***The Tales Compendium blog is currently on hiatus. However you can still following along via the Instagram feed!***

Monday, April 23, 2012

Vamplayers by Rusty Fischer

Title: Vamplayers
Author: Rusty Fischer

Release Date: 13th December 2011

My Rating: 4/5

At the Afterlife Academy of Exceptionally Dark Arts, the vampires in training follow one of two tracks: they become either Sisters or Saviors. Of course, everyone wants to be a Savior, swooping into infested high schools in matching red leather jumpsuits and wielding crossbows, putting down swarming vampires with deadly efficiency.

But Lily Fielding is just a Sister—a Third Sister at that, a measly trainee. When Lily and her two Sisters, Alice and Cara, are called out to their latest assignment, she figures it’s just another run-of-the-mill gig: spot the Vamplayer (part vampire, part player), identify the predictably hot, trampy girl he’s set his eyes on, and befriend her before the Vamplayer can turn her to do his bidding.

Finding the sleek and sexy Vamplayer, Tristan, and his equally beautiful and popular target, Bianca, is easy. And when Lily meets the adorably geeky Zander, she too falls under a lover’s spell. But this assignment turns out to be trickier than most when the Third Sister must battle the baddest vampire of all.

In A Nutshell:
A light, entertaining and humorous read, Vamplayers is total comfort food.

My Review:
I’ve read countless novels and short stories by Rusty Fischer and enjoyed them all. In Vamplayers, Fischer has moved away from his usual zombie protagonist and has reworked vampire mythology. They still drink blood but have a serious sweet tooth. Some are good, some are bad and the bad don’t just want to kill, they want to turn their victims, and their tactics have been perfected. Daylight may not be an issue, but garlic and holy water still is. And there is the ever-present pecking order that infiltrates every aspect of society, n both human and vampire worlds. There are rules the undead have to live by, and consequences are severe.

Lily is a Sister, whose job is to identify the Vamplayer before he manages to turn the whole school. The Sisters then call in the Saviors who take the Vamplayer down. Lily is sick of being a Sister but can’t seem to pass the test to become a Savior. When Lily and her fellow Sisters are sent to the latest school, she is determined this will be her last ever assignment as a Sister. The school is just like every other high school; the bitchy popular girls make everyone else’s lives miserable, there’s the hot guy who knows he is, and the nerdy but really totally awesome kids.  This time, Lily is to play the outcast. Her fellow Sisters are also to treat her this way to fit in with the popular crowd and gain their acceptance. Normally this exclusion would end when the girls are behind closed doors, but this time, Cara and Alice begin to take it a bit too seriously. As the girls turn on Lily, she is left utterly alone and the responsibility to find the Vamplayer before the whole school gets turned, falls solely on her shoulders.

With a focus on friendship, stereotypes and peer-pressure, it’s a typical highschool environment, but one that takes the opportunity to show characters who know what they want and try to succeed, no matter the obstacles thrown in their path. While I could see what was going to happen, Lily couldn’t and I think that is common for teenagers, to not look deeper than what is on the surface or beyond first impressions. While the story arc was somewhat predictable, the end certainly wasn’t. After the climatic showdown, I was expecting a very different conclusion but Fischer’s recreated vampire lore opened up a whole new realm of possibilities.

A light, entertaining and humorous read, Vamplayers is total comfort food.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Preloved Blog Tour - Interview with Shirley Marr and Giveaway

Today I have the lovely Shirley Marr stopping by as part of her Preloved Blog Tour! For those of you who are unfamiliar with Preloved the blurb says...

If you had a second chance at love, would you do it all over again?

Amy has enough to deal with for one lifetime. A superstitious Chinese mother. A best friend whose mood changes as dramatically as her hair colour. A reputation for being strange. The last thing she needs is to be haunted by someone only she can see.

Logan is a ghost from the Eighties. He could be dangerous. He's certainly annoying.

He might also be Amy's dream boy.


I've just finished reading Preloved so I haven't had a chance to review it yet but, I loved it! Like Amy, I have often felt I have grown up in the wrong decade, although my reasoning is more to do with music than the fashion! Stay tuned for a review next week.

In the meantime, Shirley has answered some questions to help us get to know the real Shirley Marr!

I was the kind of kid who…
was always lost in her own world. Sitting up in trees and imagining stories. I remember me and my sister lying in our white walled bedroom and I would describe to her this magical land we were in instead.

My mother always told me…
never to trust smart, witty and good looking boys. If they are too good to be true, they are probably demons. Or ghosts. Or even worse - your imagination.

The biggest lesson I learnt at school was…
I could be both a Goth and also sit at the front of the class (because I liked learning) and not get struck down by the Stereotype Lightning God. So I go through life these days just being generally weird, and being anything I want to be.
<--------- Teenage Goth Princess Shirley

My first big crush was…
David Bowie. Goblin King. Pants magic pants. How could I resist?

