Giveaway: SHATTER, by Aprilynne Pike.

Hi. You might be new to DreadPennies, so here is the skinny: Aprilynne Pike is a friend of mine and I like her books. I usually preorder them when I can.

SHATTER came out in February, sequel to GLITTER, which was a fearless genre masher wherein a future corporatcracy purchases the Palace of Versailles, and a young woman in the palace gets caught up in court intrigue.

When Danica’s mom blackmails the young king into marrying Danica, our intrepid heroine cooks up a dastardly plan to buy her freedom by becoming a drug dealer. Only instead of smoking or shooting this drug, you wear it as makeup.

It all pretty much goes sideways from there.

When my copy of the sequel finally arrived, it had been beaten up in the mail due to poor packaging. Amazon came in clutch and sent me a free replacement, telling me to keep this one, so I had an idea:

I would draw the characters in the front and back flaps, then do a giveaway.

Admittedly I’m not thrilled with how Saber came out (bottom right) but it was hard to find any Mongolian actors to model him after. As for the models I used on Justin and Danica, well, you’ll have to read Aprilynne’s afterword šŸ™‚

Anyway, if you would like to win this copy of SHATTER–and heck, I’ll throw in a copy of THE HERO NEXT DOOR while I’m at it–send me an email. Dreadpennies [at] the ol’ gmail dot com.

The contest will run until May 14th, 2018, 6PM MDT. Only one email, one entry. I won’t sign you up for a list or sell your address or anything, I’m just trying to spread the fandom here.

Have fun, see you out there!

Summer Reading List: ELANTRIS by Brandon Sanderson

ELANTRIS is set in a fantasy world, where residents of a kingdom would randomly wake up and find themselves ascended to a higher state of divinity, capable of magic and eternal life. They would then get to move to Elantris, the perfect city.

However, ten years ago, the blessing became a curse, and now Elantrians live in a constant state of hunger and pain, confined to the fallen paradise like lepers. The surrounding kingdoms jockey for power, and a sinister plot is underway to rule them all.

Unless of course Prince Raoden, recently cursed to become Elantrian, can solve the mystery of why Elantris fell…

In May of 2008, I joined a legion of readers who were discovering Brandon Sanderson for the first time. He got a fame boost when Tor hired him to complete The Wheel of Time by the late Robert Jordan, and only had a few of his own books out back then.

ELANTRIS was his first published novel, and sometimes gets overlooked in the shadow of his larger properties like Mistborn or The Stormlight Archive. It’s excellent though, and at a time when I was devouring shorter books, I killed this 500-pager in three days, ignoring homework and bills and such.

Summer reading is a favorite tradition of mine, dating back to childhood library visits, and I look forward to it every year. This year I am revisiting some of my favorite reads, rather than just glutting myself on new ones like I always do. That particular summer was a very difficult and disappointing one, and the escapism of literature helped me find joy in hardship. ELANTRIS sparked the flame for me.

Since I spend a lot of time driving for work, or drawing at night, audiobooks supplement my yearly count. I’m lucky enough to have the GraphicAudio version of ELANTRIS, which is about 75% as long as the regular audiobook, because it’s done like an old time radio soundstage production. Full cast of actors, all of that. The sound effects really bring it to life.

If you haven’t read this book, try it out! Even if you don’t like fantasy, it might be your gateway drug to the genre.

KILL THE BEAST is live on Audible!

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Less than $5 for Audible members! Link here.

Finally! After two months of production, I’m thrilled to announce that I have an audiobook out there!

I used ACX, which is like the CreateSpace of Audible. You can find narrators and let them audition, then send them offers and whatnot. I’m really fortunate that Jean-Michel George auditioned for this book, because he is a great talent and a superb voice for Gautier Lesauvage.

Monsieur George was the second man to audition for KILL THE BEAST, and the better of the two options, both in terms of production quality and characterization. It helps that he’s a native Frenchman who speaks British English, so his accent matched extremely well.

