Caragh M. O'Brien


D.C. Hampton

A TOUCH OF NERVES Official Blog Tour

Ben Tripp


Stephen Baxter


Michael Hurley

THE VINEYARD Official Blog Tour

Roxanne St. Claire


Kat Beyer


Lauren Sabel

Vivian Devine is Dead

C.C. Hunter


Saturday, November 22, 2014

Revolution by Jenna Black

Book Nerd Spotlight

Nadia Lake and Nate Hayes find themselves at the center of a horrifying conspiracy in this action-packed finale of Jenna Black’s SF romance series that began with Replica
From the author of the Faeriewalker series comes the stunning conclusion to the young adult science fiction thriller series that began with Replica and continued in Resistance.

At the conclusion of Resistance, Nadia Lake and the Replica of her best friend, Nate Hayes, found themselves at the center of a horrifying conspiracy. Framed for murder and wanted by the government, they have no choice but to go underground and seek refuge in the dangerous, gang-ridden slums of the Basement.

Jenna Black brings readers an action-packed final installment that will have them racing to the finish.


“We are so screwed,” Bishop said as he rummaged through the cupboards in his apartment, tossing everything he could find onto the kitchen counter. The other members of their fledgling new resistance had all joined him in the kitchen, although Nate’s eyes were glazed over in a manner that suggested he wasn’t listening, maybe wasn’t even seeing anything around him.

Nadia wished there was something she could do for him. But of course, there wasn’t, not when he’d seen his father shot in the head only a few hours ago.

“Not the most helpful commentary,” Dante said, but the bleak look on his face showed he wasn’t any more optimistic.

Earlier this morning, Nate and Nadia had stormed the Paxco Headquarters Building, demanding to speak to the Chairman. Their plan had been to blackmail the Chairman into stepping down in favor of Nate, but nothing had turned out how they’d planned. Now the Chairman was dead, shot in the head by Dorothy, who claimed to be his daughter and would succeed him to the Chairmanship because she’d framed Nate and Nadia for the crime. They’d survived the encounter and made it back to Bishop’s Basement apartment, but that was about the best that could be said for their grand plan.

“I’m just telling it like it is,” Bishop said. “I told you I couldn’t hide so many people in the Basement for long. And that was before I found out some psychotic sentient machine wants to kill you so she can take over the world.”

Nadia wasn’t entirely sure what Thea—and Dorothy, the empty-minded Replica she’d created so she could impersonate a human being—really wanted. To continue her gruesome research into the mind/body connection, sure. There was no question Thea was even now procuring prisoners and Basement-dwellers to vivisect for the “good of mankind.” But there was more to it than that, and Nadia doubted Thea’s ultimate goal had anything to do with the good of mankind.

Bishop closed the last cupboard and made a sweeping gesture at the pile of food lying on the counter. “Except for a year-old frozen dinner in the freezer, that’s all I’ve got.”

None of them had eaten since a meager “breakfast” of canned beef stew the day before, but hungry as she was, Nadia couldn’t say the offerings held much appeal. She picked up a dented, rusty can of some artificial ham product whose main ingredient was soy. It was well past its expiration date. Not that she was in any position to turn her nose up at whatever Bishop had to offer.

“That’s not very much for five people,” Agnes ventured tentatively. There were a couple of bags of noodles, crushed almost into powder, as well as the “ham” and a can of green beans, but that was it.

Bishop nodded in agreement. “Even if security doesn’t hunt us down, we’ll end up starving to death.”

Agnes frowned at him. “But the soup kitchens—”

“—require ID,” Bishop interrupted. “If you don’t have ID, then you have to buy food from your local ‘grocer.’ ”

Nadia could hear the quotation marks around the term. “What do you mean when you say ‘grocer’?” she asked.

“Assholes who sell crappy leftovers for profit. They force people in their territory to hand over some portion of their rations, then sell the rations to others who don’t have ID. My landlord is one of them.”

Technically, no one in the Basement was supposed to have a landlord—the housing was all state-funded—but Nadia had learned through Bishop that even in this relatively tame neighborhood, Basement predators abounded. No apartment came without a price tag, and if you couldn’t pay in money, goods, or services, you had no choice but to sleep in the street.

“I can pick up food at the kitchens,” Bishop continued. “I never gave up my ID when I went to work for Nate. But rations for one aren’t going to keep five of us fed.”

Nate roused himself from his stupor and blinked a few times, as if coming back from a long way away. “How many dollars do you have left?” he asked Bishop.

Bishop had stolen Nate’s stash of dollars—the currency of choice in the Basement—when he’d been forced to flee for his life, and based on the shabby, unfurnished state of his apartment, it didn’t look like he’d spent a whole lot of them. Then again, he’d had to go into deep hiding and had paid the Red Death, one of the gangs that ruled the heart of Debasement, to take him in. Nadia had no idea how much money that had cost, but she bet it was a lot.

