Gush and Gripe #8 + NetGalley Knockout

GUSHING ABOUT OUR FOLLOWING!

We just recently reached 1000 followers!
How awesome is this news?! We like to thank every one of you who followed and joined our discussions. All the authors, publishers and tour sites who’ve helped us reach this goal, you somehow made it easier for us and definitely more fun. You make us feel so special and very much loved. We do our best to return the favor because we know how challenging it is to gain followers and have them actually follow you, pay attention to your posts and exchange thoughts. So we pay it forward and it’s very heartwarming that it paid off somehow. 
We promise to come up with more fun stuff and read-worthy articles for all of you. If we can only give each one of you a hug, we definitely will!


GRIPING ABOUT EBOOKS!
Maybe this is an uninformed rambling so feel free to comment so we can discuss it for the ultimate purpose of enlightenment. Help me understand why (1) some electronic books are the same prize as their paperback counterparts and (2) some are even more expensive than print versions!
A standard paperback is $7.99 while some digital print books are $9.99 and at times you can’t even loan the ebook out, it’s a little steep if you ask me. I would think these traditional publishers are saving money on raw materials like paper, ink, binding, surplus prints, etc. by going digital so shouldn’t it follow that the prices of their ebooks be cheaper? Not only that, I’ve noticed that the expensive ones are usually the YA books. Your target market are average teens (unemployed) who rely on their allowance and baby-sitting money to buy ten-dollar books, that’s a little steep if you ask me.
I love physical books, the feel of paper, the smell of a new book, cracking open that virgin book spine, for a bibliophile those sensations are incomparable.  But I’m also for technology and going Green. Digital books are saving trees and the environment and Amazon turned it into this gigantic global market, it’s time someone regulates the pricing method IMHO. There’s a lot of room for improvement here and I hope someone takes a look at it and make this market more efficient and consumer friendly.
______________________________________
My original goal was 19 books and though I didn’t meet my goal nor kept to my original list of books, I still think I did pretty well. I did cheat with other books and if I count that, I’d meet my goal. In any case, it was fun and as far as I’m concerned, it gave me the extra push to read my galleys so mission accomplished Goldilox!
  1. Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas
  2. If I were You by Lisa Renee Jones
  3. Mockingbird by Chuck Wendig
  4. Lip Service by M.J. Rose
  5. A Lady Can Never Be Too Curious – DNF
  6. Fifty-One Shades of Blonde
  7. The Enchanted Truth
  8. The Kingdom – review pending
  9. The Sweetest Dark by Shana Abe
  10. Speechless by Hannah Harrington
  11. The Angel by Tiffany Reisz – review closer to date of release
  12. Blades of Winter by G.T. Almasi
  13. The Dark Unwinding by Sharon Cameron

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Masked Blusher: Licked, Cuffed + Spanked by Erotica

Hi, I am the Masked Blusher, I am anonymous unless you figure out who I am, then maybe not so much. 

NOTE: 
We never thought we’d ever tag a Guest Blog post with 18 and up… guess there’s always a first time for everything. Proceed with caution. 

THE MASKED BLUSHER BLUSH WORTHY READS

Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy by E.L. James was my first foray into the world of BDSM and all things out of my comfort zone. I had decided after reading many wonderful positive reviews I would dive in and have a read too. E.L. had sold massive amounts as a self published writer and then she became published, the Curious George side of me was raising its head.

I had never read a character like Christian Grey and I must say I really LOVED this trilogy. I know a lot of people don’t, and that is ok. It isn’t everybody’s cup of tea. What I loved so much about this trilogy was how E.L. drew me into this world that was a tad frightening and a character that was quite frightening at first and had me wondering WT!!! a lot, in Fifty Shades of Grey book # 1. But, I kept reading and by the time I was half way through Fifty Shades Darker, I was getting to see what was making Christian tick and his fears. By the end of Fifty Shades Freed I thought E.L. James had written a character that was very powerful and who really got under my skin. * whispers* He made me cry.

All three books made my eyes boggle on more than one occasion, and for a newbie into this world, I was left thinking that I was rather a naive person, LOL! 

