Friday, October 28, 2011

Charles Frazier - Nightwoods - Review

Sometimes you learn so much from the characters in a book, even the bad ones. In Nightwoods, the latest from Cold Mountain author Charles Frazier, the people that inhabit the pages crackle with life. As a master craftsman, Frazier gives just enough background information on each one fleshing them out and making them real. The novel revolves not so much around plot as in personality studies, observations on life and rhapsodic images of nature. With phrases like "dread filled the car like floodwater rising," Frazier's high level of perception sets his writing apart making him one of the finest American novelists working today.

He transports the reader to an isolated, deteriorating lodge in the mountains of North Carolina circa the early 1960s. We find Luce, a young woman turned virtual hermit, as the caretaker of the abandoned building. Into her lap are dropped two children, her niece Delores and nephew, Frank, the twins of her late sister who was murdered by her husband, Bud. The children were abused by Bud and witnessed him killing their mother. Since these horrific events, they've become wild - slaughtering chickens with their bare hands - yet refusing to speak. Little do they know that Bud has followed them, waiting for the opportunity to silence them forever.

While stressing respect for the past and the land, the novel delves into the dual themes of fire and blood. The children are obsessively drawn to the lure of an open flame. They become pyromaniacs setting fire to whatever lies in their path, even burning down a house. They seek solace in these desperate acts. As stated in the book, "You can't control everything that happens. All you control is your mind. Make it like the lake on a still day. Don't react any more than you can help, not to outsiders. Trust only the two of you all the way. Hoard up your love for each other and state your rage by way of things that want to burn."

Their predator, Bud, on the other hand, sees things in terms of blood. He repeatedly cuts himself with his shark tooth necklace drawing the red liquid to the surface. He attacks Luce's boyfriend, Stubblefield, with a knife in a barroom bathroom brawl leaving the floor saturated. His view on life revolves around violence. His thoughts include, "Blood mattered above all else, the sacred shedding of it. The rest of Christ's life - his actions, his pithy sayings, his love - became incidental compared to the dark artery offering that covered the globe."

Yet, he has a keen insight on life. In a telling passage, he states, "Pleasers never get paid back a fraction commensurate with their effort. Which goes along with one of the main rules in life. Which, unfortunately, has two parts. The a is, You got to get paid. A fine idea if it stopped right there. But the cruel b part is, You got to pay."

Luce also had her own way of looking at one's financial climate. An excerpt relates, "You start wanting things too much and you need more and more money. She said she tried as much as possible to live free from the bad idea of money. Otherwise, you took a job, you inevitably sold your time to someone who valued it lowly. Luce, however, valued her time highly. Luce had it all figured out. Live out of sight from the bullshit of everyday commerce. Use money as little as possible."

She is described as being naturally beautiful, yet she cuts her own hair. Unable to buy the latest fashions she sticks to a uniform of pedal pushers and button down shirts. Although a former beauty pageant contestant, she flouted the rules by eating a candy bar while walking down the poolside catwalk. She doesn't crave pampering, she seeks her fulfillment in the beauty surrounding her. The woods, the forest creatures, the lake, the mountains. She enjoys how her isolation tunes everything else out allowing her to focus on the weather, the change in seasons, the twinkling lights of the town at night with the comforting hum of the radio in the background.

She is a determined loner, but the underlying reason is touchingly revealed in a conversation she has with Stubblefield. He is a man who offers a spring of understanding, compassion and kindness to her battered soul and those of the children. He's a stand-up guy who knows that they all deserve more out of life and he is determined to give it to them. He doesn't walk away no matter how strange the children act or how many times Luce tries to shut him out. He's their rock in the midst of chaos.

Frazier leaves the conclusion of the novel open-ended. He doesn't settle things one way or the other. The ultimate fate is yet to be decided. Has the danger passed? Has it moved on? Will it be back? All that's certain is that Luce and Stubblefield will keep on doing the best they can for the children as they continue to form their own type of family unit. The only thing that's for sure is, in Frazier's words, "the landscape, which does not punish or reward but cleanses all bones equally."

Overall, a few life lessons are gleaned from a cast of well-drawn characters.

Nightwoods by Charles Frazier is available for $26.00 at

Review copy provided by Valley Community Library.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Devyn Dawson - The Legacy of Kilkenny - Guest Post & Giveaway

My thanks to Devyn Dawson for stopping by Tribute Books Reviews & Giveaways and sharing a guest post during the blog tour for her book, The Legacy of Kilkenny.

eBook Giveaway:
Please leave a comment with your email address. Ends Sunday, October 30 at 11:59 p.m. eastern.

Congratulations to our winner: Victoria Zumbrum!

Guest Post
Things I’ve learned while working in a bookstore"
sprinkled with truth, humor & a little touch of snark
by Devyn Dawson

1. When people say hang out in a bookstore to find a date, I wouldn’t encourage it. I’ve come to learn that there are a lot of very strange people hanging out in the store. We have a nice looking guy that is a regular troller - he trolls the isles for single women - I can’t tell you how many times I’ve caught him in the bathroom after we are closed. (We often find porn in the men’s room.)

2. Customers believe if they have the color of the book cover and a word like “The” in the title and no author name that we work for psychic hotline and will pull the title out of our butt. I have not pulled any titles out of my butt to date.

3. There are 777,777,777 types of bibles and they honestly all look the same to me. I was raised Catholic - I only had one bible.

4. Parents have an uncanny habit of bringing their children to the store when it is nap time or food time, both of which make their little darlings, screaming meme’s.

5. Customers believe if they sigh heavily while they are in line waiting for their turn, it will send you a magical breath and make you hurry up. Note to customer, you seriously think we are trying to make you angry so we can get frustrated? Please.

Suggestions for customers before you arrive in the bookstore.

1. Write down the title of the book and the author before coming into the store. I take pictures of books with my cell phone so I’ll remember the title.

2. Give your little darling a snack and nap before you come to the store, and wash their sticky little hands before you arrive.

3. When your book seller is all alone working the register and looking up books, don’t snap your fingers at me and demand I go fetch the book for you. I’m not a dog.

