Book Reviews Smugglivus

Countdown to Smugglivus – Meljean Brook

Day 23 (3 days to Smugglivus and counting)

Who: Meljean Brook, writer of Paranormal Romance and Steampunk (soon to be published). We are admittedly, Meljean Brook’s fangirls: we love her Guardian series (one of the best Paranormal series out there – the world-building is carefully thought- out and the romance is just plain awesome. ), and the fact that Meljean is a fellow dork who loves Batman and Wonder Woman, Thundercats and Neil Gaiman. You can read an interview we did with Meljean here.

Recent W
ork: Demon Bound, 4th full-length novel in her Guardian series, released in October. Demon Bound has made Ana’s top 10 list of 2008 and Jake Hawkins is her top 1 hero of the year. You can read our review here and also, a very interesting article on influences to her writing here.

Meljean Brook is the last guest author we have for our countdown and in her piece, she talks best reads and movies of 2008, what she is looking forward to in 2009, an excerpt from her upcoming novella AND a generous giveaway: 2 copies of Demon Bound!

And here is Meljean Brook:


Favorite New-to-me Authors/Books from 2008:

I know I’m going to forget some and come back later and say, “Oh my god, that was published this year? I need to add…!” There aren’t as many here as I’d have liked to see, simply because I didn’t read as many books as usual this year (and many of them weren’t new-to-me, but authors like Nalini Singh, Patricia Briggs, Kresley Cole and Loretta Chase.)

Life As We Knew It — I talked about this briefly on my blog, but Thea’s review is a billion times better. This is a fantastic character piece that describes one teenager’s experience as the world ends. Okay, so it doesn’t end … but it does get pretty hairy.

The Hunger Games — Another YA (which is surprising to me, because I’m not a huge YA reader) in a harsh setting, but unlike LIFE AS WE KNEW IT, this one is action-packed and violent, with a little romance triangle and (I hope) a revolution-in-the-making. I just loved it. I can’t wait for the next book in the trilogy; it can’t come soon enough.

Joanna Bourne — Both of her books had unique characters, unique settings, and gorgeous prose. Also, I got to sit next to Joanna during the RWA conference this year, and she said my books were full of “menace” and that pretty much made my year. When I grow up, I’m going to write like Joanna.

Sherry Thomas — Again, gorgeous writing, and unique storylines. I’m a heroine-centric reader, and that’s one thing I love about Thomas’s work: her heroines aren’t innocent, but clear-eyed and mature.

Meredith Duran — At the risk of repeating myself: THE DUKE OF SHADOWS has lovely writing, a unique setting, and a ton of angst (I love angst.)

Carrie Lofty — Because what is better than Will Scarlet? Why, Will Scarlet striking sparks with a heroine who has a sharp tongue and a sharper mind! I’d been looking forward to this book since I first learned of it, and it did not disappoint.

Chelsea Cain — I’m counting this as 2008 because I read the mass market version of HEART SICK. The characters aren’t really likable, but I was sucked in by the story. And the relationship between Gretchen and Archie is just wonderfully twisted. I didn’t like SWEETHEART as much, but her characters still grabbed me and wouldn’t let go.

Isabel Allende — my BFF sent ZORRO to me for research (I like to read translations of a language for my current characters so I get a feel for the rhythm of their speech, but after a slow start Allende sucked me in.) I’ve already got THE HOUSE OF SPIRITS in my TBR, but I have no idea when I’ll get to it, sigh.

Roxanne St. Claire — when I want a change from historicals, paranormals, and Harlequin Presents (but I still want romance) I turn to romantic suspense. Her Bullet Catchers series is fun and hot.

Mike Carey — I almost didn’t include this one because I’ve read his comic book work, but then decided it doesn’t matter if the format has changed. And, okay, THE DEVIL YOU KNOW wasn’t printed in 2008, but I read him in 2008 … so I’m cheating a little. But, in brief: demons. A fantastic narrator. And he wrote the Lucifer comics.

As you can tell, I went pretty heavily for historical romance this year (and is why I’m heading the steampunk way. I love historicals, would love to write one, but for the life of me can’t write “straight.” So I’ll twist history up a bit, mix steam and nanotech, but they still get to wear those awesome dresses, and retain all of those lovely issues of class and sexual repression.)

The best movie of 2008:

THE DARK KNIGHT (is anyone surprised that I’d choose this one?) I loved BATMAN BEGINS, but I thought THE DARK KNIGHT was the perfect Batman movie. It defined him and his role in such an amazing way. I know there is a lot of focus on the Joker and Ledger’s portrayal of him (which was brilliant) but it was the writing and the screenplay that made this a winner for me.

