Jun 30, 2009

Host the Host Contest

I have joined the blog tour for The Host (Little, Brown and Company, 2008) by Stephenie Meyer best known for her Twilight Series. I read this book and thoroughly enjoyed it, but never got around to writing a review. My excuse is that The Host is more SF than fantasy.

However, I did have a chance to interview Stephenie at the behest of Library Journal. Hope you have time to read it.

Blurb: "Our world has been invaded by an unseen enemy. Humans become hosts for these invaders, their minds taken over while their bodies remain intact and continue their lives apparently unchanged. Most of humanity has succumbed.

When Melanie, one of the few remaining "wild" humans, is captured, she is certain it is her end. Wanderer, the invading "soul" who has been given Melanie's body, was warned about the challenges of living inside a human: the overwhelming emotions, the glut of senses, the too-vivid memories. But there was one difficulty Wanderer didn't expect: the former tenant of her body refusing to relinquish possession of her mind.

When outside forces make Wanderer and Melanie unwilling allies, they set off on a dangerous and uncertain search for the man they both love.

One of the most compelling writers of our time, Stephenie Meyer brings us a riveting and unforgettable novel about the persistence of love and the very essence of what it means to be human."

Now for the contest. Hatchette Books is offering a copy of The Host to five winners.

Rules are easy. Leave a comment and/or link to this contest. Each comment or link gives you an entry.

CAVEAT: This contest is only open to US and Canadian residents. And no PO Box addresses.

The contest will run from June 30 - July 21.

Best of luck to everyone!

Awards and Gratitude

Special thanks to Jo at Paper and Pen for presenting PVNwith the Lemonade Award (for showing great attitude and gratitude). Jo does an excellent job discussing and reviewing fantasy books!

Link back to the person he/she received the award from.
Nominate 10 bloggers who are deserving of this award.

Here are my nominees for the Lemonade Award:

Biting Edge

Bitten by Books

The Galaxy Express

Fantasy & Sci-Fi Lovin' GIVEAWAYS

Grasping for the Wind

Robots and Vamps

Erotic Horizon

West Of Mars - Win A Book

LadyVampire's Lair


I so appreciate the Heartfelt Award award from Breia [a PVN reveiwer] She has recently begun her own exemplary blog Literaturely Speaking.

Do you reach for a cup of cocoa or tea when your relaxing, seeking comfort, sharing a plate of cookies with family & friends? You know that feeling you get when you drink a yummy cup of cocoa, tea ~or a hot toddy? That is what the Hearthfelt Award is all about, feeling warm inside.
1) Put the logo on your blog/post

2) Nominate up to 9 blogs which make you feel comfy or warm inside.

3) Be sure to link to your nominees within your post.

4) Let them know that they have been nominated by commenting on their blog.

5) Remember to link to the person from whom you received your award.

Here are my nominees for Heartfelt Award

Books Books and more Books

Sharon Kay Penman

Midnight Moon Cafe

Fantasy Dreamer's Ramblings

Sidhe Vicious Reviews

Tez Says

Vampire Wire

Something Wicked

Suburban Trash

And I must say there are so many more fabulous blogs that the lists could go on forever!

Jun 28, 2009

The Sinful Life of Lucy Burns - Review

The Sinful Life of Lucy Burns
by Elizabeth Leiknes
Bancroft Press, 2009

[reviewed by Patricia]

It all started very innocently. Lucy's sister Emily was badly hurt in an accident. She became comatose and recovery looked unlikely. So Lucy wrote a pleading letter To Whom It May Concern, placed in a secret mailbox (where she and Emily also placed their Dear Santa letters). To everyone's delight Emily miraculously recovered, and Lucy had a reply to her secret letter. "Dear Lucy, Happy Birthday! I'll be in touch", and that's how it began.

Years later Lucy is in the employ of the Devil. She works as His facilitator on earth. Whenever some evil soul is ready for their last journey, Lucy lures him (or her) to the fiery basement of her house which happens to be an entrance to hell. I picture our heroine as a metaphysical Dexter.

Her job offers several perks. She is gorgeous and ageless. She can easily afford designer clothes, and will always fit into small sizes since large quantities of tempting foods will never cause a weight gain. Still she hates her job! The down side means no contact with her family, no chance of ever having a husband and children, she's not even allowed a regular boyfriend. She wants out, a seeming impossibility until someone tells her about the loophole. That's when things really get difficult.

Lucy's often comic travails are hilariously told by author Elizabeth Leiknes who, dare I say, has a wicked sense of humor. Many times I found myself laughing out loud. Like the time the pressures of the job got so severe that, at her own party, Lucy drinks one too many martinis, desperately seeks the bathroom, pees in the coat closet instead, passes out, and wakes up to see the face of an extraordinarily attractive man. I hope you get the idea. The author writes the scene so much better than I can describe it.

Despite working for Him, Lucy is an endearing character with a lot of love in her heart. You want everything to turn out right for her. This is a short book that can be easily read in a day and is guaranteed to lighten your spirits.

