Monday, July 6, 2015

Those Girls by Chevy Stevens - Excerpt + a Giveaway

Tomorrow marks the release of Chevy Stevens's latest and to celebrate I've got an excerpt to share and a copy of the book to give away to one of you lucky readers!

Stevens is known for her insane suspense and twisted plots, folks, so if you haven't read her you really are in for a treat. Before we get too far, though, here's a bit about the book from Goodreads:

Life has never been easy for the three Campbell sisters. Jess, Courtney, and Dani live on a remote ranch in Western Canada where they work hard and try to stay out of the way of their father’s fists. One night, a fight gets out of hand and the sisters are forced to go on the run, only to get caught in an even worse nightmare when their truck breaks down in a small town. Events spiral out of control and a chance encounter with the wrong people leaves them in a horrific and desperate situation. They are left with no choice but to change their names and create new lives.

Eighteen years later, they are still trying to forget what happened that summer when one of the sisters goes missing and they are pulled back into their past.

This time there’s nowhere left to run.


I hope I don't sound too cheesy saying the description alone gives me chills. Frankly, though, that's what I expect out of any book by Stevens, which is why Those Girls is definitely part of my reading plans this summer. 

As promised - and thanks to the publisher, here's a taste of Those Girls to whet your whistle:

THOSE GIRLS 

Chapter One 

July 1997 

We’d only been on the road for an hour but we were almost out of gas. The white line of the highway blurred in front of my eyes, my lids drooping. It was three in the morning and we’d barely slept for days. Dani was driving, her face pale, her long dirty-blond hair pulled under a baseball cap and out the back in a makeshift ponytail, her eyes staring straight ahead. Her name was Danielle, but we just called her Dani. The oldest at almost eighteen, she was the only one who had her license. She’d barely said a word since we left Littlefield.

On my right, Courtney was also staring out the window. When her favorite country song, “Wide Open Spaces” by the Dixie Chicks, came on the radio, she turned it off, then stared back out into the dark night. She brushed at her cheeks and I could tell she was crying. I gave her hand a squeeze, she gripped it back. Her hair was down, one side pushed forward, trying to hide the burn that had left an angry red mark along her jaw line.

None of us had ever traveled this far from home before. We’d found a map at the hardware store—Dani had stolen it while we kept watch—and carefully planned our route to Vancouver. We figured we could make the drive in about eight hours if the truck held up. But we had to stop in Cash Creek first and borrow some money from one of Courtney’s old boyfriends.

It was the middle of July and so hot you couldn’t walk outside without feeling your skin cook. We were golden brown, freckles covering our faces and upper arms—a family trait. Forest fire warnings had been out for a month, a few towns had already been evacuated. Everything was dried out, the fields pale yellow, the weeds in the ditches covered in gray dust. We were in jeans shorts and T-shirts, our skin sweaty even this late at night, and the air smelled hot.

I touched the camera hanging around my neck. My mom had given it to me when I was ten, just before she died. Dani hated it when I took her photo, but Courtney loved it— used to love it. I didn’t know now. I glanced over at her again, then down at my chewed nails. Sometimes I imagined that I could still see the blood under them, as if it had soaked into my skin like it had our floors.

“We’re going to need gas soon,” Dani said suddenly, making me jump.

Courtney turned back from the window. “How much money do we have?”

“Not enough.” Before we left town we’d siphoned a little gas from a neighbor’s truck and gathered what food we could, picking fruit and vegetables from the farm’s fields, taking eggs from underneath the hens and storing them in our cooler. Our cupboards were empty by then—we’d been living on soup, Kraft dinners, rice, and the last few pounds of ground deer meet in the freezer from the buck Dad had shot that spring. We pooled our money—I had a few dollars from babysitting, and Dani had a little money left from when she helped during hay season, but she’d used a lot of it already that year, trying to keep us afloat.

“We could get some money for your camera,” she’d said.

“No way!”

“Courtney sold her guitar.”

“You know why she really sold it,” I said. Dani had gotten quiet then. I’d felt bad but I couldn’t do it, couldn’t give away my one good thing.
“What are we going to do?” I said now.

“We’re going to steal some gas,” Dani said, angry.

Dani always sounded pissed off, but I didn’t pay any attention to it unless she was really mad. Then I got the hell out of her way.

She had a right to be angry. We all did.

From Those Girls by Chevy Stevens, on sale July 7, 2015, from St. Martin’s Press, LLC. Copyright © 2015 by the author and reprinted by permission of St. Martin’s Press, LLC.


Those Girls is out on shelves tomorrow and I sincerely hope you'll be joining me in adding it to your summer TBRs. 

