Wednesday, March 30, 2011

An Interview With...Jon Merz!!

Yes I was being a bit tongue and cheeky there ;)  I am so very happy and excited to have the author of  The Kensei here at my blog today!  He will be answering some questions for me and I hope you take the time to stop and get to know him a bit!

I read his book and really enjoyed it.  You can find my review *HERE*.  

On with the interview!

1. When you start writing do you go cold or is there some idea for a story already taking root?

I always have an idea - usually a "what if?" that I'm playing with.  With the Lawson Vampire series, it's usually a matter of figuring out what I want to do with him next, and then figuring out whereabouts (generally) in his timeline the adventure is going to take place.  With other projects, I usually have the barest trace of an idea that quickly grows into something more.

 2. Was there anyone who was the inspiration for Lawson?

Not really.  Lawson at first blush was very much a lot of my personal characteristics and personality.  I'm sarcastic and have a very black sense of humor.  I've been told I'm quick on the one-liners.  Lawson is very much that.  I have a very deep ingrained sense of honor and so does Lawson.  But as the years have gone by, Lawson has become very much his own personality.  And while we share some similar traits, I like to think he stands on his own quite well.

 3. There is nothing like a great bad guy, but which is harder to craft, the good or the bad?
I think as long as the writer has truly developed a great hero (or anti-hero as the case may be) and made them imperfect, you're always going to be able to create a great villain.  If your hero has faults or vices, then the villain needs to be able to exploit those, even if that exploitation takes place without the villain knowing it.  Perhaps one of his personality traits is just the thing to set the hero off in a certain way.  That interplay can only happen if the hero has flaws.  A lot of would-be writers try to create a superman on the page and that's simply not genuine.  Lawson, for example, is duty-bound but simultaneously breaks the very laws he is sworn to uphold.  So from the get-go, he's got serious issues.  A great villain is all about making sure those faults are exposed in the course of their interaction.

 4. Do you find that you get attached to your characters?
Oh yeah, definitely.  It's tough living with these creations for the span of an entire book and then knowing you have to end the story somewhere.  Sometimes they die.  Sometimes, the books are simply one novel and that's it - the story is told.  I think that's why I happen to like writing series.  I can hang out with the characters for a long time.

 5. Will we see more of Lawson?
Absolutely!  Lawson's entire backlist of adventures is now available on the Kindle and Nook and this summer, I'll be making them all available in print as well.  Additionally, we're producing a TV series based on his adventures called THE FIXER.  Fans can watch our progress out on Facebook - and we'll be launching an all-new website for all things Lawson at in the next few weeks.  I hope everyone comes along on the ride because Lawson's adventures are only just beginning!

Thank you so much Jon!  It sounds like you have some exciting times coming up with Lawson.  I'm looking forward to it.

The Kensei

The Kensei: A Lawson Vampire Novel

The Kensei
Jon Merz
304 pgs
St. Martins Griffin

Amazon Blurb -

After several years, Merz offers a new novel (following Syndicate, 2003) starring vampire secret agent Lawson. This time, Lawson is in Japan on vacation. But trouble arrives almost immediately—on the train from the airport—when an assassin tries to take down a young Japanese man and his girlfriend. Lawson’s interference is more than just annoying, as the assassin he kills was a member of the local Yakuza, the Kensei, and now the Mob wants vengeance. When Lawson’s former KGB agent girlfriend arrives with troubles of her own, his vacation is no longer the least bit relaxing. All this sounds like the setup for a typical action adventure or espionage novel, but, of course, Lawson is a vampire who works for the vampire governing council, specializing in keeping vampires secret and fixing their problems. Other than being crazy strong and very quick to heal (excellent attributes for a secret agent), Lawson is more like Jason Bourne than Dracula, making this a vampire mystery with broad appeal. 

Lawson is a Fixer.  He tries to keep the balance between humans and vampires.  When bad vamps go nuts he takes them out.

