This Month's Sound

I love music. Always have. I like scouring the net looking for and listening to all the new sounds that artists put out.  I'm constantly amazed by it.  Here are some tunes I've been listening to this month...

** I never ever EVER steal from artists (bands or writers).  Everything posted here was either from a free download provided by the band, or from my own music library.**


DARE Review: Backstage Pass

Olivia Cunning
Contemperary Romance/Erotic Fiction
384 pages
Sinners on Tour #1
Chapter 1

It's been months since Brian Sinclair, lead guitarist for the famous rock band, Sinners, composed anything. Unable to write the music that once flowed so naturally, Brian is lost without his musical mojo. But when sexy psychology professor Myrna Evans comes on tour to study groupie mentality, Brian may have found the spark he needs to reignite his musical genius. When lust turns to love, will Brian be able to convince Myrna that what they have is more than just a fling, and that now that he's found his heart's muse, he doesn't want to live without her?


Review: Magic at the Gate

Devon Monk
Urban Fantasy
346 pages
Allie Beckstrom #5

Allie Beckstrom's lover, Zayvion Jones, is a Guardian of the Gate, imbued with both light and dark magic and responsible for ensuring that those energies don't mix. But Zayvion lies in a coma, his soul trapped in death's realm. And when Allie discovers that the only way to save Zayvion is to sacrifice her very own magical essence, she makes a decision that may have grave consequences for the entire world


Two Bloggers, One Interview, TWO Giveaways with Jaye Wells

Jaye Wells, author of the Sabina Kane series, was kind enough to submit to an interrogation from Kristin at MyBookishWays and myself as she gears up for her series' latest release, Green-Eyed Demon, which releases today.

MBW: For those readers that are unfamiliar with Sabina Kane, can you tell us a little about the series?

The series is about a half-mage, half-vampire assassin named Sabina Kane. Because mating between the races is forbidden and Sabina's of mixed blood, she is an outcast who's trying to find her place in a dangerous world. What's worse, a war is brewing between the races and she must decide whose side she's on--the mages, the vampires or her own.

MBW: It's obvious from your writing that you know your way around a fight (cause Sabina kicks serious butt). What kind of research did you do for the fight scenes?
What's funny is the only fight I've ever had was a schoolyard slap fight in fourth grade. That means I do a lot of internet research to make sure the scenes are both exciting and believable. I have also taken combat workshops, self-defense classes and kick-boxing. But, really, a good fight scene is like any other well-written scene-there has to be conflict, emotion and pacing. The rest is all choreography.

MBW: In Green Eyed Demon, much of Sabina's time in the book is spent in New Orleans. It's such an awesome setting, rich in magic and voodoo! Did you spend time there for your research?
Yes! My family and I went to NOLA last year for Spring Break. We did lots of "research" on food, especially the beignets. But we also visited the voodoo museum, rode on the trolley, did cemetery tours, walked through the Garden District, etc. I took lots of pictures and just absorbed the unique culture and atmosphere. The trip provided lots of ideas for settings and other elements. One of the best "business trips" I've ever taken, that's for sure.

Spinecracker: I've been fortunate enough to have read GED, and I have to say I was floored. The characters have really come into their own, if you will. As a writer, when you set out to start this series did you know where your characters would end up? Or does it sometimes surprise you as well?
Thanks! I'm glad you enjoyed GED. It was a blast to write.

Unfortunately, I am not one of those writers who can plot out an entire series before I write the first book. A lot of the story choices have been the result of me fumbling my way through the stories and making discoveries. But it keeps things fresh and interesting. That said, I did have specific goals for Sabina's character arc from the outset. The plots are developed force her to grow as a character.

Spinecracker: GED somewhat completed a story arc in my opinion...not to say that everything is entirely wrapped up nice and pretty. What do you have planned for Sabina and the rest of the crew looking forward (that you can tell us)
Yes, I did intentionally wrap up a couple of story arcs in GED. But, you'll notice, I also sewed the seeds for some new arcs. GED represents a big pivot in Sabina's life. Even as she resolves certain issues, new ones crop up. Kind of like life, right?

