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Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Review: The Better Part of Darkness by Kelly Gay

Atlanta: it's the promised city for the off-worlders, foreigners from the alternate dimensions of heaven-like Elysia and hell-like Charbydon. Some bring good works and miracles. And some bring unimaginable evil....

Charlie Madigan is a divorced mother of one, and a kick-ass cop trained to take down the toughest human and off-world criminals. She's recently returned from the dead after a brutal attack, an unexplained revival that has left her plagued by ruthless nightmares and random outbursts of strength that make doing her job for Atlanta P.D.'s Integration Task Force even harder. Since the Revelation, the criminal element in Underground Atlanta has grown, leaving Charlie and her partner Hank to keep the chaos to a dull roar. But now an insidious new danger is descending on her city with terrifying speed, threatening innocent lives: a deadly, off-world narcotic known as ash. Charlie is determined to uncover the source of ash before it targets another victim — but can she protect those she loves from a force more powerful than heaven and hell combined?

I've seen this book around in bookstores for a while now. But I have to say, it wasn't until a literary agent recommended the book to me last month at a writer's convention that I decided to finally read it.  She said the first line of this book sets the tone for the rest of the novel.  So being the geek I am I pulled out Precious and downloaded a sample to see the first paragraph. I have to say -- she was right! Check it out:
 "You told a two-thousand-year-old oracle to prove it?" Hank kept pace beside me, nursing his bloody nose with a handful of fast-food napkins I'd pulled from the glove box earlier. "I mean do you ever think before the words spew of your mouth Charlie?
The Better Part of Darkness is an urban fantasy story that introduces readers to a world where alternate universes have been discovered an their inhabitants have been integrated into human society.  All of the action is centered around Atlanta, GA - where the first dimension breach occurs.  Charlie Madigan is an ITF officer attempting to keep the bad guys in check, while raising her daughter. 

Overall storyline for The Better Part of Darkness is great. Gay's world building is solid and readers are placed right in the middle of the action. Charlie is a strong character with a "kick-ass" attitude and she carries the novel and the action well.   The only issue I had with the storyline were the abrupt "dunt-dunts" (yeah like Law and Order) where certain situations were just plopped into the story abruptly. Or special character angles were only touched on lightly when you really wanted more detail.  But for a debut novel, Gay certainly hits the spot dead on for a great series in the urban fantasy genre. I'm looking forward to reading book 2, The Darkest Edge of Dawn.

Author: Kelly Gay

Publication: November, 24, 2009 by Pocket
Format: Kindle Edition, 416
Disclaimer: This book was purchased by me

Monday, November 29, 2010

Interview and Giveaway with Touched by an Alien author Gini Koch

Today I have the pleasure of chatting with author, Gini Koch, the mastermind behind the novels Touched by an Alien and the soon to be released Alien Tango. I "met" Gini via a contest she created for the Alien Tango ARC. We chatted on Twitter and THEN I read Touched by an Alien.  Yes I know -- why try and get book 2 when I haven't even read book 1? *shrug* That's how I roll. :)

If you haven't read the book, here's the Summary for Touched by an Alien:

Marketing manager Katherine "Kitty" Katt steps into the middle of what appears to be a domestic dispute turned ugly. And it only gets uglier when the man turns into a winged monster, straight out of a grade-Z horror movie, and goes on a killing spree. Though Kitty should probably run away, she springs into action to take the monster down.

In the middle of the chaos a handsome hunk named Jeff Martini appears, sent by the "agency" to perform crowd control. He's Kitty's kind of guy, no matter what planet he's from. And from now on, for Kitty, things are going to be sexy, dangerous, wild, and out of this world.

So, let's get to it.....

Dren: In Touched by an Alien, Kitty uses Mont Blanc pens and Everhold hairspray as weapons. WTH? Where do these fantastic ideas come from?

Gini: Um, well…they were what Kitty told me she used. LOL I’m a linear writer and this book was very organic for me, so, pretty much, I wrote down what all the characters told me. I didn’t even know their names until they told them to me. Yes, really. I call it Writing from the Hindbrain and it’s where you simply let go and let whatever’s in your head flow. It’s a party in my mind, and apparently the funky resides here, but it works for me.

Dren: Do you think Mont Blanc will create a “Kitty” Special Edition Pen? (I’m so gonna hashtag this on Twitter)

Gini: Wow, that would be beyond awesome. Especially if they sent me one. I love pens. I mean I LOVE them. And pencils. I’m a big writing instruments girl. I think I sort of collect pens the way other people collect commemorative plates -- with a sort of insane need to have them all and to have any pen or cool pencil I see. At least pens and pencils take less space to store. And Mont Blanc are the Mt. Olympus of pens. So it would be a great honor. And, again, hopefully they’d send me one. (Hint, HINT, Mont Blanc!)