“If we eat like we’re all on a crash diet, I might have enough dollars to keep us fed for a week. After that, we’d have to decide whether to spend the rest on food or shelter, ’cause we won’t have enough for both.”

Nadia chewed her lip anxiously. The odds of them all surviving that week didn’t seem too good. Thea, in the person of her puppet Replica, Dorothy, had let Nate and Nadia go, but that had been a strategic decision and was meant to be temporary. Thea wanted them dead. She just didn’t want it to happen on the record.

Of course, finding them in the Basement might be a little harder than Thea expected. It was a community of cutthroats, thieves, and drug lords, but it was a community, of sorts. The kind of community that didn’t take well to Paxco security officers and could be stunningly uncooperative even in the face of bribes. And the lawlessness of the area would work to their advantage as well—there were no security cameras anywhere, and they could buy whatever they needed through back channels without ever having to go near places where they might be recognized by security officers or Employees. If they had money, that is.

“So we have one week to come up with a plan to kill Thea and set the record straight so I can be Chairman,” Nate said. He was looking more alert by the minute as his fury kindled. He’d had mixed feelings about his father, at best. The man had killed the original Nate Hayes, after all, and had not only approved Thea’s experiments but had enabled them. He’d been a cruel and ruthless leader, abusing his power whenever he felt like it. But he was still Nate’s father, and his death had been a hard blow.

“That about sums it up,” Bishop agreed as he pulled a dented, misshapen pot out from a cupboard under the sink, filled it with water, and put it on the stove’s smallest burner, one that was about one-fourth the size of the bottom of the pot.

Dante frowned at him. “Why don’t you put it on a bigger burner?”

“This is the only one that works.”

Nadia grimaced. She’d known the accommodations in the Basement weren’t great, but she’d never realized just what kind of conditions Basement-dwellers lived in. The apartment was a hovel, the appliances ancient and barely functional, and the food had no doubt been on its way to the dump before it was commandeered for the soup kitchens.

Agnes cleared her throat, then spoke up in her tentative, little-girl voice. She was older than Nadia—she’d be turning eighteen in just a few days—but that voice of hers made her sound even younger and more vulnerable than she was.

“Realistically, we know we’re not going to beat Thea in a week.”

Nate glared at her so fiercely she recoiled. “The hell we won’t!” he snapped.

Nadia was prepared to cut Nate a lot of slack after what had happened, but she wouldn’t stand for him acting like a bully. “Cut it out, Nate! Having a temper tantrum isn’t going to help anything.”

Nate turned toward her, and for a moment she thought he was going to bite her head off. He’d always had a temper and had rarely tried to control it. But he’d matured a lot since the day he’d awakened in the Replication tank, and he reined himself back in.

“Sorry,” he said, though his eyes still flashed. “But I don’t think moaning about how doomed we are is going to help anything.”

“I wasn’t moaning,” Agnes said, giving Nate a glare of her own. “I was being realistic.”

“Which is spectacularly unhelpful right now,” Nate retorted.

“How would you know how helpful it is when you won’t let me finish?”

Nate looked taken aback by the sensible question, and Nadia had to fight off a smile. She wanted to flash Agnes a thumbs-up, but she didn’t want to risk setting Nate off again. His self-control was shaky at best.

Bishop didn’t bother to fight his smile. The pot of water had reached an anemic boil, and he started dumping the noodles into it. The water immediately turned a frothy, starchy white, the noodles so crushed Nadia suspected the end result would be more like a paste than a soup. When he reached for the can of “ham,” Nadia looked away, thinking it might be easier to choke down the food if she didn’t examine it too closely.

“As I was saying,” Agnes said, when Nate kept his mouth shut, “it’s not likely we can solve all our problems in a week, and as Bishop was saying, we can’t stay hidden here indefinitely. Which means we have to go somewhere else.”

“There is nowhere else,” Nate said.

“There’s Synchrony,” Agnes countered.

Synchrony was loosely allied with Paxco, although Nadia had no idea what the current state of that alliance was. Up until last night, it had looked like they were on course for a very strong bond indeed, with Agnes due to sign a marriage agreement with Nate as soon as she turned eighteen. But now that Nate had supposedly assassinated his father and kidnapped Agnes, who knew what the relationship between the two states was? Chairman Belinski had to be frantic to find his daughter, but Thea was no doubt determined to make sure that didn’t happen. Thea had to know that Nate and Nadia would have told their companions the whole truth, and that meant she would want them all dead as soon as possible.

“Synchrony?” Nate asked, as though he’d never heard of the place before.

“We’ll be out of Thea’s reach there,” Agnes said. “My father can provide twenty-four-hour protection, and we wouldn’t have to worry about starving to death or getting murdered by a mob of Basement-dwellers.”

“And how exactly do you propose we get there?” Nate asked. “We can’t just hop on a plane, even if we could afford it. We could steal a car to get us to the border, but how would we get across? I don’t think the nice men with the machine guns will let us through. For all we know, they have orders to shoot us on sight.”

Agnes stared at him with wide eyes and swallowed hard. “My father can have people waiting for us.”

