Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Interview & Giveaway: Gabe Rotter

Today we welcome Gabe Rotter, whose sophomore novel The Human Bobby is out today for an interview and a giveaway. Welcome, Gabe!

Thank you for featuring The Human Bobby on your blog!

The book seems heavier in tone than your previous, Duck Duck Wally. Is this a good observation?

Yes, The Human Bobby is certainly much darker than Duck Duck Wally, which had a decidedly sillier tone. I wanted to attempt to write something in similar voice to my first book, but that went on a completely different place. But at their core I think they could both be said to be about the unraveling of a man, which is a theme I'm very interested in writing about.

Where did The Human Bobby come from?

I've always been completely fascinated by homeless people. I look at them and I desperately want to know their back-stories. How does one get to that point? What was their childhood like? Did they ever have a normal life? A spouse? Children? What are they like in their moments of clarity?

What would you say the most rewarding part of getting your book published is - seeing it on the shelf at your local bookstore, doing a book signing or receiving fan mail?

I think those are definitely three of the best things about it! Seeing it at a book store or in a library is always a thrill. Book signings are completely awesome. I think getting fan mail is probably the most rewarding. There's nothing cooler than when someone enjoys your book so much that they take the time to write you a note about it. That always makes my day and makes it worth all the hard work.

What's your focus group when it comes to readers of The Human Bobby? What's the emotion you're trying to provoke in your readers?

My focus group consists of my wife, my father and a few of my closest friends and family. In this book, the emotion I was trying to provoke was surprise. I was very taken by the idea of writing through the POV of an unreliable narrator. Someone you come to trust but whose perspective you are forced to question at some point during the story.

Would it be okay to say that The Human Bobby is a story about the state of the modern man?

I think with the state of the world economy, natural and man-made disasters, wars, etc. that most people today have a sort of tenuous grasp on their possessions, because the reality is that most of us could lose everything very easily. One of the themes of The Human Bobby is, "What are we?" - in other words, are we the things we own? Is that what defines us? The house we live in? The car we drive? Is it the people we love that makes us who we are? Once these things are taken from us, who are we?

One copy of The Human Bobby has generously been offered for a giveaway. Here are the giveaway rules:

-US/Canada only
-the giveaway ends August 31st
-make sure you leave your email in the comment (no email, no entry!)
-one winner

+2 for following (old and new followers)
+2 for leaving the link in your sidebar (+4 if you leave a graphic!)
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Good luck!

Friday, August 13, 2010

Review: Necessary Madness by Lisabet Sarai

"Necessary Madness" is Lisabet Sarai's first gay novel - and one could never guess! An established romance/erotica author, she has written a somewhat paranormal thriller with an abundance of romantic and sexual situations that are sure to get your blood flowing faster.

The protagonist, Kyle, is a homeless man with a curse - he is haunted by visions of future deaths and he is unable to do anything about them. After a particularly intense vision, he ends up in the hospital, where he is interrogated by Rob, a handsome policemen. Rob offers a spare room until Kyle can get back on his feet and it is not soon before they start a passionate relationship. However, Rob's ghosts of the past are threatening to compromise their relationship - as well as a mysterious man from Kyle's visions.

There are two things that should be talked about when it comes to this book. The plot and the sex scenes. Plot-wise, the book is a tight, solid thriller. Although I would have preferred to find about a little more about the antagonist's background, the cast of characters is a solid, interesting bunch. On the other hand, the sex scenes are always explicit and arousing - Sarai knows her way with words and I'm certain veteran erotica readers will enjoy Necessary Madness immensely (on the other hand, less experienced readers are certain to blush throughout). Another thing I loved about the book was that the paranormal element wasn't overused - it is there and crucial to the story, but the two lovers are human.

What I had a minor problem with was the way the plot and the sex were combined. There are fantastic instances where sex itself is a major plot device (the chilling finale is a great example of this). On the other hand, it sometimes feels like filler - as well as the reason for Rob and Kyle's romantic co-dependence. This is a small bone to pick, especially when the sex scenes are written so deliciously. Luckily, there is room to extend the story to a second book and I sincerely hope this will happen.


This book counts towards my GLBT challenge.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Interview & Giveaway: Kate Pearce

Today I have a very special treat for you - a mix of the Tudors, vampires and romance. That's right - please welcome the prolific romance author Kate Pearce, here to talk about her latest novel, Kiss of the Rose, the first in the upcoming (and I'm sure, bestselling) Tudor Vampire Chronicles. It seems like Henry VIII will never go out of style!

