The Crimson Crimes by Patricia K. McCarthy

It’s the dead of night in the dead of winter, and bodies have been found, stacked ceiling-high, in a hillside cave in Ottawa’s Strathcona Park; necks pierced, blood drained – the usual. The city is gripped by a dusk-till-dawn curfew. The press, police and public have whipped each other into a glorious panic over someone or something called the “Vampire Undertaker.” Well, when did a silly curfew ever shut down the kitchen party at the Crimson house? Bring beer, bring smokes, but please bring yourself to meet The Vampires (there are at least four of them) and their quirky human pals. We can take turns feeding the baby vampire, stalling the cops when they come knocking, and tripping out on that time-dream machine up in the bedroom. You’ve got to love people who know how to make their own fun!

Samuel Crimson and his wife Magdalene have a problem: their stash of corpses is on the verge of being discovered. Thus begins The Crimson Crimes, with the Crimsons and their partners in crime — Derek, Kevin, and David Three Rats — bagging skeletons for removal in the dead of night. This clean up operation doesn’t go as smoothly as planned, sending the characters into new depths of trouble at every turn.

I liked The Crimson Crimes as a story, but as a book I struggled with every page. I think that the potential greatness of the storyline is undercut by the writing style. Written in long, convoluted sentences with far too many — often superfluous — subclauses that distract the reader and obscure meaning, this is a novel that demands careful attention to understand. Between adverb overload and use of rare words, The Crimson Crimes is composed with a style and vocabulary high above the norm in genre fiction — and that’s where it alienates its audience.

The language and sentence structure tends to get simpler as the book goes on, once the scene-setting of Part I is complete and background stories are established. But by the time I got that far I was already so fed up with having to reread sentences and paragraphs to get the point, that I had a hard time enjoying the rest of the book.

The Crimson Crimes contains erotic elements, but these I found largely dissatisfying. The pacing and placement of intimate scenes was excellent, but I’m a firm believer that the time to show off one’s extensive vocabulary is not during a sex scene. Words like “vaginal walls” and “cervix” aren’t all that sexy. Their use made the intimate scenes read like driving directions.

I was also confused by the inconsistent use of dingbats. In some places they merely mark a dramatic pause or a short passage of time before the narrative resumes in the same place, focusing on the same characters. In other places, dingbats are used to mark shifts between characters and locations. It was a little disorienting, never knowing whether a dingbat was meant to signal a full stop or a brief pause.

What I do have to give The Crimson Crimes points for is that McCarthy knows how to write suspense. When things go wrong in this novel, they go spectacularly wrong, and it keeps the reader on the edge with superb pacing. I’m familiar with almost all of the locations mentioned in this book, but a lot of the time I found myself trying to block that out. The Crimson Crimes is set in Ottawa, which isn’t often used as a setting in crime novels. As the capital city, Ottawa has an interesting mix of old European charm and Canadian modernity. It’s a rather refined urban centre, and I think that’s what made it difficult for me, as a local, to suspend disbelief. If it had been set in a place like Hamilton (often used as a stand-in for downtown Detroit in movies and TV shows), I wouldn’t have had a problem. There’s something about Ottawa that just doesn’t lend itself to murder.

Because The Crimson Crimes is part of a series, the ending didn’t have a firm conclusion. This is no big deal if you intend to read the entire series, but I wouldn’t recommend experiencing The Crimson Crimes as a standalone. It’s a quirky book, definitely refreshing for fans of vampire fiction who have read it all. I’d recommend it to fans of vampire paranormals — it just takes a little patience to get through.

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Upcoming Tour: The Crimson Crimes

This fall, Shall Write will be hosting a tour for The Crimson Crimes, a funny, raunchy vampire tale from Ottawa author Patricia K. McCarthy.

 

What does the tour involve?

  • Reviews. At least ten, but hopefully more. So sign up–acceptance is guaranteed, even for new bloggers.
  • A launch event. on October 11th, Ms. McCarthy will be holding an event in Ottawa to launch The Crimson Crimes.
  • A giveaway.   Throughout the tour, a contest will run to raffle off a paperback of The Crimson Crimes (U.S./Canada) or an Epub set of the series (INT). The contest will run using Rafflecopter, and the HTML for the widget will be supplied to each tour participant.
  • Guest posts, interviews, and character interviews.

 

When: Oct. 1 to Nov. 3

Perfect for Halloween-themed posts.

 

About the Book:

The Crimson Crimes is the fifth stand-alone book in an interconnected series of vampire novels by Patricia K. McCarthy.