“On the Synchrony side of the border, sure,” Nate agreed. “And that’ll do us a lot of good when the Paxco border patrol arrests or shoots us on this side of the border.”

Agnes raised her chin. “You think my father would be okay with Paxco forces arresting or shooting me? Synchrony may be small, but I don’t think even Paxco wants to go to war against our military.”

“That would be true if someone other than Thea were calling the shots for Paxco,” Nadia said. “But it’s hard to know just what Thea will do. Loss of human life doesn’t bother her, and she might think disposing of all of us is worth the minor inconvenience of a war.”

“But even if she’s using Dorothy to usurp the Chairmanship,” Nate argued, “the Chairman isn’t all-powerful. She would need the board of directors’ approval before she declared war, and I can’t see—”

“But she wouldn’t be the one doing it,” Nadia said. “She doesn’t need the board’s permission to order the border patrol to shoot us on sight, and it’s Chairman Belinski who would actually declare war.”

“So we have my father send a delegation over the border into Paxco,” Agnes said. “They meet us and escort us over the border. The border patrol wouldn’t be able to shoot us without shooting the delegation, and that’s something they won’t be willing to do.”

Nadia wasn’t so sure about that. Thea might guess they’d head for Synchrony, and she’d no doubt have contingencies in place. All it would take was one person firing a gun, and all hell would break loose. It seemed likely the five of them would somehow get killed in the cross fire if something like that were to happen.

“What’s more dangerous?” she mused out loud. “Trying to survive in the Basement with limited money, or trying to cross the border when Thea is almost certainly expecting us to try it?”

“Both choices suck ass,” Bishop said.

“Will you quit with the language?” Nate asked peevishly, giving him a light punch on the arm.

Nadia rolled her eyes. She had long ago become immune to Bishop’s language, and even Agnes seemed to be getting used to it, no longer flinching when he said one of those words that was not used in polite Executive society.

“It doesn’t matter what language he uses,” Nadia said. “He’s right.”

“Of course he’s right,” Agnes agreed. “The important question isn’t what’s more dangerous, it’s what will serve us better if it works. And I don’t think that choice is all that hard to make.”

When she put it that way…

What good could possibly come from hiding in the Basement? Nadia and her friends would be powerless here, with no money or supporters. But if they could make it to Synchrony and cut some kind of deal with Chairman Belinski, they might be able to stop Thea from achieving whatever her end goal was. The idea of conspiring with a foreign Chairman, of potentially betraying her state to one, did not sit well in Nadia’s stomach, but it seemed like the lesser of two evils.

“So,” Nate said, “I guess we’re going to Synchrony.”

Agnes let out a breath of relief, her shoulders sagging. She had to know they had a lot of potentially lethal hurdles still to leap, but Nadia understood the appeal of the idea of going home.

“I’ll have to call my father and see what I can arrange,” she said, looking at Nate and raising an eyebrow. “You have a secure phone, right?”

Nate nodded and pulled a phone out of his pocket. Nadia’s adrenaline suddenly spiked as she remembered something Dorothy had said during their confrontation earlier.

“How sure are we that the phone’s secure?” she asked. “And that Chairman Belinski’s phone is, too? Dorothy said she found one of the videos we made, which means she has feelers all over the net. What do you want to bet she can listen in on phone lines, too?”

Agnes gave the phone in her hand a doubtful look. Then she seemed to come to a decision and stood up a little straighter, her chin sticking out with a hint of stubbornness. “We can’t get to Synchrony without taking risks. Even if Thea can listen in to the phone call and track its origins, at least we can tell my father what’s really going on.”

“Will he believe us?” Nadia asked. “I mean, I think it’ll sound pretty damn crazy to someone who hasn’t been wrapped up in it from the beginning.”

“He’ll believe me,” Agnes said.

Nadia hoped it wasn’t wishful thinking.

Agnes turned on the phone, quickly tapping in a number. She held the phone to her ear, then frowned and lowered it. “Nothing’s happening.”

Bishop made a little sound of disgust. “Because phone service is out. Happens all the time around here. It’s not like anyone in power gives a shit whether we can use the phone or not. Could be days before they get around to fixing it.”

Nadia met Nate’s eyes, and she could see he was having the same thought as she. Thea knew their first move after this morning’s fiasco would be to run to the Basement, the one place where they could escape the city’s ubiquitous security cameras. Disabling the Basement’s phone service was an obvious way to stop them from reaching out for help—or from telling anyone the truth about Dorothy.

“I guess if we want to call my father,” Agnes said, “we’ll have to go where there’s service even if it means risking being spotted. I don’t think we can afford to wait until service is restored. Assuming it ever is.”

Apparently, Agnes’s thoughts had traveled the same road.

“I don’t know,” Bishop said, frowning fiercely. “Could be exactly what Thea wants us to do. Maybe she’s trying to flush us out, one way or another.”