Henry VIII is a pretty popular guy nowadays, don't you think? The Tudors are everywhere, so tell us what your particular reason was to use him in your novel. And where do the vampires fit in?

I studied Tudor politics as part of my degree and I've always enjoyed reading novels about them so when my agent suggested I try and write Tudor Vampires, it all seemed to click! As my starting point, I used the notion that the Tudors came to power unexpectedly and that it would've been a great opportunity for them to win the crown with some paranormal help. In my mind, this resulted in an alliance with the Druids. The Tudor family are from Wales and I reckoned the young Henry VII might well have been exposed to some pagan religion as well as Christianity. In my paranormal world the Vampires are an offshoot of the Druids, so there is a natural enmity between them which leads to all sorts of problems over the centuries.

Did the book require a lot of research?

Yes it did. But then as a history major I love to research and know how to do it competently. For example, the costume book I consulted had about 6oo pages of text in it which proved a little time consuming! And after all the research only a tiny proportion of the history ended up in the book because it is primarily a paranormal romance.

Tell us a little bit about the heroine.

Rosalind Llewellyn is an anomaly in her own time, the first woman to be born with the mark of Awen which means she is entitled to train as a Vampire slayer - a most unladylike thing to do. She is very strong and a great match for the arrogant hero, Christopher Ellis who begins by underestimating her and ends up respecting and loving her.

How is this book different than your other titles - and there are many of them!

I've written a few, haven't I?! My books for Kensington Aphrodisia, Ellora's Cave and Virgin Black Lace 'Cheek' are all classed as erotic romance and brought out as e-books or trade-size paperbacks. Kiss of the Rose is different because it is a paranormal, historical romance in mass market format. I like to write different things and this was a new challenge for me.

Tell us about your writing routine. Also, what's next in store for Kate Pearce?

I write about 4 hours a day when the kids are in school and the house is relatively quiet. Along with writing new stuff I also have to deal with edits, copy edits, galleys, blog writing, promotion, etc. This means it gets very busy sometimes. I try and write a minimum of 2000 words a day to keep on my tight deadline schedule.

Coming up next is a novella in a Kensington Brava anthology called "Lords of Passion" with Virginia Henley and Maggie Robinson, which comes out in early December and then next year I have 2 books out around February, 2011 Simply Forbidden from Kensington Aphrodisia which is the 6th book in my Regency erotic romance House of Pleasure series, and Blood of the Rose, part two of the Tudor Vampire Chronicles which centers around Anne Boleyn.

Brace yourselves - Kate has generously offered to give away a copy of Kiss of the Rose to one lucky winner. Read it before it's all over the blogosphere! Here are the giveaway rules:

-the contest ends August 25th.

-there will be one winner.

-make sure you leave your email in the comment - no email, no entry!

-the giveaway is open internationally! (Kate rules!)


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+2 for leaving the link in your sidebar (+4 for leaving a graphic)

+2 for tweeting about this (leave a link!)

+4 for blogging about this

+4 for visiting Kate's website and coming back with the title that you find most interesting

This giveaway has been advertised on Giveaway Scout.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Review: Dead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris

I may be the last person on earth to read Charlaine Harris' Dead Until Dark - but I'm definitely not the last person to fall in love with True Blood, the racy HBO show based on the book. In fact, I consider myself a huge fan. So I was beyond excited to read the book that started it all when I bought my paperback copy in Dubrovnik. And I enjoyed it immensely.

Set in the small town of Bon Temps, Louisiana, the story revolves around a telepathic waitress Sookie Stackhouse. The vampires have just recently come out of the coffin and Sookie is excited to meet one. The vampire in question is the mysterious Bill Compton, but when Bon Temps is struck by a tragedy - which soon escalates into a killing spree - Sookie fears she might be in danger.

As a writer, Harris writes with assurance, so I ultimately forgave her the shameless 1st person POV - even when it came to the corniest sentences. She utilizes the mysterious and dark Louisiana atmosphere to the maximum, and in the context of the story, it works out perfectly. The story itself is a perfectly balanced detective story that is never too obvious (unless you've seen the first season of the TV show). However, there are enough surprises in the book to keep you reading, even if you did.

I loved how vampires are sometimes used allegorically to represent real-life minority groups. It's very cool to see them represent people of a different race or sexual orientation. However, I didn't like how in the end, the book ends very lightly, when I feel like it could have packed more impact. However, it is an excellent mystery book and the basis for a fantastic TV show. I can't wait to read book two!


