Monday, October 20, 2014

The story so far...

After months of anticipation, built up over the summer by re-watching previous seasons with my son and remembering why this show is so incredibly cool, I went on vacation and had to DVR the premiere  episode to watch when I returned. Yes, I could have watched in my hotel room, but vacations aren't for watching grainy TV when the beach beckons just a few feet away, so I waited.

After laughing at the Super Special episode from the night before I couldn't help but feel like I'm missing the monster of the week format more than I thought. My own teen monster agrees with me. 

Anyhoo, with my popcorn popped and a cold Pepsi happily fizzing away well within reach I pushed play on season 10 to see what trouble Deanmon and Crowley were up to while we were away. Without really recapping, because I'm terrible at it, I can briefly touch on the highlights and what I think will be the overall story arc for the season. 

*A drunk and disorderly Dean romping with waitresses and singing horrible karaoke while killing time with his new bestie Crowley was an absolutely perfect way to kick off his stint as a demon. It's like he took every douchey thing he could think of an incorporated that into his new attitude, but the great part is that you still get these momentary glimpses of his humanity.

*Crowley. I just love his repartee with both Winchesters. His little nicknames for Sam and the no nonsense King of Hell attitude...classic Crowley. Love him!

*Oh, Sam. Please never change from the loyal and angsty brother willing to do anything and sacrifice all for family. If it ain't broke, don't fix it, right? I am very excited to see how Sam handles this new and not so improved Dean because he has that wonderful balance of forming a solid plan to flying off the handle. He has the tech savvy smarts, but can still kick your ass with one arm tied behind his back. Literally.

*Poor Castiel. The fading of his grace seems like the main arc for the season but I am really hoping they break it up with some monster hunting because the angels can be so frustrating. Besides that, I was totally hoping we were done with the evil M, but alas, there he sits in his sad little prison trying his damnedest to twist the minds of everyone he sees.

So there you have it. All is right with the world because we get our weekly dose of vitamin W. Now I just need to catch the hell up! ~Anna

Friday, October 17, 2014

Dracula Untold Review and Discussion

Well, I was really excited to see Dracula Untold, and I got to this week. It was mostly what I expected.

There were plenty of action and battle scenes, some romance, and Luke Evans looked hot in armor. As far as plot goes, it is sufficient but not anything that left me wowed. Mostly, it was just a fun vampire flick that focuses on the transformation of the character from a damaged man who had a dark past because he was a soldier who was warped by his training under the Ottomans, to a strong man who chooses darkness for the right reasons- to protect his family and kingdom. And for a fictional movie that's all fine and it works.

The problem I had with the movie, though, was that it actually isn't just straight fiction. it is based on a real person who actually lived, and was the inspiration for the original Dracula novel. Even the book loosely based the story on the actual person, and so it's no stretch for the movie to do the same. But where the traditional Dracula story paints Vlad as a true monster, this movie romanticizes a person who in reality was about as sick as they come. And that felt...weird.

The real Vlad the Impaler:
  • Was the on-again, off-again ruler of Wallachia.
  • Impaled his political enemies
  • When he wasn't impaling enemies, ordered anyone who defied him to be burned, skinned, nailed, buried alive, strangled, or to have their limbs, genitals or facial features cut off.
  • Sentenced others to work off their transgressions by building a fort for him. The work was so grueling and the conditions so harsh, that most of them died from this sentence as well.
  • Took steps to make impalement an even slower, more gruesome death than it had been already. (Used rounded stakes instead of pointed ones, oiled the stakes, used horses to pull the person down on to the stake, etc.)
  • Impaled women and children- sometimes mothers and infants shared a stake.
  • Did spend time as an Ottoman hostage, and did likely witness impalements while under their care. However, did not start his bloody career while under Ottoman supervision. His tortures and murders began with the people in his own country who were political rivals and other noblemen who opposed his rule. Then he took what he had learned by terrorizing his own people and used it to wage a psychological (and physical) war against the Turks.
  • To effect that goal, staked the enemies he conquered in battle and created a field of corpses for his enemies to witness.
  • Is rumored to have rounded up the poor of Wallachia and offered them a feast to show how generous he was. Then locked all the doors and burned the building down, effectively "fixing" the poverty and homeless issues in his kingdom.
  • Is rumored to have nailed hats to the heads of emissaries that refused to remove their head ware in his presence. Cause, I mean, how dare they.
  • Is rumored to have impaled a high ranking member of his own government for complaining about the smell of all those staked corpses rotting all over the place.
  • Poisoned wells in his own kingdom to kill off invading Turks. 
  • Burned his own villages when retreating his army, so that the Turks that pursued them would have nowhere to rest.
All in all, this doesn't paint a picture of a man who actually cared much for the people he ruled. He wasn't just cruel to his enemies, he ruled his own people with terror and an iron fist. And that makes it hard to watch a movie where a real person like that has their despicable history glossed over to make him more appealing and sympathetic. In Dracula Untold, Vlad is made into a man who just wants to protect his own from an evil that he is familiar with from his childhood, and his failing in the movie is that he tries to do so by making a deal with the devil. He means well, and he does save his people, but he ultimately fails because you can't bargain with evil and win.

