Dec 312012
 

So many traditions have fallen by the wayside around here that I’m glad to see this one continuing. It’s my annual reading roundup.

I wish it wasn’t my least exciting one yet.

For starters, I only read 61 books this year, which is down considerably from past years. My high, you may recall, was 144. The good news is that of those 59, there were only six I didn’t finish.

Twenty-two of these books were assignments from the Review People, so I can’t talk much about them, since I review incognito and all. (Bummer, because a couple of them were good enough to talk to you about.)

It looks like only nine were for my book club, and the only one I absolutely adored was Jenna Blum’s The Stormchasers. It might be my standout for the year, in fact. We also delved into Ariana Franklin’s Mistress of the Art of Death series, reading two of the four. The other two are in our queue. As a group, we love historical fiction and don’t shy away from Biblical Historical, but… nothing stood out this year. If you’ve read some, please let me know.

In a happier vein, I read 10 works of Rock Fiction this year, and reviews for all of them are up. The standouts? Olivia Cunning’s original Sinners on Tour novel, Backstage Passes. Okay, she gets a lot of the rock and roll details wrong, but she can tell a story and write an even better sex scene.

Other Rock Fiction worth reading: DJ Butler’s Hellhound on my Trail. I’ve got the second and third installments waiting for me here, and they had better live up to the first or I’m going hurt DJ. Join me. Book One is fantastic.

Another standout was the horror story, Voice. Joseph Garraty… you read his name here first. Not so scary you won’t be able to sleep, this one’s got a fresh take on what could have been an overly familiar trope.

Sound Bites and Rock Star’s Girl were both fun but not groundbreaking. And Rob Reid skewered everything in sight in Year Zero. Science Fiction fans and Terry Pratchett lovers should jump at that one.

Otherwise… I spent some time with old friends: Rebecca Cantrell’s A Knight of Long Knives reunited me with Hannah Vogel, Stephanie Plum still can’t stop Volume 12, Jennifer Estep’s Gin Blanco series gets better and better. She swears she’s winging the overarching plotline in that series. If so, look out, world.

Those were the highlights, such as they were. It was probably my most disappointing reading year since I started these year-end wrap ups, but I suspect that had more to do with my limited pleasure reading time. Maybe it’s because now that I’m reviewing and editing so steadily, my expectations have risen.

Either way, go pick up the books I’ve highlighted here if you’re looking for something good to read. As always, if you can order them through your local independent bookstore (or, failing that, use either of mine), you’re helping not only an author but a small business and a whole slew of people, as well.

May 072012
 

I met DJ Butler not too long ago, when he dropped into my inbox. A mutual friend had suggested we hook up, and let me tell you, I owe that mutual friend! DJ’s pulp series is FUN, FUN, FUN. The fourth installment of his rock band fighting evil came out right around the time King Trevor did, and I was busy with my own release and getting this place back up and running. Poor DJ had to wait all this time for his feature.

That means that once you’ve read this, you need to head over to Amazon and get yourself ALL the titles in the series. Yes, I’m serious. No, doing so won’t break the bank. (Especially because, for you freebie hunters, there are some this week only!)

Read on and see what song inspired this fourth episode, Devil Sent the Rain.

That’s an easy one: “Sympathy for the Devil.” I actually was going to use that title (all the Rock Band Fights Evil books steal their titles from blues, folk or rock songs), until I saw that it had already been done. Many, many times.

I choose “Sympathy for the Devil” for three reasons. First, I think we can all agree it’s a bitching song. And Rock Band Fights Evil is nothing if not bitching.

Second, the song is a devil’s eye retelling of the history of the human race. It’s epic in scope, involving great human wars and famous atrocities (the World Wars, the killing of Christ and the Kennedys) in a tale in which it’s not always easy to tell the cop from the criminal, the sinner from the saint. This is also true of Rock Band Fights Evil, which is a sort of rock ‘n’ roll telling of the apocalypse, revolving around a not-entirely-unsympathetic figure of Azazel, greatest of the Princes of Hell.

Third — and this is why I wanted to use the title for one of the books in the first place — the action in the early books is driven by sympathetic magic. (For anything who is now raising a puzzled eyebrow, the basic idea of sympathetic magic is that two things that are once together are always together, so you can take magical action on a part of something to cause an effect on the whole thing.) Azazel, imprisoned in the wastes of Dudael for centuries under a bath of holy water, lost a fragment of his hoof. The band, a gaggle of variously-damned men, grab the hoof fragment in book one and race towards Hell against the powers that want to snatch the hoof from them, because they want to use it in an act of sympathetic magic — think voodoo doll principles — to force Azazel to undamn them.

Hey, look, I think I’ve just given you my book blurb, too. Ha! Rock on!

(Sadly, it looks like the Stones have yanked all the video of this off the Internet. Shoot.)

[Note from Susan: I found one! Click that link above!]

Rock Band #1 is Hellhound on My Trail

Rock Band #2 is Snake Handlin’ Man

Rock Band #3 is Crow Jane

Rock Band #4 is Devil Sent the Rain

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One final note: Be sure if you do nothing else, you check out the cover art for these books. They’re every bit as awesome and entertaining as the books themselves and I HATE that covers this slick have to be reduced to greyscale!