Thursday 28 February 2013

Author Interview-Max Allan Collins

Max Allan Collins writes A LOT of crime. 15 books for Nathan Heller series, 10 for the Quarry series, over 20 for CSI... His latest work is Seduction of the Innocent-crime, comic books and a 1950s setting.

-What drew you to the 50s?
I grew up in the fifties and sixties, so that’s a natural period of interest for me. But I’ve made a specialty out of writing mysteries set in the twentieth century, in particular with my Nathan Heller series – the latest, TARGET LANCER, is about the JFK assassination. I like combining the approach of the mystery novelist with the research of an historian.

-Do you see yourself in any of your characters?
Certainly all of my first-person characters – Nate Heller, Quarry, Mallory, and now Jack Starr – are me to some degree. I think all novelists write disguised autobiography, and that’s particularly true of private eye writers. But it’s more myself as I’d have been had I shared the disparate backgrounds of these characters. Jack was in the Second World War, for example. Probably the humor in the books is the best glimpse into the real me.

-What's your favourite comic book?
Of all time? Very tough question. My favorite comic strip is LI’L ABNER, and I devour the reprint volumes. My favorite 1950s comic book is either CRIME SUSPENSTORIES or MAD. My favorite ‘60s comic book is SPIDERMAN – Ditko SPIDERMAN. My favorite ‘70s comic book would be anything by R. Crumb or Gilbert Shelton in the Underground Comix movement. In the ‘80s I was rather fond of my own MS. TREE, because checks arrived in the mail fairly regularly. In the ‘90s, it was LONE WOLF AND CUB. Today it’s probably USAGI YOJIMBO.

-What's your favourite thing about 1950s America?
Again, I’m going to have to hedge. In fiction, it was Mickey Spillane’s Mike Hammer books. In film, it was John Ford’s THE SEARCHERS. In music, it was Bobby Darin and "Mack the Knife." On TV, it was MAVERICK. Nothing much that wasn’t popular culture was worth a damn in the ‘50s.

-What's the cleverest thing you've learnt from a comic book?
The ice-block murder method that I used in SEDUCTION OF THE INNOCENT. From a minute mystery in the back of a DICK TRACY comic book.

-Any tips for writing crime?
Find a way, somehow, to write from experience and not just from the crime and mystery novels and films you’ve read and seen. In my first novel, BAIT MONEY (1973, reprinted by Hard Case crime in TWO FOR THE MONEY), I robbed the bank where my wife worked, and I had the secondary protagonist be a comic-book collector. In addition, I set the story in my native Iowa, not some big city. Even in SEDUCTION OF THE INNOCENT, which takes place in Manhattan, the roots are in 1950s Iowa, when a little kid got his comic books messed with by a big bad psychiatrist.

-Who influenced you in writing this?
Well, the Jack and Maggie Starr mysteries are in part a homage to Rex Stout and his Nero Wolfe novels. Other than that, nobody. On the other hand, I am generally influenced by a real superstar line-up – Hammett, Chandler, Spillane, James M. Cain, Agatha Christie, Rex Stout, Erle Stanley Gardner and Donald E. Westlake.

-What are you reading right now?

-What are you planning on writing in the future?
I will be doing another collaborative book with my wife Barb (we write together as "Barbara Allan"), ANTIQUES A GO GO, a humorous "cozy" mystery. Then another Mike Hammer novel, KING OF THE WEEDS, working from a manuscript Mickey Spillane began in the 1990s, and a political thriller called SUPREME JUSTICE. I hope to do a new Nate Heller novel next year, but I have the final volume of my Heller/JFK trilogy, ASK NOT, coming out this fall. There's also a thriller coming out called WHAT DOESN'T KILL YOU, a rare standalone from me.

This article was posted as part of the Seduction of the Innocent Blog Tour, celebrating the release of Max Allan Collins' new Hard Case Crime novel. For the opportunity to win a copy of the book, simply tweet “I would like a copy of Seduction of the Innocent @TitanBooks #MaxAllanCollins”.