Hey girl...I heard you like tormented heroes, so I impaled a village for you.

 So, I guess as a complete fiction, the movie would just be really cool for me. As something partly based on truth, though, it feels sketchy. Do I want Vlad the Impaler to be sexy? Do I want to in any way idolize a psychotic individual who went down in history as a butcher? Its weird. It's like someone in the far, far future making a fictional movie in which Hitler is portrayed as a man who only killed Jews for some noble reason. Would we want someone to make that movie? I doubt it.

So that was my take on it. I liked the movie, but it also made me feel creeped out. Not because the vampire scenes were so scary, but because the idea of finding a torturer, murderer, and despot sexy is just a wee bit unsettling.


Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Uncle Vampire

When I first read UNCLE VAMPIRE (1993), an unusual, deeply disturbing YA novel by Cynthia D. Grant, I waffled about whether to include it in my vampire fiction bibliography update. Does its content fall under the "delusion" category of my classification list, or does the author simply use "vampirism" as an extended metaphor for incestuous sexual abuse? On the latest reread, I've concluded that teenage narrator Carolyn actually does believe, on some level, that her uncle is draining blood from her and her twin sister, Honey. Yes, this information is a spoiler, since the truth isn't revealed until near the end of the book. Long before that point, though, Carolyn's first-person, present tense, stream of consciousness story drops hints to the reader that she's an unreliable narrator at best and has a shaky grasp on consensus reality. Nevertheless, it turns out that her uncle does almost literally, as she accuses, suck the life from her family and transform the household into a zombie version of itself.

Wrongness pervades this family under their facade of normality. The mother has been mentally ill in the past, although now supposedly cured. Carolyn's parents sometimes fight over thirty-five-year-old, under-employed Uncle Toddy, who lives with them. Her grades have dropped, and her teachers and friends notice her growing detachment. Her brother, Richie, also in high school, has become sullen and rebellious. Their older sister, Maggie, in whom Carolyn might be able to confide, makes excuses not to come home from college for holidays. Twin sister Honey, the perky, popular cheerleader, insists on maintaining the pretense that everything is fine. She berates Carolyn for bringing up Uncle Toddy's vampirism and won't consider telling anyone else the secret of his predation. Maggie's one long letter to Carolyn summarizes their plight ever since their mother's hospitalization: "Suddenly everything's supposed to be peachy—except we're tiptoeing around the house like it's a minefield."

Until the novel's climax, Grant skillfully maintains ambiguity about the true nature of "Uncle Vampire." Until that point, the book reads like a horror story of a literal bloodsucking vampire and a victim who can't speak out for fear of being considered insane like her mother. The climactic revelation includes another twist that I won't spoil for you. I didn't catch on in advance, although a sharper reader might. Viewing the world through the eyes of desperate, trapped Carolyn is truly chilling, but hope finally dawns. As the narrator eventually tells us, "It's hard to get rid of vampires. You have to drag them into the light." Grant creates a unique treatment of this serious real-life issue by framing it in supernatural imagery.

Margaret L. Carter

Carter's Crypt

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Mummy On The Orient Express


Doctor Who, Series 8, Episode 8

So Clara didn't stay away long, but we see her joining the Doctor for their final hurrah. They are taking the Orient Express in space, which sounds awesome, but there is a monster on board. Of course. This time it is a mysterious mummy that is only seen by its immediate victim. The legend says if you see "the Foretold," you have exactly 66 seconds to live. That's not much, and if there is a way to stop such a creature, you would have a terrible time figuring it out since it can't be seen and studied except by those with only moments to live. 

And it turns out, the guests on the train are not random passengers, but rather, experts hand-selected by a mysterious person named Gus, who put together a team to understand and control the Foretold. Each person on the train, including the Doctor, has some background that makes them qualified to possibly solve this riddle...or die trying. 

"Gus" doesn't seem to have a problem throwing innocent people at this monster like cannon fodder.  And we learn that this isn't the first time that such a trip has been taken, and the previous guests died in vain. Not only that, but we also discover that the Doctor has been invited to take this particular trip several times already, but had always declined before, and that Gus had called the phone box to extend that invite. Hmmm. Is he connected to Missy somehow? Will we see this character in a future plot-line? I am betting yes.