The movie that came out in 2008 that I’m dying to see but haven’t yet because it wasn’t released near me and I haven’t had time, anyway:


The best movie that never existed:


Next year, I will finally read:

I have a ridiculous amount of books by new-to-me authors that I haven’t yet read sitting on my shelves. As soon as C.L. Wilson’s fourth book in her Tairen Soul series comes out, I’ll finally start the first. I’m also looking forward to Victoria Dahl’s TALK ME DOWN, which I’ve heard a lot of good buzz about, and Diana Peterfreund’s RAMPANT, because Killer! Unicorns! (and I also want to kiss the girl on the cover. I want to kiss her and touch her pretty, pretty white hair.)

Then there’s THE FOREST OF HANDS AND TEETH, which I’ve wanted since it showed up on the sidebar, even though it is also YA! Grr. And so that takes me to the next category:

The blog that tripled my flippin’ TBR pile this year:

The Book Smugglers. Yeah I’m looking at you, Ana and Thea. For romance, my tastes run closer to Ana’s; for horror, they are closer to Thea’s (with the exception of Anne Bishop, hee hee) So now I have more books that I can possibly read.

Honorable mention goes to Dear Author, because Jane’s tastes are really close to mine, and Jia always ends up with books that I haven’t heard of before, but usually want to try after she reviews them.

I also want to officially declare 2009 THE YEAR OF NALINI SINGH!

Okay, seriously. The woman has a gazillion books coming out next year. First is a Guild Hunter ebook (I read it; it’s fantastic); then ANGELS’ BLOOD, which I’ve been dying for since I heard of it (I read it; it’s beyond fantastic); then BRANDED BY FIRE which has the hottest freaking first chapter I’ve read in ages, followed by BLAZE OF MEMORY; and, of course, the MUST LOVE HELLHOUNDS anthology that has a Guild Hunter novella, and novellas from Charlaine Harris and the awesome Ilona Andrews, and … oh, what’s this?

Ahem, me. (And it’s the only 2009 release I’m sure of yet; DEMON FORGED might be out in 2009 or 2010. I will know more later.)

Because it’s Smugglivus, here’s a little bit from my novella, Blind Spot (this is unedited and could change completely before it is published):

That morning, two hours after she received an anonymous e-mail that included an address and a short message, Maggie Wren boarded a flight from San Francisco to New York. Accompanied by the hellhound that Maggie’s employer had demanded she bring with her, she arrived at JFK mid-afternoon. The address led her to a brownstone in Brooklyn. Despite the busy streets and the glaring sun that exposed her movements, she picked the lock at the front door and dismantled the security system.
With a silent hand gesture, she instructed the hellhound to check the first level. Upstairs, the first two bedrooms stood empty, except for a shirt and jeans strewn over the floor of the second. Maggie kicked through a third door when she found it locked.
Her target–Geoffrey Blake–was sitting naked on the wooden floor, handcuffed to a radiator. He’d drawn his knees up and rested his back against the wall beneath a lace-curtained window. Although her foot slamming against the door could have woken the dead, his eyes remained closed.
Maggie swept the room with her gun before shoving the weapon into the holster beneath her blazer.
She crossed to Blake’s side, retrieving her lock picks from her jacket’s inside pocket. He wasn’t completely naked, she noted. Her gaze skipped to his black jockey undershorts as she crouched and reached for the handcuffs. Yellow smiley faces grinned up at her from the elastic waistband.
“At least someone is happy to see me,” Maggie said. Or maybe the smiley faces were just thrilled to be hugging his muscled abdomen. Smug little bastards.
“I would be,” Blake replied in a deep, dry voice, “if I could see you.”
He raised his head and opened his eyes, revealing irises of light blue–and no pupils. From rim to rim, the color was solid.
Maggie’s fingers twitched. The metal pick slipped out of the keyhole and jabbed his wrist. She murmured an apology, her mind racing.
Blind. Yet nothing in Blake’s dossier had indicated it. How had he kept the disability unlisted on his official records? Why keep it hidden?
And why hadn’t Maggie’s employer prepared her before she’d flown across the country to rescue him? More than that–what the hell had her employer been thinking by letting Blake come to New York alone? Had he actually expected his nephew–a man who couldn’t see, for God’s sake–to track down Katherine Blake, who’d disappeared from a New York hotel room two days ago?
That the woman was Blake’s sister was even more reason not to have sent him. Caring too much led to carelessness. Which, Maggie thought, was probably why Blake was handcuffed to a radiator.
But at least his blindness explained why her employer had insisted that she bring the dog.
“You didn’t know,” Blake said.
Maggie worked at the lock, pulling herself out of assignment mode and slipping back into the deferential courtesy required by her newest occupation: household management and personal security.
Which, she’d often thought, was just a nice way of saying that she was a butler with a gun.
She popped the first cuff, moved on to the second. “Mr. Ames-Beaumont must have considered your blindness irrelevant to my objective, sir.”
“Is it relevant?”
“No, sir.” She had to get Blake out of here, either way.
“Sir?” His faint smile didn’t soften his strong features. The beginnings of a dark beard shadowed his jaw. His nose, Maggie thought, would have done a Stoic emperor proud. “If you are calling me ‘sir,’ then you must be the recently acquired–and, according to Uncle Colin, the already indispensable–Winters.”
There was no point in correcting him. She’d been called more offensive names before. And she didn’t know why Ames-Beaumont had taken to calling her ‘Winters,’ but considering the salary he paid her, she’d decided that he could address her however he wished.
The billionaire owner of Ramsdell Pharmaceuticals had high standards for his employees–and the closer to his family those employees were, the higher those standards were.
And he’d called her indispensable. Not easily disposed of and replaced. She’d never been that before.
But she couldn’t afford to acknowledge the warm glow the second-hand praise brought, or the despair that it would change.
Yes, “Winters” was much better than what he’d soon be calling her. When Ames-Beaumont discovered her deception and her connection to the man who’d endangered his family, the vampire would kill her.
After she sent his nephew home in one piece, perhaps he’d make it quick. And if she found Katherine, maybe Ames-Beaumont would let Maggie go.
Or at least give her a head start.
“Your clothes are in one of the other bedrooms.” she said, and stood. “Let’s get you dressed and head out.”

