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Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Guest post with Piper Maitland + Giveaway

10-Smashing Pumpkins-We Only Come Out At Night
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Today we have author Piper Maitland visiting with us. She has some good advice if you plan on inviting Mr. Tall, Dark and Toothy for a sleepover...

Stick around till the end for a chance to win a copy of 
Acquainted With The Night

If Your Houseguest is a Vampire…

‘Tis the season for parties, friends, and fellowship. But what if your overnight houseguest is a vampire? Should you run? Offer him a bloody Mary or pan-fried blood sausages?
Entertaining an immortal can be a rewarding and enlightening experience if you follow a few helpful guidelines:

1. Prepare your home in advance
Rent a coffin and place it in the darkest room of your house. Pillows and 300-count linen will add a nice touch. Remove all decorative crucifixes, garlic pods, and holy water.

2. Make a “welcome” basket
Add toothpaste, toothbrush, SPF 100 sun block, and a sampler of blood (use test tubes and seal with corks).

3. Provide Background Music
Marilyn Manson’s “If I was Your Vampire”
The Smashing Pumpkin’s “We Only Come Out at Night”
ZZ Top’s “She’s Just Killing Me”
Joan Osborne’s “Dracula Moon”
Anything by Nine Inch Nails and Cradle of Filth

4. Play Ice-breaking Board Games
The Game of Life, 50th Anniversary Edition
Till Death Do Us Part

5. Serve Hematoma Martinis
Mix 1 oz vodka, ½ oz orange-flavored liqueur, and 3 oz type O blood. Mix. Serve at room temperature.

6. Finally, kiss your vampire with your lips closed.

Thanks for the tips Piper! I am sure Katie is off to buy the game Fangopoly I know I am too! 

Berkley Books is offering a copy of Acquainted With The Night to one commenter. US Residents can pick a hard copy or e-copy, International residents can have an e-copy.

To Enter:
1. Tell us what vampire you would like to invite over for the night?
2. Leave a way to contact you
*double entry for followers (let us know you are one!)
contest ends: Dec. 7th at midnight

Acquainted with the Night by author Piper Maitland

Acquainted with the Night by author Piper Maitland is a paranormal vampire suspense story with major twists and turns. If you love all things vampy and history across the ages you'll LOVE this book. It's a non-stop ride across the globe with a wonderful story to boot!

A woman's quest for the truth...A medieval icon that holds the clues...And an ancient book with the power to shake Christianity-and humanity itself.

London tour guide Caroline Clifford has never believe in vampires- until her uncle is brutally murdered at a Bulgarian archaeological site, and a vampire hunter who corresponded with him seeks her out.

Strange anagrams on her uncle's passport lead them to a cliff-top monastery in Greece, where a shattering revelation connects a relic Caro inherited to an age-old text on immortality-and an enigmatic prophecy that pits the forces of darkness and light in a showdown that could destroy all they know...

Now the story's technically a UF but with a heavy paranormal foundation it's hard to tell and frankly who the frel cares! When you have a book this well written, its category is a really small detail. Part of what you have here is very well researched vampire book. It's an adventure stretching from London to Greece and back, really no rock seems unturned in this amazing story. With a major British twist you'll feel like you just stepped off a double-decker bus heading to the British Museum.

The characters are given some in-depth detail that builds as the story does, lots of twist and turns will keep you guessing. Backstabbing, clinical testing, and corporate greed keep the reader entertained throughout. The only downside I had was with our main character Caro. She starts out with amazing personality and picks up some nice speed as the story goes on, but about halfway through after a series of life altering events she becomes a tad too whiny for my liking. By the end she pulls it back together but the clingy needy girlie act rubbed me the wrong way. That being said she does have some valid reasons for it, but personally it was hard for me to relate.

I want to give Piper a TON of credit for the amount of research she did for this story, she never treats the reader like a child with the facts she is dishing out. You get a bunch of historical events mixed in with some fabulous lore and a new take on some vampire legends. Authors who can take creatures of the night, like vamps, and make them into something new and original will always win high praises in my book. This is the first novel for this author and I'm eagerly awaiting to see what she comes up with next!

Getting 4 Grappa laced Sheep

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Sheep review: Mind Over Monsters (A F.R.E.A.K.S. Squad Investigations #!)

Mind Over Monsters (A F.R.E.A.K.S. Squad Investigations #1)

Very few people know the truth about Beatrice Alexander. She's no ordinary schoolteacher with a fondness for classic movies. Beatrice can move objects with her mind, an embarrassing and dangerous skill that she's never learned to master—or embrace. After nearly killing her brother by accident, she joins F.R.E.A.K.S. The Federal Response to Extra-Sensory and Kindred Supernaturals is a top-secret offshoot of the FBI that "neutralizes" ghouls, trolls, and other monsters threatening humanity.