Dren: When you started writing Touched By An Alien, did you already have the other books lined up in your head?

Gini: No, not really. I finished Touched by an Alien and then rolled right into Alien Tango. Finished it and rolled into Alien in the Family. Finished it and rolled into Alien Proliferation. Finished it and my agent called to sign me, so the rolling stopped for a bit. LOL.

Once I started writing Touched the other ideas for Tango arrived. Once I was writing it, I saw Family and Proliferation. As I was writing those two I saw Alien Diplomacy (Book 5) and beyond. Pretty much, I get more ideas based on what the characters have “just” gone through. The more I write, the more future ideas I get, too, which is nice.

Dren: I’ve heard that there are at least two more books in the works after Alien Tango -- Alien in the Family and Alien Proliferation. Are there any more books about Kitty and Jeff in the horizon?

Gini: There are indeed! DAW Books just confirmed that they’re buying Books 5 & 6, so Alien Diplomacy and Alien vs. Alien will be coming to a bookstore near you in 2012! Right now, the odd numbered books release in April and the evens release in Winter (usually December).

Right now I have through Book 12 mapped out (at least as much as I “map”), so hopefully there will be a lot more in the future, too.

Dren: So you know I've got to ask -- Will Chris ever get his own story? (closing eyes and crossing fingers)

Gini: No. Next question?

Dren: *Blank Stare*  *Crickets Chirping in the background*

Gini: LOL. I know, I know, this question comes up all the time. Christopher is part of the cast of this series. He’s not getting his own. This is Kitty’s series, and shall stay Kitty’s series. One offs are a down-the-road discussion my editor and I haven’t had seriously yet. (Yes, we’ve had said discussion, but in a very general, in the future, kind of way.)

Dren:  Ok so after “Thawcking” my way to an honorable mention in your Alien Tango ARC giveaway last month, it’s clear that Gators play some sort of role in book two. Can you give a hint on the who, the how and the whatfor?

Gini:  Yes, Alien Tango is all about the ‘gators, baby! And, put it this way -- Kitty’s Kitty, and, when the chips are down and things look bad, trust her to come up with yet another wacky plan that just manages to work. And, then, you know, not work. Perhaps backfire. But, work out ultimately in the end. Yes, it’s a plan involving alligators. Real, live alligators. ‘Cause it’s Kitty, that’s why.

Yeah, that’s all you’re getting. ‘Cause that’s the kind of tease I am.

Dren:  For your writing style, are you a Plotter or Panster?

Gini:  I hate the term “pantser”, I really do. Because it insinuates that linear writers don’t plan. We do, just not like outliners or scene sewers do. I’m getting almost militant about it. “Linear Writers DO Plan! Sorta!” will be our slogan.

Obviously from that rant, I’m a linear writer. I’m an extreme linear writer. I need to start with the title, then the first line, then the rest just flows. How extreme, you ask? I periodically need to provide something to my editor so she has a vague idea of where I see the series going. She, being a saint, understands that she’ll never see an outline from me until the manuscript is in her hands, so she only asks for marketing blurb type paragraphs, one per book. My crit partner (who is very used to my so-called process by now) and I agonized over some of them, until, shocker alert, I altered the titles and, bam, there it was. So, yeah, I’m THAT extreme in terms of linear writing.

But I still plan, dammit. Excuse me, I have to go paint signs and organize a rally.

Dren:  All kidding aside, Touched By An Alien has an interesting and unique storyline, but the plot has so many complex layers addressing racism, and religious persecution. Did you include these elements on purpose or did the story just flow that way? Were your editors or publishers nervous about it?

Gini:  Story just flowed that way, but I certainly think about these things, they’re a part of life, after all. And they’re all things I’ve experienced in my life, one way or another.

But no, my publisher and editor weren’t nervous about it. This is a science fiction story, and science fiction has ALWAYS held a mirror to the world and commented about it. That’s part of what you do in science fiction, and fantasy -- you look at what’s right and wrong with the world and you reflect it back into a story in some way. Science fiction constantly comments about morality and social issues -- Star Trek is a great example of this, because each episode is a morality play of some kind, but it’s hardly the only example. It’s harder to find a science fiction story that DOESN’T have some kind of social commentary going on than those that do. So, no, they weren’t nervous about that at all.

