The Qwillery | category: Pocket Books


The Qwillery

A blog about books and other things speculative

Review: Bitter Bite by Jennifer Estep

Bitter Bite
Author:  Jennifer Estep
Series:  Elemental Assassin 14
Publisher:  Pocket Books, February 23, 2016
Format:  Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 400 pages
List Price:  US$7.99 (print and eBook)
ISBN:  9781501111273 (print); 9781501111280 (eBook)

Review: Bitter Bite by Jennifer Estep
Which is stronger: blood ties or a battle-tested friendship? That’s the question Gin Blanco asks when a friend’s long-lost relative strolls into town. The suspicious reunion is a surprise for everyone—and a big problem for Gin. Book fourteen in the New York Times bestselling urban fantasy series RT Book Reviews calls “unbeatable entertainment!”

It’s not easy being queen bee of an underworld abuzz with crooks and killers. Wielding my potent Ice and Stone elemental magic will only get me so far—my real secret is my tight-knit makeshift family, a motley crew of cops and criminals, dwarves and playboys. My foster brother Finnegan Lane is my right-hand man, but when his suddenly not-dead relative comes back into the picture, I’m the one on the outside looking in.

It’s funny how life works: one minute your best friend is rock-steady, and the next he’s doe-eyed and buying into this whole loving-relative routine to the point of ignoring you. I’d like to be happy for Finn, I really would. But all of my instincts are telling me that beneath the syrupy sweet demeanor and old-fashioned charm, this sudden interloper is planning something. The whole shtick leaves a bitter taste in my mouth. This person might have avoided the grave once, but I’ll put anyone who hurts Finn in the ground—for good.

Doreen’s Thoughts

In this 17th* outing with Gin Blanco, the Elemental Assassin, Jennifer Estep once again places one of Gin’s extended family in jeopardy. Gin continues as the queen of the underworld, when she is not cooking at her restaurant, the Pork Pit, or for her family. Her extended family includes her sister, her foster brother, her lover, and various other characters that she has adopted along the way. As an Elemental, Gin has the ability to control both Ice and Stone, which gives her an edge in the assassin business.

As Estep usually does, the last novel ended with the reveal of a new threat to Gin’s world. This time, the threat is aimed at her foster brother, Finn. Unfortunately, while Gin is investigating this new person, Finn is cozying up to one of his new clients, Mama Dee, and before Gin has a chance to prepare Finn, she reveals herself to be his long-lost mother. However, her story of why she disappeared does not fit with the story that Finn’s father left for Gin, and nothing Gin says can dissuade Finn from falling for this woman’s charms.

By now, the stories should feel formulaic, but Estep keeps her writing crisp. Her fight scenes generally last for several pages and are tightly written. You can almost feel the knives slashing and the blood flying. The interactions between the characters seems realistic, and it is easy to sink into the magic of Asheville.

I particularly love that Gin is a cook, first and foremost. When something upsets her world order, her instinct is to fix food, the world’s number-one comfort. I almost wish that Estep would include recipes for some of the meals that Gin prepares for her family and at her restaurant, but that would undermine the seriousness of the tales. Make no mistake, Gin also is an assassin who won her way to the top of the underworld.

I also enjoy the relationships that Gin has with her extended family. When the novels first began, Gin was a relatively solitary soul, with just Finn and a few others. However, she has grown during the course of the series and become more involved with people.

Overall, Estep continues to churn out good solid stories that surprise and delight. As mentioned, she usually sets up her next novel by leaving some hint at the end, and she does so again here. It turns out that the underworld that Gin knows may not be the whole underworld – there appears to be a larger group that masterminds everything. Even worse, it appears that Gin’s mother may not have been the innocent victim that Gin thought she was – but that’s another story.

*14 Novels and 3 Novellas

Interview with Jessica Sims

Please welcome Jessica Sims to The Qwillery. Between a Vamp and a Hard Place is published today by Pocket Books. Please join The Qwillery in wishing Jessica a Happy Publication Day!

