Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Ashen Winter by Mike Mullin - ARC Review

Product Description:
It’s been over six months since the eruption of the Yellowstone supervolcano. Alex and Darla have been staying with Alex’s relatives, trying to cope with the new reality of the primitive world so vividly portrayed in Ashfall, the first book in this series. It’s also been six months of waiting for Alex’s parents to return from Iowa. Alex and Darla decide they can wait no longer and must retrace their journey into Iowa to find and bring back Alex’s parents to the tenuous safety of Illinois. But the landscape they cross is even more perilous than before, with life-and-death battles for food and power between the remaining communities. When the unthinkable happens, Alex must find new reserves of strength and determination to survive.

The ARC of this book was provided to me by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

I started reading Ashfall before going to bed. That was a BIG mistake. I ended up being up all night reading. And, not satisfied with looking at the sun coming up while tired as hell, I just couldn't stop. So, I picked up Ashen Winter and began reading it that morning. WITHOUT ANY SLEEP. Yes, I'm crazy. Nothing new here, so let's move on. I read the two books in a row and was done close to 1pm. Let's just say I slept until the next day, after I was done thinking about both books.

Although, I did quite enjoy Ashfall, Ashen Winter is a better book. That's ok. After all, on a first post-apocalyptic book you have to spend time with the world building and explaining all about the natural disaster. On a sequel you can focus on the ACTION and putting your characters through a lot of crazier shit. Plus, you're already invested in the characters. You KNOW them and you care a lot more about what happens to them. They're like friends. You worry about them, you cheer them on, and sometimes you want to slap the shit out of them. You know, the usual.

I grew to really like Alex. He's a great hero. He's courageous, softhearted, loyal, can kick your ass with Taekwondo, and sometimes a little stupid. When I say stupid, I don't mean that in the usual YA literature way, the "I'm only capable of thinking of the hotness of my love interest and nothing else". No, I mean the best kind of stupid, like "I'll put my life and limb at risk to save someone I don't even know in the middle on an Apocalypse, because I'm just too good a person". Alex's good heart is one of his best qualities and one of his worst. I wanted to smack him a couple of times, but I completely understood where he was coming from. I'm just not that noble. But I rather my heroes be noble, than hardhearted. Isn't that what makes a hero, a hero? Being nobler than his circumstances would usually allow? I have no problem reading about people that are way better than me. I actually prefer to.

Meet Darla:

Yes, things just explode around her because of the power of her awesomeness.

Darla. What can I say about Darla. I know: I LOVE THE SHIT OUT OF HER! I can't put how much into words, so this will have to serve as a representation of how much I like her:

Mike Mullin did something original here. Something that I wish more male authors would do, but especially female authors. He inverted the usual gender roles. Darla is not a simpering, helpless female who needs her man to save her. OH NOES! We usually have the Alpha male saving and teaching the useless female lead. NOT HERE, NO SIR. Darla is THE BRAINS OF THIS OPERATION. ALEX  himself admits this. She saves his life quite often and besides that she is the one full of life-saving/useful information. She's also older than him, though not by much. She's the one with an amazing mechanical ability. She can build things, machines that make their life easier. She was a farmer and is fucking strong. At one point in the book someone asks them who is the stronger physically, and Alex doesn't hesitate to say it's Darla. Darla, herself thinks Alex is stronger, but throughout both books it's shown that Alex is probably right. She is also mentally strong. She loses her mom in a horrible way in the first book, but after a day of being a little out of it, she keeps going. Keeps saving Alex's ass. ALEX WOULD NOT BE ABLE TO STAY ALIVE IN THIS POST APOCALYPTIC WORLD WITHOUT HER HELP. Sure, he saves her life sometimes too, and he is pretty kick ass with taekwondo and all, but if I had to chose between the two of them for a partner during an apocalypse, I'd chose Darla. No doubt about it.

That brings me to my ONLY complaint about this book. I NEEDED MORE DARLA IN IT.


They get separated in this book, and she is not on the page as much as in the first one. She was sorely missed by me. I kept reading because I wanted her back. Alex shares my feelings and spends most of the book going after her. AS HE SHOULD, since it was pretty much his fault, his noble stupidity that caused her to be lost. 


However, with less Darla we get some cool new characters. I completely fell in love with Ben. We meet Alyssa and Ben, who are brother and sister when Alex saves them thinking he is saving Darla. Although, I like Alyssa, Ben is the one who steals the show. Ben is a high-functioning autistic teen and he's adorable. He's in love with anything military and rants on and on about military/weapons facts. He's quite useful to have around. In one of the most priceless scenes in the book he saves everyone by criticizing the attackers wrong attack formation at great length and correcting their approach to it. Needless to say, I now want a Ben.

