Monday, August 31, 2009

Day 267 - Q&A with Author Sang Pak

Please welcome author Sang Pak to mis(h)takes! His debut novel WAIT UNTIL TWILIGHT was released earlier this month and it was definitely a different experience.

If you haven't already, check out my review.


A little background info before we go on:

Sang Pak is a Georgia-raised writer with English and Psychology degrees from the University of Georgia. He is currently on hiatus from New York University’s graduate program in Psychology. He divides his time between Georgia, Southern California, and Seoul.

You can visit his website here.


Me: Can you describe what your novel is about?

Sang: A Sixteen-year-old boy discovers a set of deformed triplets whose mother believes they were immaculately conceived. Soon, the babies have taken hold of his waking and sleeping thoughts, and, unable to escape them, he decides to save them, but their shut-in mother and violent older brother want nothing to do with him. Set in a small Georgia town, this psychologically complex story of survival and self determination explores the dark, often contradictory worlds of young contemporary life, laying bare the ugly truths and secrets that haunt all of us.

Me: WAIT UNTIL TWILIGHT isn’t your average coming-of-age story. What inspired you to write Samuel’s story?

Sang: It’s inspired from a set of dreams I had during a two week period a couple of summers ago.

Me: What do you think the hardest part about writing this novel was for you?

Sang: Keeping fresh eyes as I kept revising it over and over. Everything starts to bleed together and it’s imperative the eyes have a fresh clear view on the material otherwise you can get completely lost.

Me: Have you always wanted to be a writer?

Sang: No. It was the most cost effective artistic endeavor I could come up with. I only needed my laptop to a complete finished project.

Me: If you weren’t a writer, what other career would you pursue and why?

: Can’t imagine another profession. Maybe bartender in a bar in a very far away place. Just because it sounds good.

Me: What are you currently working on?

Sang: I don’t talk about works in progress. Bad luck.

Me: Who are some of your favorite authors?

Sang: Herman Hesse, Jiddu Krishnamurti, Raymond Carver, Tolstoy, Yukio Mishima, Flanner O’connor.

Me: Are you reading anything at the moment?

Sang: Thomas Pynchon’s Gravity’s Rainbow.

Me: Was there an underlying meaning you want your readers to take away from your novel?

Sang: The interplay between Chaos/nihilism versus order/belief and the choice an individual makes between the two. Because of this I see my novel less as a southern gothic or coming of age story but more of a metaphysical fairytale.


Thank you so much for the opportunity to read your novel and for taking the time out to visit my blog to answer some questions. Be sure to get a copy of WAIT UNTIL TWILIGHT, I promise you an experience. Stay tuned for a guest post by Sang Pak tomorrow!

Day 267 - It's Monday

It's Monday! What are you reading this week?, hosted by J. Kaye's Book Blog, is a weekly event to list the books completed last week, the books currently being read, and the books to be finished this week.

Books Gobbled Last Week:
Along for the Ride :: Sarah Dessen

Gobbling Down This Week:
Once Upon a Nightmare :: Lee Moylan
Dancing With Ana :: Nicole Barker

-Along for the Ride was really good! Review should be up soon along with my review of Wait Until Twilight. I'll also have a guest post and interview with the author Sang Pak.
-If you haven't already, be sure to enter my giveaway for The Strangely Beautiful Tale of Miss Percy Parker.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Day 266 - Wait Until Twilight

Wait Until Twilight
Sang Pak

Series or Stand Alone: Stand Alone

Release Date: August 2009

Pages: 240

My Rating: 3.5/5

Synopsis [from]:

A hauntingly strange and powerfully affecting debut novel that heralds the arrival of a unique and captivating literary voice, Sang Pak's Wait Until Twilight is a coming-of-age story that explores the complex darkness infecting a damaged psyche in a small Southern town.

Not long after his own mother's death, sixteen-year-old Samuel discovers a set of deformed triplets hidden behind closed doors in his sleepy Georgia community. The babies—whose shut-in mother believes they were immaculately conceived and whose menacing brother is a constant threat—take control of Samuel's every waking and sleeping thought. His only escape, he realizes, will be to save the monster children. But to do so, he must rein in his darkest impulses as he undergoes a profound transformation from motherless boy to self-defined man—because sometimes the most terrible monsters are those that live inside us all.


WAIT UNTIL TWLIGHT sounds so different from what I normally read. I was immediately interested in the novel when I received an email from the author in reference to reviewing it. However, as I started reading and really getting into the book, I knew right away that this wasn't what I was expecting. I had mixed emotions after I turned the last page. Even some days later I still struggle to put my feelings about the book into words.

Let's just say I was certainly affected by WAIT UNTIL TWILIGHT. While I found the characters not as fleshed out as I would have liked, they still gave off a presence that was unmistakable. Even though there wasn't the usual development I go for in characters I still felt like I had a good idea of who these people were. I do remember coming to the end of the novel, with a heart-racing ending I might add, and thinking to myself "I get things now!" I remember really liking the way I felt too.

Samuel is a sixteen-year-old teenager who's dealing with the death of his mother. He's working on getting good grades and just being a normal kid. However, Samuel seems to struggle at being "normal". School is important to him as our his relationships with his friends and father. But it's when he becomes fascinated, if not totally obsessed, with a set of deformed triplets he comes across with his friend in search of the perfect video project.

Samuel's horror is clear, not just from the first scene when he meets them, but in his later thoughts of them as well. It seems the triplets have awakened a part of Samuel he never knew existed, a strong violent streak, that becomes even more apparent when Daryl is around him. Now to be quite honest, Daryl scared the crap out of me. Daryl is certainly sick and twisted and around the triplets too much. Samuel's feelings towards the triplets shift in an interesting way and I enjoyed the ending once I got there.

I must admit it took me a while to become accustomed to the pace of the novel and Sang Pak's writing style. But after more and more reflection, I've come to realize that this is a book I will most likely never forget. Even now, after knowing and saying that this is a coming-of-age story, I found Samuel more adult than I could imagine. It goes to show you (or me I suppose) that situations and events have such a heavy impact on shaping people.

At the end of the day it comes down to this: Sang Pak made me think. I wasn't just reading his words, I was experiencing them. And for a debut author that speaks volumes in my opinion. He took me out of my reading comfort zone and I couldn't put WAIT UNTIL TWLIGHT down. I recommend this to anyone looking for a different kind of coming-of-age tale; a gothic psychological mixture that will certainly grab your attention.

Day 266 - Q&A with Author Leanna Renee Hieber (&& GIVEAWAY)

I'm so pleased to bring everyone an interview I did with author Leanna Renee Heiber. Not only is Leanna super sweet but she's a wonderful writer and storyteller. I feel so lucky to have read her book featuring Miss Percy Parker before it came out in stores =)



A little background info before we go on:

Award-Winning author, actress and playwright Leanna Renee Hieber grew up in rural Ohio where her childhood memories are full of inventing elaborate ghost stories. Graduating with a BFA in Theatre from Miami University, a focus study in the Victorian Era and a scholarship to study in London helped set the course for her books. The dramatic, historic, spiritual and paranormal are the primary forces in her lyrical, eerie, atmospheric fiction.

While performing in the regional theatre circuit, her one-act plays such as Favorite Lady, were published, produced, won awards and continue to be produced in colleges and festivals around the country. She has adapted works of 19th Century literature for the professional stage.

She hit the fantasy fiction scene with her novella Dark Nest which won the 2009 Prism Award for excellence in Futuristic, Fantasy and Paranormal Romance. The Strangely Beautiful Tale of Miss Percy Parker is the first in her Strangely Beautiful series of ghostly, Gothic Victorian Fantasy novels published by Dorchester Publishing.
When not writing or on set, she loves a good Goth club, singing soprano in choir and adventuring about her adopted hometown of New York City, where she resides with her real-life hero and her beloved rescued lab rabbit Persebunny, Queen of the Undereverything.

Check out her website here.

You can also follow along with Leanna on her blog!


Me: Thank you so much for taking the time to answer some questions. THE STRANGELY BEAUTIFUL TALE OF MISS PERCY PARKER is indeed strangely beautiful! Can you tell us a little bit about the book?

Leanna: Thank you, Mishel, for your support and for this opportunity! Launching a new author and a new series needs all the help it can get, so you’re a real blessing to me.

This book is my favourite thing I’ve yet written, the closest to my heart. I’ve thrown everything I love most into one book. It’s cross-genre and has been described with any number of the following descriptors and/or genre tags: Historical, fantasy, dark fantasy, paranormal romance, mythic, suspense, mystery, Gothic, ghostly, Gaslight, YA cross-over, light Horror, and fairy tale. New York Times Bestselling author Alethea Kontis said in her glowing review at Orson Scott Card’s Intergalactic Medicine Show: “The Strangely Beautiful Tale of Miss Percy Parker is Bulfinch's Mythology and Harry Potter and Wuthering Heights mashed in a blender.” And that seems about right.

Me: What inspired you to create such a unique story?