I think they were a little nervous about how the funny would be received. Because humor is a LOT harder to do than most people think, and one man’s knee-slapper is another man’s room filled with silence. Happily it seems there are more who get my humor than don’t, and so we all lived happily ever after, other than those who didn’t get the jokes to whom I have to say, to quote the great Marcel Marceau, “-- --”, and then go on about my merry way

Dren: I love the funny. I think it's what makes your work stand out. *wink*

Dren:  You’ve commented in the past that your fans are cool and funky. What’s the funkiest thing you love about any single fan? (Ideas – fan art submissions? Funny stories you’ve received about reading your book?)

Gini: Um, I kind of loved that chick who caught on that I really meant it when I said I wanted folks to trash talk on my blog in order to win during the recent Alien Tango Gator Pack giveaways and who spent much of her time thwacking the other participants with her ninja mouse in an effort to win my lone Alien Tango ARC. She didn’t win the ARC, but she rocked it in terms of competitive spirit and she made me laugh every time I read or re-read her posts.

Oh. Right. That was you. ;-D

Dren: *insert fangirl scream here*

Gini:  But you’re honestly a great example, as were the others who really got into the spirit of that competition. Hey, what can I say? I like folks who are willing to bring the fun and the off-kilter, and I also like to laugh, and all of you made me laugh, and always in a good way.

I like that my fans are each clear individuals, and they all like my books, and me, for different reasons. They all bring something to the mix, whether they’re wild and crazy or sweet and quiet. But wild or quiet or somewhere in between, they all bring their own personalities into the Alien Collective and they make it better, stronger, and more fun. And the Alien Collective truly does bring the fun.

I would be remiss, of course, if I didn’t mention the I Smell Sheep team who both created the “Sheeped by an Alien” design and then sent me my own Sheeped shirt. And Sullivan McPig sends me chocolates and cool postcards from Europe, which, considering how small he is, is pretty amazing that he can get the box into the mail.

I could go on and on and list more cool things more cool fans do, but bottom line is that all my fans rock, no matter what they do or how they do it. Sure, I’m biased, but hey, it’s MY Collective, and I can decide all members are beyond awesome if I say so. And I say so.

Dren: *Queue sinister music* Ok! Now I’ve got an Alien Collective mission for YOU!  You’ve entered a room full of book bloggers and you're holding an ARC of ALIEN IN THE FAMILY in your left hand. The crowd sees you and the book and starts to advance. They stand between you and the exit door located on the other side of the room and you realize you'll have fight your way through the crowd to get out. You look at your right and you're holding .....?

What everyday household would you use to fight off the book bloggers and how would you use it to escape? No Monte Blanc pens or Everhold allowed *insert hysterical giggling here*

Gini:  Wow. You’re EVIL. Okay, lemme ponder…

Heh. Got it.

I’m holding the leash connected to the Canine Death Squad, consisting of Li’l Leader, The Spotted Fiend, and Big Baby. (Oh, and before you object, in MY household both leashes and the Canine Death Squad ARE everyday household objects.)

I hold onto the leash tightly as I shout, “Puppies, the doggie treats are OVER THERE through that DOOR, so we need to go OUT and play with the TOY!” Then I merely let the Canine Death Squad pull me along as they barrel through the crowd, barking and yowling, and break the door down in their desire to get to both treats AND toys. They’re all big dogs and, trust me, they’re well practiced at this sort of thing. No one’ll have a chance to lay a finger on me, or the ARC. They’ll be too busy flying through the air and dodging big dog paws and claws.

I think it’s a perfect plan.

Dren: Dang! Thwarted again!!

Gini thanks so much for taking the time to chat with me here on the B-Spot. I really enjoyed Touched by an Alien and I'm looking forward to reading Alien Tango in December!

Want to learn more about Gini? Check out her website at

Now on to the fun stuff! I'm giving away a copy of Touched by an Alien AND a pre-ordered copy of Alien Tango. This giveaway is going to be fast and furious so don't miss out! Contest is open to anywhere ships so please make sure it can be shipped to you before you enter! You must be follower of my blog and at least 18 years old to enter.  Contest ends Thursday, December 2 at 11:59 pm EST. Winner will be announced on Friday, December 3.  Just fill out the form below to enter!

If you already have Gini's first book, how about this special twist - I'll add Alien in the Family as your pre-order 2-pack? So here's what you can win:

Prize Pack 1:  Touched by an Alien and a pre-order of Alien Tango
Prize Pack 2:  Pre-orders of Alien Tango and Alien in the Family

Just leave a comment below and let me know which Prize Pack you want.
Click HERE to Enter

Get your read on!
Saturday, November 13, 2010

Review: Touched By An Alien by Gini Koch

Summary from

Marketing manager Katherine "Kitty" Katt steps into the middle of what appears to be a domestic dispute turned ugly. And it only gets uglier when the man turns into a winged monster, straight out of a grade-Z horror movie, and goes on a killing spree. Though Kitty should probably run away, she springs into action to take the monster down.