I earnt my first pay cheque…
Being an accountant. I am still earning my pay cheques this way these days! Writer Shirley is poor and lives on love and raindrops.

I really hate it when…
I'm reading a book on public transport and I start to cry.

I’m very good at…
baking. I had to fold my cupcake catering side-business when I became an author because I couldn't hold down two hobbies. I'm always going to kinda regret I never got my own little baking van. --------> Pacman cupcakes for an 80's inspired party.

The hardest thing I’ve ever done…

is writing novels. I put all my soul into it. Both Fury and Preloved feel like my horcruxes.

I’m frightened of…

When I’m in the shower I sing…
Naked and Sacred (I guess it's fitting?) by Chynna Phillips. I'm a diehard 90's teen. It's also my Karaoke song!

The last book I read was…
On The Jellicoe Road By Melina Marchetta. She demonstrates why the Aussie YA crown belongs to her with this book.

I would love to meet…
Every fictional character I have ever had a crush on.

When I get the munchies I eat…
anything sweet. if I am desperate, I make this Five Minute Mug Cake. I eat it with guilty pleasure and then pretend nothing happened.

I hope I never…
have to cry again.

Life is…
too short. Read and re-imagine a better world. Write a novel and live forever.

Thank you Jess for having me on your lovely blog today. Tomorrow I will be heading over to My Girl Friday to talk about the awesome 80s, so please join me then!


Thanks to Walker Books, I have a copy of Preloved to give away! To enter, please leave your first name, email address and answer to the following question, in the comments below. Entries close 30th April 2012 AWST and winners will be drawn using random.org.

Now to stick with our 80's theme and because I love 80's music...
What is your favourite song from the 80's?

Monday, April 16, 2012

Taste by Kate Evangelista - Extract and Trailer Reveal

Today I am very excited to share with you an extract from Kate Evangelista's forthcoming debut novel Taste, which will be released next month. I've been following Kate's progress over the past couple of years and was so excited to hear when she officially signed with Crescent Moon Press.

At Barinkoff Academy, there's only one rule: no students on campus after curfew. Phoenix McKay soon finds out why when she is left behind at sunset. A group calling themselves night students threaten to taste her flesh until she is saved by a mysterious, alluring boy. With his pale skin, dark eyes, and mesmerizing voice, Demitri is both irresistible and impenetrable. He warns her to stay away from his dangerous world of flesh eaters. Unfortunately, the gorgeous and playful Luka has other plans.

When Phoenix is caught between her physical and her emotional attraction, she becomes the keeper of a deadly secret that will rock the foundations of an ancient civilization living beneath Barinkoff Academy. Phoenix doesn’t realize until it is too late that the closer she gets to both Demitri and Luka the more she is plunging them all into a centuries old feud.

Song Credits: "Hunger" © Noelle Pico. Full Download available here.

