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1. Books I’ve Loved Lately: Flawed Protagonists, Perfect Reads

I just finished reading four books, back to back, and each one was STELLAR. That never happens, so you better believe I’m excited to praise these reads, all of which have a common thread–each features a flawed, unconventional protagonist.

I AM NOT A SERIAL KILLER by Dan Wells.

Six Second Summary: John Wayne Cleaver is dangerous, and he knows it. To keep his obsession with serial killer under wraps and under control, he lives by rigid rules he’s written for himself, practicing normal high school life as if it were a private religion that could save him from damnation. After a string of brutal murders terrorizes his town, John has to confront a danger outside himself, a threat he can’t control, a menace to everything and everyone he would love, if only he could.

I loved it because: Wells’ voice is electric–he keeps the action moving at a fast clip, but all the while, we feel the misunderstood, melancholy wounds that John Wayne Cleaver tries to conceal. There are twists and unexpected turns of fate that make I AM NOT A SERIAL KILLER nothing less than stone cold stellar–don’t miss it.

Shelve it between: DARKLY DREAMING DEXTER by Jeff Lindsay and your copy of SUPERNATURAL: Season One, two other chilling, thrilling diversions.

BLACK HEART by Holly Black

Six Second Summary: Cassel Sharpe comes from a long line of con artists and curse workers. Everyone wants him–the crime families and feds, but he’s just trying to stay out of trouble and protect the headstrong girl who’s always held his heart. Cassel will need every ounce of wit and will to make one last score, a final play to win his freedom, once and for all.

I loved it because: It’s no secret I adored WHITE CAT and RED GLOVE, but Holly Black outdid herself this time–BLACK HEART is a David Mamet meets Mario Puzo masterpiece, one of the very best trilogy conclusions I’ve ever finished. Get thee to a bookstore right now and pick it up.

Shelve it between: David Mamet’s sleeper con-artist flick, THE SPANISH PRISONER and Mario Puzo’s THE GODFATHER: PART II. Yeah, it’s that good. A top shelf trilogy.

DROWNING INSTINCT by Ilsa J. Bick

Six Second Summary: Jenna Lord hides a lot of scars–her psycho dad and drunk mother haven’t protected her in life, and when Jenna meets Mitch Anderson, her chemistry teacher and coach, she’s drawn to him. He’s the one person she can trust, the one honest adult who makes her feel safe. In

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2. Book Birthday: DROWNING INSTINCT by Ilsa J. Bick

If you liked ASHES by Ilsa J Bick... well, this has nothing to do with ASHES. It is in fact a contemporary thriller of sorts, with plenty of issues and drama and the page-turning pace that Ilsa is always known for. There are zero zombies in these pages... but you'll find yourself racing through them anyway. :-)

DROWNING INSTINCT is a fairy tale with teeth: The story of a damaged adolescent and a flawed adult that refuses to firmly fix blame but instead considers the devastating impact of secrets and self-deception.

About DROWNING INSTINCT:

There are stories where the girl gets her prince, and they live happily ever after. (This is not one of those stories.)

There are stories where the monster gets the girl, and everyone cries for his innocent victim. (This is not one of those stories either.)

And there are stories where it's hard to be sure who's a prince and who's a monster, who is a victim and who should live happily ever after. (These are the most interesting stories of all.)


Jenna Lord's first sixteen years were not exactly a fairy tale. Her father is a controlling psycho and her mother is a drunk. She used to count on her older brother--until he shipped off to Iraq. And then, of course, there was the time she almost died in a fire.

Mitch Anderson is many things: A dedicated teacher and coach. A caring husband. A man with a certain...magnetism.

DROWNING INSTINCT is a novel of pain, deception, desperation, and love against the odds--and the rules.

As a child psychiatrist, Ilsa Bick has treated many Jennas and Mr. Andersons, and so she knows: Good intentions make for a damned slippery slope.

Want to buy a copy of the book? Click.

Want to WIN a copy of the book? Click.

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3. ASHES Free Sample

So this is a very cool addendum to the previous post about the ASHES giveaway.

You can read the first 100 pages of ASHES for free on io9 right now.  A mere taste of the scary stuff to come, I guarantee it. :-)

Then preorder your copy and enter the contest!

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4. ASHES Giveaway

I'm extremely excited to have a giveaway in honor of ASHES by Ilsa J. Bick, exclusively for my blog / twitter readers.

What's ASHES?  Well, the editor says “It’s a ‘sleep with one eye open and double-check the locks’ type of novel.” I say, it's a completely addictive thriller that left me breathless... and sleepless. What's it about?

Ashes begins when an electromagnetic pulse sweeps through the sky, killing the vast majority of the world population and zapping every electronic device. Everyone still alive has changed considerably—some for the better (those who acquired a superhuman spidey-sense) while others for the worse (those who acquired a taste for human flesh).

Among the few teens and children who are spared are Alex, a resourceful teen running from her own demons; Tom, who left the war in Afghanistan only to find something much worse at home, and Ellie, an angry eight-year-old girl whom the two must rescue. This improvised family will need to use every ounce of courage they have just to survive in this chaotic new world.

The author, Ilsa J. Bick is a former U.S. Air Force major and forensic psychiatrist, and now a  full time writer. You can follow her on twitter here.

SO. The contest.

From now until 11:59pm on Sept 5, any preorder of ASHES at any online OR bricks and mortar bookstore will get you a treat, AND make you eligible for one of several  big and AWESOME prizes.

Yes: EVERYONE who preorders and proves it to me will get my eternal love, plus one of the following: limited edition ASHES Dog-Tag or cool ASHES pin or bookmark.

In addition, you will be entered into a drawing for awesome big-prize gear from Egmont USA. They'll be giving away some exclusive ASHES survival packs and an ASHES-skinned tablet/e-reader. AWESOME.

All you have to do is:

1) PRE-ORDER. Pre-order the book from a local bookstore, or Amazon, or B&N, or Powells, in person or online.

2) PROVE IT. Send a forward confirmation email, screenshot with confirmation number, or scanned receipt to ashescontest@gmail.com -- don't worry, we don't want your credit card #, feel free to black that out if you are scanning a real rcpt.

3) GET STUFF. Be sure to include your name and address so that we can send you your swag and put you in the drawing for the grand prizes.   

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