A Flash of Hex - Review

A Flash of Hex
Jes Battis
Ace (May 26, 2009)
ISBN: 978-0-441-01723-2

[reviewed by Melissa Parker]

A Flash of Hex is the second book in a paranormal series by Jes Battis. I did not read the first book, but I want to now. I did not really feel as if I were missing important pieces of information; the second book stood well on its own. Tess is an agent with magical powers. She needs to find a serial-killing demon. Helping her is a rather motley group. There is Derrick, her gay partner and co-custodian of Mia, a 14-year-old girl who will turn into a vampire. There is Lucian, who can bring back the dead, and he and Tess are in a forbidden romance. Miles is another agent who can see invisible forces. Wolfie is a street kid who has control over fire. Patrick is a teenager who will become a lead vampire. With a group like this, what could go wrong? This book has a lot of action in it. There are good fight scenes between varieties of paranormal figures. There is also mystery and romance. A few sex scenes, but nothing too over the top. I hope Battis continues this series. I will continue to read it if he does. I would recommend it to fans of paranormal books.

Reviewed for Patricia's Vampire Notes by Melissa A. Palmer

Night Child (OSI, Book 1)
Ace (May 27, 2008).

Vampire Article by Rona Sharon

I have not yet had a chance to read Royal Blood by Rona Sharon, but hope to remedy that soon. Meanwhile below is an article by Sharon on our favorite topic VAMPIRES!!

Blood, Fire, and Pillars of Smoke: The Rise of Vampires in Pop Culture
By Rona Sharon

As popular themes go, vampires may very well win the prize of "most commonly resurrected." You may love them, hate them, or are trying very hard to ignore them, but surely you have wondered at least once what made the damned princes of darkness so bloody interesting.

If you prefer "real world" storylines and are observing the phenomenon as a baffled bystander, you might be interested to know that thousands of years before achieving mass popularity in movies such as Underworld and Twilight, and TV series like True Blood, vampires had manifested in pagan mythology, monotheistic demonology, and spiritual rituals.

Throughout history, vampire myths appeared in nearly every culture. From the ancient Middle East (Mesopotamia, Judea, Egypt), these archetypical baddies invaded Europe, where they found fertile soil in Slavic paganism, and also materialized in Africa, Asia, and the Aztec Empire.

Curiously, the earliest vampires were females -- violent dark goddesses like the Sumerian Lilitu, the Egyptian Sekhmet, and the Indian Kali, all possessing immense supernatural forces. These vampiric goddesses had both the powers to create and to destroy, to give birth and to devour.

In the Dark Ages, tales of vampires sparked public hysteria. Corpses were exhumed and stabbed. It had taken the vampire various reincarnations, through the Hebrew Talmud, Arabian Nights, Boccaccio's Il Decameron, and eclectic poetry to reemerge as the suave ageless nobleman.

This 19th century "makeover" was a direct outcome of the violent volcanic eruption in Indonesia in 1815. The Judgment Day atmosphere caused by dark skies and a frosty summer inspired Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, as well as plays and operas starring the alluring vampire lord.

From this point on, the revenants' star was on the rise and shining ever so brightly with each literary, musical, or theatrical piece conceived (oftentimes as a result of consuming laudanum) in their honor. Lord Byron, Edgar Allen Poe, and Alexandre Dumas, to name a few, contributed to their eternal fame, but it was the Irish novelist Bram Stoker's Draculathat had the mightiest impact on the imagination and cast the glory of the bloodthirsty count and his court in perpetuity.

Evidently the public's fascination with vampires is not an original fad. The vampire is the most popular fiction character of all times. What is it about vampires exactly that appeals to so many people? And why, being familiar with this totally fictitious half-man, half-monster icon, people are still happy to spend their time on movies, books, and TV series that feature vampires?

Entertainment and escapism come to mind. As much as we are riveted by "real world" plots, sometimes the brain needs to zone out in fantasyland. This explanation is plausible, but it fails to prove why the vampire in particular outperforms any other fantastical creature.

We should keep in mind that the vampire has only recently assumed the role of the compelling, gothic, martyred, seductive, gorgeous, off-limits, struggling, sympathetic, romantic outcast in love with a human. The slick hunk in black leather pants, driving a sports car in a metropolis by night, was not the bloodcurdling image that had haunted the graveyards of our ancestors.

Granted, the spooky effect has value. Sexologists believe that scary moments stimulate the libido and therefore couples may bond effectively having watched a horror movie together. However, while this theory is bound to stick in your memory, it does not offer sufficient evidence, either.

Vampires, whether pale and beautiful or ghoulishly foul, have always been identified with death, blood-drinking, and sex, feeding on emotions such as love, guilt, dread, desire, pity, and sadism.

Far be it from me to undertake psychoanalyzing why we are obsessed with death, blood, and sex. In my capacity as a historical novelist, I choose to explore the mysteries of the human psyche through stories in the hopes of understanding why we were put on this earth and how we may improve our lot in life. Ironically, as I study the tapestry of man's fleeting existence, I see how the fruits of one generation's labor -- art, science, architecture, etc. -- are reaped by its successors.

Now, a vampire -- omnipotent, never-aging, and immortal -- may travel the centuries unscathed, unconstrained by a deadline in his pursuit of enlightenment and happiness. Would he or she be a cheerful voyager or one cursed with loneliness? Then there is the future to consider. What if the world and/or mankind are doomed to a cataclysmic end? Would anyone care to witness that?