It's tough to discuss what to look forward to because everything that's coming hinges on things that happen in GED. I can say that Sabina has a lot of challenges in store before the series concludes. And some of the issues you thought were resolved neatly will unravel in surprising ways.

Spinecracker: You consider yourself a planster (a little pantser, a little plotter) and I think it's cool that you go with the flow. Do you have any writing rituals to get you in the mood, get the creative juices flowing?
The only ritual is coffee and lots of it. It's a requirement. Otherwise, every day is a little different. But at the beginning of each book, I do tend to put together a play list for that book to help me focus on the themes I want to explore.

MBW: Is it tough balancing a family with writing, or have you found your "groove"?
Well, it's easier now that my son is in school full time. Plus I have an incredibly supportive husband, who takes care of laundry and the minutiae of living when I'm under deadline. I won't say we've totally found our "groove" but we make it work. I've given up trying to be superwoman.

Spinecracker: I read that you're planning on ending the series after 5 books. Is that still the case? If so, do you have plans for life after Sabina Kane?
Five books is the plan. I'm getting ready to start the fifth book now, so we'll see how it goes. There's a lot of loose ends to tie up. As for after that, I have a new series idea I'm hoping to pitch this summer. It's scary and exciting to think about leaving Sabina and the gang behind. But I'd rather end the series where I feel it should end than manufacture conflict to keep it going.

MBW: To add to Jessica's questions, can you give us any teasers about upcoming projects or Sabina adventures?
I do have one project I haven't mentioned much. On April 18, Orbit is releasing a Sabina Kane short story in ebook format. Those who've read Green-Eyed Demon will remember that Giguhl's girlfriend Valva disappeared between books two and three. VIOLET TENDENCIES will tell the story of what happened to Valva. For kindle users, here's a link to preorder. But it should be out in most ebook formats, so definitely check it out.

MBW: Giguhl has been unlucky in love. Dare we have hope for his love life?
Poor, Giguhl. Unfortunately, Mischief demons don't do so well with monogamy. It doesn't help that as Sabina's minion he's not really free to pursue a relationship. Only time will tell if the demon will get a love of his own.

Like we mentioned, there will be 2 giveaways happening for all you Wells/Sabina/Giguhl fans out there.  Here at the Spinecracker, we'll be giving away a copy of Green-Eyed Demon, Wells' latest novel, for your very own.  Then head to MyBookishWays to enter to win the audio version of Red-Headed Stepchild, the first book of the series.  Here are the giveaway details:

  • US and CAN
  • Your comment is your entry. (blog followers get 2 entries)
  • Contest ends Tuesday, March 1st
  • Winner will be announced here March 2nd, so please check back.


Review: Magic on the Storm

Devon Monk
Urban Fantasy
344 pages
Allie Beckstrom #4
Chapter 1
ROC/Penguin Usa 

Allison Beckstrom is committed to her work tracing illegal spells. Now, there's an apocalyptic storm bearing down on Portland, and when it hits, all the magic in the area will turn unstable and destructive. To stop it from taking out the entire city, Allie and her lover, the mysterious Zayvion Jones, must work with the Authority-the enigmatic arbiters of all things magic-and take a stand against a magical wildstorm that will obliterate all in its path...


Coming Up...

Apologies for not having a "coming up" post for you last Sunday.  My mother flew into town last Wednesday and we went to Palm Springs for the weekend, and she has no internet access at her place *gasp*  It was actually really nice to get away, and just hottub (yes I'm using "hottub" as a verb), play tennis, swim, cook and watch movies.  I was extremely tempted to just stay the week there with her. But I only had 2 books with me! Instead I came home and spent the week hounding for a job, and then shopping for outfits for said future job.


Review- The Bride of Casa Dracula

Marta Acosta
Paranormal Fiction
368 pages
Casa Dracula #3
Simon & Schuster


Milagro De Los Santos is having serious problems planning her wedding to fabulous Oswald Grant, M.D. Her future in-laws loathe her, her dog just died, and Oswald's family has a genetic anomaly that makes them crave blood. Then her extravagant best friend hijacks the role of wedding coordinator, and the secretive Vampire Council assigns conniving Cornelia Ducharme to guide the couple through the ancient vampire marriage rituals.