Book Review- Seduction of the Innocent by Max Allan Collins

Title: Seduction of the Innocent
 Author:  Max Allan Collins

Illustrator: Terry Beatty
Series:  Hard Case Crime
Published:  February 22 2013 by Titan
Length: 260 pages
Source: publisher
Summary : It's 1954, and a rabble-rousing social critic has declared war on comic books - especially the scary, gory, bloody sort published by the bad boys of the industry, EF Comics. But on the way to a Senate hearing on whether these depraved publications should be banned, the would-be censor meets a violent end of his own - leaving his opponents in hot water.  

Review: It’s 1950 America, and renowned psychologist Doctor Werner Frederick is trying to get the country to realise how comic books are corrupting America’s youth. Then, somebody gets murdered. Jack Starr, thr trouble shooter for Starr Syndicate, and this murder is most definitely trouble for the comic business.
It’s really interesting that the murder doesn’t happen until halfway through the whole thing. I like this-it gives you time to meet everyone who might be a suspect, and it means that when the murder does happen, we’re in the same position as Jack and it’s more fun to guess with him.
The murder is clever in that as well as being a general clever method, it also comes from a comic book.
I liked hte characters. All their possible motives were clear, and there were always new things coming to light about them. The authors notes tell you that they are blends of real people and their attitudes (as in, actual, real, specific people)  and they fit the tone of Seduction of the Innocent well.
The author’s notes also tell you that these events are based on real life ones too. So much research must have gone into this, and it definitely paid off. The mood and tone are perfect.

Overall:  Sorry about there not being much to this review. Strength 3 tea to a mystery that wasn’t really complex, but a good read, especially for those who are into the time period.
Links: |  Goodreads | Author website

Tuesday 26 February 2013

Book Review-The Demon's Lexicon by Sarah Rees Brennan

Title: The Demon’s Lexicon
 Author:  Sarah Rees Brennan
Series:  The Demon’s Lexicon #1
Published:  2 June 2009
Length:324 pages
Source: Bought
Other info: Sarah has also written Unspoken, Team Human, two other books in this series (The Demon’s Covenant and The Demon’s Surrender) and in anthologies.
Summary : Nick and his brother Alan are on the run with their mother, who was once the lover of a powerful magician. When she left him, she stole an important charm - and he will stop at nothing to reclaim it. Now Alan has been marked with the sign of death by the magician's demon, and only Nick can save him. But to do so he must face those he has fled from all his life - the magicians - and kill them. So the hunted becomes the hunter...but in saving his brother, Nick discovers something that will unravel his whole past.
Review: in this world, magicians are the ones who use their talents to call demons to use their powers. Nick and his brother Alan have beein on the run for years from a magician. When Alan gets marked by a demon, after other sibling set Mae and Jamie come to them asking Nick is determined to save him-and the only way for that to happen is for someone to end up dead.
I have to thank Cait and Liz for this. I picked this up ages ago when I was first getting into paranormal things but never got through it. This time, I was actually paying attention to it and really quite enjoyed it.
Nick, to start with, is not wholly likeable. He doesn’t care for anyone except his brother and he’s very sarky in a horrible way and quite a bit of an ass. As the book progresses, I likked him a bit more.
Alan is a lot more emotional, a nicer person and generally more likable.  There’s also Mae and Jamie, who I think develop more than the two brothers as they learn more about this world of magic.
The relationships are really interesting. The one between Alan and Nick is really deep, and I loved seeing them look out for eachother. Then comes Chapter 11. And aww.... Love triangles, I don’t tend to care about. But then the stakes are automatically higher when two parties involved are brothers, and if one gets her, they’ll break the other’s heart.
. the third person writing was close, so we got into his thoughts quite well. Although Nick was a bit annoying, his personality makes for some really witty conversations. I generally really liked Sarah’s writing style.
I really liked the setting. It’s multiple places in England, but the Goblin Market would officially be part of my favourite places to be if it were real. The magic system is different and original, and enjoyable.
The plot-everything happens for a good reason. The second half was very actionfilled, as was the ending. The ending and the big reveal! Yes, there were hints throughout, but when it was actually revealed it was all “seriously? That is cool.”