Vampire symbolism is tied in heavily with the awareness of the powers of darkness, chaos, and the occult -- ancient mysteries that add a chilling dimension to the rich layers of history and cast a question mark on the future. Doomsday prophecies made for an absorbing read as I was doing research back in 2007 for Royal Blood, my Tudor Vampires novel. Here's an example:

"Awake, ye drunkards, and weep . . . For a nation is come up upon my land, strong, and without number, whose teeth are the teeth of a lion . . . Sound an alarm in my holy mountain: let all the inhabitants of the land tremble: for the day of the Lord cometh, for it is nigh at hand . . . And I will shew wonders in the heavens and in the earth, blood, and fire, and pillars of smoke. The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and the terrible day of the Lord come."

– Book of Joel

The vampire -- a human lookalike possessed of superior abilities, as well as frailties, dependent on man for sustenance, multifaceted and obscure -- remains an enigmatic figure. Friend or foe? Through him, we get to experience latent fancies and scenes in which the secrets of creation are unraveled. Thank heavens for fiction, I say. The world, I predict, has not seen the last of the vampire crazes. The undead are here to stay, our prolific imagination will undoubtedly continue to produce them, and even the most discriminating realist may yet cross over to the dark side.

©2009 Rona Sharon, author of Royal Blood
Author Bio
Rona Sharon is the author of critically acclaimed historical novels of intrigue, passion, and danger. Her latest, Royal Blood, is a tale of lust and violence in the treacherous Tudor Court. From her home on the Mediterranean Coast in Tel Aviv, surrounded by thousands of years of history, Rona brings her passion for culture and travel to her writing and never fails to deliver a story that carries a punch . . . and a dagger.

For more information please visit www.ronasharon.com

Jun 24, 2009

Ann Aguirre - Interview and Contest

The contest portion is now closed. Many thanks to all who visited and/or commented!

PVN welcomes Ann Aguirre author of Blue Diablo: A Corine Solomon Novel (Roc, April 2009), book one in a new urban fantasy series.

"In her life, Ann has been a clown, a clerk, a savior of stray kittens, and a voice actress, not necessarily in that order. She grew up in a yellow house across from a cornfield, but now she lives in a terracotta adobe house with her husband and two adorable children"

Ann is a multi-published author in the SFF world. I'm so happy that she took time from her busy life to answer a few questions.

Glad you could be here, Ann!

PVN: Corine has has suffered much in her life. I see her as wounded, even fragile, and yet very courageous. Please tell us how you see this complex character?

Ann: I agree with you, although I doubt Corine would see herself as courageous. She simply does what must be done, even when she doesn't want to. That's the mark of a true heroine, I think: someone who steps up even when she'd rather be watching TV.

In a world filled with Big Bads, she is definitely fragile, both physically and emotionally. She doesn't have super-speed or amazing combat skills, which makes it tough for her to survive. She has one single gift and she does the best to deploy it helpfully, despite the cost.

PVN: Discuss Corine's relationship with Chance, her former lover.

Ann: Corine's life has left her craving home and hearth, which makes what Jesse Saldana offers all the more alluring. He can provide her with something Chance never can, no matter how much he loves her, for he has only Min and a wealth of secrets he has not shared. Jesse has a Gifted family to offer; he could provide her with ther normalcy and acceptance she'd always wanted. Unquestionably, he would be safe the choice. But she does have unresolved feelings for Chance, and I don't know which way she'll go.

Her relationship with Chance is tense and fraught with complication. He's intensely private, and his emotional distance, as much as her accident, drove her away in the first place. There are real dangers, as presented by his gift, but if she had been emotionally fulfilled, she probably would've stayed, despite the risk. He loves Corine very much, but he has secret ties and hidden loyalties with which he cannot trust her. She sees that lack of trust as a sign that he doesn't really love her--that he sees her as a convenience. That is certainly not true, but Chance has too many emotional barriers to break them down readily. But he's trying.

PVN: Police Detective Jesse Saldana introduces Corine to the "underground". Would you explain what the "underground" is?

Ann: Imagine our world. Then imagine there's a secret society of Gifted individuals, living quietly among us. Gifts tend to run in family lines; it's genetic inheritance. The Gifted also tend to marry within their own ranks, thus strengthening the traits. In modern times, they keep in touch via the Internet. It's basically a quiet subculture of the population, and they keep it so because they remember the witch hunts in the Middle Ages. The victims were not always magical practitioners; sometimes they were Gifted folk who were in the wrong place at the wrong time. They remember the persecution, and so they keep things quiet. Corine, since she is not naturally Gifted, and was born to a witch who bestowed her power through a spell, had no way of knowing this network existed.

PVN: Butch the chihuahua is such a sweet surprise. Will he continue to play a role in future books?

Ann: Butch is a great character. I love him. He actually has a secret, which will come out over the course of the series. Because of his unexpected popularity, I actually made some Blue Diablo gear here and here, featuring Butch. And yes, he is now Corine's dog; he'll be present until the end.

PVN: How many books are planned for the series? Do you have any pub dates?

Ann: I sold three books in the first contract. As they come out once a year, I haven't sent any option material. I had in mind at least six books, but Penguin has let me know they are open to a long-running series, providing the sales support such a move. Hell Fire comes out April 2010, and Shady Lady comes out April 2011.