His sister Alyssa is a kind of tragic character. To keep her and her brother safe in this crazy new world, she has to use her sexuality. She's so used to doing it now, that it seems she can't stop. It's the only thing she has to barter with, and although that is quite sad, I respect her for it. It's in a bizarre way tragic and empowering. It's quite a dichotomy. I don't like to see women that are only as important as what they have between their legs, but the book does a good job of condemning it and showing how wrong that is. How very tragic women as sexual objects are. But, I don't see any difference between what Alyssa does and what French woman did in WWII. French women used to seduce Nazi officials in occupied France and pass what information they could gather to the French Resistance. It's the age old story of women doing what they can to survive and save their loved ones. And as a woman I cannot show them anything but respect and I'm sadden that some of my fellow women judge them for it.


So, when Alyssa tries to entice and seduce Alex, it didn't bother me. She didn't know Darla and didn't owe her any loyalty. Plus, she was just doing what she thought was right to remain alive near one of the only good guys she met. But, when Alex kissed her back TWICE, I WAS BEYOND PISSED. He's the one that should have been loyal to Darla. I guess he was, because he stops it before it goes any further and explains again and again that he loves Darla. I can kind of understand his weakness, but I was NOT HAPPY with him. Keep your lips to yourself, my friend. How hard can it be? We women have been doing it forever. 


The plot. Well, I'm going to summarize it as not to spoil you. Alex and Darla decide to leave his uncle's farm to go find his mom and dad, who left the farm in the last book to go find Alex. Alex gets a clue about their whereabouts and he and Darla (of course) go after it. Then shit hits the fan and it's again a fight for survival, for love and for freedom. It features a prison invasion, car chase with the hero on the roof of the car (AND a snowmobile chase across a frozen Mississippi river), a slave ring, cannibalism, escape from a refugee camp, black ops mercenaries, and various rescues operations. Oh, and some romance. It has non-stop action and heart. It's quite moving at times. I cried at different points in the story. Mostly, I was sobbing when


His dad commits the ultimate sacrifice.


I was bawling my eyes out. Pretty much like this:

I think I already convinced you to read this novel (if not, you're a lost cause). So, I'm gonna quit while I'm ahead.

I'm giving it 4 out of 5 stars.

The Ashfall series:

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Lucifer's Daughter by Eve Langlais - Review

Product Description:

Being Lucifer’s daughter can be hell.

Hi, I’m Muriel, the only white sheep in a sea of black ones, and a virgin to boot. I am determined to wait for love, but my dad, more commonly known as Lucifer, just wants me to stop being an embarrassment. I’m hoping the hunk that I met in my bar will turn out to be the one–just looking at him makes my insides melt like marshmallows over the coals of hell, but trusting is hard when it seems everyone I get close to ends up trying to kill me.

Not only am I dealing with an extreme case of lust, there’s a new threat in hell, one my dad says to ignore. Something easier said than done since it seems everywhere I turn demons are trying to kill me. But I’m okay with that, because one thing I’ve learned being a princess of hell is that sometimes I have to grab a demon by the horns and slap it around a bit.

A rebellion in hell, demon assassins and scorching kisses, could my life get any more interesting?

Little disclaimer first: This book is cheesy and formulaic. The plot is simple and you can easily guess what will happen. The romance is cliché. HOWEVER, I kind of loved this book. It doesn't take itself seriously, so neither should you.

This is the type of novel that I needed right now. I read a couple of heart-breaking books lately, and I wanted a fun and silly read to enjoy. It certainly fit the bill.

The main character is Lucifer's daughter, but she is a virgin and her dad is always trying to get her to sin more and lose her virginity. The best parts of this book were the interactions between them. They were hilarious and super sweet in a very twisted way (my favorite kind). I have this soft spot for Lucifer in works of fiction, which kind of disturbs my raised up catholic self (although I don't subscribe to any religion since I became an adult). I did love Lucifer here, and Muriel calling him daddy.

The hero is very alpha, as usual, but I liked the fact that the heroine is kick ass on her own right, being a princess of hell and all. She kicks ass better than he does. One scene I particularly liked was when he was trying to protect her by walking first into her apartment and looking for any attackers. Muriel stands back with her friend Charon (another great character) who laughs under his breath. She tells him that she thinks it's cute, since nobody has ever tried to protect her before. I really loved that she thought how cute the hero was when trying to be all alpha, since he really didn't have to. Muriel can take care of herself, which she proves quite often. I like a book that can poke fun at its own alpha male.

