Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Goodbye and hello...

Home is where the heart is. There’s no place like home. A home without books is like a room without windows…

For me, that is very true, so perhaps this is the best place to start.

I have moved to a new home, stacyalesi.com. But don’t worry, bookbitch.com will get you there, too. Eventually the BookBitchBlog will send you on your way but for now, please just click through.

The BookBitch is not gone, just re-imagined. It was time for a change. A kinder, gentler home. While my home may have changed, rest assured my opinions have not.

I am packing my bags, so to speak, and moving in. Taking all my reviews with me, and some of my reviewers as well. This will be a process so please be patient if what you are seeking cannot be found yet.

I am leaving the BookBitchBlog as it is for a while until the move is complete. Or as complete as I care to make it. We often use moving as an excuse to get rid of excess, to purge, to cleanse. I am hoping to have a clean house here, and the best way to do that is to start with a clean house.

Besides the opportunity to go mainstream, I wanted all the reviews to be more easily searchable and more easily found. I wanted to combine my blog with my website and just have one home instead of shifting between two. Hopefully this new site will accomplish that.

My most heartfelt appreciation to xuni.com for the gorgeous design and making everything work the way it should. Sheer genius!

All comments, suggestions, and constructive criticisms are welcome.

I hope you’ll stop by often.

Tuesday, November 05, 2013


New App Enables Unique, Interactive Content to Come Alive From the Pages of Print Books
Debuts with The Pioneer Woman Cooks: A Year of Holidays and YOU: The Owner’s Manual

New York, NY (November 4, 2013) – HarperCollins Publishers today announced the launch of HarperCollins Unbound, a multi-platform interactive experience that takes readers beyond the pages of the physical book. Through HarperCollins Unbound, consumers are able to explore multimedia and interactive content related to specific topics from within a book, enhancing their understanding of certain sections, providing access to demonstrations, and bringing readers closer to authors with personal interviews, recorded readings, and more. Readers can download the free HarperCollins Unbound mobile app (compatible with iOS and Android) and scan specially marked pages in the print edition to reveal one-of-a-kind bonus content.

The program launches with The Pioneer Woman Cooks: A Year of Holidays (on sale now), by Ree Drummond, New York Times bestselling author, award-winning blogger and Food Network personality. In her largest cookbook yet, Ree shares more than 140 delectable recipes. By using the Unbound app to scan specific pages, readers can bring the Pioneer Woman to life with six brand-new cooking videos that can be found through the Unbound experience.

The upcoming trade paperback edition of YOU: The Owner’s Manual by Dr. Mehmet Oz and Dr. Michael Roizen, on sale December 17, 2013, will be the second book to feature HarperCollins Unbound technology. The book will include a total of 30 interactive print service pages, 20 of which will launch videos of Dr. Roizen sharing healthy living tips from Sharecare, the online health and wellness engagement platform created by Dr. Oz and WebMD founder Jeff Arnold. To enhance the interactive experience – and help readers engage in the book’s details and test their own knowledge – ten of the pages will launch interactive quizzes from Sharecare, such as “Ways to Love Your Heart” and “Cholesterol Check.” 
“One of the most interesting questions in technology today is how we are going to ultimately bridge the gap between the physical and virtual worlds,” said Angela Tribelli, Chief Marketing Officer, HarperCollins Publishers. “We’re thrilled to be taking the lead in bridging that gap through this new offering. Thanks to Shortcut’s pioneering technology, consumers can scan a book and instantly download multimedia content straight to a mobile device – content that brings them closer to our authors. We’re especially excited to launch this new feature with authors Ree Drummond, Dr. Mehmet Oz and Dr. Michael Roizen.”

The HarperCollins Unbound app is powered by Shortcut Media’s interactive-print solution. The Shortcut technology allows the app to recognize symbols in a book, automatically launching content such as video clips, pictures, additional content, and more.
“Shortcut is the leading solution for creating interactive print products, and we are excited to partner with HarperCollins,” said Herbert Bay, Chief Executive Officer, Shortcut Media AG. “Shortcut is all about a better reader experience and connecting readers to the digital world directly from print, and the Unbound app offers a new dimension for HarperCollins books!"

For more information about HarperCollins Unbound please visit www.harpercollinsunbound.com.

About HarperCollins Publishers 
HarperCollins Publishers, one of the largest English-language publishers in the world, is a subsidiary of News Corp (NASDAQ: NWS, NWSA; ASX: NNC, NNCLV). Headquartered in New York, HarperCollins has publishing groups around the world in the US, UK, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and India. HarperCollins is a broad-based publisher with strengths in literary and commercial fiction, business books, children's books, cookbooks, narrative nonfiction, mystery, romance, reference, pop culture, design, health, wellness, and religious and spiritual books. With nearly 200 years of history, HarperCollins has published some of the world's foremost authors, including winners of the Nobel Prize, the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Award, the Newbery Medal, and the Caldecott Medal. HarperCollins is consistently at the forefront of innovation, using digital technology to create unique reading experiences and expand the reach of its authors. You can visit HarperCollins Publishers online at: http://www.harpercollins.com.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013


I am delighted to share a Q&A with Raymond Khoury, author of RASPUTIN'S SHADOW, an ingenious, fast-paced historical thriller from the author of the New York Times bestseller The Last Templar.

