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Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Bout of Books 7.0: My Sign-up Post #boutofbooks


The Bout of Books 7.0 Read-a-Thon will soon begin! If you want to learn more about it, read on:


The Bout of Books read-a-thon is organized by Amanda @ On a Book Bender and Kelly @ Reading the Paranormal. It is a week long read-a-thon that begins 12:01am Monday, May 13th and runs through Sunday, May 19th in whatever time zone you are in. Bout of Books is low-pressure, and the only reading competition is between you and your usual number of books read in a week. There are challenges, giveaways, and a grand prize, but all of these are completely optional. For all Bout of Books 7.0 information and updates, be sure to visit the Bout of Books blog. - From the Bout of Books team
 
If you want to join me in the read-a-thon, just click on the challenge badge at the beginning of the post.

Spring into Horror Read-a-Thon: Wrap-up Post #SpringHorrorRAT

 

This is my Wrap-up Post for the Spring into Horror Read-a-Thon!

I got a lot of audiobook listening in, but not much sit-down reading time.



I Finished:

Agatha Raisin and the Murderous Marriage
(Agatha Raisin, Book #5)
by M.C. Beaton
[listened]



Breed
by Chase Novak
[listened]


Death Comes Home
(In Darkness We Must Abide, Episode 1)
by Rhiannon Frater
[read]


 Not Finished:


The End Games
by T. Michael Martin


Here are the final tallies for the week:


 Books finished: 3  
Total number of pages read: 107 pages
Total time listened: 13 hrs and 3 mins


Many thanks to the lovely Michelle for hosting! Can't wait for your High Summer Read-a-Thon in July!

Audiobook Review: Agatha Raisin and the Murderous Marriage by M.C. Beaton


TITLE: Agatha Raisin and the Murderous Marriage
SERIES: Agatha Raisin, Book #5
AUTHOR: M.C. Beaton 
NARRATOR: Penelope Keith
PUBLISHER: AudioGO Ltd.
PUBLICATION DATE: December 1, 2012
FORMAT: Unabridged audiobook, 5 hrs and 57 mins
GENRE: Mystery
Almost bigamy and absolute murder--Agatha's life is never dull...The morning of Agatha's longed-for marriage to James Lacey dawns bright and clear. But her luck runs out in the church when Jimmy, the husband she had believed long dead, turns up large as life and twice as ugly. Agatha has a go at strangling him. It's all too much for James, who breaks off the engagement. So when Jimmy is found murdered the next day. Agatha and James are both suspects. And they'll have to work together in order to clear their names…


MY REVIEW: 

I received this audiobook from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive any compensation for my review, and the views expressed herein are my own. 

Reading an Agatha Raisin novel is like eating “comfort” food. When I am looking for a fun, light read, I can count on this series to fit the bill.

At the conclusion of the last book in the series, Agatha Raisin and the Walkers of Dembley, we found out that conniving Roy Silver had hired a private investigator to find Agatha’s louse of a husband, Jimmy Raisin, upon hearing of Agatha’s upcoming nuptial to James Lacey. I was so eager to get my hands on the next book in the series, and it did not disappoint!

The story opens a week before the wedding, and Agatha and James are planning to get married at the civil registry office in Mircester with a celebratory dinner afterwards in Carsely. Mrs. Bloxby, the vicar’s wife, is a bit hurt and disappointed that the couple will not be wed by her husband in the church, but how can Agatha do so when she knows that she is not legally divorced from Jimmy? She assumes that her alcoholic husband has drunk himself to death, but she has no proof, and she hopes that the fellow who runs the registry office in Mircester will not ask too many questions.

Roy’s PI is successful in finding Jimmy Raisin, who lives in a cardboard box on skid row. He does mention that Agatha is getting married, but feels badly now that he sees for himself how truly awful Jimmy Raisin is and hightails it back to London and hopes that Jimmy will forget his visit in his drunken stupor. However, Jimmy does not forget, and he cleans himself up and shows up at Agatha’s wedding. Both James and Agatha are mortified, and James feels that he can never forgive Agatha for causing him such embarrassment. When Jimmy turns up dead, the prime suspects are Agatha and James. Although James wants nothing more to do with Agatha, he feels that they must work together to clear their names. As they follow their leads, more bodies follow.