Beatrice has no desire to become Buffy the vampire slayer. But F.R.E.A.K.S. offers training to control her power. Also, she doesn't feel like such a freak next to the other supernatural members, including a cute former detective who's a werewolf and an unbearable vampire determined to seduce Beatrice. Despite a natural instinct to flee from hideous, bloodthirsty zombies, Beatrice must prove herself on her first mission to find a cunning necromancer.
This is the first book in Harlow’s new series: F.R.E.A.K.S. Squad Investigations. It stands for Federal Response to Extra-sensory And Kindred Supernaturals, and I give kudos to Harlow for thinking this acronym up! The FBI has set up this special team to help keep supernatural creatures a secret from the rest of the world. When a supernatural being starts causing problems with humans, F.R.E.A.K.S. steps in to clean up the mess.
This is a great series opener. It was funny, clever, fast moving and it has zombies! There is also a little bit of romance (not with a zombie though). I really enjoy first person POV books, and the snarky fourth grade teacher Beatrice is a great character through which to experience the events of the novel. Bea has grown up trying to hide her telekinetic powers so she could fit in, but things haven’t gone so well for her. She is approached by a man who offers to help her control her powers and give her a place on the F.R.E.A.K.S. team. Much hilarity ensues as she comes to meet her new team members and learns just how powerful she is.
On the F.R.E.A.K.S. team there is a mysterious and tortured smexy werewolf, Will, with whom Bea has an instant connection. Romance isn’t the focus of this book, but it is a fun part and I look forward to watching the slow simmer of their relationship grow over the course of this series. And what supernatural book wouldn’t be complete without the arrogant, flirty vampire who tries to hide the fact that he has a heart of gold? (Um....all of them, because vampires are EVIL. -Kalpar) Oliver is wonderfully sexy and spends most the book needling Will and Bea. The team also consists of a pyrokinetic, a teenaged teleporter, a psychometric (who gets visions from objects), and a blind medium who talks to ghosts.
Bea’s first case involves a necromancer who is raising zombies to commit murder. The whodunnit isn’t much of a mystery, but there is tons of action and zombie killing. However, I do think some of the zombie fight scenes were little too long and drawn out. There is also some soul-searching done by Bea as she wonders if she is one of the monsters. Overall this book has a nice mix of mystery, romance, action and character development. I will be following this series and pulling for some smexy for Bea and Will in the next book!
4 machete swinging Sheep!

SS (edit and snark by BAK)
Published by Midnight Ink
Midnight Ink is a fresh new voice in mystery fiction committed to publishing suspenseful tales of all types: hard-boiled thrillers, cozies, historical mysteries, amateur sleuth novels, and more. It’s always midnight somewhere.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Sheep Interview: author Renee Pawlish + giveaway

Listen to Renee's theme music!

Today the Sheep bring you our latest interview victim, er I mean subject. Wait that sounds bad too. Ok, today the Sheep bring you our latest interview with mystery author Renee Pawlish. Author of spooky stories sure to entertain Nephilim Genesis of Evil and This Doesn't Happen In The Movies. Stay tuned till the very end for your chance to walk away with a copy of Nephilim and other fun prizes! We hope you enjoy.

Colorado. Lone Cabin. 2 Sheep and 1 Spirit meet.

Katie: Thanks for taking the time to sit down and chat with us today Renee, and in this very old VERY creepy cabin no less. *shivers* Can you start by telling folks all about your books?
Renee: Thanks for having me! I’ve written Nephilim Genesis of Evil, a supernatural thriller that is a spooky tale about the Nephilim, who are half man, half fallen angels that are mentioned in Genesis Six. It’s funny that we’re here in this creepy cabin because Nephilim takes place in a small Colorado mountain tourist town that’s full of old cabins.

Another creepy tale is The Sallie House: Exposing the Beast Within, which is a non-fiction account of a haunted house investigation in Kansas. But to lighten things up, I have two Reed Ferguson mysteries (This Doesn’t Happen In The Movies and Reel Estate Rip-off). Reed Ferguson is a wannabe private eye who loves old detective fiction and film noir movies, and he decides he can be a detective in the fashion of his hero, Humphrey Bogart. You’ll have to read the books to find out how successful Reed is. And I have a short story collection called Take Five that also includes a Reed Ferguson mystery.