4. If you aren’t going to buy the book - please don’t put it in a random place - it makes it difficult for us to find the book for the next customer.

5. When we greet you when you walk into the store - turn around and say hello back. Did your mama teach you to ignore people when you walk in a store? 90% of people don’t reply to us. When we say thank you for coming in and have a good day - snarling at us with a rude comment hurts some employees.

5 Reasons you should read The Legacy of Kilkenny

1. Abel Casey - He is 16 and if the legend is true, he is the Great Wolf. He starts the year as a regular high school kid, but he finishes the year as a man. His wolf abilities are starting to show, and there are rumors that some packs may try to kill him. Abel will have you rooting for him all the way to the end.

2. Pru Phelan - She is 18 but posing as a 16 year old girl. Pru isn’t any girl, she is a werewolf and her father is the alpha. She is on an assignment to train Abel for his destiny, it won’t be easy but the ride will be action packed.

3. Oakley - He is 22 and one tall dark drink of water. He is a werewolf and he is assigned as Pru’s bodyguard. His southern gentleman attitude will have you begging for him to guard your body too.

4. Shaynie - She is 17 and visiting from the Dallas pack. She is a sniper and a ruthless fighter. When she starts playing Pru to her father, it causes drama for everyone but especially for Pru. What secrets does she harbor?

5. Arien - He is beautiful and drives a great car (Aston Martin), he is a vampire and he is dating Allie, Abel’s sister. Arien’s main goal is to find out who the Great Wolf is and destroy him, and if he isn’t unveiled Arien will turn Allie into a vampire.

Thank you for this opportunity to share some of my humor. I hope you have a chance to read The Legacy of Kilkenny. Be sure to watch the book trailer to get an idea about the vibe of the book.

About the Book
The Legacy of Kilkenny

Book Details:

Publisher: self-published

Published: June 2011

Genre: Paranormal, Young Adult

Format: eBook

Price: $0.99

Buy Links:
Kindle, Nook, Smashwords


After an incredibly boring summer, Abel Casey was looking forward to his junior year at Piedsville High School in his little town outside of Oklahoma City. But once he sees Pru Phelan, the gorgeous girl with the shiny red hair and piercing grey eyes he knows he is in for trouble. Abel’s boring little life is about to come to an end if Pru has her way. The stunning Pru has a secret to share with Abe, one that will change his life forever. Up until recently werewolf packs have been looking for the Great Wolf, a wolf of legend handed down over hundreds of years from Kilkenny Ireland. Her secret is she is a werewolf, and her secret is now his too. Abel learns that all the tales of werewolves and vampires is real and he is the wolf they have been searching for. To protect his destiny and his family the pack begins training him for his first shift, without a hold on to his humanity can cause him to shift to a werewolf and never return to his human form.

Abel is torn between the family he has grown up with and the pack that claims he is the one of Celtic lore. Pru’s mentor and bodyguard Oakley is the one that her heart craves but she fears he has feelings for her friend Josie. Pru’s father the alpha wants her to stay focused on her assignment and forbids the two from becoming lovers and he threatens to remove Oakley from the pack if Pru can’t stay focused. Everything is going as planned until Abel’s sassy and moody sister Allie starts hanging out with an aggravating vampire Arien. Arien knows the pack’s secret and plans to expose them if he doesn’t get his way. This story of friendship, family, love and betrayal will leave the reader breathless and someone dead.

The Legacy of Kilkenny
an incredible journey for these young adults. The reader will be drawn into this romantic yet invigorating story of friends and lovers. The prophecy has been stated, now it will be lived.

About the Author
Devyn Dawson

My name is Stefanie Dawson but you might know me better as Devyn Dawson. I decided to use a pen name since there is a famous Stephenie that writes the same genre. I didn’t want to be “oh, you’re not THAT Stephenie” - sad but true. The characters in my head have been bugging me to be heard for a few years, after a big kick in the butt from a doctor telling me my eyesight was in danger; I flipped out. I quit my real job making real money and wrote like a lunatic to bring my characters to life. My husband and son survived on ‘man food’ for a year and allowed me to chase this dream. I have two children that aren’t so little - my lovely daughter is 21 and my son is 17. They grow up fast! I’ll never grow up as long as the characters want to be written about. I am proud to say that my eyes are doing fine and I’m eternally grateful to everyone that has read The Legacy of Kilkenny. It is incredibly wonderful when someone emails me to tell me how much they loved my book. I save every email so I can look at them when I want to give up. Thank you to all my Lovies!

My current projects are going very well and should be finished soon. The second book to The Legacy of Kilkenny is Malevolence and will be released at the end of November 2011. I’ve received a lot of emails asking to know more about Allie, Abel’s sister. Allie is a character in TLOK, and her journal that documents her journey as she dates a vampire will be released October 2011 as a novella. Allie is an unstable girl once vampire venom runs through her veins; her journal will give the reader an inside view to her life. The title of the novella is The Seduction.

Connect With Devyn:

Web Site

Independent Author Network

About the Tour

Bewitching Book Tours

Tour Participants:

Oct 17 Guest Post

Mad Moose Mama

Oct 17 guest blog

Reading Lark

Oct 18 Guest Post, review

Sapphyria's Book Reviews
Oct 19 Interview

Lisa’s World of Books

Oct 20 Guest Blog

Oct 21 Interview

Flutey Words

Oct 21 Guest Blog and review


Oct 22 Promo and review

Oct 25 Guest Blog

Oct 26 Interview and review

Manga Maniac Cafe

Oct 27 Guest Blog

Oct 28 Character Interview and review

GraveTells: Paranormal News & Reviews

Oct 28 Review

Braintasia Books

Oct 30 Guest Blog and review

Lissette E. Manning

Oct 30 interview and review


Oct 31 interview

Ashley’s Bookshelf

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Karen Essex - Dracula in Love - Giveaway & Review

What happens when the heroes turn out to be the bad guys? It is a question posited by Karen Essex's take on Bram Stoker's immortal classic in her rendition entitled Dracula in Love.