PVN; What attracts you to the paranormal?

Ann: I really love writing books that are one step from our reality, where the world feels familiar but there's just enough difference to make it intriguing. Plus, there's the added bonus of making up your own rules.

PVN: You have another successful series, this time set in the science fiction arena and featuring heroine Sirantha Jax. Would you tell us something about this series?

Ann: Jax is a jumper, which means she can navigate faster-than-light ships through a subspace known as grimspace. That's like a fold in straight space, allowing them to cross great distances in a blink. Unfortunately, it carries a high burnout rate, and she's the oldest jumper still working. She's a survivor, first and foremost; she loves her own skin best. For some Jax is too abrasive; others love her because she breaks a lot of the feminine molds. She's selfish sometimes, and she does what's best for her. As the series progresses, she learns to value other people, and she learns to sacrifice. I think the series has a great character arc. If you like SF antiheroines, you might well enjoy it.

PVN: What is your writing environment and your writing day like?

Ann: I write from 9-2:30 either in my office or on Pinkie, my Ibook. At 2:30 (sometimes 4 if they have afternoon activities) it’s time for me to go pick the kids up from school. Hopefully, I will have met my 3K a day word count by that point, as the afternoon turns into a flurry of activities, errands, helping with homework, and then dinner. Typically we’ll do something as a family afterward for an hour or two: talk, play a game, or watch some TV.

If I fell shy, then I get back to work in the early evening and make up the difference. When I’m working on a project, I live by 3K a day. Then I let it sit for a bit before going back to see what I need to fix. If I need a second opinion before turning it in, I have my husband or one of my crit partners look at it. If I’m confident of the book, it goes straight to Laura Bradford, my agent, and Anne Sowards or Cindy Hwang, my editors.

PVN: Are there particular books or authors that inspired you to be a writer?

Ann: I always wanted to be an author, but it was hearing Shel Silverstein read when I was 9 that made me think, OMG, this is the coolest job in the world.

PVN: What do you do for relaxation?

Ann: I read, watch TV or movies, take walks, go to the park, listen to music, or play video games.

PVN: Where can readers find you on the web?

Ann: I'm at http://www.annaguirre.com & http://www.avagray.com and I love hearing from readers.

PVN: Ann, it has been such a pleasure having you here. Thank you!

Contest information:

One lucky commenter will win a signed copy of Blue Diablo

For a chance to win do one or more of the following:

* Leave a comment on any topic in the interview - one chance

* Ask Ann a question - one chance

* Link to this interview to your own site or a social network site, and be sure to let me know the URL - one chance

*Be certain I have access to your email address.

The contest runs from 8 AM June 24 until 11:59 PM June 26

Jun 22, 2009

Upcoming Event - Ann Aguirre - Interview and Contest

On Wednesday June 24 Patricia's Vampire Notes will welcome Ann Aguirre author of Blue Diablo: A Corine Solomon Novel (Roc, April 2009), book one in a new urban fantasy series.

"In her life, Ann has been a clown, a clerk, a savior of stray kittens, and a voice actress, not necessarily in that order. She grew up in a yellow house across from a cornfield, but now she lives in a terracotta adobe house with her husband and two adorable children"

Be sure to stop by for an entertaining interview and a chance to win a copy of Blue Diablo

Read the PVN review

Midnight Reign - Vampire Book Review

Green, Chris Marie. Midnight Reign: Vampire Babylon, Book Two. Ace, Feb. 5, 2008. ISBN: 978-0-441-01560-3.

[reviewed by Patricia]

Hollywood stunt-woman Dawn Morgan continues the search for her father, Frank, who went missing in Night Rising (Ace, 2007) the first book of Green's Vampire Babylon series. Along with her team members, the psychic Kiko and the tech-savvy Breisi, Dawn has learned that within a haven for the undead called the Underground lie many of the secrets that could point to Frank's whereabouts as well as solve the mysterious, vicious vampire-like murders of two young women. Working with them in this quest is the mysterious Jonah Limpet, a man Dawn has yet to see, who feeds them information and guides them toward their mutual goal. The novel's tone is dark, dramatic, and erotic. Green writes a complex story with well defined characters and more than enough paranormal mystery to keep readers enthralled from beginning to end.

Patricia Altner for Library Journal
Reprinted with permission of Reed Business Information.

All email subcribers will have a chance to win a copy of Midnight Reign this month.

Jun 18, 2009

Magic in the Blood - Review

Magic in the Blood (Allie Beckstrom)
by Devon Monk
Roc, 2009

[reviewed by Patricia]

Allie Beckstrom's wealthy father has been murdered. This much she knows for certain. She saw him only moments before his death, so how is it possible that on this particular morning she clearly sees him in her apartment, looking at her in anger. She backs away, but he follow and when close enough whispers in her ear, "Seek!". Then he disappears and Allie is left filled with fear. She has no understanding of what he wants from her. His ghostly visit leaves her paralyzed with terror.

This second installment of Devon Monk's Allison Beckstrom series is dark and frightening at times. Allie works in the city of Portland as a Hound. In a time when magical energy is easily accessible, Hounds are used to track down the source of those casting spells. She also uses magic as part of the job but in the short span of time since her last adventure something in the magical world has changed. Not all of it immediately obvious.