Sharon: We are always trying to improve our blog for readers and authors. Got any likes/dislikes about review sites in general?
Renee: My only suggestion from an author’s standpoint is that sites with more followers are what we look for because it means we’re reaching more readers who might buy our books. I love your site (giving out a big shout-out, I mean baa-out) to you all. You’ve got great reviews and author interviews and they are a blast to read.

Katie: Nephilim is one spooktastic story! How much fun was that for you as the author to write?
Renee: It was great fun, but also a challenge trying to bring a variety of characters together. This was my first venture outside of a straight mystery, so I was flexing different writing muscles. But I learned more about the horror genre and I’ve discovered some great stories that I hadn’t read before.

Sharon: Where did the idea for this story come from? Can you tell us a little about the journey from idea to publication?
Renee: I was rereading ’Salem’s Lot by Stephen King and I had a dream that became the genesis (punny) of my story. Originally I had a vampire theme in the story, in that the characters think they are dealing with vampires, but that all ended up on the cutting room floor. But it was a great thing because the story is much better. The Nephilim as a bad guy came out of my study of Genesis – they seemed like just a great bad buy for a story.

Sharon: What is your favorite Thanksgiving dinner menu?
Renee: I’m a traditionalist – there has to be turkey, gravy, mashed potatoes, stuffing and pumpkin pie. Our family always has a creamed peas and water chestnuts recipe as well. And we have cranberry dressing, but I hate it, so I skip that.

Katie: The book takes places in the Rockies, did you travel there to do any research for the book?
Renee: Yes. I live in Denver and my parents have a cabin outside of Boulder (Boulder is north of Denver), and the setting in Nephilim is based on the cabin property and a ghost town that’s in the mountains nearby. It’s absolutely beautiful up there and a great place for stories.

Sharon: Why this setting?
Renee: The dream I had took place on a lake with a cabin. My parent’s cabin is on a little lake. I’m not sure if my subconscious was using the cabin in that dream, but once I started developing the story, it was natural to use the cabin as the backdrop.

Sharon: You seem to be an Elvis fan. What is it you like about him other than his smexy good looks and voice that can melt butter?
Renee: I fell in love with Elvis when I was in high school. I saw some of his appearances on the Ed Sullivan Show, and I was hooked. I love the sound of his voice, even the cheesy songs from his movies. And he sure was sexy when he was young.
Katie: There needs to be more? Hahaha
Renee: You said it, girl!

Sharon: If you could have theme music play whenever you entered the room, what would it be?
Renee: For Those About to Rock by AC/DC – I hope my books rock my reader’ world.

Katie: What's the funniest thing you've heard back from someone who's read one of your stories? Don't be shy!
Renee: Hmm, that’s a tough question. One person said he finished Nephilim and he wondered what was happening next, since everything is not resolved (I don’t want to give away the ending so this is hard to describe), and then he said to himself, “Wait, this is fiction. I’m going to bed.”

Sharon: You have mentioned children’s books in past interviews. Can you tell us anything about that yet, what age group?
Renee: I have a book called The Emerald Quest that is with my editor right now. It’s a middle-grade novel along the same lines of the Alex Rider spy novels. But my main character, Noah Winter, is a young sea explorer who gets tangled up in an amazing adventure to find a rare gem. I also have another middle-grade story that takes place during World War II that is based on stories my dad and uncle tell about their childhood in Southeast Colorado. I’m not sure when that will be released.

Katie: We like to do a fun Rapid Fire round of questions, so if you're game just sit back relax and answer with the first thing that pops up. Ready? Set…..GO!

Katie: Ghostbusters or Myth Busters
Renee: Ghostbusters

Sharon: Love Me Tender or Jail House Rock
Renee: Jailhouse Rock

Katie: Candy Cane or Cadbury Egg
Renee: Cadbury Egg

Sharon: Bean bag chair or Recliner
Renee: Recliner

Katie: Turkey leg or Beef rib
Renee: Beef rib

Sharon: Mountain trail or Beach stretch
Renee: Mountain trail

Katie: Baskin Robbins or Cold Stone
Renee: Cold Stone

Sharon: Monopoly or Sorry
Renee: Monopoly

Katie: Scary face or Scary hands
Renee: Scary face

Sharon: Evil laugh or Giggles
Renee: Giggles

Katie: No top or No pants
Renne: No pants
Katie: Now we're cookin with gas!

