Monthly Archives: April 2014

Charlaine Harris: Midnight Crossroad (Competition + Sample)

copy-cropped-charlaineheader_headshot

The Author

Charlaine Harris is a New York Times bestselling author who has been writing for over thirty years. She was born and raised in the Mississippi River Delta area. Though her early works consisted largely of poems about ghosts and teenage angst, she began writing plays when she attended Rhodes College in Memphis, Tennessee. She switched to novels a few years later, and achieved publication in 1981 with Sweet and Deadly.

After publishing two stand-alone mysteries, Harris launched the lighthearted Aurora Teagarden books with Real Murders, a Best Novel 1990 nomination for the Agatha Awards. Harris wrote eight books in her series about a Georgia librarian. In 1996, she released the first in the much darker Shakespeare mysteries, featuring the amateur sleuth Lily Bard, a karate student who makes her living cleaning houses. Shakespeare’s Counselor, the fifth—and final—Lily Bard novel, was printed in fall 2001.

By then, Harris was feeling the call of new territory. Starting with the premise of a young woman with a disability who wants to try inter-species dating, she created The Sookie Stackhouse urban fantasy series before there was a genre called “urban fantasy.” Telepathic barmaid Sookie Stackhouse works in a bar in the fictional northern Louisiana town of Bon Temps. The first book in the series, Dead Until Dark, won the Anthony Award for Best Paperback Mystery in 2001. Each subsequent book follows Sookie through adventures involving vampires, werewolves, and other supernatural creatures. The series, which ended in 2013, has been released in over thirty languages.

Sookie Stackhouse has proven to be so popular that Alan Ball, creator of the HBO television series Six Feet Under, announced he would undertake the production of a new HBO series based upon the  books  He wrote and directed the pilot episode for that series, True Blood, which premiered in September of 2008.

In October 2005, the first of Harris’s new mystery series about a young woman named Harper Connelly debuted with the release of Grave Sight. Harper has the ability to determine the cause of death of any body. After four novels, this series is on hiatus.

Now Harris is working on a trilogy of graphic novels with Christopher Golden and artist Don Kramer, “Cemetery Girl.” On her own she is writing a new series set in the small town of Midnight, Texas.

 Harris has also co-edited a series of very popular anthologies with her friend Toni L.P. Kelner, aka Leigh Perry. The anthologies feature stories with an element of the supernatural, and the submissions come from a rare mixture of mystery and urban fantasy writers.

Professionally, Harris is a member of the Mystery Writers of America, the American Crime Writers League, Sisters in Crime, and the International Crime Writers Association. She is a past member of the boards of Sisters in Crime and MWA, and she has served as president of the MWA. She is also a member of Science Fiction Writers of America, Horror Writers Association, and Romance Writers of America, just to make sure she’s covered.

Personally, Harris has been married for many years. She mother of three wonderful children and the grandmother of two. She lives in central Texas, and when she is not writing her own books, she reads omnivorously. Her house is full of rescue dogs.

Midnight Crossroad

Midnight

The brand new bestselling series from Charlaine Harris: Everything begins at Midnight.

From Charlaine Harris, the bestselling author who created Sookie Stackhouse the world of Bon Temps, Louisiana, comes a new, darker world – populated by more strangers than friends. But then, that’s how the locals prefer it?

Welcome to Midnight, Texas, a town with many boarded-up windows and few full-time inhabitants, located at the crossing of Witch Light Road and Davy Road. It’s a pretty standard dried-up western town.

There’s a pawnshop (someone lives in the basement and is seen only at night). There’s a diner (people who are just passing through tend not to linger). And there’s new resident Manfred Bernardo, who thinks he’s found the perfect place to work in private (and who has secrets of his own).

Stop at the one traffic light in town, and everything looks normal. Stay awhile, and learn the truth .

Read an extract

Enter the Competition

Competition to give one lucky winner a chance to read Midnight Crossroad at midnight on the 7th May.