The one thing I would like to say is if you start Fifty trilogy , you have to go all the way . Don’t stop at book one as you aren’t seeing what E.L James is trying to show us, the character Christian who is learning to love and be loved by Ana and his family.
Now I am not a prude, and I love Black Dagger Brotherhood and all those awesome Adult Urban Fantasy books that get the ol’ heart fluttering, but, BDSM is a whole different thing for me to read. 

What I liked about Fifty is, if you took out all the BDSM ( which at the time I thought was OMG and all things blush worthy….later I will tell you about Hostile Takeover, now that made Fifty Shades look like a walk in the park) there was a story about an abused little boy who was again abused later in his teens who had lost the ability to love or be loved, and this was how Christian coped. Not saying it was a good idea what he did. But, this is a fictional character people, and based on it being words in a book I really loved what E.L. James did. 

I give the Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy 50/10 Blush Worthy Rating


Then , I decided to give Bared To You by Sylvia Day a read. Well, hello Mr Gideon Cross. I love Gideon. What I will say is I found Bared To You’s story very , very similar to Fifty Shades Of Grey but a much less heavier version.  We haven’t gotten to the bottom of Gideon’s story and he has a story of abuse at the hands of somebody. We don’t yet know who. It hasn’t gone into that side of it like Fifty did, but I am not sure if that is to come or not? Don’t get me wrong. 

Gideon is HOT!! HOT!! HOT!! 

I give Bared To You 10/10 Blush Worthy Rating. It may have to do with the fact I read Fifty Shades first and that paved the way for less blushing.


Now next on my ‘ Blush Worthy Read Out of My Comfort Zone Journey’ was a WHOLE different kettle of fish. Hostile Takeover by Joey W Hill is the fifth book in Knights of the Boardroom series. 

OMG! I am going to repeat, this made Fifty Shades of Grey look like a walk in the park on a sunny afternoon with the flowers in full bloom and a girl singing a pretty song while dancing through the park.

Holy Mother of Pearl!

Now this was a challenge for me. If you thought there was BDSM in Fifty….think again…..well, there was….but…..this is more , much, much, much more. Oh and darker!!!! 

OUCH! 

I read this book through Netgalley. After more snooping I saw that you could read it as stand alone. I also understood the character Ben O’Callahan, was a Master Dom who was extreme.

Yowzer!!!

There are five guys and they are all Master Doms and they each have a book. Ben’s is apparently the most extreme due to his nature. I would like to read the other four books in order as you learn about Peter and Dana , she is blind and African, Lucas and Cass, Jon and Rachel, Matt and Savanah ( pregnant) .

I thought this book was written very , very well , but it took me so far out of my comfort zone. At times I was reading through my fingers.  I don’t think I could read anything more than what I read in these pages. I am really glad that I have taken myself out of my comfort zone as I have read several books now that I would never have read and never given myself the opportunity to appreciate the writing skills of these ladies. Joey writes very boldly and she sure as hell frightened me with where BDSM goes. I must admit I had a wee bit of trouble getting through the last couple of chapters as it went to another level . I rate this book 5 stars as it will bring all sorts of things out. It was a challenge in parts as basically I had no idea about this life people live. In saying that I also understand better how seriously this is taken and what it means to them. It’s not for me. But that is ok. This is very consenting sex that is very extreme in my eyes and oh dear the pain of it, but who am I to judge. 

Marcie is Cass’s sister and she is on a mission to be Ben’s sub. She has known Ben and the guys for a long time and Ben was like an older brother to her when she was going through her teenager years. He was there to talk to……..but then Marcie grew up! 
Marcie is fearless in her endeavours to be the one for Ben. The things that girl will do in this book. The things Ben and Marcie do. Ben is breathtaking, but I am no Marcie. This is a book that is written very intelligently and from the acknowledgments page I saw Joey had named the people who had helped her to get her facts right. It shows in the writing. To me, and I have no idea, but it felt like I had stepped into a real BDSM world. Not a half baked one. The things I read could have flayed the paint off a wall.

I can never hear Jeannie from ‘I Dreamed of Jeannie’,  say ‘Yes Master ‘ again without thinking of this book.

I give this book 100/10 Blush Worthy Rating .

