Ilona Andrews and Jeaniene Frost Book Signing!

I went to the Ilona Andrews and Jeaniene Frost book signing on July 27th. The three of them are awesome people! It was a great experience. Gordon and Ilona are hilarious. They had the crowd laughing the entire time. Between being awestruck and my natural introvert tendencies I had no clue what to say to them when I was getting my books signed. They were cool as hell so it didn’t matter.

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They were kind enough to sign more than one copy of a book. I got Jeaniene Frost to sign Halfway to the Grave. I was damn lucky I had that. Most of the Jeaniene Frost books I own are ebooks. I didn’t want to go to a signing and not get a book signed by her. She gave me a cool bookmark advertising the Night Huntress series!

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Gordon and Ilona signed the hardcover copy of Wildfire I bought to get access to the event. They also signed two other paperbacks I brought with me.

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I did record some of the discussion but didn’t have enough space on my phone to record the whole thing. I listened to the recording before writing this, but some things are just based on my memory. I have tried to paraphrase things as accurately as possible. There are a few quotes below which were taken directly from what I recorded.

Jeaniene Frost

What are her favorite characters or her favorite ones to write?

Her favorite character tends to be the one she is writing at the moment. Right now she is researching for an Ian book. Writing him will be difficult because he is “beyond [her] comfort zone.” She writes with a vague plot in mind but most of the story develops during the writing process. Where Ian ends up is a mystery right now, even to her.

Vlad:

She has done a considerable amount of research on vampires. Originally she didn’t want to include Dracula aka Vlad Tepesh in her books. Researching the real Vlad Dracul inspired her. The name Ilona was mentioned in her books as a wife of Vlad’s. Many people thought this was a shout out to Ilona Andrews. It was not. The name Ilona was used because it was historically accurate.

Inspiration for the Night Huntress series:

She had a dream about a couple fighting and they intrigued her. She began to lay backstory to those people. She delved into why they were arguing and why they felt the way they did about each other and what brought them to that point. Eventually a novel was developed. She had no idea at the time that it would become a series.

Possible works in the future:

She is thinking about writing a book or books on Kate from the final Night Huntress book. Chances are Cat and Bones would have small roles in those.

Gordon and Ilona Andrews

Next up:

They are currently working on the last Kate Daniels book where according to Gordon “cool stuff happens.”

They will be doing other books in the Kate Daniels world. Kate and Curran will make appearances but won’t ever be the main characters again.

Next up is Hugh d’Ambray!!!!

After that is the next Innkeeper Chronicles book.

TV Shows:

They would like to have one of their series be turned into a TV show, but there haven’t been any offers. They surmise that it may have to do with the amount of magic used in their books. To make it look good on the screen it would involve a fair amount of CGI which could get costly. They’re definitely open to the idea of a TV show.

How do they write together?

They plot out their books first. Ilona usually writes the first draft. It’s a highly collaborative process for the two of them. They go through everything together and discuss dialogue and fight scenes. Sometimes they recruit their kids to act out certain scenes.

What are their favorite characters or their favorite ones to write?

Ilona: Her favorite character constantly changes. She enjoys writing Desandra because “the woman has no filter.” She likes writing all of the protagonists and used to like writing Aunt Bea. “It’s hard to pick a favorite because they are all amusing in their own way.”

Gordan: Curran is the easiest to write. It’s hard to write Jim because they don’t really know what he’s thinking. Basically it sounds like they don’t dig deep to figure out what makes him tick. He also likes writing Cornelius from Hidden Legacy.

Where did the name Baylor come from?

They chose it because it is a common name in Texas, and that is where the Baylors live.

***Spoilers below for those who are not up to date with Kate Daniels and Hidden Legacy.***

Roland (from Kate Daniels):

No character has one side to them. They thought it would be more interesting to have Roland be more than just a bad guy. There is a part of him that genuinely loves Kate. There’s also the part of him that is obsessed with power. Unfortunately for Kate that is the side of him that tends to matter the most to him. They may love each other but they’ll never have a normal relationship.

Hidden Legacy Series:

They tried to wrap everything up in Wildfire. The publisher wanted a word count that did not go over a specific amount, and they couldn’t cover everything and stay within that word count. The publisher may extend the contract for them to write a fourth Hidden Legacy book if the sales for Wildfire are good. Regardless they will write a fourth book in the series even if they have to self publish. They confirmed there definitely will be at least one more book.