The established cadre of vampire hunters are no longer a gentlemanly force of good against evil. Instead, Van Helsing is a masochistic nutcase who derives pleasure from the unreasonable medical practices he inflicts on his patients. His disciple, Dr. John Seward, adheres to this cruel methodology in treating the helpless women left in his care at an insane asylum. Arthur Holmwood is a heartless fortune hunter out to marry and murder for wealth. Morris Quince is nothing but a philandering playboy from America, while Jonathan Harker turns into an orgy obsessed nymphomaniac. And yes, the novel is still set in the repressed, buttoned-up Victorian era.

Stoker's women fare no better. What happens when a solid, put-together woman turns into a mentally unstable, emotional wreck? That's exactly what happens to Mina Harker. She goes from being portrayed as a lady of great intellect, self-control and profound courage to a confused, unsure, mystical shadow of her former self. Instead of leading the charge against Count Dracula, she is fighting off the dangerous advances of those who used to be her allies. Viewed as a wily female threat, she turns to Dracula's blood-thirsty embrace as a source of refuge.

When first coming across the title, it is a logical assumption to believe that Lucy Westerna would be the lead character. In the original, she is the one who is lured to the Whitby graveyard and seduced by Dracula. She is the one who transforms into a vampire after death. She is the one singled out by Dracula as his lover of choice. So it is a surprising turn of events to learn that Dracula's affections are actually captured by Mina. In fact, she is a supposed reincarnation of his cherished human/fairy lover whose rebirth he repeatedly awaits. He tracks her through the centuries in order for their passion to be reignited and to finally convince her to join him in immortality.

The fantastical, mythical bent of the novel derails the story into fragments instead of uniting it as a cohesive whole. There's Mina the girls' school etiquette teacher who traipses about London with her lady journalist friend trying to expose the money-making schemes of paranormal charlatans. There's Mina the ebony haired, green eyed beauty who longs to become the wife of Jonathan Harker and start a family. There's Mina the supernatural girl who has been able to talk to animals since childhood while being viewed as a witch by her parents. There's Mina the victim who must be rescued by her vampire paramour from the mistreatment of a bunch of deluded men. She is so multi-dimensional that the overly detailed characterization severs any believable connection with the reader.

Where Essex finds her groove is in her telling description of a 19th century mental health facility. The insane asylum run by Seward, in conjunction with Van Helsing, is truly a house of horrors. What adds to its inherent repulsion is that for the most part it is an accurate depiction of what happened to overtly sexual women during this time period. The scene of Mina's water treatment is painful to read. Repeatedly soaked with freezing cold water and then forced to drink excessive amounts of this water certainly qualifies as torture, not medical care. The brutality that mentally competent women were subjected to in order to inhibit their natural sexual desires borders on barbarism.

The majority of the book centers around hormones, and is graphic in nature. This type of explicit sexual imagery is usually found in the erotic romance genre rather than a historical fiction novel. Wanton proclivities run through the blood of all of the central characters. There's Lucy and Morris carrying on half-naked in a graveyard. There's Jonathan in bed with three vampire-like women. There's Seward fondling Mina during a medical examination. There's Mina and Dracula in an assortment of lurid dream sequences. The list of couplings goes on and on. This unrestrained behavior is unexpected for those seeking a book more in line with the tone of the beloved classic.

Overall, a retelling a bit too far removed from the spirit of the original.

To read my review of Bram Stoker's Dracula, click here.

Dracula in Love by Karen Essex is available for $14.95 at and at

Thank you to Molly for recommending this book. Follow her fantastic book blog and Twitter posts.

Review copy provided by winning a giveaway at Reviews by Molly.

Congratulations to our winner: Lisa Faber!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Paul H. Magid - Lifting the Wheel of Karma - Author Interview

My thanks to Paul H. Magid for stopping by Tribute Books Reviews & Giveaways for an author interview about his book, Lifting the Wheel of Karma.

1. How did you come up with the title?
That's actually quite a story unto itself. It was harder for me to actually find the correct title than it was to write the novel! I struggled long and hard with this. If I told you some of the past titles that I thought about using, you probably wouldn't believe me. But to answer the question, earlier this year I was laying in bed one night, high up in the Himalayas on my way to India's highest mountain peak. I couldn't sleep because I still couldn't "feel" the right title. Then it suddenly hit me that "Lifting The Wheel Of Karma" was just perfect. My story is about karma, it's about the wheel of life, and it's about the need to take action, both physically and metaphorically, to change a great deal, and so that gave me the image of lifting, so then the title just fell into place.

2. Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

There are actually several messages in my novel, but if I have to pick one or distill it down to one concept, it's that we should all take care of each other as best we can.

3. How much of the book is realistic?

There is certainly some element of fantasy in my novel for the western mind to grasp, but a billion Hindus would probably argue that there is absolutely nothing "fantastic" about my story at all. Most of my novel is quite realistic, just in an extraordinary way.

4. If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your book?

If I could change one thing about my novel, it would be that it was much easier to write! Just kidding. There is nothing I would change.

5. What was the hardest part of writing your book?

The hardest part about writing my novel was taking what could easily have grown into thousands of pages -my novel encompasses multiple cultures, continents, and decades- and keep it to pithy provocative prose that would read quickly and easily.

6. Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?

I learned a tremendous amount writing my novel. Probably the most poignant element was to never give up. Giving up is the only way you can lose in Life.

7. Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?

My interest in writing, honestly, goes back as far as I can remember, but certainly it became a significant life interest/pursuit in high school, when the concept of creating something that didn't exist before simply struck me as amazing.

8. Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?

My favorite author is Theodore Dreiser, who wrote AN AMERICAN TRAGEDY, which was made into the moving, "A Place In The Sun" starring Elizabeth Taylor. I love that book because it conveys the inner pain of wanting something with every fiber of your being. I also love it because it single-handedly taught me just about every single vocabulary word I needed for taking the SATs.

9. Tell us your latest news.

I just published my novel a few weeks ago and have already gotten a tremendous response from readers and reviewers. People from around the world -New Zealand, South Africa, Australia, South Korea, The Philippines, and Belgium are connecting with and resonating with my story of healing and redemption, and that's just about the most amazing feeling in the world for me.

10. Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

Please let me know your thoughts either via my web site: or Facebook, and thank you!

About the Book
Lifting the Wheel of Karma

Book Details:
Price: $15.00 paperback, $9.99 Kindle
Format: Paperback, Kindle
Publisher: Point Dume Press
Published: September 2011
Genre: Fiction, Spirituality
Buy Links: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kindle

A Profound Spiritual Journey of Extraordinary Healing and Redemption - a modern tale that harkens back to the myths of antiquity. It takes you on a remarkable journey, while exploring the themes of healing, redemption, forgiveness, sacrifice, and ultimately...peace within.

Joseph Connell is a gifted high school athlete from Montana, loved deeply by his family, yet tormented by nightmarish visions he can neither explain nor escape.

He believes the answer to what threatens to crush him can be found in the knowledge possessed by a mystical old wise man, who lives deep within the remote Himalayas of India.

If Joseph is ever to find the peace he so desperately seeks, he must get this wise old man to reveal what he truly knows, but that will not be easy…for this sage knows far more than he admits.

About the Author
Paul H. Magid

Paul H. Magid started writing his debut novel, LIFTING THE WHEEL OF KARMA, twenty-five years ago while still in high school. It took him so long to complete because he tried repeatedly to abandon it, but the work refused to be forsaken. Eventually he realized that sharing this story with the world was, in fact, his Dharma.

Along the way he has worked as a Wall Street financial analyst, a waiter (not a very good one), a Hollywood Agent Trainee, a real estate developer, a summer day camp director, an award winning screenwriter, and independent filmmaker—including his autobiographical film, A LIFE UNFINISHED, which screened in The Hamptons International Film Festival.

Connect with Paul:
Web Site

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Lauren Oliver - Delirium - Review

Sometimes there is one scene in a book that makes it unforgettable. The cliffhanger ending of Lauren Oliver's Delirium is gut-wrenching. If utter anguish can be seared into a page and transferred to a reader's heart upon contact - this book does it. You get caught up in the young love story of Lena and Alex. You want them to escape a society that views the surgical removal of love as a mandatory procedure. You root for two kids to overcome the unnatural stigma attached to the most primal of emotions. The heart-pounding drama culminates at a border crossing showdown with the authorities as Alex sacrifices himself in order to give Lena the chance to truly live. But what kind of life will she have without her beloved by her side?

Written as an on-going series, the ultimate fate of the separated couple is yet to be determined. However, Oliver's ability to wrap her characters around the heartstrings of her readers creates a profound, sentimental bond. The sequel, Pandemonium (a March 2012 release), can't come soon enough. Her prowess in illuminating such a depth of feeling is remarkable. It is a connection forged by the rarest of authors. When this pinnacle is attained, it is a well-cherished indulgence for the avid reader. Plot can be intricate, style can be flawless, dialogue can be witty - but ultimately we embrace the books that make us feel something.

Many purists categorize the young adult genre as a lesser form of literature, while many young adult fans feel the dystopian theme is played out. While Delirium combines both of these elements, it rises above these preconceptions. It is strong enough to stand on its own. It doesn't need to be included in the post-apocalyptic hype in order to make a name for itself, and it is well-written enough to withstand analysis from critics across the board. Oliver's strength lies in nailing the voice of her teenage protagonists. Yet this trait should not pigeon-hole her writing into a particular category with a defined audience. It is the essential element that infuses her own special brand of magic into the literary realm.

The story, itself, has moments of profound imagery. Walking through an abandoned forest completely devoid of man-made illumination except for the buried flashlights hidden by fellow exiles under a marked tree. Fleeing a police raid while getting pushed and jostled as illegal music blares in the background. Running through the town square with your only goal being to slap the weathered hand of a well-worn statue. The conflicting notions of exhilaration vs. despair, impregnability vs. fear and fulfillment vs. longing are beautifully depicted through the hopeful eyes of adolescents trying to overcome the imposed violence of a closed society. Their love isn't a mindless delirium, it is their only chance at salvation from an unbearable situation.

Overall, the emotional build-up of the final scene is what great books are made of.

Delirium by Lauren Oliver is available for $17.99 at and at

Thank you to Sheila for recommending this book. Follow her fantastic book blog and Twitter posts.

Review copy provided by Valley Community Library.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Andrez Bergen - Tobacco-Stained Mountain Goat - Author Interview

My thanks to Andrez Bergen for stopping by Tribute Books Reviews & Giveaways for an author interview about his book, Tobacco-Stained Mountain Goat.

1. How did you come up with the title?
The title was actually one of about four I had at various stages for the novel, and fortunately is the most recent. When I was a teenager I saw this great Bob Hope comedy called That Certain Feeling and - in amidst the chaos of a house party - a hairy dog galloped across the carpet. George Sanders' toffish character then said "Get that tobacco-stained mountain goat out of here." I adored that line. So, yes, I nicked it from George. But George figures quite heavily in Tobacco-Stained Mountain Goat.

2. Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

I think there's a riot of messages squeezed in there. A basic one? I believe everyone should take time out to rediscover classic cinema from the 1930s-1950s, be it film noir, musical or sci-fi flick. Another deeper one? The direction the world is currently taking, and the possible outcome of same. I'd prefer not to get up on a soapbox here and poorly preach the innuendoes of a 200+ page book within two or three sentences, but I think this gives you a basic gist!

3. How much of the book is realistic?

Ahh, I intentionally kept that unclear in the text of the novel. It could be one hundred percent bona fide reality, or one hundred percent surreal sham. But it is a contemporary homage to old skool detective noir, thrown into a blender with low-brow sci-fi of the near future and current social trends that are pervading the Western world - with the last city in the world being Melbourne, Australia. So I guess if you're from Melbourne it's easier to pick up on the realism.

4. If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your book?

I can answer this easily - I'm no George Lucas. I'm really satisfied with the final product. But if I were to be honest, I would confess that I'd already done a Lucas several times over - before it was published. It started out as a short story, then went through four major revisions and rewrites in which major characters were ditched or added and the story completely changed. George would be proud.

