In Anticipation: The Renfield Syndrome

Last year, I was encouraged by one of my Goodreads peeps' review to read a book entitled Dead, Undead, or Somewhere in Between (thanks Michelle R!). The friend had gushed about its awesomeness, from the interesting cast and dark tone to the engaging plot line. I read it and was similarly enchanted. Fortunate for both of us is the fact that it was just a series opener! The follow-up, The Renfield Syndrome, is tentatively set for release during this summer. Here's a taste of what it's about.
     Rhiannon thought facing off against a deranged child vampire was the most dangerous task she would ever have to undertake, but she’s about to discover making a deal with a demon is far, far worse. Sent forward into another reality, one in which vampires are now dominating nearly extinct humans, she realizes the sooner she returns to her vampire lover, Disco, the better.
     Unfortunately, time changes a lot of things; including those most trusted around her. When she’s faced with a loss and betrayal unlike any she has ever known, her focus shifts from severing the debt between the demon that wants to kill her, to exacting a revenge that will bring forth consequences she never could have fathomed. By reaching out to the darkness lingering within her, she’ll find the strength to push forward despite the circumstances that would see her dead and buried.
     After all, when it’s all said and done, all that she has left to lose is her soul.
Now, I was wrecked upon finishing Undead…; wrecked in a good way, that is. By now, many know that the book ended with a doozy of a cliffhanger. Whether one likes that or not, it made for some exciting drama! The events therein will clearly have a profound effect on the focus of the second book. Protagonist Rhiannon is starting from scratch: she's lost, disoriented and in need of assistance (whether she knows it or not).

The cover for this book is fantastic. The background should give some clue as to what Rhi's got facing her. And speaking of fading…I dig how Rhiannon's face is not shown. It provides a touch of intimidation and gravity.

It so happens that the first book has been redesigned in a style similar to the second, and will accompany the re-issue of the book. You'll find below the original art next to the redesign. Which style do you prefer; the more photo-realistic original or the slightly hyperrealistic re-design?

Original
Redesign

The Renfield Syndrome is currently expected to be released in August 2011. 

Review: The Vampire Voss by Colleen Gleason

Title: The Vampire Voss
Series: Regency Draculia trilogy, #1
Genres/Themes: vampires, romance, historical
Author: Colleen Gleason

Quick Take:
An apt subtitle for this book would be "Vampirism: Good for the Body, Bad for the Soul." It's an enjoyable mix of Enlish high-society and paranormal intrigue, wrapped in some beautiful use of the English language.

Book Description (via Goodreads):
     Voss, also known as Viscount Dewhurst, relishes the sensual pleasures immortality affords. A member the Dracule – a cabal of powerful, secretive noblemen marked with a talisman that reveals their bartered souls – the mercenary Voss has remained carefully neutral ... until Angelica.

     Angelica Woodmore possess the Sight, an ability invaluable to both sides of a looming war among the Dracule. Her very scent envelops Voss in a scarlet fog of hunger – for her body and her blood. But he is utterly unprepared for the new desire that overcomes him – to protect her.

     Now Voss must battle his very nature to be with Angelica ... but this vampire never backs down from a fight.
Review:
Vampirism. Sometimes it's a blessing, sometimes it's a curse. In this particular series, it's a chocolate-covered piece of poison, a trick touted as a treat.  ^_^ At least, that's the implication based on the plot of this book.

The name of the story makes it pretty clear that, though this is a paranormal romance, the ultimate focus is on the development of vampire protagonist Voss, the Viscount Dewhurst; it just so happens that female lead Angelica Woodmore is the impetus for this change. Given the fact that he's thoroughly selfish and unapologetic--and thus could have been difficult to connect to--I was glad that the author managed to make Voss come off as likable and somewhat relatable.

At first, I was a little bit thrown with the names and titles that come fast and furious at the reader. With a bit of note-taking and further reading, however, it settled into something manageable. What remained was a good dose of intrigue. The pacing of the book is rather like an adventure (there's not a whole lot of sitting about, musing about nothing), but there's also plenty to recognize from the era and the setting of early 19th century London.

One of my favorite aspects of the tale was the language used to describe everything from physical surroundings to dialogues and inner thoughts. I found myself reading extra slowly and savoring the words; I'd like to say that the language melted seamlessly into the background, but it was just so…pretty (but NOT overly flowery). It made everything else--the characters, the plot--that much more...more. (Ha; clearly I don't possess any of Gleason's aptitude for vivification!)