I did really enjoy this book as the story will blow your mind, and in my case, in places frightened the pants off me. You have to remember I was very naive to all this so the impact was like a deer in headlights and then I was peeking out from under a pillow, lol!


My last Blush Worthy read was Double Time book # 3 in Sinners on Tour series by Olivia Cunning. I have not read the first two books. I just came in cold turkey and found it on Netgalley and dove in. 

Trey is the guitarist for Sinners and he is bisexual. Yes I have read a bisexual book people. Who knew I had it in me? I loved Olivia’s writing. She will convince you that love comes in all forms and to not hold prejudice. Not that I did anyway. She also taught me a thing or two about rock bands, and a thing or two about…errr….that whole world.  
Trey is unashamedly bisexual and he can’t even make it out of the hospital room where Brian’s wife has just given birth before he is knocking about with a nurse in the Supply Closet. 

Enter Reagan who has won the contest to be the next rhythm guitarist for Exodus End, Trey’s brother Dare’s, band.

Trey is infatuated by Reagan and tries to hide his bisexual side. Then he meets Ethan, Reagan’s ex and room mate.  To say this book is steamy is an understatement. To say I learnt Trey’s favourite position that has now been replaced by another fave position, OMG!!

Man, I have been living under a rock. The first favourite position you needed a road map to get to, the second one ,  my eyes did a looney tunes boggle out of my head.

There was a great mystery thrown into the story that actually got me, which I really liked.   
I am well and truly ready for Blay and Quinn in Lover At Last by J.R. Ward. 
I give this book 60/10-70/10 Blush Worthy Rating.  

I do recommend all these books as they all brought something different to the table and I am not so much the naive person anymore. I think Hostile Takeover was the most YOWZER! for me. I think I was flaming beetroot for a great majority of the book especially when it came to … and the girls…!!!!

The Masked Blusher

__________________________________
The Masked Blusher prefers to remain anonymous to protect her YA followers from being corrupted by details of her latest dark adventures. But we’re kink enablers so we opened our blog for Mask Blusher’s mad gushing about these 18 and up reads. 

Review: The Dark Unwinding by Sharon Cameron

Format: ARC (NetGalley)
Release Date: September 1, 2012
Excerpt here
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository 

A spine-tingling tale of steampunk and spies, intrigue and heart-racing romance!
When Katharine Tulman’s inheritance is called into question by the rumor that her eccentric uncle is squandering away the family fortune, she is sent to his estate to have him committed to an asylum. But instead of a lunatic, Katharine discovers a genius inventor with his own set of rules, who employs a village of nine hundred people rescued from the workhouses of London.

Katharine is now torn between protecting her own inheritance and preserving the peculiar community she grows to care for deeply. And her choices are made even more complicated by a handsome apprentice, a secretive student, and fears for her own sanity.

As the mysteries of the estate begin to unravel, it is clear that not only is her uncle’s world at stake, but also the state of England as Katharine knows it. With twists and turns at every corner, this heart-racing adventure will captivate readers with its intrigue, thrills, and romance.

THE DARK UNWINDING is set in a beautiful estate with a community that is self sufficient led by an eccentric genius inventor. When Katherine set foot in Stranwyne Keep, she never expected a self-sufficient community where people were given decent employment to provide for themselves and their family all because of her Uncle’s hobby. Katherine was set to believe that Fat Robert’s inheritance, and consequently hers, is being squandered in useless gadgetry that his Uncle was fond of creating. This premise planted in her mind by her Aunt Alice can’t be farther from the truth because her Uncle’s madness has done nothing but improve people’s lives and now it’s up to Katherine to keep it that way. 

— the villagers of Stranwyne do not deserve to be turned out of their homes. And neither does your unvle belong in a lunatic’s cell, merely for the crime of being created differently from his fellows.