This is my favourite book in the series so far! Beaton has really outdone herself this time. Get a load of these hilarious quips: 

“Maddie says, Maddie says," jeered Agatha tearfully. "You think the sun shines out of her arse!” – Agatha to Bill Wong

“He comes,” said James acidly, “to get a tan from the light that shines from the hole in your arse.” – James to Agatha 

James and Agatha are such a comical duo, and Inspector Bill Wong couldn’t be more right when he says that he thinks they are perfect for each other.

Am I the only one who thinks that Mrs. Bloxby is too good to be true? In every book, I keep waiting for her to be revealed as the villain who has pulled the wool over everyone’s eyes in Carsely. I wonder if that will ever happen?!

This is an outstanding addition to the Agatha Raisin series, and I can’t wait for more Aggie!

What can I say about Narrator Penelope Keith that I haven’t said before? She has me absolutely gushing over this series, and she brings life to Agatha Raisin. My kids know when I’m listening to an Agatha Raisin book because I’m always smiling! Keith is always a delight to listen to, and I could never settle for simply “reading” a book in this series. For me, it just wouldn’t be the same. 

MY RATING:

5 stars!! I loved it, and you should definitely read it! A big thanks to AudioGO and Audiobook Jukebox for the opportunity to listen to this audiobook!

This book qualifies as: 

#28 for my 2013 Outdo Yourself Reading Challenge
#28 for my 2013 Read-a-Latte Challenge
#13 for my 2013 Quick Fix Challenge 
#14 for my 2013 ARC Reading Challenge  
#23 for my 2013 Women Challenge   
#8 for my 2013 Sequel Challenge 
#7 for my Spring Reading Thing 2013

View all my reviews

Siege Book Blitz: Author Interview and Giveaway with Rhiannon Frater

Hi, everyone!


I am pleased to participate in the Book Blitz hosted by Xpresso Book Tours for Rhiannon Frater's Siege.


About Rhiannon:


Rhiannon Frater is the award-winning author of the As the World Dies trilogy (The First Days, Fighting to Survive, Siege,) and the author of three other books: the vampire novels Pretty When She Dies and The Tale of the Vampire Bride and the young-adult zombie novel The Living Dead Boy and the Zombie Hunters. Inspired to independently produce her work from the urging of her fans, she published The First Days in late 2008 and quickly gathered a cult following. She won the Dead Letter Award back-to-back for both The First Days and Fighting to Survive, the former of which the Harrisburg Book Examiner called ‘one of the best zombie books of the decade.’ Rhiannon is currently represented by Hannah Gordon of the Foundry + Literary Media agency. You may contact her by sending an email to rhiannonfrater@gmail.com.

CONNECT ONLINE WITH RHIANNON: 




Welcome back to Darlene's Book Nook, Rhiannon! What was your inspiration for Nerit’s character and do you know anyone with similar military background?

I was inspired by three women I met at various points in my life. One was a young Israeli woman that inspired Nerit’s name, the other two were older Israeli women who were beautiful, intelligent, kind, and former Israeli snipers. While speaking to one, she explained that women made better snipers than the men because they are better shots and she shrugged off her talent as if it was nothing really unusual. She alluded to having taken lives, but didn’t seem particularly ruffled by this fact because she was doing her job. I marveled that someone so normal could have done something so extraordinary.

Nerit was born in a split second when I was writing the book and saw her standing on top of the old hunting store. I instantly understood the character and what she was all about. I think she is such a popular and fascinating character because she is the person who does what no one else can do. She is the master of doing the monstrous and terrible, yet retains her dignity. I love the fact that she’s 62, a woman, and yet a complete bad ass.

 

Did you do any research on psychopathology to write about the after effects on your character’s psyche?

A ton of research. Both by reading and speaking to people who have gone through terrible calamities. I was able to talk to survivors of Hurricanes Rita and Katrina and it gave me enormous insight into the mind of someone going through a life-altering experience like a national disaster.


Also, I read up on historical events that adversely affected humanity and how we survived. I remember one article that really struck me was how humans survive through community. That was just a profound realization. Most of the time zombie fans are in love with the lone survivor, or the groups of people fighting and destroying each other, but the reality of our history is that in the end we survive because of community.