But all of that drama, interesting as it is, is only a backdrop for the real tension in the episode, which is- will Clara really break it off with the Doctor for good?

 (And as an aside- Clara looked adorable in this show. I loved the short hair and the flapper girl dress.)

It certainly seems that way, right up until the end. She talks to the Doctor about leaving and asks him if it is an addiction- being the man who makes the impossible decisions. He says simply that its what he does. She then talks to Danny on the phone, tells him she'll be home soon, hangs up and promptly tells the Doctor never mind the whole last hurrah business, let's go see some more planets as long as you get me back on time. And instantly, it sounds like she is the one with the addiction. She is lying to her loved ones, doing something that goes against her better judgment, and is unable to walk away from the adrenaline rush that she gets from saving the world all of the time. 

So, for now, it looks like Clara is back on board the TARDIS, but for how long? And will this have consequences for her and Danny? I'd be inclined to think so. 

Next week's episode trailer- "Flatline"-

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Fall New Release Books

Here are some books coming out in October and November that VampChix might like!

Redeemed, by P.C. & Kristin Cast
Release Date:  October 14th
"In the final electrifying novel in the HoN series, Neferet has finally made herself known to mortals. A Dark Goddess is loose on Tulsa and the world. No single vampyre is strong enough to vanquish her - unless that creature has the power to summon the elements as well as the ability to wield Old Magick. Only Zoey Redbird is heir to such power…but because of the consequences of using Old Magick, she is unable to help. Find out who will win and who will lose in this epic battle of Light versus Darkness."

As You Wish, by Cary Elwes 
Release Date: October 14th
"From actor Cary Elwes, who played the iconic role of Westley in The Princess Bride, comes a first-person account and behind-the-scenes look at the making of the cult classic film filled with never-before-told stories, exclusive photographs, and interviews with costars Robin Wright, Wallace Shawn, Billy Crystal, Christopher Guest, and Mandy Patinkin, as well as author and screenwriter William Goldman, producer Norman Lear, and director Rob Reiner.
The Princess Bride has been a family favorite for close to three decades. Ranked by the American Film Institute as one of the top 100 Greatest Love Stories and by the Writers Guild of America as one of the top 100 screenplays of all time, The Princess Bride will continue to resonate with audiences for years to come.
Cary Elwes was inspired to share his memories and give fans an unprecedented look into the creation of the film while participating in the twenty-fifth anniversary cast reunion. In As You Wish he has created an enchanting experience; in addition to never-before seen photos and interviews with his fellow cast mates, there are plenty of set secrets and backstage stories.
With a foreword by Rob Reiner and a limited edition original poster by acclaimed artist Shepard Fairey, As You Wish is a must-have for all fans of this beloved film."

Blue Lily, Lily Blue, by Maggie Stiefvater
Release Date: October 21st
"The third installment in the mesmerizing series from the irrepressible, #1 NEW YORK TIMES bestselling author Maggie Stiefvater.
Blue Sargent has found things. For the first time in her life, she has friends she can trust, a group to which she can belong. The Raven Boys have taken her in as one of their own. Their problems have become hers, and her problems have become theirs.
The trick with found things, though, is how easily they can be lost.
Friends can betray.
Mothers can disappear.
Visions can mislead.
Certainties can unravel.
In a starred review, THE BULLETIN called THE DREAM THIEVES, the previous book in The Raven Cycle, "a complex web of magical intrigue and heart-stopping action." Now, with BLUE LILY, LILY BLUE, the web becomes even more complex, snaring readers at every turn."

Prince Lestat, by Anne Rice
Release Date: October 28th
"Rice once again summons up the irresistible spirit-world of the oldest and most powerful forces of the night, invisible beings unleashed on an unsuspecting world able to take blood from humans, in a long-awaited return to the extraordinary world of the Vampire Chronicles and the uniquely seductive Queen of the Damned("mesmerizing" -SF Chronicle), a long-awaited novel that picks up where The Vampire Lestat ("brilliant…its undead characters are utterly alive" -New York Times) left off more than a quarter of a century ago to create an extraordinary new world of spirits and forces-the characters, legend, and lore of all the Vampire Chronicles.
The novel opens with the vampire world in crisis…vampires have been proliferating out of control; burnings have commenced all over the world, huge massacres similar to those carried out by Akasha in The Queen of the Damned…Old vampires, roused from slumber in the earth are doing the bidding of a Voice commanding that they indiscriminately burn vampire-mavericks in cities from Paris and Mumbai to Hong Kong, Kyoto, and San Francisco.
As the novel moves from present-day New York and the West Coast to ancient Egypt, fourth century Carthage, 14th-century Rome, the Venice of the Renaissance, the worlds and beings of all the Vampire Chronicles-Louis de Pointe du Lac; the eternally young Armand, whose face is that of a Boticelli angel; Mekare and Maharet, Pandora and Flavius; David Talbot, vampire and ultimate fixer from the secret Talamasca; and Marius, the true Child of the Millennia; along with all the other new seductive, supernatural creatures-come together in this large, luxuriant, fiercely ambitious novel to ultimately rise up and seek out who-or what-the Voice is, and to discover the secret of what it desires and why…
And, at the book's center, the seemingly absent, curiously missing hero-wanderer, the dazzling, dangerous rebel-outlaw-the great hope of the Undead, the dazzling Prince Lestat…"

