Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Marcia Clark: The Competition

This book could be read as a stand alone novel as it is not entirely necessary to read the previous three in the series to understand what is occurring in this book or Rachel as a character. Yes, the relationships within the book are established in the previous three books Guilt by Association, Guilt by Degrees and Killer Ambition, however, by not reading them does not hinder this book. That said I would recommend the previous books especially Guilt by Association (which I thought was a fantastic start to this series).

Marcia Clark is back with the newest installment of her Rachel Knight series just in time to let you know that there is no place where you can be safe:

Rachel Knight receives a call that no DA wants, there has been a school shooting and there are major casualties but the killers have been identified and both are dead. As Rachel and Bailey start to interview the witnesses and other student, some things don't add up and they begin to wonder if the killer really are dead. What they don't know is the the competition has begun and there is nothing scarier that killers who want to be the best and beat the score of those who came before them.

I know I criticized the last Rachel Knight book for not having enough time in the courtroom, well this one has even less time. For me this is what stood out for me in Clark's previous books in this series was the integration of the investigation and the courtroom. I miss the courtroom aspects in these books and I think this book could have been something more if Clark had decided to include them. I personally think that there are so many authors out there that write in the mystery/thriller genre that you want to do something different to stand out and this is the courtroom for Clark. She knows how the courtroom works and this is where Rachel really shines. In the investigation part she really is second fiddle to Bailey (which makes sense as she is the detective), however, the point of view of the story is from Rachel so we get a lot of Bailey already thinking and doing something before Rachel even suggests it. This in turn overshadows Rachel and her character, and I will say again she is the main character. I just feel overall the Rachel I loved in the beginning of this series has become lost along the way.

All of that said, this is still a really good and interesting read and I loved the topic and premise that Clark decided to focus on, school shooting and the competition aspect. I think that this is an under used topic in books recently but I think the next school involved aspect will be something to do with the Creepy Clowns (such a weird trend). Clark did a really good job in hiding and changing you idea of who the second shooter is and I will say that she kept me guessing right till the end.

I personally think there is a lack of really great courtroom procedural books out there with a character like Rachel Knight and I hope that Clark in the future has Rachel return to the courtroom. This book is still good without it, but there are so many books out there with a "crime fighting duo" that I wanted more from what I originally liked from this series. I will read the next book in the series just to see where Clark takes it next, guess it really isn't a must read for me know though.

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Saturday, October 8, 2016

Happy 6th Blogoversary To Me

Wow, truly wow. I never thought that I would make it to one blogoversary and now I'm having my sixth. I just want to take this moment to thank all my followers new and old for stopping by and reading my reviews each week. It is nice to know that every once in awhile I help someone find a new author, book or series to try. I also want to thank the authors this year who took the time to complete an interview with me and I hope everyone enjoyed reading their answers.

Winners have been chosen and contacted so please check your email to see if you have one.

Here is to my sixth year and on to the seventh, which i'm sure will have some more great finds and reads.


Saturday, October 1, 2016

James Patterson: Zoo 2

If you are reading this series because you like the TV show I will say that they are very much different from the book. Some of the characters have the same names and professions but that is where the similarity ends between the two. However, I have only watched the first season so I cannot say if the second season is more like the books.

If You are interested in reading this book then you will want to pick up the first book in this series Zoo, as it explains how we as humans have destroyed the balance of the world and what should be done in order to rectify it.

James Patterson is back with  his Zoo type of an Apocalypse where everything is about to become even more personal:

Oz thought he had found a way to save the human race, but the human is anything but adaptive as a whole. The animals are more violent than ever and humans are their prey. Never stray far from your home, make sure every access point into the home is blocked and never never go out at night unless you have a death wish. However, Oz could never have predicted the way the mutation would change and now it is even more deadly.

I was interested in this follow up "book" to see where Patterson was going to take the story, mutation and characters and he took it in ways that I never expected. Did there need to be a separate book for zoo 2, probably not, as this is not that long of a read. However, I think I understand why he decided to have separate book (you know minus the additional money) as the way in which the"mutation" changes within this book clearly is something very different from the first. However, this book is extremely short, I believe about 150 pages so It could have been added to the first book no problem.

The animals did not seem as smart as they were in the first book and I missed the point of view from Attila.I think that these added more depth to the overall story and even if we did not have points of view from Attila Patterson could have selected a different animal from each place that was visited and had even just one chapter from it's point of view and how they viewed the human and the plan.