Catalina’s magic (from Hidden Legacy):

Her magic was revealed at the end of White Hot. Nevada had explained that it didn’t work on the people who already love her. Rogan seemed unaffected by it. They explained that he loves Nevada and already views her family as his family, which is why he didn’t get sucked into her story like everyone else. When she used her magic for the trials at the end of Wildfire, only one person was affected by her magic. Ilona explained that Catalina can target specific people with her magic. So it can be one person or a group. It entirely depends on how she wants to use it.

***HUGE SPOILERS for future books. Read at your own risk! You have been warned.***

Hugh d’Ambray:

They want to self publish Hugh’s book before the final Kate Daniels book because for his appearance in the final Kate book to make sense the readers need to know what has been going on with him.

In Hugh’s book, he’s at a low point in the beginning of the book. Somehow he ends up in an arranged marriage, and they develop feelings for each other. Apparently she gives him a hard time. He gives her a hard time back. They continue in this cycle, and this ignites their curiosity for each other.

Hugh and his wife show up in the last Kate book. Kate and Curran are confused because they still view him as the bad guy. Somehow everyone else knows what has transpired with Hugh and that he is okay now. He is there to fight with them against some common enemy. Whether that is Roland or not, I don’t know.

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How Do You Beat the Summertime Blues?

Well, I know that it is Friday and normally we have a fun post featuring some pretty freaky subject matters. It’s what we do. It’s how we roll. It’s kinda our “thing.”

But here, in the Deep South, it is HOT y’all.

Like walk-out dry, walk-in dripping sweat, sticky, gross, humid hot. I mean, it has rained every day since like May and my yard has turned into a jungle that we risk at our own peril. On top of that, all the rain has made the gnats horrible and EVERYONE is falling victim to a wonderful summer cold that has to be linked to this icky weather in some way. So as I sit here, cooling under my ceiling fan, valiantly attempting to breathe through my nose, the only thing I can think of is, “Bleh,” and I’m sure I’m not the only one suffering from this miasma of blehness. So for today, instead offering up some freakiness, as was my original intent, I thought I’d be productive and offer up some easy ways that I have found to help beat back these summertime blues.

 

Listen to an audio book

Sometimes, especially when it’s hot enough to melt the trash bag to the front walk (which is what happened to my son today taking out the trash–wtf?), the heat can suck all of the energy right out of you…even the little bit of energy that’s required to read a book. Instead, try listening to an audiobook. It literally requires almost zero effort.

Play a board game

This is something we’ve done a bit of this summer. For some reason my husband and my children LOVE monopoly. Go figure. We’ve also played Farkle, Oregon Trail, Uno, GURPS, cards, and I just purchased Yahtzee today. We get pretty competitive. My son even dressed in his “landlord” clothes to play monopoly and now wants a top hat and a monocle. I guess Mr Moneybags is kind of his idol.

(my kid’s take on a “landlord” outfit)

Take up a new hobby

Ha! Start a blog! I work full time, am a full time student, not to mention have a full house that I am sorta kinda responsible for. So what did I do over summer break? Why, started blogging of course!  It helps to fill the time that’s not already filled with all the other things. In a few weeks classes start back so we’ll see where it goes from there. But in the meantime, the key thing is to try to do something that is fun and is actually an escape from the tedium of the bleh stuff. In my opinion, a hobby shouldn’t feel like work.

Do something you’ve been meaning to do but keep putting off

Last weekend we FINALLY went through an escape room. We kept saying to each other, “Hey, we should totally do an escape room” and then we’d promptly find reasons not to. Last weekend we bit the bullet, invited friends, and went and escaped the hell out of that cell and solved the crime. Not only that, but we beat the standing time record. We had a blast! I’m super happy we finally got our shit together and went.

Netflix and chill

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No, seriously. Get your butt in a breezy tank and shorts, lay back with a nice cold something something to drink, and just watch Netflix and chill. Take the time to discover a new favorite show or catch up on one you forgot you loved 2 seasons ago. It’s okay, I promise.

Explore your local treasures

Be adventurous. Take the plunge and step into that new shop you’ve been eyeing. Visit the farmer’s market or your local community flea market. My daughter has become interested in the paranormal so the other day we took a trip to a locally known haunted cemetery (see above pic.)  We plan to visit a haunted restaurant in our area soon, and we even discovered there is a paranormal convention being held here in September. Guess who now has plans to attend? Yep, that’d be us. Cool stuff to be found right at home.