The winner will spend the night in a fantastic hotel and have their copy delivered to them at midnight with an exclusive gift box. They’ll also win a chance to meet Charlaine Harris when she visits the UK later this year.

 

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Andrew Swanston: The Kings Return (Review + Q&A)

Author

swanston

Andrew read a little law and a lot of sport at Cambridge University, and held various positions in the book trade, including being a director of Waterstone & Co, and chairman of Methven’s plc, before turning to writing. Inspired by a lifelong interest in seventeenth century history, his ‘Thomas Hill’ novels are set during the English Civil Wars, and the early period of the Restoration.

He lives with his wife in Surrey, near to their three children and two grandchildren. His interests include golf, gardening, and drawing.

Author Web site

Product Description

Buy the Book

kings return

Spring, 1661.
   Thomas Hill travels from his home in Romsey to London to attend the coronation of King Charles II. His sister Margaret has died, and both his nieces are now married. At a dinner party after the Coronation, Thomas meets the charming Chandle Stoner, and Sir Joseph Williamson, security advisor to His Majesty, and in charge of the newly restored Post Office. Learning of Thomas’s skill with codes, Williamson asks him to take charge of deciphering coded letters intercepted at the Post Office. Reluctantly, Thomas agrees. A spate of murders takes place in London — including two employees of the Post Office. Thomas finds himself dragged into the search for the murderer — or murderers. It soon becomes apparent that those responsible are closer to Thomas — and his loved ones — than he imagined. But can he ensure they are apprehended for their crimes before it’s too late?

 Set in the aftermath of the Civil War, in a dangerous and deadly London.Like Swanston’s other novels, this too features a combination of fact and fiction. The key context — the Post Office — was indeed a hotbed of spies both for the King and for his enemies.

Author Q&A

PARMENION BOOKS INTERVIEW

What led you to become a writer? I suppose reading led to writing. And from a very young age I filled notebooks with this and that – diaries, stories, half-formed thoughts – so the urge to write must always have been there

Favorite author / Inspiration? Conan Doyle and CS Forester were my first inspirations. I discovered them in the school library and devoured them. I still love Sherlock Holmes and Horatio Hornblower. A little later, PG Wodehouse.

Who do you read for relaxation? A mixed bag. John Gribbin (science), Michael Lewis (finance), Tom Holland and Anthony Beevor (history), Jared Diamond (anthropology) are among my favourites.  All brilliant in their own way.

What was your inspiration for Thomas Hill? Thomas was the product of Thomas Phelippes, who broke the code that proved Mary Queen of Scots was plotting to overthrow Queen Elizabeth which led to her execution, the Vigenère Cipher and the idea that Civil War Oxford would make a good setting for a story. I wanted an unusual protagonist, not a military man or a politician, but someone dragged unexpectedly into the war.

How long is the series? (Given that Thomas is aging rapidly in the series) Now that Thomas is about to be a husband and father, he will be on paternity leave for a while. If he decides to return, I do have a job for him.

What’s next for Andrew Swanston? (period of history?) I am working on two stories. A murder/mystery set in Cambridge in 1572 and a fictionalised account of the soldier chosen by Wellington as ‘the bravest man at Waterloo’. Hopefully, both will appear next year.

If you could have anyone from history to dinner, who would it be and why? I would invite to dinner the man known as Jesus of Nazareth. I do not believe he was the son of God but am willing to be persuaded.

Your PR person has decided the best way to push the book is to stand you outside Kings cross, you only have a few words to describe the books to passers by before they are gone, so…So how do you sell it? 

I would of course refuse this request, but……….

‘1661. England again has a king but London is a city of spies and malcontents. Murder follows murder. Can scholarly Thomas Hill find the killer and foil a plot that threatens the country?’