Interview with Jessica Sims

TQ:  Welcome to The Qwillery. You've written several novels and novellas in the your Midnight Liaisons series. Has your writing process changed from when Beauty Dates the Beast (2011) was published until now? What is the most challenging thing for you about writing? 

Note: Between a Vamp and a Hard Place is a standalone novel and not part of the Midnight Liaisons series.

Jessica:  Thanks for having me!!

I’ve gone from being a pantser to more of a plotter. I wrote one too many books in which I’d get 60% of the way through and totally stall out. No thank you! So now I do all the work up front. THAT is the most challenging thing about writing – figuring out the entire story before you write a word. But it’s worth it when you get in the weeds!

TQ:  Are you a plotter, a pantser or a hybrid?

Jessica:  Started out pantser, and am now firmly a plotter. ☺

TQ:  In your Midnight Liaisons so far who has been the easiest character to write and why? The hardest and why?

Jessica:  Probably Sara was the easiest, just because I was SO excited to jump into her book and write the scared heroine versus the big bad bear. The hardest was Ryder, because she had so much backstory to unpack that I had a hard time working it into the story without dumping on the reader.

TQDescribe Between a Vamp and a Hard Place in 140 characters or less.

Jessica:  Put a revenge-seeking 600 yr old vampire into the modern day and dare him not to fall in love!

TQ:  Tell us something about Between a Vamp and a Hard Place that is not found in the book description.

Jessica:  The heroine has a really kickass friend and sidekick named Gemma. I’m a big fan of heroines having female friends that they hang out with.

TQ:   In your opinion, why are vampires so popular as romantic leading men?

Jessica:  I think it’s the air of danger. To them, we’re prey. It’s the ultimate ‘taming the bad boy’ situation.

TQ:  Which question about Between a Vamp and a Hard Place do you wish someone would ask? Ask it and answer it!

Jessica:  What’s up with all the pottery love that Lindsey has? Well, self, I thought you’d never ask! When I worked on this book, I was going through a phase where I was major, major into Chinese pottery. Random, right? But I’ve always collected ginger jars and was spending hours on ebay looking for steals, and wandering through all the antique shops in my local area. Did you know that most antique shops have a ‘smell’? I do. Heh. NOT A GOOD SMELL but a smell nevertheless. Also apparently glass chicken-shaped dishes are a thing at antique shops. I’ve seen far too many.

TQ:  Give us one or two of your favorite non-spoilery lines/paragraphs from A Vamp and a Hard Place.


“You could always swear fealty to me the way a vassal swears fealty to his lord.”

“How’s that?”

“A kiss.”

“I’m starting to think this is all an excuse to make out with me,” I grumbled, but I stepped forward anyhow. “So you made out with all your vassals? Tongue included?”

He flashed another smile at me. “No tongue. Just a chaste kiss of fealty on my foot.”

“Your foot?” I sputtered. “I’m not kissing your foot!”

“I will allow you to kiss my mouth, then.”

Sneaky vampire. But it beat foot-kissing. “I’m not sure I signed on for any of this.”

“Then how can I possibly trust you?”

Damn vampire. “Fine. Let’s get to it, then.”

TQ:  What's next?

Jessica:  In February or so, I’ll be putting out ALPHA EVER AFTER, Savannah and Connor’s story! Yay!

TQ:  Thank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Between a Vamp and a Hard Place
Pocket Books, December 29, 2015
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 384 pages

Interview with Jessica Sims
In the wickedly funny spirit of bestselling authors Kerrelyn Sparks and Molly Harper, this sexy paranormal romance features an estate broker and a 600-year-old vampire out for revenge.

Lindsey Hughes loves antiques and couldn’t be happier to make a living in the estate sale business. But when her assistant accidentally buys an entire estate without her approval, Lindsey is forced to clean up the mess herself.