The sex scenes were a bit over the top, but again something that is very much in accordance to its genre. I'm used to it now, and a little sick of it. But if you like your smut, there's plenty here.

So, if you're looking for something fun, silly and fluffy. Give this one a try, but don't complain that I didn't warn you of its cheesiness. It's a very fast read too. 

This is the first book in a series. The second book is already out and it's called Snowballs is Hell. I will probably read the second one soon.

I was kind of torn between giving it 3 or 4. I'm giving it 3.5 out of 5.

The Princess of Hell series:

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Sandman Slim by Richard Kadrey - Review

Product Description:
Sandman SlimSupernatural fantasy has a new antihero.
Life sucks, and then you die. Or, if you're James Stark, you spend eleven years in Hell as a hitman before finally escaping, only to land back in the hell-on-earth that is Los Angeles.

Now Stark's back, and ready for revenge. And absolution, and maybe even love. But Stark discovers that the road to absolution and revenge is much longer than you'd expect, and both Heaven and Hell have their own ideas for his future. Resurrection sucks. Saving the world is worse.

Darkly twisted, irreverent, and completely hilarious, Sandman Slim is the breakthrough novel by an acclaimed author.

I'm not sure if I should be giving it 3 or 4 stars. I did enjoy the book a lot, but I have a feeling it is the weakest one in the series, as most first books are.

This book is straight up Urban Fantasy, not a drop of Paranormal Romance in there. This doesn't bug me at all, as I'm as much of a fan of UF as I am of PNR. I've been reading a lot of PNR lately which mostly consists of female main characters kicking ass, although I quite enjoy, that I was pleased to read a book with a male main character as the narrator. I really liked Stark. He is an anti-hero, but a kick ass one at that.

The book reminds me of The Dresden Files, but Stark is no Harry Dresden. They might share some snark, sarcasm, wit and balls of steel, but Harry is a hero in the best sense of the word. Stark not so much, although I still liked and appreciated him.

The world building is good and solid, gritty and edgy. Heaven and Hell play huge parts in it, and I loved Kadrey's take on it. I even enjoyed meeting Lucifer (which was a fantastic scene).

I'll be reading the sequel for sure, but I might wait until tomorrow to start it. I think I had all the darkness I can handle for one night.

I'd recommend this book to anyone who likes UF, and it's not put out by the lack of romance. It might take a little getting used to for people who only read books with female narrators (or maybe not), but it's a book worth reading. Dresden fans will enjoy for sure. I still like Dresden better, but I don't think anyone can take Harry Dresden's number one spot in my heart, so that's not a fair fight. 

I'm going to give it 3.5 out of 5.

The Sandman Slim series:

Sandman SlimKill the Dead: A Sandman Slim Novel (Sandman Slim Novels)

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

International Giveaway: Rise of the Poison Moon by Mary Janice Davidson & Anthony Alongi (TWO SIGNED COPIES)

Product Description:

Rise of the Poison Moon (Jennifer Scales)Jennifer Scales is a were-dragon with a fiery temper-but a warm heart.

She knew that growing up would mean changing. But Jennifer wasn't prepared for the blue scales or the claws, since no one had told her that she came from a bloodline of weredragons. Her greatest challenge? Protecting herself from her family's ancient enemies and preparing herself for fierce battles. And that's a lot to expect of a girl just coming into her own.

Jennifer's ex-boyfriend, werarachnid Skip Wilson, is out of control. His powers have grown as strong as his hunger for revenge, leaving her little choice but to confront him-hopefully without giving in to her own dark side...

Today is the release of the fifth Jennifer Scales book, Rise of the Poison Moon, co-written by the incredibly talented MaryJanice Davidson and her husband, Anthony Alongi. 

I think you all know by now that I'm huge MaryJanice Davidson fan. She is hilarious and her books are wonderful beyond words. Don't take my word for it, go read them now. Run, don't walk to your nearest bookstore!

Amazingly enough, to celebrate the release of the book, MJD and Anthony are offering TWO SIGNED COPIES of the novel to two lucky readers of this blog!

The contest is open to INTERNATIONAL residents! Awesome, huh?

All you have to do to enter the giveaway is:

1) Leave a comment on this post with your email address; and
2) Follow this blog.

Easy, isn't it? 

Feel free to tweet away and post about the giveaway. Help me spread the word around!

If you want to read about my love of all things MJD click here. If you want to read my interview with the lovely MJD herself click here, and lastly if you want to read my review of Undead and Unfinished click here.

And make sure to visit MJD's website here!

The contest will be open from today until August 10th, 2010.

I'll announce the winner on August 13th, 2010.

Good luck!