Blood Magick, by Nora Roberts
Release Date: October 28th
"County Mayo is rich in the traditions of Ireland, legends that Branna O’Dwyer fully embraces in her life and in her work as the proprietor of The Dark Witch shop, which carries soaps, lotions, and candles for tourists, made with Branna’s special touch.
Branna’s strength and selflessness hold together a close circle of friends and family—along with their horses and hawks and her beloved hound. But there’s a single missing link in the chain of her life: love…
She had it once—for a moment—with Finbar Burke, but a shared future is forbidden by history and blood. Which is why Fin has spent his life traveling the world to fill the abyss left in him by Branna, focusing on work rather than passion.
Branna and Fin’s relationship offers them both comfort and torment. And though they succumb to the heat between them, there can be no promises for tomorrow. A storm of shadows threatens everything that their circle holds dear. It will be Fin’s power, loyalty, and heart that will make all the difference in an age-old battle between the bonds that hold their friends together and the evil that has haunted their families for centuries."

Waistcoats and Weaponry, by Gail Carriger
Release Date: November 4th
"Class is back in session...
Sophronia continues her second year at finishing school in style—with a steel-bladed fan secreted in the folds of her ball gown, of course. Such a fashionable choice of weapon comes in handy when Sophronia, her best friend Dimity, sweet sootie Soap, and the charming Lord Felix Mersey stowaway on a train to return their classmate Sidheag to her werewolf pack in Scotland. No one suspected what—or who—they would find aboard that suspiciously empty train. Sophronia uncovers a plot that threatens to throw all of London into chaos and she must decide where her loyalties lie, once and for all."
Gather your poison, steel tipped quill, and the rest of your school supplies and join Mademoiselle Geraldine's proper young killing machines in the third rousing installment in the New York Times bestselling Finishing School Series by steampunk author, Gail Carriger."

Revival, by Stephen King
Release Date: November 11th
"A dark and electrifying novel about addiction, fanaticism, and what might exist on the other side of life.
In a small New England town, over half a century ago, a shadow falls over a small boy playing with his toy soldiers. Jamie Morton looks up to see a striking man, the new minister. Charles Jacobs, along with his beautiful wife, will transform the local church. The men and boys are all a bit in love with Mrs. Jacobs; the women and girls feel the same about Reverend Jacobs—including Jamie’s mother and beloved sister, Claire. With Jamie, the Reverend shares a deeper bond based on a secret obsession. When tragedy strikes the Jacobs family, this charismatic preacher curses God, mocks all religious belief, and is banished from the shocked town.
Jamie has demons of his own. Wed to his guitar from the age of thirteen, he plays in bands across the country, living the nomadic lifestyle of bar-band rock and roll while fleeing from his family’s horrific loss. In his mid-thirties—addicted to heroin, stranded, desperate—Jamie meets Charles Jacobs again, with profound consequences for both men. Their bond becomes a pact beyond even the Devil’s devising, and Jamie discovers that revival has many meanings.
This rich and disturbing novel spans five decades on its way to the most terrifying conclusion Stephen King has ever written. It’s a masterpiece from King, in the great American tradition of Frank Norris, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Edgar Allan Poe."

The Bane Chronicles, by Cassandra Clark, Sarah Rees Brennan & Maureen Johnson
Release Date: November 11th
"Fans of The Mortal Instruments and The Infernal Devices can get to know warlock Magnus Bane like never before in this collection of New York Times bestselling tales, in print for the first time with an exclusive new story and illustrated material.
This collection of eleven short stories illuminates the life of the enigmatic Magnus Bane, whose alluring personality, flamboyant style, and sharp wit populate the pages of the #1 New York Times bestselling series, The Mortal Instruments and The Infernal Devices.
Originally released one-by-one as e-only short stories by Cassandra Clare, Maureen Johnson, and Sarah Rees Brennan, this compilation presents all ten together in print for the first time and includes a never-before-seen eleventh tale, as well as new illustrated material."