A very promising plot line that turned into a very laborious read! THE DARK UNWINDING was slow to unwind and get on with the story. The world that Sharon Cameron created is dark, gritty and exactly what the cover art implies. What killed it was the world building itself. She took her time in sowing the seeds she planted and the heart-racing romance promised faded in the background. Towards the end I couldn’t care less about Katherine’s love life or inheritance, I just want to get it over with. The slow pace doused the excitement I felt when I started reading the book. 
Which is disappointing because Katherine is a likable heroine. She’s sharp, objective, carefree and empathetic towards the people her Uncle employed. The setting is equally fascinating with all those clockwork gadgets and her Uncle Tully’s genius, even the secondary characters were entertaining enough. It’s the way these strong points were strung together that affected an otherwise engaging story. With all the mysteries and possible conflicts the plot implies, SCameron could’ve jumped in the thick of things right away instead of distracting us with too much scenery.


Review: The Dark Unwinding by Sharon Cameron

Format: ARC (NetGalley)
Release Date: September 1, 2012
Excerpt here
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository 

A spine-tingling tale of steampunk and spies, intrigue and heart-racing romance!
When Katharine Tulman’s inheritance is called into question by the rumor that her eccentric uncle is squandering away the family fortune, she is sent to his estate to have him committed to an asylum. But instead of a lunatic, Katharine discovers a genius inventor with his own set of rules, who employs a village of nine hundred people rescued from the workhouses of London.

Katharine is now torn between protecting her own inheritance and preserving the peculiar community she grows to care for deeply. And her choices are made even more complicated by a handsome apprentice, a secretive student, and fears for her own sanity.

As the mysteries of the estate begin to unravel, it is clear that not only is her uncle’s world at stake, but also the state of England as Katharine knows it. With twists and turns at every corner, this heart-racing adventure will captivate readers with its intrigue, thrills, and romance.

THE DARK UNWINDING is set in a beautiful estate with a community that is self sufficient led by an eccentric genius inventor. When Katherine set foot in Stranwyne Keep, she never expected a self-sufficient community where people were given decent employment to provide for themselves and their family all because of her Uncle’s hobby. Katherine was set to believe that Fat Robert’s inheritance, and consequently hers, is being squandered in useless gadgetry that his Uncle was fond of creating. This premise planted in her mind by her Aunt Alice can’t be farther from the truth because her Uncle’s madness has done nothing but improve people’s lives and now it’s up to Katherine to keep it that way. 

— the villagers of Stranwyne do not deserve to be turned out of their homes. And neither does your unvle belong in a lunatic’s cell, merely for the crime of being created differently from his fellows.

A very promising plot line that turned into a very laborious read! THE DARK UNWINDING was slow to unwind and get on with the story. The world that Sharon Cameron created is dark, gritty and exactly what the cover art implies. What killed it was the world building itself. She took her time in sowing the seeds she planted and the heart-racing romance promised faded in the background. Towards the end I couldn’t care less about Katherine’s love life or inheritance, I just want to get it over with. The slow pace doused the excitement I felt when I started reading the book. 
Which is disappointing because Katherine is a likable heroine. She’s sharp, objective, carefree and empathetic towards the people her Uncle employed. The setting is equally fascinating with all those clockwork gadgets and her Uncle Tully’s genius, even the secondary characters were entertaining enough. It’s the way these strong points were strung together that affected an otherwise engaging story. With all the mysteries and possible conflicts the plot implies, SCameron could’ve jumped in the thick of things right away instead of distracting us with too much scenery.


Feature and Follow #14: Best Cover Bad Story

Feature & Follow is a weekly meme hosted by, Parajunkee and Alison Can Read. Each week, each host will have their own Feature Blog which allows them to show off more new blogs! It is a fun way to keep in touch with fellow bloggers, meet new bloggers and gain new followers. 
This Week’s Question

What is the best cover of a book that you’ve read and didn’t like?


Answer: Lauren Kate’s Fallen is one of the first book that started the trend of girls wearing ball gowns but with a Gothic feel to it. I LOVED this trend, I found it very attractive and like most of you, I was weak and picked up the series because of the catchy title and cover. 
Unfortunately the story wasn’t up to my liking, I didn’t find Luce a strong heroine and the love triangle was weak and truly annoying.

Feel free to follow Talk Supe via GFC, NetworkedBlogs, Linky or Email subscription. If you’re new to our site, please leave a comment below and we will make sure to visit & follow your blog. You may also follow Talk Supe on Twitter and Facebook.