Unlike others Allie is able to hold magic within her body. For anyone else to even attempt such a feat would be suicidal. Neither she nor anyone else understands why she has this ability. Unfortunately her magic can be difficult to control. Walking down a familiar street she begins to hallucinate, seeing death glyphs appear and ghostly images of pastel colored people who suddenly notice her and begin their attack. They are fast and vicious, taking huge bites and swallowing great gobs of her magic. Allie barely escapes with her life. More complications arise: a Hounding job for the police goes badly wrong; a friend is hideously murdered, and a powerful practitioner of blood and death magics attempts to open a forbidden doorway

Monk has written a magic and mystery thriller even more enthralling than Magic to the Bone (Allie Beckstrom). Don't miss this one!

Jun 16, 2009

Karen Chance - Interview and Contest

The contest portion is now closed. Many thanks to all who visited and/or commented!
A warm welcome to Karen Chance author of the popular, and vampire friendly, Cassandra Palmer series. In April book four, Curse the Dawn, made the New York Times bestseller list, and deservedly so.

Many thanks for taking the time for this interview!

PVN: Thousands of books are published each year. What sets the Cassandra Palmer Series apart from those other books?

Karen: A number of things. First it’s structured differently. Most urban fantasies tend to lean either toward the mystery genre, where the lead is a supernatural detective, or to the romance genre, where the story centers around the growing relationship between two otherworldly lovers. The Cassie Palmer series has elements of both mystery and romance, but it’s more of a fantasy thriller than anything else. It also has a somewhat unusual plotline, in which each book has its own plot that’s wrapped up at the end, but there’s also an ongoing meta-plot that continues through all of the books.

And then there’s the lead character. I wanted to do something a little different, and no one had a clairvoyant as their lead, much less one brought up by the vampire mafia! I also wanted to do time-travel in the books, because I’m a historian by profession. Cassie, my lead character, became the pythia. It's the title of the world’s chief clairvoyant (based on the ancient Greek oracle at Delphi), who can not only see the past, but travel into it.

Finally, it must be said that in a sea of kick-butt heroines, Cassie is, uh, different. A recent review characterized her as “a smarter Inspector Clouseau” which made me laugh because it’s so true. A bunch of power was dumped in her lap, but the training to manage it didn’t come as part of the deal and she didn’t exactly take that in stride. I always thought it was a little too convenient when characters in novels or comic books had a life altering event which they just seemed to blow off. If I was suddenly able to fly or punch down buildings--or time travel like Cassie--I don’t think I’d take it so well, and neither did she. Of course, there’s a learning curve happening, and she is slowly becoming more capable. But seeing her flail around like any normal person would has been a lot of fun.

PVN: Which book in the Cassandra Palmer series is your favorite?

Curse the Dawn, probably. It was not the most fun to write, mind you—I tore my hair out over that book! But it’s the one I most proud of, maybe for that same reason. It also has several scenes I’d wanted to do for some time, but couldn’t because the foundation wasn’t there. So it was nice to finally get to that point in the plotline.

PVN: Who is your favorite character in this series?

Karen: I don’t really have a favorite. I like them all, even the villains! However, Billy Joe (Cassie’s ghost companion), Mircea (her vampire lover) and Pritkin (her war mage bodyguard) are the easiest to write. Cassie can sometimes be more difficult, because I have to constantly keep in mind what she knows and what she can do at this point in the story. The other characters develop emotionally as the story progresses, but she is not only growing up, she’s also growing into her power. I have to pull myself back sometimes and say, no, she wouldn’t be able to do that yet.

PVN: Like many I find the war mage Pritkin especially fascinating. What can you say about him without spoilers, of course?

Karen: John Pritkin is part of the war mage corps, the body charged with maintaining the peace in the supernatural world. Most of the time, the corps acts like a police force, running down those who break magical laws and bringing them for trial. But the recent war in the supernatural community has forced them to also act as an army, and Pritkin is at the forefront of the fight. He has the unenviable task of trying to keep Cassandra Palmer, the chief seer of the supernatural world, alive when the list people who want her dead seems to grow every day.

Protecting Cassie causes Pritkin frequent nightmares, but the most dangerous aspect of their relationship may be the growing attraction between them. Cassie is claimed by a powerful master vampire, Mircea, who can be utterly ruthless when protecting what he views as his. Pritkin also has compelling reasons of his own for avoiding intimacy. Yet temptation can be so hard to resist…

PVN: Would you mind talking about the body switching between Pritkin and Cassie. It was so cleverly written. How was it for you to write it?

Karen: I really enjoyed that one! All books have certain elements that have to be present in order for the plot to come together; the trick is to also make them enjoyable to read. I think in this case, plot exposition also ended up being very funny!

PVN: Please describe Dante's?

Karen: It’s a casino in Las Vegas that features prominently in the books as a sort of base of operations for Cassie. Her vampire protector, Mircea, owns it, so it’s as safe as anywhere for her. A lot of the comedy of the books comes out of Dante’s, which was designed with the idea of concealing any slip ups of the paranormal kind. It’s sort of a demented haunted house, with shops, restaurants and bars themed to almost any kind of supernatural motif imaginable.

PVN: Cassie is a pythia. What is a pythia and why does Cassie have so much trouble doing her job?

