The Wolves of Midwinter

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Blog Updates: More Reviews Coming in July 2013

  Remember? This blog has been moved to Wordpress:

  This always happens!! I apologize greatly for another hiatus, and this time it comes from reading classics rather than any books to review. With other bloggers, I always wonder how people have any time to read fiction/nonfiction books that are not recent releases from publishers. I've always been very curious about that. Oh well, I've never been one for quantity over quality. I cannot write like that, and yet that is what is in high demand in this frenetically-paced world.

    More reviews should be coming in the month of July, and for now, you'll just have to use a certain British tv show (highly addictive one at that) as a scapegoat for depriving me of much-needed reading time! I'll keep all my dedicated readers abreast of news to come about giveaways and other assorted news!!


EVIL/Dangerously Addictive

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Review of Hope Against Hope:Third Mortimer Drake book

Synopsis (Taken from
The world has changed for the living and the undead alike. Mortimer Drake and his family have been forced underground in the wake of the Dark Revelation. Humankind has learned of the existence of vampires and society has crumbled into chaos. The centuries old conflict between True-born vampires and Cross-blood vampires has taken a backseat to a new war that has spread across the globe. HOPE, an organization determined to wipe out the vampire race, has risen to power under the absolute authority of the Director. HOPE promises to restore peace, safety, and security, but that promise has a price. Vampires have been forced from the security of the shadows. They can no longer hide behind the myths and legends. If Mortimer wants to survive, he will have to learn to trust new friends with supernatural secrets of their own. If he fails, the world will never be the same again.
Interview with Greg Wilkey

1.Justin:About your newest book covers, what are your thoughts on Ran Valerhon's work (a fellow "Person of the Page" on Anne Rice's FB page) on the cover-art for the first two Mortimer Drake novels?

**Greg: I could not be happier with the new covers for my series of books. I was introduced to the amazing talent of Ran Valerhon through Anne Rice's FB page. I remember seeing his posts and his artwork and commenting on their beauty. As my books gained popularity, I started to look at making changes and upgrades to increase their appeal. I have no skill in the graphic art realm, so I started to research people who did. Then it hit me -- Why not contact Ran? So, I reached out to him via Facebook and we worked out the details. I think that he has done an excellent job in capturing the feel for Mortimer's world. I am very impressed and I will recommend his artwork to indie writer I know. He is truly helping me take Mortimer to the next level. Also, I have now hired a professional editor. Todd Barselow, also an Anne Rice FB friend, has helped me proof and edit all my books. Like Ran, Todd is professional and very skilled at what he does. I have been very impressed with both Ran and Todd. Mortimer Drake has had a complete facelift!

2.Justin: By the end of second installment of the Mortimer Drake books, your books have progressively gotten much darker. For a series targeted towards young-adult and middle-grade readers, I was humbly surprised by this unpredictable descent into darkness. Momentarily, I thought we were going to get the Mortimer Drake parallel of the Red-Wedding scene in the Game of Thrones books. Without spoiling anything for new readers to the series, did you foresee this inevitable change in the tone of the plot from the beginning?

**Greg: Oh yes, I knew from the beginning that Mortimer's journey was not going to be a pleasant one. When I set out to create his world, I wanted him to struggle. We all know that growing up isn't a pleasure cruise. I didn't want my characters to get everything they wanted. I mean, I write fiction, but let's be honest, life sucks (even for vampires.) In order for the last two books to work, I had to get Mortimer to a dark place. He had to go through some serious stuff. I think that YA books are the perfect place to explore the unfriendly side of life. YA readers of all ages can identify with hardships. I am not a neat and tidy ending kind of guy. I don't do "happily ever after."

3.Justin: On your Facebook fan page, you mentioned that you were starting another new series. Will the plot revolve around vampires again or a host of new supernatural characters?

**Greg: My new series will most definitely be a YA supernatural thriller. The hero of my new novels will face everyday and paranormal challenges, but there are no vampires in these books. My new series will take a fresh, dark, and adventurous look at the dearly departed.

4.Justin: Will Star Blood be the definitive end to the Mortimer Drake series? If Mortimer Drake fans beg enough for a new series, is there room in the plot for a sequel series?

**Greg: I have wrestled with this question for a while now, and to be honest, I still don't have an answer. WillStar Blood be the definitive end? I'm not sure. It's an ending, but maybe not the ending. I will have to wait and see if Mortimer still has more to tell. I guess we'll all find out together :)

      Once again, the high-octane action sequences and intricate plot that were so intrinsic to the success of the last two installments of Greg Wilkey's Mortimer Drake  series reach a dramatic crescendo in this third volume. Hope Against Hope  successfully outwits the threequel curse that has afflicted other books and movies that are part of a long-running series, and continues to be one of the freshest vampire stories out there. Much of this success stems from the fact that Mortimer Drake  clearly avoid the romantic melodrama that mars the quality of many other vampire series within the YA vampire genre.