Happy Feature & Follow!



Feature and Follow #14: Best Cover Bad Story

Feature & Follow is a weekly meme hosted by, Parajunkee and Alison Can Read. Each week, each host will have their own Feature Blog which allows them to show off more new blogs! It is a fun way to keep in touch with fellow bloggers, meet new bloggers and gain new followers. 
This Week’s Question

What is the best cover of a book that you’ve read and didn’t like?


Answer: Lauren Kate’s Fallen is one of the first book that started the trend of girls wearing ball gowns but with a Gothic feel to it. I LOVED this trend, I found it very attractive and like most of you, I was weak and picked up the series because of the catchy title and cover. 
Unfortunately the story wasn’t up to my liking, I didn’t find Luce a strong heroine and the love triangle was weak and truly annoying.

Feel free to follow Talk Supe via GFC, NetworkedBlogs, Linky or Email subscription. If you’re new to our site, please leave a comment below and we will make sure to visit & follow your blog. You may also follow Talk Supe on Twitter and Facebook.

Happy Feature & Follow!



Waiting on Wednesday #25

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we’re eagerly anticipating.

Braine

The Prince
The Original Sinners 3
Tiffanny Reisz
Harlequin Mira
November 20, 2012

Keep your friends close and your enemies closer…preferably in bed. That’s always been Kingsley Edge’s strategy with his associate, the notorious New York dominatrix Nora Sutherlin. But with Nora away in Kentucky, now it’s Kingsley’s chance to take her place at the feet of the only man he’s ever wanted-So ren, Nora’s on-again, off-again lover-until a new threat from an old enemy forces him to confront his past.
Wes Railey is still the object of Nora’s tamest yet most maddening fantasies, and the one man she can’t forget. He’s young. He’s wonderful. He’s also thoroughbred royalty and she’s in “his” world now. But Nora is no simpering Southern belle, and her dream of fitting into Wesley’s world is perpetually at odds with her dear So ren’s relentlessly seductive pull.
Two worlds of wealth and passion call to her and whichever one Nora chooses, it will be the hardest decision she will ever have to make…unless someone makes it for her.
Pre-Order The Prince

I am so obsessed with this series! I’m now reading The Angel and I’m taking my sweet time with it. So naturally, I’m already excited for book 3. Tiffany Reisz is my new guilty pleasure… and carbs… with sugar. Did someone say, puff pastry?

So tell us, what book or books are you anxiously waiting for?



Writer Wrangler: G.T. Almasi on Blades of Winter + Alix Nico

So if you’ve dropped by our blog last week, you might have seen this review I did where I dropped a couple of French words. In case you missed it, it’s for Blades of Winter, penned by this guy who graciously stopped by our blog today to talk more about Alix Nico and his debut novel.

Talk Supe: Hi G.T.! Thanks for for indulging our interview request. 
G.T. Almasi: Glad to be here.

Talk Supe: Like I mentioned in my review, I had a hard time classifying Blades Of Winter in terms of genre. It has a sci-fi feel to it but its so much more than that. I know Blades Of Winter falls under several but if one is to box it, in what genre would it fall under? I think you’re the best person to consult with.
G.T.: I saw an interview with Maurice Sendak where he indicated that he did not consider himself a writer of children’s books. That categorization came from everyone who read his classic book, Where The Wild Things Are. 
My book mashes-up several genres, so I also have a hard time classifying it. I didn’t set out to write in a genre, I just wrote whatever I wanted. I guess the fact that Blades of Winter is being published by Random House’s science fiction imprint Del Rey means it’s Science Fiction.

Talk Supe: There are a lot of teen heroines running around the book world, makes Alix different from the rest?
G.T.: I think all the teen heroines running around are pretty different from each other. Lisbeth Salander, Bella Swan, Katniss Everdeen, Hannah Heller, Hermione Granger and the other female action leads are unique characters, each in their own worlds and situations. 

What makes Alix unique is that violence is her chosen profession. She carries out her missions with a fevered zeal that reveals a certain lack of empathy, which I believe all killers carry, whether they’re government-sponsored or not.