Happy Smugglivus!

Meljean 🙂

And for the giveaway two lucky winners will receive a copy each of Meljean’s Demon Bound! To enter, leave a comment here. The contest will run until Saturday, December 27 at midnight (Pacific Standard Time).

Thanks again to Meljean for the excerpt, and for the giveaway!

Next on Smugglivus: Dorchester Publishing and a HUGE giveaway

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  • macbeaner
    December 23, 2008 at 4:26 am

    I need to quit following blogs. My TBR pile has been unchanged all year even though I’ve read a lot as well.

    Happy Holidays all!

  • Katiebabs a.k.a KB
    December 23, 2008 at 5:18 am

    I am a total Chelsea Cain addict. Heartsick was so very sick, especially what happens between the skanky female serial killer and the detective who is obsessed with her. Is it a love story? Who knows but I cannot wait for the third book to come out.

    The smuggles are so pimptastic. Evol ladies.

  • katayoun
    December 23, 2008 at 6:20 am

    oh i must do the same as macbeaner, but welllll … who said i had will power?
    meljean brook is really fun, thanks for the interview and i am going to totally ignore her best read and what she’s going to read on 2009, totally!! 🙂

  • Jill Myles
    December 23, 2008 at 7:04 am

    I love Meljean. There is a reason why she is my sekrit girlfriend. It is because she is awesome, and she didn’t smack me in the head ONCE when I snored through the middle of The Dark Knight. 😉

  • Brooke Reviews
    December 23, 2008 at 7:29 am

    lol That Thundercat fanvideo is pretty good! They must’ve worked hard. 😀

  • Aymless
    December 23, 2008 at 8:00 am

    Woo…. giggling with glee… MUST have!

  • Thea
    December 23, 2008 at 8:19 am

    Meljean, you totally rock 🙂 Great post–and I’m glad that Ana and I have been enabling your out of control growing-TBR-book-buying addiction! *eeeevil laugh*

    I’m definitely there with you on Life As We Knew It being one of the best reads of 2008, and clearly with you on The Dark Knight as best film.

  • miish
    December 23, 2008 at 8:20 am

    Holy crap that thundercat video was pretty awesome!! That seriously made my entire morning!!

  • Raven99
    December 23, 2008 at 8:21 am

    Ooh, that Thundercats video is so cool. I hadn’t seen it before. And, I agree that The Dark Knight was awesome.

    I really must try Roxanne St. Claire. I hear wonderful things about her books all the time.

  • Ana
    December 23, 2008 at 8:28 am

    I know this post is all kinds of awesome with the Thundercat video, the incredible excerpt and all but this:

    “And it’s the only 2009 release I’m sure of yet; DEMON FORGED might be out in 2009 or 2010.”

    is making me rather anxious. LOL.No pressure.

  • CrystalGB
    December 23, 2008 at 8:39 am

    The Thundercat video is awesome. Loved Meljean’s post.

  • donnas
    December 23, 2008 at 8:53 am

    Great post. Thanks!!

    That is an a wonderful list of books I havent read. My TBR pile is going to collapse soon. Also great except. I think I know where at least part of my Borders gift card is going this year.

