Todd’s Review of Deck Z: The Titanic by Chris Pauls & Matt Solomon

Every now and again, Kim hands me her Nook and asks me to scroll through a list of books that are highlighted, usually for a sale or a particular event or 51hhDGkGAEL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_season. One time I was flipping through a list of science fiction titles and one book in particular stood out. A creepy and undead hand was reaching up towards a picture of the Titanic steaming along the ocean. Intrigued, I began to read the synopsis. Two minutes later, I purchased Deck Z:The Titanic by Chris Pauls & Matt Solomon.

It is 1912, and the White Star Line is preparing to flex its muscle as one of the most powerful British shipping companies in the world with the debut of its flagship, the Titanic. Meanwhile, in a remote village in Manchuria, a mysterious sickness is spreading. Characterized by a black, oily substance that exits the mouths and noses of those infected; the patients often beg for death before descending into a subhuman state. Theodore Weiss, a German scientist, is sent by Kaiser Wilhelm II himself to investigate. What he finds is purely terrifying, and he is able to capture one of the infected and retrieve a vial of what he notes is “the Toxic” from which this infection spreads. Meanwhile, he discovers that he is not the only one who is interested in this mysterious disease, and he runs for his life as he is pursued in order to gain access to “the Toxic.” Weiss finds safety on the Titanic just as it weighs anchor and leaves port. None of the thousands of passengers aboard have the slightest idea of the grave danger they face on a ship which they believe to be unsinkable. What follows next is a tale of terror and action that doesn’t stop until the very end.

Being such a fan of science fiction and zombies, I knew that I was going to find this book entertaining. What I was curious about was the level of detail the book would provide about the zombies. If it was just going to be a gory zombie-fest with the undead chasing Titanic passengers around their cabins, I was going to be a little disappointed. However, I was pleasantly surprised when I read the opening chapters. In fact, there is a good amount of time before any action happens aboard the Titanic at all. Pauls and Solomon do a great job at setting the stage and describing “the sickness” in vivid detail. I felt as if I was with Weiss, investigating the illnesses in remote villages and his own lab, with little-to-no idea of the gravity in which he was placing himself.

After things get going on the Titanic itself, the action only picks up more, chapter by chapter. Weiss is a likable character, and I found myself rooting for him throughout the story. Pauls and Solomon also add a touch of softness with a side story line involving a young girl, which helps to round out all the horror and action that is going on otherwise. Overall, although things do get a bit predictable at points (there are only so many ways to describe a zombie, I suppose), the authors did an admirable job keeping me entertained and cheering for Weiss to the end. This is well worth a pickup for a quick read that will leave you turning the pages (or in my case, tapping the screen) until you discover what really happened on the Titanic that day.

4 out of 5 stars

Deck Z by Chris Pauls & Matt Solomon
Chronicle Books (2012)
eBook: 218 pages
ISBN: 9781452108032

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12 Days of Giveaways – Day 10 – Touch of Evil by C.T. Adams & Cathy Clamp

tofctaccFor today’s 12 Days of Giveaways post we have a paranormal giveaway! And not just any paranormal book, but one that deals with the dark and brooding world of vampires, specifically The Trall, or vampire parasites. In the first installment of The Thrall series, our heroine, Kate Reily, has been attacked by Monica Micah, the Vampire Queen of Denver, and she must fight to keep her status as “Not Prey” amongst the Thrall. Can she do it? Instructions on how you can win a copy follow the book and author blurbs below. Good luck!

From Goodreads:

Six years ago, the love of her life turned her over to the vampire parasites who call themselves the Thrall. Katie survives the powerful bite of the master parasite only to discover that the Thrall’s venom, coupled with her own natural psychic ability, has transformed her. Now she is next in line to be the Thrall Queen–and each day might be her last as a human.

Tom, a handsome firefighter, arouses all of Katie’s dormant senses, but her heart shies away. After Dylan’s betrayal, how can she trust any man–even a seemingly perfect and terribly sexy werewolf?