Alright, so those are a few things I’ve done this summer in an attempt to defeat the funk. Lame, I know, but there it is. What are some things you guys do? I’d seriously love to know!

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Next Friday I promise we’ll post some freaky shit for all you weirdos. Until next time, MacHalo lovers.

Freaky Friday: Tingle or Not to Tingle?

Normally I’m all for the crazy shenanigans of the MacHalo group. Heck, I’m normally in the front waving flags and blowing horns. But sometimes my brilliant ideas come back to bite me. Last year I had this fantastic idea to do a smut reading challenge. It wasn’t hard to convince every one of my brilliance. Any excuse to read smut is a great excuse. The problem with my idea occurred when democracy was introduced. But first, I think that I need to share our Official MacHalo 2017 Smut Challenge. (I’m sure some of you will love to participate.)

MacHalo 2017 Smut Challenge

1. Read a Chuck Tingle (or M/M).
2. Read one with a monster/alien/mythological creature.
3. Read one with a stereotype (men in uniform, mafia, MC).
4. Read one with group sex.
5. Read one with “play” or fetish of your choice.
6. Read a taboo one (stepbrother, stepdad, etc.)
7. Read one with a fantasy/turn-on of your choice.
8. Read a dark/horror one.
9. Read one a friend has read or recommended.
10. Read one with stuff you would never do in real life.
11. Read a dom/sub one.
12. Pick a random one.

Can you tell where my brilliant idea went wrong? I was out-voted.

The one crazy bandwagon I could never quite jump on is enjoying the art of Chuck Tingle. I’ll be honest, his titles terrified me and didn’t sound remotely interesting. Surely with such titles as Shared By The Chocolate Milk Cowboys and Seduced By Doctor Bigfoot: Attorney At Large you can understand my hesitancy. I admit, there was a brief moment in time where I almost joined the parade. I mean Chris Hardwick (one of my ultimate celebrity crushes) talked about the awesome Chuck Tingle’s stories on @Midnight. If you are mentioned on a nighttime game show all about popular culture, you are legit. Still something kept holding me back. Now thanks to my brilliant idea, I was going to have no choice. I was going to read my first Chuck Tingle masterpiece.

For my first taste I chose Hard For Hardwick: Pounded In The Butt By The Physical Manifestation Of My Own Handsome Late Night Comedy Show. As I’ve already stated I have a huge crush on Chris Hardwick, so the choice was obvious. At least if I was going to read this, there would be one part that I would enjoy. Seriously, how would you not find this man sexy?

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Unfortunately, that is where my enjoyment ended. I have NO IDEA what I read, nor how to rate it. It was obviously a spoof. It was obviously meant to be funny. But I just didn’t find it funny. The dialogue reminded me of all of those cheesy Lifetime movies from the 80’s. Or that time I tried to re-watch Silk Stalkings. (I loved that show when it was on. Sadly, it  didn’t withstand the test of time.) I spent most of my time trying to figure out what exactly “a handsome collection of ‘at’ symbols floating around in a swirling mist. Within the haze…every episode, past, present and future, dancing together in smoky blue waves” would look like. Would it really be handsome? I kept picturing something more like this:

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Not sexy. The story also relied heavily on the whole insta-lust thing. Which I guess should be forgivable since it is only about 20 pages long. But I just needed something more to believe that my beloved Chris Hardwick would just drop his pants and say “Come and get me big boy”.

Overall, I’m not sold on Chuck Tingle. I most likely will not read another one until I’m forced again. But in the interest of fairness, I do think it was me and not the story. The writing flowed well. So if crazy titles like Pounded in the Butt by My Own Butt or Space Raptor Butt Invasion sound like your cup of tea, read one for me!

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What We Are Reading Recap

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The Soul Eater series by Pippa DaCosta. The main character is Ace, a recovering addict. His addiction? Eating souls. He’s thousands of years old and a private investigator bound to a demon sorceress named Shukra. He was married to Bastet, Goddess of Cats (and fertility and childbirth). That didn’t work out so well and now he’s the God Osiris’ slave, cursed by him for 500 years. Osiris usually leaves him alone, but occasionally calls on him to do something despicable. Ace is an anti-hero, a “gray” character who saves the innocent, but also has his own set of morals (or lack thereof). Each book has a separate mystery to be solved, but it’s also very much a story of Ace’s evolution as a man and immortal being.