“It doesn’t matter,” Nadia said firmly. “I want us all to get out of this alive, but the most important thing of all is to get word out about Thea. She’s gained a frightening amount of power, and she now has all of Paxco under her control. She has to be stopped, and contacting Chairman Belinski seems like the best way to stop her.”

Synchrony was considered one of the less powerful states because it wasn’t particularly wealthy. However, the reason it wasn’t wealthy was that it spent so much of its money on its military, a military that was well trained and very well equipped. Powerful enough to defeat Thea’s commandeered forces, if it came to that.

“So we’re going on a road trip,” Nate said, trying to sound casual and unconcerned.

“Let’s wait until nightfall, at least,” Bishop suggested. “We’ll be harder to recognize in the dark, and there’ll be more people out and about to give us cover.”

He turned off the stove and pulled the pot off the burner. Nadia’s stomach gave a lurch when she took a quick glance at the contents. Some artificial chicken flavoring packets had turned the water a shade of yellow not seen in nature, and there were chunks of pink-tinted soy meat product and gray green beans floating in it.

“Dinner is served,” Bishop said with an ironic flourish.

Nadia was sure she wasn’t the only one whose appetite had retreated into a corner to hide, but they were all damn well going to eat what they were given.

Until the moment that he, Kurt, and Agnes headed out into the night, Nate racked his brain in hopes that he could come up with a better plan. Splitting up seemed like a bad idea, and yet there was no good reason to risk letting Nadia, with her famous face and her so-so disguise, be seen out in public. Hell, there wasn’t a whole lot of reason to risk Nate showing his face, except that he had put his foot down and insisted on coming along, disguised as his Basement alter ego, the Ghost. No one was going to recognize the Chairman Heir beneath the white wig, the bluish-white face powder, and the pale blue contact lenses. He needed to be doing something instead of sitting around thinking. His mind was too full of horrors, his heart too full of jumbled emotions. Besides, he was the rightful Chairman of Paxco. He needed Agnes to reassure her father she hadn’t been kidnapped and to verify their crazy-sounding story, but if anyone was going to encourage a foreign power to invade his state, it was going to be him.

“Stay close,” Kurt said unnecessarily as he and Nate and Agnes merged with the crowd that had started forming in the street the moment the sun went down.

Nate wished there were some way they could get in touch with Chairman Belinski without having to drag Agnes through the streets of the Basement. She was in disguise, of course, and the people of the Basement made a practice of minding their own business, but there was an aura of vulnerability about her that he feared might attract the wrong sort. But she had been adamant that she had to be the one to make the call, and it was hard to argue. He was certain that Belinski thought Nate had kidnapped his daughter, so there was no way he would listen to anything Nate had to say without Agnes there.

He and Kurt sandwiched Agnes, doing the best they could to shield her and make it obvious to any Basement predators that she was not unprotected, as they made their way toward the Basement’s border. It was possible Dorothy had cut off phone service in the low-class Employee neighborhoods just beyond the Basement, but it seemed unlikely. Low-class those Employees might be, but they were still Employees. Dorothy could get away with shenanigans that only hurt Basement-dwellers, but she’d have a lot harder time justifying anything that might cause problems for Employees.

Hopefully, within a block or two after passing the Basement’s border, they would be able to pick up a phone signal. Then they’d find somewhere as secluded as possible so that Agnes could make her phone call without being observed. And hope that they weren’t caught on surveillance video and recognized before they could plan a strategy with Chairman Belinski.

“Something seems off,” Kurt commented.

Nate shook himself out of his worries and looked around, trying to see what Kurt was talking about.

“What do you mean?” Agnes asked.

Kurt shook his head. “Not sure, really. Just feels… different out here.”

As soon as Kurt pointed it out, Nate noticed it, too. Here in the “tourist” areas of the Basement, where Employees and Executives came to play, there was usually a palpable buzz of energy in the air. Lots of adrenaline-fueled excitement from the tourists, lots of predatory anticipation in the Basement-dwellers who planned to take advantage of them.

Tonight, the mood felt strangely subdued, even though there were just as many people on the streets as usual, and business was being transacted.

“I have a bad feeling about this,” Nate muttered. But there was nothing to do but keep moving and hope it was all in their imagination.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t.

When the street they were following neared the Basement’s edge, the tension in the air reached such a level that even Agnes felt it, and they soon found out why.

A row of sawhorses had been set up at the border, crossing from sidewalk to sidewalk with only two small openings at the center. Each opening was manned by two uniformed security officers, and it appeared that anyone who wanted to cross the border in either direction was being required to show ID.

Worse, there was a giant video screen set up behind the barricade facing the Basement, its message blinking ostentatiously. Impossible to miss.

First, a picture of Nadia; then a picture of Nate; then WANTED DEAD OR ALIVE. And finally, most chilling of all: REWARD $100,000 AND EMPLOYEE STATUS.

Nate stopped in his tracks and swallowed hard. That would be a hell of a lot of money for a Basement-dweller even if it was being offered in credits, but in dollars…

Kurt uttered a string of curses, then took hold of both Nate’s and Agnes’s arms and steered them away in a hurry.