On top of that, he composed intro and outro music for the book (without me even asking), and also tacked on an afterword that I recorded in my office.

I’ve been listening to audiobooks on Audible for over 10 years, and it’s a huge thrill to have one of my own titles in their catalogue.

I hope you’ll give it a listen and leave a review. I can’t wait to hear what you guys think of it.

See you out there!

State of the Dread: So Ends January, 2018

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Well, that’s 1/12th of the year down. My only 2018 resolution was to set monthly goals instead of yearly ones. Really I have enough tasks on my plate to focus on that I don’t have to worry about “resolutions,” I just have to get stuff done.

On the List Of One Million Things To Tackle is the image above. I’ve been meaning to do a better logo for DreadPennies, and I think I’m finally carving it out. The “Dreads” are going to be grumpy little robots that I draw every now and then. I’m trying to decide between a Buzzsaw Mohawk or Cable Dreadlocks and to be honest I think I’m just going to say “Screw it” and do both. The logo can be a Dread without any metallic hair, and I’ll draw Buzzsaw or Cables when I frigging feel like it.

Speaking of drawing, if you’ve seen my Instagram, I did a lot of these Colts/Avengers mashups during January, but I kind of ran out of steam on it. Still plenty of ideas for it, but it’s not a priority, there is other stuff I can draw that will help me practice speed and coloring. But here are some of the better ones:

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So far I’ve read like eight or ten books this month but only a few of them have been good. Notable entries are CALVIN by Martine Leavitt, and IRON GOLD by Pierce Brown (which I expected to like anyway.)

It’s been a few months since I did a TMRGB post, probably because it’s been a few months since I read a good Girly Book. I’ll get around to it soon. I’m trying to find new authors to read, most of the Girly Books I pick up are by friends of mine, so it’s a good idea to cast a wider net.

Also I haven’t really been working on a writing project because I’m trying to focus on studying for a test I have in three weeks. Job-related. Pain in the butt, but there’s a hefty pay raise tied to it. Priorities.

That said, I took a breather this weekend to outline a series I’ve had in my head for about 5 years now. Tons of fun, it’s equal parts superhero/G.I. Joe, but I’m trying to take a direction that’s different from DC or Marvel, only because we’re a bit saturated by both (and only one of them is any good right now.)

My next published book is called HOMEWORLD, about an alien invasion of Earth. It’ll be art-heavy, and reads like a series of deep Web blog posts. I’m excited about this one, it’s another idea I’ve had for years. Release date pending.

Last of all, you probably heard that my “Blast Crew goes to Mordor” story got rejected by my publisher of choice, which really sucks, but it’s under review with an agent right now and I expect I’ll hear back about it in another few months. Iron is in the fire.

Thanks for reading, you guys. Sound off in the comments.

My Best Books of 2017

Hi gang. You know the drill. Here we go:

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SCYTHE by Neal Shusterman. Reviewed here on my YouTube channel.

 

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Dublin Murder Squad 1-3, by Tana French. Comprising IN THE WOODS, THE LIKENESS, and FAITHFUL PLACE. There are 6 books so far, but 4 and 5 were letdowns. The first 3 were amazing. Reviewed here.

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DRAGONWATCH, by Brandon Mull. His premiere series,Ā Fablehaven,Ā is a longtime personal favorite. DRAGONWATCH is the first in a sequel series that proves he’s still got it. Loved everything about this book.

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Bobiverse 1-3, by Dennis E. Taylor. Comprises the volumes WE ARE LEGION, WE ARE BOB; FOR WE ARE MANY, and ALL THESE WORLDS. Rip-roaringly good sci-fi adventure. Reviewed here.

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DRAGON TEETH, by Michael Crichton. One of his earlier works, despite being posthumously published. It’s about an intriguing period in history called “The Bone Wars,” wherein two rival paleontologists tried to outdo each other in their field, sometimes by nefarious means. Review here.