As for the personal struggles, I did a lot of research on battered women for Jenni. The real challenge was Calhoun. Since Calhoun is schizophrenic, I had to understand how the illness affects his perceptions. I watched several videos where they depicted how someone who has schizophrenia and is unmedicated sees the world. It was extremely eye opening.

I’m a firm believer in creating realistic characters.

 

You could have chosen any place in the world for your characters to hole up in during the end of days, yet you chose to keep your setting close to home. What were the perks & drawbacks to writing about a setting familiar to you, as opposed to choosing one you must research or create?

Actually, the characters are in a setting that is not familiar to me. I live in a big city. I’ve not experienced the small town community that exists in the book. I observed how these small towns operate during my former job and was exposed to the reality of a small town. I remember marveling at how a city secretary knew the name of every person in her town and where they lived. I was amazed. During my travels, I absorbed the whole energy of these small towns and the people who lived in them and transferred that into Ashley Oaks. It was a great experience.

I think the only book I have written so far where I didn’t have to do research on the location was PRETTY WHEN SHE DIES because it takes place mostly in Austin, Texas where I live. That made writing a whole lot simpler!

 

If you were stranded on a desert island (with electricity?) what 3 things could you not live without?

My computer, my husband, my pets.

 

What book would you absolutely have to have with you, and why?

My novel THE TALE OF THE VAMPIRE BRIDE. It is the one book I definitely wrote just because I wanted to read it.

 

What 5 words would you use to describe yourself?

Texan, author, Goth, goofy, boring.


Thanks so  much for joining us today, Rhiannon! It was fun getting to know you better!



One lucky winner will win paperback copies of all the books in Rhiannon's As the World Dies trilogy: The First Days (Book 1), Fighting to Survive (Book 2), and Siege (Book 3).



SERIES: As the World Dies, Book #1
AUTHOR: Rhiannon Frater
PUBLISHER: Tor Books
PUBLICATION DATE: October 30, 2012 (first published 2008)
FORMAT: Paperback, 416 pages
GENRE: Horror, Science Fiction
ISBN: 9780765366825

Katie is driving to work one beautiful day when a dead man jumps into her car and tries to eat her.  That same morning, Jenni opens a bedroom door to find her husband devouring their toddler son.

Fate puts Jenni and Katie—total strangers—together in a pickup, fleeing the suddenly zombie-filled streets of the Texas city in which they live. Before the sun has set, they have become more than just friends and allies—they are bonded as tightly as any two people who have been to war together.

During their cross-Texas odyssey to find and rescue Jenni’s oldest son, Jenni discovers the joy of watching a zombie’s head explode when she shoots its brains out. Katie learns that she’s a terrific tactician—and a pretty good shot.

A chance encounter puts them on the road to an isolated, fortified town, besieged by zombies, where fewer than one hundred people cling to the shreds of civilization.

It looks like the end of the world. But Katie and Jenni and many others will do whatever they have to to stay alive. Run, fight, pick each other up when they stumble, fall in love…anything is possible at the end of the world.
Buy Links:
Amazon / Barnes & Noble



SERIES: As the World Dies, Book #2
AUTHOR: Rhiannon Frater
PUBLISHER: Tor Books
PUBLICATION DATE: January 29, 2013 (first published 2009)
FORMAT: Paperback, 448 pages
GENRE: Horror, Science Fiction
ISBN: 9780765366832

It’s time to clear the hotel.

The fort has grown crowded as survivors of the zombie apocalypse have found safety between its walls.  Winter is coming; soon it will be too cold to live in tents and other makeshift shelters.  The leaders of the survivors—Katie, Jenni, Juan, Travis, and Nerit—decide it’s time for an assault on the zombie-occupied hotel that looms over the town square. 

A pitched battle in the banquet room is the start of a harrowing, room-by-room struggle from Reception to roof.  As the sun sets, the people of Ashley Oaks gather in the hotel’s rooftop ballroom and gazebo to celebrate their survival.  Gazing out over the beauty of the surrounding Texas countryside, it’s hard to believe that death and danger lurk around every corner. 

The fort’s search and rescue teams have attracted unwanted attention from bandits who see the fort as competition for food . . . and as a ready source of women.  The first attacks are minor, but everyone knows there is worse to come. 