The Jennifer Scales series:

Jennifer Scales and the Ancient Furnace (Jennifer Scales, Book 1)Jennifer Scales and the Messenger of Light (Jennifer Scales, Book 2)The Silver Moon Elm (Jennifer Scales, Book 3)Seraph of Sorrow (Jennifer Scales, Book 4)Rise of the Poison Moon (Jennifer Scales)

Monday, July 26, 2010

Author Interview: MaryJanice Davidson & Giveaway Sneak Peek

If you have been following this blog you know how much I love MaryJanice Davidson's work. Her Undead/Queen Betsy series is one of my favorites and one of the first vampire series I ever read. So, you can imagine my delight and excitement when she agreed to be interviewed for the blog. There were lots of squeeing and jumping up and down involved, but I digress. 

You can read all about my love for the hilarious Queen Betsy books here and my review of the latest installment, the 9th book in the series that came out July 6th, 2010, called Undead and Unfinished here.

Undead and Unfinished (Queen Betsy, Book 9)
MJD and Anthony Alongi (her husband) also write the Jennifer Scales series, and the 5th book is coming out tomorrow, July 27th. It's called Rise of the Poison Moon, check it out:

Rise of the Poison Moon (Jennifer Scales)

MJD and Anthony are very generous and are offering two signed copies of Rise of the Poison Moon (Jennifer Scales Book 5) for an international giveaway that I'll be hosting starting tomorrow, the day of the release. Two lucky winners will walk away with a signed copy of the book. Isn't that wonderful?

So, make sure to come back tomorrow to check out my post about the release and to enter the contest. It will be international and involves 2 signed copies of the book.

I also have to thank MaryJanice profusely for agreeing to do this interview even though she was on the road promoting Undead and Unfinished. A shout out to her assistant Tracy who is fantastic. Thanks MJD and Tracy, you both rock and I'm very grateful.

I'll stop gushing and give you what you've been waiting for (Warning: Please don't drink and read, you might snort something out of your nose. MJD is a very funny lady). Here is the interview:

1) What was your inspiration for writing The Undead series?
I kept finding the same vampire romance novel over and over again. It was usually a male protagonist, some 400 year old Scottish Lord (in the books, they're usually lords or some kind of big-wig), who was comfortable skulking in alleys, determined to stay away from his loved ones, and bitching about how terrible it was to be eternally rich, young, and hung. I wanted to know where the REAL vampires were:  the plumbers, the cooks, the U of M grads. I wanted someone who would keep in touch with friends and family. Who wouldn't be caught dead, so to speak, sleeping in a coffin. So Betsy came out of that. 

2) One of the things that strikes me the most about the Undead Series is the humor. I'm not one to usually laugh out loud, I'm more of a chuckler. However your books always make me crack up, loudly I might add, attracting some strange stares from people nearby. How do you manage to keep it so fresh and funny after 9 books?
Rampant, continual immaturity. It's difficult for me to take anything seriously in life, never mind in fiction.

3) Did Betsy's story came to you already completely outlined, or did it changed and took unexpected turns while you were writing it? Was it always planned as a series?
It's so cute you think there was a plan! Only the first chapter of UNDEAD AND UNWED came to me outlined. The rest I wrote so there'd be more to the book than chapter one. I had no idea I was inventing a new romance sub-genre, be starting book 1 of at least an 11 book series, and setting on the road to financial independence. So you can imagine my surprise when I look around and see where I am today!

4) How many more books you plan to write about Betsy and the whole gang?
I'm contracted for two more, and I'm hoping Berkley will offer another contract for an additional 3. Cross your fingers!

5) How would you describe the Undead series for people who have been living under a rock and don't know about it yet?
Sex in the City meets The Stand?  ;-)

6) I'm a big fan of the vampire genre, ever since I was a little girl and read The Little Vampire by Angela Sommer-Bodenburg. Have you always been interested in vampires? 
Not vampires specifically, but I've always been interested in the paranormal. Very few of my books are about ordinary people who have ordinary jobs and experiences. I've always liked to throw a werewolf or ghost or fairy in the mix.

7) What's your favorite supernatural being?
I have no idea...I like them pretty equally across the board.

8) Betsy is very obsessed with shoes, do you share her obsession? (I would guess so from your picture) ;)
Nope! I'm a Payless girl. Beverly Feldman, an American shoe designer, sent me the shoes you see in the pictures. For free! Her assistant is a fan, and lent Beverly the books. I nearly passed out when I realized what was in the UPS box!

9) Are there any hints that you can share with us about where you plan on taking Betsy, Sinclair and the rest of the gang in next book, Undead and Undermined?
Back to hell, for certain. And a morgue in Chicago. And (sorry about the 80's movie reference), back to the future. Most of UNDERMINED will be spent with Betsy and the gang trying to head off the future.

