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KRL is a California Magazine with Local Focus and Global Appeal.
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Friday, April 26, 2013

Purgatory Reign by L.M. Preston

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Terrance McArthur

Details on how to win a copy of this book at the end of this post.

Purgatory Reign, by L.M. Preston, is an explosion of paranormal imagination clothed as a YA conspiracy thriller.

Peter Saints isn’t a saint. He’s a tough orphan—who saw his parents killed—living in a crazy preacher’s not-too-official orphanage. A strange girl puts a mark in his hand before she dies, and the preacher tells him to go on the run to a Sanctuary. Peter is supposed to go alone, but he picks up others in his travels. Angel is a pint-size fighter with amazing skills, and Kyle just seems to become part of the team, but can he be trusted?

Together, they uncover amazing secrets: about themselves, about the Sanctuaries, and about clandestine societies that promote Good and Evil. Evil is after them…and their blood.

L.M. Preston is an interesting writer. Her stories are inventive, lively, and action-packed, still remembering the power of young love.

Image source: Phenomenal One Press

Peter is a refreshing change, an African-American action hero who is too young to vote, but not too young to care about others who are abused by bullies. He has a temper, he doesn’t always know what he’s doing, but he will do anything in his power to protect the woman he loves…and he does have powers. The baddies are demonically bad, driven by a love of evil and a desire for power.

There are some wild settings that teeter between alien tech and steampunk. The secret conspiracies (on the side of the angels and on another side) are convoluted, powerful, and under seriously-deep cover. It’s hard to imagine teenagers surviving some of these adventures, and there is teen language, along with sexual references and experiences that try to make things grittier to attract the young adult audience. Preston lays out the conspiracies, and the methods they use to achieve their goals. It’s scarily convincing. I remember receiving this book in the mail, several months ago. I remember reading it. I remember writing a review and saying nice things about this book. KRL’s editor doesn’t have my review. It isn’t on my computer, and the review isn’t on any of my flash drives. I have no idea what happened to my review. Could it be...A CONSPIRACY???

To enter to win a copy of Purgatory Reign, simply email KRL at life@kingsriverlife[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “Reign”, or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen May 4, 2013. U.S. residents only.

Terrance V. Mc Arthur is a California-born, Valley-raised librarian/entertainer/writer. He lives in Sanger, four blocks from the library, with his wife, his daughter, and a spinster cat.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Real Vampires Know Hips Happen by Gerry Bartlett

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Terrance McArthur

Details on how to win a copy of this book at the end of this post.

In the Beginning, Gerry Bartlett begat Real Vampires Have Curves, and then she kept on begetting until, in the ninth volume, she begat Real Vampires Know Hips Happen.

Glory St. Clair, full-figured vampire, wants her man back. Jeremiah Campbell, aka Jeremy/Jerry Blade, left her because she had been unfaithful with the bodyguard he hired to keep her faithful. She follows him to his family castle in Scotland, where he is savagely attacked, losing his…memory. He’s back in the past, when the castle wasn’t a tourist attraction, when he rode horses instead of driving sports cars, and when he killed every MacDonald he could lay his sword on, but he doesn’t remember turning Glory into a vampire or the more than 400 years they have been in love, so the search is on to find a cure for his amnesia, back in Texas…if she can get the vampire onto an airplane.

Glory recently learned that she used to be a mythical Siren, and now she meets her Olympian mother, who suddenly wants to bond with her daughter…after centuries of neglect. Mom magically causes designer clothes to appear on Glory, and conducts a Greek god version of speed-dating to set her up for a more-acceptable-to-Momma partner.

Image source: Berkley Trade

There isn’t a lot of crime to solve in this series installment. The two big mystery questions revolve around true identities:

Which Greek goddess is Glory’s Mom?


Why did Jeremiah Campbell change his name to Jeremy Blade?