And beyond the fort’s walls, the zombies shamble, moaning, eyes fastened hungrily upon the living.
Buy Links:



TITLE: Siege
SERIES: As the World Dies, Book #3
AUTHOR: Rhiannon Frater
PUBLISHER: Tor Books
PUBLICATION DATE: April 30, 2013 (first published 2009)
FORMAT: Paperback, 416 pages
GENRE: Horror, Science Fiction
ISBN: 9780765366849

Siege is the conclusion to Rhiannon Frater’s As the World Dies trilogy, which should appeal to fans of The Walking Dead. Both The First Days and Fighting to Survive won the Dead Letter Award from Mail Order Zombie. The First Days was named one of the Best Zombie Books of the Decade by the Harrisburg Book Examiner.

The zombie illness has shattered civilization. The survivors who have found tenuous safety in Texas defend their fort against the walking dead and living bandits.

Katie has made peace with the death of her wife and is pregnant and married to Travis, who has been elected Mayor. Jenni, her stepson, Jason; and Juan—Travis’s righthand man—are a happy family, though Jenni suffers from PTSD. Both women are deadly zombie killers. In Siege, the people of Ashley Oaks are stunned to discover that the vice president of the United States is alive and commanding the remnants of the US military. What’s left of the US government has plans for this group of determined survivors

It looks like the end of the world. But Katie and Jenni and many others will do whatever they have to to stay alive. Run, fight, pick each other up when they stumble, fall in love…anything is possible at the end of the world.
Buy Links:
Amazon / Barnes & Noble


To enter the giveaway, please fill out the Rafflecopter entry form below. 

This giveaway is open to Canada/US mailing addresses until May 9, 2013. 

Monday, April 29, 2013

Winner of Possession by S.K. Falls


Hi, everyone!


The lucky winner of Possession by S.K. Falls is:
Congratulations to Josie H.! I have sent you an email, and you have 48 hours to claim your prize.

If any prize is not claimed within 48 hours, a new winner will be drawn.

Thanks to everyone who stopped by to enter!

There is still time to enter these giveaways (just click on the badges below):

 
Tour-Wide Giveaway for fantastic prize package - Worldwide - ends April 29th

Zellie Wells Trilogy (Glimpse, Glimmer, Glow)
 Worldwide - ends April 29th

$25 Amazon or Barnes & Noble Gift Card - Worldwide -  April 30th

Worldwide - ends April 30th


Swag - Worldwide - ends April 30th


Canada/US - ends April 30th


 Worldwide - ends May 1st


Winner's choice of either book in the series - Worldwide - ends May 3rd


Canada/US - ends May 3rd

Kindle e-reader
US only - ends May 3rd

Delirium (Debt Collector,  #1)
Worldwide - ends May 6th


Aberrant Book Tour Prize Package - Worldwide - ends June 6th - 3 winners!

Winner of Going Under by S. Walden


Hi, everyone!


The lucky winner of Going Under by S. Walden is:
Congratulations to Kim P.! I have sent you an email, and you have 48 hours to claim your prize.

If any prize is not claimed within 48 hours, a new winner will be drawn.

Thanks to everyone who stopped by to enter!

There is still time to enter these giveaways (just click on the badges below):

 
Tour-Wide Giveaway for fantastic prize package - Worldwide - ends April 29th

Zellie Wells Trilogy (Glimpse, Glimmer, Glow)
 Worldwide - ends April 29th

$25 Amazon or Barnes & Noble Gift Card - Worldwide -  April 30th

Worldwide - ends April 30th


Swag - Worldwide - ends April 30th


Canada/US - ends April 30th


 Worldwide - ends May 1st


Winner's choice of either book in the series - Worldwide - ends May 3rd


Canada/US - ends May 3rd

Kindle e-reader
US only - ends May 3rd

Delirium (Debt Collector,  #1)
Worldwide - ends May 6th


Aberrant Book Tour Prize Package - Worldwide - ends June 6th - 3 winners!

Debt Collector Book Blitz: Guest Post and Giveaway with Susan Kaye Quinn

Hi, everyone!



I am pleased to participate in the Book Blitz hosted by Xpresso Book Tours for Susan Kaye Quinn's Debt Collector.