The one thing that Patterson does a great job in this book is pointing out how much we as a species have come to rely too much on technology that we are unable to give it up (and yes I realize I am making this statement typing away on my laptop, while my smart phone is close by). It does make me wonder, would I be able to give it all up in order to save the human race? Would I be willing to go back the pre-technology age? It is really something to think on. So for those points in actually making me think while I am reading and reviewing this book I applaud Patterson for that.

Of course there is a cliff hanger at the end so I wonder if Zoo 3 is coming out any time soon, and I'll probably end up reading it just to see how far Patterson can take this series and his apocalypse idea. I guess I really do wonder if we could survive an animal uprising.

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Thursday, September 22, 2016

Author Interview & Giveaway: Anna Snoekstra

I love love love finding debut authors throughout the year and I really enjoy having the opportunity to feature them during my Blogoversary. Anna Snoekstra's debut novel Only Daughter, was a very interesting debut and I really enjoyed the story and her characterization of The Imposter.

Please Welcome to Blood Rose Books Today:

Anna Snoekstra 

If there was one author you could co-write a novel with (they can be alive or dead) who would you choose and why?
Elena Ferrante. Her work is beautiful and such a pleasure to read. Also, I’d love to know her real identity!

Your debut novel Only Daughter was just released, can you tell us a little bit about the process to get here? 
It’s been a long process! I wrote the novel when I was twenty-five working nights at a cinema. It took me a long time to get it to a point that I was happy with. When it was finally there I sent it to some US agents, and was so lucky to be pulled out of the slush pile by MacKenzie Fraser-Bub. She found a great publisher: Mira Books. They have been such a lovely group of people to work with! 

From debut novel to having Only Daughter optioned for a movie, can you share with us some information about the possibility of Only Daughter becoming a movie? Will you be directly involved in the process? 
I have been to Los Angeles twice in the last twelve months to discuss the film option. The Producers at Universal and Working Title were so respectful and we had some great chats about how the book would be adapted. The Screenwriter, Erin Cressida-Wilson, is an amazing woman and a fantastic writer so I know the film will be amazing! We stay in touch via email and share our influences: stories and essay from me, photographs and paintings from her. It’s all been very exciting but also a lot of fun! 

What have you learned about yourself and your writing in this whole process?
I’ve learned to have a thick skin, and that perseverance means as much as talent on the road to publication. Probably picture books. You have to get the characters, rhythm, story and tone perfect- and have less than three hundred words to do it! 

What do you think would be the hardest or most challenging genre to write a novel in and why?
Probably picture books. You have to get the characters, rhythm, story and tone perfect and have less than 300 words to do it.

Only Daughter sounds like something out of the news, were there events that inspired your novel?
Not directly. The story in my book is entirely fictional, but I definitely was inspired by the idea of imposters. I was surprised to find out that the impersonation of missing persons has happened countless times throughout history. Martin Guerre in 16th century France. Anastasia Nikolaevna in Russia and Walter Collins in Seattle both in the 1920s. Even more recently is Nicholas Barclay in 1990s Texas. The more I read about these occurrences, the less far-fetched my story seemed.

The Imposter character was one of my favourite aspects of your novel, was it intentional for the reader to know very little about who the Imposter was? What do you think defines her as a character?
The imposter was a really fun character to write. She is an interesting dichotomy. In the book she lies to everyone constantly. She looks for their weaknesses and plays off them, lying and performing to everyone she meets. However, what sets her apart from Bec is that she is always honest with the reader. Underneath all the characters she plays and the lies she tells, she has no idea who she really is and that terrifies her.
You decided to alternate between 2003 and 2014, and two different points of view on top of that. Did you find it hard to change from one mind set to another while you were writing? 
It was incredibly hard! So, after just a few chapters I stopped. Instead I wrote the whole novel from Bec’s perspective and then went back and wrote the chapters from the imposters perspective. This created problems of it’s own, but I don’t think I could have done it any other way. When I write I have to be in the characters head 100%, and I don’t think I would have been able to do that if I was swapping back and forth. 

Do you have any information on upcoming works or events that you are able to share? 
Yes – I am currently working on my second novel DOLLS. I am so excited for this project. It will probably be out this time next year. I am also involved in a true crime podcast called ‘Dead and Buried’ which will be launching later this month. 

What is one book (other than one of your own) that you think should be a must read for everyone?
I recently read THE GIRLS by Emma Cline and I absolutely loved it! I think that it would definitely help the world understand teenage girls a bit better.

I want to thank Anna once again for taking the time to do an interview with me. I highly recommend her debut novel Only Daughter and I am very excited for her second novel Dolls. I also want to say congratulations to her for already accomplishing so much. Anna has very nicely provided a giveaway to go along with her interview, so fill out the rafflecopter information below. 