Karen: The pythia was the ancient Greek name for a seer, with the most famous of all being the oracle at Delphi. The Cassandra Palmer series is set in a world where the pythia still exists and is an important force in the supernatural hierarchy. As to why Cassie has problems with her job, that’s easy: no one ever taught her how to do it. Her clairvoyance is natural, but the rest of the job (and there is a lot more to it) is not. As she was never considered for the role, she was never given the proper training. She is figuring things out, but it takes time. Maybe more than she has.

PVN: Curse the Dawn debuted at #7 on the April 26, 2009 New York Times Bestseller list! - How did it feel making the NYT bestseller list?

Karen: Embrace the Night, the previous Cassandra Palmer novel, debuted at #6, so this wasn’t the first time the series showed up in the top ten. That being said, it was wonderful to make the list again. It’s great when fans of the series enjoy it enough to rush out and get the book when it is first available, because making the list helps to spread word about the series.

PVN: Dorina Basarab is the dhampir (half-human, half-vampire) heroine in her own series. Would you describe Dory's character and what some of her challenges are?
[Midnight's Daughter (Dorina Basarab, Dhampir, Book 1)]

Karen: Dory is pretty much persona non grata in the supernatural world. She is hated and feared by vampires as a creature who traditionally has preyed on their kind. But she isn’t liked much better by humans, because dhampirs in my world are prone to rage-fueled black outs that are as frightening as they are dangerous. This has left her in limbo for much of her life, with seriously strained family relationships and few friends. That is starting to change, however, as Dory finds a niche for herself in the most unlikely of places: the middle of a war in the supernatural community. Suddenly, her special skills are needed and valued, even if she herself is not.

Dracula has a role in Dorina's life. How much of Bram Stoker's Dracula is like the vampire you write about?

Karen: They were both based on legends about Vlad the Impaler (Vlad Tepes, a fifteenth century ruler of Wallachia) and they’re both vampires, but that’s about it. My Dracula was a psychopathic killer with a serious grudge against his elder brother, Mircea, who had helped to imprison him.

PVN: What attracts you to the paranormal?

Karen: I like the scope it provides for imagination and inventiveness. There are things you can do in fantasy that you simply can’t get away with in any other genre (except for maybe science fiction) and that presents a chance to do something new.

PVN: Are there particular books or authors that inspired you to be a writer?

Karen: That list would be very, very long!. I have always read eclectically, and have enjoyed works in many genres. I suppose that is why I write books that blend fantasy with mystery, comedy, thrillers and romance—because I’ve enjoyed books in all of those genres. I also read in science fiction, horror, and historical fiction.

PVN: Do you have any favorite paranormal TV programs or movies?

Karen: I like True Blood. Charlaine Harris’s books are always fun, and the producers managed to bring them to life without butchering them (a rare feat). I liked the Dresden Files, too, and was sorry it didn’t stay around longer. And, of course, I liked Buffy. Everyone liked Buffy. It was the single most influential fantasy TV show in recent memory.

PVN: Describe your writing environment and your writing day.

Karen: My writing “day” is usually at night, because I just seem to think better then. As for my environment…

You know, I was asked a while ago to take a photo of my office for a web page. I felt a little intimidated, because most of the other offices they had displayed were well-appointed, uber-organized and sparklingly clean spaces, like something off a film set. Whereas mine…well, I’ll just say that, at the moment, my office/storeroom/exercise room contains mainly chewed up doggie toys, piles of books I haven’t gotten around to reading yet, notes I left myself that I no longer understand, old sneakers and various scattered CDs. There’s a computer wedged in there, too, which I use when I can find it.

PVN: What do you do for relaxation?

Karen: Not a lot these days! I always find it funny when people tell me, “Oh, you’re an author? You must have tons of free time!” Not so much. I actually spend way more time at my job now than I ever did at any nine-to-five occupation. Putting out two books a year, plus novellas and short stories, plus the editing and promotional duties that come with the job, keeps me very busy! When I do get a chance to relax, I like to travel, read, cook, and just hang out with friends.

PVN: How can readers find you on the web?

Karen: My website is www.KarenChance.com. News about the series, contests and sample chapters can be found there.

Cassandra Palmer series:

Touch the Dark (Cassandra Palmer, Book 1)

Claimed by Shadow (Cassandra Palmer, Book 2)

Embrace the Night (Cassandra Palmer Series, Book 3)

Curse the Dawn (Cassandra Palmer, Book 4)

Dorina Basarab series:

Midnight's Daughter (Dorina Basarab, Dhampir, Book 1)

Death's Mistress (Dorina Basarab, Book 2)
[pub date is January 5, 2010]

Contest information:

One lucky commenter will each win signed copies of Embrace the Night (Cassandra Palmer Series, Book 3) and Curse the Dawn (Cassandra Palmer, Book 4).

To be eligible do one or more of the following:

* Leave a comment on any topic in the interview
* Ask Karen a question
* Link to this interview to your own site or a social network site, and be sure to let me know the URL
*Leave your email address.

Contest ends June 18 at 11:59 PM Pacific Time

Jun 14, 2009

Upcoming Event - Karen Chance - Interview and Contest

On Tuesday June 16, PVN will host an interview with Karen Chance author of the Cassandra Palmer Series.