About Susan:
Susan Kaye Quinn grew up in California, where she wrote snippets of stories and passed them to her friends during class. Her teachers pretended not to notice and only confiscated her stories a couple times.

Susan left writing behind to pursue a bunch of engineering degrees, but she was drawn back to writing by an irresistible urge to share her stories with her niece, her kids, and all the wonderful friends she’s met along the way.

She doesn’t have to sneak her notes anymore, which is too bad.

Susan writes from the Chicago suburbs with her three boys, two cats, and one husband. Which, it turns out, is exactly as a much as she can handle.
 


CONNECT ONLINE WITH SUSAN: 
Website | FacebookGoodreads | Twitter


Welcome to Darlene's Book Nook, Susan!

Susan has written a guest post, so I will now turn the floor over to her.




What's a Serial and Why Would I Read One?
by Susan Kaye Quinn, author of a new future-noir serial called The Debt Collector

Covers for Debt Collector, Episodes 1, 2, and 3

A serial is a series of episodes - or short stories - that are connected to tell a larger story.


Must Read TV

Serials are actually a lot like a TV series, which themselves vary a lot in type. Series like Law & Order and House are more self-contained, with only a few character storylines carrying over from episode to episode. Series like Lost or Heroes would be difficult to watch out of order because the storylines carry more strongly, sometimes with cliffhangers, sometimes not.

Some readers like the week-by-week suspense of Must Watch TV; others would rather wait until the season is done and get it from netflix so they can watch it back-to-back. Likewise, some readers enjoy the suspense of reading a serial episode-by-episode as they're released. Others would rather wait until the entire serial is complete and read it all at once. Either is fine!


Is a Serial a New Idea?

Ebook serials are a new thing, because ebooks are a new thing - but serials have been around since Charles Dickens wrote and released Great Expectations (self-published through his own literary magazine!) in 6,000 word "installments" every week for nine months. Readers today aren't accustomed to reading in serial format because publishing serials was restricted to magazines, which didn't have wide circulation. Now with ebooks, the cost of transmission is low and the distribution is wide. Ebooks have revived the short story form! But for readers raised on novels, who crave longer works and more in-depth stories, serials are the next natural step.


Is a Serial a Novel Cut Into Pieces?


No. A serial is not a chopped up novel, just like a TV episode is not a chopped up movie. It's a different way of telling stories. In a way, it's more demanding to write than novels - you need to immediately draw the reader in, you have to reach some kind of reader-satisfaction-level by the end of the episode (even if you have a cliff-hanger), and you have to maintain that pace and storytelling arc over multiple episodes. But all that hard work on the part of the author makes it (potentially) more enjoyable for the reader.


Can You Name Some Successful Serials?

Yes!

Hugh Howey's Wool
RaShelle Workman's Blood and Snow
Platt &Wright's Yesterday's Gone

These are all recent bestselling serials that drew audiences in and helped revitalize the serial form.


Why Would I Read a Serial?

Readers tell me that they're enjoying the short episodes - they can read them quickly over lunch or in an evening and get a full "story" worth of entertainment. The fast pacing means there's a lot of story packed into a short number of words. Readers also say they enjoy the anticipation of finding out "what will happen next" much like a TV series where you get invested in the characters. Think about how a favorite TV series will sometimes focus one episode on one character or another, diving into their backstory. As a writer, I like that I can go in-depth a little more in each "episode" than I could in a novel, giving a richness to the story and characters that might be more difficult to do in a novel format.

All serials eventually come to an end, just like a "season" of your favorite TV series. Whether you enjoy reading serials as they release, or want to wait until the complete season is out so you can read the episodes back-to-back, serials are a fast-paced, exciting way to enjoy a story.

As a writer, I find serials are the hardest writing I've ever loved.


Susan Kaye Quinn is the author of the bestselling YA SF Mindjack series. Her new Debt Collector serial is her more grown-up SF. Her steampunk fantasy romance is temporarily on hold while she madly writes episodes to keep Lirium (the titular Debt Collector) happy. Plus she needs to leave time to play on Facebook. Susan has a lot of degrees in engineering, which come in handy when dreaming up dangerous mind powers, future dystopias, and slightly plausible steampunk inventions. Mostly she sits around in her pajamas in awe that she gets to make stuff up full-time. You can find her at www.susankayequinn.com

What's your life worth on the open market? A debt collector can tell you precisely. Delirium (Debt Collector 1) is now available on Amazon, Barnes&Noble, Kobo, iTunes, Smashwords. See the Debt Collector website to check all the latest episode releases and goings on in the Debt Collector world.