Lindsey travels to the newly purchased, age-old house in Venice, Italy, and soon discovers more than she (never) bargained for. While digging through the hoarder’s trove that fills every floor, she finds a secret staircase behind a wall that leads to a strange coffin…with an even stranger inhabitant.

Vampire Rand FitzWulf has been in his coffin for 600 years. But now that he’s awake, he’s ravenous, and there’s a delicious-smelling woman with a rare blood type in his basement. Luckily, Lindsey has more to offer than blood: she agrees to travel throughout Europe with Rand to help him get revenge on the one who turned him. But as the unlikely pair grows closer, will the billionaire vampire be overtaken by his thirst for blood—or his thirst for love?

About Jessica

Interview with Jessica Sims
Jessica Sims lives in Texas. She has some cats, but what writer doesn’t? She plays video games and confesses to reading comic books. And she likes writing, but that one was pretty obvious.

Website  ~  Twitter  ~  Facebook

Goodreads  ~  Pinterest

Check out Midnight Liaisons!
(To see the novels and novellas in the Midnight Liaisons series visit Jessica's website here.)

Beauty Dates the Beast
Midnight Liaisons 1
Pocket Books, October 25, 2011
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 384 pages

Interview with Jessica Sims

Single human female to join charming, wealthy, single male were-cougar for a night of romantic fun—and maybe more.

Me: The tall, sensuous, open-minded leader of my clan.

You: A deliciously curvy virgin who’s intimately familiar with what goes bump in the night. Must not be afraid of a little tail. Prefer a woman who’s open to exploring her animal nature. Interest in nighttime walks through the woods a plus.

My turn-ons include protecting you from the worst the supernatural world has to offer. Ready for an adventure? Give me a call.

Vampires and doppelgangers need not apply.

Desperately Seeking Shapeshifter
Midnight Liaisons 2
Gallery Books, August 30, 2014
Trade Paperback, 384 pages
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, October 30, 2012

Interview with Jessica Sims

Is your new pack driving you a little crazy? Tired of all those wolves in sheep’s clothing? Let me be your fierce protector.

Me: A strong, silent type who doesn’t care much about the creature comforts.

You: Sweet as honey. No such thing as too big or too small— you’re just right.

Let’s take things slow. I’ll start as your bodyguard, but hopefully soon I’ll shift into your mate. You need a man who’s born to be wild, and I’m ready to protect you from all the wolf pack can throw in your direction. Don’t be afraid of your animal side. Show me yours, and I’ll show you mine.

Are you curious what else Midnight Liaisons dating service has to offer?

Read what our satisfied customers are saying about past romantic escapades!

Must Love Fangs
Midnight Liaisons 3
Pocket Books, August 27, 2013
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 368 pages

Interview with Jessica Sims
From the supernatural dating capital of the world, it’s the Midnight Liaisons Dating Game!

Let’s meet our eligible bachelors . . .

“Cold hands, warm heart” applies to Bachelor #1. He believes that nighttime is the right time. Welcome, Bert the vampire!

Bachelor #2 is an old soul—four hundred years old, to be exact. If you want someone to spend eternity with, choose Andre the vampire!

Dying to snuggle up with a strong, sexy were-cougar? Bachelor #3 is a real cat(ch) who will tail the woman of his dreams until his irresistible charm melts her heart. He’s Joshua Russell!

Who’s our lucky bachelorette?

Professional matchmaker Marie Bellavance has hooked up hundreds of were-things, harpies, faeries, and vamps. Now it’s her turn. This alluring human’s not afraid to break the rules. But when nature takes over, a forbidden romance could be her only chance to live a full, healthy life. If there’s a trick to getting turned, she needs to find it . . . fast.

Wanted: Wild Thing
Midnight Liaisons 4
Gallery Books, September 5, 2015
Trade Paperback, 368 pages
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, August 26, 2014

Interview with Jessica Sims
The final book in a romance series set in a “fun, sexy world” (USA TODAY), where paranormals seek love through a dating service called Midnight Liaisons.

