Tuesday, November 29, 2016

BOOK REVIEW/INTERIVIEW: "An Other Place" by Darren Dash

There is An Other Place... where time and space are fluid... where the moon changes colour and savage beasts run wild... where love is a perilous proposition and the dead are swiftly forgotten... where sandmen offer sanctuary and the Alchemist rules over all.

When Newman Riplan’s flight into the unknown turns into a nightmarish slide between worlds, he must explore an unnamed city where unpredictable terrors are the norm. By the end of his first day adrift, his life has spun completely out of his control, but the most mind-twisting and soul-crushing revelations are only beginning. As he desperately searches for a way out, he starts to realise that the city isn’t in the habit of releasing its captives. And it seems to have a plan for him...

I received an ARC of this copy from the author in exchange for an honest review.

Okay, this might be a lengthy review. This might be a rambling review. But that's what you get from me when I've read what is, by far, the best book of 2016. Possibly the best book of this decade (but as that isn't over yet, I don't want to be too presumptuous).

We know Darren Shan as the author of horror fiction for teens (and adults). We know Darren Dash as an author of more modern, realistic tales for adults. This new Darren Dash book is like neither person.
We meet Newman Riplan, a party boy with his partying friends in Amsterdam. After imbibing in every vice imaginable, Newman's friends decide to send him on a plane to an unknown destination, to give the overworked man a needed vacation for a couple of weeks. On the plane, he chokes and blacks out because of a peanut. When he wakens, his fellow passengers are now wax dummies. He is the only living soul on the plane.
What happens after is a long tale of one man's living nightmare as Newman finds himself in The City (that's all it's called), a place where humans have no idea who they are apart from first names, drones (what were formerly the humans on the plane) are a source of nourishment, income, and used as slave robots, werewolf-like creatures terrorize the town on a semi-regular basis, and electricity is nonexistent, as is glass.
This story was touted to be similar to the works of Kafka, and I am inclined to agree, but not just Kafka. This is bastard love child of Kafka and Rod Serling, throwing in a dash of Ray Bradbury for good measure. It's not just the eerie overtones of the story, the barely disguised panic you can feel seeping from the words to your mind, or the royally effed up nature of the way the inhabitants of the City live that grab you. Despite Newman being one of the least likable protagonists I have ever encountered in fiction, you become immediately invested in his life, his story. You want to know if he ever gets back to his world, an other place than the City, if he goes mad, or if he assimilates and blends in with it all.
There are a few things that stuck out in my mind, some metaphors that have to do with sex, barbarianism, creationism, and the latent animal instinct every human being has within them. I wish I could say more, but spoilers are a big no-no here at KSR. I will tell you that this book not only entertains you for hours (and I am already trying to see if I have time for a reread), it really makes you stop and think about EVERYTHING. Were the drugs a part of the reason why Newman winds up where he is, or was it just the choking? (A question you'll really be asking in the last two chapters.) Is sex really so animalistic, and are creation and procreation really such disparate things? Is the desire to be different, to stand out, a downfall, or is it worse when you adapt to society and become like "them"? Is love so fleeting and tangible? How important is time, the past, or the future? Is it more blissful to just live in the "now"? Are we really all just "drones" here in our world?
It's rare that I get a book that has my mind going like this, and you can't imagine the pleasure this gives me. I'll probably think of a million more things to add to this review and complain that I can't.
All I can say is that if you don't read this book, you're doing your brain a great disservice. This is about society, pack mentality, creationism, and so much more, all wrapped up in one crazy package.

5/5--brilliant. Just brilliant.