It’s the dead of night in the dead of winter, and bodies have been found, stacked ceiling high, in a hillside cave in Ottawa’s Strathcona Park; necks pierced, blood drained — the usual. The city is gripped by a dusk-till-dawn curfew. The press, police and public have whipped each other into a glorious panic over someone or something called the “Vampire Undertaker.”

Well, when did a silly curfew ever shut down the kitchen party at the Crimson house? Bring beer, bring smokes, but please bring yourself to meet The Vampires (there are at least four of them) and their quirky human pals. We take turns feeding the baby vampire, stalling the cops when they come knocking, and tripping out on that time-dream machine up in the bedroom. You’ve got to love people who know how to make their own fun!

This novel contains some adult language, mature subject matter, and graphic content. 

 

Read an Excerpt:

Chapter One

NAKED WOMEN CLUNG to the steamy warmth of his body. His lips and fingertips were smeared with the drops that oozed from their punctured necks. The smell of wet blood drenched the air and still the women kept coming. In an orgy of breasts and bums and in fissures of fluid-soaked flesh, sensual pleasures thrived and writhed. Their eager spirits flocked to him, frantic to worship a man who embodied eternal darkness. Before slaking his thirst for blood, he had made tender love to each in turn, caressing and kissing their olive skins by the glow of torchlight. Young and mature women alike languished inside the cave that pierced the base of an extinct volcano in Spain; its bulging mountain towered over the barren plain, miles from any town. One after another, women pleaded to be consumed by him, convinced their journey to the afterlife would be nothing less than wondrous.

Outside the cave, the stench of fires choked the sky and blackened the sun. Embers fell away from burning crosses haphazardly stuck in the mountainside. A terrified crowd prayed to the Lord Almighty to be saved from the diabolical creature hiding within.

And still, the women kept coming.

~

SAMUEL CRIMSON, slick with sweat, dreamt of his late father, Sir William Simon Hennessey as he had lived in the year of One Thousand and Seventy-Nine. He was disgusted by his father’s murderous lechery–loving women before draining them. Samuel felt the thrill of is father’s charisma but as the dreamer, he could only watch and do nothing. The precious gemstones of emerald, ruby, and sapphire, bequeathed to Samuel by his father, allowed him to travel back and forth in time. It was a rare opportunity for Samuel to witness first-hand how his father had operated. Sir William Simon Hennessy had never asked to be made into a vampire. After fighting for years and barely surviving the First Crusade, he wanted only to return to his Scottish homeland and find a redheaded village girl to marry.

 

About the Author:

Patricia K. McCarthy lives and writes in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. Her Crimson vampires series has received extensive media coverage in national and local newspapers, as well as on radio and television. For details, visit her website.

Add The Crimson Crimes on Goodreads.

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Wicked Hungry by Teddy Jacobs

Stanley Hoff has it hard. His overprotective mom thinks she’s a witch who can see people’s auras; Stanley himself is getting hairier by the minute, his teeth ache, and the moon above him makes him want to howl and growl.

But things are not going to get any easier.

After a confrontation with a high school bully brings unwanted fame, Stanley’s childhood crush Meredith invites him to her Halloween party. Which would be more than fine, except his friend Karen has broken up with her boyfriend and wants to be more than friends. But when Karen turns allergic to sunlight, Stanley has to ask himself, is Karen interested in Stanley as a boyfriend, or as… food?

And Stanley himself? He’s WICKED HUNGRY. And not for anything he can eat in his vegetarian home.

As a growing supernatural threat menaces his suburban New England community, as more and more of his friends turn into shifters, as the stakes get higher and higher, Stanley must decide who will he choose to love, and, even, as much as it’s going to hurt… who will survive.

This book was a bit of a letdown for me because it started out so strong but got wildly out of hand by the halfway mark. Wicked Hungry is the story of Stanley, the fifteen-year-old son of Unitarian vegetarian parents. When Alex and his friends begin to take “vitamins” given to them by a friend at school, their inner supernatural beings emerge. Alex becomes a werewolf–not an easy thing for a kid who was raised vegetarian.

Initially I liked Wicked Hungry for its snappy dialogue and believable characters. The teens in Wicked Hungry sound like teenagers, not like what an adult thinks teenagers should sound like. It was pleasantly refreshing and I laughed out loud a few times.

Where the plot spiralled out of control was when all the supernatural species are introduced. All the vitamin-popping teens develop into something different, depending on the nature of their inner selves. There are vampires, shape-shifting jaguars, a spirit fox, zombies, werewolves, fairies, etc. It gets really confusing very quickly with all these creatures running around. The book might have been better served had Jacobs stuck to just one or two supernatural species.