Leanna: I was writing since I could hold a pen and finish a sentence. I started my first novel around age 12 or so (don’t ask, it’s frightening and doesn’t still exist). But nothing ever hit me as hard, as desperately or as visually specific as Miss Percy Parker did. I knew she was “the one”.

I began working on this Tale about 9 years ago. At the time I was interning with the Cincinnati Shakespeare Company working insane hours on about 4 productions at once. Late one night, out of a swirling cauldron of influences including but not limited to: Harry Potter, Shakespeare, Victorian Literature, graphic novels like “From Hell” and Jane Austen movies, Percy Parker waltzed into my mind and I knew I would never be the same. She walked into Alexi’s office, with her ghost-white skin and sweet personality, and I had to figure out why she was the way she was. Alexi is a culmination of my every literary love affair, all wrapped up into one.

I’m fascinated by difficult and brooding heroes, and love putting them in situations where their stoic façade must crack. But I’m not interested in romance alone, I’m a fan of putting romance under duress with my favourite paranormal elements against an apocalyptic backdrop. *grin*

Me: Did you have to do any research to create Miss Percy’s world?

Leanna: I had to go to London, that’s for sure. Whenever I’m there I’m blissfully happy and at home. In college I studied the Victorian Era with a sequence of classes, and that allowed me a great deal of specific insight into the time period I’d loved since childhood. I also received a scholarship to travel to London and study.

I’d been reading 19th century fiction for a long time prior, but I had new resources with these classes and this travel opportunity. I also began adapting 19th century literature for the stage, and this helped me to really get a feel for the language. I watched a lot of British historical films, and surrounded myself with a slew of lovely tomes. Richard Jones’ Haunted London gave me wonderful ideas for all my London ghosts, so I was able to ground all the spectres to real haunts. (See my Haunted London Blog Tour!)

The London Walks such as the ghost walks and the Jack the Ripper tour proved very inspiring! The great thing about writing Historical Fantasy and/or Historical Paranormal is that you can use historical fact to your advantage, use it to create a rich and detailed setting, and if there are moments when you hit a wall, well then, there are fantastical solutions to all your historical limitations!

Me: Have you always had an interest in writing historical fiction? What’s your favorite time period?

Leanna: Indeed, I’ve always been a history lover, but the 19th century holds a particular, compelling, nearly obsessive charm for me. I’ve often said I credit my love-affair with the period- which goes about as far back as I can remember- to perhaps some sort of past life because I don’t have another explanation for why I’ve been so drawn to it since childhood. The mid to latter Victorian era, 1870s to 1890s in particular, is my particular fancy. The literature, art, music and sensibilities all feel so familiar to me.

Me: I’m sure all of your characters have a special place in your heart, but who is your favorite and why?

Leanna: Oh, no! Don’t make me pick! There is no single answer to this, but I do have a sort of hierarchy. I am in love with Alexi, it will be hard for Percy to ever meet her match in my heart, and I simply treasure Elijah for all the hell he gives Alexi. Alexi makes me swoon and tingle, Percy makes my heart soar and Elijah makes me laugh out loud.

Me: Your writing is fresh and poignant. If you weren’t gifted with the written word, what do you think your career would be?

Leanna: Why thank you! I’d have kept on as a professional actress, as I was for several years out of college. I’m still a member of Actors Equity (AEA) and the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) and I work in television and film as a background extra here in New York. Perhaps the lure of the stage will call me back again, but since childhood, the call of my writing has always been a more constant and consistent love-affair.

Me: What are you currently working on? Do readers have a sequel or a planned series to look forward to?

Leanna: Indeed! The Strangely Beautiful sequel (Title will be forthcoming) will pick up exactly where Book I leaves off. We meet new ghosts, we continue on with Percy and Alexi as hero/heroine so that we can enjoy the beginnings of their life together (and the conflicts and passions therein) and we get more of The Guard and their interpersonal relationships, with a particular eye on Rebecca and Michael. The danger is bigger as spectral war looms. Sensuality and passions, at last, are acted upon. Book III is a prequel, Book IV carries forward in Rychman familial legacy towards World War I.

Me: If you could write a book about absolutely anything with any other author, who would you choose and what would the book be about?

Leanna: I would love to write magical things with the exceedingly gifted Alethea Kontis because not only do we comprehend each others’ writing with a nearly preternatural sensibility, we’re fairy tale girls at heart and it’s hard to find a voice that feels so unique on its own and yet a part of your own heart and soul. Visit her at and fall in love with her.

Me: Are you currently reading anything at the moment?

Leanna: I’m reading one of my favourites, Elizabeth Peters. I started her Amelia Peabody series in the middle, so I’m going back to the first one, Crocodile on the Sandbank.

Me: Can you list some of your favorite authors and/or books?

Leanna: J.K. Rowling is my #1. I love Harry Potter with fierce fanaticism. Neil Gaiman, Stephen King, Tolkien and C. S. Lewis have been very influential, as well as Alan Moore’s graphic novels. I Loved Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell and Libba Bray’s Great and Terrible Beauty series. Elizabeth Peters and Anne Perry’s Victorian set mysteries are always a sure bet for me. I’m in love with all things 19th century, particularly Edith Wharton, the Brontës, Lewis Carroll, Bram Stoker, Gaston Leroux, Victor Hugo, Charles Dickens, Edgar Allan Poe, Mary Shelley & all the good fantastical and Gothic stuff of the age!

Leanna's Question for you!:
I’d like to know if your readers believe in ghosts. They’re welcome to share their own personal ghost stories if they like.


And now for the GIVEAWAY!

In hopes of spreading the word on this beautiful tale, I will be parting with my gently read ARC copy of THE STRANGELY BEAUTIFUL TALE OF MISS PERCY PARKER.


To enter:

-Simply leave a comment expressing you'd like to win the book. You must leave a valid email address so I can contact you if you win - No email = No entry!

For extra entries (you must leave comments telling me you've done so or they will not count. I prefer separate comments, but one big comment will be fine.)

+1 for answering Leanna's question above!
+1 for commenting on my review here!(<--click the link and post comment there)
+1 for commenting on Leanna's guest post! (<--click the link and post comment there)
+2 for linking to this contest (blog posts, sidebars, twitter, facebook, etc all count - leave a link or you won't get the extra entries)
+2 for becoming a follower of the blog (if you currently follow just mention it below)

The deadline is September 15th. One winner will be chosen and announced September 16th. I will email them and they will have 4 days to contact me back with their information.

**(U.S. Residents Only) Sorry =(

Day 266 - From the Desk of... Leanna Renee Hieber!

Writing (and bracing for) the Book of Your Heart
By Leanna Renee Hieber,
author of The Strangely Beautiful Tale of Miss Percy Parker

A great many published authors will tell aspiring authors: “write the book of your heart”. Meaning, put all your heart and soul into a book that you really love rather than writing a book because you think it will sell, or writing it to fit a market trend or fad.

I am one of those people who will say that very phrase. Because that’s what I did. I started The Strangely Beautiful Tale of Miss Percy Parker 9 years ago and it was my immediate love-affair. It was, and is, everything I loved thrown into one book- one series of books. But I didn’t know what to do about it. I struggled between being an actress or an author, in an artistic identity crisis until one day I was at a Broadway callback thinking about my book and if that wasn’t a sign I don’t know what is. I stopped auditioning and stepped up my game in publishing. Percy Parker was the most compelling artistic creature in my life and I needed to share her with the world. I pushed hard, I got a lot of rejections, I changed and refined the book, I kept going back again and again to Percy until she found a home. She’s in good hands at Dorchester, a house that has been very supportive of this cross-genre work.

But while I may say “write the book of your heart” and mean it, I’ll also say this, and mean it: “Brace yourself.”

The hardest part about breaking into the business with the Book of Your Heart is that you’re learning the business as you go; and attached is your heart. This is a trial-by-fire industry, no amount of schooling can really prepare you for all that you’ll have to juggle: life, perhaps day jobs, relationships, time to write, time to promote, time to network, it’s exhausting. And then when the book starts going into peoples’ hands, people start to say things about it. About your baby. And if someone thinks your baby is ugly, it hurts. I’m not going to lie. Brace yourself. You can’t make everyone happy and not everyone’s gonna think your baby is pretty.

I make some bold choices in this book. I blend many sub-genres together. I have an unconventional historical heroine whose is far more meek than your average heroine. It doesn’t mean she doesn’t grow in ability and in confidence, and in some fantastical ways, but she is who she is, in a blended world of many themes. That’s going to work for some people (thankfully in my reviews that would be most people) and it’s not going to work for others (a few disgruntled voices). Many of my author friends won’t look at reviews for the discomfort they might provide. Perhaps I’ll get to that Zen place one day. But that day is not today. Perhaps its morbid curiosity, perhaps it’s an addiction to the high I get when there’s a great review.