Parmenion Books Review

I find myself in a bit of a quandary with writing this review, a review is a very personal thing, and even 15 years on from the early days of reviews i find that i cannot move away from just giving my person insight, whilst tempering it with a hope that each of you will make up your own mind. As it had been some time since I read the last book and there had been many pages and many centuries between the books (From Rome, to modern thrillers) I decided that I would re-read books one and two and then dive straight into book 3, Kings return.

I finished all 3 books off in just over a week which clearly shows that there is something significantly engaging and entertaining in the books, that the characters are there and that they are well rounded and developed. That there has been a large amount of research put into the plot and its delivered in a very engaging style.

But: I found that the stories while well told and complex, felt like they lacked something, lacked those little nuggets of history that delight me (forgive me Andrew if i missed them) EG: in Simon Scarrows Young Bloods series about Wellington and Napoleon there is a wonderful scene where young Napoleon is at school and despite not being one of the “popular “ boys he ends up leading by force of character one of the sides in an all out snowball war. It’s a real nugget of history and its stayed with me for years. This series by Andrew Swanston has some delightful passages and really carries the reader along with the plot. But it feels to hover above history, slightly outside it, offering a birds eye view rather than immersing me in the history. I didn’t feel the heat of the island, I didn’t smell the stink of the sugar (and I live in a town with a Sugar factory so would have found it easy to smell the history), i didn’t feel the grime of old London .  It may well be that reading this just after reading The new God of Vengeance by Giles Kristen isn’t a fair scenario, that book was just stunning and so many authors would pale in comparison. On another day this series may gain a higher rating from me, but i could not escape the feeling of being a voyeur in Mr Hills travails rather than a participant. Please please though read these books, my review comes from my impression at the time of reading and in comparison to some truly remarkable writing. Andrews work is still a delight to read.

 I do truly feel that if you love Civil War history, and you love a puzzle, then try the series. The lead character is a cryptographer and there are many puzzles and turns to hold the attention of the reader. It is a fun and interesting read and has a pace that makes the books fly past.

 Well worth a read

 (Parm)

Thomas Hill Trilogy

1. The King’s Spy (2012)
2. The King’s Exile (2013)
3. The King’s Return (2014)
The King's SpyThe King's ExileThe King's Return
Novellas
Beautiful Star (2014)
Beautiful Star

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Filed under Andrew Swanston, Historical Fiction

Chris Kuzneski: The Forbidden Tomb (Review)

Chris Kuzneski

Chris K

USA (1969 – )

Click to go to Author Website
Chris Kuzneski attended the University of Pittsburgh, where he played football, wrote for three newspapers, and passed most of his classes. He earned a master’s degree in teaching, then taught English for five years before pursuing a career in writing. His first novel, THE PLANTATION, introduced the characters of Payne and Jon
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The Forbidden Tomb

Forbidden

THE HUNTERS

If you seek, they will find…

The treasure:

For over two thousand years, the legendary tomb of Alexander the Great – and the riches concealed within – has evaded discovery. Now, after centuries of searching, an ancient map has come to light that could hold the key to finding the fabled vault. Only one team has the skill and the expertise to solve the mystery once and for all.

The mission:

It’s up to The Hunters – an elite group assembled to track down the world’s greatest treasures – to find the tomb. But on arriving in Alexandria, it quickly becomes clear that hostile forces are on their trail. And when one of the team is captured in cisterns deep below the city, what began as a treasure hunt becomes a deadly rescue mission.

For there are some who will use any means possible to destroy The Hunters’ efforts, and now there is more at stake than they ever could have imagined.

High-octane action. Brilliant characters. Classic Kuzneski.

Review

My first taste of Chris Kuzneski’s work was last years The Hunters , I’m always on the lookout for another great thriller writer, James Rollins, Andy McDermott and co can only turn out so many books a year, after that its the cheesy end of the market, the Dan Brows etc. So finding that the Hunters was not just good, but brilliant was as much a relief as it was a revelation.