The presence of a love triangle was also a little disappointing. The beginning of Wicked Hungry was so fresh and snappy that I was sure it was going to be above such a YA cliche, but alas, Stanley finds himself torn between classmates Karen and Meredith. Love triangles rarely feel natural, especially now that they’re such an overdone trope, but the Stanley/Karen/Meredith triangle seemed tacked on and distracts from the already complicated plot re: supernatural teenagers on “vitamins.”

I have to commend Jacobs for writing teenagers that sound like teenagers, but characters belonging to other age groups felt flat or inconsistent. Stanley has a six-year-old brother, but sometimes he talks like he’s twelve or three. The adults that Stanley & Co. interact with never fully develop, and therefore move through their scenes like caricatures.

Though Wicked Hungry was disappointing, I would definitely keep an eye on Teddy Jacobs for future books. He’s one of the rare few who can write in a believable teenage voice, and I don’t doubt that he’ll produce more memorable characters in the future.

The Strong Female, Guest Post by Sheryl Steines

I am always amazed to hear that, in the year 2012, women are still talking about strong female characters.  It’s funny that we’re always surprised when one comes along.  Even in Hollywood, actresses still can’t find roles to sink their teeth into.  As a reader, I look for characters that I can relate to in some way; a character who is more than a damsel in distress but less than an unfeeling, mean, witch.  I’m putting it gently, but I’m looking for someone, who when facing a problem, doesn’t necessarily need a man to bail her out–a woman who can take care of herself in spite of her vulnerabilities.  Because in reality, women are multi-layered and complex.  We don’t fall to one end of an extreme or the other.

When I was younger, I started reading Danielle Steele, but I couldn’t read her for long. Her female characters were far too needy and always put themselves in a position of requiring a savior. Even as a child, I couldn’t help but wonder why these characters always needed a man to improve their lives.  Why couldn’t they simply take care of themselves?  It seemed as though female characters fell into two camps, and only two. They were either villains, witches, someone to be hated and despised, or they were weak, pathetic, your classic damsels in distress.  Why is fiction lacking real women, women who can simply be human and celebrate all that they are?

As I got older, I found myself drawn to shows like Buffy the Vampire Slayer.  I saw in Buffy a strong character.  Yes, she could kick ass, kill the vampires and fight the demons.  She also had a brain, could plan, and could save the world each week.  But she wasn’t uni-dimensional. She also has a side that liked clothes, shoes and boys, a side that was feminine, a little vulnerable; a side that, okay, sometimes needed to be saved.  She was a complex female character, real and human, a character with whom I could definitely relate.

The strong female character isn’t a caricature or stereotype.  She’s not a total wimp like Snow White, and she’s not a total monster like the evil queen.  She falls somewhere in the middle.  She’s reactive, emotional, human, sexual, confident and sometimes unsure of herself.

When I originally wrote my character Annie Pearce in The Day of First Sun, I wrote her as a no-nonsense person, strong and smart, the girl who could survive on her own.  But she didn’t feel genuine.  As the story unfolded and changed, I rewrote her, gave her friends and family with whom she could interact.  I gave her feelings, gave her stress.  I let the other characters take charge once in awhile and offer some support.  I melded two halves into one woman–a strong woman, who can take care of herself and ask for help when necessary.  We’re not perfect, so why should our characters be?  Instead, why can’t we make them simply authentic?

Charlize Theron made a really compelling comment regarding her character in the movie Young Adult. She said, “Women are usually either really good prostitutes or really good mothers. Maybe women are finally getting the chance to play more honest characters,” Theron said. “We usually don’t get to play bad hookers or bad mothers — or anything in between.”

Maybe it’s time to be a little more real and a little more honest.

 

As part of this special promotional extravaganza sponsored by Novel Publicity, the price of the Day of First Sun eBook edition is just 99 cents this week. What’s more, by purchasing this fantastic book at an incredibly low price, you can enter to win many awesome prizes. The prizes include $450 in Amazon gift cards, a Kindle Fire, and 5 autographed copies of the book.

All the info you need to win one of these amazing prizes is RIGHT HERE. Remember, winning is as easy as clicking a button or leaving a blog comment–easy to enter; easy to win!

To win the prizes:

  1. Purchase your copy of The Day of First Sun for just 99 cents
  2. Fill-out the simple form on Novel Publicity
  3. Visit today’s featured social media event

Help my blog win:

The tour blogger who receives the most votes in the traffic-breaker poll will win a $100 gift card. When you visit Novel Publicity’s site to fill-out the contest entry form, don’t forget to VOTE FOR ME.

About the book: A vampire, a rogue wizard and an army of soulless zombies are par for the course for Annie Pearce and Bobby “Cham” Chamsky of the Wizard’s Guard. But when the non-magical princess, Amelie of Amborix, is murdered by magical means, a deeper plot unfolds. Get it on Amazon.