But if I can stare down the cutting reviews, well, then, I’m prepared for a lifetime of being an author. Those will never stop. The driving needs of this business, to keep up with promotion and deadlines, will never stop. Hopefully I will never stop caring about my baby, hopefully in some way they’ll all be “Books of My Heart.” And hopefully, like Percy, I’ll continue to grow stronger, wiser, and just that bit more thick- skinned. It’s a good quality to have in a tough as nails business. Still there’s no business like book business.

Blessings to you all!


Thank you so much for stopping by mis(h)takes Leanna! I'm definitely lucky to have you =) To see what I thought of her debut novel, check out my review here.

Join Leanna as she celebrates the release month of The Strangely Beautiful Tale of Miss Percy Parker with a Haunted London Blog Tour! Each day, a different ghost story, each day, a new chance to win a signed copy of The Strangely Beautiful Tale of Miss Percy Parker!

Day 266 - Book Arrivals

So my mom offered not only once, but twice, for me to go to Barnes & Nobles and buy some books. I was so excited. Of course each time I went I had a tough time because my TBR list is soo huge, so it took me forever to decide what to get. Even though I have tons of books sitting on my shelf to be read, I can't help but buy more. It's an addiction really...


From Barnes & Noble:

Witchling :: Yasmine Galenorn
Book one in the Otherworld series

Meet the D'Artigo sisters: half-human, half-faerie, they're savvy-and sexy-operatives for the Otherworld Intelligence Agency. But their mixed-blood heritage short-circuits their talents at all the wrong times. Delilah shapeshifts into a tabby cat whenever she's stressed. Menolly's a vampire who's still trying to get the hang of being undead. And Camille is a wicked-good witch, except her magic's as unpredictable as the weather, as her enemies are about to find out-the hard way.

Heat Stroke :: Rachel Caine
Book two in the Weather Warden series

Mistaken for a murderer, Weather Warden Joanne Baldwin is hunted down and killed by her colleagues. Reborn as a Djinn, she senses something sinister entering earth's atmosphere-something that makes tomorrow's forecast look deadly.

Halfway to the Grave :: Jeaniene Frost
Book one in the Night Huntress series

Half-vampire Catherine Crawfield is going after the undead with a vengeance, hoping that one of these deadbeats is her father—the one responsible for ruining her mother's life. Then she's captured by Bones, a vampire bounty hunter, and is forced into an unholy partnership.

In exchange for finding her father, Cat agrees to train with the sexy night stalker until her battle reflexes are as sharp as his fangs. She's amazed she doesn't end up as his dinner—are there actually good vampires? Pretty soon Bones will have her convinced that being half-dead doesn't have to be all bad. But before she can enjoy her newfound status as kick-ass demon hunter, Cat and Bones are pursued by a group of killers. Now Cat will have to choose a side . . . and Bones is turning out to be as tempting as any man with a heartbeat.

City of Souls :: Vicki Pettersson
Book four in the Sign of the Zodiac series

In Sin City, a little girl suffers from a strange and terrible malady. If she dies, the Light will die along with her.

Warrior, avenger, Joanna Archer has survived countless otherworldly terrors - and has found her rightful place among the agents battling the all-pervasive evil of Shadow . . . even as she struggles against the darkness within herself.

A war is raging for Las Vegas - a city without a heart - one that catapults Joanna into a new world hidden from mortal sight. In this lethally seductive alternate dimension the lines blur between good and evil, love and hate, and here lies the last hope for the Light. But Joanna's price of admission is a piece of her own soul - and the odds of her escaping are slim . . . to none.

The Fire King :: Marjorie M. Liu
Book nine in the Dirk & Steele series

Long ago, shape-shifters were plentiful, soaring through the sky as crows, racing across African veldts as cheetahs, raging furious as dragons atop the Himalayas. Like gods, they reigned supreme. But even gods have laws, and those laws, when broken, destroy.

Zoufalství. Epätoivo. Asa. Three words in three very different languages, and yet Soria understands. Like all members of Dirk & Steele, she has a gift, and hers is communication. When she is chosen to learn the dead language of a shape-shifter resurrected after thousands of years of icy sleep, she discovers a warrior consumed with fury.

Strong as a lion, quick as a serpent—Karr is his name, and in his day he was king. But he is a son of strife, a creature of tragedy. As fire consumed all he loved, so death was to be his atonement. Now, against his will, he has awoken. Zoufalství. Epätoivo. Asa. In English, the word is despair. But Soria knows the words for love.

Mona Lisa Blossoming :: Sunny
Book two in the Monere: Children of the Moon series

Mona Lisa has finally accepted what she really is-a Mixed-Blood of the Monere, the children of the moon. Stronger, faster, and more beautiful than any human, they are the origins of Earth's darkest legends-and Mona Lisa is their newest Queen.

Accompanied by her loyal cadre of warriors and kin, Mona Lisa is entering her territory of Louisiana for the first time. She slowly learns the erotic and savage customs of the Monere elite-though some of her new subjects are uneasy at being ruled by a half-human. Her reign is threatened by enemies old and new, and she is ensnared in the thrall of dark forces she cannot deny. In a hidden world of animal passions and unrelenting lust, Mona Lisa soon grasps the tremendous power she must command if she is to hold her realm together-and if she is ever to come into her own.

Vampire Academy :: Richelle Mead
Book one in the Vampire Academy series

St. Vladimir's Academy isn't just any boarding school--it's a hidden place where vampires are educated in the ways of magic and half-human teens train to protect them. Rose Hathaway is a Dhampir, a bodyguard for her best friend Lissa, a Moroi Vampire Princess. They've been on the run, but now they're being dragged back to St. Vladimir's--the very place where they're most in danger. . . .

Rose and Lissa become enmeshed in forbidden romance, the Academy's ruthless social scene, and unspeakable nighttime rituals. But they must be careful lest the Strigoi--the world's fiercest and most dangerous vampires--make Lissa one of them forever.

Shiver :: Maggie Stiefvater

For years, Grace has watched the wolves in the woods behind her house. One yellow-eyed wolf--her wolf--is a chilling presence she can't seem to live without. Meanwhile, Sam has lived two lives: In winter, the frozen woods, the protection of the pack, and the silent company of a fearless girl. In summer, a few precious months of being human . . . until the cold makes him shift back again.

Now, Grace meets a yellow-eyed boy whose familiarity takes her breath away. It's her wolf. It has to be. But as winter nears, Sam must fight to stay human--or risk losing himself, and Grace, forever.

Fade :: Lisa McMann
Book two in the Wake Series


For Janie and Cabel, real life is getting tougher than the dreams. They're just trying to carve out a little (secret) time together, but no such luck.

Disturbing things are happening at Fieldridge High, yet nobody's talking. When Janie taps into a classmate's violent nightmares, the case finally breaks open -- but nothing goes as planned. Not even close. Janie's in way over her head, and Cabe's shocking behavior has grave consequences for them both.

Worse yet, Janie learns the truth about herself and her ability -- and it's bleak. Seriously, brutally bleak. Not only is her fate as a dream catcher sealed, but what's to come is way darker than she'd feared....

Green :: Jay Lake

She was born in poverty, in a dusty village under the equatorial sun. She does not remember her mother, she does not remember her own name - her earliest clear memory is of the day her father sold her to the tall pale man. In the Court of the Pomegranate Tree, where she was taught the ways of a courtesan.and the skills of an assassin.she was named Emerald, the precious jewel of the Undying Duke's collection of beauties.

She calls herself Green.

The world she inhabits is one of political power and magic, where Gods meddle in the affairs of mortals. At the center of it is the immortal Duke's city of Copper Downs, which controls all the trade on the Storm Sea. Green has made many enemies, and some secret friends, and she has become a very dangerous woman indeed.

Acclaimed author Jay Lake has created a remarkable character in Green, and evokes a remarkable world in this novel. Green and her struggle to survive and find her own past will live in the reader's mind for a long time after closing the book.

Heart Sick :: Chelsea Cain
Book one in the Archie and Gretchen series

He thinks he sees a flash of emotion in her eyes. Sympathy? Then it's gone. 'Whatever you think this is going to be like,' she whispers, 'it's going to be worse.' When beautiful serial killer Gretchen Lowell captured her last victim, the man in charge of hunting her down, she quickly established who was really in control of the investigation. So why, after ten days of horrifying physical and mental torture, did she release Detective Archie Sheridan from the brink of death and hand herself in? Two years on, Archie remains driven by a terrifying obsession that was born during his time alone with Gretchen. One thing is clear Archie does not believe he was ever truly freed. Now Archie returns to lead the search for a new killer, whose recent attacks on teenage girls have left the city of Portland reeling. Shadowed by vulnerable young reporter Susan Ward, Archie knows that only one person can help him climb into the mind of this psychopath. But can Archie finally manage to confront the demons of his past without being consumed by them?


From Contests/Giveaways & Misc:

Everything Sucks :: Hannah Friedman
(Received for review from author)

Welcome inside the head of boarding school survivor Hannah Friedman-a fresh new author whose biting wit and captivating writing style is a cross between best-selling YA author Anne Brashares (The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants) and the hysterically honest Amy Sedaris (I Like You: Hospitality Under the Influence).