5. What was the hardest part of writing your book?

I think finishing it was tough - this has been part of my life, off-and-on, for half of it and I had a brilliant relationship with my editor Kristopher Young over about three years of ad hoc editing. I miss Floyd and Laurel. I don't miss their world. Funnily enough I've resurrected Wolram E. Deaps, shades of Lazarus, for the next novel.

6. Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?

Aside from some interesting grammar titbits, I learned a lot about balance and humour when it comes to dialogue, chiefly from my editor Kristopher. I also now understand what works best outside my own headspace, as opposed to some self-indulgen tendencies I had before. I hope I've ironed out most of those. Now that I'm published, too, I realized it is possible to play this game while pushing creative perimetres - and I want to publish again.

7. Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?

It started early for me - when I first learned how to hold a pen and put sentences together. Straight off the bad I was writing stories, most of those science fiction or fantasy stuff. I think I adored escapism - it corresponded with my taste in movies and comics.

8. Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?

This does tend to change, but right now it's Raymond Chandler, with a close second being Dashiell Hammett - mostly because of all the research and reading I did surrounding Tobacco-Stained Mountain Goat. I love the self-deprecating characters, the smart observations of people and place, and the sense of humour at play within their novels. I also dug Haruki Murakami about a decade ago, and Edith Wharton and Joseph Heller before that - all (aside from Wharton) for their surrealist bent.

9. Tell us your latest news.

I'm currently working on the next novel which is titled One Hundred Years of Vicissitude. It's five percent prequel to Tobacco-Stained Mountain Goat, and ninety-five percent something else entirely. It's more focused on the past rather than the dystopian future TSMG trawled, from 1929 on, and a large part of it is based in Japan - where I've lived for the past 10 years. Hopefully it comes together the way it's cooking up in my over-worked noggin.

10. Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

If you're an aspiring artist - whether it's a writer, musician, painter, whatever - just bite the bullet and actively pursue your dream. It's always possible.

About the Book
Tobacco-Stained Mountain Goat

Book Details:
Price: $12.75
Format: Paperback
Publisher: Another Sky Press
Published: April 2011
Genre: Science Fiction, Noir, Post-Apocalyptic
Buy Links: Amazon, Barnes & Noble

Cut to Melbourne, Australia--the most glamorous city in the world. It also happens to be the only one left standing, but nevermind that, we're there now and I'd like you to meet your narrator, a certain Floyd Maquina, a likable chap with one hell of a story to share. See, the powers that be are knuckling down on the Deviant menace that plagues the city, and our boy Floyd's unknowingly got himself in the thick of it. Cue guns, intrigue, kidnappings, conspiracy and all sorts of general mayhem that make for cracking good headlines. Does Floyd stop the bad guys? Does he get the girl? Does he make Humphrey Bogart proud? Grab some popcorn and read on.

About the Author
Andrez Bergen

Entrenched in Tokyo for the past 10 years, expat Aussie Andrez Bergen says that he quite likes to steal furtive glances in a pseudo-metaphysical rear-vision mirror, greedily brushing up on the ‘found art’ chapter of the Dadaists’ handbook—along the way hacking together electronic/techno tunes as Little Nobody, Funk Gadget, DJ Fodder, Nana Mouskouri's Spactacles, Conversational Dentures, Atomic Autocrac, and a member of the LN Elektronisch Ensemble. He's been remixed by people like James Ruskin, Shin Nishimura, Si Begg, DJ Wada, Dave Angel, Bas Mooy, AUX 88 and Patrick Pulsinger, and recently released his fourth album 'Hard Foiled'.

Originally from Melbourne, Bergen has also worked as a journalist over the past 17 years, for newspapers such as The Age in Australia and the Yomiuri Shimbun in Japan, and he's written for magazines as diverse as Mixmag, Geek Monthly, Impact and Anime Insider. In 2005 Andrez married artist Yoko Umehara, and in November that year they had the world's cutest daughter, Cocoa.

Connect with Andrez:
Web Site
Facebook (Author)
Facebook (Book)
Twitter (Author)
Twitter (Book)

Friday, October 14, 2011

Natasha Deen - True Grime - Author Interview

My thanks to Natasha Deen for returning to Tribute Books Reviews & Giveaways and participating in an author interview during the blog tour for her book, True Grime.

Author Interview

1. How did you come up with the title?
It’s a play off the non-fiction, true crime books. My main character, Pepper, protects the human race from magical terrorists. The bad guys use viruses and it had me thinking of dirty countertops, hand-washing, which led to “grime.” Hence, true stories about the life of a Grime cop: True Grime.

2. Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
There are a few. I want people to see that human society really is getting better. Sixty years ago, minorities and women had very few rights. Now look at us. We are working hard to be better. Sure, we’re slow, but we’re getting there and that gives me hope.

I also wanted to address the issue of bullying. When I was a kid, I was bullied and those experiences never leave. I wanted to talk about resiliency and survivorship, but do it in an entertaining, fun way.

3. How much of the book is realistic?
Certain physics and science elements are based on our current understanding, but the best part of being a writer is taking reality and twisting it to shape your idea.

4. If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your book?
I don’t think so…but ask me again in five years. :P

5. What was the hardest part of writing your book?
Everything’s that between the covers: the idea, getting that idea down, edits, more edits, smoothing it all out…but it’s always worth it!

6. Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
My biggest lesson was this: sticking through and keeping at it. Writing isn’t for the faint-of-heart, and if we eventually want to see our work in print, we have to be willing to put in early mornings and late nights.

7. Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
I think it started because I love the feeling I get as a reader, when I get lost in a book. I began writing because I wanted to know if I could create that same feeling in others.

8. Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
Dean Koontz is my favorite. I love the way he mashes up genres, his ability to describe, and his talent to scare me at the exact moment he’s making me laugh.

9. Tell us your latest news.
Right now, I’m running a contest: if you post a review of True Grime on, your name will be entered to win a Kindle, Generation Four. The full details are here.

You can take a look at the trailer here:

10. Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
Thank you for reading!