On a cold, bleak day in 1916, all hell breaks loose in a mining pit in the Ural Mountains. Overcome by a strange paranoia, the miners attack one another, savagely and ferociously. Minutes later, two men—a horrified scientist and Grigory Rasputin, trusted confidant of the tsar—hit a detonator, blowing up the mine to conceal all evidence of the carnage.
In the present day, FBI agent Sean Reilly’s search for Reed Corrigan, the CIA mindcontrol spook who brainwashed Reilly’s son, takes a backseat to a new, disturbing case. A Russian embassy attachĂ© seems to have committed suicide by jumping out of a fourth-floor window in Queens. The apartment’s owners, a retired physics teacher from Russia and his wife, have gone missing, and further investigation reveals that the former may not be who the FBI believe him to be.

Joined by Russian Federal Security Service agent Larisa Tchoumitcheva, Reilly’s investigation of the old man’s identity will uncover a desperate search for a small, mysterious device, with consequences that reach back in time and which, in the wrong hands, could have a devastating impact on the modern world.
Packed with the twists, intrigue, and excitement that Khoury’s many fans have come to expect, Rasputin’s Shadow will keep readers turning pages long into the night.

Head on over to www.bookbitch.com if you’d like to win a signed copy!

1.      RASPUTIN’S SHADOW is a great mix of technology, history, and action, but there is a little romance too. How do you work to balance these in the novel?

I guess it just comes from practice, really. I’ve been a storyteller for years, whether in screenplays of in my previous five novels, and I suppose it’s just a personal preference for how to tell a story, for the pacing, for having a gut feeling about when those different aspects should pop up and not jar or crowd each other out. It’s not something I consciously map out, I don’t outline the books; I just spend a lot of time setting up the characters and their motivations, the triggers of the story, then I let them loose and the story—and all the elements you refer to—come in when it feels right.

2.      In RASPUTIN’S SHADOW, there are two distinct storylines that are woven together: one in early Russia and the other in modern-day New York City. How important is it for you to have both the historical and contemporary storylines in your novels?

I’ve now done it in four our of my six novels (THE SIGN and THE DEVIL’S ELIXIR are the two only-contemporary books). So it varies. I do enjoy writing the historical storylines, though, and I feel the readers really love going back in time and living through a parallel (though secondary) storyline, especially if it feels very “real,” which is my aim. But in books like THE SIGN, for instance, it was never part of the plan, and I love that book (which is actually my longest to date) as much as its siblings.

3.      At this point in your writing career, what has been your most memorable moment as an author?

I guess I was spoiled early on. You have to remember that when I wrote THE LAST TEMPLAR (my first book), it was a personal challenge, I was just adapting the screenplay I had written in 1996 and I had zero expectation of it being a bestseller. So I remember vividly when, the week before it came out, my agent called and said “based on the numbers so far, we just might have a chance of breaking into the New York Times extended list (not the list itself). Which was amazing enough. Then that first Wednesday night after it came out, late at night, I got the call from Mitch Hoffman, my editor at Dutton, who told me we’re on the list, and #10. Which was surreal. Then the following week, I completely lost my voice from nervousness while waiting for the call which would inevitably tell me we were off the list. I was walking back from a football game when Mitch called again and said, “Guess what? You’re #5.” Which, I was told, never happens. And it just kept getting better from there.”

4.      What is next for you?

There are 4 stories fighting to make it to the blank page on my laptop screen, I wish I could write all 4 at the same time. I’m deep into one of them, it’s a standalone, a bit of a departure from the Reilly books. Then as soon as it’s done, the next installment of Reilly.

5.      What do you hope readers will take away from RASPUTIN’S SHADOW?

I hope they’ll have fun and not be able to put it down! I hope they’ll have enjoyed hanging out with Reilly, Tess, Leo, Rasputin, Misha, and the rest (maybe not so much Koschey). I hope they’ll be curious to find out more about Russian’s history in the first decades of the 20th century, the fall of the tsars and the brutal rise of communism. And I hope they’ll have learned a thing or two about how our brains work, what’s possible, what technologies are being researched out there and how horrific it would be if they were ever deployed…

Monday, October 07, 2013


Recipe for a great serial novel

Take 20 great writers.
Ask them to each write a chapter in a  continuing story.
Give them both direction and a free hand.
Donate the proceeds to charity.
Mix it all together.
Stir. Simmer. Bring to a boil.

Voila! One great novel written in 20 voices.