My review on Hidden Blade is here. My review on Witches’ Bane is hereThe fourth book, Scorpion Trap, comes out June 19, 2017.

The Kingmaker Chronicles by Amanda BouchetThis is a fun fantasy romance trilogy involving Olympian Gods and magic. The men are one thousand percent swoon-worthy and the heroine kicks ass and is feisty. It’s heavier on romance than fantasy and I had a few issues with some of the drama and tropes, but overall, I have been enjoying it quite a bit!

My review on A Promise of Fire is here and my review on Breath of Fire is here. The third book, Heart on Fire, is due out on January 2, 2018.

White Hot, book two in the Hidden Legacy series by Ilona Andrews. This book was just released yesterday! It feels like I have been waiting to read this for ages. I finished it tonight and let me tell you, it is amazing and even better than the first one! It’s incredibly well-written urban fantasy with a strong female lead and sexy leading man. There is more romance in this one, but not quite as much as the cover would have you believe. 😉

 

 

 

It’s Mother’s Day y’all…

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As you all should already know, Mother’s Day is just around the corner. I’m a procrastinator through and through, so I am always holding out until the last possible moment to do my gift shopping. It makes it more of an adventure, you know? It is T-24 hrs: will I or won’t I find the perfect gift? As I’m running through the store, I picture myself like an Indiana Jones/Lara Croft type.  The store is my temple and the perfect gift is the ancient relic I have to find.

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With my imaginary whip in hand I’m ready to make this Mother’s Day gift shopping my b****.  It really is more exciting that way, and when you’re a 30+ year old mom of 2 you have to get your kicks somehow. Anyway, I digress.

As you’re out doing some last minute shopping, and probably normal shopping in a normal store that is in no way reminiscent of an ancient ruin, I thought it may be helpful to offer some gift ideas. You know, just in case you have absolutely no idea what to get that special lady in your life.

  1. We could all use a little more of this, am I right? A nice relaxing day, with nothing more to worry about than what book to start first. Heaven….

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  1. You can also never go wrong with alcohol. A relaxing day made even MORE relaxing.

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  1. And if she’s not a blended scotch whiskey fan, that’s okay. You can always pick up her favorite wine or brew. The important part is the alcohol.

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  1. Still not sure? Might I suggest this? Instead of a physical book, go with her pre-ordering her favorite e-book. Hell, why choose? Go with the physical and the e-book.

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5.If you want to be especially generous, I would recommend going with options 1-4. I             mean, honestly, what’s better than books and booze? Except books, booze, and                     maybe this guy…

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Seriously, I love me some Thor. If you happen to come across him in your shopping excursions, just scoop him up and send him my way…

All jokes aside (except for the Thor part…I’m totally serious about that), the best gift you can give the special mother in your life, whoever that may be, is time. Take the time to tell her your love her, that you appreciate everything she does, and that she is valued. Even if it’s just a phone call or a card, the love is in the gesture.

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So here’s to a happy Mother’s Day to all of you fabulous mothers out there! For all that you do for whoever you do it for, whether it’s fur babies, non-bio babies, or babies who are babies no longer, we salute you!

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Sometimes it is Better to Forget

Well, it is Wednesday night, and it has already been a long week. I have decided that if I could do with a bit absurdity to help me get through the next two days, you probably could too. I promised you absurd moments, and that is a promise I intend to keep. This little gem is a review that I wrote quite awhile ago. But unlike Sam’s awesome review on When We Were Animals, this review is about one of those books that stayed with you in a bad way. Now, I already know what you are probably thinking. I should have known it would turn out this way from the title. But I was raised to believe you should try things before you say you don’t like them. Without further ado, here is my review for FILLED BY OCTOPUS MAN: Hentai Sparks Nasty Erotic Love (Tentacle Monster Erotica Book 2) by Q. Zayne.

Dear Casey,

For the past six months you have been concerned about my developing addiction to alien smut and monster porn. While I will probably never give up alien smut, you really need to read Ice Planet Barbarians before you can judge the alien smut, today you can rest easy. I am so emotionally scarred that I don’t think I will ever be able to read tentacle porn again. I’m serious.