And now for the giveaway! To add your name to the hat, simply fill out the Rafflecopter below before Monday, July 20. Open US/Canada only and no PO boxes please.

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Sunday, July 5, 2015

New Releases 7/7/15

Some of the new titles hitting shelves today include:

The Insect Farm by Stuart Prebble

Swerve by Vicki Pettersson

The Unnoticeables by Robert Brockway

Time Salvager by Wesley Chu

The Invaders by Karolina Waclawiak

The Captive Condition by Kevin P. Keating

The New Neighbor by Leah Stewart

The Shapeshifters by Stegan Spjut

The Hand That Feeds You by A. J. Rich

The Last Pilot by Benjamin Johncock

Somebody I Used to Know by David Bell

A Necessary End by Holly Brown

Bradstreet Gate by Robin Kirman

Little Pretty Things by Lori Rader-Day

The Secrets We Keep by Stephanie Butland

The Wild Girl by Kate Forsyth

Sleeping Dogs by Thomas Mogford

Bell Weather by Dennis Mahoney

Name of the Devil by Andrew Mayne

Queen of Fire by Anthony Ryan

Newport by Jill Morrow

The Fraud by Brad Parks

The Way Things Were by Aatish Taseer

A Paris Affair by Tatiana de Rosnay

The Blumhouse Book of Nightmares: The Haunted City edited by Jason Blum

The Year's Best Science Fiction edited by Gardner Dozois

French Concession by Xiao Bai

The Woman Who Stole My Life by Marian Keyes

Aurora by Kin Stanley Robinson

Dexter is Dead by Jeff Lindsay

Vanishing Games by Roger Hobbs

The Summer of Good Intentions by Wendy Francis

Those Girls by Chevy Stevens

Dark Disciple by Christie Golden

A Study in Death by Anna Lee Huber

The Small Backs of Children by Lidia Yuknavitch

Bull Mountain by Brian Panowich

The Devil's Share by Wallace Stroby

The Hunters by Tom Young

Code of Conduct by Brad Thor

Take Pity by David Mark

Signal by Patrick Lee

Nemesis by Catherine Coulter

The Swede by Robert Karjel

One Way or Another by Elizabeth Adler

Down Among the Dead Men by Peter Lovesey

The Flying Circus by Susan Crandall

Among the Ten Thousand Things by Julie Pierpont

Renegade by Kerry Wilkinson

Heart of Betrayal by Mary E. Pearson

Silver in the Blood by Jessica Day George

Faces by E. C. Blake

Survive the Night by Danielle Vega

Hallowed by Tonya Hurley

A Million Miles Away by Lara Avery

Paperweight by Meg Haston

You and Me and Him by Kris Dinnison

The Six by Mark Alpert

New on DVD:
Five Flights Up
Woman In Gold
Kill Me Three Times
Maggie

New reviews at Bookbitch.com:
Day Four by Sarah Lotz

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Day Four by Sarah Lotz

With one day left in their cruise, The Beautiful Dreamer passengers are looking forward to celebrating New Year's Eve and returning to port. But this cruise is about to become a nightmare!

A fire in the engine room leaves the ship without engine power and slowly failing back ups. WiFi and communications are out completely and supplies are running low when the Norovirus begins to make its way around the ship. Tempers are running high amongst the passengers, a body has been found in one of the staterooms, and now crew members are claiming to have seen ghosts in the lower levels. Logic says they'll be rescued in no time, but as more time passes with no other ships in site that certainty begins to turn to fear.

This is the kind of book I crave! It's eerie and creepy and impossible to put down. It's also a companion to Lotz's The Three - not a prequel or true sequel, but definitely connected.

Day Four left me with a massive book hangover that couldn't even be combatted by my usual sure fire genre shift. Nope, this cruise ship weirdness left me wanting MORE!

Weirdness is really the only way to describe Lotz's work. If you've read The Three, then you know. Day Four has the same underlying tone of dread but is a much more mainstream narrative style. It's still not 100% typical horror, but I'm totally fine with atypical genre reads. I do think it makes it more appealing to folks who normally wouldn't read horror, too. Go gateway reads!

Human horror is kind of the bigger focus in both The Three and Day Four - how people react to the situation, the things they do to one another, the things they do to themselves. Lotz gives the reader varying perspectives in this one: Maddie, assistant to the famed psychic Celine de Ray; Althea, a steward in the upper decks; Gary, a killer; Helen, one of the passengers whose reason for being on the ship is unlike anyone else's; Jesse, the ship doctor with a past; Devi, one of the ship's security guards; and Xavier, a blogger whose goal is debunking Celine. As things grow worse on the ship, each of these characters is witness and participant.