Everything Sucks details the teenage years in all of their cringe-worthy absurdity-from getting homeschooled in a tour bus with hippie musicians to attending one of New York's most prestigious private schools on full scholarship to developing a drug habit and eating disorder to nearly getting kicked out of Yale University before she evengets to attend. Did we mention Hannah also grew up with a rescue monkey as a sister? In the end, it's Friedman's spirit and Everything Sucks attitude that keeps her afloat, as it will for all who share in her story.

The Blue Pen :: Lisa Rusczyk
(Received for review from author - Thanks for the hardcopy Lisa!!)

Parker didn't expect to find his next great magazine story sleeping off a hangover in the back seat of his car. The homeless woman, Cleo, says she never wakes after dawn, which makes Parker curious. His intuition for finding a unique story is buzzing after meeting Cleo, and he decides to interview her to find out what drove her to live on the streets. Cleo explains how the early death of her first love set the path for her life. She withdraws from the world after he dies, only to re-enter it by going to a strange club called the Beacon. At the underground club, the patrons channel spirits on the improv stage and share psychic readings in the room behind the beaded curtain. While Cleo describes her spiritual awakening, Parker wonders if she actually fell prey to mental illness. Because of a first article Parker wrote about Cleo, another reporter is after the story, blackmailing Parker to give it up. Parker must decide how to keep his story and not let Cleo down in the process.


I love book shopping, in case you didn't notice already =)

Happy Reading loves!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Day 263 - Falling Into The Sun

Falling Into the Sun
Charrie Hazard

Series or Stand Alone: Stand Alone

Release Date: July 2009

Pages: 363

My Rating: 3.75/5


After she stumbles upon his suicide, Kate Nardek sees her dead neighbor everywhere—hanging from the ceiling fan, in her rearview mirror—dark holes where his eyes should be. Three days after Michael’s suicide, Kate envisions her own thirteen-year-old son, Josh, hanging from a garage rafter. She realizes the kind of despair that led Michael to kill himself fuels Josh’s increasingly violent blowups. She seeks psychological help for her son, a decision that dramatically changes the course of both their lives. In her quest to vanquish Josh’s demons, Kate must face down her own, forcing her to rethink her beliefs about mental illness, good and evil, death and, finally, her own self-worth.

Michael’s journey parallels Kate’s as his soul flies into the center of creation. There, he discovers someone—or something—has noted every twist of his life since sperm struck seed. This being’s perfect knowledge generates the healing salve of perfect compassion. If Michael will confront the truth about key people and violent episodes from his recent life, he too can learn compassion. It’s a painful exercise he can refuse. But other journeys to the center have taught him that willful ignorance is like the river Lethe; it leads to only one place. He chooses knowledge.

Gripping, poetic and powerfully uplifting, Falling into the Sun explores spiritual truths of Hindu, Native American and Christian traditions as it tenderly grapples with the generational legacy of alcoholism and mental illness.


I haven't read a lot of Christian fiction in my life. Not for any particular reason, I just haven't really picked one up. When I first read the blurb for FALLING INTO THE SUN, I knew it would be an emotional read and hopefully a powerfully written one. And while I admit there was more reference to religion than I would prefer, I still felt a really strong connection to the book.

FALLING INTO THE SUN starts out with our main character, Kate Nardek, walking into the suicide of her neighbor Michael. And while she was never close to her neighbors, his death shatters the foundation that Kate has stood on all her life. Her son, Josh, is a troubled teenager. Violent and filled with rage, Kate struggles to find the help she and her family needs. She looks to her godmother Jean, her priest and even her sister for guidance and support.

Even though reading this took me a lot longer than I was hoping for, I was completely absorbed with the story. This is definitely a book to savor. Each character is so fleshed out and entirely real. Josh can be a very sweet kid. He's smart, interesting, and can be wonderful to be around. But he's basically scary; his mood swings are so abrupt and violent that I felt completely sympathetic for Kate and her family. He's abusive to Kate, his two younger sisters, and his father. But don't think the novel is full of explosive action-oriented moments. The part that keeps you on edge is the emotion, plain and simple. I felt Kate's frustration and fear. I felt her hopelessness. Hazard definitely has a gift with writing.

I wasn't turned off by the religion. It wasn't preachy in any way. Hazard never once made me think I had to be more religious to be happy. I wasn't uncomfortable while reading the novel either. It's easy to understand that in times of stress and heartache many people turn toward God or religion in general. So I wasn't surprised at all to see that Kate did this as well. I was surprised at the way Hazard approached spirtuality in general. Jean, Kate's godmother, is a very spirtual person. Instead of limiting herself to one religion, she embraces all. And I believe that was Hazard's attitude as well as she wrote FALLING INTO THE SUN. I found it refreshing and a wonderful thing to experience since I'm not very religious myself.

I really enjoyed this and I highly recommend it to anyone that is willing to give it a try!

Day 263 - From the Desk of...

... author Douglas Carlton Abrams!

When I began researching this novel, I had no idea quite how devastating our impact on the aquatic ecosystem has been—and how what we are doing to water is affecting us on the land. I had no idea, for example, that killer whales are filled with flame retardants—chemicals that are compromising their immune systems and ours. I had no idea that beluga whales are so filled with toxic chemicals that when they wash up dead on shore, they must be treated like toxic waste. Let me explain how I began a journey that took me to swim with the humpback whales and cage dive with the white sharks in search of answers.

I start out every novel with a question, not an answer. One day, I was sitting by the fire reading my twin daughters a children’s story about a trapped whale, just after another whale had swum up the Thames. A scientist friend was visiting and started telling me some astonishing facts about new environmental dangers to our children’s and other animals’ health on the land and in the water.

I asked myself: what if these events were connected? What if whales and humans were threatened by the same dangers? I knew that the answer to this question would result in a thrilling and important story. I had no idea when I started quite how thrilling and important the story I discovered would be.

I discovered that there is an environmental threat as grave as global warming, and it is doing to our bodies and the rest of the animal world what global warming is doing to our climate. It is called endocrine disruption—toxic chemicals are shifting our fundamental physiological processes in the body. It has been linked to a rise in infertility, childhood cancers, breast and prostate cancer, birth defects, even autism and the decrease in the number of boys that are being born. We know what’s happening at the macro, but I had no idea what was happening at the micro level.

That day when I was sitting by the fire reading to my daughters, I asked myself a question that was both deeply personal and universal. It is a question that many of us are increasingly asking ourselves: Can we survive, and what might be stronger than our greed, our fear, and our denial?

I needed an answer to this question, and there is no better place to ask questions about the future than in the fictional world. I did get an answer to my question. There is indeed something that is stronger than greed, fear, and denial, but I better not say more or I may give away too much of the story.

I do think there is hope. Writing this book terrified me, but it also gave me hope. What is important is not just to lament the long litany of environmental destruction—that most of the edible fish in the oceans will be gone by 2050 from overfishing and that coral reefs are dying faster than anyone anticipated. What we need is to understand how all these individual tragedies fit together and are caused by the relationship that we have to the wild and to the environment as a whole. Writing this novel was my attempt to understand how it all fits together and how we might just be able to turn it around.


Thank you so much Douglas for visiting! I enjoyed EYE OF THE WHALE immensley and I encourage everyone to go out and pick up a copy. If you haven't already, check out my review here.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Day 262 - Eye of the Whale

Eye of the Whale
Douglas Carlton Abrams

Series or Stand Alone: Stand Alone

Release Date: August 2009

Publisher: Atria (Simon & Schuster)

Pages: 384

My Rating: 4/5

Synopsis [from]:

Elizabeth McKay is a dedicated scientist who has spent almost a decade cracking the code of humpback whale communication. Their song, the most complex in nature, may in fact reveal secrets about the animal world that no one could have imagined. When a humpback whale swims up the Sacramento River with a strange and unprecedented song, Elizabeth must decipher its meaning in order to save the whale and ultimately much more. But as her work with the whale captures the media's interest and the world's imagination, many powerful forces emerge who do not want the whale's secrets to be revealed. Soon, Elizabeth is forced to decide if her discoveries are worth losing her marriage, her career, and possibly her life.

As timely as today's ecological challenges and as timeless as the whales themselves, this novel takes readers into the mysterious world of humpback whales and great white sharks. In writing Eye of the Whale, Abrams worked closely with leading scientists and did extensive research on the shockingly true facts on which it is based. This powerful story will transform the way readers see their relationship with other species and with the fragile world in which we live.


I'm a huge animal lover. And I really like to see authors respect the intelligence and crucial role that animals play. I think whales are magnificient creatures and despite what science already knows about them, I feel there is that much more to discover. I knew before I read the book that I would enjoy it and find it interesting. I wasn't prepared for it to leave a lasting impression on me or really affect me emotionally. Although I probably should have because animals really tend to touch a soft spot in my heart.