Sharon: Cake or Pie
Renee: Pie

Katie: Criminal or Lawyer
Renee: Criminal

Sharon: Pepsi or Coke
Renee: Coke
Katie: YES! Suck it Sharon and Amber!!! lol

Katie: Dr Who or Star Trek
Renee: Star Trek

Katie: Wicked Witch of the West or Cruella DeVille
Renee: Cruella DeVille

Katie: Thanks again for taking the time to sit down and chat with us Renee, again in this very old very creepy cabin, would you like to add anything before we finish up?
Renee: This was great fun, thanks for having me! I really liked the rapid fire questions, but I wonder who will analyze me now. Oh, I hope everyone reading this will buy one of my books and let me know what you think of it. I love to hear from readers.

Want to win a Kindle for Christmas? Yeah, who doesn't! Check out Renee's website HERE to find out how easy it is!


Renee's offering up two chances to win. US followers get a winners choice of Nephilim in either ebook or paperback format (if the winner picks ebook Renee will throw in a copy of This Doesn't Happen In The Movies) PLUS the Sheep are adding some fun swag items just to sweeten the pot!

International followers: get an ebook copy of Nephilim!

Remember DOUBLE entries for followers and if you Tweet or Facebook about the giveaway make sure to leave that in your comments as well. Extra entry for either of those. In the comments below answer these:

1. Your Email Address.
2. Have you ever experienced any ghost/supernatural encounters? If so where and what happened?
3. Mention if you follow us and if you spread the word online.
4. Are you US or International?

Contest ends December 4th at midnight!
Good Luck!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

The Ultramarines Saga: First Impressions

Today I want to talk about the Ultramarines Saga, as I am calling it. I don't know if it quite counts as a saga and the word itself reminds me of Star Wars, but that's besides the point. The Ultramarines Saga is a collection of books written by Graham McNeill, and follow the adventures of the Ultramarines Chapter of Space Marines. "But Kalpar!" my sole reader would probably be exclaiming at this point. "What is a Space Marine, who are the Ultramarines, and what are these books about then?" A-ha, well I caught you there dear reader because I'm willing to bet that my single reader actually knows about Warhammer 40k. However for anyone who has stumbled onto this page by mistake, I shall explain. In the universe of Warhammer 40,000 Space Marines are genetically-enhanced warriors who defend the Imperium of Man from the uncounted threats it deals with on a daily basis. The Marines are divided into thousand-strong chapters and the most ordinary of these chapters is the Ultramarines. Well, ordinary if you're a seven-foot super soldier with nineteen extra organs in you. As I play the Ultramarines army myself on the tabletop, I was interested in reading McNeill's stories about their adventures.

The book that I read is the Ultramarines Omnibus, which collects a short story as well as the novels Nightbringer, Warriors of Ultramar and Dead Sky Black Sun into one book. However, I am also going to talk about Defenders of Ultramar, a graphic novel which takes place during the events of Dead Sky Black Sun and is tied to the overall plot.

To begin with, overall this book was kind of average. I am willing to recognize the unique challenge of writing Space Marines as character because a lot of what makes them human has been stripped away. They have only a vague memory of what it's like to feel cold or tired or scared, so they have a hard time relating to non-enhanced humans. At the same time, Space Marines still feel a gamut of emotions, joy, anger, pride, desperation, and a whole host of other impulses that can make a Marine make a poor decision. The thing I like about McNeill's writing is that he manages to slip these emotional conflicts into his main character, Captain Uriel Ventris.

When we first meet Captain Ventris, he is the freshly-minted Captain of the Ultramarines Fourth Company. In Nightbringer he forges his company in battle and becomes sure of himself and his abilities as a commander. In Warriors of Ultramar he faces against the Tyranid menace to save the Imperium. However to defeat the Tyranids Captain Ventris violates the Codex Astartes, the book of rules the Ultramarines follow with almost religious devotion, and so he is cast out of his Chapter. Dead Sky Black Sun follows Captain Ventris as he fulfills the Death Oath put upon him by his Chapter to atone for his unorthodox actions.

There are a couple of things that I like about Ventris which come up in these novels and make him a good character to follow. He believes that the Imperium of Man is a living breathing thing consisting of the untold trillions of people that are its population. While other leaders are willing to sacrifice entire planets to stop alien invasions, Ventris is willing to stand and fight to save those very planets even if it is a lost cause. This puts him into conflict with leaders willing to make such sacrifices and in fact drives much of the plot of Warriors of Ultramar. However the other main conflict Ventris faces is adhering to the Codex Astartes. On the one hand, the Codex provides information on a variety of tactical situations and has lead the Ultramarines to countless victories, while Chapters that have failed to heed the Codex have become "wild" and perform bizarre and disturbing rituals. On the other hand, rigid adherence to the Codex leads to predictable battle plans, allows for no initiative, and can lead to stagnation. Ultimately Ventris must find a balance between the two extremes to reap the most benefits.