To continue the recipe metaphor you could say that putting a serial novel together is a bit like making an omelet or better yet, a soufflĂ©. You get all the ingredients together, whip up the eggs, put it in the oven and hope it doesn’t deflate. The good news is that this novel rose high above my expectations.

I started by asking a bunch of writers if they were willing to participate, and almost everyone said yes. I had already decided to donate the royalties to Safe Horizon, a charitable organization that aids victims of violent crime. It just made sense that crime writers – many of whom had profited by writing about violent crime – should be willing to give something back to an organization that helped real life victims, and they all agreed.

Then came the mechanics. A few weeks to craft a story that was simple yet complex, this one an homage to my favorite noir writers, Hammett, Chandler, Woolich, among others, put it together in a way that was both old and new, familiar yet original. I knew the writers would understand the source material and have fun writing within a known tradition. Once I had the story, I wrote a synopsis, a long then a short version. Then a page of character studies. After that, I broke the story into 20 chapters outlining the main points in each. The trick was to fashion an organized plot and plan but leave plenty of room for the authors to improvise—I did not want to cramp anyone’s style.

Each author received the synopsis, the character studies, individual chapter outline, and was asked to write in their own voice while sticking to the plot points.

Then I waited (somewhat nervously) for the chapters to come in. But I shouldn’t have worried. After all, every one of these writers is a pro, and every one of them did the job and more—advance the plot while adding things I’d never imagined: tension, humor, emotional resonance.

The tricky part was that everyone had to write at the same time; no one got to read the chapters that preceded theirs. And yet, in the end, they all hung together beautifully, as if someone had been watching over us whispering some strange incantation that kept us all on track. Every writer seemed to know exactly who these characters were and simply added a new layer of complexity. Our disgraced PI, Perry Christo, became prouder and smarter and shrewder; our heroine Angel, the kind of girl men dream of and dread, became more and more mysterious; her mother more and more suspicious: her father more and more devious; her boyfriends cruder and cruder; her best friend more treacherous.

In the end, the novel is fast, fun and thrilling. The individual voices are there but the seams hardly show. As Booklist said in its glowing review, "The story moves as though there were a single hand on the tiller. Not merely a genre curiosity, the book is a well-told mystery that stands on its own two (or 40) feet."  It feels to me as if a group of great writers and good friends simply got together, put their egos aside and had a terrific time writing the best thriller they could possibly write. 

Jonathan Santlofer
October 2013, NYC

About the book:


Pericles “Perry” Christo is a PI with a past—a former cop, who lost his badge and his family when a corruption scandal left him broke and disgraced. When wealthy Upper East Side matron Julia Drusilla summons him one cold February night, he grabs what seems to be a straightforward (and lucrative) case.

The socialite is looking for her beautiful, aimless daughter, Angelina, who is about to become a very wealthy young woman. But as Christo digs deeper, he discovers there’s much more to the lovely “Angel” than meets the eye. Her father, her best friend, her boy­friends all have agendas of their own. Angel, he soon realizes, may be in grave danger . . . and if Christo gets too close, he just might get caught in the crossfire.

This classic noir tale twists and turns down New York’s mean streets and along Hamp­tons’ beaches and back roads during a bitterly cold and gray winter where nothing is as it seems and everyone has something to hide. In an inventive storytelling approach, each writer brings his or her distinctive voice to a chapter of Inherit the Dead, building the ten­sion to a shocking, explosive finale.

My thanks to Jonathan Santlofer for being my guest today. FYI, here are the amazing authors who contributed to the book:

Mark Billingham, Lawrence Block, CJ Box, Ken Bruen, Alafair Burke, Stephen L. Carter, Mary Higgins Clark, Marcia Clark, Max Allan Collins, John Connolly, James Grady, Bryan Gruley, Heather Graham, Charlaine Harris, Val McDermid, SJ Rozan, Jonathan Santlofer, Dana Stabenow, Lisa Unger, and Sarah Weinman. Plus, Lee Child writes the Introduction and Linda Fairstein writes an open letter to the reader.

Inherit the Dead is available for purchase at amazon.com or your favorite bookseller. 

Note: Editor Jonathan Santlofer has arranged to donate any royalties in excess of editor and contributor compensation to Safe Horizon, the leading victim assistance agency in the country.

Jonathan Santlofer is the author of five novels and a highly respected artist whose work has been written about and reviewed in the New York Times, Art in America, Artforum, and Arts, and appears in many public, private, and corporate collections. He serves on the board of Yaddo, one of the oldest artist communities in the country. Santlofer lives and works in New York City.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Guest Blogger: ANNA LEE HUBER!

I am delighted to welcome my guest blogger, Anna Lee Huber. She is the author of the The Lady Darby novels, and one lucky reader is going to win a copy of MORTAL ARTS!

Thank you so much for hosting me! For this blog post, I decided to go to my readers, to find out what they wanted to know. What follows are their top five questions.