Elizabeth McKay, a marine biologist, is currently working on her PhD thesis. She plans on discussing humpback whale communication and how their songs relate to their behavior. The passion she has for the whales she studies is clearly expressed in Abrams writing. She's so deep into her research that her personal life along with her marriage is starting to fail. And it doesn't help when Elizabeth discovers an impossible change in the whale's song from a humpack that swims up the Sacramento River. She finds herself quickly dragged into a mystery that will not only affect the whale population, but even the human race.

Elizabeth was a very likeable character. I can understand an all consuming passion that takes over someone. She desperately needs to get her dissertation done. She needs to find the time and energy to bring her marriage back from the brink of divorce. Elizabeth is very strong-willed, intelligent, and bold. Other times she can be very cautious. I think she was developed nicely along with many of the other characters.

Her husband, Frank is easy to sympathize with. There are other whale researchers and even whalers that are important to Elizabeth and her story that Abrams reveals enough personality and background information to thorghouly satisfy me. Not only do they have to race against the clock to save this stranded whale, but they have to fight off a Japanese corporation that aims to promote whaling and make whale meat and international delicacy.

The research that Abrams did for this novel had to be extensive. I can't help but think how much of an adventure it was to research humpback whales. If you visit Abrams' website you can see some pictures he took and more info on the type of research he conducted. And while I appreciate the research that was woven into each chapter, I found the end lacking something. The beginning of the novel started out so strongly, but after closing the book I felt a tad bit disappointed. The writing didn't change and the ending was done fine, I just felt somewhere Abrams lost his momentum. But I can overlook that because overall I really enjoyed EYE OF THE WHALE. I think it's found a permanent home on my bookshelf.

And while I'm all for animal rights and against whaling myself, I didn't feel this was "preachy" at all. The environmental issues brought up in the book were extremely thought-provoking but I don't think they will make people uncomfortable. I know and understand how some are not comfortable with the issues that the world is facing. Sometimes ecological documentaries and books can be depressing and upsetting while they are nothing but the truth. But Abrams was able to weave the horrid facts of the world with a fiction story that will sure to stay with you after reading.

I think this book would be a great choice for any animal lover or just a person that wants to feel a little bit more. The emotion set in this novel is pretty amazing. Abrams is able to give us a glimpse into the lives of these whales and give them a "human" presence that I've never read before. The whale scenes were beautifully written and extremely enjoyable.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Day 261 - Teaser Tuesday [24]

Teaser Tuesdays asks you to:
-Grab your current read.
-Let the book fall open to a random page.
-Share with us two (2) “teaser” sentences from that page, somewhere between lines 7 and 12.
-You also need to share the title of the book that you’re getting your “teaser” from … that way people can have some great book recommendations if they like the teaser you’ve given!
-Please avoid spoilers!


"Beside me, Thisbe was now screaming, and I wanted to join in, sit back and open my mouth and let the years of frustration and sadness and everything else just spill forth into the world once and for all. But instead, I just sat there, silent, until I suddenly felt someone looking at me." (64)

Day 261 - Q&A with Author Douglas Carlton Abrams

I'm very excited to have author Douglas Carlton Abrams at mis(h)takes. He has kindly agreed to answer some questions about himself and his book Eye of the Whale.


A little background info before we go on:

Douglas Carlton Abrams is a former editor at the University of California Press and HarperSanFrancisco. Abrams writes fact-based fiction that tells an exciting story while at the same time changing the world we live in. His first book, The Lost Diary of Don Juan, has been published in thirty countries around the world and was recently optioned for film.

Doug is also the co-founder of Idea Architects, a book and media development agency that works with visionary scientists, scholars, and spiritual leaders to create a wiser, healthier, and more just world. Abrams has collaborated with a number of the world’s great scholars, scientists, and moral leaders, including Archbishop Desmond Tutu, founder of EarthSave International and best-selling author John Robbins, primatologist Frans De Waal, and astrophysicist Joel Primack.

You can visit his website here.

Check out his personal blog on the site as well!


Me: Tell us a little about Eye of the Whale.

Douglas: This is an eco-thriller about a marine biologist who must risk everything to decode the mysterious song of a trapped humpback whale and its implications for human survival.

Me: What inspired you to write Eye of the Whale?

Douglas: I was sitting by the fire reading my twin daughters a children’s story about a trapped whale, just after another whale had swum up the Thames. A scientist friend was visiting and started telling me some astonishing facts about new environmental dangers to our children’s and other animals’ health. I asked myself: what if these events were connected? What if whales and humans were threatened by the same dangers? I knew that the answer to this question would result in a thrilling and important story. I had no idea when I started quite how thrilling and important the story I discovered would be.

Me: What kind of research did you do for the book?

Douglas: I worked with some of the world’s leading scientists—marine biologists, eco-toxicologists, veterinarians, physicians, and others. I also believe in experiencing what my characters experience, so I went swimming with the whales in Tonga, cage diving with the great white sharks off the Farallon Islands, and even met modern day whalers in the Caribbean.

Me: Which of your characters would you say is most like you? Why that character?

Douglas: I really love the main character, Elizabeth McKay. Actually, I’m quite attached to all of my characters. I especially like some of the whale characters. It was an extraordinary challenge to write from their point of view without anthropomorphizing. I had to work with marine biologists to determine what whale intelligence, thought, and communication might actually be like.

Me: If you could write a book about absolutely anything with any other author, who would you choose and what would the book be about?

Douglas: Perhaps an eco-thriller with Al Gore about global warming or something with Gabriel Garcia Marquez, whose work I love.

Me: Are you planning on any sequels to this book?

Douglas: Not currently.

Me: What are you currently working on?

Douglas: Right now I’m waiting for the next question to come to me. Meanwhile, I’m so consumed with the exciting interest with Eye of the Whale and the promotion of the novel that I don’t have a ton of time to be asking that question.

Me: Do you have any advice for upcoming writers?

Douglas: Start with a question that you deeply want to know that answer to. Focus on plot, on getting the plot, the story breathless, and read Robert McKee’s Story.

Me: If you weren’t a writer, what other career would you pursue?

Douglas: Well, I have a multiple career disorder already, since I’m a book editor and agent, but I think I’d love to be a helicopter pilot. Have to write a character who is, so I can try it out!


Thank you so much Douglas! Be sure to check back tomorrow for my review and watch out for a guest post on Thursday!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Day 260 - Rising Above it All

So I never really got into the Rambo movies, but when I was asked if I'd like to review author David Morrell's newest book, The Shimmer, I jumped at the idea.

Here's the blurb for the book:

Creator of Rambo and co-founder of the International Thriller Writers organization, David Morrell has been called “the father of the modern action novel.” Now this award-winning, New York Times bestselling author delivers The Shimmer, a novel of chilling impact.

When police officer Dan Page’s wife disappears, her trail leads to Rostov, a remote Texas town where unexplained phenomena attract hundreds of spectators each night. Not merely curious, these onlookers are compelled to reach this tiny community and gaze at the mysterious Rostov Lights.

But more than the faithful are drawn there. A gunman begins shooting at the lights, screaming “Go back to hell where you came from!” then turns his rifle on the innocent bystanders. As more and more people are drawn to the scene of the massacre, the stage is set for even greater bloodshed.

To save his wife, Page must solve the mystery of the Rostov Lights. In the process, he uncovers a deadly government secret dating back to the First World War. The lights are more dangerous than anyone ever imagined, but even more deadly are those who try to exploit forces beyond their control.

With The Shimmer, David Morrell takes readers on a brilliant, terrifying journey. Suspenseful, yet thought-provoking, it is the master at his very best.


I haven't received my copy to review yet.

Has anyone read any of David's other books?

Are you a Rambo fan??

Check out this article by David about some of the research he did for The Shimmer and how getting his pilot's license helped. Feel free to share your thoughts and opinions =)


Rising Above it All: How Rambo's Creator Earned His Pilot's License
By David Morrell,
Author of The Shimmer

Readers familiar with my fiction know how much I love doing research. For Testament, I enrolled in an outdoor wilderness survival course and lived above timberline in the Wyoming mountains for 30 days. For The Protector, I spent a week at the Bill Scott raceway in West Virginia, learning offensive-defensive driving maneuvers, such as the 180-degree spins you see in the movies. I once broke my collarbone in a two-day knife-fighting class designed for military and law enforcement personnel.

Two years ago, I began the longest research project of my career. I was preparing to write a novel called The Shimmer, a fictional dramatization of the mysterious lights that appear on many nights outside the small town of Marfa in west Texas. When the first settlers passed through that area in the 1800s, they saw the lights, and people have been drawn to those lights ever since, including James Dean who became fascinated by them when he filmed his final movie Giant near Marfa in 1955.

The lights float, bob, and weave. They combine and change colors. They seem far away and yet so close that people think they can reach out and touch them. In the 1970s, the citizens of Marfa organized what they called a Ghost Light Hunt and pursued the lights, using horses, vehicles, and an airplane, but the lights had no difficulty eluding them.