To top it all off, Milagro's career is on the skids. She's reduced to ghost-writing the memoirs of a loony little man who claims to be a shapeshifter. And why does Cornelia's decadent, way too attractive brother, Ian, always show up whenever Milagro is away from Oswald? When a series of accidents interferes with wedding plans, Oswald worries that Milagro is cracking under the pressure. Is she just paranoid, or is a hidden enemy trying to make sure Milagro doesn't wed the undead?


Early Review: Green Eyed Demon

Jaye Wells
Urban Fantasy
352 pages
Sabina Kane #3
1st Chapter


The clock is ticking for Sabina Kane. Her sister has been kidnapped by her grandmother, the Dark Races are on the brink of war, and a mysterious order is manipulating everyone behind the scenes.

Working on information provided by an unlikely ally, Sabina and her trusty sidekicks–a sexy mage named Adam Lazarus and Giguhl, a Mischief demon–head to New Orleans to begin the hunt for her sister. Once there, they must contend with belligerent werewolves, magic-wielding vampires and–perhaps most frightening of all–humans.

But as much as Sabina is focused on surviving the present, the past won’t be ignored. Before she can save those she cares about most, she must save herself from the ghosts of her past.


A Valentine's Message

There are so many great bloggers out there that I'd like to consider virtual friends, but Valentine's Day is all about picking that one special person and making sure they're aware of how much they mean to you.   For me, there is only one.  Julie at Yummy Men and Kick Ass Chicks is one of the nicest people I've ever meet.  She's funny, and thoughtful and knows her way around a book isle.  Since nearly my first day as a blogger/reviewer Julie has been there with her encouragement and kind sprit.  Since then, every time I have a problem she's always there to help and if nothing else, there to listen.    So, Julie...

xx jess


Review: Killbox

Ann Aguirre
353 pages
Sirantha Jax #4
Chapter 1


Talk is cheap when lives are in jeopardy
Sirantha Jax is a “Jumper,” a woman who possesses the unique genetic makeup needed to navigate faster than light ships through grimspace. With no tolerance for political diplomacy, she quits her ambassador post so she can get back to saving the universe the way she does best—by mouthing off and kicking butt.
And her tactics are needed more than ever. Flesh-eating aliens are attacking stations on the outskirts of space, and for many people, the Conglomerate’s forces are arriving too late to serve and protect them.
Now, Jax must take matters into her own hands by recruiting a militia to defend the frontiers—out of the worst criminals, mercenaries, and raiders that ever traveled through grimspace…


Review: The Mage in Black

Jaye Wells
Urban Fantasy
326 pages
Sabina Kane #2
Chapter 1

Sabina Kane doesn't have the best track record when it comes to family. After all, her own grandmother, leader of the vampire race, wants her dead. So when she arrives in New York to meet her mage relatives, the reunion puts the fun in dysfunctional. Not only is mage culture completely bizarre, but everyone seems to think she's some kind of 'Chosen' who'll unite the dark races. Sabina doesn't care who chose her, she's not into destiny. But the mages aren't Sabina's only problem. In New York's Black Light District, she has run-ins with fighting demons, hostile werewolves and an opportunistic old flame. Sabina thought she'd take a bite out of the Big Apple - but it looks like it wants to bite back.


1st Chapters!!

Two of my most anticipated releases this year have recently put out their 1st chapters.  I thought they were the perfect amount of tease.  Enjoy

The Renfield Syndrome
J.A. Saare
Rhiannon's Law #2

Click on the image above then click on the same image on the author's website to begin your download of the 1st chapter

Chloe Neill
Hard Bitten
Chicagoland Vampires #4
Pub Date: May 3rd


Review: One Foot in the Grave

Jeaniene Frost
357 pages
Night Huntress #2
First 50 pages

Half-vampire Cat Crawfield is now Special Agent Cat Crawfield, working for the government to rid the world of the rogue undead. She's still using everything Bones, her sexy and dangerous ex, taught her, but when Cat is targeted for assassination, the only man who can help her is the vampire she left behind.

Being around him awakens all her emotions, from the adrenaline kick of slaying vamps side by side to the reckless passion that consumed them. But a price on her head—wanted: dead or half-alive—means her survival depends on teaming up with Bones. And no matter how hard she tries to keep things professional between them, she'll find that desire lasts forever . . . and that Bones won't let her get away again.