 Clockwork Princess, by Cassandra Clare
Release Date: November 11th
A net of shadows begins to tighten around the Shadowhunters of the London Institute. Mortmain plans to use his Infernal Devices, an army of pitiless automatons, to destroy the Shadowhunters. He needs only one last item to complete his plan: he needs Tessa Gray.
Charlotte Branwell, head of the London Institute, is desperate to find Mortmain before he strikes. But when Mortmain abducts Tessa, the boys who lay equal claim to her heart, Jem and Will, will do anything to save her. For though Tessa and Jem are now engaged, Will is as much in love with her as ever.
As those who love Tessa rally to rescue her from Mortmain’s clutches, Tessa realizes that the only person who can save her is herself. But can a single girl, even one who can command the power of angels, face down an entire army?
Danger and betrayal, secrets and enchantment, and the tangled threads of love and loss intertwine as the Shadowhunters are pushed to the very brink of destruction in the breathtaking conclusion to the Infernal Devices trilogy."

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Cover reveal: Under His Touch by Jeffe Kennedy

Amber Dolors knows better than to get involved with her boss. Devastatingly handsome in his sharp suits, sexy beyond belief, he possesses an air of command that fuels her darkest fantasies. But being the assistant to his assistant’s assistant represents an opportunity golden enough to outweigh other considerations. Even if his way of giving orders and demanding her best performance gives her delicious warm shivers inside.

Alexander Knight prides himself on his integrity and self-discipline. After all, he hasn’t risen to the position he enjoys by indulging his whims over ambition. He also isn’t blind. He’s certainly noticed his sharp, young assistant is hot as hell. His self-imposed sexual hermitage doesn’t stop him from watching her. And fantasizing.

The day Alec’s cool reserve cracks and Amber catches a glimpse of something simmering beneath his apparent indifference is the day everything between them changes. Alec gives her what she’s been looking for sexually—as masterful in the bedroom as he is in the boardroom. But what will it take to soothe his wounded soul?

About the Author:

Jeffe Kennedy is an award-winning author with a writing career that spans decades. Her works include non-fiction, poetry, short fiction, and novels. She has been a Ucross Foundation Fellow, received the Wyoming Arts Council Fellowship for Poetry, and was awarded a Frank Nelson Doubleday Memorial Award. Her essays have appeared in many publications, including Redbook.

Her most recent works include a number of fiction series: the fantasy romance novels of A Covenant of Thorns; the contemporary BDSM novellas of the Facets of Passion, and an erotic contemporary serial novel, Master of the Opera, which released beginning January 2, 2014. A fourth series, the fantasy trilogy The Twelve Kingdoms, hit the shelves starting in May 2014 and a fifth, the highly anticipated erotic romance trilogy, Falling Under, will release starting in July.

She lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico, with two Maine coon cats, plentiful free-range lizards and a very handsome Doctor of Oriental Medicine.

Jeffe can be found online at her website:, every Sunday at the popular Word Whores blog, on Facebook, and pretty much constantly on Twitter @jeffekennedy. She is represented by Foreword Literary.

American Horror Story: Freak Show Premiere


American Horror Story is back with Freak Show! And the premiere episode showed us that it is going to be weird and wonderful. Oh, and terrifying.

We were introduced to Bettie and Dot Tattler, the Siamese twins who recently murdered their own mother. We met Ethel and Jimmy Darling- a mother and son pair of freaks- she, the bearded lady, and he the lobster man. "Ma Petite" is the world's tiniest woman, "Paul, the Illustrated Seal" has flipper arms and tattoos, and of course, Pepper is back.

We also met "Twisty the Clown" and he is one of the most horrifying things I have seen in a long time. He seems to be wearing someone else's skin on his head for a hat, and he has a hideous, frozen, toothy smile that just amplifies the crazed look in his eyes. He is fond of stabbing people to death, and when he's not doing that he's locking them up in his trailer of terror and making balloon animals for them. He is not part of the troupe, but he is seen hanging around their tents and I doubt he has good intentions.

The rest of the freaks are a family, bound together by Fräulein Elsa Mars, a German woman, played by Jessica Lange. Elsa has wanted to be a glamorous star all of her life, and she has only managed to become the ringleader for a circus of sideshow acts. Initially, you assume she is "normal" herself, and has used the freak show as a venue to try to showcase her own talent, but at the end of the episode, you discover that she, too is an amputee, and fits in better with her comrades that she probably wants to.