Tom’s sincerity–and sex appeal–begins to wear down Katie’s defenses. But his increasingly insistent charm hides a potentially deadly secret: his werewolf pack is hiding the one person who can stop the Thrall from completing Katie’s transformation into Queen–and they won’t give her up.

About the Authors

C.T. Adams: She spent seventeen years in the Denver metro area and now resides in Texas with a large dog and pet cats. Office work provided a living while she pursued the goal of becoming a novelist. Forming the partnership with Cathy Clamp was the catalyst that led to publication and the two have enjoyed a long and fruitful collaboration, with two series published within the Tor Paranormal Romance line: The Sazi, and the Kate Reilly/Thrall books. In addition they have authored stand-alone novels and participated in several anthologies. Working both as a team with Cathy and individually, Cie plans to be involved in writing novels for years to come.

Cathy Clamp: Cathy Clamp was 35 when the fiction writing bug bit her. Although always a competent legal and technical writer, the idea muse ignored her completely. It wasn’t until she met future friend and partner Cie Adams that things began to click. Her friend’s brain was the idea muse’s nesting site! Cie was blessed (or some would say cursed) with one or more full book plots a day! Cathy quickly realized where her bread was buttered. She did learn she possessed a skill in writing romance and action scenes, while her partner concocted storylines and richly diverse characters. Within 18 months of the start of their partnership, they had written five books, and now have two accepted for publication! Cathy lives outside of Brady, TX, with her husband, Don, (also a brilliantly gifted idea man for suspense and espionage) and their four dogs.

Giveaway

One lucky winner will have the opportunity to win a hardcover copy of Touch of Evil by C.T. Adams & Cathy Clamp!  For your chance to win simply leave a comment below.  Comments will be accepted through midnight on Wednesday, December 31, 2014.  Winner will be picked at random and announced on Thursday, January 1, 2015.  Open to US residents only.  Good luck!

12 Days of Giveaways – Day 1 – Sustenance (Saint-Germain #27) by Chelsea Quinn Yarbro

scqyIf you like vampire novels listen up! The first book up for grabs in our 12 Days of Giveaways is Sustenance by Chelsea Quinn Yarbro.  Sustenance is the 27th book in Yarbro’s Saint-Germain series. Each book is capable of standing alone, so don’t fret if you haven’t read the previous 26 books! Instructions on how you can win a copy follow the book and author blurbs below. Good luck!

The vampire Count Saint-Germain protects Americans fleeing persecution—and becomes trapped in a web of betrayal, deceit, and murder in post-WWII Europe in Chelsea Quinn Yarbro’s SUSTENANCE

The powerful House Un-American Activities Committee hunted communists both at home and abroad.  In the late 1940s, the vampire Count Saint-Germain is caught up in intrigue surrounding a group of Americans who have fled to postwar Paris. Some speak out against HUAC and battle the authorities.

Saint-Germain swears to do his best to protect his friends, but even his skills may not be able to stand against agents of the OSS and the brand-new CIA.  And he has an unexpected weakness: his lover, Charis, who has returned to Paris under mysterious circumstances.

About the Author:

Chelsea Quinn Yarbro is both a Grand Master and a Living Legend of Horror. She has received the World Fantasy Award for Life Achievement; various of her works have been finalists for the World Fantasy, Bram Stoker, and Edgar Allen Poe awards. Her interests range from music – she composes and has studied seven different instruments, as well as voice – to history, from horseback riding to needlepoint.

Her writing is similarly wide-ranging; she has written everything from Westerns to mysteries, from science fiction to nonfiction history. Yarbro has written more than twenty-five novels starring her vampire hero, the Count Saint-Germain, including the seminal Hotel Transylvania (a finalist for Vampire Novel of the Century), Night Pilgrims, Commedia della Morte, and An Embarrassment of Riches. Each novel stands on its own and can be read independently.

She has received the Knightly Order of the Brasov Citadel from the Transylvanian Society of Dracula and was the novelist guest of honor at the first World Dracula Congress in Romania.