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Thursday, September 15, 2016

Author Interview & Giveaway: Kim Falconer

I have had quite a few awesome finds this past year for authors and series that are new to me. I would put Kim Falconer and her novel The Blood in the Beginning in this category. When the majority of authors focus on Vampire, Werewolves, Witches and (now) Zombies, Kim decided to go a completely different route with the Mar. I know I always like something new a refreshing in the Urban Fantasy genre and Kim delivers on this.

Please Welcome to Blood Rose Books Today:

Kim Falconer  

If there was one author you could co-write a novel with (they can be alive or dead) who
would you choose and why?
You start with a hard one! There are many writers I would be thrilled to collaborate with. Jules Vern, Voltaire, Homer, Jane Austen …  but, for today, I’ll pick China Miéville, because I love his writing, the parallel narratives, the immersive world building, the weird characters, the absence of cliché yet presence of archetypes … the heart, the edge. He’s not afraid to take emotional risks with his writing, and his clout in the industry allows for the experimental. Plus, Miéville! What can I say?

With the release of your novel The Blood in the Beginning you decided to write in the Urban Fantasy/Dystopia. Other than the Mar, how do you think your books stand out in what has become a somewhat over-saturated genre?
The Blood in the Beginning stands out in UF for a few reasons. As you infer, there are no vamps, no werewolves or shape-shifters of any kind, no witches. No fay folk. Just one girl in a post-disaster city facing a race of humans whose DNA took a left turn. It still follows some of the genre tropes - the gritty, dark, kickass atmosphere, with a noir city and hardboiled feel, but it also normalizes things like organized crime, disabilities (her sight issues, her PTSD ) race, (UF is often read white but in my series, Ava is partly of Asian descent, her BFF African American). It deals with environmental issues, for example the results of Fukushima Daiichi half a century later, and Monsanto’s results on society.

I don’t shy away from the hard problems of our culture, yet it’s all “everyday” in the pages - nuclear spills, radiation, surveillance go with dinner dates, martial arts and studying for final exams. Ava has very real, hopefully relatable goals. She doesn’t lose the plot if a hot guy crosses her path. She’s definitely not trying to save the world. Her emotions are confronted by issues of belonging, acceptance, integrity and betrayal, just like any of us. It rings true because, in spite of her strength, abilities and endurance, she still has a very human heart.

Zombies, Vampires, Werewolves, and Witches tend to be the norm when it comes to the Urban Fantasy genre. Why did you decide to create the Mar?
My Mar obsession – and it is an obsession - was sparked initially by a John Waterhouse painting called The Siren. The image haunted me until I began to write the story. It continued to haunt me until the first book was complete. It’s still around me now! Mar make relentless Muses. 

Having said that, I would love to take credit for creating the Mar de novo, but these human-like beings who live in the sea stem from a rich mythology dating back thousands of years, from the Phoenician Atargatis, the Hindu Sucannamaccha, the Inuit’s Sedna, the Hawaiian Namaka, Caribbean’s Aycayia, to the European Melusines. They are archetypal. We find stories of Mer-folk or ‘Mar’ in every culture, place and time. I just took the core of the mythology, distilled and advanced it forward to cope with a dystopian, urban, hardcore world with environmental issues and upheaval, and themes of belonging, desire and accelerated evolution. The results were the Mar.

You have released a novel in Astrology and there were some hints at it in Blood in the Beginning. Are we going to see more Astrology aspects in this series? What about Astrology
appeals to you?
My first six novels, the Quantum Enchantment and Quantum Encryption series, have themes of astrology and astronomy relevant to the plot. Some of the characters are expert stargazers and rely on the symbol system to solve mysteries and make critical choices. Being an astrologer for over 40+ years, my father an astrologer before me, means it’s part of the way I perceive the world. It naturally seeps into the writing, unless I make an effort to keep it out. I’m sure we’ll have more astro-relevance in the future. It would be weird without it.

What do you think would be the hardest or most challenging genre to write a novel in and why?
My guess would be narrative non-fiction  - a novel-like story about real-life people and events. Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood is the classic example; Into the Wild a more contemporary one. The research and ethical issues alone would be daunting, maybe even stifling, especially with a still-living subject. I have a lot of respect for authors who tackle this genre.

