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Clockwork Century Giveaway

November 12, 2015

boneshakerI did an interview with the delightful Cherie Priest over on the Little Professor webpage and my MacMillan rep was kind enough to send me some promo copies of some of Cherie’s earlier books. So, I have two sets of the first two Clockwork Century books, Boneshaker and Dreadnought to give away.
dreadnoughtI’m going back to Rafflecopter giveaways because it’s just been too hard to get addresses from people otherwise.
So, to enter this giveaway, please tell me how you would most efficiently dispatch a zombie. Then enter the giveaway by clicking here or on either of the two book photos. You can also earn extra entries by following Cherie on Twitter, me on Twitter, or my book reviews over on Vine.
The giveaway will last from today until November 30. I’m going to try to do a giveaway every month, so they should be more regular from here on out. Good luck!

House Reads #04 – Pugs of the Frozen North

November 1, 2015

pugsMy Current Read Is: Pugs of the Frozen North by Philip Reeve and Sarah McIntyre
Published by: Random House, 2016
Cover Illustration: Sarah McIntyre
Read This: while playing in the snow or eating noodles

This is a silly story that has a tremendous heart at its center. Shen is a cabin boy who gets marooned in the frozen north with sixty-six pugs and a crate of Aran sweaters. He manages to find a settlement and meets up with a young girl named Sika who wants nothing so much as a dog team to take her grandfather’s sled to the north pole. Once in a lifetime, a magical True Winter descends and the first team to make it to the Snowfather’s palace at the north pole will be granted a wish. Sika’s grandfather almost made it and she hopes to fulfill his dream and use her wish to restore him to health.
There are the usual cast of wacky characters and various misadventures, but in the end, they all find something much more valuable than treasure. I’ll admit, my eyes were not entirely dry by the end.
Philip Reeve has written a delightful story and Sarah McIntyre (who I hear is the best be-hatted person in children’s literature) has done a series of utterly charming illustrations.

Sarah McIntyre and wig (from the author's website)

Sarah McIntyre and wig (from the author’s website)

Normally, I wouldn’t review a book so early (It comes out in the US from Random House on January 26, 2016,) but since I’m doing my House Reads challenge I wanted to go ahead and get this one down.
I’d also like to recommend Philip Reeve’s spot on Tea & Jeopardy as a delightful listen.
NaNoWriMo starts today. And, here in most of the US, if you stayed up until midnight to start you got an extra hour thanks to Daylight Savings Time, that unfathomable beast. I am trying NaNo again this year. I’m working on a horror story based off a dream, which I believe resulted from listening to too many episodes of Three Guys With Beards. We’ll see how that goes. I’ve written a zombie novel before, but I don’t really know about straight up horror.
Although, speaking of straight up horror, I got to do an interview with the spooktacular Cherie Priest for the Little Professor website. That’s available here if you’d like to take a look!

Home Reads #03 – Maplecroft

October 28, 2015

maplecroftLizzie Borden fights Cthulhu with an ax.

That’s the elevator pitch for Maplecroft by Cherie Priest. I’ve had this book in my house since before it came out. I got an ARC last… August maybe? Something like that. I keep picking it up and then not reading it because I’m scared.
I mean… Lizzie Borden vs Cthulhu. That’s intense. And I like to sleep at night. Sometimes. At any rate, I have to get up very early every morning to go to school and read to small children (it’s a hard life.) So, reading something that is going to freak me right out is not the smartest thing to do.

But… it’s Lizzie Borden! I love Lizzie Borden and I realize that that’s a slightly creepy thing to say, but… Ok, fine, I’m slightly creepy. I am, after all, wearing a skirt with skeleton illustrations from antique anatomical texts today. And I told everyone at dinner Saturday that I loved teenagers because it was so easy to tell how old they were… from their bones. So, I’m a weirdo. And I love Lizzie Borden. Which reminds me, I need to go watch that Lizzie Borden TV movie with Christina Ricci.
Anyway! Maplecroft is essentially based on the premise that yes, Lizzie did kill her father and stepmother, but she had a really, really, really good reason. I’m only five chapters in so far, but it’s riveting so far. I’m also looking forward to the sequel, which just came out a bit ago. Chapelwood is set here in Birmingham and is based around a very odd murder that happened here just at the turn of the twentieth century.
I’ve also just done an interview with Cherie that will should be up on the Little Professor site. So, have a peak at that if you want to. ^.^
What’s your favorite scary story?