Ryder is hiding a dark secret from her coworkers at Midnight Liaisons. Every time she’s sexually attracted to a man, her dragon side breaks through. Not exactly man-bait! But she needs to lose her virginity before her twenty-fifth birthday, or she’ll become a dragon forever.

Her solution? Big, hunky Hugh, the appointed guardian of her chastity. He’s clearly hot for her, but he has powerful reasons to resist Ryder. Can temptation—and love—possibly find a way?

Review: Spider’s Trap by Jennifer Estep

Spider’s Trap
Author:  Jennifer Estep
Series:  Elemental Assassin 13
Publisher:  Pocket Books, July 28, 2015
Format:  Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 400 pages
List Price:  $7.99 (print); $7.99 (eBook)
ISBN:  9781501105173 (print); 9781501105180 (eBook)
Review copy:  Provided by the Publisher

Review: Spider’s Trap by Jennifer Estep
The next thrilling book in Jennifer Estep’s New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling Elemental Assassin series—“an extraordinary series.…One of the most intriguing heroines in the genre” (Romantic Times Book Reviews).

Keep your friends close but your enemies within stabbing distance.

One important lesson I’ve learned in the assassination business is that to be the best you have to roll with the punches. Now that I’m queen of Ashland’s underworld—by default, not by choice—a lot more punches are being thrown my way. But I suppose that’s the price of victory for taking down some of the underworld’s top dogs. Good thing I have my Ice and Stone magic to help me survive my volatile new position. Just when I think things are finally settling down, someone tries to murder me during a hush-hush underworld meeting. But the real surprise is how strangely familiar my shadowy assailant seems to be.

My job is to maintain order among killers, crooks, and thieves, and soon I’m embroiled in a bloody game where the ability to keep secrets could be the greatest superpower of all. My enemies have all sharpened their knives and laid their traps, waiting for me to fall. But this Spider weaves her own webs of death…

Doreen’s Thoughts

Spider’s Trap is the latest thrilling book in Jennifer Estep’s stories about Gin Blanco, assassin extraordinaire. In this novel, Gin has accepted the fact that she is queen of Ashland’s underworld, but she does not have to like it. Trying to negotiate peace between two troublesome kingpins, Gin is almost killed by a bomb – the question is whether the bomb is intended for her or one of the other dangerous thugs in the underworld.

As is usual, Gin has her friends and family to stand by her and assist when things go wrong. As more potentially tragic accidents occur, it become obvious that someone else is being targeted – but why? Gin’s memory keeps telling her there is something she is forgetting, and she returns to her mentor Fletcher’s files to determine who may be responsible before someone is really harmed.

I love all of the Gin novels, not only because of the characterizations, but also oddly enough because of the food descriptions. Gin runs a restaurant for a living and prepares meals at any time to soothe herself and others. Estep never stoops to recipe listing but she provides enough information and description for me to become hungry throughout the story.

I did find the memory loss trick a little trite and unnecessary. After 12 novels, I find it hard to believe that Gin has that bad of a memory that she could forget such a critical time in her assassin training. I felt that Estep could have handled the memory issue a little more in character with Gin herself.

Overall, Gin’s latest adventure fits in well with the rest of her canon. In addition, Estep does a good job setting up the next adversary to come – one which I never would have seen coming!

Review: Black Widow by Jennifer Estep

Black Widow
Author:   Jennifer Estep
Series:  Elemental Assassin 12
Publisher:  Pocket Books, November 25, 2014
Format:   Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 384 pages
List Price:   $7.99 (print)
ISBN:  9781476774541 (print)
Review copy:  Provided by the Publisher

Review: Black Widow by Jennifer Estep
Lethal, sexy, and always ready to protect her friends, Gin Blanco (a.k.a. the Spider) takes on the mysterious M.M. Monroe in book twelve of the New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling Elemental Assassin urban fantasy series.