Because an airplane was used, I decided to include one in The Shimmer. I'd never written about a pilot, and the idea of trying something new always appeals to me. The dramatic possibilities were intriguing. But a minute's thought warned me about the monumental task I was planning. As a novelist version of a Method actor, I couldn't just cram an airplane into my novel. First, I would need to learn how airplanes worked so that real pilots wouldn't be annoyed by inaccuracies. Real pilots. That's when I realized that it wouldn't be enough to learn how airplanes worked. I would need to take pilot training.

I live in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Our small airport has a flight school: Sierra Aviation. I made an appointment with one of the instructors, Larry Haight, who took me up in a Cessna 172 on what's called a "discovery" flight. The idea was to "discover" whether I enjoyed the sensation of being in the cockpit and peering several thousand feet down at the ground. Flying in a small aircraft is a much more immediate and visceral experience than sitting in the cabin of a commercial airliner. Even in a Cessna, the canopy is huge compared to the tiny windows on an airliner. The horizon stretches forever.

It turned out that I more than enjoyed the experience. It was exhilarating and fulfilling. I realized that this was something I wanted to do not only for research but also to broaden my life. As a consequence, I eventually earned my private pilot's license and bought a 2003 172SP. The plane was based near Dallas, and my longest cross-country flight to date (600 miles) involved piloting it from there to Santa Fe. Truly, nothing can equal controlling an aircraft, making it do safely whatever I want while seeing the world as if I were an eagle.

In The Shimmer, I wanted the main character's attitude toward flying ("getting above it all") to help develop the book's theme. The following passage shows what I mean. You only need to know that Dan Page is a police officer. When I started pilot training, I figured that one day I'd be relaxing in the sky, listening to an iPod and glancing dreamily around. As we learn in this section, the actuality is quite different and more substantial.

"Non-pilots often assumed that the appeal of flying involved appreciating the scenery. But Page had become a pilot because he enjoyed the sensation of moving in three dimensions. The truth was that maintaining altitude and speed while staying on course, monitoring radio transmissions, and comparing a sectional map to actual features on the ground required so much concentration that a pilot had little time for sightseeing.

"There was another element to flying, though. It helped Page not to think about the terrible pain people inflicted on one another. He'd seen too many lives destroyed by guns, knives, beer bottles, screwdrivers, baseball bats, and even a nail gun. Six months earlier, he'd been the first officer to arrive at the scene of a car accident in which a drunken driver had hit an oncoming vehicle and killed five children along with the woman who was taking them to a birthday party. There'd been so much blood that Page still had nightmares about it.

"His friends thought he was joking when he said that the reward of flying was 'getting above it all,' but he was serious. The various activities involved in controlling an aircraft shut out what he was determined not to remember.

"That helped Page now. His confusion, his urgency, his need to have answers -- on the ground, these emotions had thrown him off balance, but once he was in the air, the discipline of controlling the Cessna forced him to feel as level as the aircraft. In the calm sky, amid the monotonous, muffled drone of the engine, the plane created a floating sensation. He welcomed it yet couldn't help dreading what he might discover on the ground. "

At one point a character asks Page, how high he intends to fly.

"Enough to get above everything," he answers.

"Sounds like the way to run a life."

That's an important lesson I learned from flying.

©2009 David Morrell, author of The Shimmer


Author Bio:

David Morrell, author of The Shimmer, is the award-winning author of numerous New York Times bestsellers, including Creepers and Scavenger. Co-founder of the International Thriller Writers organization and author of the classic Brotherhood of the Rose spy trilogy, Morrell is considered by many to be the father of the modern action novel

For more information please visit
Learn more about The Shimmer at

Day 260 - It's Monday!

It's Monday! What are you reading this week?, hosted by J. Kaye's Book Blog, is a weekly event to list the books completed last week, the books currently being read, and the books to be finished this week.

Books Gobbled Last Week:
Falling Into the Sun :: Charrie Hazard
Wait Until Twilight :: Sang Pak

Gobbling Down This Week:
Along for the Ride :: Sarah Dessen
Once Upon a Nightmare :: Lee Moylan

-SoI decided to wait to read Kelly Gay's Step Into the Darkness from last week's post because it comes out in November.

-Also my review will finally be up for Eye of the Whale by Douglas Carlton Abrams on Wednesday for his blog tour. There will also be an interview and a guest post on Tuesday and Thursday, respectively with Douglas, so stay tuned =)
-For those of you that read my notes just wanted to give you a heads up that my birthday is coming up in mid-September and I will be hosting some giveaways so keep your eyes open!!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Day 259 - The Birthing House - Book Promo

I can't remember where I first heard about The Birthing House by Christopher Ransom. I do remember seeing the cover, reading the title, and just feeling compelled to read the blurb:

(from St. Martin's Press)

It was expecting them.

Conrad and Joanna Harrison, a young couple from Los Angeles, attempt to save their marriage by leaving the pressures of the city to start anew in a quiet, rural setting. They buy a Victorian mansion that once served as a haven for unwed mothers, called a birthing house. One day when Joanna is away, the previous owner visits Conrad to bequeath a vital piece of the house’s historic heritage, a photo album that he claims “belongs to the house.” Thumbing through the old, sepia-colored photographs of midwives and fearful, unhappily pregnant girls in their starched, nineteenth-century dresses, Conrad is suddenly chilled to the bone: staring back at him with a countenance of hatred and rage is the image of his own wife….

Thus begins a story of possession, sexual obsession, and, ultimately, murder, as a centuries-old crime is reenacted in the present, turning Conrad and Joanna’s American dream into a relentless nightmare.

An extraordinary marriage of supernatural thrills and exquisite psychological suspense, The Birthing House marks the debut of a writer whose first novel is a terrifying tour de force

I definitely had to add it to my wishlist! I was lucky enough to receive an email with some exclusive material about the author and his debut book.

Please feel free to leave comments, visit the links provided, and check out The Birthing House which has been released this month!


Q&A with Christopher Ransom: (edited version)**

Please introduce yourself and tell us a bit more about you and your writing career.
I’ve been writing prose off and on for sixteen years but took a five-year detour to write screenplays before working up the courage to write my first novel, The Birthing House, which is out now in the UK and will be released in the US this August. I spent three years writing The Birthing House and it was the best education in writing I ever received. I was a terrible student in high school and college, and never attended a writer’s workshop or other writing program, so maybe it took me a little longer to do it on my own. At any rate, I never enjoyed writing as much as I did while working on my novel, so I plan to stick with this for a while.

What is your most recent novel about – if you are allowed to tell us?
The Birthing House is about a couple in their 30s, Conrad and Joanna Harrison, who are trying to reboot their marriage, so to speak, by moving from Los Angeles to a small town in rural Wisconsin. Soon after they settle in, Jo leaves Conrad for eight weeks of training for a new job, and Conrad, stewing in the house all summer, discovers that their new home, which is really his new home, was a birthing house at the turn of the century and may now be haunted. Conrad is wrestling with the idea and reality of becoming a father, the growing pains of leaving adolescence and his early 20s behind to become domestic. He is haunted by a destructive relationship from his high school years that continues to wreak havoc in his life and is responsible for almost literally opening the door to the entity that still resides in the former birthing house. In the course of uncovering (or ignoring at his peril) the house’s history and trying to salvage his dying marriage, Conrad becomes obsessed with his next door neighbour, Nadia, who is 20 and pregnant, and has some experience with the evil residing under Conrad’s roof. The novel is about the toll of a dual-income marriage, how our past relationships inform and disturb our present relationships, how infidelity and sexuality fit into the larger scheme of procreation, and—as I like to joke—only incidentally about a haunted birthing house.

I make that joke because, in truth, I did not set out to write a haunted house novel at all, or even a horror novel. I am not particularly interested in or frightened by ghosts or monsters. However, in terms of communicating what’s going on in someone’s head, a house is a great metaphor for the mind, and the ghost is a marvellous mirror of the psyche. And people—they scare me. So I just started writing about three characters locked in a situation I found fascinating. About a hundred pages in, I realized the story was following the classic haunted house trajectory. Coincidentally (or not very), my wife and I had recently moved from Los Angeles to Mineral Point, Wisconsin, which is a town of about three thousand people, so we were experiencing an amusing form of culture shock. We bought a 140-year-old Victorian and later learned it had been a birthing house and small clinic near the turn of the century. I did not borrow my house’s real history in any way; the idea of what it would be like if my house really was haunted was quite enough. During the first draft, I was only vaguely aware that I was writing about a troubled marriage, sex, birth, and all the rest while living under the roof of a birthing house. The potential of a haunted birthing house became intertwined with the questions and themes I was exploring, and the title was too appropriate to resist. Who knows, maybe the house wanted me to write the book (he says with nervous laughter and mild fear).

What do you think makes the horror genre so fascinating to readers and writers?
The power, for one. The raw, straight-to-your-primal-center-ness of it. There is no question fear is one of the most compelling emotions, that it is one of the strongest and most fundamental. It’s not like delight or melancholy, relative lightweights. Fear is right up there with love. It is crucial to our survival. From one perspective, it is fair to say fear drives nearly every other emotion, including love. Do we not love out of fear of being alone, at least partially? Do we not work for fear of going hungry?