A Night of Blacker Darkness Review

October 27, 2015
Photo by the Tennessee Wesleyan College Theater Program

Photo by the Tennessee Wesleyan College Theater Program

Saturday I drove up to Athens, TN to Tennessee Wesleyan College to see the world premiere of A Night of Blacker Darkness adapted by Dan Wells and Allison Hill, adapted from a novel by Dan Wells.
So, first of all, as I said before, A Night of Blacker Darkness is a vampire farce that Dan published around 2011. It’s set in the early 1800’s and features John Keats, Mary Shelly, and a guest appearance from a certain Lady Author. It’s delightful and fun and charming.
The play has managed to capture all of that, while still making necessary adaptations to bring a novel onto the stage. The show was directed by Dr. C. Austin Hill and featured a cast of students with a judicious use of a few older actors in appropriate parts. The three primary actors were John Smith, Tyler Peaden, and Stephanie Jacobs. They all did excellent work.
I was also especially taken by the actor who played Sable, the head of the vampire coven. This role was adeptly filled by Merrick Gray. (I’ve included the complete cast list from the TWC’s Theater Program facebook page below.)

All in all, the adaptation was fantastic. I was laughing for large portions of the show, which was as it should be. There were a couple of modifications to the plot, which I was sad to see, but totally understood. There was a cameo by, a certain lady author, that had to be cut because including it would have required at least one more set and three or four additional actors. Ah, the sacrifices we make for theater!

On a side note, as a theater person myself, I have to say that I was completely impressed with the doors in the show. They opened when they were supposed to open. They closed when they were supposed to close! They stayed in whichever state they were intended to be in!
The sets as a whole were both attractive and very well made. Actors had to slam doors repeatedly, fall against the set, lean on portions of the set, and the whole sets had to move and spin to show various interior and exterior scenes. There was one, very slight hiccup during the show when two set pieces separated slightly, but for a show as complicated and energetic as this one, that was very impressive.

There are two shows left, so if you’re anywhere near the area I highly recommend going this weekend!

Cast List

Frederick Whithers (A scheming banker in his 20s): John Smith
John Keats (A poet): Tyler Peaden
Mary Shelley (A writer): Stephanie Jacobs
Gwendolyn Gaddie (Frederick’s social-climbing Girlfriend): Annie Hopson
Percival Gaddie (Gwen’s brother, also a banker): Garrett Marshall
Colin Gaddie (Head of the bank, Gwen and Percy’s Uncle): Steve Walker
Inspector Tristan Herring (A vampire hunter): Angel Lamb
Chief Constable Barrow (Head of the Prison) Jedi Gabel
The Late Harold Beard (A very rich, old, and dead, man): Kreis Evans
Winston (A carriage driver, 40-50’s) Lake Sliger
Sable (Leader of the vampire coven): Merrick Gray
Gustav (An old Russian gravedigger): Rick Parker
Spilsbury (A very fat mortician): Jeremy Ramsey + padding…
Vampire 1 Gabrielle Lamb
Vampire 2 Morgan Marshall
Vampire 3 Maggie Montgomery
Vampire 4 Erin McCormac
Other Vampires/constables/
Tiffany Dierden
John Gabel
Jonathan Ramsey

Cheating Already

October 24, 2015

So, I gave myself a challenge; read only the books I already had.
But then… This happened today: 

Yes, yes that is an ARC of Of Mice and Magic the second Hamster Princess book by Ursula Vernon. And yes, yes I am going to read it tonight. So, I’m breaking my challenge already, but it’s for a very, very, very good cause. It’s for Twelve Dancing Mouse Princesses. And really, what could be more important than that?
Also, I’m pet sitting tonight, so I’m not technically at home. So, maybe it doesn’t count as cheating? That’s like, if you don’t put it on a plate it doesn’t have calories, right? It’s totally a rule. 