In the middle of the chaos a handsome hunk named Jeff Martini appears, sent by the "agency" to perform crowd control. He's Kitty's kind of guy, no matter what planet he's from. And from now on, for Kitty, things are going to be sexy, dangerous, wild, and out of this world. (Cover art by Daniel Dos Santos)

Gini Koch’s book Touched by and Alien was released this past April. I saw the book cover in the bookstores and said “huh?” I mean seriously, the cover has a dude in a suit kissing a chick wearing a mid-driff t-shirt and low riding jeans, holding a smoking gun, with a fighter jet in the sky along with flying bat creatures and worm like creatures on the ground with a super explosion with a car door floating in the air in the background. Yeah, that’s right. The cover made me pause, but my TBR list was already so long I kept moving.

Fast forward to October and due to the urging of Bells from Hanging with Bells I entered a contest the author was having for book two, Alien Tango. It was for three prize packs – the first containing the ARC for Alien Tango. I figured, oh why the heck not and tossed my hat into the ring. Needless to say, it was the best 7 days of my life. Here’s the link to voyage into infamy. Long story short I didn’t win the ARC – but received an awesome Honorable Mention and a bunch of Alien Tango awesomeness from Gini. Yeah I heart her a bunch. So now I felt COMPELLED to read Touched by an Alien. I'd invested so much time (and fun) in the second book, I just had to read the first one.

So you’re probably wondering – Dren, WTH? This is supposed to be review about Touched by an Alien – not some stroll down memory lane. Well folks I’ve already given you my review. When I described the cover of the book. Remember? The cover with the handsome alien dude named Martini wearing the Armani suit kissing a marketing manager chick named Kitty who’s wearing a mid-driff t-shirt with low riding jeans while holding a smoking gun her mom gave her so she can fight the aliens that change into flying bat-like creatures (and other fugly things) that are quickly dispatched when the USAF fighter jets get involved. Oh yeah and things go boom. A lot.

Touched by an Alien. Yeah. It’s like that.

Get your Alien on!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Review & Giveaway : Eternal Kiss of Darkness by Jeaniene Frost

Summary from back cover:

Chicago private investigator Kira Graceling should have just kept on walking. But her sense of duty refused to let her ignore the moans of pain coming from inside a warehouse just before dawn. Suddenly she finds herself in a world she’s only imagined in her worst nightmares.

At the center is Mencheres, a breathtaking Master Vampire who thought he’d seen it all. Then Kira appears—this fearless, beautiful…human who braved death to rescue him. Though he burns for her, keeping Kira in his world means risking her life, yet sending her away is unthinkable.

But with danger closing in, Mencheres must choose between the woman he craves, or embracing the darkest magic to defeat an enemy bent on his eternal destruction.

Author: Jeaniene Frost
Publication: July 27, 2010
Format: Paperback, 346 pages
Disclaimer: This book was purchased by me

Eternal Kiss of Darkness features Mencheres, the 4,000-year-old Master vampire first introduced by Frost in her Night Huntress series.

When private investigator Kira Graceling stumbles upon Mencheres during a brawl with four ghouls she is immediately thrust into a world that she believes should not exist. Unable to wipe her memory, Mencheres strikes a deal with Kira to guarantee her silence to never reveal the existence of vampires and other night world creatures. However, something happens that thrust Kira and Mencheres back into each other’s world and they must battle an enemy determined to silence them both to eternal darkness.

EKOD is book two in Frost’s Night Huntress World series. After only giving First Drop of Crimson 3-stars, I kept my expectations low for EKOD. I’ve always enjoyed Frosts work and I’m a die hard Cat & Bones fan (Chapter 32 anyone?). I’m glad I did – it simply made my reading of EKOD that much more enjoyable!

Frost gives you a complete picture – all the background you’ll ever need for knowing who and what makes up ad 4,000 year-old vampire. Even though you have to read about 40% of the novel to get to the action – once you do – you begin to appreciate the level of detail Frost provided in the beginning. EKOD really hits the mark!

So if you read First Drop of Crimson and were disappointed – rest assured Eternal Kiss of Darkness will leave you satisfied and happy!

Now on to the giveaway!! I had the wonderful pleasure of meeting Jeaniene Frost back in August when she came to Charlotte for the EKOD book tour.  So I'm giving away a signed copy of Eternal Kiss of Darkness to one lucky reader!

Complete this FORM to enter!

Rules and Guidelines
- You must be 18 years or older
- You must be a follower of my blog to enter
- Contest is open to US Residents only (Sorry my International peeps)
- Winner will be selected by
- Contest ends on Tuesday, November 30 at 11:59 pm




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