This book counts toward my GLBT challenge.

Monday, August 9, 2010

100th Post! 200 followers! Blogoversary!

Dear readers, reviewers, followers, commenters, authors, publishers, etc.

I would just like to take this opportunity to thank every one of you for helping me make it to 100 posts, or in other words, 200 followers! Or, if you're into dates, one year of blogging!

Starting this blog, I never knew this might happen. Let's go back in time - I've always loved reading and browsing the internet one day, I stumbled upon a number of book blogs and was highly impressed by this fabulous community. So, on Monday, August 10 2009, I created my very own book blog, entitled Nikola's Book Blog. Simple, huh?

The very first book review I posted was on Zoe Heller's Notes on a Scandal. Since then, I tracked my reading habits and reading choices, learning that I in fact had very diverse taste in books - I love literary fiction, but I also love to relax with chick flick or thrillers or even a romance or two.

The community part of book blogging was always so vital and this is why I would like to thank some fellow book bloggers. Amanda of the Zen Leaf, thank you for being one of the first people to visit my blog and comment on it. Also, thank you for always being up for a chat, for creating the GLBT challenge (this one I am so grateful for!) and for your amazing posts - I love your mixture of personal thoughts and general info on books. Also, Sheila of Book Journey - thanks for being one of the first blogs I stumbled upon and also the one I still visit almost every day. You have such a great track record with your posts and reviews and I love that you are addicted to coffee and Gilmore Girls. I am too. Ryan of Wordsmithonia for being a great friend and a regular visitor. Melissa of Mel's World for being so sweet. Wendy of ItsJustMe for being so loyal. Brent of The Naughty Book Kitties for doing an interview with me. I'd love to meet all of you in person one day!

Another thing I got into since I started blogging was the book industry - I feel like I've learnt so much! This is why I try and feature authors on my blog as often as possible - interviews, giveaways, etc. The first one was Katherine Neville - one of my favorite authors and I remember I was shaking when I sent her the email. However, her publicist Lisa Barnes was super sweet and so my first giveaway was very high-profile! After her, I hosted M. D Griffith, Suzanne Selfors, Ben H. Winters, David H. Burton, Dan Begley, Lisabet Sarai... Thanks to all these authors for trusting in me.

So there you have it. 100 posts, 200 followers and my blog turns one tomorrow! After a year, I don't feel much smarter, just a bit more informed. So tell me - what is it you like and what is it you'd like changed. Questions, comments, concerns.


Sunday, August 8, 2010

Interview: Kate Emerson

Please welcome Kate Emerson, the bestselling author of the Secrets of the Tudor Court series of historical novels. With the third installment, By Royal Decree, coming out in December (have you seen the gorgeous cover?), Kate has stopped by to answer a few questions about historical fiction, the Tudors and herself.

Why the Tudor Court? Do you find it more fascinating than some other period of British history and why?

I've always been interested in this period of history. I can remember reading a juvenile biography of Queen Elizabeth I when I was only ten years old. The Tudors and everything that surrounded them were bigger than life, making a wonderful backdrop for the individual stories of courtiers who served them. Before this series, I wrote mysteries set in the early Elizabethan era (Face Down in the Marrow Bone Pie, etc) under my real name, Kathy Lynn Emerson. The Secrets of the Tudor Court series is written as Kate Emerson to let readers know that, although there are always elements of intrigue in the books, they are not mystery novels. The secrets have to do with spies, treasonous plots, and the personal mistakes that haunt characters' pasts.

How extensive is the research you do for a novel? Does it take a lot of time and energy?

I've been researching the era, one way or another, for over forty years, so I have a huge library and many file folders full of notes on all aspects of life in Tudor times. For each individual novel, I have to do specific research into the lives of the real people I intend to use as characters and into any specialized areas (for example, how to play tennis and how "disguisings" were prepared and performed for The Pleasure Palace and how travel to and from Calais was accomplished for Between Two Queens). It is time-consuming, but also fascinating---what I term "painless research."

How would you characterize your heroines?