Yarbro has always lived in California and currently makes her home in the Berkeley area. Connect with her on her website.

Giveaway – Special thanks to Tor/Forge for our giveaway copy!

One lucky winner will have the opportunity to win a hardcover copy of Sustenance by Chelsea Quinn Yarbro!  For your chance to win simply leave a comment below.  Comments will be accepted through midnight on Wednesday, December 31, 2014.  Winner will be picked at random and announced on Thursday, January 1, 2015.  Open to US residents only.  Good luck!

Spotlight + GIVEAWAY: Bloodwitch (The Maeve’ra Trilogy #1) by Amelia Atwater-Rhodes

baarLooking for a new paranormal series to introduce to your young reader? How about Amelia Atwater-Rhodes’ new series, Maeve’ra? Thanks to Random House we have an ARC of the first book in the series, Bloodwitch to give away! The first installment is about loyalty, power, and the rules of survival. For instructions on how you can win a copy, follow the book and author blurbs below. Good luck!

From Goodreads:

A gripping tale about loyalty, power, and the quest for freedom
Vance Ehecatl was raised with every luxury he could imagine in a beautiful greenhouse within the powerful empire of Midnight. Vampires are the only guardians Vance has ever known since he was abandoned by his shapeshifter family as a baby quetzal, and he is grateful to them for generously providing for all of his needs. When an act of violence forces Vance from his sheltered home, he is startled to meet Malachi Obsidian, a fellow shapeshifter with conflicting ideas about Midnight and its leader, Mistress Jeshickah.

Malachi claims Vance is a bloodwitch, who Jeshickah and her trainers, Jaguar and Taro, are trying to control. Vance doesn’t know anything about the rare and destructive magic Malachi says he possesses, and he can’t believe Jeshickah would use it to hurt others. But when his friends begin falling ill, Vance starts to realize his perfect world may not be as flawless as it seems. Now Vance must decide who to trust-the vampires he’s always relied upon, or the shapeshifters who despise them.

About the Author

Amelia Atwater-Rhodes wrote her first novel, In the Forests of the Night, when she was thirteen. Other books in the Den of Shadows series are Demon in My View, Shattered Mirror, Midnight Predator, Persistence of Memory, Token of Darkness, and All Just Glass. She has also published the five-volume series The Kiesha’ra: Hawksong, a School Library Journal Best Book of the Year and a VOYA Best Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror Selection; Snakecharm; Falcondance; Wolfcry, an IRA-CBC Young Adults’ Choice; and Wyvernhail. Her most recent novels are Poison Tree and Promises to Keep. Visit her at AmeliaAtwaterRhodes.com

Giveaway – Special thanks to Random House!

One lucky winner will have the opportunity to win an ARC of Bloodwitch by Amelia Atwater-Rhodes!  For your chance to win simply leave a comment below.  Comments will be accepted through midnight on Thursday, May 29, 2014.  A winner will be picked at random and announced on Friday, May 30, 2014.  Open to residents of the US and Canada only.  Good luck!

Jen’s Review of The Storycatcher by Ann Hite

tsahI’m not entirely sure how to review this book without sounding overly cliché. So, let’s start with the fact that I read mainly British or French historical fiction. This book, The Storycatcher by Ann Hite, is neither of those. But after reading some reviews on Goodreads which stated, “I usually don’t read this kind of book, but it was awesome,” I decided to give it a try. I’m very glad I did.

The synopsis really doesn’t do the book justice. It’s far more complex than it leads you to believe. There are many characters and what seems like many plots, however, they come together in a huge spider web (make sure you read the names on each chapter as the POV changes with each one. I did not find it hard to follow, but I can see how one might be confused.)

From Goodreads:

Shelly Parker never much liked Faith Dobbins, the uppity way that girl bossed her around. But they had more in common than she knew. Shelly tried to ignore the haints that warned her Faith’s tyrannical father, Pastor Dobbins, was a devil in disguise. But when Faith started acting strange, Shelly couldn’t avoid the past; not anymore.