But the family is not just a refuge for the different and the disposed of. There is a darkness there, under the surface. Jimmy Darling kills a police officer that came looking for Bettie and Dot, and the troupe gathers around the corpse to mutilate it. And Elsa has a dark side too. She invites a candy-striper from the hospital to come to the show, and once there, she gives the girl drugs and films her getting um...freaky with the freaks. What is her motivation, you wonder. Maybe just to take some pretty, "normal" girl and defile her? Is it jealousy or is she just sick? It's hard to say after just one episode. But although they aren't full-blown serial killers, like Twisty, they definitely aren't just innocent victims of a society that shuns them.

And there are some really bizarre and surreal moments. Jimmy the Lobster Lad is a hit with the ladies- on the down low, of course. He gets paid to attend parties and pleasure women with his unique appendages, and then he sneaks out the back door and back to the tents before anyone else in polite society knows he's ever been there. That seems a bit weird. Just the idea that 1950s wives would be having a tupperware-style sex party kind of makes me giggle. Frances Conroy plays a wealthy mother to a psycho son who wants to buy Bettie and Dot- for what purpose we have no idea. And then there's the first show we get to see. The freaks are doing what we expect- showing off their attributes under the spotlights- and Elsa has a big song number. Except, it's David Bowie's Life on Mars, and she is even wearing a baby blue suit and eyeshadow, ala Bowie, himself. Oooookay. It was truly odd, but also kind of perfectly suited to a show that is going to be completely crazy.

 One thing that was bizarre, but not in a good way, was Kathy Bates' accent. I couldn't quite tell what region she was supposed to be from. It almost sounded Southern at moments, and then it would slip into something more New England- almost Canadian but then, no...not that either. it was just sort of muddled. Hmm. Honestly, I expect better from her. Oh well.

So, for next week, it looks like  Angela Bassett, Denis O'Hare, Michael Chiklis, and Emma Roberts will be joining us. Looks like it's going to be a weird ride, guys.


Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Divinity Blog Tour

DIVINITY: A Divine Novel by Michelle L. Johnson
When Julia climbs into a flaming car to save a trapped child, she's left wondering why either of them survived. Then she learns that her father is the Archangel Gabriel, and that she is half human, half Archangel.   

With guidance from Michael, the most powerful Archangel, Julia sets out to discover her own history and explore her angelic powers. But her journey is cut short when an evil force, invisible to human and angel alike, tears her world apart.   Now Julia must fight through her despair, harness her newfound gifts, and risk her very soul to stop the A'nwel and protect the family she never knew she had.   

What she doesn't know is that Archangels have secrets too.


“I appeared to her in the manner we agreed upon. No sudden surprises,” Gabriel continued his defense.
“Yes, we have lost far too many to heart attacks. At least we have learned that lesson. Humans simply aren’t used to things just appearing in front of them. They need a lead in,” Michael mused. “They seem oddly comfortable with sudden disappearances, on the other hand.”
“She hates me,” Gabriel said as he ruffled his wings, adjusting the way they lay on his back. It was the angel equivalent of drumming one’s fingers or tapping a foot to show impatience. “It is in her eyes. She believes that everything bad that has happened to her was my fault.”
“They always believe that. She will learn otherwise. All right, you followed instructions,” Michael grudgingly conceded. “But we will need to bring her back into balance. Her fate overshadows us all.”
“We have made her strong,” Gabriel began, the recognition of Michael’s thoughts flashing in his eyes.
“Now let us help make her whole,” Michael finished.

Michelle L. Johnson is the author of DIVINITY, a supernatural urban fantasy, and the author of THE FOOTLOOSE KILLER, a mystery. She's also a literary agent, a coffee lover beyond reason, and has a fascination with the workings of the human mind.

Her key influences have been Stephen King, Anne Rice, and C.S. Lewis, but is inspired by every author to put pen to paper.

Michelle lives in Jacksonville, Florida with her muse and her rambunctious Cocker Spaniel, Sammy.

Stalk the author on Twitter!
Visit the author’s Website!

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Pawlease help us celebrate Animal Welfare Week (with giveaway!)

Pawlease help us celebrate Animal Welfare Week (October 5-11) and National Animal Shelter and Rescue Appreciation Week (November 2-8) with DOGHOUSE and the Gin & Tonic Mystery Series by L.A. Kornetsky!

Author Guest Post:

I’m getting ready for a move, and part of that is decluttering.  Getting rid of things – objects, old paperwork – that I don’t need to haul with me any more.

But in a folder of otherwise no-longer-needed papers, there’s a sheet I’m keeping.  It’s from the ASPCA, and it documents my adoption of the kitten once known as Minna, who became my beloved Pandora, gone now a little over a year.

