the untouched Lysander into temptation. He may try to evade her attempts, but even the most iron-willed demon assassin can resist for only so long....

And from debut author Kait Ballenger

Shadow Hunter

Vampire hunter Damon Brock's newest assignment with the Execution Underground is Rochester, New York, a city crawling with the undead. But he isn't the only hunter in town gunning for vamp blood. Tiffany Solow is fierce and ruthless when it comes to slaying the monsters that destroyed her family-and she works solo. But being alone is no longer an option when she meets the mysterious hunter who wants more than just her turf. Forced to unite against the local covens, the line between good and evil blurs when they must decide between their lifelong beliefs...and their newfound desires.

And coming in 2014

Immortal Hunter
The Execution Underground 2
Harelquin HQN, January 28, 2014
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 384 pages

Hunters of the supernatural, the Execution Underground are an elite group tasked with protecting humanity…but at what price?

As an exorcist, David Aronowitz grew up the target of demonic assassins. Now he's a member of the Execution Underground and hellspawn everywhere fear his name. But when a demon slips into the seductive body of the only woman he's ever loved, David must confront the heartbreak of their past to save her.

The piece of her heart Allsún O'Hare gave to David so long ago left her trapped between two worlds: the Fae and the human. And when David comes to her rescue, fate reunites her with her greatest temptation—and her biggest mistake.

Now, as they're swept together into a wicked game with the demon who controls her, David must decide if saving Allsún's life is worth sacrificing his own—and the future of humanity itself.

About Kait

Kait Ballenger is a full-time paranormal romance author, wife, bellydancer, graduate student, and soon-to-be-professor. She is the multi-published, award-winning author of the Execution Underground paranormal romance series. With a B.A in English from Stetson University, Kait is currently earning an M.F.A in Writing. Kait believes anything is possible with hard work and dedication. One day, she hopes to be a bestseller and to see her novels on the big screen. Look for the next two books in her page-turning Execution Underground series: Twilight Hunter, book one (August 2013) and Immortal Hunter, book two (January 2014), and don’t forget to check out Shadow Hunter, a prequel novella to the series featured in the After Dark anthology along NYT Bestseller Gena Showalter—now available in trade paperback, ebook, and audiobook formats. For more information, please visit or follow her on Twitter @kait_ballenger.

Website  ~  Twitter @kait_ballenger  ~  Facebook  ~  Goodreads

COVET - The Awakening: Liam by Abby Niles and The Demon's Desire by Kendra Leigh Castle and Giveaways - August 26, 2013

"Covets have all the sexiness, emotion, and happily ever after that readers have come to expect and love from Entangled. They are firmly grounded in the contemporary world, but each novel brings in supernatural twists, breaking the contemporary and paranormal rules, alike. To find out more about their titles, chat with authors, participate in special events, and to find out what books you’ll be coveting next, visit the Entangled website, follow them on Twitter, and LIKE their Facebook page."

And for your viewing pleasure, Covet's August releases!

Abby Niles

The Awakening: Liam
The Awakening 2
Entagled Covet, August 26, 2013

Shifter, Liam Doyle knows Hell. At least he believed he did. The night he feels his mate die, he learns how very wrong he was. Nothing he’d struggled with since Ava’s rejection compares to the emptiness that fills his soul by her death. Lost in his grief, he’s taken by surprise and drugged. When he wakes, everything changes. Nothing is what it seems, and someone is dead set on making him pay.

When Ava Michaels is taken captive, she’s thrust into a dark and terrifying world along with the man she was forced to leave behind. While being near Liam again is heartbreaking, the motive behind her kidnapping is gradually revealed. The more she learns, the more she worries Liam isn’t the man she believed him to be. He has enemies willing to do anything to extract their revenge. Can their love survive a crazy man’s vengeance?

Kendra Leigh Castle

The Demon's Desire
Hearts of the Fallen 2
Entangled Covet, August 26, 2013

He’s as dark and dangerous as the storms he once commanded…and she can’t get him out of her heart.

Dru has spent two thousand years fighting to keep the people of Terra Noctem safe. In all that time, she's only opened her heart to one man, with disastrous results. But when her city takes in a group of renegade Fallen, she finds herself drawn to the brooding and tormented Meresin, despite the fact that he seems to be the least redeemable of them all. When his instability hits a breaking point, Meresin’s only chance at survival is a perilous journey into a place from which few ever return. What he never expected was that confronting his demons would mean risking not only his future, but Dru's as well...and that one stubborn vampire might give him back not just hope…but his heart.

About the Authors

Ever since Abby Niles picked up her first Sweet Valley High book in sixth grade and fell in love with Elizabeth and Todd, she’s been hooked on romance. By the time she reached high school, she was devouring meatier romances with pirates, cowboys and knights. She never imagined that those years of reading would one day lead to her becoming a published author.

In her late twenties, after having twins and becoming a stay-at-home mom, she started doodling stories to keep her sanity. Next thing she knew, she was actually submitting to publishing houses. And was immediately rejected. That didn’t stop her though. She found herself some kickass critique partners, honed her craft, and continued submitting.

And eventually sold a short story, then a novella, then a novel, and now a series.

Today, she juggles work, home life, and writing. It’s not always easy, but hey, who said life was easy?

In her downtime, which isn’t often, you can find her playing ‘Just Dance’ with her kids or trying to catch up on her never-ending to-be-read list. She also loves Zumba, and refuses to admit she looks more like Animal doing his Muppet flail than a sensual Latin dancer.

Website  ~  Twitter @abbyniles  ~  Facebook  ~  Blog

Kendra Leigh Castle was born and raised in the far and frozen reaches of Northern New York, where there was plenty of time to cultivate her love of reading thanks to the six-month-long winters. Sneaking off with selections from her mother’s vast collection of romance novels came naturally and fairly early, and a lifelong love of the Happily Ever After was born. After graduating from SUNY Oswego (where it also snowed a lot) with a teaching degree, Kendra ran off with a handsome young Navy fighter pilot and has somehow accumulated three children, three dogs, and one enormous cat during their many moves.

While stationed in a remote corner of the Nevada desert, Kendra penned her first romance, and a career often spent working in fuzzy slippers and pajamas was born. Her work has garnered both critical praise and award nominations, but the best part has been connecting with readers who share her love of dark romance (not to mention heroes with sharp, pointed teeth). Kendra currently lives in Maryland, and can usually be found curled up with her laptop and yet another cup of coffee working on her next book. She loves to hear from her readers, and can be contacted via email or her Facebook page.

Website  ~  Twitter @KendraLCastle  ~  Facebook  ~  Blog

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