Purchase An Other Place via:

Official site (has all purchase links for every retailer/country)


1. When I started the book, I didn't like the protagonist very much, but I understood him. Was he intended to be the "everyman", thrown from normality into surreality, so to speak?
Yes. I know Newman isn't especially sympathetic, but that was deliberate. Things were going to be hellish enough for the reader, without having them feel too much for the main character too! But I also wanted Newman to be "real" and someone that readers could identify with, and I hope that readers will see sides of themselves in him and cut him some slack. Newman isn't who we would like to be, but I think he's very like how many of us actually are, especially in our twenties, focused on a successful career and living the good life. I don't think Newman is a bad guy per se, just someone who's a bit too selfish and ignorant of other people's feelings.

2. I understand the concept of time in the city, but what was the reasoning for you having characters fall in and out of love so abruptly?
The book is, for the most part, a way for me to look at where I was at that stage of my life, to try and make some sense of it, and hopefully help myself become a better person. Yes, in a weird kind of way, it's a self-help guide! I wrote the first draft of the book way back in 1998, when I was in my mid-twenties, before any of my books had been released. It was an incredibly creative and productive time of my life -- my brain was firing in all sorts of weird and interesting directions, and I was typing away like mad -- I think wrote first drafts of seven different books one year, and that was while editing drafts of other books too. But socially I was leading a very withdrawn life. I have slight OCD (well, think it's slight, though others might disagree!) and I was giving way too mcuh to that side of myself in the 90s. I wasn't quite at Howard Hughes levels, but I could see myself going more and more that way. I spent my days writing and watching movies and TV shows, and doing very little else. I had strict schedules in place that I almost never deviated from. I didn't engage much with other people. I felt I had to jolt myself out of this, or risk cutting myself further and further adrift of the rest of the world, and An Other Place was my unusual way of digging myself out of a hole of my own making. Hence the emotionally withdrawn citizens of the city, who behave like machines in many ways -- they're mirror images of myself, and as Newman tries to understand and connect with them, I was trying to understand and connect with the people in "our" world. 

3. Trying not to give spoilers, was it intentional for you to equate sex with animalistic nature, and draw such a fine thin line between creation and procreation? If so, why?
I've always been interested in sex and creation, in looking at what drives people sexually, and how we try to control our sexual urges in order to create a "civilised" society. I also like to ask the big questions, such as "Where do we come from?" and "What's the point to it all?" As I already said, I was quite cut off in my twenties, not interacting much with other people, which meant I wasn't having any sexual interactions, which meant... well, to phrase it in terms of the book, I spent pretty much every day "doing a Newman!" i.e. I was masturbating a lot! I wondered (and still wonder, looking back all these years later) if that played into my creative spurt. I had no internet connection in 1998, so I had to use my imagination to stimulate myself, and perhaps the fact that I was using my imagination so much meant that I was boosting it, which resulted in more intriguing stories. I decided to play with those thoughts and incorporate them into the story, making masturbation a central pillar of the city's structure. Those aren't the sort of plot lines that I find myself conjuring up as a man in his forties, but I'm my mind was so fertile and downright strange back then, as it led me to explore some far-out regions of my brain!

4. In this story, I noticed a theme in two instances where the "outsiders" were the ones who always left their marks on the city. Was that also intentional, or did it just happen as you were writing? If it was intentional, what is your stance on how so many "outsiders" from our society have shaped our culture?
I think outsiders often can have a big mark on the world. Most people live normal lives, where they stick to well-worn paths, but we need creaive geniuses and madmen to define those paths in the first place, to test the world and explore its limits and parameters, and push them back if they need pushing back. I've always felt cut off in certain ways from the world around me, but I don't think that's automatically a bad thing, as it allows me to see the world in a different way and bring something new to the table. Newman was my way of looking at this, and also of asking myself, "OK, let's assuming you have he power to change the world, but in what ways do you want to change it?"

5. Can you tell the readers a little about your idea for the sleeping pills in the city that Newman takes?
I think we sometimes deny ourselves a lot of the wonders of the world by living life too safely and prescriptively. If we stick to schedules and the rules too closely, we don't ask questions or uncover new truths. I guess this was me trying to challenge my OCD. The people in the city taking sleeping pills to sleep without any bad dreams is sort of a reflection on how I was using my routines to disengage with the world around me. It "worked" to an extent -- the way the sleeping pills work in the book -- but sometimes we have to step out of our comfort zones and push ourselves in directions which don't feel natural.