10) Is there any plans to make the Undead novels into movies? If not, would you like to see Betsy in the big screen? Is there any actress you see as her?
Jenna Elfman (Dharma), for sure. My agent is shopping the movie rights around Hollywood as we speak. I've actually turned down a couple of offers, because I felt the terms were too strict. Germany bought the TV rights, so it's looking like a strong possibility that The Betsy Show will be shooting soon.

11) What can you share with us about your new book Me, Myself and Why that is coming out on September 28th, 2010?
It's about an FBI agent with multiple personality disorder. It's an entire division of the FBI, actually: BOFFO (Bureau of False Flag Ops), and everyone in the division is cracked. They've got paranoids, kleptomaniacs, agoraphobes, bi-polars, claustrophobes, depressives...everything. My editor calls the various psychoses their super powers, since they catch bad guys because of their problems, not in spite of. I can't wait for it to be's the longest book I've ever written by over a hundred pages!

12) You are such a prolific writer and have so many wonderful series out, how do you manage to be so creative and write so much?
I'm lucky in that I have to write. It's not something I need to make time for, or's like having breakfast. You sort of have to, so it's not a question of how often you'll have breakfast. The only question is, what you're *having* for breakfast.

13) You are on the road promoting Undead and Unfinished, how has the response been so far?
Incredible! I got to meet tons of readers, which was a joy and an honor. Some readers might be badly shaken by the epilogue from UNFINISHED, but nobody ever told me so to my face <g>.

14) Do you have any plans to write new stories, besides the series you already have going on and the new book Me, Myself and Why?
Yes, I'm soon starting on my super hero with OCD story, and hope to write more Alaskan Royal books. I'd also love to do a zombie novel.

15) What advice would you give to wanna-be writers?
Stick with it. I had nothing but rejection slips throughout my 20's. If I had quit at, say, age 29, I'd still be slogging through SDJs.

16) What book are you currently reading?
DIVORCED, BEHEADED, AND SURVIVED...the best feminist interpretation of King Henry VIII's 6 wives.

17) What's your favorite book?
I have 3:  IT, by Stephen King, SMALL SACRIFICES by Ann Rule, and GONE WITH THE WIND. Which reminds me, I haven't re-read that one in over a year...better get on the stick...

18) Who's your favorite fictional character?
It's impossible to pick just one! I like Scarlett, Lucas Davenport (from the Prey series), Burke (Andrew Vachss), and Suzanne Maretto (TO DIE FOR).

19) If you could have dinner with any other author, dead or alive, who would it be?
Carl Hiaason!  He's funnier on his worst day than I am on my best.

20) Do you have a favorite character among your own?
I like Betsy and Cadence (from MMY) the best so far.  

21) Which book (besides your own, of course) would you have liked to have written?
Oh my God, where to begin? Uh...GUILTY PLEASURES, GWTW, TO DIE FOR, and anything by David Sedaris.

22) What's your favorite book genre?
I'm all over the place...very eclectic. I don't have a favorite.

23) If you could marry any literary character who would it be?
Rhett Butler! Or Richard from the Anita Blake series.

24) Is there anything else you would like to say to your readers?
Yes! Thank you for making UNFINISHED a's number 15 on the NYT list! 

Isn't she hilarious? I can't wait for a Queen Betsy movie. It would be beyond awesome.

Thanks again MaryJanice! I had a lot of fun with this interview and I hope you readers do too. Let me know by leaving a comment, ok?

And don't forget to come back tomorrow to enter the giveaway!

The Undead Series:

Undead and Unwed (Queen Betsy, Book 1)Undead and Unemployed (Queen Betsy, Book 2)Undead and Unappreciated (Queen Betsy, Book 3) (Berkley Sensation)Undead and Unreturnable (Queen Betsy, Book 4) (Berkley Sensation)Undead and Unpopular (Queen Betsy, Book 5)Undead and Uneasy (Queen Betsy, Book 6)Undead and Unworthy (Queen Betsy, Book 7)Undead and Unwelcome (Queen Betsy, Book 8)Undead and Unfinished (Queen Betsy, Book 9)

The Jennifer Scales series:

Jennifer Scales and the Ancient Furnace (Jennifer Scales, Book 1)Jennifer Scales and the Messenger of Light (Jennifer Scales, Book 2)The Silver Moon Elm (Jennifer Scales, Book 3)Seraph of Sorrow (Jennifer Scales, Book 4)Rise of the Poison Moon (Jennifer Scales)

Me, Myself and Why:

Me, Myself and Why?

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