While I liked Ventris as a character, and I want to read more of the books in the series, I suspect most of it comes from playing Ultramarines. Honestly if you're not into 40k already, you're probably not going to get brought in by this collection of novels. If you like Space Marines and Ultramarines in specific, you'll like this, but otherwise it's basically a bunch of fighting. Which I'm afraid a lot of these books boil down to.

I also want to touch on Defenders of Ultramar, a graphic novel written by McNeill and also features the ongoing battles of the Fourth Company. This story takes place during the events of Dead Sky Black Sun while Captain Ventris is on his Death Oath. Recovering from their wounds on Tarsis Ultra, Fourth Company goes to the world of Espandor to recover a lost Ultramarines ship. However, they soon discover an Ork horde on Espandor and join up with the Planetary Defense Force to defeat the Orks. Honestly, I did not think much of this comic. The plot is basically, Ultramarines go and kill things and does not get any more complex after that. The artwork is downright bad in some cases. And not bad like it's all black and you can't tell what's going on. No, it's more everything looks...rounded. Sort of like a kid's drawing. There are a few panels which look really good, but most of the book's art is sub-par in my opinion. Especially during the fight scenes, which is where you'd want it to be really good. Ultimately, even if you're a fan of the Ultramarines I'd have to give this specific graphic novel a pass.

I'm sorry these books didn't turn out better, however I will be looking more into the adventures of Fourth Company and let you know if it gets better. Hopefully I will be giving my reader more information on the Space Marines at a later date.

Kindle Krack deals!

Here are some great deals from Amazon! $.99 and up.

Here are some YA that might interest you! I am a big fan of Stephanie Rowe and she has started writing Middle Grade (Fantasy) and YA romance.

Here are some Free ones! Fill that kindle or kindle App till it explodes!!!!!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

'Comics: Men in Tights' feature piece + giveaway!

Don't you just LOVE a man that can pull off a nice set of skin-sucking tights? Thighs and calves just rippling with alpha male goodness yes, yes give me more! *shivers* Let's take a look at some of the best butt-hugging fabrics rocked by some of the toughest men in comics. You know them, and love them so here we go!

Wolverine- Claw me nightly, rip the sheets to shreds and have your mighty way with my willing body. This black haired blue eyed Canadian beauty can handle any sticky situation and then some. With pounds of raw masculine muscle those yellow tights could wrap around my body 24/7.

Spiderman- Web me baby, Peter Parker, the man with the scoop, also happens to rock a 5'10 figure clad in skin tight red and blue goodness. Swinging from the highest buildings has never looked so amazing; it's enough to make any ladies heart beat faster. You could tangle me in his web any day you please.

Magneto- Bad never looked sooo good and this tall drink of hunky German metal could seduce me to the darker side of life with open and willing arms. Red's the color of POWER and this human hater's got it going on. Talk about getting chained to the bed: chain me!

Captain America- Steve Rogers has the surfer boy good looks and a tall frame to carry all that man-cake goodness bringing it home to the good'ole US of A with his rock solid body and sexy shield. Action, power and tights. Let's hear it for the red what and blue. USA! USA! (sorry, had a sugar rush for a second there)

Gambit- Going down the bayou. This Ragin' Cajun beauty's one 6 foot tall drink of sweet tea, what do the cards say? Walking close to the edge this smex pot is just exuding "bad boy come get some". Bikers beware you can have your leather I'll take skin tight purple and be on my way!

Punisher- Frank Castle may have a long criminal record, but I'd be the first to holler out my window if I saw him doing weekend work on the side of a freeway. *makes cat calls* Welcome to NY baby, this 6'1 man is one hot apple weighting in at 200lbs of pure beef cake. Black never looked so good. I'm ready to take a bite out of crime.

Thor- Swing that hammer baby! This 6'6 Norse god of thunder and lighting packs a punch and I'm not just talking about the battle field here folks. With all the allure of Asgard and long luxurious locks on blond hair this silver-clad hottie with the naughty body can cook my goose.

[No Marvel Superheros were harmed while testing the beef cake validity of my claims. However Ben did have to wash his brain while editing. Repeatedly.]


Now it's time to keep the fun going! In the comments below list BOTH things to be entered to win a fun geeky prize pack which includes: an Iron Man comic, Nerds chapstick, Marvel Heros candy, Comic trading cards + Sheep swag items.

Double entries for followers plus this contest is open to International folks as well!

1. Who do you like in the comic world due to smexyness and why?

2. Your Email Address

Contest ends Dec 1st at midnight.

Good luck!