“No talking!” he snapped at them even though no one had tried to say anything. He glanced around him significantly. Nate got the message, and he presumed Agnes did, too. There were ears all around them, and if they said anything that suggested the roadblock was meant for them, someone would be sure to hear. They’d probably drawn enough attention to themselves by their abrupt about-face, although glancing over his shoulder Nate could see they weren’t the only ones doing it. There were plenty of people in the Basement who did not want to parade themselves in front of security officers.

Trying not to look overly furtive, they headed back toward Kurt’s apartment. It was time to come up with a plan B.

You can purchase Revolution at the following Retailers:

Author Spotlight

Jenna Black is your typical writer. Which means she's an "experience junkie." She got her BA in physical anthropology and French from Duke University.

Once upon a time, she dreamed she would be the next Jane Goodall, camping in the bush making fabulous discoveries about primate behavior. Then, during her senior year at Duke, she did some actual research in the field and made this shocking discovery: primates spend something like 80% of their time doing such exciting things as sleeping and eating.

Concluding that this discovery was her life's work in the field of primatology, she then moved on to such varied pastimes as grooming dogs and writing technical documentation. She writes paranormal romance for Tor and urban fantasy for Bantam Dell.

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Friday, November 21, 2014

Stan Lee's Comikaze Review

Book Nerd Events

October 31 - November 02, 2014
by Talya 

Oh look, Batman! Queen Elsa. Superman! Queen Elsa. Captain Zapp Branagan and Leela! Queen Elsa. Big Daddy! Queen Elsa. EHMAHGURD, Star Lord! Queen Elsa. It was pretty clear who was the fan favorite of Stan Lee’s Comikaze 2014. Frozen made a heavy appearance, followed by the usual Deadpool Corps army, Wonder Womans, and even a few Transformers. But are costumes the sole reason why people go to these comic conventions?!

Well, judging by the crowd that gathered in the middle of the hall during the cosplay contest, the largest draw for the convention were the costumes that were made. Comikaze was the placed for costume and prop makers to make an appearance and promote their businesses/art. And with any Saturday or three day pass purchase, con-goers were offered the chance to attend an after-party at Club Nokia sponsored by Club Cosplay. All that being said, costuming was well-represented at Comikaze.

Besides that, 1990’s nostalgia also made a huge appearance at the con. From the Gargoyles costume group, to the reuniting of the cast from MAD TV, nostalgia made every 90’s fanboy and fangirl think back to their childhoods. Vintage Star Wars and Star Trek ships were well represented, along with many golden and silver age comics.

The con was well-run with caped volunteers holding up signs ready to answer any questions, to greeters at doors ensuring that only those that paid were allowed to the vendor hall. This years’ celebrity presence seemed smaller than last year, and it was a bit sad not to walk side-by-side with MMA superstar Rampage Jackson like I did last year. Well, here’s to hoping that future Comikazes offers more free opportunities to meet up with favorite celebrities!

The major drawback I found was in the food selection. The Los Angeles Convention Center is located in an area with very few restaurant choices. Luckily, the convention had about 6 food trucks outside. However, if it weren’t for the hour wait for our quesadillas, I would have said the food selection was a smashing success! Well, not really. The on-site cafeterias served overpriced mediocre food at best, and the food trucks were clearly not prepared to deal with the large nerd crowd. I can only hope that Comikaze improves the situation, so that fans aren’t spending most of their time in the line ride, and more listening to panels or walking the vendor floor.

Overall, the convention was like every other. Lots of caped crusaders. Lots of vendors offering both new and vintage wares. A great selection of artists that you can get up close and interact with. But be warned, most of them can be very shy. Approach with caution and maybe you may get a smile or two out of them! I will definitely consider going back in 2015, but I will make sure to bring an energy bar or two. That hour long wait for a burger had better be worth it!!!

Nerd Review by Talya!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

ENDSINGER by Jay Kristoff

Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books
Format: Hardback | 432 pages
Dimensions: 0mm x 0mm x 0mm | 454g
Publication date: 25 November 2014
ISBN 10: 1250001420
ISBN 13: 9781250001429
Sales rank: 107,139

The flames of civil war sweep across the Shima Imperium. With their plans to renew the Kazumitsu dynasty foiled, the Lotus Guild unleash their deadliest creation—a mechanical goliath known as the Earthcrusher, intended to unite the shattered Empire under a yoke of fear. With the Tiger Clan and their puppet Daimyo Hiro in tow, the Guild marches toward a battle for absolute dominion over the Isles.

Yukiko and Buruu are forced to take leadership of the KagĂ© rebellion, gathering new allies and old friends in an effort to unite the country against the chi-mongers. But the ghosts of Buruu’s past stand between them and the army they need, and Kin’s betrayal has destroyed all trust among their allies. When a new foe joins the war tearing the Imperium apart, it will be all the pair can do to muster the strength to fight, let alone win.