Overall:  Strength 4 tea for some really good urban fantasy. I’ll definitely hunt out more of this series.

Monday 25 February 2013

Cover Reveal- Sweet Legacy by Tera Lynn Childs

The Medusa Girls by Tera Lynn Childs.
I have been meaning to read this series since...forever. Because updating Greek myths with kickass characters is totally up my street.  I saw Sweet Venom around ages ago. And now the second one, Sweet Shadows comes out within the month. And now we have a cover for Sweet Shadows.

I love the way all three covers go together-using the light similarly and the family resemblence between the girls is clear and as a series, it works really really well.

Sweet Venom came September 2012.
Sweet Shadows comes  March 2013
Sweet Legacy will come September 2013.

The concluding book in this kick-ass trilogy. Teenage descendants of Medusa, triplets Gretchen, Grace and Greer, face their toughest test yet as the mythological and the modern collide in a fast-paced urban fantasy adventure.

Author bio: Tera Lynn Childs is an award-winning and best-selling US author of teenage fiction. She holds a degree in Theatre from the University of Colorado and a Masters degree in Historic Preservation from Columbia University. Tera now spends her time blogging and writing wherever she can find a comfy chair and a steady stream of caffeinated beverages. Her first book with Templar Publishing, the mermaid romance Forgive My Fins, was published in 2011, with the follow-up, Fins are Forever, in 2012 and the concluding title, Just For Fins, coming in June 2013. Sweet Venom and Sweet Shadows are published in America by HarperCollins.
Tera tweets: @teralynnchilds

Sunday 24 February 2013

Books too perfect to review

You know how there's some books that you finish and your reaction is a mix of I love this and I can't deal with this and this has temporarily broken me and  I can't put down in words my utter love for this?

This will be a page with these books on it. I might attempt to do a full post for these, but for the time being, just know that they are awesome. I'll update this page as and when I come across these books. Because there will be more. 

Saturday 23 February 2013

Happy Blogoversary to Me- and Giveaways!

TWO WHOLE YEARS.  Of blogging, of writing reviews, of being crazy on the internet with you guys. Thank you to everyone who puts up with me!

As a thank you, I'll be running two giveaways!!! One's an international one, in which you tell me what books you want from The Book Depository. The other will be won by two people, both within the UK,  in which you both get to choose one book from my shelves and I'll send you that AND a surprise book. (The amount of books available will have increased by the time this giveaway ends. March = physical book shelf readathon!)

Terms and Conditions
--- Ends on 31 March 2013
---Open to anyone over 13.
---The winners have a week to reply before I email someone else.
---One winner
---Open wherever The Book Depository ships
---Choose books upto £11 worth from TBD (use this link to help you browse)
---I'm not responsible for the shipping.
-UK Only
---Two winners
---Choose one book from my shelves.
---You get that one, plus a random book from my shelves. I'll try and choose one you'll like.
---If you both pick the same book, whoever asked first gets it.
--If you're entering both giveaways, you can use the same info in both. 

Also, we still have the tagline thing going. I have a huge respect for people who do that for a living and huge huge hugs to everyone who's tried to come up with things. Sorry for being so picky. But if you can think of anything good, ie some way of finishing off "life's too short to..."  or some wholly original tagline, bonus points for funny, I'll give you a £5 internet book voucher.

Once again, thank you thank you thank you for being here and reading my blog and good luck and DFTBA!