As with The Three it's not until the end that things begin to become a bit more clear - more clear but not cleared up! -, which means I'm hoping Lotz has more to develop in this world for us. Until then, I've given up trying to combat my book hangover by tackling Lotz's coauthored Downside series (The Mall, The Ward, and The New Girl by SL Grey). If you're looking for some summer horror that's a little atypical of the genre, I highly, highly recommend Lotz's work!

Rating: 5/5

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Ana of California by Andi Teran + a Giveaway

With all the retellings coming out these days I'm almost surprised that Andi Teran is the first (that I know of) to take on Anne of Green Gables. That's right, if you didn't know then now you do - Ana of California, out now from Penguin, is a take on the beloved Lucy Maud Montgomery classic. Thanks to the publisher, I get to offer up a set - Ana and Anne - to give away today. Be sure to read through to the end to enter.

After being booted from her latest foster home, Ana is certain she's bound for yet another group home. But her social worker has one last trick up her sleeve: Ana is to be sent to the small town of Hadley, California, to live and work with the Garbers on their farm.

Siblings Abbie and Emmett were looking for a farm hand for the season, ideally a college student who would work for class credit, but found no takers. So when Ana is offered up, Abbie doesn't say no. Emmett has his concerns about taking on a girl for an employee, but Ana soon convinces him otherwise. 

Now, on her best behavior, Ana is determined to make things work. But trouble has a way of finding her...

I had some concerns going into this book, mainly that in taking on a story that is so close to so many readers' hearts that Teran might have taken on a little more than she could handle. Thankfully, Teran proved me oh, so wrong!

It was impossible for me not to love Ana and her story. It's a modern twist on the classic, moving it from Canada to California. Ana is an orphan who lost her parents to violence and crime. In this case, it's Emmett who's somewhat hardened against the girl and Abbie who has almost no reservations at all about taking her in before she arrives. Even the hair dying incident and the unforgettable cordial episode are given their own updated twist.

I find the most successful adaptations, for me as a reader, are those that maintain the spirit of the original while standing apart as their own story and Andi Teran has done that in Ana of California. This is not a play by play retelling of Anne set in California, Ana is her own character and her story is her own as well. She and Anne would be best of friends, though. Bosom buddies for sure!

Rating: 4.5/5

And now for that fabulously awesome giveaway I promised. Again, the publisher is letting me offer up an Ana/Anne set - that's right, one of you will win both Andi Teran's Ana of California and Lucy Maude Montgomery's Anne of Green Gables! To enter just fill out the Rafflecopter below before Monday, July 20. Open US only and no PO boxes please.

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(Bonus for book clubbers: the good folks at Penguin have prepared an online book club kit for Ana of California. You can find that here.)

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Guest Post by Gail Z. Martin

Good morning, everyone! I am happy to have one of the hardest working women in fiction - Gail Z. Martin - here today to promote her upcoming Iron & Blood (due out from Solaris July 7).

Before I hand things over to Gail, I wanted to tell you a bit about the new release. You might know her from her epic fantasy series (Chronicles of the Necromancer, Fallen Kings Cycle, and Ascendant Kingdoms) or her urban fantasy work (Deadly Curiosities/Deadly Curiosities Adventures). She's also a frequent contributor to anthologies and pretty massive web presence as well. Now with Iron & Blood, she's tackling steampunk! That's right, Gail Z. Martin's latest is the first in a new steampunk series coauthored with her husband, Larry N. Martin.

Here's a bit about the book from the publisher:

New Pittsburgh in 1898, a crucible of invention and intrigue, the hub of American industry at the height of its steam-driven power. Born from the ashes of devastating fire, flood and earthquake, New Pittsburgh is ruled by the shadow government of The Oligarchy.

In the abandoned mine tunnels beneath the city, supernatural creatures hide from the light, emerging to feed in the smoky city known as ‘hell with the lid off.’ Jake Desmet and Rick Brand, heirs to the Brand & Desmet Import Company, travel the world to secure treasures and unusual items for the collections of wealthy patrons, accompanied by Jake’s cousin, Veronique ‘Nicki’ LeClercq .

Smuggling a small package as a favor for a Polish witch should have been easy. But when hired killers come after Jake and a Ripper- style killer leaves the city awash in blood, Jake, Rick and Nicki realize that dark magic, vampire power struggles and industrial sabotage are just a prelude to a bigger plot that threatens New Pittsburgh and the world.

Stopping that plot will require every ounce of Jake’s courage, every bit of Rick’s cunning, every scintilla of Nicki’s bravura and all the steam-powered innovation imaginable.