There’s no point to keeping the sheet of paper.  All it does is say that I paid x amount for a 4 month old female tiger kitten, spayed.  But throwing it out isn’t an option, either.  Because this was the first connection I had to Pandora, the first contract we made with each other: I would give her food, shelter, care, and a lap when she wanted it.  I would give her a home.  And in return, she gave me such love and companionship, letting her go at the end was no less a pain than losing a human friend.

I don’t have documentation from Indy-J, who was found on the street as a weeks-old kitten, and lived a long and adventurous life before cancer took her in 2000.  But Pandora’s adoption paper will go in the current file, along with the papers for  our current residents, Boomerang (aka Boomer you idiot), and Castiel the Kitten of Thursday (aka DamnitCas).

Because you keep the important moments, the documents that say “this is how you changed my life.”

(and some of you may note that I invite disaster in the renaming of my cats.  You would not be wrong.  But where’s the fun of living with Sir Napsalot?)

Summary of Doghouse:

Amateur sleuths Ginny Mallard and Teddy Tonica and their furry partners prove in L.A. Kornetsky’s DOGHOUSE (Pocket Books; July 22, 2014; $7.99) that twelve legs are better than four when it comes to solving a risky new case in the third novel from the “entertaining” (Library Journal) Gin & Tonic mystery series.  At her favorite Seattle bar, professional concierge Ginny Mallard can always count on a perfectly mixed gimlet and a friendly welcome for her shar-pei, Georgie, from resident cat, Penny.  On this visit, Ginny gets an unexpected bonus.  One of the regulars asks her and her sometime partner, bartender Teddy Tonica, to save an old friend who’s facing eviction.  This is no simple landlord spat.  Rumors abound of an underground dogfighting ring on the premises—a crime guaranteed to get Gin’s hackles up. Gin and Teddy want to believe the old man is innocent of all charges, thought a new piece of evidence suggests otherwise.  Penny and Georgie keep their noses to the ground as they help their humans investigate the vicious animal rights case.  But the truth is buried deep, and digging it up will unearth dangerous complications for owners and animals alike.

Praise for the third Gin & Tonic Mystery, Doghouse:

“Infamously nosy Ginny Mallard may be unlicensed as an investigator, but she has begun to make a name for herself as the unofficial champion of the tongue-tied.  In the third installment of L.A. Kornetsky’s Gin & Tonic Mystery series, Doghouse finds Ginny getting herself tied up in a possible underground dogfighting ring.  With help from her bartender friend Teddy Tonica, his tabby cat and Ginny’s Shar Pei puppy, they have to figure out what’s going on before someone else gets hurt.”
—Cat Fancy Magazine, November 2014 issue

“Human and animal characters are equally appealing.  A thoroughly enjoyable read.”  I Love a Mystery

Doghouse is a crafty mystery with engaging characters and countless unknowns…L.A. Kornetsky makes mysteries inventively delightful, and Doghouse entertains with wit and cleverness.”  Single Titles

“I recommend it to those that really like animals and cozy mysteries.”  Books and Things

“The third Gin & Tonic “researchtigations” is an appealing anthropomorphist amateur sleuth enhanced by life in a cheerful neighborhood bar. The lead humans and their animal owners remain fresh leads while the case proves bloody in the ring and the bar.”  The Mystery Gazette

“Sniffing out clues…L.A. Kornetsky brings back Ginny Mallard and her bartender friend Teddy Tonica, along with Ginny's pet shar-pei puppy and Teddy’s tabby cat, for their third outing in Doghouse.  Library Journal

Praise for the second Gin & Tonic Mystery, Fixed:
“[Fixed] is the second foray into the lives of a very unlikely pair of investigators; unlikely and a whole lot of fun…Collared was the first title that introduced this extremely fun ‘family and friends’ grouping, and the author has come back with a sequel that will truly make Gin & Tonic a well-known duo! Very light-hearted, this is a great book. Any reader who likes the ‘cozy’ avenue will love this mystery, with a little bit of cat and dog language thrown in for fun.”  Suspense Magazine

Praise for the first Gin & Tonic Mystery, Collared:
“The plot moves quickly, enhanced by smart dialog and good characterizations…Recommended for purchase where pet mysteries are popular.”  Library Journal

Chapter 1 excerpt:

Theodore—Teddy to nearly everyone not related by blood—Tonica was king of his domain. Or maybe ringleader was a better description, he thought with a grin, snapping the bar towel in his hand at a patron who tried to reach over the bar and change the music. “Hands off the dial, Joel.” The radio was set to a local jazz station, and it didn’t get turned up any higher than could be heard at the bar itself. Those were the rules, and everyone knew it.