For readers, horror fiction is a safe venue we visit to experience fear without being overwhelmed by it. No one wants horror in their life, but we will all face it in one form or another. I forget who said stories are tools for living, but I believe that. I cannot imagine living without quality fiction. So, if that is true, then horror stories might contain some tools for learning how to deal with the bad shit life throws our way. Maybe that is a stretch, but I find reading dark fiction fortifying in some way. I also just like experiencing a good thrill, without the hangover.

As for writers, for this writer anyway, the horror genre comes equipped with another marvellous set of tools. The ghosts, the houses, the monsters, the descent into a self and reality (even an everyday, real-world reality) we did not know existed, the whole range of darker human psychology. It’s almost another language. There are tropes and tricks and rules to break. When the writing is going well, the writer feels every event in the story as it is being written, as if by surprise, as his reader will experience it eventually. This makes for a fun ride behind the keyboard. But more importantly, writing horror, like writing in any other genre, should be an exploration of the self. It’s not easy to plumb one’s deepest fears and bring them into the daylight, but it is rewarding on many levels.

What movies / books influenced your development as a genre writer? Similarly, what books, movies, comics, get you excited as a fan?
I suspect we live in an age when there are two types of horror writers: those who admit they were influenced by Stephen King to some degree, and those who lie. It might be a cliché at this point, but King’s books taught me to love reading. I read Cujo when I was 11 and I never looked back. Pet Sematary is the scariest novel I have or probably ever will read. It’s also a very serious novel, when you look beyond the cat that comes back from the grave. He’s writing about the most painful things a human can face: death, burial, the loss of child. How our culture does almost nothing to prepare for the natural eventuality of death. I honestly don’t know how he found the courage to go that far--that deep into his fear. I reread it again for the fifth or sixth time last summer and was struck by how even the vocabulary and syntax King uses in Pet Sematary reek of sour earth, embalming fluids, medicine, cold soil. There is a vintage texture, as if it were aging well in the sense of a classic, which of course I feel it is. So, yes, like many readers in the 80s and 90s, I was weaned on Stephen King, Peter Straub, Clive Barker, Dean Koontz, Robert McCammon, and many others. They all influenced me in some way, large or small.

Dan Simmons’s speculative-horror-love story of a novel, The Hollow Man, is quite different than my novel (or any that I will likely ever attempt to write) but it was a pivotal book in my life. I read it when I was 20, trying to decide what to do with myself, and the novel terrified me, challenged me, and made me weep, all in the span of about seven hours. I decided shortly after that to become a writer. There were a lot of books that nudged me toward the decision, but The Hollow Man was the nail in my coffin.

As I neared my late 20s and began to get serious, there were a few other authors, in various genres, not just horror, that changed how I thought about style and narrative, and I am sure they influenced me as well. Colin Harrison’s Afterburn took my head off. I still study the way he achieves such momentum without sacrificing nuance of language and depth of character. Nabokov has playfulness and an ability to find humour in the most wretched of circumstances, and that can be useful when writing horror.

What gets me excited as a fan is when one of my favourite authors releases a new novel. Peter Blauner is in my humble opinion the best “crime” writer working today, though he is much more than that. The only problem is, he only publishes a new novel every four years or so. But I am glad he takes his time, because the quality really shows and he is always worth the wait.

Who do you go all fan-boy about when it comes to the horror genre? Have you ever met anyone more famous than yourself and how did you react?
When I worked a Barnes & Noble in Los Angeles, I once waited on Julia Roberts, just like Hugh Grant in Notting Hill. She was very polite but she didn’t fall in love with me. Does that count? No, I guess not. Well, I haven’t met too many famous writers. I did meet Dan Simmons years ago, when I had just decided to become a writer and he was signing copies of The Hollow Man (which as I said had just become my favourite novel). Dan was seated in this tiny newsstand on Main Street in Longmont, Colorado, near my hometown of Boulder, so it was easy for me to wander over on my lunch break. Anyway, I was the first (okay, only) person in line; Dan was not yet the supernova he is today. I probably could have had his ear for half an hour, and he was very polite, but I was too frightened to squeak much more than, “Thank you.” I quickly fled the store, clutching my signed first edition to my bosom like a schoolgirl with her first love note.

If you had a chance to invite any horror legend, be it actor, writer, director, author (living / dead / undead) over for some tea, who would you choose and why?
After reading Charles LaBrutto’s excellent biography of Stanley Kubrick, wherein he chronicles many of the director’s bull sessions with writers and actors, I couldn’t stop thinking about what that must have been like for those who had the privilege—and some would say the curse—of Kubrick’s company. I realize Kubrick was not a horror guy per se, but he was tuned in to the dark side of human nature. There is a coldness to his work, his control, his obsessive nature. But he was also reputed to be a very sweet man, and an expert on a huge array of subjects. There is something tantalizing and terrifying about getting one of Kubrick’s phone calls in the middle of the night, being whisked off to his hidden estate, and hired to be a writer on one of his films, only to find oneself locked in a seemingly endless conversation with the man, who, it was reported, went through phases where he and his guests ate the same meal over and over for weeks, until he tired of it. Visiting writers seemed to emerge from the Kubrick compound like aged moles, gray-haired and blinded by his intensity and brilliance. I wouldn’t have been able to resist that call, had it ever come.

Lights on or off when watching horror flicks?
Off, of course, without exception. I am allowed to make my wife watch only one scary movie per year, so that means for all the others it’s me and one of my dogs under a blanket, lights off, eyes bugging out. Actually, watching a scary film by yourself increases the potency, so I don’t mind. Last summer I watched The Orphanage all by myself and that one got me pretty good.

Which do you prefer: Romero originals or remakes?
Oh, I know this is sacrilege, but I’ll go with the Dawn of the Dead remake here. The screenwriter on that one, James Gunn, is a very funny guy who gets zombies and I thought he handled it very well. It was scary and funny and full of great action set pieces. His characters were solid, his dialogue chewy. The sniper going after “Burt Reynolds” bit in there is priceless.

What is the best advice you ever received from someone about horror writing
The best advice I know of for writing horror is no different than the advice we hear for writing any other kind of fiction and literature. The same things are important. Quality writing, characters that feel and behave like real people with real problems, realistic dialogue, evocative setting, all of it. In fact, when it comes to writing horror, or any genre that tends to rely too much on the wowee factor, we need to be extra vigilant, mindful of the fundamentals—namely, writing well. Plot and suspense are the least of our problems. We can’t rely on ghosts and serial killers and zombies to fool the reader for long. Or maybe we can, but we shouldn’t. Because while the apocalypse might get some fanboys in the door, the fanboys are all growing up, too, and eventually the day will come when they demand better of us. Actually, in all fairness, they already do. So, we owe it to our careers, our genre, our publishers and readers, to strive for quality. The writing is everything. That is what I tell myself every day, because I know I have a long way to go, and if you’re not constantly trying to improve the quality of your writing, you’re dead.

The horror genre has seen many incarnations over the past few years – what do you think the future holds for the genre?
I have been hearing about the death of horror in publishing since I attended The Pike’s Peak Writer’s Conference in 1993 or thereabouts. But good writers kept on publishing horror novels every year, right up through today. The vampire stuff seems to be bottomless. I know a lot of the large houses in New York are a little skittish about horror, but on the other hand, my editor at St. Martin’s Press told me he had been looking for a good ghost story for four years before he acquired The Birthing House. Now, look, I’m not saying I wrote The Turn of the Screw or The Shining—I know I did not. But four years? That tells me that either agents are extremely gun shy about submitting horror or there just aren’t that many well written and truly frightening manuscripts floating through the channels. In either case, we have only ourselves to blame.

But of course there are cycles. Trends. You can’t plan for them or write with an eye on them, though, so why bother? Hollywood ate up a ton of ghost stories after The Sixth Sense made $300 million domestic, and once that milked out, they went after harder stuff, exploitation fare, torture porn (which does nothing for me), and some great zombie flicks (which I do like). Now that those are playing out, we’re back to psychological stuff and ghost stories and dark fantasy and . . .

All of which is to say, I don’t have a clue where horror is going, and I never gave it much thought. I focused on writing the book that I wanted to write, to the best of my abilities, and it worked out. I am fortunate that it did. I am sure timing was a factor. But the reality is that there will always be a market for quality horror fiction and writing that truly moves the reader.

Do you have a zombie apocalypse survival plan – apart from going to hide in the Winchester, that is! – and will you be able to implement it?
You know, if it comes to that point, where we are truly being overrun by the zombie hoard, I think I would rather just join them. I mean, think about it, do zombies looked stressed to you? Other than finding food, what’s a zombie got to worry about? They don’t have to get up and go to work every day. They don’t have to pay taxes or fret about the state of the world or try to get laid. They have no fear of death because the worst has already happened to them. All a zombie has to do is duck some bullets and find some brains to gnaw on, and there are plenty of those to go around. Hey, I’m a foodie. I could live like that. Kind of do already, now that I think about it.