But first, I need to apologize. I’m so so so terribly sorry. For you see, in the beginning of this story, I actually thought that maybe this would be a good introduction for you into tentacle porn. Don’t give me that eye. I’m serious. It started out so sweet. Octopus man fed his soul mate breakfast in bed. STOP IT! STOP LOOKING AT ME THAT WAY! I know you are currently wondering if I ever really knew you. Trust me, I do. Because what you have failed to consider is what exactly would an octopus man feed his beloved for breakfast. Weeeellllll, it was sashimi quality tuna. I will pause while you drool over that. I will pause again while you consider going to Maru for lunch. Just realize that my stomach hates you. It really really does.

Don’t worry, it took me less than 10 minutes to see the error of my ways. Casey, I can’t even begin to describe the trauma I felt reading this. This book will haunt me for the rest of my days. And since we are friends, my pain is your pain. I don’t think you will need more than these quotes to understand what I had to endure:

“The tentacle tip forced its way into her cervix, invading her womb.”

“Ken skull fucked and throat fucked her with vigor, taking her lips, her tongue, her entire mouth, her fucking throat, her entire fucking head and gullet with his massive tentacle.”

“Her squirting caught him full in the chest, the geyser of her juice splashing on his penny nipples and running down his rippled abs and smooth navel passage, sluicing down his straight pubes and plum balls.”

“His power subsumed all her fears, taking her over and he insinuated his tentacles into every opening, even one tentacle tip snaking into her pee hole.”

How will I ever move past this? Please help.

Your Traumatized Friend,
Abby

P.S. There better be alcohol this weekend. After this story, I have earned it.

*UPDATE: Since the original publication, Casey did read Ice Planet Barbarians. I’m proud to say that she enjoyed it well enough to read several in the series. That will be another post. I, however, am still traumatized. It has been almost 18 months and still can’t even consider reading tentacle smut. Some wounds are just too deep to heal.

I’m Breaking up with You!

BOOK DEAL BREAKERS

We’ve all had it happen: nose deep in a wonderful story (or series) we can’t get enough of, and then the author did THAT, making us want to throw our book (or Kindle) across the room.

There’s no forgiving the author’s choice. It’s time to pull the plug.

So don’t even ask. Without further ado, here is a list of MacHalo deal breakers:

1) Killing off the main character.

This is almost assuredly a deal breaker. It’s one thing to justifiably kill off a supporting character, but no, you don’t touch the hero or heroine. All that emotional investment and then we get that garbage?! You aren’t George R. R. Martin, so just don’t.

2) Really long books. Almost inevitably, these massive tomes will have filler and unnecessary padding. We don’t need ten pages describing a forest or someone’s outfit. If the world-building and plot justifies it, we are right as rain. If not, we’re breaking up.

3) The Big Misunderstanding. This is when the main character keeps important details from another character, they don’t communicate, so the reader is forced to endure a couple hundred pages of manufactured drama and angst. Where are the pitchforks?!

4) Multiple POVs. It’s one thing to have a few going on, but when you start to feel more like you’re putting together a list of chores instead of just remembering character names, it’s time to say adios.

5) Magical mastery without sacrifice or training. This might also fall into the Special Snowflake category. That character who just instantly knows how to work spells or their abilities and surpasses everyone else seemingly overnight. To you, we say:

5) Love Triangles. Please, just don’t. There are plenty of big-name authors who do it, but that doesn’t make it right. Just PICK someone. One person, unless the lead is polyamorous or something (and THAT’S a whole other topic we’re not touching with a ten foot pole).

6) Pointless Abuse Backstory. Many authors use this trope to justify a character’s interest in BDSM or in establishing an instalove romance. The main character may be fearful or unapproachable, and why? It’s almost always due to an abusive ex-boyfriend or husband. Authors, can’t you find more ways to flesh out the protagonist?

7) The Amnesia Trope. This almost speaks for itself, but is a convenient and easy way for authors to flesh a romance out or to introduce that super special character whose origin story will be unfolded about two hundred pages (or even a couple books) later. There better be some spectacular writing involved to make this one work.

(The above deal breaker requires a very special disclaimer: dislike of the amnesia trope does NOT include Eric Northman, whose forgetfulness provided some of the best scenes in romantic literature history!)

That’s it for now. Leave your comments and let us know what your book deal breakers are!