Q. Both of your Lady Darby novels, The Anatomist’s Wife and Mortal Arts, are set in Scotland 1830. What made you choose that time and place?

A. When I decided to write a historical mystery series with a heroine who has some knowledge of anatomy, I knew 1830 would be the perfect time period. It’s just after the trial of Burke and Hare, two body snatchers-turned-murderers, which plays into the public’s fear of Kiera once news of her involvement with her late husband’s dissections comes to light, and it’s just a few years before the Anatomy Act of 1832. Not to mention all of the other reforms being made with the Catholic Act of 1829, the Reform Act of 1832, the beginnings of the building of railroads, the ramping up of industrialization. It’s a very interesting period. Lots of conflict. I initially chose Scotland because I needed an isolated location, and the Highlands were perfect for my purposes. I stuck with Scotland because it’s a country I love, and it’s the perfect setting for mystery.

Q. Which of your characters have you most enjoyed writing the most?

A. Well, I certainly adore Kiera, Lady Darby and Mr. Gage, her fellow investigator and romantic interest. They’re both complex, mysterious people who don’t give up their secrets easily. I’ve also fallen in love with several of my secondary characters. In The Anatomist’s Wife, it was that rascal Lord Marsdale who wormed his way into my heart. There’s much more to him than meets the eyes, and I have a feeling we’ll be seeing him again at some point in the future. In Mortal Arts, it was William Dalmay, and I think anyone who reads the story will understand why. He’s such a heartbreaking character. 

Q. How much alike are you and Lady Darby?

A. Not much. In many ways I think I’m more like her older sister. But Kiera and I do have several things in common. We both feel a bit like outsiders, never really fitting in. We both feel strongly that people should be accepted for who they are—quirks and all. We are both artists—she is a portrait painter and I’m a writer and musician. And I think her way of looking at the world, of processing her thoughts, is very similar to mine.

Q. I shed more than a few tears reading Mortal Arts. You must deal with a bunch of emotions while writing these stories. How do you deal with that?

A. Writing the emotional scenes can definitely by tough, especially on the days when I just don’t want to go there. And I had to go to some very dark places while writing Mortal Arts. That can be extremely draining, both physically and mentally. When I finish working on one of those scenes, sometimes I have to make myself step away from the computer and do something more cheerful, like taking a walk or playing with my cat. But not always. Sometimes it’s actually cathartic. I write murder mysteries, but really so little time is spent on thinking about the murder. Most of the book is really about the quest for justice, the journey of the characters, their efforts to cast light into a dark place. Each novel in the Lady Darby series is structured around a mystery, but the main thread connecting the books is Kiera, Lady Darby’s journey to accept herself and find happiness. That is what makes dealing with the horrible crimes and darker emotions in the novels worth it.

Q. What books do you think should be mandatory for high schoolers to read? I always like this question because everyone has such different views on "The Classics."

A. I don’t know that I’m really qualified to answer this, or that I have specific suggestions. But I do think high school curriculum should focus more on novels that teenagers actually have the mental and psychological maturity to connect to and fully comprehend. So many classics that I read during school, especially in middle school and early high school, I simply was not old enough or wise enough to truly grasp. When I re-read some of them later as an adult I realized how much depth and richness I had missed. There are adult concepts that teachers can tell their students about, but that doesn’t mean they understand them. The Classics I enjoyed reading, and feel that I had a pretty good grasp of are: several of Shakespeare’s plays, The Scarlet Letter, A Tale of Two Cities, Pride and Prejudice, and Jane Eyre. I also enjoyed The Great Gatsby and Wuthering Heights, but I don’t think I was able to fully comprehend them as a teenager. I read Les Miserables in college when I was about twenty years old and absolutely loved it. To this day, it’s one of my favorite books. I think teenagers could connect with it as well.

About Anna: Anna Lee Huber is the award-winning author of the Lady Darby historical mystery series. Her debut, The Anatomist’s Wife, has won and been nominated for numerous awards, including two 2013 RITA® Awards and a 2013 Daphne du Maurier Award. Her second novel, Mortal Arts, released September 3rd. She was born and raised in a small town in Ohio, and graduated from Lipscomb University in Nashville, TN with a degree in music and a minor in psychology. She currently lives in Indiana, and enjoys reading, singing, traveling and spending time with her family. Visit her at www.annaleehuber.com.

About Mortal Arts: Scotland, 1830. Lady Kiera Darby is no stranger to intrigue-in fact, it seems to follow wherever she goes. After her foray into murder investigation, Kiera must journey to Edinburgh with her family so that her pregnant sister can be close to proper medical care. But the city is full of many things Kiera isn't quite ready to face: the society ladies keen on judging her, her fellow investigator-and romantic entanglement-Sebastian Gage, and ultimately, another deadly mystery.