In book two “The Forbidden Tomb” we see the return of the excellent, multi-layered and utterly human characters created in book one. A complex team, compiled from each needed skill set for the first mission, and just as apt for this new mission. As such we are treated to another search for the impossible, a hunt to find something lost and no real clues to its location, in this case the Tomb of Alexander the Great. But as i have come to expect in any book of this type, all is not what it seems. Why has the tomb never been found? Why are there so few clues? Is someone protecting the history of Alexander and his Tomb? Who? What? Why? I love the stream of unknown. Read the book and find out! (i cannot give any more away)

For me i found the story breathtaking (i’m a huge fan of Alexander the great and stories about him). The plot isn’t just a balls out action thriller, it has more intelligence than that, it has the ability to keep you guessing all the way to the end. This book has so many twists and turns you just don’t want to put the book down. I think this is the first book in years that has made me physically sit bolt upright and exclaim out loud “No F….ing way!” I take my hat off to you sir, that part of the plot took real balls, i was shocked, surprised, amazed, appalled and yet transfixed by the incident with Jasmine.

This book is truly an action packed thinking mans thriller, with a plot that spans the centuries and is packed with more surprises than is good for the heart. Loved it, and already cannot wait for the next one. I really do promise to make time to read the Payne and Jones series, which if its even half as good, is going to be worth making the time to read.

Highly recommended

(Parm)

Payne and Jones

1. The Plantation (2000)
2. Sign of the Cross (2006)
3. Sword of God (2007)
4. The Lost Throne (2008)
5. The Prophecy (2009)
6. The Secret Crown (2010)
7. The Death Relic (2011)
8. The Einstein Pursuit (2013)
Slipcase: Sign of the Cross / Sword of God / Lost Throne(omnibus) (2011)
The PlantationSign of the CrossSword of GodThe Lost Throne
The ProphecyThe Secret CrownThe Death RelicThe Einstein Pursuit
 Hunters 
1. The Hunters (2013)  My blog and review for book 1
2. The Forbidden Tomb (2014)

The HuntersThe Forbidden Tomb

 

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Filed under Action/ Adventure Thrillers, Chris Kuzneski, Historical Fiction, Thrillers

GAMES CREATURES PLAY Edited by Charlaine Harris, Toni L.P. Kelner

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Everyone plays something – whether it’s solitaire or squash or stockcar racing, World of Warcraft or World Wrestling Entertainment tournaments, darts or dodgeball. Games bring out the best in us, the worst in us, the thing-we-never-expected in us. Human beings just naturally like to test their limits, both mental and physical – and why should the supernaturals be any different?

In their latest anthology international superstar Charlaine Harris and award-winning mystery writer Toni Kelner have collected stories that feature ghostly players, bloodthirsty interruptions, and competitions with deadly outcomes, from some of the top writers in the fantasy, horror, crime and mystery genres. Game on!

Review:

What would you expect from a book featuring Charlaine Harris (and also edited by)? for me its still part of a foray out of my reading comfort zone. I enjoy watching True Blood (not just for the get the kit off action before someone comments) Its good fun, has a fast pace and many twists and turns. Her short story in this anthology is no different from that. The other authors were all new to me, each and every story something different, something that pushed my boundaries of comfort (i hide behind cushions during horror films).  Despite all of that i enjoyed nearly every story, and the couple i didn’t… well that’s more personal quirk than anything to do with the story, i know many will love every single story in the book.

So if a shock, a scare a little fright, something to get the pulse racing is what you enjoy…well this is the anthology for you.

(Parm)

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James Rollins: The Kill switch (review)

James Rollins

rollins

(James Czajkowski)
(1961 – )

aka James Clemens

James Rollins was born in Chicago, Illinois, is 1961. With his three brothers and three sisters, he was raised in the Midwest and rural Canada. He graduated with a doctorate in veterinary medicine from the University of Missouri and went on to establish his own veterinary practice in Sacramento, California. An amateur spelunker and a PADI-certified scuba enthusiast, he’ll often be found either underground or underwater.