A Night of Blacker Darkness

October 23, 2015

nightBack in 2012 I read a book by Dan Wells called A Night of Blacker Darkness. I read it for one reason and one reason only; vampire bunnies. Now, sadly, the legion of vampire bunnies had to be toned down in the final version, but I knew that they had, at one time, existed. And that was enough for me.
A Night of Blacker Darkness has been described as a vampire farce. It chronicles the life and times of one, Mr. Frederick Whithers, a young man out to steal an inheritance. Through dark betrayal, he is arrested before he can actually commit the theft, which seems very unfair, leaving him no choice but to escape from prison and complete the theft for which he has already been imprisoned.
As any student of literature knows, the only real way to escape from prison is feet first, in a coffin. Frederick is duly buried and exhumed by a faithful servant. However, the graveyard is not exactly empty when he enacts his miraculous escape from the grave. A coven of vampires become convinced that he is the Great One, a messianic figure in vampiric lore. All of his non-vampiric traits are simply proof of his greatness.
Things, believe it or not, get sillier from there. Frederick must enlist the aid of such figures as are about a cemetery at night; namely a poet with a penchant for writing on every available surface and a young lady novelist doing some rather unsettling “research” into reanimation. From there it is a haphazard race to outsmart the bankers, the law, and the vampires, not to mention Frederick’s former partner, in an attempt to secure the inheritance and thus a financially secure future.

Photo by the Tennessee Wesleyan College Theater Program

Photo by the Tennessee Wesleyan College Theater Program

Now, that’s all very interesting, you might be saying to yourself. But I read this book in 2012. Why am I going on about it now. Well! The book has been adapted for the stage by the Tennessee Wesleyan College Theater Program and it premiers tonight! Sadly, since I have a day job that I should probably go to every now and then, I can’t make it to the opening night, but I will be attending tomorrow night. The TWC is up in Athens, Tennessee, so that makes it right around a 3 hour drive. Totally reasonable for a good vampire farce!
I have an extra interest in this show because I got to do a table read of the first scene at the Writing Excuses Retreat last year and given how much fun that was, I can’t imagine that the whole show will be anything less than spectacular.
If you’re curious about the process of adapting a novel to a stage show, look no further! Writing Excuses happens to have recorded an episode about that at… you guessed it, the Writing Excuses Retreat last year with Allison Hill and C. Austin Hill from the TWC Theater Program.
I’ll let you all know how the show goes next week. In the meantime, I have to figure out what to wear!

Short Story Reading: Mary Robinette Kowal & Ellen Klages

October 20, 2015

scentingNo major updates today. I’ve been reading short stories. I dipped into Scenting the Dark and Other Stories by Mary Robinette Kowal. It’s another limited edition from Subterranean Press. I picked it up second hand after I saw a copy during last year’s Writing Excuses Retreat. I wasn’t following Mary when the book was originally published (2009) so I missed out on it.
The stories are interesting. But “Some Other  Day” led to me getting a bit freaked out. I was listening to the latest episode of Kevin & Ursula Eat Cheap yesterday, and Ursula was talking about sexy mosquitoes. Basically, genetically modified mosquitoes have been released in Brazil in an effort to combat dengue fever. The gm male mosquitoes cannot reach maturity without an antiboitic. The farmed mosquitoes are given the antibiotic, released to breed with the wild population, and then die. The offspring don’t have access to the antibiotic and so don’t mature, and then they die without reproducing. This will lead to an overall drop in the mosquito population and thus, hopefully, a reduction in the spread of mosquito-borne illnesses.
Cool! Science! Fewer mosquitoes!
However, “Some Other Day” is a story about a girl whose father did something to prevent female mosquitoes from being born. Which led to massive and unfortunate changes in the ecosystem, including huge overpopulation of birds, which resulted in diminished crop yields. This was, obviously, a bad thing. So… yeah, sexy mosquitoes freaked me out on top of that short story.
The very cool thing about the collection is that Mary has a little note after every story that gives you a bit of background, or some interesting biographical information. They aren’t my favorite things she’s written, but since those are currently Ghost Talkers, which comes out next year, and Kiss Me Twice, which is a novella she wrote some time ago, and then the ENTIRE Glamourist Histories series, not being my favorite pieces of her work is a very subjective category and I still like everything I’ve read of Mary’s better than 90% of the things I’ve read over the course of my life. So, take that as you will.

The next thing I want to mention is a short story I read today from Uncanny Magazine. It’s called, “In the House of the Seven Librarians.” It’s written by Ellen Klages, who is most known for The Green Glass Sea. It’s about a girl who is raised by seven feral librarians. I have a new life goal; to become a feral librarian. I’ll keep you posted on how that’s going.
I don’t want to say too much about the story, because it’s a perfect little jewel and you should experience it for yourself. I came across the story on Tumblr, I think. I don’t even remember. I’m so terribly pleased that I did. I also wish that I had been raised by feral librarians. It seems like a perfect beginning for me.


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