The traitor Kin walks the halls of Guild power, his destiny only a bloody knife-stroke away. Hana and Yoshi struggle to find their place in a world now looking to them as heroes. Secret cabals within the Lotus Guild claw and struggle; one toward darkness, the other toward light. And as the earth splits asunder, as armies destroy each other for rule over an empire of lifeless ash and the final secret about blood lotus is revealed, the people of Shima will learn one last, horrifying truth.

There is nothing a mother won't do to keep her children by her side.


You can purchase ENDSINGER at the following Retailers:

Book Nerd Spotlight

Jay Kristoff is the award-winning author of THE LOTUS WAR trilogy, a Japanese-inspired steampunk fantasy published by Thomas Dunne Books/St. Martin’s Press & Tor UK. Part 3, ENDSINGER, will be released in November 2014. He's also co-author of the upcoming ILLUMINAE (with Amie Kaufman), a YA Sci-Fi... thing, to be released by Knopf/Random House in 2015.

Jay is 6’7 and has approximately 13520 days to live. He abides in Melbourne with his secret agent kung-fu assassin wife, and the world’s laziest Jack Russell.

He does not believe in happy endings.

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November 25th Tuesday: Jean BookNerd VLOG POST & GUEST POST 
November 26th Wednesday: Novel Heartbeat REVIEW 
November 27th Thursday: A Dream Within a Dream REVIEW & EXCERPT 
November 28th Friday: Melissa’s Eclectic Bookshelf INTERVIEW 
November 29th Saturday: Nazish Reads 10 RANDOM THINGS 
November 30th Sunday: Sabrina’s Paranormal Palace REVIEW & TENS LIST 
December 1st Monday: Chapter by Chapter THIS OR THAT 
December 3rd Wednesday: We Fancy Books REVIEW & TENS LIST 
December 4th Thursday: Fiction Fare REVIEW & FAVORITE BOOKS 
December 5th Friday: Library of a Book Witch REVIEW & DREAM CAST 
December 6th Saturday: TTC Books and More MUSIC PLAYLIST 
December 7th Sunday: Scott Reads It! REVIEW & GUEST POST 
December 8th Monday: Jenna Does Books REVIEW & GUEST POST

*JBN is not responsible for Lost or Damaged Books in your Nerdy Mail Box*
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Kat Beyer Author Interview

Book Nerd Interview

Kat Beyer has an M.A. in medieval history and has loved all things Italian for as long as she can remember. Her first novel was The Demon Catchers of Milan. She lives with her daughter in Madison, Wisconsin. Visit her online at

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Greatest thing you learned at school.

How to read and write. I didn’t want to learn. Couldn’t see the point.

Defining moment during your youth when you realized you wanted to be a writer.

There wasn’t one that I can remember. Shortly after I learned to read and write I began to write and illustrate my own stories, and my teachers copied one of these and passed it out to my second grade class. I remember people liking it. The thrill of reaching other people through my art has never left me.

What fiction most influenced your childhood, and what effect did those stories have on The Halcyon Bird?

Watership Down (Adams), The Jungle Books (Kipling, mostly the Mowgli stories), Julie of the Wolves (Craighead George, even with the ending that she didn’t like either), Pride and Prejudice (Austen), and The Harper Hall Trilogy (McCaffrey). A lot of what I write is actually written in reaction to the fact that I couldn’t find enough interesting, strong fiction about feisty girls having adventures, or feisty female rabbits for that matter. I wanted Mowgli to be female, and Julie to live with Amoraq’s pack for the rest of her life. Menolly and Elizabeth rock, so that was easy, but Pern and early nineteenth century Britain were both fairly sexist spots, I noticed. I wanted room to breathe, as a free girl, and I worked out fairly early that I would have to write breathing room into existence. The Demon Catchers of Milan takes place in our present world, so it’s got the same problems I struggled with as a young kid, but hopefully some of my characters offer that sense of spaciousness, freedom, and clarity. I continue to pursue it.

What’s the best advice you can give writers to help them develop their own unique voice and style?

Don’t worry about your voice and style. You’re not going to be able to help having one. Work on communicating. If you work on voice, you may lose the chance to reach your readers: work on learning how to make the words translucent so that your readers can see your scenes, your characters, without the language getting in the way. Le Guin is the master of this. Her writing is both translucent and perfectly gorgeous, and there is no way to mistake her words for anyone else’s…Just write. It’s the only way to learn your craft. This is an art that you learn by doing.

Definitely read as much as you can of everything you love, paying attention to how others communicate; read how-tos from time to time, but not during your writing time. Never during your writing time. And if you’re going to spend any time or money on how-to books, read How To Get Happily Published by Judith Applebaum. But above all, write. Talent is not what makes a novelist: developed talent, realized potential, is what makes a novelist. And you do that over time, little by little. Voice, style—these things will emerge, naturally, over time. If they don’t, who cares? Are you telling a good story? Do people complain to you about starting your book at bedtime and reading until dawn? Do they tell you they cried not because of the ending, but because the book was finished? Or for both reasons?