"Karen claims to have recently grown bored with the life of a jet-setting supermodel and to have decided to turn her hand to literary pursuits.

All I can say is thank goodness! Her literary pursuits have resulted in several exciting, popular novels.

Be sure to stop by for an informative interview and a chance to win signed copies of Curse the Dawn (Cassandra Palmer, Book 4) and Embrace the Night (Cassandra Palmer Series, Book 3).

Read the PVN review of Curse the Dawn HERE

A Dangerous Climate - Vampire Book Review

A Dangerous Climate: A Novel of the Count Saint-Germain (St. Germain)
by Chelsea Quinn Yarbro
Tor Books (September 30, 2008)

[Reviewed by Sandy Rainey]

The twenty-second book in Chelsea Quinn Yarbro's Saint-Germain series finds the gentleman vampire in the Russian city of St. Petersburg at its birth early in the 1700s. Czar Peter the Great is erecting his new city in the most inhospitable climate imaginable (hence the title): Winters are brutally cold and snowy, and summers are humid and teem with disease. Saint-Germain's one reported encounter with the clever, indomitable czar involves a tankard of beer and the czar's refusal to take no for an answer; it is one of the highlights of the book and is not to be missed.

A number of things elevate this particular outing above the average Saint-Germain offering. First, there is the exciting in medias res kickoff: Saint-Germain awakes more dead than alive in a St. Petersburg marsh where, hours or days earlier, he was set upon by unknown assailants who got the better of him and left him for dead. He has no memory of the attack and is unsure who wanted him dead and why. His incapacitation takes him to the tiny care-house (hospital) that has been established in St. Petersburg, where he meets Ludmilla Borisevna Svarinskaya, a standard-issue Yarbro femme whose cad of a husband's behavior has landed her in this godforsaken place with little more than her dignity, her intelligence, and her calling to help the afflicted so as not to dwell on her own unfortunate circumstances. Saint-Germain is drawn to her, but initially he has far too much to deal with to act on his attraction.

Gradually we learn exactly how delicate his position in St. Petersburg is: He is living there under an assumed identity, serving as a spy for the Polish king. He is posing as a Polish nobleman who has gone missing, accompanied by the missing nobleman's wife Zozia, who has come to St. Petersburg with Saint-Germain and is also participating in the espionage. Their mission is not only to attempt to discover what has become of her husband, but also to keep apace of developments in Peter's new city, advancing Polish interests all the while. Zozia is another Yarbro archetype familiar to longtime readers, the shrill, sensuous, impetuous, demanding paramour who so often lands the Count in danger. Her saving grace is that she is a motivated and loyal Polish subject who relishes and excels at her job as mole; she is willing to subjugate her own desires for king and country, though all too happy to toss thoughts of her missing husband aside when news of his whereabouts is not forthcoming.

With his redoubtable manservant Roger at his side, Saint-Germain works to recover from his injuries, further the causes of the Polish king, and protect the secret of his true identity and vampiric nature, while keeping Zozia stable and satisfied and cultivating an interest in Ludmilla and her care-house (he has never lost his fascination with the healing arts, born millennia earlier when he worked in the Egyptian temple of Imhotep as a sort of nurse). He moves in the highest circles of society, but intrigue lies everywhere, and the smallest misstep can mean disaster; his situation becomes more precarious when a new Polish king comes to power and complicates the St. Petersburg mission.

Nothing, though, can prepare our hero for the shock of the day when a dapper nobleman dressed in Saint-Germain's own trademark black and white arrives, declaring himself the Count Saint-Germain and laying claim to Saint-Germain's vast fortune. How can Saint-Germain retain his holdings and protect his identity without revealing that he is not who he claims to be? Enter Aumtehoutep, centuries-old servant of Saint-Germain's departed lover Olivia, a familiar character with whom devoted readers will be happy to become reacquainted.

A Dangerous Climate is a superior Saint-Germain outing, marred somewhat only by an anticlimactic denouement. The historical setting—St. Petersburg in its infancy—is fascinating, and Saint-Germain's unaccustomed role as faux husband and spy adds zest. Only a general petering-out of the action and a handful of unresolved loose ends keep this from reaching the highest echelon of Saint-Germain novels.

Reviewed by Sandy Rainey for Patricia's Vampire Notes

No Rest for the Wiccan - Review

No Rest for the Wiccan (Bewitching Mysteries, No. 4)
by Madelyn Alt
Berkley, November, 2008

[reviewed by Breia Brickey]

Maggie O’Neill loves her job at Enchantments as much as she loves being Indiana’s newest witch. But when her family needs her, she's still willing to lend a hand—even if she has to reach beyond the grave…

It's a long, hot summer in Stony Mill, and Maggie is busy watching TV reruns, minding the store, and figuring out her love life. Then she reluctantly volunteers to care for her bedridden, oh-so-perfect sister, Mel, and her beautiful nieces. But Mel isn't the only focus of Maggie's attention. There are some strange spirits hanging about the area—and it looks like a job for Maggie and the N.I.G.H.T.S. ghost hunting team.