In Japan for some r-n-r and to get some more training in his Martial Arts, life just won’t cut him any slack.  While riding the train he notices a couple and a lone man who isn’t there just for fun.  Thinking the thug is there to take him out, Lawson jumps into it feet first only to find out the baddie was there for the poor couple or the man anyway.

Off we go on a ride to rid the world of a physco vamp who wants to make hybrid human/vamps to rule.  Kensei is just crazy and Lawson is a bump in his road to success.  We meet Lawson’s girlfriend, human, Talya who is a former KGB and major kick ass!  They are breaking the rules by being together and the two don’t care.  They have to sneak, but they love each other.  Moko is the cop who is investigating the matter.  Smart and no push over, Lawson will have to work with him.

This book was not my usual genre of vamp subject and I wasn’t disappointed.  If you like Jason Bourne type intrigue  you’ll love this.  Merz is an exceptional author.  Able to make you “see” where Lawson was, his detail is fantastic without being tedious.  The characters are rich and vibrant, fleshed out to where you can really feel them.  For me that is the mark of a great writer.

4 cannolis

The Persian Pickle Club Review and Q-n-A

The Persian Pickle Club

The Persian Pickle Club
Sandra Dallas
198 pgs.
St. Martins Press

Amazon Blurb -

This entertaining second novel from the author of the well-received Buster Midnight's Cafe could be a sleeper. Set in Depression-era Kansas and made vivid with the narrator's humorous down-home voice, it's a story of loyalty and friendship in a women's quilting circle. Young farm wife Queenie Bean tells about the brief membership of a city girl named Rita, whose boredom with country living and aspirations to be an investigative reporter lead her to unearth secrets in the close-knit group, called the Persian Pickle Club after a coveted paisley print. Queenie's desire to win Rita's friendship ("We were chickens... and Rita was a hummingbird") clashes with her loyalty to the Pickles when Rita tries to solve the murder of a member's husband, in the process unearthing complicated relationships among the women who meet each week to quilt and read aloud to each other. The result is a simple but endearing story that depicts small-town eccentricities with affection and adds dazzle with some late-breaking surprises. Dallas hits all the right notes, combining an authentic look at the social fabric of Depression-era life with a homespun suspense story.

Queenie Bean is a young married gal who belongs to a quilting group made up of the town's ladies.  They're called the Persian Pickles after the pattern of material used for quilting.  She along with Agnes T. Ritter are the youngest the group, all with with very diverse personalities.  They meet at each others homes quilting, gossiping and visiting as well as being very good friends to each other.  All this takes place during the depression.  Rita Ritter is newly married to Agnes' brother and brand new in town.  A city girl with aspirations of being a reporter, Rita decides she's going to solve the murder of one of the Pickles husband. 

This starts opening up a can of worms better off left alone.  Queenie so wants to be best friends with Rita, but she starts to realize that this small town really isn't a place for Rita at all.

Short and sweet the characters in this book were quite rich.  I really loved it, while it's suspense is very mild, it isn't heavy or gory, nor is there  romance, just a great story set in such a tough time, with women who really love each other and the hobby they share.  I give this book my highest rating because sometimes just feeling good when you read it and smiling when your done is more important than all those fancy bells and whistles!  Thanks to Julie over at Reading Without Restraint for choosing this book for our March book club choice!!

5 cannolis


1.  The Denver Post called this, "A book about how times can never be so hard that they can't be eased when people come together."  How do the gatherings of the Persian Pickle Club ease its members' troubles?

First off, they're doing something they absolutely love!  Being with your girlfriends in a time of stress can be the best medicine.  This group proves that.

2.  Do you belong to a club such as this, or have you ever?  If so, what kind of club and when?

I belong to a book club and we are having such a great time, we just met last night as a matter of fact.  After we discuss the book, and even during the book discussions, we talk about our lives, the parallels our kids.  I love it, being with woman can be a great thing.