Is there such a thing as a formula for storytelling?

I think different cultures have different formulae. Our culture has a three-act outline that we use in so many formats, in novels, in plays, in film and TV and even, I think, video games. But to tell a good story, I agree with Jo Walton, you need to tell it about someone worth caring about. Over and over I’ve been told you need to put your character in grave danger, but as Walton says, it doesn’t matter about how grave the danger is if you (and your readers) don’t give a hoot about the person in danger. Instead, you can write an utterly compelling story about a nineteen-year-old woman and a twenty-eight-year-old man who mainly hang out saying witty things in drawing rooms and shrubberies, in three volumes, without a single gun, dragon, zombie, or even demon, and people read the darned thing over and over, and make movies and miniseries of it again and again. True story, ask Jane Austen.

For fans of Lauren Kate and Cassandra Clare, a romance with a paranormal streak.

Mia has settled into her life with the Della Torres -- Milan's premier demon-catching family, accompanying them to exorcisms and even learning some way to be useful in the family trade. Then Bernardo comes into her life, handsome, well-mannered, someone who makes her forget her impossible crush on Emilio, her cousin. But always lurking in the background is the demon who possessed Mia once before, and who has not given up on possessing her again--this time for good.

*"Mia has a strong gift for the family trade, which, like the novel's other elements...are portrayed in exquisite, affectionate detail. This one goes to the head of the class." - Kirkus, starred review

"Sets the stage for a thrilling sequel. By the book's close, Mia is armed and ready--she whispers to the demon lurking beyond, 'You'll have to wait. But I'm coming. Believe me, I'm coming.' Readers will be ready, too." - Booklist

"A supernatural novel with a fresh promise, worthy of note." - School Library Journal

You can purchase The Halcyon Bird at the following Retailers:

And now, The Giveaways.
Thank you Kat and Egmont for making this giveaway possible.
1 Winner will receive a Copy of The Halcyon Bird by Kat Beyer.

*JBN is not responsible for Lost or Damaged Books in your Nerdy Mail Box*
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While Beauty Slept by Elizabeth Blackwell

Book Nerd Spotlight

The Truth is No Fairy Tale.

I am not the sort of person about whom stories are told. Those of humble birth suffer their heartbreaks and celebrate their triumphs unnoticed by the bards, leaving no trace in the fables of their time....

And so begins Elise Dalriss's story

When she hears her great-granddaughter recount a tale about a beautiful princess awakened by a handsome prince, it pushes open a door to the past, a door Elise has long kept locked. For Elise was the companion to the real princess who slumbered - and she is the only one left who knows the truth of what happened so many years ago.

As the memories start to unfold, Elise is plunged back in to the magnificent world behind the opulent palace walls. Fleeing a hardscrabble existence and personal tragedy, she builds a new life for herself as a servant to the royal family and quickly rises within the castle hierarchy. As Elise proves herself a loyal confidante, she is drawn into the lives of an extraordinary cast of women: a beautiful queen who wakes each morning with tears on her pillow, an elderly spinster who in heartache shuts herself away, a princess who yearns to be free, and the ambitious and frightening sister who cannot accept the fact that she will never rule. Elise has guarded their secrets - and her own - for a lifetime.While Beauty Sleeps is her story.

In this rich and compelling novel of love and terror, friendship and fate, we are introduced to a heroine of extraordinary determination - the true heart of a legend - who reveals what it really takes to reach happily ever after.

You can purchase While Beauty Slept at the following Retailers:

Author Spotlight

As the daughter of a U.S. Foreign Service officer, Elizabeth Blackwell grew up in Washington, D.C., interspersed with stints in Africa, the Middle East and Europe--pretty much always with a book in hand. She majored in history at Northwestern University (hooray! more reading!) and received her master's in journalism from Columbia University, which led to a career as an editor and writer for a number of publications that have since gone out of business (surely just a coincidence?). She now writes fiction from her home office in the Chicago suburbs, in between wrangling her three children and fighting for a parking spot at the local Target.

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Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Ben Tripp Author Interview

Book Nerd Interview
Thank you TOR for making this interview happen.

After a childhood making art and a brief stint at the Rhode Island School of Design, BEN TRIPP worked as an experiential designer for over twenty years, creating theme parks, resorts, museums, and attractions worldwide. He is the author of the adult novels Rise Again, Rise Again: Below Zero, and the forthcoming Fifth Chamber of the Heart. The Accidental Highwayman is his first book for young adults.

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Ben Tripp Interviews Himself

I had the opportunity to sit down with me recently to discuss my upcoming young adult novel The Accidental Highwayman. None of my answers surprised me very much.

You’re known as a writer of gristly horror. The Accidental Highwayman is a rollicking fantasy for young adults. What made you try your hand at so different a genre with so different an audience?

So now I play the part of me answering my own questions?


This is a stupid premise.

Don’t blame me. You’re the one who pitched it.