6. What got you interested in alchemy?

I've just always been fascinated by the idea. That's what writers are, really -- alchemists of the mind. We take in masses of observations of the world around us, then play with them and feed them back to the world in the shape of new stories. I'm interested in people who change the world -- we're all alchemists in one way or another, those of us who don't simply go where everyone else goes, but who try to change the world in one way or another.

Monday, November 28, 2016

BOOK REVIEW: "An Exaltation of Larks" by Suanne Laqueur

"We're so alike, you and I. It's no wonder we kept finding each other."
September 11, 1973: Eleven-year-old Alejandro Penda watches from his apartment window as Santiago, Chile falls to a military coup, destroying his family and his childhood. Arriving alone in America, he’s taken in by the Larks: a prominent family in the town of Guelisten. Though burdened by unresolved grief for his disappeared parents, he becomes fiercely loyal to the Larks, eventually marrying one of their daughters, Valerie.
September 11, 2001: Javier Landes watches from his apartment window as New York City falls to terrorism. As one of Manhattan’s top-paid male escorts, this professional lover has never lacked for company and is loyal only to himself. But in the wake of 9/11, Jav is named guardian for an orphaned nephew in Guelisten and must open his carefully-guarded heart to pain he's long suppressed.
Alex, Valerie and Jav meet first in their twenties, with a sudden attraction each finds strange and compelling. When they meet again in their forties, they discover not only is their bond still strong, but their life experiences are strangely similar. All have been shaped by separate 9/11's, and their unfinished business from the past will change everything they know about love, loyalty and friendship.
"Life has rules. You cannot come in the middle of the night and take what we agreed isn't yours."
Across three decades and two continents, Suanne Laqueur's fifth novel explores the unpredictability of sexual attraction, how family ties are forged, torn and mended, and how love's downfall can turn to exaltation.

I received an ARC of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

I've been reading Mrs. Laqueur's books since her first release, and may I say it is a privilege to be one of her ARC reviewers. Her stories are not simply love tales or fluff novels. They're meaningful, filled with introspection, love, humanity, and life. They burst from the page into your mind and Exaltation is no different from the predecessors.
It's not easy to review this book, as giving spoilers is a no-no for me, but yet I still need to convey the beauty and warmth in this story borne of tragedy.
This storyline spans over 20 years, between two horrible acts of war, which alone makes the characters relatable. We don't have the typical lead characters here, either, with Latinos being two of the three main ones.
The story is emotional and dark, but light as well, if that makes any sense. Some of the topics touched on were risky for any author, but Laqueur writes them beautifully and effortlessly. Her writing is not lyrical, it is pure power. You feel the emotion of every word.
Jav is my favorite character, I thought that he was so real, so 3D, he could leap from the page. Alex also gained my sympathy and love as the story went on.
While the book does do some flip-flopping with POV and timelines, it should not hinder your reading experience.
Laqueur will, decades from now, be considered one of the greats right up there with the Bronte sisters and Austen.

5/5--Amazing and touching.

Purchase An Exaltation of Larks via Amazon.

BOOK REVIEW: "Prohibition Inhibitions" by TL Travis

The Sebastian Chronicles is a series of 5 Erotic Paranormal Novelettes that will take you through each century since Sebastian Benoit’s Vampiric inception.
In book four, Prohibition inhibitions, our beloved vampire Sebastian has found himself in 20th century Chicago, a town at war with itself.
He shows his true colors to the local crime families, and they in turn stay out of his business. This book ties up many loose ends for Sebastian, finally allowing closure. But will he ever find true love, does it even exist?