And even as she tries to deal with the long-dead, Maggie must cope with the recently-deceased. A friend of Mel's loses her husband to a dreadful fall, and the police are calling it accidental death. Maggie's not so sure, and sets her second sights on finding a first-degree murderer…

I am sorry to say that this is the first time I have read anything by this author. I truly wish that weren't the case after reading this book. It was an engaging and enjoyable read. The main character, Maggie O'Neill, seems to be the typical novice paranormal character that is just getting to know what they are really about. She is an empath and as much as she has been learning about herself there are only a few people who actually know this side of her. She seems to be very comfortable with this part of herself and even stands up to a couple of people who think she should let this side of herself go. She is not in control of everything about her life but she is learning to trust what she feels and even to stand up for herself. I am looking forward to finding the three previous books in this series. This book is slightly lighthearted compared to what I normally like but it was interesting and I am sure I will enjoy more books from Madelyn Alt in the future.

Reviewed by Breia Brickey for Patricia's Vampire Notes

Charlaine Harris and True Blood

The following interview was first published on PVN December 2007, before True Blood aired on HBO. Charlaine Harris shares her thoughts about giving her Sookie stories over to someone else.

I'm republishing this post in honor of True Blood's start of Season 2 tonight June 14 at 9:00 PM.

This interview was conducted in June 2007 in preparation for the Library Journal column From Shelf to Screen (Oct. 15, 2007). In 2008 HBO will air the TV series True Blood (tentatively scheduled for March) based on the Southern Vampire Mysteries featuring the mind-reading Louisiana barmaid Sookie Stackhouse who finds herself intimately involved with the vampire subculture.

1. Although you are the author of the Southern Vampire Mysteries you have had to turn over creative control to Alan Ball (producer of Six Feet Under). You obviously have a lot of confidence in him, but how were you able to let go of your own creation?

It won't be my creation any more when it's on television. It'll be Alan's creation, and a completely different animal. I'm looking forward to seeing the books from a completely different point of view.

2. Producer Alan Ball is obviously a fan of the Southern Vampire Mysteries. What information have you shared with him on developing the characters, especially Sookie.

I think all the sharing I need to do is right there in the text. When I was trying to decide who to go with, of the offers in front of me, Alan was the one who convinced me he understood what I was doing with the books.

3. Have you made any suggestions for the True Blood stories? Will any of the novels be a basis for an episode?

The pilot episode is Chapter One of Book One, "Dead Until Dark." The plan now is to follow the books chronologically.

4. Has filming begun? Have you been on the set and if so what was it like for you?

Filming starts June 7, last I heard. I have been on the set while it was still being built, and I've met some of the production crew. Without exception, they struck me with their questions, their interest, and their knowledge of the books. It was a really pleasant shock to find out they cared about the books and hoped their vision enriched mine.

5. What do you think of the actors who have been cast? What do you think they will bring to their roles?

I am confident that Alan and his casting director have picked the right people for the right roles, because that's what they do for a living, and their track record says they're pretty good at it. I don't know squat about acting, and I'm really fascinated by the process. It may be I'll learn something about the characters from watching their interpretation!

6. Will there be any kind of publicity touring or interviewing that will include you in helping to launch the series?
I don't think touring . . . I just toured for ALL TOGETHER DEAD, the seventh Sookie. I'm doing quite a few interviews about the show, and I'm sure there'll be more right around the premier, if that's not too grand a name for it.

7. How firm is the Jan.'08 launch date?
I have no idea. After HBO executives view the pilot, that'll be firmed up.

8. Will there be a prescreening of the first episode? Will you be involved in this or will you watch it for the first time along with the rest of us?

Alan has mentioned that I should come to LA for the prescreening, and I'm thinking about it. Depends on what's going on with my family then.

9. Any other comments you wish to make would be welcome.

I've read the first two scripts, and I couldn't be more pleased and excited.

10. Do you have any comments that you would like to make to the library community? It's impact on you or your work?

Sure. My mom (until her retirement) was a librarian, and my sister in law (until her untimely death) was a librarian, and I think it's a super job. It's no coincidence that two of my best friends have been librarians. When I think of how much libraries do for people who need the dreams and the information books hold, it makes me regret I didn't get a degree . . . though I realize that sounds very suck-uppy, as my daughter would say.

Note from Patricia: I love the Southern Vampire Mysteries and was hooked after reading the first book Dead Until Dark (Ace, 2001). What better combination than mystery and vampires? Book number eight From Dead to Worse will be published by Ace in 2008. Like Harris's many fans I look forward to watching the HBO series. Unfortunately the debut date is very dependent on when the current writer's strike is settled. For more thoughts on Charlaine Harris and her vampire series look at Patricia's Vampire Notes for May 12, 2006.

The Sookie Stackhouse Books in order of publication:

Dead Until Dark: A Sookie Stackhouse Novel (Sookie Stackhouse/True Blood)

Living Dead in Dallas: A Sookie Stackhouse Novel (True Blood TV Tie-In Edition)

Club Dead (Southern Vampire Mysteries, Book 3)

Dead to the World (Southern Vampire Mysteries, Book 4)

Dead as a Doornail (Southern Vampire Mysteries, Book 5)

Definitely Dead (Southern Vampire Mysteries, Book 6)

All Together Dead (Southern Vampire Mysteries, Book 7)

From Dead to Worse (Southern Vampire Mysteries, No. 8)

Dead and Gone (Sookie Stackhouse, Book 9)