Friday 22 February 2013

Tour Spotlight and GIVEAWAY - WitchLove by Emma Mills


Synopsis (Sequel to WitchCraft – Book 3 in WitchBlood Series)

With the reappearance of a lost love, Jess flees to the only people who can help her control her increasing powers and gain independence – her family’s coven. But with a bruised heart can Jess learn to forgive or will she find new love in the United States? Witchlove, the third installment of the Witchblood series, is a new adventure that takes Jess from New England to Voodoo country in the South.

What others are saying:

I love this series. I can hardly wait until the 3rd book, WitchLove is released… This is a series that I will look forward to re-reading just as the new book is ready for release.”
Carrie, book reviewer at

The characters feel real, the world feels authentic, and the story literally throbs with an underlying intensity that builds with each page. In short, Witchblood is an imaginative, satisfying read that still manages to leave the reader hungry for more.
Thomas Winship, author of Vaempires: Revolution & Vaempires: Zombie Rising

What I say 
This series is really really cool. Vampires, witches and angels? Heck yes. Throw in a strong main character and some romance I'm sure you'll all love and you have nothing to lose!
You can find my full  reviews of WitchBlood and WitchCraft around here too.
Author Bio
Hi I'm Emma. I am happily married with two lovely children. I have always loved reading and writing and published my first novel WitchBlood in Jan 2012 with Witchcraft following in June and WitchLove due in Feb 2013. After acquiring an obsessive love of supernatural teen novels...yes I'm a Twilight fan...I decided to write my own supernatural story based here in Manchester in the UK, near where I live and grew up. It's currently dark, windy, cold and very very wet... and easy to get inspiration.

Find Me- Facebook  |   Blog   |  Twitter   |   Goodreads  |

Buy US - Amazon   |   Barnes and Noble

Buy UK- Amazon   |   Barnes and Noble


It'll be a PDF, .epub or kindle file, and is therefore open internationally.
Giveaway open to anyone over 13.
Ends 8 March 2013.
Use the rafflecopter.
Good luck!

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Book tour review - WitchCraft by Emma Mills

Title: Witchcraft
 Author: Emma Mills
Series:  Witchblood #2
Published:  15 June 2012
Length:320 pages
Warnings: attempted rape
Source: author
Other info:  This is the second in the Witchblood series. The first was reviewed here.
Summary : Jess is no ordinary vampire. Protected by the Manchester vampire clan, and initiated by her family’s east coast American coven, she is sought after by every dark witch and warring vampire faction. Jess must fight if she wants to keep hold of her friends, her sanity and finally her existence.
As the dead bodies of human girls begin to stack up, and her recently accepted vampire boyfriend, Daniel, finds himself in prison, Jess goes on a crazy, forbidden trip to London, racing against time to save an old friend and solve the mystery behind Daniel’s incarceration. In battling new enemies and finding new friends, Jess’s confidence finds room to grow, but who will she lose along the way?

Review: Jess has just learnt that her heritage includes a family of witches. Then one of the shows up and initiates her into their coven. Now she’s a mix of both witch and vampire and everyone wants a piece of her.
It’s really nice coming back to characters you love. Jess is now vaguely used to being a vampire, but still wants remnants of her old life, leading to a rather amusing scene involving tea.The being a witch makes for a new set of discoveries waiting to be made. Once again, she’s strong, independent and takes it all in her stride.
I really like the supernatural mix of vampires, angels and witches. It’s not your typical mix, but it works really well. Each supernatural subset has their own society/heriarchy/ whatever and I really enjoyed seeing Jess navigate these.
It’s a very quick read, or maybe it’s because I was kept reading it for ages. Or maybe both. The writing is descriptive, and also accurate in the cases of the Wiccan ceremonies. The first bit is mainly grounding the setting with Jess’ witchiness, still with a lot of action there, but the second part is where it builds up and people die and such.  
Wholly shipping Jess and Luke. We definitely get to know him a bit more (after not getting that much of him in Witchblood) and I think they share a deeper connection than her and Daniel, even if both of these boys are annoying to her at times.
THE ENDING. EVIL AUTHOR. There are certain cliffhangers which should not be allowed to exist. This is one of them. Two of the characters who I was starting to really really like....and then.... WE DON’T KNOW. Must read Witchlove sooner rather than later!