When reading a vampire story, which is undeniably trodden territory, it's nice to find little details that add a little something different to the lore. In this world, it's the Asthenia (weakness). Each vampire has a different one, acquired upon first sealing their pact with the devil to become an immortal. It could be an apple, a ruby, a hyssop plant…but in each case it's proverbial kryptonite for a vampire, who thus holds it as his or her most precious secret. This element came into play a fair bit, and definitely provided some interesting twists.
 
I was surprised to find that I was most drawn to two supporting characters, the Earl of Corvindale (a vampire) and the eldest Woodmore sister, Maia. There was great potential for angst (the juicy kind) and passion in that dynamic, but it was hidden underneath the solid, stoic exteriors of both hard-headed individuals. I look forward to their further interactions, which will be the focus of book two (unsurprisingly titled The Vampire Dimitri).

All in all, this is a decent series opener. If you're interested in dramatic London high-society covered with a layer of paranormal, you should give this book a shot.
Rating: 4 of 5 stars
"I really liked it"

Guest Post: Author Cara Marsi


What's up, ladies and gents! Please welcome to MNtR the wonderful Cara Marsi! The author of such books as paranormal romances Logan's Redemption and Cursed Mates, Ms. Marsi stops by today to talk about things that go (deliciously!) bump in the night. ^__^
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Vampires, Werewolves, Fairies – Not Your Mother’s Otherworldlies 

To paraphrase Bob Dylan, the times sure are changing. At least in the paranormal world. What is it with the vamps, werewolves, even fairies in today’s romance books? I decided to take a look back at myths and legends and how they’ve evolved.

Guest Post: Author L.A. Burton

Click pic to visit author page
It was really hard trying to figure out what to write about. But when Alisha asked ‘what do you do when you’re not writing?’ I thought, but I’m always working on something. So, I’m going to combine a few of her questions.

Well, when I think about my days they are very busy. I have a part-time job and above all else, I’m a mother and a wife. But I’m also my daughter's at-home teaching coach for her on-line school. I workout with my teenage daughter. My daughter and I do a lot together. My husband works third shift and has been for going-on twelve years.

To answer the question "what do I do on my down time?" I really don’t have down time. I always have paper and pencil; either I’m writing notes for a current book or a next book. But at this time, I’m working on a book and doing research for my other project, which is a YA book series. The main character of that series is a blind vampire.

I do squeeze-in working in my flowerbeds and my vegetable garden. I also started on researching my family tree, which I have found very interesting. I found out that I’m a direct descendant of Anna Boleyn. Other research: I also am a practicing witch and have been for two decades, which scares the hell out of my family.

So, I never really take time away from my writing; it’s too much a part of who I am.

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Click pic to purchase book at Smashwords
A big, HUGE thank you to Ms. Burton for visiting MNtR! Her book, Storm of Magick (Logan Wolf Chronicles, Book 1), is available on Amazon and Smashwords...and will be followed up by the forthcoming sequel, Blood on the Moon.

A description of Storm of Magick:
     What would you say if you found out a half vampire half fairie hybrid existed? Impossible! Yeah, I thought the same thing.
     Logan’s not your average witch. For one thing, she can’t control her magic. For another, she’s just broken a major magical law (which sucks). Now if that secret gets out she will become the hunted. Jack the Ripper’s surgical kit has been stolen and his spirit is in control of a human and now he is recreating the White Chapel murders. Will Logan find Jack before he tries to kill her? Logan’s really having a hell of a week. Some days she should just stay in bed.

Review: 5 Very Good Reasons to Punch a Dolphin in the Mouth

Title: 5 Very Good Reasons to Punch a Dolphin in the Mouth (And Other Useful Guides)
Author: The Oatmeal
Series: n/a
Genre/Themes: non-fiction, humor, illustrations

Quick Take: Freaking. Hilarious.
Book Description: In Matthew Inman's 5 Very Good Reasons to Punch a Dolphin in the Mouth (And Other Useful Guides), samurai sword-wielding kittens and hamsters that love .50-caliber machine guns commingle with a cracked out Tyrannosaur that is extremely hard to potty train. Bacon is better than true love and you may awake in the middle of the night to find your nephew nibbling on your toes.
Inman creates these quirky scenes for theoatmeal.com, which launched in July 2009 and already has more than 82 million page views. In fact, every 15 to 30 seconds, someone Googles one of theoatmeal.com's creations. Now, 60 of Inman's comic illustrations and life-bending guides are presented in full-color inside 5 Very Good Reasons to Punch a Dolphin in the Mouth (And Other Useful Guides).
Review:
Where has Matthew Inman (a.k.a. "The Oatmeal") been all my life? Until recently, I've not been familiar with this seasoned web-designer-turned indie web-comic creator. It seems the man's found his calling; whereas he was once dealing with all manner of crap in his one-time profession, he's now turning the laughably unfortunate situations in to plain laughable ones.