Critically acclaimed, award-winning author Ann Hite beckons readers back to the Depression-era South, from the saltwater marshes of Georgia’s coast to the whispering winds of North Carolina’s mystical Black Mountain, in a mesmerizing gothic tale about the dark family secrets that come back to haunt us.

If a book is listed in the “supernatural” category I tend to stay away. I mean, I never finished one of The Babysitter’s Club books because: ghosts. But the “haints,” as they’re called in The Storycatcher are more like messengers than ghosts. The only thing the people on the mountain really had to fear was one who was still alive. The story of these haints had to be told, no matter the cost. Only the truth can allow these haints to rest.

Sins of the past and present collide in this intrinsically woven novel that really is … a page-turner. Suspenseful, interesting, amazing characters and “AHA!” moments make this a very epic read.

5 out of 5 Stars

The Storycatcher by Ann Hite
Gallery Books (2013)
Paperback: 352 pages
ISBN: 9781451692273

Special thanks to Gallery Books for my review copy!

Series Spotlight: The Westfield Wolves Series/Regency Vampyre Trilogy by Lydia Dare

This past summer, as I was stalking the Nook sales site, I found several books by Lydia Dare that intrigued me. While I don’t read as many paranormal books as I used to (I’m not sure why), I still like throwing one or two into my reading pile every few months to help me mix things up. The “one or two books” I threw into the mix this year turned into seven, with another two being thrown into my to-read pile. The seven books I read turned out to be two series by Lydia Dare (actually two authors – Tammy Falkner and Ava Stone) that intersect each other. The first four books are part of The Westfield Wolves series, the next three are the Regency Vampyre Trilogy, followed by two more Westfield Wolves books (another wolf book is slated for 2014 release and will be the tenth in this dual series.)

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So why am I telling you to read these books? It’s because of the kick-ass, take no prisoner heroines. You see, all the male characters are strong, powerful, domineering men. They’re werewolves and vampires, so their domineering natures are to be expected. However the women that enter their lives are no simpering misses. These women stand up to their domineering partners, challenging them and effectively wrapping these men around their little fingers. There is nothing they won’t do for their women, especially fall in love, which is something they’ve all sworn never to do due to their wild natures. Yet these fearless women show them how much better life is with someone by their side; they are an equal partner with whom they can share the ups and downs, the good and the bad.

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The books that really stand out in this series are Tall, Dark, and Wolfish and It Happened One Bite. Tall, Dark, and Wolfish follows Benjamin, a werewolf who has suddenly stopped changing during the full moon, and Elspeth, a healer who is part of a coven of witches in Scotland. Ben travels to Scotland in search of a famed healer (Elspeth’s late mother) to help him with his “ailment”.  As Elspeth is the only remaining healer, he finds himself in her company often as she tries to figure out how to get him to turn back into a wolf.  The two have such sharp and witty dialogue that I couldn’t help but fall in love with their story and subsequent relationship.

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In It Happened One Bite, Elspeth’s coven sister Blaire travels to a castle in Scotland that she never knew belonged to her family.  While exploring the castle she finds a man, James Kettering, locked in her cellar.  It turns out that her mother and the four other witches of their coven locked him in the cellar 20 years earlier for reasons unknown to James, Blaire, or the current coven. What I liked about this one was the change in Blaire’s character over the course of the novel.  She’s the battle witch of the coven – she can shoot fireballs, is excellent with a bow and arrow, etc. Her personality is already a bit more hardened and tomboyish to begin with, but to watch her fall in love was great. And James – he’s never threatened by her tough exterior. In fact, he loves her sarcasm and dry wit. He knows deep down inside she’s capable of great warmth, kindness, and loyalty. Their story definitely hooked me and made me extremely excited to continue the series.

I hope that I’ve given you enough reasons to read these series, as they aren’t ones to miss. And for those of you nervous to read something that is a collaboration of two authors, let me assure you that their writing is so flawless and seamless that you truly cannot tell that it was written by more than one author.