Nevertheless, the book is a fun read. The characters are quirky. Glory’s new roommate is a former Siren who is bloating on junk food. Jerry’s daughter is picking up some nasty habits and needs to redirect her energies into more positive outlets. A recently-vampirized rock star wants Glory as much as she once wanted him. The ex-bodyguard is a shifter who runs a popular club that keeps blood substitute (and the real stuff) behind the counter. The mad-vampire-doctor trying to cure Jerry is a MacDonald; not only do they hate each other, they have spilled the blood of each other’s families.

The problems are believable (if you believe in vampires and Greek gods and other paranormal beings). Many parts had me laughing, and some parts had me blushing. In this version of vampire lore, sex is just as enthusiastically pursued as blood, although the athletics have to end before the death sleep of sunrise.

Real Vampires Know Hips Happen will keep you turning pages…if only to see what the goddess (and Glory) will wear next.

To enter to win a copy of Real Vampires Know Hips Happen, simply email KRL at life@kingsriverlife[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “Hips”, or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen April 27, 2013. U.S. residents only.

Purchase this book with this link and you help support an Indie bookstore & KRL:

Terrance V. Mc Arthur is a California-born, Valley-raised librarian/entertainer/writer. He lives in Sanger, four blocks from the library, with his wife, his daughter, and a spinster cat.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Children Of The Underground by Trevor Shane & Author Interview

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Terrance McArthur

Details on how to win a copy of this book at the end of this post, along with an interview with author Trevor Shane.

There’s a War going on, a secret one that most people don’t know about, a war that’s been going on for generations. There are rules…
Rule Number One: No killing innocent bystanders.
Rule Number Two: No killing anyone under the age of eighteen.

Joseph fell in love with the innocent Maria. He had to die, and their child was given to the Other Side.

Maria wants her baby back.

She recruits Michael, who had left the War, to find her son, Christopher.

Meanwhile, in another generation, Evan and Addy are on the run. They aren’t part of the War.

They aren’t part of the Underground, who help people escape the War.

They are part of the Resistance.

They want to end the War.

This is the background of Trevor Shane’s Children of the Underground, sequel to Children of Paranoia.

Maria starts out as a wounded character, but, under Michael’s teaching, she becomes a woman warrior, strong and fit, capable of fighting for her life…and able to kill. The primary form of battle in the War is assassination, and a lot of people die in this book.

Image source: NAL

Evan shouldn’t even be part of the War. He was not raised to be trained in the ways of murder. He just happened to have grown up with a boy who was now a major figure in the Resistance…Christopher. Addy spends much of her part of the novel getting Evan to tell stories about what Christopher was like.

Maria’s story is told in the form of a journal she writes for Christopher, whenever she can find him. Things are convoluted, confusing, violent, and you will learn more about surveillance, breaking and entering, and killing people than most readers will (I hope) ever need to know. You don’t learn much about the War, but the people in it don’t get a lot of information about it either, only that their side is good and the other side is evil. It’s dystopian, showing a future society that has gone down the wrong rabbit hole. It is alternate history, because this War is ages old. It is depressing, because it brings to mind the polarizing of today’s society. It fills you with hope, because people try to fight a system they cannot support. A preview at the end of the book indicates that Christopher’s training, War years, and rebellion will be followed in the third installment. I’ll read it.

To enter to win a copy of Children of the Underground, simply email KRL at life@kingsriverlife[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “Children”, or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen April 20, 2013. U.S. residents only.

Interview With Trevor Shane:

KRL: The story is told in different timeframes, different generations, and different groups., instead of as a straightforward narrative. What influenced your structure?

Trevor: Children of the Underground started as a straightforward narrative. It started out as a book simply about the lengths that a woman, even one as seemingly innocent as Maria, would go to get her child back. That was the first draft, which I loved and which is still in the pages. But Children of Paranoia was always meant to be a trilogy and, after writing the first draft of Children of the Underground, I realized how much more the reader would get out of Maria’s story if they were given clues about where her story was ultimately headed. So a lot of the different timeframes, different generations and different groups were actually pulled right out of the middle of the third book. The key for me was to try to structure it in a such a way that the parts pulled from the third book augmented Maria’s story by adding both insight and mystery to it. Like most stories, Maria’s story, as powerful as it is on its own, becomes even more powerful when you get some clues about where it is ultimately heading.