About the author: Behind the wheel of her ’66 Mustang Convertible, Sheryl is a constant surprise, using her sense of humor and relatable style make her books something everyone can enjoy. Visit Sheryl on her websiteTwitterFacebook, or GoodReads.

Interview with Sheryl Steines

Please enjoy this interview with Sheryl Steines, author of the urban fantasy novel, The Day of First Sun. Then read on to learn how you can win huge prizes as part of this blog tour, including $450 in Amazon gift cards, a Kindle Fire, and 5 autographed copies of the book.

 

If you could travel in a time machine, would you go back to the past or into the future? 

I would go to the past, meet famous people, see history as it happened.  I’d be afraid to go to the future.  I’m not sure I really want to know when I die.

If you could jump into a book, and live in that world, which would it be? 

This might be to expected, but I would love to live at Hogwarts, stroll through Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade, play with all the magical stuff, and visit the Weasleys at their house.  I saw the Harry Potter exhibit at the museum a few years ago, and it just seemed so fun.

If a movie was made about your life, who would you want to play the lead role and why? 

Sandra Bullock.  Since she became a movie star, people all over the place tell me I look like her.  She’s also funny.  I can only imagine how much more interesting and funny my life would be if she were the lead.

When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up? 

I always knew I wanted to be a writer.  There were times that I thought I wanted to be an interior decorator, but in the end, I was always much happier writing and creating.

Who are your favorite authors of all time?

I have two.  The first would be Stephen King.  I was always amazed by the detail and imagination he used in his books, especially the earliest books.  I watched him on an interview many years ago and he was talking about the things he was afraid of, one of which was sleeping with his feet outside the covers at night.  He would always cover his feet so that the monsters under the bed wouldn’t get him.  I laughed so hard because I do the same thing.  J.K. Rowling is also a favorite.  Her life story and Harry Potter reminded me that I wanted to be a writer when I was seven.  She reminded me of the genre that I loved.  It got me thinking about what stories intrigued me.  I watched her interview on Oprah and cried through the entire thing.  It got me thinking of ways to take my personal experiences and hide them in the fantasy world.

What do you do in your free time? 

I read, a lot.  In the winter, I spend time at museums and go shopping.  In the summer, I love to go to flea markets.  You could never have too many fleas.  I love to travel.  I spend most of the summer driving my 1966 Mustang convertible.

What is your guilty pleasure? 

I’m a huge fan of Ninja Warrior.  Yeah, the Japanese obstacle course.  On one side, it’s the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever seen.  On the other side of it, the obstacles are so challenging, and the participants are so revered for making it through each stage that it is a huge honor to win.

Favorite places to travel? 

I love Europe, London being my favorite city.  I’ve been to Scotland, France, Italy, Germany and Austria.  The Austrian/German Alps are some of the most beautiful landscapes I have ever seen.

Favorite way to spend a rainy day? 

In front of the television watching my favorite movies.  Who doesn’t love Ferris Buehler’s Day Off and Sixteen Candles.

If you could have a superpower, what would you choose? 

Telekinesis!  Then I could clean my house without actually having to do anything.

 

As part of this special promotional extravaganza sponsored by Novel Publicity, the price of the Day of First Sun eBook edition is just 99 cents this week. What’s more, by purchasing this fantastic book at an incredibly low price, you can enter to win many awesome prizes. The prizes include $450 in Amazon gift cards, a Kindle Fire, and 5 autographed copies of the book.

All the info you need to win one of these amazing prizes is RIGHT HERE. Remember, winning is as easy as clicking a button or leaving a blog comment–easy to enter; easy to win!

To win the prizes:

  1. Purchase your copy of The Day of First Sun for just 99 cents
  2. Fill-out the simple form on Novel Publicity
  3. Visit today’s featured social media event

Help my blog win:

The tour blogger who receives the most votes in the traffic-breaker poll will win a $100 gift card. When you visit Novel Publicity’s site to fill-out the contest entry form, don’t forget to VOTE FOR ME.

About the book: A vampire, a rogue wizard and an army of soulless zombies are par for the course for Annie Pearce and Bobby “Cham” Chamsky of the Wizard’s Guard. But when the non-magical princess, Amelie of Amborix, is murdered by magical means, a deeper plot unfolds. Get it on Amazon.

About the author: Behind the wheel of her ’66 Mustang Convertible, Sheryl is a constant surprise, using her sense of humor and relatable style make her books something everyone can enjoy. Visit Sheryl on her websiteTwitterFacebook, or GoodReads.