In (story) chronological order (with my ratings) the series is:

  1. A Certain Wolfish Charm (Westfield Wolves #1) – 4 out of 5 Stars
  2. Tall, Dark, and Wolfish (Westfield Wolves #2) – 5 out of 5 Stars
  3. The Wolf Next Door (Westfield Wolves #3) – 3 out of 5 Stars
  4. The Taming of the Wolf (Westfield Wolves #4) – 5 out of 5 Stars
  5. It Happened One Bite (Regency Vampyre Trilogy #1) – 5 out of 5 Stars
  6. In The Heat of The Bite (Regency Vampyre Trilogy #2) – 4 out of 5 Stars
  7. Never Been Bit (Regency Vampyre Trilogy #3) – 3 out of 5 Stars
  8. The Wolf Who Loved Me (Westfield Wolves #5) – On my to-read list
  9. Wolfishly Yours (Westfield Wolves #6) – On my to-read list

Spotlight + GIVEAWAY: Shadow’s Curse (Imnada Brotherhood #2) by Alexa Egan

scaeFan of paranormal romance? This giveaway is for you! Thanks to Pocket Books I have a copy of Alexa Egan’s latest Imnada Brotherhood novel, Shadow’s Curse, to give away! Check out the book description below, as well as instructions on how you can win a copy!

Suffering under a horrible curse and renounced by his clan, the Imnada shape-shifter, David St. Leger, stalks the London nights in the form of a large black wolf, channeling his desperate rage on thieves and murderers. But when he’s captured by the very woman he sought to rescue, he’s thrown into the magical and dangerous world of the Other—half human, half-Fey, and one of the Imnada’s ancient enemies.

Forced by her half-brother to use her gift of necromancy as a money-making scheme, Callista Hawthorne wants only to flee to her aunt in Scotland where she’ll be safe. Considering David her last hope, she offers him a deal—freedom in exchange for his protection on the long journey north.

Now in a race for their lives, Other and Imnada must put aside centuries of animosity and work together if they are to overcome the dark forces intent on stopping them before they reach safety. For Callista is far more powerful than she knows, and with her help and her love, David may finally be able to break the curse of the Imnada…

About the Author:

Alexa Egan is a member of the Romance Writers of America and a Golden Heart finalist. She lives in Maryland with her family. Visit her website or connect with her on Twitter & Facebook.

Giveaway – Special thanks to Pocket Books for our giveaway copy!

One lucky winner will have the opportunity to win a paperback copy of Shadow’s Curse by Alexa Egan!  For your chance to win simply leave a comment below.  Comments will be accepted through midnight on Monday, December 16, 2013.  Winner will be picked at random and announced on Tuesday, December 17, 2013.  Open to US residents only.  Good luck!

Winner Announced in the Spooktacular Halloween Giveaway!

13547225One person has been chosen the winner in the Spooktacular Halloween giveaway!

Congratulations to:

  1. sugarmammal who left a comment on October 31st

Please contact me with your mailing address by Friday, November 15, 2013 to claim your prize.

Thank you to all who participated and left comments!

Spooktacular Halloween Giveaway!

In the sp13547225irit of everyone’s favorite scary holiday, loosely based on Pagan rituals and gifts to spirits that somehow evolved into a candy filled day of wearing costumes (not that anyone’s complaining), I figured we at the blog should do a Halloween-themed giveaway!  As some of you may remember, I previously reviewed two books by Jason Hawes and Grant Wilson, of Ghost Hunters fame (you can read the reviews here and here!)  Now they’re back with another work, Ghost Town!  It’s their second fictional work, with the first being Ghost Trackers.  The ghost hunters Amber, Drew, and Trevor are back in Ghost Town, this time taking place in Exeter, which has the distinction of being “the most haunted town in America.”  They encounter an uprising of the town’s normally quiet ghost population, which is further exacerbated by the ghost of one of their former teammates, who  died years prior and has returned to complicate matters.  It will take all their strength and skill to put these ghosts back in their place and deal with their past at the same time.

So, if this sounds up your alley, leave a comment below telling us about your favorite part of Halloween.  Or, let us know what you’re going to dress up as!