Kiera's old friend Michael Dalmay is about to be married, but the arrival of his older brother-and Kiera's childhood art tutor-William, has thrown everything into chaos. For ten years Will has been missing, committed to an insane asylum by his own father. Kiera is sympathetic to her mentor's plight, especially when rumors swirl about a local girl gone missing. Now Kiera must once again employ her knowledge of the macabre and join forces with Gage in order to prove the innocence of a beloved family friend-and save the marriage of another...

If you’d like to win a copy of MORTAL ARTS, just send an email to contest@gmail.com, with "Mortal Arts" as the subject. Make sure to include your name and mailing address in the US only. This is a quick contest so your odds of winning are really good - if you enter by September 30, 2013. Good luck!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Guest Blogger: CHRIS BOLTON

Please welcome my guest blogger, Chris Bolton. Chris, along with his brother Kyle, has a new graphic novel out and will be giving away a copy to one lucky reader! 

by Chris A. Bolton

Hello, blog readers! My name is Chris A. Bolton and today I have something special for you. Rather than blather on about myself, how and why I wrote the all-ages graphic novel Smash: Trial by Fire (on sale September 10th from Candlewick Press), or what it was like working wth my artist brother Kyle, I decided to let the pint-sized superhero and star of our book speak for himself. Without further ado, please welcome...Smash!


CHRIS: I know you're very busy with homework and fighting crime, so thanks for taking the time to speak with me. To start off, your real identity is--

SMASH: Whoa! Easy, there. First rule of being a superhero: keep your secret identity a secret.

CHRIS: That sounds like pretty good advice.

SMASH: I got it from a guy named the Wraith. He's this old-school crimefighter who could phase through walls and stuff, but now he's retired and trains dogs. He's always trying to make me his sidekick, and I have to keep telling him to go away. Sidekicks spew! I want to be a full-on superhero, not somebody's understudy. Wraith should be my sidekick!

CHRIS: But you're only ten years old, Smash. Isn't that a little young to be fighting crime?

SMASH: I don't know. I mean, I can fly, run really fast, and punch through walls without feeling any pain. Can you do all that?

CHRIS: No, I cannot. Where did these powers come from?

SMASH: That's also a secret.

CHRIS: This isn't going to be much of an interview if you won't answer any questions.

SMASH: Hey, you called me, remember?

CHRIS: Let me tell you what we know from TV news footage. The super-powered hero known as Defender was captured by his arch-enemy, a criminal mastermind called the Magus. There was a freak explosion and a mysterious ball of energy erupted from the building. Next thing we know, Defender is declared dead by the police -- and suddenly, a young boy who has his powers appears, wearing a smaller version of his costume. Is that about right?

SMASH: Here's what I can tell you: my powers are totally real. And yes, I am ten years old. But that's all I can say!

CHRIS: Were you a big fan of Defender's before you got his powers?

SMASH: Heck, yeah! Are you kidding? Defender was the greatest hero that ever... hey, wait a second! You're trying to trick me! I'm still not telling you if I got my powers from Defender. But yeah, Defender was awesome. And so were his powers.

CHRIS: So now, as the hero called "Smash," you're attempting to pick up where Defender left off. Even though you have his -- er, these powers, do you really feel that a ten-year-old kid can carry on such a heroic legacy?

SMASH: Uh, well... I'm trying to! I guess I've got a few things to learn. I mean, it's not like you get flying powers and all of a sudden you're an eagle, you know? Taking off and landing are HARD. So is everything that happens between take-off and landing! But I'm working at getting better.

CHRIS: We've also seen TV footage of you clinging to a flagpole. It kind of looked like maybe you're afraid of heights?

SMASH: What? NO! Who said that? I'm not afraid of heights! I LOVE heights! Heights are the best, they're my favorite -- I wish I could fly HIGHER!

CHRIS: Okay, okay, relax.

SMASH: You tell all the bad guys out there that I'm NOT afraid of heights! Go ahead, say it!

CHRIS: Smash is not afraid of heights.

SMASH: That's better. Geez, thanks for giving away my biggest weakness.

CHRIS: You mean, it would be your weakness, if you were afraid of heights. But you're not, so it isn't.

SMASH: ...

CHRIS: Moving on. In the new book Smash: Trial by Fire, my brother and I attempt to tell your story in the graphic novel format...

SMASH: Yeah, you guys really missed the mark on a bunch of stuff.

CHRIS: Such as?

SMASH: Well, for one thing, my secret identity. You were WAY off on that one! Who's this Andrew Ryan kid? I've never even heard of that dude!

CHRIS: Well, we did some research and made an educated guess...

SMASH: WAY off! Way, way, way off!

CHRIS: Okay, got it. What else?

SMASH: Your brother, Kyle? He's a really good artist, but he drew me all wrong. Like, he made my arms super-skinny and my chest flat. But anyone can see my arms are really HUGE, with muscles on top of muscles, and my chest is BUFF! It's like a block of concrete over a six-pack of abs.

CHRIS: I'm looking at you now, and you just look like a normal kid in a costume.