Jane Popyncourt in The Pleasure Palace, Nan Bassett in Between Two Queens, and Bess Brooke in By Royal Decree were all real people who had a connection to the court of Henry VIII and a personal connection to Henry himself. Women in those days were considered to be the property of fathers, husbands, or guardians and did not have a great deal of freedom, but they could work behind the scenes to achieve their goals. All three women were all trapped, in one way or another, by the politics and intrigue of life at court, but they were all survivors. In my fictionalized accounts of their lives, I try to make the choices history tells us they made understandable to modern readers.

What do you think about the ever-growing genre of historical fiction? Is there anything that bothers you?

I'm frequently frustrated by the tendency some novelists have to change history, especially when what really happened would, in my opinion, have made an even better story. Historical movies and television series are the worst offenders, since they don't hesitate to, for example, combine two sisters into one character and then marry that character to someone neither sister wed in real life.

Could you at least hint at what you’re writing next?
I'm just starting work on the 4th Secrets of the Tudor Court entry. This one will focus on Anne Stafford, Lady Hastings, younger sister of the Duke of Buckingham who was executed by Henry VIII in 1521. As I work on the novels, I also add entries to and expand the existing entries in my Who's Who of Tudor Women, which can be found online at my website.
Thanks for stopping by Kate! I'm sure we will see more of you by December. Good luck with the upcoming book!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Booking Through Thursday #2

Booking Through Thursday is a weekly meme. Questions and links to other participants can be found here.

What is the first book you remember reading? What about the first that really made you love to read?

Tough question - ever since I could read (which I taught myself), I was constantly reading something. However, I do remember certain books that surely cemented my love for reading. I believe the earliest example is Enid Blyton's Five on Kirrin Island Again, which is the sixth book in a fantastic children's series. I remember being totally engrossed and excited about the plot.

Other two books that I remember loving were Dickens' David Copperfield and Emil and the Detectives, a mystery book by the German author Erich Kastner. The reason I loved David Copperfield was probably because I felt like I understood the gist of the story, though I was too young to appreciate its many layers. Dickens continues to be an author I respect, especially his novel The Great Expectations. On the other hand, I found Emil completely fascinating because of the well-written personalities of the boys in question and in my head, this created an image of what sort of friends I myself would like to have.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Review: A Single Man by Christopher Isherwood

Today's review is of a very special book which grew on me more and more with each page and ended up becoming one of my favorite books of all time. Christopher Isherwood's A Single Man is an intelligent, well-written novel of a day in the life of George, a gay man who has recently become single again, after the death of his long-time lover.

Like all the best books, it's hard to say what this book is about. It could be argued that it's about George dealing with his loss, but it's about a lot more than that. Isherwood writes about relationships - romantic or friendly - and how sometimes not even this is enough. He writes about forbidden pleasures - as if being gay in the 60's is not enough, George starts developing a risky friendship with one of his students. The gay history of Los Angeles is explained from time to time, but only when it has to do with George's thoughts and actions.

George is a fascinating character, alienated from everyone around him by his very existence. A gay Brit living in Los Angeles and working as a university lit teacher (lit seems to interest no one) makes his identity more than a little blurry. His best friend Charlotte, another fascinating character, is a straight woman without a husband who drinks her nights away and dreams of going back to London (somehow, one doesn't necessarily feel either Charlotte or George would be better off there). And then, with the sudden death of his life partner, George has one last chance to recuperate and move on. And we all know it's not that easy.

If you liked the book, make sure you see the movie adaptation, directed by Tom Ford. It's divine.


This review counts toward the GLBT challenge.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Giveaway Winners: Notepad/Bookmark and Lisabet Sarai E-book

After traveling to Dubrovnik (seriously, one of the most beautiful places I've ever traveled to) and the magical Greek island of Zakynthos, it's time to announce the winners of the two fabulous giveaways I've hosted.

First, here are the winners of Lark's lovely creations. Make sure you visit her store here for many other beautiful and unique hand-made beauties.

***The notepad goes to JUDYLYNN***
***The bookmark goes to ADDICTED BOOK READER***

And now, here is the winner of the Lisabet Sarai giveaway. Make sure you visit this author's website here - her books will surely get your blood flowing faster!

***The e-book goes to SHERRY***

To all the winners - you have been emailed and I ask to please reply ASAP with your postal addresses so the prizes get sent out as soon as possible. Sherry, make sure you tell me which book you'd like to receive.

To the people that didn't make it - in a little while, there will be an impressive giveaway on the blog, so keep reading. Here's a little hint - two authors of gay fiction who share the same name and write their books together. If you know who this might be, leave a comment. The first one to get it right gets 3 extra entries for when the giveaway is ready!