About the Book
True Grime

Book Details:
Genre: Young Adult, Urban, Fantasy/Mystery

Publisher: Blueberry Hill
Publication Date: August 2011
Pages: 276
Price: $12.99 paperback, $0.99 ebook
Buy Links:
Amazon, Barnes&, Smashwords

Grime cop and teen fairy Pepper Powder lives for one thing: protecting the human species from magical zealots who seek to eradicate them with Violent Illness of Unusual Resistance and Strength (humans call them “viruses,” but their mistake is understandable. The very young often get their words wrong.). When a terrorist leader releases a necrophage bomb, it not only decimates Grime headquarters, it turns Pepper into the magical world’s first fairy amputee—but she’s not going to let a little thing like a missing leg stop her. To catch her criminal, and prevent him from unleashing a VIURS in one of the human world’s biggest shopping centers, West Edmonton Mall, she goes undercover as a human. But once Pepper's theories of humanity collide with the reality of bullies, cliques, and environmental destruction, will she still believe humanity's worth saving?


The necrophage viruses were in a refrigerated unit by the closet. I walked over, opened the door. Fog and cloud escaped with a hiss. I saw the tubes, full of purple liquid. I snapped on a pair of gloves and un-holstered the bullets from my hip. Taking a tube, I dipped each bullet in the virus.

Harley would never have done something like this. Harley would never allow me to do something like this. But Harley wasn’t here. I blew on each bullet, dried the virus. Then I put them back in their case. I told myself if I shot any terrorists with the bullets, I wasn’t condemning them to death. I’d seen the studies. They had a chance to live.

But the truth was, I was too angry and scared to care. Part of me wanted to kill, to maim them for what they’d done to me and Harley, and what they were planning to do to the humans. Maybe resorting to this level of violence meant I had dropped to their levels, become the very monster I fought against. Or maybe it meant I was finally playing by their rules and stepping into the game the way it was meant to be played.

Frankly, I didn’t care. I had one mission: get my partner back, no matter the cost. I snapped my gun into place and left the room.

About the Author
Natasha Deen

When I was little, there was only one thing I wanted to be: a superhero. But there came a day when my dreams were broken, and that was the day I realized that being a klutz was not, in fact, a super power, and my super weakness for anything bright and shiny meant a magpie with self-control could easily defeat me in a battle of wills. I turned to writing as a way to sharpen my mental super-hero skills. I don’t get to orbit the earth in a space station (and thank God, because I get sick on merry go round), but I do get to say things like: “Stand aside! This is a job for Writing Girl!!”

Connect with Natasha:

About the Tour

Partners in Crime Tours

Tour Participants:

October 8-For The Love Of Reading (Interview)
October 9-Telly Says... (Book Spotlight)
October 10-I Just WannaSit Here And Read (Interview/Giveaway)
October 12-Joel M. Andre's Blog (Review)
October 14th-Tribute Books (Interview)
October 18th-Let's Book It (Review)
October 20-Words By Webb (Review/Interview)
October 25-I Just Wanna Sit Here And Read (Review)
October 28-Gelati's Scoop (Review)
October 29-Pratical Frugality(Review)
November 1-The Top Shelf (Guest Post)
November 1-The Children's And Teens' Book Connection (Interview)
November 5-Rhodes Review (Interview)
November 8-The Top Shelf (Review)
November 10-Moonlight, Lace, And Mayhem (Review)
November 11-The Hot Author Report (Review)
November 14-Haunted Orchid (Review)
November 15-Just One More Paragraph (Review, Interview, Giveaway)
November 17-Me And Reading (Review)
November 21-Love Of Books (Guest Post/Giveaway)
November 22-Everyday is an Adventure (Review/Interview)
November 23-The Children's And Teens' Book Connection (Review)
November 27-Live To Read (Review)
November 29-Reviews By Molly (Review)
November 30-Celtic Lady's Reviews (Review)

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Brad Wirz - - Guest Post

My thanks to Brad Wirz for stopping by Tribute Books Reviews & Giveaways and sharing a guest post about his charitable endeavor,

Guest Post
"Radical Change through the Magic of Reading"
by Brad Wirz

I’m a guy who really loves to read. Books have always played a central role in my life, so much so that I simply cannot imagine a world without them. I’ve always got a book within arm’s reach.

In the spring of 2010, however, I found out just how lucky I’ve been to have books in my life. After arriving in rural Honduras for a week-long volunteer trip, I learned we would spend much of the time helping to build a library. The experience changed my life forever.

A few days of hard labor in the developing world can really get you thinking. We learned that the new library on which we worked would be the first of its kind for more than a hundred miles in any direction. Hundreds of villages, thousands of people in the area had no access to books at all. That simply blew my mind.

I later learned that close to one billion people live in the world today without books. Even if they learn to read during childhood, the skill is typically lost over time due to the lack of reading materials. As you can imagine, these are the poorest regions of the world.

Fortunately, when rural libraries are built in or near these villages, life changes for the better. I’ve seen it with my own eyes while traveling through India and Nepal earlier this year. People of all ages develop skills; they become confident and learn how to improve their own lives. They start saving-cooperatives and tiny businesses that thrive. Most important, they start to gain control over their lives and that of their children.

Following my trip to Honduras I quit my job, ending my 20-year, better-than-I-deserved career in corporate marketing. The result is and our effort to use the power of commerce to fund radical change through the magic of reading.

As a book lover yourself, you too have the opportunity to help create such libraries, and in turn create cycles of prosperity in the poorest parts of the world. Simply check out our gifts for readers at and treat your friends and family to a bookish gift that they’ll cherish forever.

Thanks for your time, and thanks to Tribute Books for helping us spread the word!

About the Organization

Details: makes unique gifts for readers, book lovers and bibliophiles. Whether you’re in search of gifts for readers in your life, or simply shopping for yourself, you’ll love what has to offer!

If you dream of escaping with nothing but a stack of great reads, is for you! Our gifts for readers empower you to proclaim your love of reading to the world!