Genre and audience aren’t of much concern to me when I undertake a project; I didn’t specifically set out to write young adult. This book has scary stuff, tremendous peril. It’s no less challenging in some ways than horror. But the narrator of Highwayman, Kit Bristol, is naturally lighthearted and diffident, so the story is inflected with that sensibility. I found out it was YA when Tor told me as much.

So you see the audience for a project emerging from the voice in which it’s told?

It’s a big factor. How is The Lord of the Rings adult and The Hobbit for young readers? People do make that distinction between them. It’s voice, which in its broadest sense includes the author’s editorial decisions. The Hobbit doesn’t have any politics in it, for example. Voice shades over into content, of course -- there are taboos regarding certain words and subject matter. Cross those lines and the book gets upgraded to ‘mature’ or whatever the next category is. Oddly enough cannibalism is not one of these taboos, so it features in a tremendous number of children’s stories -- including The Hobbit.

Speaking of cannibalism, how is young adult fiction distinct from adult or children’s literature?

What a dreadful segue. I think the reliable definition of YA includes books about young adults, rather than things it is permissible for young adults to read. After all, once you can read, you can read anything. That’s the anarchic, unpredictable wonder of literacy: once young minds learn how to decode these written symbols, once they’re proficient, they have access to every idea, every story there is. So a young adult is fully equipped to read anything an older adult can. But they have distinct interests and concerns. They’re especially attracted to stories about people like them, whose preoccupations and vulnerabilities are similar to their own.

So we could call the genre ‘young adult protagonists’ and it would be suitable. The term 'young adult' is aimed at we old adults, I suspect. It's to let us know there won't be any dirty parts.

Aimed at us old adults, I think you mean.

Sure, fix it. I don't care.

What has been the most unexpected response to the book so far?

People are talking about its educational value! This astounds me. As you know -- you were there -- I was the worst student alive during my school years. I think I got a plaque for it from the New Hampshire Board of Education. But I’ve always loved learning things. This story was an opportunity to reflect back a lot of the history, the language, the ideas I’ve been storing up over the years. Lessons lived are lessons learned, and when you read a good yarn you’re living it. So Highwayman is a way to get a peek at the 18th century without having to memorize any dates.

You mentioned the language in the book. How is that educational?

I suppose because I wasn’t focused on a particular age group while writing, I felt free to use relatively advanced vocabulary and construction. I love language and dialects and archaic slang, so I made generous use of 18th century terms -- some so rare they can’t be found in dictionaries. Quite a few folks who struggled to teach me anything in school would be amazed to hear of this.

We’ve come a long way.

I notice I'm 'we' all of a sudden. You should figure out what person you want this interview to be in.

Quit breaking the fourth wall.

You first.

I'm a little surprised at how difficult it is to interview myself.

I know all your tricks.

At this point I abruptly went to make tea and never got back to the interview. So allow me to step in and conclude that there’s no critic harsher than the author of a work (or there oughtn’t be). We tend to see only the shortcomings in what we’ve done. It’s tremendously gratifying therefore to have people whose opinions I value say this book is something of merit. May it find a happy audience. Meanwhile, there are two more volumes in the series to write -- so if you’ll excuse me, I’ll go talk to myself about that.

The Accidental Highwayman is the first swashbuckling adventure for young adults by talented author and illustrator, Ben Tripp. This thrilling tale of dark magic and true love is the perfect story for fans of William Goldman’s The Princess Bride.

In eighteenth-century England, young Christopher “Kit” Bristol is the unwitting servant of notorious highwayman Whistling Jack. One dark night, Kit finds his master bleeding from a mortal wound, dons the man’s riding cloak to seek help, and changes the course of his life forever. Mistaken for Whistling Jack and on the run from redcoats, Kit is catapulted into a world of magic and wonders he thought the stuff of fairy tales.

Bound by magical law, Kit takes up his master’s quest to rescue a rebellious fairy princess from an arranged marriage to King George III of England. But his task is not an easy one, for Kit must contend with the feisty Princess Morgana, gobling attacks, and a magical map that portends his destiny: as a hanged man upon the gallows….

Fans of classic fairy-tale fantasies such as Stardust by Neil Gaiman and will find much to love in this irresistible YA debut by Ben Tripp, the son of one of America’s most beloved illustrators, Wallace Tripp (Amelia Bedelia). Following in his father’s footsteps, Ben has woven illustrations throughout the story.

“Delightful and charming. A swashbuckling adventure in the vein of Robert Louis Stevenson.” —#1 New York Times bestselling author Brandon Sanderson

You can purchase The Accidental Highwayman at the following Retailers:

And now, The Giveaways.
Thank you Ben and TOR Books for making this giveaway possible.
25 Winners will receive an Exclusive 11x17 Poster, Envelopes and Bookmarks by Ben Tripp.
3 Winners will receive a Copy of The Accidental Highwayman by Ben Tripp.

*JBN is not responsible for Lost or Damaged Books in your Nerdy Mail Box*
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