Taste Excerpt

I mentally stomped on the intimidation their perfection brought into my mind and said, “Excuse me.”
The group froze, startled by my words. The girls had their brows raised and the boys stopped mid-speech, mouths agape. They stared at me with eyes the shade of onyx stones.
I smiled and gave them a little wave.
The boy a step ahead of the rest recovered first. His stunning features went from shocked surprise to intense interest. He reminded me of a hawk eyeing its prey. I gulped.
“A Day Student,” he said, his eyes insolent and excited.
Something about the way he said “Day Student” made my stomach flip. “Excuse me?”
They snickered. The boys looked at each other while the girls continued to stare, muffling their laughter by delicate hands. I seemed to be the butt of some joke.
“You broke the rule.” The boy’s grin turned predatory.
The students formed a loose semi-circle in front of me. My gaze darted from face to face. Hunger filled their eyes. The image of lions about to chase down a gazelle came to mind. I mentally shook my head. I was in the mountains not the Serengeti for crying out loud.
I took a small step back and cleared my throat. “Can any of you give me a ride back to the dorms?”
The boy wagged his forefinger like a metronome. “Ah, that’s unfortunate for you.”
One of the girls pinched the bridge of her nose. “Eli, you can’t possibly—”
“It’s forbidden, Eli,” another boy interrupted, pronouncing the word “forbidden” like a curse.
The nervous murmur at the pit of my stomach grew louder. Six against one. Not good odds. Instinct told me to cut my losses and run. Bad enough I faced expulsion, now it seemed like weird, beautiful people who’d suddenly appeared on campus wanted to beat me up. No, scratch that. Judging from the way they studied me, beating me up wouldn’t satisfy them. Something more primal prowled behind their looks.
I definitely wasn’t going down without a fight. Years of self-defense and hand-to-hand combat classes had me prepared. While other children from rich and important families got bodyguards, I got defense training. But I think my father meant for my skills to go up against potential kidnappers, not against other students who may or may not be crazy. Oh God! Maybe I stepped into a parallel universe or something when I reentered Barinkoff.
“None of the students are supposed to be on campus,” I said. Then, realizing my mistake, I added, “Okay, I know I’m not supposed to be here either. If one of you gives me a ride back to the dorms, I won’t say anything about all this. Let’s pretend this never happened. I didn’t see you, you didn’t see me.”
“We’re not ordinary students,” Eli answered. “We’re the Night Students.”
He’d said “Night Students” like the words were capitalized. I didn’t know Barinkoff held classes at night. What was going on here?
Eli smiled with just one side of his mouth and said to the group, “She’s right, no one will have to know. We’re the only ones here. And it’s been so long, don’t you agree?”
The rest of them nodded reluctantly.
“What’s been so long?” I challenged. I fisted my hands, ready to put them up if any of them so much as twitched my way.
“Since the taste of real flesh passed through my lips,” Eli said. He came forward and took a whiff of me then laughed when I cringed.
“Flesh.” Yep, parallel universe.
“Yes,” he said. “And yours smells so fresh.”
Someone grabbed my shoulders from behind and yanked me back before I could wrap my mind around the meaning behind Eli’s words. In a blink, I found myself behind someone tall. Someone really tall. And quite broad. And very male.
I realized he wore the same clothes Eli and the other boys did. Not good. He was one of them. Although… I cocked my head, raking my gaze over him. He seemed born to wear the uniform, like he was the pattern everyone else was cut from. My eyes wandered to long, layered, blue-black hair tied at the nape by a silk ribbon. Even in dim light, his hair possessed a sheen akin to mercury.
I looked down. The boy’s long fingers were wrapped around my wrist like a cuff. His fevered touch felt hotter than human standards, hot enough to make me sweat like I was standing beside a radiator but not hot enough to burn.
“I must be mistaken, Eli,” the boy who held my arm said in a monotone. “Correct me. Did I hear you say you wanted to taste the flesh of this girl?”
A hush descended on us. It had the hairs at the back of my neck rising. How was it possible for the atmosphere to switch from threatening to dangerous? Unable to help myself, I peeked around the new guy’s bulk. Eli and his friends bowed. They all had their right hands on their chests.
“Demitri, I’m sure you misheard me,” Eli said.
So the guy standing between me and the person who said he’d wanted to taste me was named Demitri. I like the sound of his name. Demitri. So strong, yet rolls off the tongue. Definite yum factor.
“So, you imply I made a mistake?” Demitri demanded.
“No!” Eli lifted his gaze. “I did no such thing. I simply wanted to show the girl the consequences of breaking curfew.”
“Hey!” I yelled. “Don’t talk about me like I’m not here!”
Demitri ignored my protest and continued to address Eli. “So, you threatened to taste her flesh.” His fingers tightened their grip around my wrist. “In the interest of investigating this matter further, I invoke the Silence.”
All six students gasped, passing surprised glances at one another.
Before I could ask about what was going on, Demitri yanked me down the hall toward the library. But why there? Oh, maybe we were getting my things. No, wait, he couldn’t have known about that. Everything was too confusing now.
Eli and the others didn’t try to stop us when we passed them. Demitri’s cold command must have carried power. Handsome and powerful, never a bad combination on a guy.
We reached the heavy double doors in seconds. He jerked one open effortlessly. I’d needed all my strength just to squeeze through that same door earlier. To him, the thick wood might as well have been cardboard. I raised an eyebrow and mentally listed the benefits of going to gym class.
“Why are we here?” I asked after my curiosity overpowered my worry. I’d almost forgotten how frightened I’d been right before Demitri showed up. I wasn’t above accepting help from strangers. Especially from gorgeous dark-haired strangers with hot hands and wide shoulders.
Demitri kept going, tugging me along, snaking his way deeper into the library. I had to take two steps for every stride his legs made. I tried to stay directly behind him, praying we didn’t slam into anything.
He stopped suddenly and I collided with him. It felt like slamming into a wall.
“Hey,” I said, momentarily stunned. “A little warning would be nice!”
He faced me, and I gasped. His eyes resembled a starless night, deep and endless. Their intensity drilled through me without pity, seeming to expose all my secrets. I felt naked and flustered beneath his gaze.
“You could have died back there,” he warned.
A lump of panic rebuilt itself in my throat.

When Kate Evangelista was told she had a knack for writing stories, she did the next best thing: entered medical school. After realizing she wasn't going to be the next Doogie Howser, M.D., Kate wandered into the Literature department of her university and never looked back. Today, she is in possession of a piece of paper that says to the world she owns a Literature degree. To make matters worse, she took Master's courses in creative writing. In the end, she realized to be a writer, none of what she had mattered. What really mattered? Writing. Plain and simple, honest to God, sitting in front of her computer, writing. Today, she has four completed Young Adult novels.

Author Website
Twitter: @KateEvangelista
Find Taste on Goodreads
Crescent Moon Press page for Taste
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...