There’s nothing worse than a cruel, cunning enemy with time to kill—and my murder to plan. With wicked Fire elemental Mab Monroe long gone, you’d think I could finally catch a break. But someone’s always trying to take me down, either as Gin Blanco or my assassin alter-ago. Now along comes the Spider’s new arch-nemesis, the mysteriously named M. M. Monroe, who is gleefully working overtime to trap me in a sticky web of deceit.

The thing is, I’m not the only target. I can see through the tangled threads enough to know that every bit of bad luck my friends have been having lately is no accident—and that each unfortunate “coincidence” is just one more arrow drawing ever closer to hitting the real bull’s-eye. Though new to Ashland, this M. M. Monroe is no stranger to irony, trying to get me, an assassin, framed for murder. Yet, as my enemy’s master plan is slowly revealed, I have a sinking feeling that it will take more than my powerful Ice and Stone magic to stop my whole life from going up in flames.

Doreen’s Thoughts

I discovered Jennifer Estep’s Elemental Assassin series last spring, and I only caught up to her writing when Poison Promise came out. So I was very excited when I received Black Widow for review. For most of the earlier novels, Gin Blanco’s nemesis was Mab Monroe, the queen of the Ashland underworld, but Gin put an end to her and thought she was finished with threats to her family and herself. Even after ending the next contender for the crown in the last novel, Gin cannot rest on her laurels. As revealed in the last novel, the mysterious M. M. Monroe is actually Madeleine Magda Monroe, Mab’s daughter, and this novel shows that she is just as evil and cunning as her mother, if not more so.

With the unusual elemental power of Acid, Madeleine also may even be stronger than her mother, and Gin’s Stone and Ice powers may not be enough to stop her from taking control of the Ashland underworld. However, it is when Madeleine attacks Gin’s family, surreptitiously causing problems for those she loves, Gin decides that things have come to a head, and she begins to take action against Madeleine.

With Estep’s usual mixture of action and characterization, Black Widow speeds along to its finish. There were several points where I worried whether Gin could actually get out of the fixes that Madeleine set. However, as usual, Gin is able to save the day.

There is a significant twist at the end of Black Widow, one which I did not see coming; however, I felt it was resolved much too quickly. Estep had several directions that she could have taken with the reveal, but chose to use what I would consider a “Deus ex machina” to determine the matter. I can appreciate the major decision that Gin ultimately makes, and it is totally in character with Gin herself, but I just felt there was more that could be done. I hope that Estep revisits the issue that she set up and takes the story further.

All in all, Black Widow was another galloping read that adds to the myth surrounding Gin Blanco. The teaser for the next Elemental Assassin novel, Spider’s Trap, is excellent, and I cannot wait for it's release.

Review: Hunted Warrior by Lindsey Piper

Hunted Warrior
Author:  Lindsey Piper
Series:  The Dragon Kings 3
Publisher:  Pocket Books,  April 28, 2015
Format:  Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 384 pages
List Price:  $7.99  (print)
ISBN:  9781451695939 (print)
Review Copy:  Provided by the Publisher

Review: Hunted Warrior by Lindsey Piper
Demonic gladiators, ruthless mafia villains, and a race on the brink of distinction: What will become of them? One proud leader wields his power to unlock dark mysteries in the third book in this fierce, sensual new paranormal romance series.

When the head of the Five Clans of the Dragon Kings wants something, he gets it. Raised among the most privileged of his dying race, Malnefoley conceals a devastating tragedy from his youth. Now, many call him the Usurper because of his unconventional rise to power. His influence is waning while the Dragon Kings must solve the puzzle of their slow extinction. So when a particularly important captive escapes his compound in the Greek mountains, Malnefoley leaves nothing to chance. She is his prisoner to retrieve.