Book Description

kill switch

Who does the U.S. government call upon when a mission requires perfect stealth, execution, and discretion? Meet the newest recruits to the expanding Sigma Force universe–former Army Ranger Tucker Wayne and his stalwart companion, Kane, a military working dog of exceptional abilities — in:

THE KILL SWITCH

The mission seems simple enough: extract a pharmaceutical magnate from Russian soil, a volatile man who holds the secret to a deadly bioweapon. But nothing is as it appears to be. A conspiracy of world-shattering scope unravels as Tucker and Kane struggle to keep one move ahead of their deadly enemies.

From the frozen steppes of Russia to the sun-blasted mountains of South Africa and Namibia, a biological threat millions of years in the making strikes out at the heart of America. All that stands in the way from a global apocalypse: one man and his dog. But can even Tucker and Kane thwart an ecological menace out of the ancient past to save the world’s future?

Review

Every Rollins is a thriller I look forward too, but when I saw this one I was slightly concerned, the Grant Blackwood link smacked of a James Patterson change of pace. I liked Patterson in the early years, but his “shared books” were always slightly wrong, not quite up to the class of the solo books.

The Kill Switch isn’t the best book i have read by Rollins, but it is a really fun, Interesting and powerful thriller, it still has the Sigma spin and drive. The co-authoring doesn’t diminish the writing, it feels like a Rollins through and through.

This book has an interesting POV style with the switch from Tucker our main character to his partner, a dog, in the form of Kane. The dogs POV could have been a really dodgy gimmick, but it think the authors get the tone just right, smart but still an animal. The plot has plenty of twists and turns and the feel of the co-locations of the book is impeccable. From Russia to South Africa, the author has clearly done his research, i froze in Russia, i cooked in Africa. One of the regular triumphs of a Rollins book is that every side character is complete and one you feel emotinally tied too, from traitors to sub drivers, to the brothers who assist Tucker in Africa all are so well written you could enjoy a book about any of them.

The wild apocalyptic plot as ever has the right amount of plausibility in it to add the fear factor and the “what if” niggling doubt. All in all it is a well rounded fun thriller, one that will delight Rollins fans.

Recommenced

(Parm)

Sigma Force

1. Sandstorm (2004)
2. Map of Bones (2005)
3. Black Order (2006)
4. The Judas Strain (2007)
5. The Last Oracle (2008)
6. The Doomsday Key (2009)
6.5. The Skeleton Key (2011)
7. The Devil Colony (2011)
7.5. Tracker (2012)
8. Bloodline (2012)
9. The Eye of God (2013)
10. The Sixth Extinction (2014)
The Doomsday Key / The Last Oracle (omnibus) (2011)
The Sigma Force Novels (omnibus) (2013)

SandstormMap of BonesBlack OrderThe Judas StrainThe Last OracleThe Doomsday KeyThe Skeleton KeyThe Devil ColonyTrackerBloodlineThe Eye of GodThe Sixth ExtinctionThe Doomsday Key / The Last OracleThe Sigma Force Novels


Jake Ransom

1. Jake Ransom and the Skull King’s Shadow (2009)
2. Jake Ransom and the Howling Sphinx (2010)

Jake Ransom and the Skull King's ShadowJake Ransom and the Howling Sphinx

Order of the Sanguines (with Rebecca Cantrell)
0.5. City of Screams (2012)
1. The Blood Gospel (2013)
1.5. Blood Brothers (2013)
2. Innocent Blood (2013)

City of ScreamsThe Blood GospelBlood BrothersInnocent Blood

 

Tucker Wayne (with Grant Blackwood)
1. The Kill Switch
 (2014)

The Kill Switch

 

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Filed under Crime, James Rollins, Thrillers, Uncategorized

Giles Kristian : Book Trailer…..Watch it here!