Overall:  Strength 4 tea to a mustread for any supernatural lover.

Thursday 21 February 2013

Book Review- Dark Eyes by William Richter

Title: Dark Eyes
 Author: William Richter
Series:  Dark Eyes #1
Published:  15 March 2012 by Penguin
Length: 383 pages
Warnings: sex, not too detailed. Quite a bit of violence. Drugs TW sexual abuse, 
Source: Spinebreakers
Summary : Wally was adopted from a Russian orphanage as a child and grew up in a wealthy New York City family. At fifteen, her obsessive need to rebel led her to life on the streets.
Now the sixteen-year-old is beautiful and hardened, and she's just stumbled across the possibility of discovering who she really is. She'll stop at nothing to find her birth mother before Klesko - her darkeyed father - finds her. Because Klesko will stop at nothing to reclaim the fortune Wally's mother stole from him long ago. Even if that means murdering his own blood. But Wally's had her own killer training, and she's hungry for justice.
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo for teens, this debut thriller introduces our next big series heroine!

Review: Wally is a Russian, adopted into an American family. Age 15, she moves out, onto the streets of New York. This is the story of a year later. On a visit to  Brighton Beach postal-shop-copy-place-thing, where they cater to Russian customers,  she gets given a mysterious envelope with her Russian name on it. in it-a letter from her Russian mother. From there, she learns more about her family. For example, the fact that her father is a mafia boss. And he wants to find his ex-lover/wife/whatever (I’ve forgotten). And he’s not picky about he finds her.
Being adopted, I took a bit more interested in this. I’ve never tried to, or wanted to find my birth parents (something I don’t think would be easy with a pool of a billion people) but it must be interesting when you get details of your birth family just given to you without warning.
Wally takes this fairly well, and takes lots of things in her stride.  She’s a very strong girl, who is good at finding things out after learning things that capture her interest. She’s also a great friend to Ella and Tevin and Jake. There’s such a strong sense of bond between them. However, I didn’t connect with her, or any other character. She doesn’t have as much to worry about compared to the others, so I didn’t really care for her either.
There’s a lot of action, and a fair bit of violence. The first chapter involves a murder. The mafia are involved. People die. It’s definitely a big thriller. Lost of twists and turns, many predictable. Some things do happen a bit more easily  that I’d have liked or would have been interesting. The ending, ok. Not saying that in the it was mediocre way. I’m saying it in the ......*long pause* *hesitant er* Ok way. can’t find a gif to sum this up. But yeah. The ending. I liked it. this would definitely play out well as a film, what with the really fast pacing and turnabouts.
I found it quite confusing. I’m not sure why, I just didn’t get into it. The writing is ok, but there were some annoying things about it. it’s a bit too street, and it doesn’t really fit.
I like the fact that things happen suddenly. Even if you are expecting them, the very bad, very major things happen so suddenly it is realistic, and everyone has to adjust in short periods of time.
For a book market at teens, it is gritty. It’s nice not to be talked down to. Nothing’s pulled back, we get all the sad and gory details. Having never read  The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, I can’t comment too well on the fitting of this as a teenage version. From the little I saw of the film, this is in a similar vein, and probably does live up to its tagline.

Overall:  Strength 3 tea to a fast thriller, that wasn’t as good as I’d expected.

Wednesday 20 February 2013

Waiting on Wednesday-Cruel Summer by James Dawson

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly bookish meme hosted by Breaking the Spine where we show off books that we want to read but have not been published yet. 