Our parent company, Gone Reading International LLC, donates all year-end profits to fund reading libraries and other literacy projects in the developing world. Learn more here.

Need gift ideas for the book lovers or bibliophiles in your life? Visit our online store now!

Quotes on Reading
ongoing compilation project

As long as there have been books, there have been book lovers. History is filled with bibliophiles from all walks of life who loved to write about the simple joy of reading.

As book lovers ourselves, the team at continually searches for great quotes from famous book lovers on the topic of reading. In fact, we frequently post such quotes for our Facebook Fans, each of whom have the opportunity to “vote” in our on-going, informal poll. The most recent poll results are listed below.

Enjoy, and feel free to share these quotes with the book lovers and bibliophiles in your life!’s Top 10 Quotes On Reading from Famous Book Lovers:

1. “I cannot live without Books”
– Thomas Jefferson

2. “I like big books (and I cannot lie)”
– founder Brad Wirz

3. “If you have a garden and a library you have everything you need.”
– Cicero

4. “A library is not a luxury, but one of the necessities of life.”
– Henry Ward Beecher

5. “Books are a uniquely portable magic.”
– Stephen King

6. “I cannot remember the books I’ve read any more than the meals I have eaten; even so, they have made me.”
– Ralph Waldo Emerson

7. “The man who does not read good books has no advantage over the man who can’t read them.”
– Mark Twain

8. “Never judge a book by its movie.”
– J.W. Egan

9. “The habit of reading is the only enjoyment in which there is no alloy; it lasts when all other pleasures fade.”
– Anthony Trollope

10. “You must find time for reading, or surrender yourself to self-chosen ignorance.”
– Confucius

Do you have a favorite quote that we need to know about? Please post it on our Facebook Page, or email it to us at!

Connect with

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Kelly Simmons - Standing Still - Review

Sometimes a character just doesn't make sense. Why would a woman allow herself to be kidnapped from her own home and then make no concerted effort to escape? Why would she so willingly give up? In Kelly Simmons' Standing Still, it becomes apparent that judging someone before knowing all of the facts is never a good idea. There's more to our victim, Claire, than meets the eye.

As a suspense-filled, psychological thriller, Simmons' writing is electrifying. The night of the abduction is perfectly set. A raging thunderstorm. An intruder's footsteps on the tin roof. A stranger's eyes peering from her daughter's bedroom. It's chill-inducing drama at its best.

A clue to Claire's inner turmoil is revealed when she gives herself up in place of her daughter. The kidnapper readily makes the exchange leaving the easy prey of her three young girls behind preferring instead to drag a grown woman barefoot in a flimsy nightgown into the teeming night. After a 90 minute car ride, they end up in room seven of the Mid-County Motor Inn.

This lock down isn't your typical sequestration. When Claire's one try at freedom is derailed, she never tries to leave the room again - ever. In fact, she grows attached to her jailer. His gentle treatment and kind demeanor lead her to conjure up fantasies about the young Latino man holding her for ransom. He's a paramedic. He's a father. This is his first foray into kidnapping. She starts developing an emotional bond with her unnamed assailant over B.L.T.'s and crossword puzzles.

The question arises - was her life so bad before? It is gradually revealed through flashbacks - that emerge from the memories connected to old snapshots - how she never recovered from her father's death. In the ensuing years, she's suffered from a type of panic disorder and has visited psychiatrists across the country seeking relief from her imagined fears. It is only when her worst nightmare comes to fruition that she begins to reexamine her relationship with her ever-traveling husband and discover just what exactly all of his urgent business trips were really about.

The crux of the novel - the reason why she was kidnapped - doesn't quite live up to the potential build-up, especially in the last few pages when the possibility of who was really involved doesn't match up with what you've been led to believe. Yes, the innuendo is there. Maybe that person was involved, there's just no physical evidence providing the connection, but a key revelation from Claire's past might have made for a more satisfying whodunit. In the end, the association behind why Claire was chosen is vague at best, possibly justifying Simmons' view of the randomness of life.

The lovesick nature of Claire is heartbreaking throughout. Her husband has her kiss the bartender on their honeymoon in order to cover the tab. While her kidnapper teaches her the inherent joy of belly-flopping onto a bed. Her husband left her alone with her panic attacks for nights on end. Yet for the first time, she feels safe under the ever-watchful gaze of her kidnapper. Her husband initially wanted her because he felt she was the ideal, unobtainable woman. However, when responding to the ransom demand, he has his secretary make the call for him. Her husband has essentially carved her out of his life, while her kidnapper has made her the sole focus of his. The dichotomy between the two is stunning.

Overall, you might not understand Claire, but you'll be riveted by how she views her abduction.

Standing Still by Kelly Simmons is available for $15.00 at and at And be sure to follow Kelly's Twitter posts.

Thank you to Jenn for recommending this book. Follow her fantastic book blog and Twitter posts.

Review copy provided by Valley Community Library.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Alma Alexander - 2012: Midnight at Spanish Gardens - Author Interview

My thanks to Alma Alexander for stopping by Tribute Books Reviews & Giveaways for an author interview about her book, 2012: Midnight at Spanish Gardens.

1. How did you come up with the title?
Spanish Gardens is (or at least was, since it is no longer among us...) a real place, and one which I used to frequent on a regular basis when I was a student at the University of Cape Town in the 80's. It was the world's best kept secret, and it really did look and feel exactly as I describe it in the book - there were no signposts for it, no indication that it existed at all, and you only knew to find it if somebody who already knew it was there told you about it or took you there. It was a deeply magical place, and one which would have inevitably found its way into my fiction - I am just surprised that it took so long... as for the 2012 part, I set the book at the "end of the world". In a nutshell the title was almost self-generating - a time and a place - and what better location to face an ultimate choice than in a magical place where you can only tell the truth and at a time when you may not have a chance to take anything back...?

2. Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
This is the ultimate game of "what if". The question I want the reader to be left with, perhaps, is simply, "In a similar situation, what would YOU do?" But ramifications of that include a look at what, in your current (and as far as you know your only) life on this earth, do you hold dear - and what are you willing to give up...?