The joint was jumping—well, jumping for a relatively quiet part of Seattle early on a Thursday evening, anyway. The eleven bar stools were in use, and most of the chairs were taken, too, people settling in to stay for a while. It wasn’t the crazed rush of a weekend, but there was enough work to keep both hands busy. Teddy set up two beers and pushed them across the bar with a professional flourish, then paused to check on his waitress.

Stacy was working the floor, moving around the tables with economy, unloading her tray, taking orders, and swiping empties. He’d been worried that once she was boosted up to off-shift bartender she’d not want to waitress anymore, but Stacy seemed to slip between the two roles without hesitation or ego. He suspected that she made more money in tips as a waitress, anyway. The regulars here weren’t stingy. You couldn’t be, if you wanted to keep coming back week after week. And people did.

The phone in his pocket vibrated slightly, and instinct moved his hand toward it, even though he knew better. The motion was checked when the guy leaning against the bar held up a hand with several bills folded between his fingers. Teddy nodded in the guy’s direction, holding up his index finger to say he’d be right there. He fished the phone out of his pocket and checked the number, even though he was pretty sure who was calling. “Not now, people, not now,” he muttered, tapping the button to refuse the call, and shoving the phone back into his pocket. His sisters and cousins seemed to think that he needed to be dragged into the latest family flap. He disagreed, vehemently.

This was why he’d left the East Coast.

“What can I do for ya?” he asked, finally turning to the new customer. The guy ordered a winter ale and a Pink Squirrel. Because Teddy was a professional, he didn’t roll his eyes at the order, even though he wanted to. It embarrassed him that he actually knew how to make a Pink Squirrel. Mary’s was a respectable neighborhood bar, a place for draft beers and classy drinks, not foofy sugar-bombs. But the customer was always right, so long as they were sober.

He supposed it could have been worse. After a local newspaper did a puff piece on the “crime-solving bartender” and the exotic cat smuggling case they’d worked last year, Patrick, the owner of the bar, had suggested that they create a specialty drink, something cat-related. Teddy had managed to avoid doing it long enough that he hoped that idea had died a natural death. He was a bartender, not a mixologist, or whatever the trendy title was these days. Patrick could run specials like that at his new place when it opened, not here.

“Besides,” Teddy said now, lifting his head to look at the top of the shelves behind him, “you’re the only cat that this bar needs.”

Only the tip of her tail and the edge of one white-dipped paw were visible, but he was pretty sure Penny’s whiskers twitched in agreement. Not that an animal could understand the words, but the fact that the little tabby considered Mary’s her domain—and Teddy her human—was a fact among the regulars of the bar. Even he’d come to accept it. He laughed at himself now. Who knew letting a bedraggled kitten come in out of the rain would turn him into . . . well, a pet person was overstating the matter, but a specific animal person, anyway.

The front door opened, a burst of wet air rushing in, and someone yelled out a complaint before the door was quickly shut again. Even without looking up, Teddy knew who had come in, because Penny leaped down from her perch, landing gracefully on the back counter. She only ever reacted like that for one visitor.

“One gimlet, just like the lady likes,” he said, pulling up the ingredients even as Ginny slid up to the bar. As crowded as it had been, a stool suddenly opened for her, and she took it like a queen accepting her throne.

“One of these days,” the blonde said, “I’m going to come in here and order a beer, just to mess with you.”

“No you won’t.”

Ginny laughed. “No, I probably won’t. But I might.”

She might, he thought, especially if she thought she could catch him out. Ginny Mallard had a streak of mischief a mile wide for all that she looked like butter wouldn’t melt in her mouth just then. Either she’d had a good day at the office, or he was about to get hit with the worst joke he’d ever heard. Or, possibly, both.

“And hello to you, too, Mistress Penny,” she said to the cat, who gave her a delicate sniff and then leaped down to the floor to visit with the newcomer she was actually interested in, Ginny’s shar-pei, Georgie, who was happily settling at her mistress’s feet.

Until recently, Georgie, like all other canines whose owners frequented Mary’s, had been relegated to the sidewalk outside. There was an unofficial tie-up next to the bike rack where dogs could rest in the shade, out of the way of foot traffic. Since Teddy had become manager, those rules had been loosened, until Georgie now took it as much her right to come inside as it was Ginny’s.

One cat and one dog. That was as far as he’d let himself slip.

About the author:

L. A. Kornetsky is the author of two previous Gin & Tonic mysteries.  She lives in New York City with two cats and a time-share dog, and also writes fantasy under the name Laura Anne Gilman.  She welcomes visitors to and Facebook L-A-Kornetsky.

If you'd like to win a copy of Doghouse just comment on this post and I'll consult the magic fish bowl next week. Sorry, international friends, since I am covering shipping this is only open to those with a US address. ~Anna