Title:  Cruel Summer
Author: James Dawson 
Release Date: 1 August 2013 from Indigo
Link to / Summary from Goodreads: A year after Janey’s suicide, her friends reunite at a remote Spanish villa, desperate to put the past behind them. However, an unwelcome guest arrives claiming to have evidence that Jane was murdered. When she is found floating in the pool, it becomes clear one of them is a killer. Only one thing is for certain, surviving this holiday is going to be murder…
Why I want it:  I loved Hollow Pike. I enjoy good murder mysteries. This looks like it'll be fun...Also, it's James Dawson. And therefore awesome.

What are YOU waiting on this week?

Tuesday 19 February 2013

Author interview and giveaway-Kia Garriques and The Journey of a Thousand Eyes

Today, we have fantasy author Kia Garriques talking about her book, Innovera Yakov: The Journey of A Thousand Eyes.

In less than 140  words, what happens in The Journey of a Thousand Eyes?
Innovera Yakov: The Journey of A Thousand Eyes is the first installment in an action-packed fantasy drama where characters with powers of healing and destruction live, love, compete and disappear without a trace while they are being prepared for ‘The Journey’.

What are the Thousand Eyes?
The ‘Thousand Eyes’ refers to the River of a Thousand Eyes which runs through Innovera Yakov into the frightening world of darkness called Verheer. When Innovera Yakov is destroyed, the students must follow it into the darkness that awaits them before they can reach the promised world beyond. They have no choice. They must cross it or die. That great crossing is called 'The Journey'. Many of them will be lost along the way.

What did you have to research to write this?
I had to read a lot to understand the genre and to find an approach to writing a book that is interesting and different. For me, any fantasy world can be made convincing if you take care to remain consistent, give the reader enough detail to help them create that world in their mind, and fill your characters with the emotions and choices that most humans struggle with.

What influenced you in writing this?
The concept of Innovera Yakov originated from my dreams. I used to dream about these Beings in some other world. At first, it was scary but then I learned to overcome that fear and started looking forward to them. At one point, I became so enthusiastic about science, evolution and the possibility of realities and forms of life that might exist outside of what we know, that I wanted to absorb anything in relation to that. Innovera Yakov addresses many of the questions I have about our earth and the universe in general. It’s about all the preoccupations I have about love, freedom and adventure. It’s my attempt to understand life.

How did this cover come about?
My publisher had chosen a cover for the book already and we had been promoting that cover for a good few months. However, a couple of months ago, I had a vivid dream about the cover of my book and it was very different from the one I had initially. So I told Story Star Publishing that I wanted to change the cover. There was a lot of discussion before they agreed but once they accepted they were very supportive. I knew this amazing graphics artist called Milly Mackenzie who worked with my publishers to get the cover to what it is today. After telling Milly our ideas she did it straight away and that is how we got the current cover.
Do you see yourself in any of your characters?
Yes, I see myself in Ayana. She is the underdog and it takes her a long time to discover her strengths.

How long have you wanted to be a writer?
Ever since I can remember, I have always been writing. But I have always shied away from letting people read my work. At school, it was taboo to say that you wanted to be a writer; it just wasn’t a cool career option. Somehow I was led to believe that you had to be of a certain pedigree; you had to be different, more intelligent and even a little eccentric to be a writer.
Try as I might, I couldn’t help dreaming up worlds. I would wake around two in the morning and jot down those dreams in my notepad which I always kept next to my pillow. My inspiration comes from my dreams. Before, I was afraid of them; now I rely on them for my inspiration.
Who do you look to for inspiration?
I look to nature for inspiration. I love creation and I’m fascinated by the world around me. I am fascinated with science and the natural world.

What was the hardest thing about writing The Journey?
When I was faced with characters who had to die or disappear. Losing them was very hard.

What are you working on now?
I am working on the second book in the series. But, I have fleshed out the third and fourth book already.

And there's a giveaway! The prize is an ecopy of The Journey of a Thousand Eyes in a format of your choice. Ends 5 March.

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 Other places you can find Kia