Here's an excerpt from The Birthing House...

an excerpt
from the novel
Christopher Ransom

They were in the house a week before it came for him.

Joanna Harrison was dozing on the couch in the TV room while her husband stood on the deck, breathing through a sweet clove cigarette that burned his throat and floated a candy cloud above his empty thoughts. The cigarette was the kind found on the back covers of men’s magazines, the smoke of wannabes. What Conrad wanted to be this night was content, and, for a few more minutes of this vanishing sunset hour, he was.
Content equally with himself and his lot: a full acre of sloping lawn, century-old maple and black walnut trees, and a garden as large as a swimming pool, its aged gray gate roped with grape vines. Raspberry and clover grew thick in the shade of the shaggy pines still moist with the day’s sweet rain.

He heard running water and looked through the window into the kitchen. Her blurry, sleepy-slouched shape hovered for a moment, probably filling a glass to take to bed. He waved to her. She either did not see him or was too tired to wave back. She turned away and faded back into the house.

He wanted to follow her, but he waited. Let her brush and floss, finish with a shot of the orange Listerine before she turned back the freshly laundered Egyptian cotton. You can’t rush these things. These are delicate times. Eyes closed, he could almost see her stretched out in one of her tanktinis and cotton boy-cut underwear, a big girl-woman reading another marketing book he always said were made for people on planes. She must be happy here. Otherwise, she would be cleaning and planning and avoiding bedtime.

Summer had arrived early. The house was muggy. He wondered if she would be warm enough to go without covers, but cool enough to allow his touch.

He had been shocked to discover that he wanted her more now. He was still madder than hell about the entire stupid scene with That Fucker Jake and all its implications, its mysteries. But he knew the balance of things and how he’d not been holding up his share of them was half the problem. Maybe more than half. She’d almost slipped away. Even before that nasty little homecoming it had been months, and since the fresh start (that was how he thought of it, but never named it as such, not aloud) he’d been watching for signs. If Luther and Alice were in their crates, that was one sign. If she had showered that was yet another, though never a binding one. None of the signs were binding, which added suspense to the marriage and kept his hopes in a perpetual swing from boyish curiosity on one side to blood-stewing resentment on the other.

He walked up the deck steps to the wooden walkway, into the mudroom. He climbed stairs (the servants’ stairs off the kitchen, not the front stairs with the black maple banister, which for some reason he had been avoiding since the move) and felt the weight of the day in his bones.

By the time he finished brushing his teeth he was tired the way only people who have unpacked ninety percent of their possessions in a single day can be tired. His mind was empty, his muscles what his mom said his father used to call labor-fucked, the old man’s way of suggesting that work is its own reward.

I’m sorry, Dad-

Work. He knew his hands still worked for her. He thought she liked his hands better than just about every other part of him. He no longer relied on his appearance as the catalyst, didn’t know many men married more than a few years who did. He knew he wasn’t a Jake. At thirty he was what divorced female bartenders had from time to time called cute, no longer handsome, if he ever was. He felt remarkably average. He had acquired a belly, but the move had already burned that down from a 36 to a 34. With the yard work he’d be down to a 32—his high school Levi’s size—by the end of June. Jo always said she liked his laugh lines, the spokes radiating from what his mother used to call his wily eyes. Wily used to be enough, but now he was just grateful for a second chance. He could live with average—so long as he could still seduce her.

Conrad wound his way through the back hall, making the S-turn through the library, into the front hallway. The creaking floorboards were a new sound, allowing him to birth one final clear thought for the day.

This is a healing place. This is home.

Conrad waded into the moonlight pooling on the new queen-sized bed—another purchase, this one more deserved—he’d made without her input. The ceiling fan was whirring, the dogs were curled into their crates on the floor, and Jo was waiting for him on top of the new sheets. She was without a top, wearing only loose fitting boxers (his), which were somehow better than if she were naked. That she had gone halfway without prematurely forfeiting the under garment was a gesture that made him feel understood. The arc of her hips rose off the bed like the fender of a street rod and his blood awakened.

With his blood, his hopes.

No longer content, Conrad stretched out, not caring what funny tent shape his penis made as it unfolded like a miniature welcome banner. He rolled to one side, facing her. She smelled of earth and lavender and something otherwise herbal—new scents for her in this new place. Her belly was nearly flat except for the smallest of rolls just above the waistband, and he loved this, too. He called it her little chile relleno and she would slap him, but it didn’t bother her, not really. Her hips were womanly wide, but with her height she remained sleek, especially when prone, like now. She stood a little over six feet to his five-nine. His fingers grazed her fine brown navel hairs. Her eyes gleamed under heavy lids, glassy and black as mountain ponds at midnight.

It was a beginning, and he was a man who loved beginnings more than middles or endings.

“Come,” Jo said. Or maybe Con, half of his name.


“. . . not ready.”

“Not what?” His hand found the elastic rim of her waistband, then moved into the open front of his boxer shorts on her.

“. . . about behbee,” she murmured.

“What, Baby?”

Not baby. Uppercase, Baby. A nickname he used.

“. . . owin me the behbee…be-ah-eye,” she mumbled, which sounded like was going to be all right.

“Of course,” he said, like it was his idea too. He had no idea.

“. . . bee woul’ go a father.”

We should go farther.

He pushed one, then two fingers lower to her mound, but her legs were crossed and he swerved off course, touching only her thigh. Just her thigh, but soft was soft and his excitement ratcheted up another notch.

“-not ready,” she squeaked, rolling away.

Shit. Might not have been sleeping before, but was now. Snoring too. Weird, he thought. Had she done this before? With the eyes open and the talking?

Should he let her sleep or try one more time?

Yes . . . no. He kissed her goodnight and rolled to his back, allowing the fan to push warm summer air over his fading, obedient hard-on. His mind dropped into that lower gear, the one that is not yet sleep but somehow dreaming already.

In the half-dream he was in the house, beside her, finding the wetness and sliding in not for the first time but as if they had been moving this way for minutes or an hour. He was all corded muscle and arched away, feeling her soak him in her own undulations. The movement was soothing, almost non-sexual, like being rocked in a crib.

Her grip on him strengthened and clenched, pushing back with legs and ass, drawing his ejaculate out in a sudden burst that ended too quickly, leaving him weak and sleepy all over again.

Drifting . . .

Until the dream, the same one or some new post-coital version, was split by the sound of crying. His body twitched itself awake, and he knew these were not Jo’s tears. This was the noise a newborn makes after sucking in its first violent breath as it enters this violent world. It was a sound that had skipped mewling and launched straight into wailing, and it was coming from behind a wall or far away.

Faintly, under the baby’s hacking shriek, there arose another sound. This one did sound like a woman, and he imagined the infant’s mother, or the midwife, perhaps. This older cry in the dark was a trailing scream, as if something was pulling her away from her child and down a long corridor that narrowed to nothing.

Panicked, he rolled over to shake Jo—why hasn’t she woken up and grabbed me?—and felt the cool stirring of air as she lifted off the bed. He could see only blackness, and with the drone of the fan he could not hear her feet padding on the wood floor. A flash of her silhouette in the doorway left a retinal echo, but the room was too dark to grasp any details. If he saw her at all, she was gone now.

To the bathroom, he thought. There she goes, carrying my seed. The semi-sleep-molestation and abrupt ending made him wince with guilt, but he did not seek her out in the ensuing silence. Exhausted from the day of unpacking (and tossed dream sex), Conrad decided the crying was but a fragment of the dream, a lingering scene planted by her words.

“. . . the behbee, the behbee . . .”

The crying returned once, quieter and farther away, until like a passing thunderstorm it faded to nothing.

He hovered on the edge of sleep.

Something’s wrong.

He sat up and rubbed his eyes. She had not returned.


She did not answer.

“Jo,” he said, louder. “Baby, you okay
His eyes adjusted to the dark. The dogs were standing at the master bedroom door facing the hall, whining, tails stiff like the hairs on their shoulders. Conrad flattened his body and counted to ten. It’s rational, he told himself. When something so unexplainable and real (the dogs made it real) as a crying baby in your childless home wakes you, it is normal to ignore it and go back to sleep. So back he went, as deep as a man can go, until he forgot the all about the crying sounds and her cold departure, her absolute absence.

Even when, in the morning, waking to a half-empty bed, he padded downstairs and found her where he’d left her before he stepped out for a smoke at dusk, sleeping on the sofa.


Copyright © 2008 by Christopher Ransom

**This interview was not conducted by me. I also took out some questions from the original interview...**

Visit Christopher's website here for more information.

Christopher Ransom has also started a blog for people to post their own personal experiences with the supernatural. Share your stories here!

If you want more of The Birthing House you can read the first 2 chapters here!


Has anyone got a hold of this book? If so, what did you think??
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