When Ava was not running for her life, she was trying to figure out her own blood disease, what type of research did you do and how much research did you do in order to make the information in these parts of the book sound extremely real?
I spent enormous amounts of time to achieve a believable condition, so it’s rewarding to know that mission was accomplished. It helps that I’ve worked as a veterinary haematologist and studied zoology, marine biology and microbiology. At least I knew where to begin with the research. I hit the textbooks, physical and electronic, in medical libraries and online. I also had face-to-face and email discussions with a medical science lecturer in my area and a retired pathologist. Without them, this key branch of the story would not ring true. As for most of my research, can I just say. “Thank the gods for the internet?”

Sex, Drug abuse, S&M, a serial killer are all strong dark themes throughout the books (some books only handle one of these), what appeals to you of the darker side of our culture? Are darker themes going to occur throughout this series?
I can’t say that the darkness appeals to me, not like chocolate or strawberry shortcake. I am drawn, though. Compelled. It’s like getting sucked into a black hole. Once there, the only way out is through. I don’t think you can write a hardcore Urban Fantasy and skim the surface. This isn’t about Persephone skipping across the meadow. It’s about Hades erupting from the underworld to grab her, and drag her down into the depths. The darkness goes with the genre. I feel it must be explored to do the work justice.

Holy Crap is Ava an amazing character, she basically has the perfect balance of badassness, smarts but also self-aware (plus she lacks the whiny or smugness that many female characters have in this genre), what went in to her creation? Was important to you to make sure she was balanced character? Do you train in MMA to help Ava learn all her skills?
I’m syked you think Ava is amazing. A lot went into her creation. 

She evolved organically, but I think, for one, the environment has shaped her. She develops what it takes to survive the Big One, CHI-Tech, being raised in the system … survive and thrive. If she was whiny, I don’t think she would have made it through her teens, living under the radar, in the streets. Ava’s character grows from the unseen past that moulded her to the current challenges she faces. It’s sink or swim. (LOL the pun)

I also wanted to balance Ava’s badassness with heart. She’s defensive, at times. Cautious. Brutal. But she will do anything for those she loves, as we find out.

To help write ‘real’ characters, I give them astrological charts, a horoscope just like anyone born in the future might have, only I get to pick the day, month and year to fit. It ends up being a character reference guide. If I am not sure how she might respond to a certain situation, I refer to her chart and ask, “What would a Virgo with Pluto rising and Moon in Gemini do?” Gets me unstuck every time.

I’ve trained in martial arts and Iaido, (Japanese Sword) and I do pull on those experiences to choreograph fight scenes, but in this series, I collaborated with a Jujitsu and MMA fighter as well, to give that extra level of authenticity.

Do you have any information on upcoming works or events that you are able to share? (Hopefully when book 2 is coming out J)
I would love to announce the release date for book two (which I am writing as we speak) but I’ve not been given the go ahead to do so yet. Soon. I promise I’ll let you know.

What is one book (other than one of your own) that you think should be a must read for everyone?
This is a great question. I can’t pick just one, as I’m not sure a book I label must-read would apply to everyone, for example, a favourite, Julian James’ The Origins of Consciousness and the Breakdown of the Bi-cameral Mind may have limited appeal. With fiction readers in mind, I would say The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater. Also, Tanith Lee’s White as Snow, Traci Harding’s The Storyteller’s Muse with it’s wonderful parallel narrative, Lee Child’s Jack Reacher Series, Jack London’s White Fang and Charlain Harris’s Southern Vampire Chronicles.

You asked a Gemini to choose one book. Be happy I stopped at seven! :)

Thank you so much for the chat, Blood Rose Books! It’s been such a pleasure. I’m happy to stick around and answer any questions, or share thoughts, in the comments too.


I want to say thank you once again to Kim for stopping by and taking the time to complete an interview. I know I am really looking forward to the next book in her Ava Sykes series. Kim has very nicely offered a few giveaway for her book The Blood in the Beginning, so I highly recommend you enter the rafflecopter app below. :)
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Thursday, September 8, 2016

Author Interview & Giveaway: Keri Arthur

I do not think that you can read in the Urban Fantasy/paranormal genre and not have heard of Keri Arthur. She has been one of the first authors out there that was writing in this genre way before it became popular. While her Riley Jenson series was not for me, however, her newest series, Outcast and the first book City of Light were fantastic and super creative.