I received an ARC of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

So, I've been reading these books since the series began, and I can't believe how much better each one gets. For book four, we head into my hometown of Chicago during Prohibition, and I must say that either TL did her research or is just generally familiar with the city, because it is so spot on! I have had to deduct points from books before for being historically inaccurate (as I did with book one of this series).
So, Sebastian is up to his old tricks, but someone new named Nadia comes around to teach him some new ones. This is the first real mention of BDSM sex in the series, and it is well written and accurate without being romanticized or blown out of proportion.
New and old characters are seen here, including the incredibly sexy Lorenzo. I love how Sebastian is so unapologetically bisexual in a time when that would mean his death or castration and imprisonment. TL might not have given him a lot of character development, but she gave him character depth underneath all that sexuality!
I'm really sad that there is only one book left: I'm gonna miss this guy!

5/5--sexy, dark, and entertaining.

Purchase Prohibition Inhibitions via Amazon.


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Death is definite. Love is infinite. Lust is eternal.


Sunday, November 20, 2016

PRE-ORDER: "An Other Place" by Darren Dash

An Other Place by Darren Dash​ (the alter ego of Darren Shan Official​), is available for pre-order! It will go live December 1st and is so, so worth the read! Definitely the best book of 2016 in my opinion.

Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/Other-Place-Darren-Dash-ebook/dp/B01MXNBE8O/
Amazon UK:https://www.amazon.co.uk/Other-Place-Darren-Dash-ebook/dp/B01MXNBE8O/

There is An Other Place... where time and space are fluid... where the moon changes colour and savage beasts run wild... where love is a perilous proposition and the dead are swiftly forgotten... where sandmen offer sanctuary and the Alchemist rules over all.
When Newman Riplan’s flight into the unknown turns into a nightmarish slide between worlds, he must explore an unnamed city where unpredictable terrors are the norm. By the end of his first day adrift, his life has spun completely out of his control, but the most mind-twisting and soul-crushing revelations are only beginning. As he desperately searches for a way out, he starts to realise that the city isn’t in the habit of releasing its captives. And it seems to have a plan for him...

“This is, by far, the best book of 2016, possibly the best book of this decade... the bastard love child of Kafka and Rod Serling, throwing in a dash of Ray Bradbury for good measure. 5/5 -- brilliant. Just brilliant.” Kelly Smith Reviews.

“Darren Dash has opened a new artery of terror... unlike any book I have ever read... hints of The Twilight Zone, Pines, and Station Eleven.” The Literary Connoisseur.

“This book really did blow my mind... each page turn was both chilling and thrilling in equal measure... the conclusion left me with goosebumps. 5/5!” Rachel Hobbs, author.

"An Other Place is a deliciously quirky novel that is surreal and powerful in equal measure. This is by far Dash’s best work to date. It is challenging and absurd, artistically brave and politically conscious, but this abstract painting of a novel is one thing above all else… completely original." Books, Films & Random Lunacy.

“You can try and try but you will never guess the ending nor even 5 pages ahead as to where the story is going to take you.” Daniel Davies, Goodreads.

“This story had me hooked from the get go... an ending that sent my mind into a spin. 5 stars.” Reviews And Randomness.

“This book is utterly unique... I was amazed at how well Dash could create this baffling world from scratch and draw me into it so completely. 5 stars.” A Place In Which Jessie Writes.

"I have never read anything like An Other Place. It is truly a one of a kind... twisted and very disturbing in some parts. 5/5." Jessica Boehm, Amazon.

Monday, November 14, 2016

RELEASE DAY BLITZ: "Gems of Gratitude" Anthology

Gems of Gratitude
Releasing November 14th, 2016

Author List:
Alana Madden
Chrissy Moon
Christie Stratos
Elizabeth Horton-Newton
Karen J. Mossman
LG Surgeson
Lily Luchesi
Markie Madden
Jennifer Roche

From the Gems of Strength authors comes the second book in the Gems of Sisterhood series! The theme of this book is, of course, gratitude!
Meet Detective Cara Solino, a young woman following in her father’s footsteps. Can she solve the case he was unable to?
Find out how Chloe’s mother discovers a way to keep her daughter’s dream alive under the worst possible circumstances! Read about young Lady Iona, a child of the Elven Forest, as she struggles to give her daughter a fighting chance in a harsh world.
Cheer on Sharliss as she finally takes control of her own life, and becomes a better person. Meet Julie, who gathers information on history, and Jody, an elderly dog whose time to cross The Rainbow Bridge is near. These stories and more are within these pages, just waiting for YOU!