Thanks so much for joining us today, Susan!


There are two giveaways!

One lucky winner will win a digital copy of the first episode in Susan's Debt Collector series, Delirium.

There is a second tour-wide giveaway to win both a Kindle and digital copies of the first three episodes in Susan's Debt Collector series: Delirium, Agony, and Ecstasy

You can enter either or both giveaways!


 TITLE: Debt Collector 
SERIES: Debt Collector, Episodes #1-3 
PUBLICATION DATE: 2013
FORMAT: E-book
GENRE: New Adult Future-Noir

Episodes 1-3 (Delirium, Agony, Ecstasy) of the Debt Collector serial. Contains mature content and themes. For young-adult-appropriate thrills, see Susan's bestselling Mindjack series.

What's your life worth on the open market?

A debt collector can tell you precisely.

Lirium plays the part of the grim reaper well, with his dark trenchcoat, jackboots, and the black marks on his soul that every debt collector carries. He's just in it for his cut, the ten percent of the life energy he collects before he transfers it on to the high potentials, the people who will make the world a better place with their brains, their work, and their lives. That hit of life energy, a bottle of vodka, and a visit from one of Madam Anastazja's sex workers keep him alive, stable, and mostly sane... until he collects again. But when his recovery ritual is disrupted by a sex worker who isn't what she seems, he has to choose between doing an illegal hit for a girl whose story has more holes than his soul or facing the bottle alone--a dark pit he's not sure he'll be able to climb out of again.

The first three episodes of the Debt Collector serial are collectively the length of a short novel, or 152 pages. These are the first three of nine episodes in the first season of The Debt Collector serial. This dark and gritty future-noir is about a world where your life-worth is tabulated on the open market and going into debt risks a lot more than your credit rating. Episode 4, Broken, releases 4/17/13. For more about the Debt Collector serial, see DebtCollectorSeries.com
Buy Links:




Book Excerpt from Delirium:



My jackboots are new, the latest ultra-light material out of Hong Kong’s synthetics district, and they make a strange squeaking sound against the hospital floor. It’s the kind of sound that might gather snickers or a raised eyebrow, but no one looks at me, at least not on purpose. I stroll past the ICU desk, taking my time, breathing in the antiseptic smell that masks the odor of death held back by machines and drugs and round-the-clock care. The nurses duck their heads and study their charts, ignoring me. As if catching my eye might mean I’m coming to collect their debt, rather than Mr. Henry’s in Room 301.

The floor is so highly polished that I see the reflection of my trenchcoat running ahead of me, black as a midnight grave, a spook that lives on the surface of the oft-scrubbed tiles. It reaches the door to 301 before me and disappears in the dim, flickering light coming from the room. The spook has gone back where he belongs, into the dark recesses of my soul, assuming I still have one. If I was a betting man, I would say the odds of having a soul keep getting longer with every transfer I do. The older debt collectors, the ones who are still alive, don’t have anything shining out of their dull-glass eyes, even when they’re hyped up on a transfer. There’s no telling what my eyes look like.

I stopped looking in the mirror a long time ago.

Mr. Henry’s hooked up in all the usual places—tubes in his arms and monitor patches hovering over his temples and the blue-veined skin of his chest. His knobbed knees and shriveled legs stick out the end of the blanket. I don’t know if he’s tossed the blanket aside or the nurses just forgot to cover him up again after his sponge bath or whatever they do to prepare patients for a debt transfer. Goosebumps raise the hair on what’s left of his legs into a small forest of gray fur. I tug the thin, white-weave blanket over his exposed legs, and Mr. Henry opens his eyes.

They’re pale green and watery—washed out and used up like the rest of him.

“You’ve come for me,” he says.




To enter the giveaway, please fill out the Rafflecopter entry form below. 

The first giveaway is open worldwide until 12:00 AM CST 

on May 6, 2013. 
a Rafflecopter giveaway


The second giveaway is open to US mailing addresses only until May 3, 2013.
a Rafflecopter giveaway


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