Review: Siren Song

Cat Adams
Urban Fantasy 
384 pages
Blood Singer #2


Nothing if not resilient, Celia Graves is slowly adjusting to being a half-human, half-vampire Abomination. But her troubles are far from over. Her best friend’s murder is still unsolved, the cops are convinced she should be in jail, and her old lover, the magician Bruno DeLuca, has resurfaced in her life, saying he has something important to tell her.
The vampire attack that transformed Celia kicked her latent Siren abilities into high gear, and now she’s been summoned to the Sirens’ island to justify her existence—and possibly fight for her life—in front of the Siren Queen. Celia isn’t sure she’ll survive to make the trip. The demon she defeated in Blood Song hasn’t exactly gone quietly—he’s left Celia suffering from a powerful curse.


Review: Night Pleasures

Sherrilyn Kenyon
309 pages
Dark Hunter #1 
Excerpt & Extras
St. Martin's 


The Dark-Hunters are ancient warriors who have sworn to protect mankind and the fate of the world is in their hands. . .
He is solitude. He is darkness. He is the ruler of the night. Yet Kyrian of Thrace has just woken up handcuffed to his worst nightmare: An accountant. Worse, she's being hunted by one of the most lethal vampires out there. And if Amanda Devereaux goes down, then he does too. But it's not just their lives that are hanging in the balance. Kyrian and Amanda are all that stands between humanity and oblivion. Let's hope they win.


Review- A Brush of Darkness

Allison Pang
Urban Fantasy
384 pages
1st of a series (yet un-named)
Chapter 1
Pocket Books

Six months ago, Abby Sinclair was struggling to pick up the pieces of her shattered life. Now, she has an enchanted iPod, a miniature unicorn living in her underwear drawer, and a magical marketplace to manage. But despite her growing knowledge of the OtherWorld, Abby isn’t at all prepared for Brystion, the dark, mysterious, and as sexy as sin incubus who shows up searching for his sister—and is convinced Abby has the key to the succubus’s whereabouts. Abby has enough problems without having this seductive shape-shifter literally invading her dreams to get information. But when her Faery boss and some of her friends vanish as well, Abby and Brystion must form an uneasy alliance. As Abby is sucked deeper and deeper into this perilous world of faeries, angels, and daemons, she realizes her life is in as much danger as her heart—and there’s no one she can trust to save her.


Winner Winner

Thanks to everyone who commented on The Peeler Cheerleader post, I wish I could give each of you a copy of Tempest Rising, so you can all become part of the squad, but there can only be 1.  The winner is 

Congratulations Deanna!  Email me: thespinecracker (at) gmail (dot) com 
*winner was chosen using random.org

I Double-Dog Dare You...

This month's dare is courtesy of my friend Julie over at Yummy Men and Kick Ass Chicks and she's not concerned about easing me into this whole read outside your comfort zone thing ;)

The books that you read have too many fangs, guns and gore.  You need more smut.  And I mean curl your toes and make you squirm smut.  And, you need to read more characters that aren’t out to rule the world or eat someone.  Okay well…not the way they usually do in your books.  ;)  So I DARE you to read Backstage Pass by Olivia Cunning.  It’s a hot book with endearing characters.  I mean with lines like “Did you come in my hair?” how can you go wrong?  -Julie

384 pages
Sourcebooks Casablanca

It's been months since Brian Sinclair, lead guitarist for the famous rock band, Sinners, composed anything. Unable to write the music that once flowed so naturally, Brian is lost without his musical mojo. But when sexy psychology professor Myrna Evans comes on tour to study groupie mentality, Brian may have found the spark he needs to reignite his musical genius. When lust turns to love, will Brian be able to convince Myrna that what they have is more than just a fling, and that now that he's found his heart's muse, he doesn't want to live without her?

Bad-boy rock gods, I think I'm in trouble.  But I didn't take it easy on Julie either.  She'll be reading one of my favorite SF/F books, Grimspace by Ann Aguirre.  Come back on February 25th to see what we both have to say about the books we were dared to read.