Purchase Gems Of Gratitude via:

Check out some teasers for a few of the stories featured in the anthology below.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

BOOK SPOTLIGHT: "Wear White To Your Funeral" by Lisa Acerbo

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Book Description:

Rory is your average high school senior. Or she was, until her mother banishes her to hell, also known as Trumbull, Connecticut. The small suburb with only a mall and movie theater, sure feels like the netherworld until Rory’s first day at her new school. That’s the day she meets Bowen, who begs her to join him on a class project. But when Bowen drags her to a graveyard after dark for research purposes, Rory wants to fly back home to Atlanta, or at least return to her aunt's house unharmed and unmolested.

Nothing could go wrong, right? They talk, they laugh, and they wander among the tombstones looking for information on the local ghostly legend known as the White Lady. Then they have to run, but they cannot outrun a ghost. In addition to the ghostly woman, a half buried dead body leads Rory and Bowen into a deadly game of cat and mouse, but who is the killer? Is it human or something long dead and otherworldly?

The police are of little help, Rory's aunt just wants her to remain safe, and Bowen, who she can't stay away from, keeps finding ways to get her into more trouble than she has ever known. Whether breaking into a suspected killer's house, being followed by a menacing ghost, or being stalked at school, Rory hopes finding the killer will put an end to the supernatural haunting. Before Rory can discover the identity of the killer, she is drawn into the mystery of the White Lady, which opens the door for some very real danger.


Bowen sent her a text early the next morning as she sat at the kitchen table drinking her first cup of coffee. Nora was nowhere to be seen at this hour. She couldn’t imagine that Bowen had anything to do with seeing a ghost, but one tiny little part of her continued to wonder. She had no other rational explanation. Still, he would have to be an amazing actor if he had set everything up and pretended to be scared of the White Lady. Rory doubted it, but she didn’t know him that well. Although after their time together, Rory felt she could trust him.

“That was a great first date,” he sent the text.

“Yes it was,” Rory replied, not sure if Bowen was serious or not. The fact that Bowen considered it a date made Rory happy, and she had enjoyed their time together after the ghost and the graveyard. She wanted another date. “When’s the next one?” She typed.

“I can’t wait to see your pretty pimple.”

Rory looked at the screen. What did he mean by that? Had she broken out with all the stress lately? She didn’t think she had any blemishes when she had prepared for the date.

“Dimple.” The words appeared quickly on Rory’s phone screen.

“What?” She texted back.

“I meant that I can’t wait to see your cute dimple. Stupid auto correct.”


“I don’t want to write anything else and risk more embarrassment. I’ll see you in journalism.”

“I’m not worth the risk?” Rory wrote back.

“That’s not what I meant. You’re definitely worth the risk. I just don’t want to mess up.”

“You mess up often?” Rory texted, again not sure how serious this early morning conversation could be.

“Now this is just getting awkward. Be nice to me.” Bowen begged in text.

“I’m always nice.”

“This conversation indicates otherwise. I’ll have to wait and see for myself. Got to get ready for school. See you soon.”

“K.” Rory chuckled as she sent the text back to him. She clicked off the phone and prepared for school, a little more excited for the day than when she woke up.


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Lisa Acerbo is a high school teacher and adjunct instructor at the college level, holding an EdD in Educational Leadership. This is her fourth novel. In addition to writing fiction, she has contributed to local newspapers, news and travel blogs including The Patch and Hollywood Scriptwriter. She lives in Connecticut with her husband, two daughters, three cats, dog, and horse, where she is an active part of the community. Her poetry won first place in a local writing competition and she is a judge in the annual town literary competition and arts festival.