Alix’s story is not intended for young readers. The language is strong, the violence is graphic, and her attitude is not always that exemplary. In this way she’s similar to Lisbeth and Hannah, but unlike these two characters Alix intentionally immerses herself in the sort of hair-raising situations most people, even these other characters, would run away from if they could. To paraphrase Bud from Repo Man, the life of Alix Nico is always intense.

Talk Supe: Was it hard for you to write about a story with a female lead and a teenager at that?
G.T.: The female part was not too difficult, but the teenage part was tricky. In my early drafts Alix was barely past puberty, yet her behavior was more like what you’d see from a late-teenager or early twenty-something. I based her advanced maturity on the poise I see from teenaged Olympic athletes. 

However, no American publisher would touch a story about such a young hit man, so I made her nineteen instead of fourteen. A concession I wrangled from my editor was that although we meet Alix when she’s nineteen, she’s been in the field since she was fifteen. We just haven’t gotten those stories from her… yet 😉

Talk Supe: How long did it take for you to conceptualize Shadowstorm and write the first book, Blades of Winter?
G.T.: I have notes from more than ten years ago. As more ideas came to me I’d add them to my journal, (note to all aspiring novelists: keep an Idea Journal!). Eventually I had so much material that I said, “Wow, I could write a whole book about this.” Then I said, “Well, why not?”

The original draft for Blades of Winter took me about a year to write. I’ll never forget the thrill of typing “The End.” Wow! I’d done it! 

Then the real work began. Five years and nineteen drafts later, hardly any of that original version remains, but I’m really happy with how it came out, especially since it’s the first book I’ve ever written.

Talk Supe: Which part of the book was the most challenging for you to write?
G.T.: The detective story part. Spy stories have a strong detective-story element, but when I read or watch a detective story I always think the butler did it.

Talk Supe: How many Shadowstorm books are you planning to write?
G.T.: Three for now; Blades of Winter, Hammer of Angels, and an as-yet-untitled third book. But I’ve left hooks all up and down my alt-history timeline for lots of other stories.

Talk Supe: What should we expect from Alix in Hammer of Angels? (I really love the book titles.)
G.T.: More ass-kicking craziness, with a greater sense of the impact her missions are having on history. She also grows up a bit from the experiences she has in both the first and second books. And her supporting cast receives some fun additions, not all of them entirely fictional.

Talk Supe: What would Alix say to convince the readers to buy her book?
G.T.: Oh man, nothing I could repeat in polite company. It would be really persuasive, that’s for sure.  😉
Talk Supe: I think it’ll be somewhere along the lines of Get it! Blades is Fuckin A!


FUN FACTS
Day jobGraphic designer / web developer.

Favorite band/song/albumMy favorite album is London Calling by the Clash, although my favorite song is White Riot, which is on their eponymous debut album. My favorite active band is Anti-Flag.


If you’re to keep only one book from your library, what would it be? Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter S. Thompson.

Living person you’re dying to meet: Elie Wiesel, author of Night.

Favorite / least favorite classes in high school: My favorite classes were art and computers. I aced all my art classes, and my teacher was the one who suggested that I apply to RISD. I was “that drawing kid,” and classmates used to bring their notebooks to me so I could draw elaborate illustrations of Conan (or whatever) on them. One kid had me paint an Iron Maiden album cover onto the back of his denim jacket. It came out really well and he paid me with a case of vodka. 

I also had a leg up in computer class. My father had already helped me learn how to program my own video games in BASIC, so I knew more than the teacher did. I used to write these short malware apps, label them something irresistible like “Space Invaders,” and give them to the asshole jocks who used to whip me with wet towels in the locker room. When they ran the program their computer would lock up and wail like the siren on a police car, which attracted a lot of negative attention from the teacher.

My least favorite classes were everything else (I hated high school). One possible exception was French class because my friends and I had so much fun pronouncing everything phonetically, (“je suis ici” became “jay swiss eye-kie”). Of course our teacher rewarded us with, “F-moins. Cherchez-moi.” (F-minus, see me.)

Blades of Winter, the first book of G.T. Almasi’s Shadowstorm Series is out today. Trust me, it’s worth adding to your collection.