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SLEEPING GIANTS, by Sylvain Neuvel. Hell of a book! Lamentably I found the sequel, WAKING GODS, to have a touch of a sophomore slump. Nevertheless, I’m eagerly looking forward to ONLY HUMAN, the third installment. Review here.

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THE END OF NIGHT, by Paul Bogard. I would never have read this book without my brother’s recommendation, but it’s very thought-provoking. It deals with how artificial lighting impacts human biology and our ecosystems around the world. Review here.

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UNDAUNTED COURAGE, by S.R. Ambrose. Speaking of the Indianapolis Colts, this was the July selection for the Andrew Luck Book Club. It’s a detailed history of the Lewis and Clark expedition, including their lives before and after their legendary trek.

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Weird West tales, by Mike Resnick. I read 2&3 this year. YouTube video here.

 

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Lady Mechanika: La Dama de la Muerte, by Benitez. My YouTube review covers the whole series, though it was this volume in particular that I loved.

 

 

HONORABLE MENTIONS

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JOHNNY U AND ME, by John C. Unitas Jr. This is a career and family bio about legendary NFL quarterback Johnny Unitas, written by his son, John Jr. Unitas played for the then-Baltimore Colts (now in Indianapolis) and is in the conversation for being among the greatest to ever play the game, and certainly the greatest of his era. However, I included this book for its value as a teaching tool: it talks about his life behind the scenes, and his imperfections. Some of those old-time qualities we admire come with an ugly price tag. We would do better to respect our sports heroes for their accomplishments, and learn from their flaws. Even the Man with the Golden Arm wasn’t perfect. I applaud his son for his hard work in putting this book together

 

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ARTEMIS, by Andy Weir. Also did a YouTube review.

 

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UNDAUNTED, by Gerald Lund. This one sat on my shelf for eight years before I got around to it. It’s equal parts fiction and non-, as Lund did heavy research not just into the time period, but the people who actually trekked through the now-destroyed Hole In The Rock. I found the non-fiction elements more engaging than the overall storyline, so epic was it in scale and import.

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ON COMBAT, by Dave Grossman. A non-fiction about the physical and psychological toll on the human body in modern combat. Very enlightening.

 

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SNAPSHOT by Brandon Sanderson. Blogged it here.

Trucker Man Reads Girly Books: BURN BY BURN by Jenny Han and Siobhan VivianĀ 


TMRGB is a series of blog posts wherein I, a disgruntled CDL driver who wakes up way too early for this crap, recommend effeminate fiction to the masses.

I enjoyed Jenny Han’s first Lara Jean novel, and the library had this one (different series, with a co-author) so I grabbed it. I had to run a lot of trailers back and forth between a drop yard and an oil refinery, so I plugged it in and enjoyed it a decent amount.

The advantage of the audio version was that each of the three main girls got a different narrator. (Even without that, they were all written distinctly, so reading it in print wouldn’t have been a problem.) Kat is the Tough Chick, Lilia is the Popular Chick, Mary is the Homely Quiet Chick.

They’re not friends, not at first, but their paths cross like poorly planned state highways that your dispatcher lies to you about, and they soon find themselves in a convoy…nope, sorry, they find themselves working together to deliver a high-value load of revenge against bullies.

I kept thinking of “Mean Girls” as I listened to it, though this book has slightly sharper teeth. There are a few F-bombs, teen drinking is casually accepted, and there are some sexual situations as well, so be aware. While I’m not fond of that content in YA, Han and Vivian weren’t gratuitous about it, and the instances all played into the plot.
The setting kind of made me wish I owned a house on a coastal American island, probably after I retire from trucking.

Final note, this book was very much the “first act” in a trilogy. There was some resolution to the initial conflict but you can tell this flaming crapstorm is only heating up.

I will real the sequel after I take some time off–I’ve read like three Girly Books in a row without meaning to, I need a change of pace.

Get back to work.