The woman is known as the Pet, a former associate of a sadistic doctor from the Asters, a human crime cartel. Her loyalties cannot be trusted, even when she claims to hold the secret to conception—an invaluable secret for a race unable to procreate. Neither can her unique gift from the Great Dragon be believed. She’s a soothsayer, able to see glimpses of the future. Her quest is to find and save a Cage warrior on the verge of her first match—a young woman whose destiny is bound to a timeless prophecy.

Malnefoley has no respect for the ancient superstitions that brought about his childhood trauma. His only goal is to return the Pet to his compound and use her knowledge for the betterment of their people. Yet her restless energy and raw sensuality are as intriguing as her predictions about the rise of the Great Dragon. He dares not trust the crafty fugitive’s loyalties, but as their treacherous chase turns passionate, can he even trust himself?

Melanie's Thoughts

Hunted Warrior starts approximately six months after the end of book 1 Caged Warrior with the destruction of the fighting cages and the Aster family lab. Mal aka The Giva has been keeping Aster's pet Dragon King, the aptly named Pet, prisoner until she gives up Aster's secret cure to the Dragons King's infertility. Pet however, has a few secrets of her own. She escapes Mal's custody and starts her search for some ancient weapons that will help a young cage warrior fulfill the destiny that Pet saw when the warrior was still in the womb. There is only one problem and that is in the form of a tall, blond, Adonis-like Dragon King by the name of Malnefoley. He doesn't trust Pet and doesn't believe in her visions or her belief in the original dragon. He is, however, determined to find out all that she knows from her time in the Aster's labs in order to save his race. On a journey that takes them from Greece to Italy to London Mal soon discovers that Pet isn't quite who he believed her to be. Drawn to one another the former slave and the leader of all Dragon Kings are on a perilous journey to fulfill a prophecy.

It's almost as if Piper has read my reviews of the prior books in the series and took my comments into account when writing Hunted Warrior. I wasn't happy with the brutality of Caged Warrior where Nan was almost raped and the romance was more violent than romantic. In Blood Warrior I felt there was a lot of romance but very little background about the Dragon King race. Now in Hunted Warrior there is a much better balance between romance, plot and background. This is PNR so obviously there is a lot of romance and steaminess between Pet (who he later names Ayva) and Mal but through both characters Piper explains more about the origin and the role of The Giva along with some of the history of the different families within the Dragon King race. Pet gives the reader a different perspective on the history of the Dragon Kings through her visions and with her relationship with Mal which I thought was effective.

I feel that Piper put more effort into these characters. Pet/Ayva had a tragic upbringing yet she sticks up for herself and can hold her own. I didn't immediately warm to Mal and thought he was a tad stuck up but I am sure this is what you were supposed to think of him. He did start to grow on me towards the end but only just. I had high hopes for a bit more of a slow burn romance as the hot and steamy hadn't started a third of the way in. This wasn't meant to be and it wasn't too long before Mal and Avya are getting horizontal almost everywhere including an Italian crypt! That sounded uncomfortable and lacking in the R in PNR.

I don't think it is necessary to read the first two books of the series to enjoy this one. There is enough re-capping of previous events to understand what is happening. Overall, Hunted Warrior is a more balanced book and therefore, a more enjoyable read. There is something for everyone in this book - romance, action and even a dragon!


Silent Warrior
Dragon Kings ePrequel
Pocket Star, April 22, 2013
eBook, 80 pages

Review: Hunted Warrior by Lindsey Piper
An exciting, emotionally charged prequel to the Dragon Kings trilogy featuring warriors fighting for their lives in violent cage matches to guarantee their clans’ survival—available exclusively as an eBook!

A silent woman ashamed of her criminal background becomes a Cage warrior to seek redemption. An unrepentant fortune hunter will do anything to escape his mounting debts. Although rivals on the streets of Hong Kong, they find common ground when seeking their clan’s stolen idol, but for vastly different reasons. Neither one suspects that love will begin when he becomes the first man in five years to hear her speak.