Sounds amazing, right?! She had me at steampunk, honestly, but abandoned mine tunnels with supernatural creatures AND a Jack the Ripper wannabe... yep. I'm sold!

And now to hand things over to Gail!


Four Ways Well-Meaning Readers Put Their Favorite Authors Out of Business 

By Gail Z. Martin 


Readers love their books, and no readers that I've ever met would intentionally make it harder for their favorite series to keep coming out with books. But in today's changing marketplace, the publishing world is in turmoil. And whether readers realize it or not, they are part of the equation, since how they acquire their books and what they do with the book after purchase impacts whether or not more books by that author will continue to be published.

Here are a couple of ways well-meaning readers may accidentally be putting their favorite authors out of business--and how you can change that.

#1 Not buying a series until all the books are out. I write three ongoing series at a time--an epic fantasy series, an urban fantasy series and a steampunk series. Two of those series are open-ended, meaning that for the Deadly Curiosities books and the Jake Desmet Adventures, the books stand alone and there isn't a set number of volumes in the series. But for my Chronicles of the Necromancer series and my current Ascendant Kingdoms Saga, there are a fixed number of books in that main story arc.

I can't tell you how many times someone has said, "This looks good. But I always wait until all the books are out in a series before I buy any because I like to binge-read them."

Problem is, authors need to eat on a regular basis, and publishers want to see interest in a series in order to keep bringing the books out. When readers put off buying individual books in multi-book series until the whole series is out, publishers have no indication of reader interest and are likely to discontinue the series because it isn't popular or profitable. If that happens, your favorite author might not get another contract from that publisher because the last book/series 'failed'. And yes, your purchase matters. You. Because if everyone says "my purchase is just one in a million," then no one buys the book. Every purchase makes a difference.

No one says you have to read books as you buy them. Most readers have a 'to be read' pile a mile high. Do your favorite author a favor and buy the new book in his/her series (preferably in the first 90 days and as close to the publication date as possible) to show the publisher you want to keep on seeing new books from this author/series. This goes double for indie authors who don't get advance checks and depend on month-to-month sales revenue, but it's also true for those of us who write for big publishers. We're all only as valuable to publishers as our last sales report. Your purchase makes a difference.

#2 Returning ebooks for a refund after they've been read. I remember hearing stories about girls who would buy a prom dress, not cut off the tags, wear it to the big dance, and then try to return it to the store for a refund. Stores get testy about this for a reason. It's a form of theft. The consumer gets the value but doesn't pay for the value. Returning ebooks for a refund not because they were ordered by mistake or have a technological flaw or aren't what you thought they were, but instead returning them after the reader has finished reading the book is also a form of theft, because the author receives nothing for the transaction.

What about libraries? Libraries pay a special rate to publishers based on the intention to loan out a book. Publishers factor in the library cost knowing that most books rent a certain number of times, and so the library cost has to recoup a portion of those lost sales. In that case, it's like a store that rents tuxedos--they have factored the temporary use into the price. Authors get paid for sales to libraries. We make nothing on returned books.

#3 Downloading off pirate sites. Yes, I know that some people make the argument that pirated books are a form of 'advertising'. That pirates may tell their friends about an awesome book, and then the friend may go actually buy a copy. That pirates wouldn't have bought a book because they have no money and therefore a 'sale' isn't lost. Imagine how far that defense would go if someone shoplifted a physical book from the local bookstore. Pirate sites are a form of shoplifting and book theft. It's taking a product that is for sale without paying for it.

I'd much rather have someone borrow my book from the library or even borrow it from a friend who paid for it than download off the pirate sites. At least in those cases, someone purchased a copy of the book to start with. And while authors don't get any money from books re-sold at yard sales or second-hand bookstores, there again at least the book was purchased one time. (By the way, if you get your books mainly through libraries, yard sales and re-sale shops, please 'pay' the author with a review on Amazon or Goodreads. That would be a huge help!)

#4 Being addicted to free books. I understand the appeal of sites like Bookbub and Kindle Unlimited, especially for power-readers, people who read a book a day or multiple books a week. And I get the need to watch the budget. But writing books is time-consuming and actually work (to put out a good, well-written, well-edited and well-produced product). A surprising number of 'big-name' authors already have to work a second job because publishing isn't as lucrative for most people as readers might think. So getting paid for books matters a lot to authors, especially as advances from publishers shrink.