KRL: As an adoptive parent, you have created a situation eerily similar to your writing, where Christopher has been adopted. How much are your own hopes and fears reflected in your plot?

Trevor: A lot of the hopes and fears that go into the adoption process showed up in Children of Paranoia, the first book in the trilogy. So much of that book was about the lengths that people will go to in order to keep and protect this person that they don’t even know yet. Joseph and Maria run from everything in their lives to protect that idea of a child. As I was writing that book, there were times when I was almost jealous that they at least had something they could do, even if it was just running away. I have two amazing adopted sons now--Leo is almost four and Van is almost one. My experiences with them and with the adoption process definitely had an impact on the Children of Paranoia series, mostly in recognizing how selfless a parent’s love can be and how much love it takes for someone to give up their child.

KRL: Science fiction writing is often concerned with world-building. To create your War, you had to unbuild the world to create gaps where your world could exist.. What challenges did you face?

Trevor: The biggest challenge is getting over the believability hurdle. I mean, people know that this is a work of fiction but, for it to be effective, they have to think that it could, at least, be possible. But really, how much do you know about your neighbor’s lives or the lives of the person who lives down the street from you, let alone the lives’ of the strangers you pass by every day. So I didn’t really see it as unbuilding the world to create gaps where the world of Children of Paranoia could exist because those gaps are already there. All I had to do was point out the shadows.

Trevor Shane
Image credit: Kevin Trageser

KRL: The secret War in your books has been going on for generations, with strict rules and codes of conduct. What parts of your background did you use, and how much of it was just cheerful paranoia?

Trevor: I’ve always been fascinated by the rules of war. They never made any sense to me as a kid. I always thought, “How can a war have rules? Who would follow the rules when their life is on the line?” But the fact is that people follow these rules all the time. What I ultimately realized was that the rules of war aren’t meant to make war more humane--nothing can do that. The rules of war are there because, once you’ve ordered someone to kill another human being, you need to give them some structure or the world will simply devolve into madness.

My favorite piece of fan mail that I’ve gotten since Children of Paranoia came out was from an aviation specialist in the army who was stationed in the forward operating base in Kandahar, Afghanistan. She told me that the guys in her unit had been passing Children of Paranoia around to each other and they all loved it. That’s the biggest compliment I’ve gotten since Children of Paranoia was published, a little hint that maybe I’d gotten something right. I sent them a few copies of Children of the Underground. Hopefully, they like it just as much.

KRL: The body count in Children of the Underground gets bigger with each page. Maria has gone from a naive teenager to a person willing to kill...and capable of it. How much training and research have you done into armed mayhem?

Trevor: I’d kind of rather not say. Sometimes a little mystery is better. Besides, I don’t want to get myself in any trouble.

KRL: Your trilogy has been optioned by CBS Films. What glowing moments or horror stories do you already have from the experience?

Trevor: The movie business is just so crazy and foreign to me. I was lucky enough to find good agents at Creative Artists to represent me who shielded me from most of what goes on behind the scenes. I had people reaching out to me from Hollywood before the first book even came out. That’s when I learned about book scouts--people whose entire job is to scout books for Hollywood and foreign publishers as early as possible (the book scouts were really helpful in getting Children of Paranoia sold in different markets too). I find that whole side of the business fascinating. They knew more about my own book than I did. It’s like this strange amalgamation of corporate espionage and book publishing, which you’d normally think of as such a staid industry. Somebody’s going to write a great book about book scouts on day. My experience with Hollywood has been pretty great though. Things move in starts and stops but I’ve had the chance to talk to a bunch of producers and writers that really liked Children of Paranoia and I was always fascinated to see their take on it. I’m a big believer in the idea that the worst thing that a filmmaker can do to a book when they decide to turn it into a movie is to be afraid to put their own stamp on it. If the movie is going to be just like the book, then people should just read the book.

KRL: Now for a little background. How long have you been writing?

Trevor: Children of Paranoia was my debut novel but I’ve been writing my whole life.