Author Links

Thursday, November 3, 2016

LACC Press Release

LA Mayor Eric Garcetti, Celebrity Guests, Exclusive Panels, And A Trick-or-Treating Extravaganza Make 2016 The Largest Year In Show’s History

For Immediate Release:

LOS ANGELES (November 2, 2016) – LA’s biggest Pop-Culture celebration unfolded this weekend when a record-setting 91,000 people donned their capes, wings, armor, Star Trek uniforms and Harley Quinn hammers to attend Stan Lee’s Los Angeles Comic Con at the LA Convention Center. From Mayor Eric Garcetti’s historic ribbon cutting with Stan Lee, to its epic closing that raised significant funds for the Boyle Heights Arts Conservatory, Stan Lee’s Los Angeles Comic Con has officially become LA’s largest pop culture celebration.

The event’s humble beginnings began in 2011 when young entrepreneur Regina Carpinelli and her brothers saw a need for an annual comic book convention in Los Angeles. Its incredible inaugural success turned it into something much more “than your friendly neighborhood Con” when Stan Lee’s POW! Entertainment joined as a partner in 2012.

Not only have the fans responded by growing in attendance by at least 20% each year – so too have the exhibitors and special guests. Luke Cage’s Mike Colter joined this year’s event, along with Adam West, Alan Tudyk, Mike Tyson, Lance Henriksen, Gerard Way, Kevin Smith, Neal Adams, Rob Liefeld, Dan Harmon, Cary Elwes and many more. Along with hundreds of booths and panels, North America’s largest traveling film festival, GeekFest, concluded its year-long campaign of visiting cons across the continent. Some of the world’s best cosplayers, make-up artists and prop makers amazed attendees when they competed on-stage at the Cosplay, Make-Up and Prop Making National Championships. Families from across SoCal enjoyed an unforgettable trick-or-treating experience at LA’s Ultimate Trick-or-Treat. Courtesy of Guitar Center, a coveted Gibson Flying V electric guitar signed by Stan Lee, Rob Liefeld and Marc Silvestri, was auctioned off for $1,500 to benefit the Boyle Heights Arts Conservatory.

“Watching our show unfold amidst a growing community of amazing fans has truly been an honor. Old friends, new faces and plenty of surprises has made 2016 our best year yet,” said Regina Carpinelli, Founder of Stan Lee’s Los Angeles Comic Con. “We appreciate the support of our vendors, exhibitors and sponsors in contributing to this year’s unprecedented success.”

“Los Angeles has proven itself once again as the world capital of entertainment with the unparalleled achievement of L.A. Comic Con,” said Keith Tralins, CEO of Stan Lee’s Los Angeles Comic Con. “With thanks to the Man himself, Stan Lee, for being LA’s true believer, we are excited to continue building our legacy in the many years to come.”

About Stan Lee’s Los Angeles Comic Con: 
Stan Lee’s Los Angeles Comic Con is Los Angeles’ biggest and best large-scale, multi-media pop culture convention. Held annually at the Los Angeles Convention Center, Stan Lee’s L.A. Comic Con assembles the most exciting and innovative in comics, video games, sci-fi, fantasy, horror and all things pop-culture. Stan With a mission to provide celebrity, creator and talent access that is unequalled in comic conventions, Stan Lee’s Los Angeles Comic Con features unique panels, autograph sessions and photo-ops that give fans once-in-a-lifetime opportunities to truly interact with their favorite creators and major players in the entertainment industry.  Stan Lee’s Los Angeles Comic Con is a partnership of Stan Lee’s Pow! Entertainment, Cassandra Peterson, and Comikaze Entertainment, Inc.  Visithttp://www.stanleeslacomiccon.com/.