3.  Who was your favorite character in the book and why?

I loved Queenie, she was just so sweet, the way her mouth would just run cracked me up.

4.  Your least favorite character and why?

I don't think I had a least fave, even poor Agnes T wasn't so bad when ya got down to it!

5.  Is Rita truly a good friend to Queenie?  Do you think she realizes the trouble her insensitive questions cause?

I think she was just clueless.  A good friend though, nah I don't think so.  Even though she is going to keep their secret, I don't think she'll ever be in that intimate circle.

6.  The quilt that Rita sends to Queenie at the end of the book is a "Friendship Forever" design.  What message do you think she was trying to convey to the club?

That she gets what they are and that her lips are always sealed.

7.  Rita includes a card with her quilt that says, "If you wonder who's responsible, I did it."  Who really did do it?  Does it matter?

No I don't think it does.  And ya know what, I think that maybe Queenie did do it ;)

8.  After reading The Persian Pickle Club, would you be inclined to read another book by Dallas?

Abso-friggin-lutely!!!   I just loved this book!!

Authors By The Alphabet Q-n-A

Again if you'd like to join please go *HERE*.  We have read some great books so far and are having a good time!

Ok girls we're ready to roll with our reviews and the ?'s for our book.  Just pop over to Julies for the questions @ Reading Without Restraint so you can get them and then discuss!!

The Persian Pickle Club

Our April book has gone into flux here, Belle is going to contact me with an F author since finding an E author was too tough and she doesn't want so many bowing out of the reading this month, so we will be changing!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

For A Few Demons More

For a Few Demons More (The Hollows, Book 5)

For A Few Demons More
Kim Harrison
456 pgs

Amazon Blurb -

In bestseller Harrison's fifth demon-kicking extravaganza to feature Rachel Morgan, the first in hardcover (after 2006's A Fistful of Charms), the Cincinnati-based bounty hunter and spell caster still possesses "the focus," a 5,000-year-old demon-crafted Were artifact. With the help of her pixie partner Jenks and Detective Glenn, Rachel must deal with demons, the elf Trent Kalamack and master vampire Piscary, who along with angry Weres, struggle for possession of the artifact. Meanwhile, a serial killer is on the loose and Rachel's alpha werewolf pal, David Hue, becomes the prime suspect of the FIB (aka the human-run Federal Inderland Bureau). Action-packed and full of Rachel's persistent erotic ruminations, this titillating tale includes a shocking finale that will leave fans panting for the next installment in the Hollows series.

I was dreading reading this one in the series knowing what was coming.   Suffice it to say I was very sad over it and wonder why just like everyone else who loves this series.  Oh well and that's all I say on that.  Moving on...

Rachel is trying to figure out who is killing some local weres and how some of them have turned from humans.  In this series the author has weres being born that way not being made by a bite or virus.  Her pack leader, friend, and insurance adjuster ;), David thinks he's been doing the killing since some where his girlfriends.  She realizes it's that darn focus that her ex Nick stole in the last book that's responsible.  To get everything under control she thinks giving it to Master vamp Piscary is the answer, and of course all hell is going to break loose with this move.  The warring were packs are none to happy about any of this.  With Jenks at her side and friend F.I.B detective Glenn, as always Rachel tries to solve all the problems almost at the risk of her own life.

I liked it, though Ivy and Rachel's relationship is driving me batty.  That part of the story is what I think held it back from being super.  I think even all the characters just wanna hit them over the head with a 2x4 too!!  As always those pesky demons keep coming back to bother her, and so does Trent Kalamack.  With Ceri to help her, Rachel is lucky to have her as a friend.  Her magic is amazingly strong and she has come to help Rachel more than once! Of course I will continue with this series.