SMASH: Well, you should get your eyes checked! Because I am HUGE! I once flew past The Rock and he was all, "Whoa! That kid's so ripped, I'm gonna quit wresting and become an actor!"

CHRIS: I really don't think that happened.

SMASH: You don't know, you weren't there! Anyway, I really liked the book except for those parts.

CHRIS: I want to ask you about the Magus. Here was Defender's greatest nemesis, a criminal mastermind who commands an army of deadly Minions. After many years of fighting, the Magus finally beat Defender, once and for all. With that in mind, how did it feel when you came face-to-face with such a dangerous enemy?

SMASH: HA! Magus has a reputation as a big tough guy, but he's not so bad. He took one look at me and cried like a little baby. It was nothin'.

CHRIS: Interesting you say that. As a matter of fact, we invited the Magus to join our interview--

SMASH: Uh, what?

CHRIS: -- and he graciously agreed! So, let's get him in here and find out what he thinks.
SMASH: Hang on, what's happening now..?

CHRIS: Mr. Magus, welcome!

MAGUS: You may simply call me "Magus." Or, if you prefer, "Master." Or "Your Highness."
CHRIS: Uh, well, I'm cool with calling you Magus...

MAGUS:  In fact, let's go with "Master." I like that. What is your question, fool?

CHRIS: After so many years of battling Defender, how did it feel coming face-to-face with your new arch-enemy, who's a short, ten-year-old boy?

SMASH: Short but RIPPED!

MAGUS: Frankly, I was unimpressed.

SMASH: He peed himself. I saw it happen.

MAGUS: Silence, boy! The next time I capture you, I swear, by all the powers at my disposal...

CHRIS: Let's talk about that. Magus, you trapped Defender so you could steal his powers. Then, after Smash started fighting crime, you tried to captured him to take his powers. What is your obsession with these powers?

MAGUS: I merely wish to use them for the betterment of humankind. Surely we can all agree that a small child is unworthy to carry the mantle of "world's greatest superhero." I have had a drastic change of heart since Defender's unfortunate passing, and I now realize my destiny is to protect the innocent and the meek from the forces of villainy that lurk around us.

SMASH: Uh, that's a stinky pack of lies! Magus is evil, okay? You can't trust a word he says.

MAGUS: Don't listen to the boy -- listen to your master! I mean, your savior.

SMASH: Are you getting all this? Magus is obviously the BAD GUY! Someone's gotta stop him from taking over the world. And the last time I looked, I'm the only person around here with super-powers.

MAGUS: Until I take them from you and claim them for my own!

SMASH: Yeah, right! The next time you try to take my powers, you're gonna get a tattoo of my footprint on your backside!

CHRIS: Okay, let's wrap this up before it gets out of control. Do you have any last words for us?

MAGUS: I have perused this Trial by Fire book -- if it can truly be called a "book" by any thinking individual -- and I find it to be pure drivel. I never tried to hurt Defender or Smash. I only have the best interests of the public in mind, and thus, this book is full of lies!

SMASH: And I just want to say, I kicked Magus's butt a whole lot worse than it shows in the book!


CHRIS: We'll just have to let readers decide for themselves what's true and what isn't when they pick up their copies of Smash: Trial by Fire, new from Candlewick Press. They'll find it everywhere books are sold starting September 10th.

SMASH: Nice plug! Who are you, Self-Promotion Man?

MAGUS: Okay, that was a good one. That deserves a fist-pound.

SMASH: Get out of here, your FACE deserve a fist-pound!

CHRIS: And with that, we'll say goodbye.


Whap! Thud! Crash! An action-packed graphic novel simultaneously spoofs and pays tribute to superhero lore while inspiring a new generation of crimefighters.

Ka-boom! Clobbered by fallout from a blast that kills the local superhero, Defender, Andrew Ryan suddenly has super strength and speed! And he can fly! Now it’s up to him to protect citizens from thieves, thugs, and fearsome villains. He dons a homemade costume to hide his true identity, and Smash is born! But fighting crime isn’t easy, especially when you’re in fifth grade. On top of evil robots and trigger-happy bank robbers, there’s homework, curfew, and the school bully to deal with. Not to mention the Magus, a fearsome villain who will stop at nothing to steal Smash’s superpowers for himself! Influenced by film, cartoons, and of course, classic comic books, this vivid escapade features a rib-tickling, high-energy storyline and the colorful, exaggerated figures of nostalgic comic-book art: a combo perfect for kids longing for a secret identity of their own.


Chris A. Bolton has written comics, short fiction, stage plays, sketch comedy, and screenplays. He wrote and directed several short films and an acclaimed web series and recently completed his first novel. He lives in Portland, Oregon, where he still dreams of acquiring superpowers.

Kyle Bolton has been drawing since the age of four, although SMASH is his first professional comic work. A graduate of the Art Institute of Seattle, he has worked for a variety of game companies creating 2D and 3D animations. Kyle Bolton currently draws and lives in Seattle, Washington.