3. How much of the book is realistic?

As I said, the location WAS a real place and will be recognized by its ex-regulars (down to the fact that it DID make the best Irish Coffees on the planet, bar none). Of course the central premise of the book is fanciful - a choice to "change lives" - but the lives themselves, the choices within the choices, these are very very real. The issues are real, and they are explored in a real way. I think all good fiction is "realistic" in the sense that it has to be a very good lie for it to engage a willing sense of suspension of disbelief on the part of the reader. Here, I think I take the reader on a journey some of which may be hauntingly familiar for some. I would love to hear back, in the fullness of time, if this in fact turned out to be the case for individual readers...

4. If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your book?
No. I told the story that I wanted to tell.

5. What was the hardest part of writing your book?
In some ways this is a very personal book for me. Some of the choices in here...touch me. It was occasionally hard to write through that. But I am a storyteller and this was a story. That is what I do.

6. Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
Came to terms with a few of my own life choices. And, no, I won't say what those were - but we all have them, at crossroads in our lives, when we have to make a decision to turn left or turn right and a life-change hangs on it. Mostly, a confirmation that the only set of expectations that anyone can reasonably be expected to live up to is your own, not somebody else's, not even if that somebody else is somebody who loves you. How you live your own life is ultimately up to you.

7. Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
No, because I have ALWAYS had it. I grew up with the words playing hopscotch in my brain. I was writing awful juvenile poetry when I was five years old; I wrote my first novel at 11, my first GOOD novel at 14. I've ALWAYS been a writer.

8. Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
This is a questions often asked and one I really really do not feel equipped to answer without a book-length response - because I have so MANY writers whom I admire, for so many different reasons. I read... a lot. A LOT. Favorites include Tolkien, Zelazny, Le Guin; Henryk Sienkiewicz; Ivo Andric; Sharon Penman; China Mieville. Guy Gavriel Kay. Howard Spring. The list goes on. The thing that I admire in most of these writers boils down to an understanding of people and what makes them tick, which makes for excellent and believable characters which in turn makes the stories that they are starring in interesting and engrossing.

9. Tell us your latest news.
Working on the next (and final) book, to be published in two parts next year, in my YA Worldweavers series. It is shaping to be an excellent story, but it's a tough one to write - and it's keeping me busy...

10. Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
Yep - trying something new - if you're looking for something to read that's nice and short, I'm putting out a series of ebook editions of themed collections of my stories - three stories per book, known as the Alexander Triads. The first two, "Once upon a Fairy Tale" and "Cat Tales," are out both at Smashwords and at Amazon - go take a look!

About the Book
2012: Midnight at Spanish Gardens

Book Details:
Price: $3.99, ebook
Publisher: Sky Warrior Book Publishing, LLC
Published: July 2011
Genre: Fantasy, Science Fiction
Buy Links: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords

Choices at the End of the World

On the eve of the end of the world, 20 December 2012, five friends meet in Spanish Gardens, the cafe where they had celebrated their college graduation 20 years before. Over Irish coffees, they reminisce - and reveal long-held and disturbing secrets.

Each friend in turn is given a curious set of instructions by an enigmatic bartender named Ariel:

"Your life is filled with crossroads and you are free to choose one road or another at any time. Stepping through this door takes away all choices except two -- the choice to live a different life, or return to this one...."

Each in turn passes through the portal and are faced with new lives and challenges. Their decisions show a new life -- or something far worse. Ar the end of the world, it's a chance for redemption, or a chance to learn something about themselves.

International bestselling author, Alma Alexander, mixes a world or possibilities and paths. What if you could change the past -- go right instead of left, fall in love with a different person, change careers or families, or even change your sex. 2012: Midnight at Spanish Gardens brings those choices to life.

About the Author
Alma Alexander

Alma A. Hromic (who now writes as Alma Alexander) was born in 1963 in Novi Sad, Yugoslavia, on the shores of the river Danube. Her father's employment with international aid agencies meant that the family spent twenty years living in various countries in Africa, including Zambia, Swaziland, and South Africa.

Educated in the United Kingdom and South Africa, Alma graduated from the University of Cape Town with an MSc in Microbiology in 1987. She quickly left the lab in order to write about it instead, and spent several years running a scientific journal for the Allergy Society of South Africa before she moved to New Zealand in 1994. She also worked as a literary critic for several publications in South Africa and England.

In New Zealand, she obtained an editorial position with an international educational publisher, where she worked for several years. In 1995 she wrote Houses in Africa (David Ling Publishing Limited, New Zealand; ISBN 0-908990-30-8), a revealing and often-amusing memoir of her two decades in Africa. The same year, she published The Dolphin's Daughter and Other Stories (Longman UK; ISBN 0582122104), a bestselling book of three fables. She has had numerous pieces of short fiction and nonfiction published internationally in South Africa, New Zealand and the United Kingdom.

In 1999, when NATO launched a war against her native country, Alma started an often-tumultious e-mail correspondence with R. A. "Deck" Deckert, a freelance writer and former copy editor, wire editor and news editor for metropolitan newspapers including the Miami Herald and the Miami News. Their correspondence became the basis of an epistolary novel about these dramatic events, Letters from the Fire (HarperCollins New Zealand; ISBN 1-86950-336-8). This book went from concept to publication in fewer than five months. Alma and Deck were married in June, 2000, and she now lives in the northwestern United States.

Her fantasy duology The Hidden Queen and Changer of Days (originally published as Changer of Days vol. 1 and 2 in New Zealand in 2001 and 2002), was released in the United States in 2005. The Secrets of Jin-shei was published in the U.S. in 2004 in hardcover and 2005 in paperback and is currently available in twelve languages worldwide (including Turkish, Lituanian, and Hebrew) and is a bestseller in Spain. The follow-up, Embers of Heaven, published in the UK in September 2006, is available in five languages. Alma's latest project is the Worldweavers young adult trilogy, which debuted with Gift of the Unmage in 2007 and was followed by Spellspam in 2008 and Cybermage in 2009. A Polish edition of the first book has already been published.

She is working on a number of new ideas for the next decade of the 21st century.