3 1/2 cannolis

Friday, March 18, 2011

Let's Hop

For any who would like to join a book club, I'm hosting a fun one!!  All the info can be found here -

Authors By The Alphabet  check it out and sign up, we've read some good books so far :)

This Hop is hosted by Jennifer from Crazy-For-Books, and it runs through the weekend, so if you can't today, hop on tomorrow!  Just remember, go to her site, follow the rules, visit some of the blogs and get to know em, if you start to follow tell em you met them through the hop!

This weeks ? -

 "Do you read only one book at a time, or do you have several going at once?"

Hooo ho ho, I had posed this ? once before quite tongue in cheek as are you a philanderer or monogamous to some book lovers.  The response was hysterical!!  I myself am monogamous only sticking to the one book.  While there are many book bim and himbo's, alas I am not.  True to my one book, never letting my gaze wander to the pile sitting on my shelf even though they call out and entice me with their pretty covers and thick pages.   I do have a Kindle as well,  I just don't do it.  I had too this past month with an author obligation, but it just isn't my cup of tea.  I like giving my undivided attention to my one book ;)

Authors By The Alphabet Update

Just wanted to let you all know that Belle has chosen April's E author and book for us this way any who want to get a jump start can!

Saving Graces: Finding Solace and Strength from Friends and Strangers
 Saving Graces: Finding Solace and Strength From Friends and Strangers
   Elizabeth Edwards
   384 pgs

Our March choice of course chosen by Julie -

The Persian Pickle Club
The Persian Pickle Club
Sandra Dallas
St. Martins Press
196 pgs.

Hope you all are enjoying this so far.  I know I am.  I'll be choosing F's author for May if no one else joins and I am having a tough time between Paranormal Romance and a really tough subject matter.  I hope you all can stand some pnr ;) it can be cheesy but I do love my supes and it's light and fun.  I won't start a series in the middle, it will definitely be the first book if I do.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Change Of Heart

Change of Heart: A Novel
Change Of Heart
Jodi Picoult
447 pgs
Washington Square Press
Book Club Choice

Amazon Blurb -

Picoult bangs out another ripped-from-the-zeitgeist winner, this time examining a condemned inmate's desire to be an organ donor. Freelance carpenter Shay Bourne was sentenced to death for killing a little girl, Elizabeth Nealon, and her cop stepfather. Eleven years after the murders, Elizabeth's sister, Claire, needs a heart transplant, and Shay volunteers, which complicates the state's execution plans. Meanwhile, death row has been the scene of some odd events since Shay's arrival—an AIDS victim goes into remission, an inmate's pet bird dies and is brought back to life, wine flows from the water faucets. The author brings other compelling elements to an already complex plot line: the priest who serves as Shay's spiritual adviser was on the jury that sentenced him; Shay's ACLU representative, Maggie Bloom, balances her professional moxie with her negative self-image and difficult relationship with her mother. Picoult moves the story along with lively debates about prisoner rights and religion, while plumbing the depths of mother-daughter relationships and examining the literal and metaphorical meanings of having heart. The point-of-view switches are abrupt, but this is a small flaw in an impressive book.

You can keep your daughter alive, but only if she hosts the heart of the person you hate most in this world.  Would you give up your vengeance against someone you hate if it meant saving someone you love?

These are the thoughts of June Nealon, the mother of Claire who needs a heart transplant.  June has suffered the loss no parent should ever have to deal with, the death of her first child Elizabeth.  Now the killer, Shay Bourne and on death row, wants to give his heart to her second daughter after he is executed.  What do you do?

While traveling down this prickly path we meet Father Michael who, eleven years earlier was on the jury that sentenced Shay to death and is now his spiritual adviser.  Lucius DuFresne is in the cell next to Shay.  Lucius was a Professor of art before prison.  He is a convicted murderer of his boyfriend who he caught cheating on him, and also suffers and is dying from aids.  Maggie Bloom the ACLU attorney who is going to help Shay with having his heart donated.  The story is told by these four people and the text type is different for each one.  That was a nice touch.