5 Very Good Reasons to Punch a Dolphin in the Mouth is a compilation of humorous illustrations, some originating from the author's website and others created specifically for the publication. Whether you'll find the content funny certainly depends on your preferred brand of humor. This book's got irreverence and a healthy dose of misanthropy. The Oatmeal knows how to turn life experiences into bite-sized bits of hilarity. Sometimes you'll laugh at the absurdity of situations. At others, you'll laugh because of the truth lining the commentary. The visual style, however, is pure caricature, and fits perfectly with the kooky tone of the content.

The book features such classic themes as:
  • "Why It's Better To Pretend You Don't Know Anything About Computers"
  • "8 Ways To Tell If Your Loved Ones Plan To Eat You"
  • "The Ten Types of High Fives"
  • "How to NOT Sell Something to my Generation"
  • "14 Things Worth Knowing About Cheese" (my personal favorite!)
As a big fan of situational humor, I enjoyed the content immensely; I'll definitely be gifting copies to my friends come Christmastime. ^_^ If you like Stephen Colbert, Justin Halpern, or The Onion, this book should be right up your alley.

Rating: 5 of 5 stars
"I Absolutely Loved It" 

Guest Post: Author Rachel Thompson

Sometimes I think I'm too jaded. Then I think no, it's just the lighting ~
Rachel Thompson, A Walk In The Snark
 
If you’re at all familiar with @RachelintheOC via my Twitter feed, my blog, or my new book A Walk In The Snark, you probably know me as that redheaded Queen of Snark in a sea of blondes (OC does stand for Orange County, CA, home of the Tragic – I mean Magic – Kingdom), after all. Essays like Stupid Pants Syndrome, Men are from Seinfeld, Women are From Friends (Mancode), and I’m Fine. Deconstructed. (Chickspeak) certainly cement that fact.
But how did I get here? For millions of bloggers, those were the keys questions I was asking myself: how can I take my stories and put them into a book? Should I even bother? Will it translate?
Will anyone buy it?
I could have crawled up into a ball of indecision in my dirty martini (extra olives, of course) right then and there, but I knew a thing or two about social media and marketing (as well as writing, of course) so I pushed forward with my vision for my book. I knew I had written something people could relate to. How?
To keep my sanity as a SAHM, I wrote my first Mancode essay on my RachelintheOC.com blog about one year ago (April, 2010), titled it “Men are from Seinfeld, Women are from Friends,” and the response was overwhelming, immediate. Clearly, it wasn’t just my guy who went to the grocery store flummoxed by my note: BUY BREAD and would return instead with soup made in China I then had to check for lead content. Honestly.
Twenty-ish Mancode posts later, I had hit my brand, my goldmine. I expanded into Chickspeak, rounded it out with parenting, some real-life poignant stories of lost love, and felt I had enough to give readers a glimpse of me. Off it went to a professional editor and graphic artist and I had my book!
Why do men want to change the world but can’t change the toilet paper?
Clearly, I’m not talking rocket science here. I’m a humorist. My goal is to make you laugh, think, and give you a respite from your daily life of having to do laundry or yes, change the toilet paper roll!
I’m hard at work on my next book, The Mancode: A Survivor’s Tale. My husband is a good sport and to be honest, this Mancode stuff has been great shorthand for our going-on-nineteen-years marriage. Read the essay about Refrigeratoritis—you’ll know exactly what I mean.
Thank you to Alisha and My Need To Read for supporting me and my book A Walk In The Snark, and the Indie Book Collective on our Bestseller For A Day promotion this Wednesday, April 6th where my book will be just 99 cents! Help me launch up the Amazon charts (starting Monday through Wednesday)! Tell your friends, your mom, even your dog! Remember, you don’t need a Kindle to read my (or ANY) eBook. Just a computer or a smartphone.
As our Bonus Buy (2 for the price of 1), you can also purchase a fabulous collection of short stories and poems by fab fellow author Kimberly Kinrade. Her book Bits of You & Pieces of Me is also just 99 cents BUT if you return to the site and fill out our fairly painless form, Kimberly will rebate the purchase price. #Woot! Also, you get five entries into my contest to win up to FIVE $10 Amazon Gift Cards!!
Please email me if you have any questions or comments at RachelintheOC@gmail.com or come visit my blog anytime RachelintheOC.com or Twitter or Facebook or GoodReads. I’m everywhere (except, ya know, the kitchen). I also teach writers epublishing, social media and other cool stuff over at the Indie Book Collective so find me there as well.

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