If you’d like to win your own copy of SMASH: Trial by Fire, just send an email to contest@gmail.com, with "SMASH" as the subject. Make sure to include your name and mailing address in the US only. This is a quick contest so your odds of winning are really good - if you enter by Sept. 25, 2013. Good luck!

Saturday, September 07, 2013

Countdown to the Miami Book Fair!



Presented and produced by The Center For Literature and Theatre @
Miami Dade College

Nov. 17 – 24, 2013

The nation’s finest and largest literary gathering, Miami Book Fair International, presented by The Center for Literature and Theatre @ Miami Dade College (MDC), turns 30 this year! The beloved festival will take place November 17 – 24, 2013, at Miami Dade MDC’s Wolfson Campus in downtown Miami.

In commemoration of the 500 years since Ponce de Leon landed in Florida, this year the Fair will celebrate the culture and literature of Spain. Some of the country’s most illustrious writers and artists will present their works at the Fair this year.

In addition, the artist of the official Book Fair poster is one of Spain’s most important illustrators and comics artists and winner of the 2007 Premio Nacional de Comic, Francisco Capdevila, better known as “Max.” The official poster, along with the Generation Genius Days poster by popular comics and graphic novels creator Paul Pope, will be unveiled September 20 at the College’s Historic Freedom Tower as part of a DWNTWN Arts Days celebration that will bring together all of the other MDCulture’s departments – Miami International Film Festival, MDC LiveArts, Galleries and Museum of Art + Design and Teatro Prometeo.

The Miami Book Fair, one of Miami’s flagship cultural events, will treat book lovers to eight days of cultural and educational activities, including the beloved Evenings With… series, the IberoAmerican Authors program, literacy and learning activities for children and teens during Generation Genius Days, and The Kitchen, demos and panels for food enthusiasts in partnership with the college’s Miami Culinary Institute. Fairgoers will also enjoy more than 200 exhibitors from around the country selling books in a festive atmosphere and hundreds of author reading and discussing new books during the weekend Street Fair.

The Center for Literature and Theatre @ MDC Presents Celebrates 30 Miami Book Fairs with Pre-fair Author Events

The Center for Literature and Theatre @ Miami Dade College presents seven readings by superstar authors in September, October and November as a prelude to the nation’s finest and largest literary gathering, Miami Book Fair International. The six author presentations, planned to celebrate the Fair’s 30th anniversary, also celebrate a long-standing partnership between independent bookstore Books & Books and The Center.

Thursday, Sept. 26, 7:30 p.m.
Salman Rushdie on Joseph Anton, in conversation with Mitchell Kaplan,
co-presented with Books & Books
MDC Wolfson Campus - Chapman Conference Center, Building 3, 2nd Floor
Tickets required; visit www.booksandbooks.com

Monday, Sept. 30, 7:30 p.m.
Nicholas Sparks on The Longest Ride, co-presented with Books & Books
MDC Wolfson Campus - Chapman Conference Center
Tickets required; isit www.booksandbooks.com

Wednesday, Oct. 9, 7:30 p.m.
Elizabeth Gilbert on The Signature of All Things, co-presented with Books & Books
MDC Wolfson Campus – Auditorium, Building 1, 2nd Floor
Tickets required; visit www.booksandbooks.com

Thursday, Oct. 24, 7:30 p.m.
Billy Collins on Aimless Love: New and Selected Poems, co-presented with Books & Books
MDC Wolfson Campus – Auditorium, Building 1, 2nd Floor
No tickets required.

Saturday, Nov. 2
Helen Fielding on Bridget Jones: Mad about the Boy, co-presented with Books & Books
Time & Location TBD
Tickets required; visit www.booksandbooks.com

Wednesday, Nov. 6, 7:30 p.m.
Donna Tartt on The Goldfinch, co-presented with Books & Books
MDC Wolfson Campus – Auditorium, Building 1, 2nd Floor
No tickets required.

To celebrate the 30th Fair is a series of special readings by Sir Salman Rushie, Elizabeth Gilbert, Helen Fielding, Nicholas Sparks, Donna Tartt, and Billy Collins to commence in September. Additionally, the MBFI has launched a campaign that celebrates Miami’s love and involvement with their hometown jewel. Visit the Fair’s social media platforms for vintage photos, author Q&As, and a sampling of the many reasons why Miami loves Book Fair:

Miami Book Fair International 2013 promises to be another exceptional literary event!

For regular updates on the Miami Book Fair, please visit www.miamibookfair.com

Miami Book Fair International, widely considered the largest and finest literary event in the U.S., is the premier event of The Center for Literature and Theatre @ Miami Dade College, a part of MDCulture, the Cultural Affairs Department of the College. The Center promotes reading, writing and theater at locations throughout South Florida by consistently presenting activities open to all. Its Generation Genius programs for children and teens promote literacy and learning. Its creative writing program has national appeal, and courses are taught by local and visiting authors. It is also home to Prometeo Theatre, the nation's leading Spanish language, conservatory-style program offering training for actors, and featuring performances throughout the year. In 2012, the Center celebrated its tenth year with a renewed commitment to the advancement of literary and theater arts.