Writer Wrangler: G.T. Almasi on Blades of Winter + Alix Nico

So if you’ve dropped by our blog last week, you might have seen this review I did where I dropped a couple of French words. In case you missed it, it’s for Blades of Winter, penned by this guy who graciously stopped by our blog today to talk more about Alix Nico and his debut novel.

Talk Supe: Hi G.T.! Thanks for for indulging our interview request. 
G.T. Almasi: Glad to be here.

Talk Supe: Like I mentioned in my review, I had a hard time classifying Blades Of Winter in terms of genre. It has a sci-fi feel to it but its so much more than that. I know Blades Of Winter falls under several but if one is to box it, in what genre would it fall under? I think you’re the best person to consult with.
G.T.: I saw an interview with Maurice Sendak where he indicated that he did not consider himself a writer of children’s books. That categorization came from everyone who read his classic book, Where The Wild Things Are. 
My book mashes-up several genres, so I also have a hard time classifying it. I didn’t set out to write in a genre, I just wrote whatever I wanted. I guess the fact that Blades of Winter is being published by Random House’s science fiction imprint Del Rey means it’s Science Fiction.

Talk Supe: There are a lot of teen heroines running around the book world, makes Alix different from the rest?
G.T.: I think all the teen heroines running around are pretty different from each other. Lisbeth Salander, Bella Swan, Katniss Everdeen, Hannah Heller, Hermione Granger and the other female action leads are unique characters, each in their own worlds and situations. 

What makes Alix unique is that violence is her chosen profession. She carries out her missions with a fevered zeal that reveals a certain lack of empathy, which I believe all killers carry, whether they’re government-sponsored or not.

Alix’s story is not intended for young readers. The language is strong, the violence is graphic, and her attitude is not always that exemplary. In this way she’s similar to Lisbeth and Hannah, but unlike these two characters Alix intentionally immerses herself in the sort of hair-raising situations most people, even these other characters, would run away from if they could. To paraphrase Bud from Repo Man, the life of Alix Nico is always intense.

Talk Supe: Was it hard for you to write about a story with a female lead and a teenager at that?
G.T.: The female part was not too difficult, but the teenage part was tricky. In my early drafts Alix was barely past puberty, yet her behavior was more like what you’d see from a late-teenager or early twenty-something. I based her advanced maturity on the poise I see from teenaged Olympic athletes. 

However, no American publisher would touch a story about such a young hit man, so I made her nineteen instead of fourteen. A concession I wrangled from my editor was that although we meet Alix when she’s nineteen, she’s been in the field since she was fifteen. We just haven’t gotten those stories from her… yet 😉

Talk Supe: How long did it take for you to conceptualize Shadowstorm and write the first book, Blades of Winter?
G.T.: I have notes from more than ten years ago. As more ideas came to me I’d add them to my journal, (note to all aspiring novelists: keep an Idea Journal!). Eventually I had so much material that I said, “Wow, I could write a whole book about this.” Then I said, “Well, why not?”

The original draft for Blades of Winter took me about a year to write. I’ll never forget the thrill of typing “The End.” Wow! I’d done it! 

Then the real work began. Five years and nineteen drafts later, hardly any of that original version remains, but I’m really happy with how it came out, especially since it’s the first book I’ve ever written.

Talk Supe: Which part of the book was the most challenging for you to write?
G.T.: The detective story part. Spy stories have a strong detective-story element, but when I read or watch a detective story I always think the butler did it.

Talk Supe: How many Shadowstorm books are you planning to write?
G.T.: Three for now; Blades of Winter, Hammer of Angels, and an as-yet-untitled third book. But I’ve left hooks all up and down my alt-history timeline for lots of other stories.

Talk Supe: What should we expect from Alix in Hammer of Angels? (I really love the book titles.)
G.T.: More ass-kicking craziness, with a greater sense of the impact her missions are having on history. She also grows up a bit from the experiences she has in both the first and second books. And her supporting cast receives some fun additions, not all of them entirely fictional.

Talk Supe: What would Alix say to convince the readers to buy her book?
G.T.: Oh man, nothing I could repeat in polite company. It would be really persuasive, that’s for sure.  😉
Talk Supe: I think it’ll be somewhere along the lines of Get it! Blades is Fuckin A!