Its here…. the vikings have arrived…at least on film

GoV

 

 

Read a review of the books

Go behind the scenes of the film shoot

 

 

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Filed under Giles Kristian, Historical Fiction

Kristi Belcamino: BLESSED ARE THE DEAD Excerpt: Chapters 1-2

The Author

belcamino

Kristi Belcamino is a writer, artist and photographer who makes a tasty biscotti. She grew up in a Northern California town called Paradise.

After graduating from Paradise High School she moved to L.A. where she received an associate of arts degree in business administration from Fullerton College and later, received a bachelor’s of arts in Journalism from California State University, Long Beach.

During those wild college years, she lived with four Australian Rugby players in a house a block from the beach. They loaned her a wetsuit and surfboard and attempted to teach her to surf, but gave up because she was too afraid of sharks. (Blame watching Jaws as a kid.)

During college she also lived in a Mara Salvatrucha gang neighborhood with the now-famous singer Beck and his family. (Hi T! Hi Bibbe and Sean!)

During college she had internships The San Gabriel Valley Tribune newspaper, EMI Records, and Rolling Stone Magazine where she got to hob nob with rock stars — or at least be in the same room as them, including the time Eddie Van Halen bumped into her spilled her drink, but he smiled at her and she forgave him.

After graduation, she and her boyfriend headed south and camped along the Baja California beaches in a flimsy orange tent for weeks on end. A few months later, they packed all their belongings in a hatch back and drove to Seattle to chase the grunge scene for a few months before reducing all those belongings to what would fit in a backpack and headed to Europe.

After tromping through Europe, Belcamino landed in her boyfriend’s home town of Minneapolis and began her first job in journalism working for the state medical journal and then getting hired as a reporter at a small newspaper in White Bear Lake.

Sick of Minnesota winters, she took a reporting job at the Carmel Pine Cone for a few months before getting her first big break at a daily, The Monterey Herald, where she started covering crime. Her highlights working in the Monterey Peninsula include getting to speak to Clint Eastwood, flying above Big Sur in an FA/18 fighter jet, racing a Dodge Viper at Laguna Seca, being sneered at by a crabby Jerry Seinfeld and having Hall-of-Famer Reggie Jackson ask to be introduced to her because he loved a story she wrote about a naked, masturbating, car-accident-causing driver.

Belcamino then moved to Oakland when she was hired as the police reporter at a larger daily, the Contra Costa Times. While there, she covered every horrific crime anyone could imagine, but the one that haunts her the most involved her efforts to find out what happened to a missing little girl by spending numerous hours interviewing a convicted kidnapper who told her tales of his exploits as a long-time serial killer.

Then, she had a baby. Within nine months, she and her husband had packed up and moved to Minnesota to be around his large Irish family. Within a year, she had another baby. When her youngest started kindergarten, Kristi started writing a novel inspired by her dealings with the serial killer. Within four months, she had her first draft. About a year later she signed with Stacey Glick at Dystel & Goderich Literary Management.

A year after that her first novel, Blessed are the Dead, based on her experiences as a crime reporter, sold to HarperCollins in a two-book deal.

Kristi lives in Minneapolis with her husband and her two fierce daughters.

Find out more by clicking this link www.kristibelcamino.com

The book

BLESSED ARE THE DEAD Excerpt: Chapters 1-2

BlessedAretheDead

BLESSED ARE THE DEAD pits Italian-American Bay Area Crime reporter against a serial killer who preys on children. When they were little girls, Gabriella Giovanni’s sister was kidnapped and killed. Twenty years later, Gabriella spends her days on the crime beat flitting in and out of other people’s nightmares and then walking away unscathed. That changes when a little girl disappears and Gabriella’s quest for justice and a front-page story leads her to a convicted kidnapper who reels her in with tales of his exploits as a longtime serial killer and promises to reveal his secrets to her alone. Meanwhile, Gabriella’s passion for her job quickly spirals into obsession when she begins to suspect the kidnapper also killed her sister. Gabriella won’t hesitate to risk her life to garner justice for the dead

BLESSED ARE THE DEAD Excerpt: Chapters 1-2

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Filed under Crime, Thrillers