  • Robyn
    December 23, 2008 at 9:37 am

    Everytime I read this blog, my TBR pile gets larger & larger. Awesome post!

  • KMont
    December 23, 2008 at 9:43 am

    Ack, I totally forgot about Rampant in my YA of 2009 post!

    And OMFG, that Thundercats vid is making me rethink the wisdom of a possibly maybe one day live action Thundercats movie. LMAO! It’s well done, but, err..

    GREAT post! I totally agree about Singh. What’s NOT to agree with?

  • Kris
    December 23, 2008 at 1:47 pm

    Okay this is a bit weird… reading Meljean B’s comments about Thea and Ana’s pimpage, when it was them who pimped MB to me!

    Great post and excerpt.

  • tetewa
    December 23, 2008 at 1:55 pm

    Enjoyed the post today and love Meljean’s books!

  • meljean brook
    December 23, 2008 at 2:51 pm

    I just linked here and said I didn’t air any grievances, but I guess I did: the flippin’ TBR increase.

    Not that it’s a bad thing.

    I will admit to waiting for the Feats of Strength. I’ve got the popcorn ready if someone is going to start wrestling ;-D

  • I Heart Book Gossip
    December 23, 2008 at 3:00 pm

    I love love love Chelsea Cains Heartsick also. Its so very addicting. Count me in for the contest.

  • Pam P
    December 23, 2008 at 3:56 pm

    Cool video. I really like Bourne and Sherry Thomas, and yay on all those books coming next year from Nalini.

  • Carolyn Jean
    December 23, 2008 at 4:03 pm

    Okay, don’t enter me in the contest as I have already devoured DB but ooh, what a treat to read this excerpt. A totally new couple of characters! I love the twist that he can’t see. What will happen?

    Yeah, THIS is why I usually avoid excerpts, because I so want to read on.

  • Karin
    December 23, 2008 at 4:39 pm

    That Thundercat video was great! I also really enjoyed the excerpt. Some of the stuff you listed as new to you was new to me this year as well, but they quickly became favorites, such as Roxanne St. Claire’s Bullet Catcher series.

    Don’t enter me in the contest as I’ve already won a copy of Demon Bound and look forward to reading it over the holiday.

  • kimmyl
    December 23, 2008 at 6:00 pm

    I love reading Meljeans book and the video rocked.
    Happy Holidays everyone and be careful traveling.

  • Debby
    December 23, 2008 at 6:01 pm

    This book sounds great I would love to win!

  • Megan
    December 23, 2008 at 6:04 pm

    I’m a little late for the Meljean bandwagon (I only recently finished DEMON ANGEL, and I’ve been saving DEMON MOON to enjoy while traveling this next week), but she’s definitely one of my favorite finds of this year.

  • Sandra
    December 23, 2008 at 9:46 pm

    I’m with you on waiting for C.L. Wilson’s final installment of her Tairen Soul series, but how can you have waited and not read the first three so far??? This is one series I just couldn’t do that with, it’s dang awesome! Looking forward to your books, Meljean.

  • Tiah
    December 23, 2008 at 10:45 pm

    Great post! My TBR pile has grown unmanageable since I found this site! :0)

  • Lori T
    December 23, 2008 at 11:17 pm

    My TBR pile is ginormous and it just keeps getting bigger and as if I do not have enough books to read….I have now discovered YA too which increased my pile.

    Happy Holidays Everyone!

  • Mitch
    December 24, 2008 at 1:09 pm

    Coincidentally, I read “Life As We Knew It” just last night and I was driving myself nuts trying to remember which blog I had found the original recommendation in — and what do you know, it was Meljean’s! I thought the book was very interesting – I finished it at about 2 a.m. because once you start reading it, you must finish!

    Happy Holidays!

  • orannia
    December 24, 2008 at 3:17 pm

    As if I didn’t have enough books on my TBR list, you’ve just added a whole heap more Meljean 🙂

    Can I just say, the cover for Rampant is…WOW! And I too am waiting with bated breath for Nalini’s Branded by Fire!

    And as for the Thundercats…LOVED that cartoon!

  • Margaret
    December 24, 2008 at 3:36 pm

    Always looking to add to my TBR pile… even if it’s currently threatening to topple over and smother me in my sleep. Thanks for the ideas and recommendations!

  • Stefanie
    December 25, 2008 at 10:17 am

    The book sounds great!
    Oh man, I just bought tons of books, but my ‘to buy’ list is already growing again.

  • Alex
    December 26, 2008 at 7:19 am

    I loved Edith Hamilton’s Mythology when I was younger.:)

  • WriteBlack
    December 27, 2008 at 10:03 am

    That Thundercats trailer has been cracking me up for days now.

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