Please Welcome to Blood Rose Books Today

Keri Arthur
If there was one author you could co-write a novel with (they can be alive or dead) who would you choose and why?
There’s actually two I’d nominate and both are, unfortunately, now dead. They are James Herbert, who wrote some of the creepiest horror novels I’ve ever read, and Dick Francis, who wrote edge-of-your-seat first person mysteries that I could never put down.  Either one of them would have been brilliant, as they’re both masters of their craft. (And I still want to be able to write like Dick Francis when I grow up)

You were one of the authors who I would say was ahead of the craze of the Urban Fantasy and Paranormal genres becoming extremely popular, with well-known authors from other genres now deciding to write in this genre. How do you think the genre has changed since you started writing in it? What do you think you do differently to try and stay ahead of the ever growing crowd?
Yeah, I was well ahead of the trend--I was getting urban fantasy and paranormal romances rejected in the 90s because they were ‘unsellable’. For what it’s worth, the publishers are starting to say that again, even though urban fantasy has seen a huge upswing in the self-published market.

I’ve actually started stepping away from urban fantasy. While I still have the ongoing Souls of Fire series, The Outcast series is more dystopian fantasy with some common urban fantasy elements thrown in, and the new series I’m writing is straight fantasy. I’m also considering a step sideways into thriller novels, although I wouldn’t even start that novel until next year--I have the 5th Souls of Fire and the last Outcast to write before then.

You have written quite a few series now (Riley Jenson Guardians, Soul of Fire, The Spook Squad ect) and have ended some of them as well (probably most notably is your Riley Jenson series), why did you choose to end them? Was it hard to do so? (I know as a reader I become really attached to characters)
I tend to end series when I can’t think of where else to logically take the characters. I’d rather end on a high, and have people constantly asking for more than write for the sake of writing, and let the series fade into obscurity. As to it being hard--it is, but it’s also something of a relief. I love creating new worlds, and being able to torture brand new characters.

What do you think would be the hardest or most challenging genre to write a novel in and why?
All genres are hard. I get so annoyed when I hear people foul mouth romances as being easy to write. They’re not--I’ve tried it, and failed miserably!  All genres have their conventions and expectations, and that’s what makes it hard to create something fresh and new, no matter what you’re writing.

Your newest series, Outcast, was released earlier this year, can you tell us a bit about the series and how many books are planned for it?
City of Light (Outcast 1) was a book of the heart, just like Full Moon Rising, the 1st Riley Jenson, was. I started that book in either 2010 or 2011 (can’t remember now) but it absolutely died on page 80. I had no idea where to take it, despite loving the characters and the world. It wasn’t until the World Fantasy Con in Brighton UK in 2013 that (after a discussion over a couple of drinks with my agent and a friend) it came to life. I finished it 6 weeks after that.  :)   

The series is set just over a 100 years after a race war has torn the fabric of the world apart. Shifters and humans live in vast cities lit 24 hours a day to protect them from the vampires and the “Others”. Our heroine is the last of her kind, a genetically designed super-soldier, who saves a child and unwillingly gets involved in stopping a plot to destroy the world. There’ll be 3 books in total--a short series for me  :)

Your novel City of Light has some darker theme elements in it (racism and caste system ect) what appeals to you about the darker aspects of human nature and culture?
Everyone has light and shade in them. Everyone has the possibility to do good or bad. I think the characters who most appeal in fiction are the characters that reflect these shades--the ones who acknowledge both sides of their nature and attempt to do something about it. Or not, as in the case of bad guys.  And fiction is also a very safe way of exploring some of the darker aspects of everyday life.

Tig has become one of my favourite new female characters, how would you say she differs from the other heroines in your other series?
I wouldn’t say she’s all that different from many of my other heroines--they’re all reasonably kick ass, take no nonsense type women. It’s the situation that’s very different for Tiger--if her presence becomes common knowledge, she dead, and that makes her involvement in the search for the missing children all the more dangerous.

The Déchet are a mix of multiple species of DNA, if you could create a DNA sequencing for yourself, what would you mix together and why? 
I’d love to be taller, thinner, and be able to eat as much chocolate and cake as I wanted, without putting on damn weight!

Do you have any information on upcoming works or events that you are able to share?
Winter Halo, the 2nd Outcast book comes out in December, and Ashes Reborn, the 4th Souls of Fire novel, comes out in July 2017.

What is one book (other than one of your own) that you think should be a must read for everyone?
Only one? Damn, that’s mean!! I guess I’d have to nominate the granddaddy of all fantasy--or at least he is in my eyes, given it was his books that drew me into the fantasy sphere--and that’s J R R Tolkien. I know his writing is somewhat old fashioned these days, but I still absolutely adore Lord of the Rings.

I want to thank Keri once again for taking the time to do an interview with me. Keri truly was an author that was well ahead of the curve on the urban fantasy train and I think that is why she is sought after by readers now. Though I am really interested to see how she would do a thriller novel or series. Keri has very nicely offered to do a giveaway to go along with her interview. Fill out the rafflecopter app below in order to win some awesome books.

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