FUN FACTS
Day jobGraphic designer / web developer.

Favorite band/song/albumMy favorite album is London Calling by the Clash, although my favorite song is White Riot, which is on their eponymous debut album. My favorite active band is Anti-Flag.


If you’re to keep only one book from your library, what would it be? Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter S. Thompson.

Living person you’re dying to meet: Elie Wiesel, author of Night.

Favorite / least favorite classes in high school: My favorite classes were art and computers. I aced all my art classes, and my teacher was the one who suggested that I apply to RISD. I was “that drawing kid,” and classmates used to bring their notebooks to me so I could draw elaborate illustrations of Conan (or whatever) on them. One kid had me paint an Iron Maiden album cover onto the back of his denim jacket. It came out really well and he paid me with a case of vodka. 

I also had a leg up in computer class. My father had already helped me learn how to program my own video games in BASIC, so I knew more than the teacher did. I used to write these short malware apps, label them something irresistible like “Space Invaders,” and give them to the asshole jocks who used to whip me with wet towels in the locker room. When they ran the program their computer would lock up and wail like the siren on a police car, which attracted a lot of negative attention from the teacher.

My least favorite classes were everything else (I hated high school). One possible exception was French class because my friends and I had so much fun pronouncing everything phonetically, (“je suis ici” became “jay swiss eye-kie”). Of course our teacher rewarded us with, “F-moins. Cherchez-moi.” (F-minus, see me.)

Blades of Winter, the first book of G.T. Almasi’s Shadowstorm Series is out today. Trust me, it’s worth adding to your collection.

The Teens Who Would Be King by G.T. Almasi

The Teens Who Would Be King
“Hey, let’s take over the world and — ooh! Shiny!”


If Olympic athletes trained to be Ninjas instead of athletes, we couch potatoes wouldn’t stand a chance. Fortunately, the kind of person who spends their entire life training their bodies to perform super-human feats is also the kind of person who’s easily distracted by glittery trinkets. When we tell Olympic athletes to “Go for the gold!” we’re really telling them, “Don’t rise up against us and become our genetically superior overlords!”

Every time I watch the Olympics I think, “If we made those kids into spies they’d kick butt!” All we’d have to do is channel their mental focus and physical discipline into their youthful patriotism and stuff them full of biotic enhancements and implanted communication gear. Then we’d have a cadre of unstoppable super-spies. And the kids would love it! What teenager doesn’t wish they had a cell phone installed in their head?

Olympians and spies hold a powerful fascination for us: a super-human combination of discipline and danger. I’ve been a James Bond fan my whole life. I also really enjoyed the adventures of Indiana Jones, Rambo, and Jason Bourne. I loved watching the female leads in La Femme Nikita and the Tomb Raider properties. But none of these action heroes were teenagers, and female characters still represented a tiny minority of action leads. 

Then Harry Potter happened, and young characters — male and female — suddenly became viable action leads for grown-up audiences. Now, with Hunger Games, Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, Twilight and others, we’re seeing more and more young would-be Olympians doing very adult things. 

I’ve been asked if Blades of Winter is similar to these other titles. It’s a tricky question, because I don’t consider those other titles similar even to each other. While the fundamental idea — a teenage female character in an extremely violent story — is the same, each of these stories fly off in their own direction once they’re past this initial similarity. Even so, it’s interesting to be swept up in this trend, especially since it didn’t really exist when I started writing Blades of Winter six years ago. 

I do, however, worry that these books and movies will give the Olympians ideas. Instead of entertaining us with their athletic gifts, they could enslave us with their superior genes instead. Then they would establish a new world order that — ooh, look! Shiny!
Gold medals continue to be our best defense against the Olympians. The current literary trend of young heroes to give them dangerous ideas means that maintaining this defense is more important than ever. Happily, it seems that London’s recent pile of fresh hardware has effectively squashed the Neo-Sapiens’ hunger for global domination. 

For now. 

-GTA
August, 2012

Blades of Winter, the first book of G.T. Almasi’s Shadowstorm Series, is out today. 
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