KRL: Have you always written in this genre?

Trevor: Children of Paranoia kind of straddles multiple genres. The thriller genre is actually new to me as a writer. I’ve always loved reading and writing speculative fiction though and I’ve always tried to blend genres in my writing. I love the language of genre books and twisting and manipulating the expectations created when working in a genre. I really enjoyed embracing, and toying with, the traditional thriller tropes.

KRL: How did you come up with the idea for this book?

Trevor: It all started with the first chapter. I was walking down the street in my rather idyllic street in Brooklyn, a street full of happy families and strollers and I thought, “What if this were all a facade? What if a secret, violent world was buried underneath all of this?” From that simple “what if”, I began to think about the characters, their motivations and their fears. From that simple “what if”, I wanted to write a book that followed certain conventional thriller lines but that completely blurred the line between who was good and who was bad.

KRL: Future writing goals and plans?

Trevor: I’m still deep in the process of editing Children of the Uprising, the third book in the Children of Paranoia trilogy. Once that’s done, I have a number of ideas that I’m working on. I’ve been writing the Children of Paranoia series since 2007 and it’s been an unbelievable experience but I’m excited to start something new.

KRL: Website, Facebook, Twitter

Trevor: Website: www.trevor-shane.com; Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/authortrevorshane; Twitter: @childofparanoia

Terrance V. Mc Arthur is a California-born, Valley-raised librarian/entertainer/writer. He lives in Sanger, four blocks from the library, with his wife, his daughter, and a spinster cat.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Shadow Ops: Fortress Frontier by Myke Cole

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Terrance McArthur

Details on how to win a copy of this book at the end of this post.

Colonel Alan Bookbinder is a paper-pusher, a bean-counter, and an Army nonentity with a talent for assigning money to accounts. His quietly-mundane world is knocked topsy-turvy when he starts to have dreams, strange experiences, and realizes that he might be Latent, might have some of the magical powers that have appeared during the Great Reawakening.

In Myke Cole’s Shadow Ops: Fortress Frontier, Bookbinder is thrown from his Pentagon office to a secret US outpost in another dimension. He is given another boring job, but he is surrounded by indigenous goblins and people who can heal with a touch or cause major body damage, fly through the air or cause lightning, purify water or create a mud bridge across a river, and open doors between planes of reality or use the knife-edged portal to slice off heads.

When one of the Portamancers, Oscar Britton, escapes with some of the magical folk who are being forced to serve the military, Bookbinder is forced to become a leader. To his surprise, he shows some true abilities, and some terrific magic powers. His growth from a bland bureaucrat to a leader of men…and women…and minor snake gods is a really uplifting storyline. However, that isn’t the only plot told in this book.

Image source: Ace

Oscar Britton was the protagonist of Shadow Ops: Control Point, the first volume in this trilogy (the third book, Breach Zone, will be out in 2014), and there is some overlap in time where events from the first book are happening from a different point of view. Once the colonel is well-established, the narrative bounces between the two men. Where Bookbinder develops into a true commander, Britton has problems with doubting himself. He tries to change the restrictions on the Latent using legal and constitutional means, yet he does manage to drop a lot of people in places that would most embarrass the President.

Cole’s three tours in Iraq and service during the Deepwater Horizon oil spill lend a gritty realism to the military action, and there is a goodly amount of it. The language is down-in-the-trenches earthy, including acronyms, slang, and words that George Carlin told us about. After all, this takes place in a war zone, not a Sunday School class.

Fortress Frontier has lots of action, characters that have enjoyable growth curves, and a world’s worth of engaging creatures and cultures. Bookbinder is a military hero for those of us who have never been in the military. Oorah!

To enter to win a copy of Shadow Ops, simply email KRL at life@kingsriverlife[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “Shadow”, or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen April 13, 2013. U.S. residents only.

Use this link to purchase this book & a portion goes to help support KRL:

Terrance V. Mc Arthur is a California-born, Valley-raised librarian/entertainer/writer. He lives in Sanger, four blocks from the library, with his wife, his daughter, and a spinster cat.