Caged Warrior
The Dragon Kings 1
Pocket Books, June 25, 2013
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 400 pages

Review: Hunted Warrior by Lindsey Piper
The first installment in this fierce and sensual new paranormal romance series features demonic gladiators, ruthless mafia villains, and a proud race on the brink of extinction.

Ten years ago, Audrey MacLaren chose to marry her human lover, making her an exile from the Dragon Kings, an ancient race of demons once worshiped as earthly gods. Audrey and her husband managed to conceive, and their son is the first natural-born Dragon King in a generation—which makes him irresistible to the sadistic scientist whose mafia-funded technology allows demon procreation. In the year since her husband was murdered, Audrey and her little boy have endured hideous experiments.

Shackled with a collar and bound for life, Leto Garnis is a Cage warrior. Only through combat can Dragon Kings earn the privilege of conceiving children. Leto uses his superhuman speed and reflexes to secure the right for his two sisters to start families. After torture reveals Audrey’s astonishing pyrokenesis, she is sent to fight in the Cages. If she survives a year, she will be reunited with her son. Leto is charged with her training. Initially, he has no sympathy for her plight. But if natural conception is possible, what has he been fighting for? As enemies, sparring partners, lovers, and eventual allies, Leto and Audrey learn that in a violent underground world, love is the only prize worth winning.

Blood Warrior
The Dragon Kings 2
Pocket Books, July 30, 2013
Mass Market Paperback, 400 pages

Review: Hunted Warrior by Lindsey Piper
The Dragon Kings, an ancient race of demons, were once worshipped as earthly gods. Centuries later and facing extinction, their survival is challenged when a madman renews his clan’s tradition of ritualized murder.

For decades, Tallis of Pendray has been visited in dreams by a woman who tempts him to fulfill a sacred prophecy. He devotes his life to the cause, until her violent demands destroy his family. Now he wants revenge.

To her devoted followers, Kavya of Indranan is a peaceful savior. But believing Kavya responsible for his deadly dreams, Tallis kidnaps her on the eve of a vital truce within her warring clan. During the ensuing chaos, her bloodthirsty brother attempts to kill her, certain the sacrifice will transform him into a dangerously powerful telepath.

Tallis safeguards Kavya—who shares little but a name in common with his avowed enemy. Their impassioned flight leads them to the Scottish Highlands, where Tallis is held liable for his crimes. He’ll do what he must to protect Kavya and the iconic message of harmony that could ensure the survival of the Dragon Kings . . . as much as her love could heal his jaded heart.

Review: The Troop by Nick Cutter

The Troop
Author:  Nick Cutter
Publisher:  Pocket Books, July 22, 2014
Format:  Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 528 pages
List Price:  $7.99 (print)
ISBN:  9781476717722 (print)
Review Copy:  Hardcover provided by the Publisher
Previous Edition:  Hardcover, Gallery Books, February 25, 2014

Review: The Troop by Nick Cutter
Now in mass-market paperback! “The Troop scared the hell out of me, and I couldn’t put it down. This is old-school horror at its best.” —Stephen King

Once a year, Scoutmaster Tim Riggs leads a troop of boys into the Canadian wilderness for a weekend camping trip—a tradition as comforting and reliable as a good ghost story around a roaring bonfire. But when an unexpected intruder stumbles upon their campsite—shockingly thin, disturbingly pale, and voraciously hungry—Tim and the boys are exposed to something far more frightening than any tale of terror. The human carrier of a bioengineered nightmare. A horror that spreads faster than fear. A harrowing struggle for survival with no escape from the elements, the infected…or each other. Part Lord of the Flies, part 28 Days Later—and all-consuming—this tightly written edge-of-your-seat thriller takes you deep into the heart of darkness, where fear feeds on sanity…and terror hungers for more.