Trucker Man Reads Girly Books: KISSES IN THE RAIN, by Krista Lynne Jensen

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Amazon link

TMRGB is a series of blog posts wherein I, a disgruntled truck driver who unfortunately is not allowed to have a beard because of current job requirements, recommend effeminate fiction to the masses.

Seattle.

You will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy…provided that you are a west coast trucker.

I hate Seattle. It does nothing but rain, and the paper mills all smell like broccoli that’s been overboiled in a construction yard outhouse. Also the music is overrated. The worst part, though…the worst part of it is theĀ trucking.

Is the sun up? Are you on Interstate 5? My psychic powers tell me that you are going no faster than 30 miles per hour. Yes! Real psychic powers! Now send me money.

Are you in Seattle proper? I am so, so sorry. No, don’t worry about what the GPS says, you can go down that road. There’s a low bridge but only in the right lane. Yes, everything is tight and packed and hard to get through. Those caveman-looking people? Why, those are hippies. Yeah, still have hippies in Seattle. They haven’t gotten the message yet.

And to answer your unasked query, I do indeed want to saw the entire western edge of Washington off and push it into the ocean Lex Luthor-style. There is nothing redeemable about the place…

…unless Jace and Georgie are real. If that’s the case, well, okay, I guess they can have it. But you can’t make me truck there. Oh, you’re my dispatcher? I guess you can make me truck there. But you can’t make me like it.

Yes, this is where I stop blabbing about trucking and start blabbing aboutĀ KISSES IN THE RAIN by my friend, Krista Jensen.

Jace is a super chill Bachelor Hunk who lives in a rundown rental with a rescue dog and his own deep thoughts. He works at a restaurant, making food. He just got used by a girl so that she could make her ex-boyfriend jealous, and he vents his frustration by rage-riding his motorcycle through the Rain City. Oh, and he’s unconsciously handsome.

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Georgie also just got out of a bad relationship, but hers was a little bit easier, ’cause the guy died. The downside is that Georgie was in the car with him when he snuffed it, and she’s still trying to put herself back together, mentally and emotionally speaking. She comes to Seattle and gets a job at the same restaurant as Jace.

Ooooooh, are they gonna hook uuuuuuup?

Um, duh? Did I mention a rocket ship somewhere? This is guy-fi, not sci-fi.

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Among the strengths of this story–other than persuading me not to go Full Metal Supervillain on the Pacific Northwest–was the depth behind the main characters, and how they both had to do some self-examination before realizing they were ready to be with someone else.

Georgie probably had the more interesting arc on this front. It was nice to read about a character who’d been damaged by an abusive relationship but was later able to work her way out of the trauma by understanding that the abuse wasn’t her fault. Presenting that kind of relationship in fiction is a safe way to show how that abuse takes shape, because in real life people don’t always cotton on to it when it’s happening.

Also it was cool that Jace had a motorcycle. I don’t, because I have kids.

Final note, this book made me hungry for peppery shrimp with blackberry sauce. Time to go hit the fridge.

Carry on.

Halloween Reads: A NIGHT OF BLACKER DARKNESS

A Night of Blacker Darkness: : Being the Memoir of Frederick Whithers As Edited by Cecil G. Bagsworth III by [Wells, Dan]

I should definitely have plugged another Halloween-ish book by now, so here’s an oldie-goodie.

A NIGHT OF BLACKER DARKNESS is about a guy who is in prison for a crime he didn’t commit, but desperately wants to get out of prison so that he can actually commit the crime in question (financial fraud.)

It takes place in England sometime in the 1800s, and it’s a hilariously ghoulish tale. At one point our hero even crosses paths with some of the weakest vampires imaginable, who automatically worship him by mistake. John Keats, Mary Shelley, and Jane Austen also make appearances, whether in person, name, or reputation.

It might be among Dan Wells’ lesser-known works, but that’s certainly not for its quality. It’s a really fun read and captures the bewitched autumnal atmosphere with great skill. It’s available in ebook and audiobook.

Get back to work.