Giveaway – Special thanks to Gallery Books for our giveaway copy!

One lucky winner will have the opportunity to win a paperback copy of Ghost Town by Jason Hawes, Grant Wilson, and Tim Waggoner!  For your chance to win simply leave a comment below.  Comments will be accepted through midnight of Thursday, November 7th, 2013.  A winner will be picked at random and announced on Friday, November 8th, 2013.  Open to US residents only.  Good luck!

Charlie’s Review of Carniepunk, an Anthology

cpAs I have stated time and time again, I am a HUGE fan of the fantasy genre, so when I was asked to read Carniepunk, I welcomed it with open arms. It seemed like a pretty awesome anthology that numerous authors in the genre had put together.

From Goodreads: 

A star-studded urban fantasy anthology featuring bestselling authors Rachel Caine, Rob Thurman, Seanan McGuire, Jennifer Estep, and Kevin Hearne, whose stories explore the creepy, mysterious, and, yes, sometimes magical world of traveling carnivals.

The traveling carnival is a leftover of a bygone era, a curiosity lurking on the outskirts of town. It is a place of contradictions—the bright lights mask the peeling paint; a carnie in greasy overalls slinks away from the direction of the Barker’s seductive call. It is a place of illusion—is that woman’s beard real? How can she live locked in that watery box?

And while many are tricked by sleight of hand, there are hints of something truly magical going on. One must remain alert and learn quickly the unwritten rules of this dark show. To beat the carnival, one had better have either a whole lot of luck or a whole lot of guns—or maybe some magic of one’s own.

Featuring stories grotesque and comical, outrageous and action-packed,Carniepunk is the first anthology to channel the energy and attitude of urban fantasy into the bizarre world of creaking machinery, twisted myths, and vivid new magic.

The fact that this is an anthology will either be a big turn on or a big turn off for readers. I found it to be a great opportunity to get a good mix of not only the genre, but to be exposed to many different authors. Some of the authors I’m sure you have read/heard of, while others are completely new. I felt like many of the stories were geared towards attracting readers to check out the author’s existing books, as most of them are tied in to their signature series. The positive thing about this is that if you like a story, you can go pick up their other works. However, the negative thing is that some of the short stories depended too much on the reader being familiar with the series it drew upon and failed to stand on its own. While this can be a downside to readers who have never been exposed to that author’s work before, the flip side is the opportunity to appeal in acquiring new readers. While I definitely enjoyed the book I don’t believe it’s for everyone. The problem I have here is that while you get to enjoy numerous short stories instead of one novel, I’m not sure the flow of it necessarily works. It makes me think was this written solely as a tool of marketing, perhaps.

While I don’t want to give away all the stories by going in-depth I’ll just let you know which was my favorite. For some reason Freak House by Kelly Meding really stuck with me. She isn’t even one of the featured authors, so I found that refreshing to really discover someone new and not just play into the fact that the names on the cover must have written the best stories. Freak House really was a fun little story, and if I’m not mistaken it is one of the few to stand on its own. The basics revolved around supernaturals being captured and displayed in a carnival freak show. It has a great lead character, excellent pacing, and I really felt that it could grow into something more! This story was right up my alley, and I really hope I get to revisit that world again in a standalone novel!

All in all, Carniepunk has its ups and downs. I definitely didn’t love all the stories, but I thoroughly enjoyed enough of them to make the experience enjoyable. I honestly haven’t read many anthologies like this, but I feel like this one was pretty good in the grand scheme of things. I particularly liked the carnival theme, as I think it was very creative! I could totally see this being developed into a miniseries for the screen, with the potential to grow. I would totally recommend this to anyone who either likes the genre, wants a quick fix, or feels like the authors seems interesting. However, as I stated earlier, just keep in mind that this isn’t a true novel.

3 out of 5 Stars

Carniepunk by Various
Gallery Books (2013)
Paperback: 433 pages
ISBN: 9781476714158

Special thanks to Gallery Books for my review copy!