Odd miracles start occurring and the thought is Shay is behind them.  A crowd is now forming outside the prison and the whole situation is turning into a circus.  Maggie is trying to fight for Shay to be hung instead of lethal injection since that will render his heart useless.  Fr. Mike is trying to convince June to accept this gift, Lucius is trying to deal with what is happening on their cell block.

I really liked this book a lot.  While describing it to my hubby during dinner he and my older son said, "Ya know you're describing the Green Mile with Tom Hanks", then my son went on to ask why Stephen King hasn't sued Picoult over this :p.  Well, yes, the similarities between Green Mile and Change of Heart are quite striking, but that didn't change my feelings on this book.  I was gripped by the subject, hurting so for June Nealon and trying to understand the other characters dilemma's.  Sometimes I got angry, other times I was sad.  I don't want to give to much away, but this was a great book.

I have now read two of her books, the other being Nineteen Minutes, which was also excellent and it is classic Picoult taking contemporary subjects that provoke such strong debate and feelings and putting it into a book.

4 cannolis

Friday, March 11, 2011

Blog Hop

This Hop is hosted by Jennifer from Crazy-For-Books, and it runs through the weekend, so if you can't today, hop on tomorrow!  Just remember, go to her site, follow the rules, visit some of the blogs and get to know em, if you start to follow tell em you met them through the hop!

This weeks ? -

 "If I gave you £50 (or $80) and sent you into a bookshop right now, what would be in your basket when you finally staggered to the till?"

Hhhmmmm, often I fly by the seat of my pants when I'm in a book store, but lets see what I can come up with...

  1. Shadowfever by Karen Marie Moning.  I am dying to finish this series!!  What is Jerricho, never mind that he is just awesome, and I love Mac too! 
  2.  This Side Of The Grave by Jeaniene Frost.  I love Cat and Bones, and Bones is in the top 3 of Vamps hands down!
  3. Dead Reckoning by Charlaine Harris.  Well, I am a die hard True Blooder and I can NOT wait for this baby to come out!
  4.  Lover Unleashed by J.R. Ward.  Ya gotta love the Brothers!  And this one is about Vishous' twin sis Payne
  5. Changeless by Gail Carriger.  I loved book 1 and I am behind!!  There are now 3 more out. 
  6. Magic Slays by Ilona Andrews.  Come on how can you not love Curran and Kate!  This is a great series for sure. 
  7. Bayou Moon by Ilona Andrews.  This is book 2 in her newest series and I really liked #1 and the world she weaved.  Rose and Declan were great.   

ShadowfeverThis Side of the Grave (Night Huntress, Book 5)Dead Reckoning (Sookie Stackhouse, Book 11) 
Lover Unleashed (Black Dagger Brotherhood, Book 9)Changeless (The Parasol Protectorate)Magic Slays (Kate Daniels, Book 5) 
Bayou Moon (The Edge, Book 2) 

That takes my total to $77.  I could probably find a discount book as I browsed, but I think this does it for me. Now these are all traditional books I didn't bother looking into if I could have weedled more with the kindle versions and a couple are not out for a few weeks yet.  Wow heavy pnr/uf going on here!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Some Interesting Books

While getting my nails done I was browsing through More Magazine.  I came across some really interesting sounding books that I may have to add to my tbr pile.  Yes I know it's supposed to be shrinking my tbr challenge!  I hear ya ;) of course I will check my library before I even think of purchasing, if I even do that at all.  I just thought these sounded like books I'd wanna read and you might think so too.

Cinderella Ate My Daughter: Dispatches from the Front Lines of the New Girlie-Girl Culture
Cinderella Ate My Daughter
Peggy Orenstein
256 pgs.