Brannigan's Review

The Troop is my second horror book for the month of October. I like reading books that creep me out to get me in the mood for Halloween and fall. While my previous book was family friendly, The Troop isn't for children. It's also not for the squeamish reader since it takes some dark turns. I honestly had to stop reading the book at times to take a break. Nick Cutter is a gifted writer of disturbing scenes and doesn't shy away from the use of gore, and I mean gag-inducing gore. Now, I would like to give a disclaimer for those of you out there who like watching The Saw or, heaven forbid, Mordum, to calm yourselves down before bed, you might not blink an eye at the events in this book. For the rest of us, it'll do its job of creeping you out.

As the title suggests, all of this alarming stuff is happening to 12- to 15-year-old boys on a boyscout adventure. For me, this is what made it almost unbearable to read. The things these boys go through are pretty grusome. As a parent, I can't imagine something like this happening, and sadly it's not that hard for this book to be reality. Cutter does a great job of developing some of the characters quickly to establish an emotional connection for the reader while some of the boys still feel a little cardboard. Cutter also openly borrows a writing technique from Carrie by injecting newspaper articles, blogs, court records and even psychological records to give the reader additional information about what's going on off the island and after the events. I enjoyed these a lot as they tease the reader into trying to guess how the book is going to end.

My only issues with the book, besides freaking me out, is how he used the boy scouts organization. There were merit badges that didn't exist and the scout law he used in the book isn't real. As an Eagle scout it always bothers me when writers bend the truth in regards to scouting. Now, I don't know maybe he had to change things up just a little bit for legal reasons or maybe the Canadian boy scout organization is slightly different from the Boy Scouts of America, and, to be honest, it's a pretty small infraction that most people wouldn't notice. It's more of a personal pet-peeve.

If The Troop doesn't creep you out, I would recommend you see a psychologist to get some help. It might not scare you, but it should be a little distressing. As a recommendation, I can't stress this enough due to the high amounts of gore, violence, adult language, and sexual imagery, this is an adults-only book. After reading this book, I'm happily returning to my regular fantasy and science fiction books for a bit.

Feature: Petals on the Wind by V.C. Andrews

FICTION INTO FILM: Pick up Petals on the Wind May 20th and watch the movie May 26th!

Petals on the Wind
Dollanganger 2
Pocket Books, May 20, 2014
Media Tie-In Mass Market Paperback, 448 pages

Feature:  Petals on the Wind by V.C. Andrews
On the heels of the successful Lifetime TV version of Flowers in the Attic comes the TV movie tie-in edition of Petals On the Wind, the second book in the captivating Dollanganger saga.

Forbidden love comes into full bloom. For three years they were kept hidden in the eaves of Foxworth Hall, their existence all but denied by a mother who schemed to inherit a fortune. For three years their fate was in the hands of their righteous, merciless grandmother. They had to stay strong…but in their hopeless world, Cathy and her brother Christopher discovered blossoming desires that tumbled into a powerful obsession. Now, with their frail sister, Carrie, they have broken free and scraped enough together for three bus tickets and a chance at a new life. The horrors of the attic are behind them…but they will carry its legacy of dark secrets forever.

WATCH: The movie trailer, and tune in to Lifetime on Monday, May 26th, 9:00 pm ET to watch the World Premier of Petals on the Wind!

ENTER TO WIN: Go to the Pocket Books Facebook page beginning May 20th to enter the sweepstakes for a prize pack of Flowers in the Attic and Petals on the Wind, and the Flowers in the Attic DVD. Visit right before tuning into Petals on the Wind late May for the sweepstakes giveaway (date to be announced)!

Petals on the Wind cast:

Heather Graham as Corrine

Ellen Burstyn as Olivia

Dylan Bruce as Bart

Rose McIver as Young Cathy (played by Kiernan Shipka in Flowers in the Attic)

Wyatt Nash as Christopher (played by Mason Dye in Flowers in the Attic)

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