Miami Book Fair International is made possible through the generous support of the State of Florida and the National Endowment for the Arts; the City of Miami; Miami-Dade County Department of Cultural Affairs and the Cultural Affairs Council, the Miami-Dade County Mayor and Board of County Commissioners; Miami-Dade County Public Schools; the Greater Miami Convention and Visitors Bureau; the Miami Downtown Development; and the Friends of the Fair; as well as many corporate partners.

Miami Dade College
Miami Dade College has a long and rich history of involvement in the cultural arts, providing South Florida with a vast array of artistic and literary offerings including The Miami Book Fair International, The Florida Center for the Literary Arts, The Miami International Film Festival, the MDC Live Arts performing arts series, The MDC Tower Theater Cinema Series, the Miami Leadership Roundtable speakers’ series, the National Historic Landmark Freedom Tower, numerous renowned campus art galleries and theaters, and the nationally recognized School of Entertainment and Design Technology. With an enrollment of more than 174,000 students, MDC is the largest institution of higher education in the country and is a national model for many of its programs. The college’s eight campuses and outreach centers offer more than 300 distinct degree programs including baccalaureate, Associate in Arts and Science degrees and numerous career training certificates leading to in-demand jobs. MDC has served nearly 2,000,000 students since it opened its doors in 1960.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Win MOONRISE by Cassandra King!

Acclaimed author Cassandra King's new novel is Moonrise, available on September 3rd from Maiden Lane Press.  MOONRISE is a novel of dark secrets and second chances, New York Times’ bestselling author Cassandra King’s homage to the gothic classic Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier.

When Helen Honeycutt falls in love with a man who has recently lost his wife in a tragic accident, their sudden marriage creates a rift between her new husband and his friends, who resent her intrusion into their close circle. When the newlyweds join them for a summer at Moonrise, his late wife’s family home in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains, it soon becomes clear that someone is trying to drive her away, in King’s literary homage to Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier.

Here Cassandra shares a few words about relationships, family dynamics and divorce --- all present in Moonrise.

Q: In Moonrise, you’ve written about a circle of friends that includes not just women but also men. The relationship within each couple is unique. While friendship has been a regular theme in your previous novels, the women in Moonrise seem more capable of betrayal than in previous novels. Would you like to comment on this? And with the exception of your first novel, Making Waves, you’ve most often focused on friendships between women. Do you find it harder to write about men?
A: Relationships are always complex, even the closest and most loving—or, perhaps, especially the closest and most loving. In this book, I wanted to explore that complexity in ways I haven’t in previous novels. Yes, friendship is a beautiful thing, but how do we deal with rejection? We all experience rejection at some point in our lives, and it always hurts. And what about betrayal? I wanted to look at the darker part of friendships--what’s often hidden beneath the amiable surface. How do friendships survive jealousy, lies, loss of trust? And if they do, what’s left? All that intrigued me, especially as it applied to the relationships between men and women, both friends and lovers. I find it easier to write about men than women for some reason. I toyed with having a male point of view in this book in addition to Helen’s and Willa’s, using Noel or Linc as one of the narrators. But Tansy would not stand for it.
Q: The stigma of divorce is, for many, a thing of the past. With the increase in the divorce rate, many more couples find themselves remarrying at midlife and having to adjust to blended families. In Moonrise, Helen is rejected not only by her husband’s circle of friends but also by his daughter. Which do you think is harder to bear, and why?
A: It depends on how you define family. Most of us expand that notion well beyond bloodlines or genetic ties, and close friends become like family to us. Certainly in a second marriage, efforts are made all around to expand the boundaries of the family unit. Helen and Emmet each have a child who has left the nest and started his/her own life, making for a slightly different situation (though not an uncommon one). Since Emmet’s daughter has lost her mother, Helen wants to play a more significant role as stepmother than she might otherwise have done. However, the daughter’s resentment is an obstacle that has to be overcome. From my observations, I don’t think that’s an uncommon situation, either.

About the Author:
CASSANDRA KING is the bestselling author of four previous novels, Making Waves, The Sunday Wife, The Same Sweet Girls and Queen of Broken Hearts, as well as numerous short stories, essays and articles. Moonrise, her fifth novel, is set in Highlands, North Carolina. A native of Lower Alabama, Cassandra resides in Beaufort, South Carolina, with her husband, Pat Conroy.

If you’d like to win your own copy of MOONRISE, just send an email to contest@gmail.com, with "MOONRISE" as the subject. Make sure to include your name and mailing address in the US only. This is a quick contest so your odds of winning are really good - if you enter by Sept. 11, 2013. Good luck!

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