BookBub is a service publishers arrange to get wide early visibility with high volume readers. So it's a calculated risk, just like doing a book giveaway on Goodreads. The gamble is trading a certain number of free books with the hope of word of mouth and/or online reviews against lost revenue. It works when the freebies result in buzz and reviews. It fails when people take the free books and don't give back the reviews/buzz. So if you sign up for a program like BookBug or register to win free books on Goodreads, Reddit or other sites that do giveaways, please help the author out with a positive review when you can honestly do so.

If you really love your favorite authors and series, please help those writers keep writing by using the power of your wallet and also by posting reviews on online sites. Your favorite authors are depending on you!

Check out my new Steampunk novel Iron and Blood, co-written with Larry N. Martin, set in an alternative history Pittsburgh in 1898. In stores July 7!

The Hawthorn Moon Sneak Peek Event includes book giveaways, free excerpts and readings, all-new guest blog posts and author Q&A on 28 awesome partner sites around the globe. For a full list of where to go to get the goodies, visit www.AscendantKingdoms.com

About the authors:

Gail Z. Martin writes epic fantasy, urban fantasy and steampunk for Solaris Books and Orbit Books. In addition to Iron and Blood, she is the author of Deadly Curiosities and the upcoming Vendetta in her urban fantasy series;The Chronicles of The Necromancer series (The Summoner, The Blood King, Dark Haven, Dark Lady’s Chosen) from Solaris Books and The Fallen Kings Cycle (The Sworn, The Dread) as well as Ice Forged, Reign of Ash, and War of Shadows in The Ascendant Kingdoms Saga from Orbit Books. Gail writes two series of ebook short stories: The Jonmarc Vahanian Adventures and the Deadly Curiosities Adventures and her work has appeared in over 20 US/UK anthologies.

Larry N. Martin fell in love with fantasy and science fiction when he was a teenager. After a twenty-five year career in Corporate America, Larry started working full-time with his wife, author Gail Z. Martin and discovered that he had a knack for storytelling, plotting and character development, as well as being a darn fine editor. Iron and Blood is their first official collaboration. On the rare occasions when Larry isn’t working on book-related things, he enjoys pottery, cooking and reading.


Find them at www.JakeDesmet.com, on Twitter @GailZMartin or @LNMartinauthor, on Facebook.com/WinterKingdoms, at DisquietingVisions.com blog and GhostInTheMachinePodcast.com, on Goodreads https://www.goodreads.com/GailZMartin free excerpts, Wattpad http://wattpad.com/GailZMartin.


Big, big thanks to Gail for being here today and to the folks at Solaris for setting up the guest post. 

Top Ten Tuesday: Favorite Books of 2015 So Far

I've decided to jump on board with Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week the topic is: Top Ten Favorite Reads of 2015 So Far

Monday, June 29, 2015

Invasion of the Tearling by Erika Johansen

Happy Monday, Readers! Today I'm a stop on the TLC book tour for Erika Johansen's second installment in the Queen of the Tearling series, Invasion of the Tearling.

With the Mort Queen's soldiers at their border, things are looking bleak for the Tearling and it seems it's only a matter of time before they reach New London. Until then, though, Kelsea continues to search for a way to defeat her enemy. When Kelsea begins to have visions of another woman in a very different time and place, it seems an answer to her problems may be forthcoming. But only if she can decipher the meaning of the visions and her connection to them. 

This book. This book! I had trouble summing this up coherently and just as much trouble reviewing it. I loved it - it's completely amazing - but you need more than that don't you, readers?

First I'll say that this is not only a worthy successor to the first in the series, The Queen of the Tearling, but that Johansen has taken the story to completely unexpected places. I found with the first outing that this series was very similar in a lot of ways to Rae Carson's Girl of Fire and Thorns. Happily, these similarities end completely with Invasion.

We left Queen with just a hint of what was to come and just a tiny bit of information about the world prior to the Tear. With Invasion we're given a much better look at the origins of the Tear and where the people who inhabit it come from - via Lily.

Oh, Lily! I love Lily! Holy crap! Her story, which Kelsea sees through visions, was such a surprise. Honestly, I did expect some exploration of the world's history but not in this way.

Don't think this means that Kelsea or the happenings of Mortmesne and the Tearling take a backseat, though. Lily's story is woven in fabulously while Kelsea continues to try to find ways to heal her kingdom AND defeat their enemy. All of this means a lot of stress for our heroine, stress she's dealing with in possibly damaging ways. Tearling and Kelsea are on the brink and it's only a matter of time before we'll find out whether they'll end in disaster or rise to truly great heights. (Til book three releases, anyway.)

Rating: 5/5

To see more stops on the tour be sure to check out the official TLC tour page here.

For more on the series, you can visit the official Queen of the Tearling site here. You can also like the series on Facebook.