Amazon Blurb -

The acclaimed author of the groundbreaking bestseller Schoolgirls reveals the dark side of pink and pretty: the rise of the girlie-girl, she warns, is not that innocent.
Pink and pretty or predatory and hardened, sexualized girlhood influences our daughters from infancy onward, telling them that how a girl looks matters more than who she is. Somewhere between the exhilarating rise of Girl Power in the 1990s and today, the pursuit of physical perfection has been recast as a source—the source—of female empowerment. And commercialization has spread the message faster and farther, reaching girls at ever-younger ages.
But, realistically, how many times can you say no when your daughter begs for a pint-size wedding gown or the latest Hannah Montana CD? And how dangerous is pink and pretty anyway—especially given girls' successes in the classroom and on the playing field? Being a princess is just make-believe, after all; eventually they grow out of it. Or do they? Does playing Cinderella shield girls from early sexualization—or prime them for it? Could today's little princess become tomorrow's sexting teen? And what if she does? Would that make her in charge of her sexuality—or an unwitting captive to it?
Those questions hit home with Peggy Orenstein, so she went sleuthing. She visited Disneyland and the international toy fair, trolled American Girl Place and Pottery Barn Kids, and met beauty pageant parents with preschoolers tricked out like Vegas showgirls. She dissected the science, created an online avatar, and parsed the original fairy tales. The stakes turn out to be higher than she—or we—ever imagined: nothing less than the health, development, and futures of our girls. From premature sexualization to the risk of depression to rising rates of narcissism, the potential negative impact of this new girlie-girl culture is undeniable—yet armed with awareness and recognition, parents can effectively counterbalance its influence in their daughters' lives.
You Know When the Men Are Gone
You Know When The Men Are Gone
Siobhan Fallon
Amy Einhorn/Putnam Books
240 pgs.

Amazon Blurb -

Starred Review. The crucial role of military wives becomes clear in Fallon's powerful, resonant debut collection, where the women are linked by absence and a pervading fear that they'll become war widows. In the title story, a war bride from Serbia finds she can't cope with the loneliness and her outsider status, and chooses her own way out. The wife in "Inside the Break" realizes that she can't confront her husband's probable infidelity with a female soldier in Iraq; as in other stories, there's a gap between what she can imagine and what she can bear to know. In "Remission," a cancer patient waiting on the results of a crucial test is devastated by the behavior of her teenage daughter, and while the trials of adolescence are universal, this story is particularized by the unique tensions between military parents and children. One of the strongest stories, "You Survived the War, Now Survive the Homecoming," attests to the chasm separating men who can't speak about the atrocities they've experienced and their wives, who've lived with their own terrible burdens. Fallon writes with both grit and grace: her depiction of military life is enlivened by telling details, from the early morning sound of boots stomping down the stairs to the large sign that tallies automobile fatalities of troops returned from Iraq. Significant both as war stories and love stories, this collection certifies Fallon as an indisputable talent.
Tiger, Tiger: A Memoir

Tiger Tiger
Margaux Fragoso
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
336 pgs.

Amazon Blurb -
In this gut-wrenching memoir of sexual abuse, Fragoso, who has written short stories for various literary magazines, explores with unflinching honesty the ways in which pedophiles can manipulate their way into the lives of children. Fragoso met Peter Curran at a public pool in Union City, N.J., in 1985 when she was seven and he was 51. He seemed harmless, and invited Fragoso and her mother back to his house. This marked the beginning of Curran and Fragoso's 15-year relationship, which ended when Curran committed suicide at age 66. Fragoso's home life was strained—her mother was in and out of psychiatric wards and her father was an alcoholic—and Curran's home, with its myriad pets and lack of rules, became her refuge. The sexual abuse began slowly, progressing to oral sex in Curran's basement, an act that he requested as a "birthday present." Fragoso's sense of alienation—Curran controlled her world for more than half her life—is palpable in her telling. Using her own diaries and the myriad letters, diaries, and photographs Curran left behind, Fragoso eloquently depicts psychological and sexual abuse in disturbing detail.

Yes, 2 are non-fiction the last being on the disturbing side, but intriguing even though.  Maybe some book club choices in there.

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