     As with the last installment, the journey of Mortimer Drake progressively takes a very dark, gruesome turn in this installment. Rather than have these more morose sequences become overwrought or purely frivolous, Greg Wilkey utilizes the grim quality of these scenes, in order to effectively portray the twisted malevolence of the regime that has taken over Mortimer's world, after human society finds definitive proof of the existence of vampires. Without spoiling any more specific details, the series even has an interesting scene that viscerally affected me towards the beginning of the novel. Fascinatingly, this scene and several other gut-wrenching sequences seem to pay homage to the Hunger Games, which most readers of my blog are well-aware happens to be one of the most popular YA series in recent years.
      Masterfully, the tropes of the corrupt totalitarian state and the imaginative dealings of human society's growing tension over how to coexist with their vampire neighbors (paralleling True Blood)  are fused together in an ingenious way that reflects Greg's profound knowledge of the two most popular genres within the YA market: vampire fiction and dystopian fiction. Some authors are fearful of experimenting with these two genres that they see as being polarized opposites. In reality,both genres have great appeal for the post-modern audience, as both genres reflect a burgeoning sense of our own  apathy and hopelessness with regards to the hope that our world will maintain some appreciable measure of stability.  Both totalitarian regimes and vampires are identically manifestations of that very disillusioning fear that festers in our subconscious that the semi-secure world that we believe is completely impenetrable can be easily shaken and destroyed by some eruption of chaotic violence in this post-modern world. In the last hundred years, the various world wars and smaller wars with intrastate guerrilla factions has also made our clear sense of the division between good and evil became even more muddled.

     While the above discussion may seem wholly irrelevant to a vampire series targeted to middle-grade readers (though realistically for any type of reader), Hope Against Hope  has become much more sophisticated in its construction. As Greg Wilkey continues to grow as a writer, he is beginning to unconsciously (or consciously) develop a story that has much more underlying meaning. As with the other books, this book is extremely entertaining, and that is something that Greg has always deftly accomplished. Starting with the end of the last book though, the series has become something deserving of closer inspection. The development of his first three stories of the Mortimer Drake  series unwinds as seamlessly as Anne Rice's own Vampire Chronicles.  Again, this might seem presumptuous, but I really feel that the dark overtones of this series and the more challenging ethical questions raised in this third installment are some of the very same ethical questions that were beginning to become more fleshed out in Queen of the Damned, which was also another "threequel" that avoids the "threequel" curse.

   Written with flourish and the keen eye of a very talented writer, Hope Against Hope is the novel that cements my feelings that Mortimer Drake is a comic book drama of the highest caliber. Like X-men, Watchmen, Batman,the plot plumbs interesting ethical depths that other series in the middle-grade genre stray away from discussing. Hope Against Hope is a very dark book, but the darkness of the this novel is the substantive type that is also balanced with moments of levity and genuine hope. The darkness of the series never becomes onerous or excessive to wade through. Different from the more superficial incarnation of action heavy story , all the books in the Mortimer Drake  series invariably questions violence and debates ethics in a way that fantastically coheres with the heart-stopping action and well-orchestrated suspense that has made this entire series a true pleasure to read.

    I really look forward to the final installment of the Mortimer Drake  series, entitled Star Blood, that should be arriving right on the coattails of this review! Again, this entire series comes with my highest recommendation. While some readers may want more sophisticated prose, this is a series aimed for middle-grade readers, and I think the succinctness of Greg's prose is truly a very hard thing for any writer to achieve. Of course, there were some minor editorial errors in some of his other books, but he has recently re-released  newly edited versions of all his books with the help of Todd Barr (serving as his excellent editor). This has never taken away from my enjoyment of the series because I always saw an extremely engaging story, even  in what some would term it's "roughest form". With that said, I'm really excited for Star Blood,which will be covered on this blog once it's released later this summer.

For More Information on Greg Wilkey's series of books; Check out the below links!
Mortimer Drake Facebook Fan Page

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

New Book Covers for Mortimer Drake

    If you have been checking Greg Wilkey's updates on Anne Rice's Facebook page, you are well-informed then of the exciting release of the newest cover art for his "Mortimer Drake" series. As though the premise of the series was not enticing enough, these new covers, created by talented graphic artist Ran Valerhon, should hopefully persuade more people to check out this series.

Cover for Growing Up Dead: Book 1

Cover for Out of the Underworld: Book 2

   In other news about the Mortimer Drake series, the upcoming review and interview for this upcoming Friday will feature the third book:the penultimate installment in the Mortimer Drake series. The series will conclude with the fourth book, Star Blood,  which should be released sometime this summer (my bets rest on either end of July or beginning of August)

Upcoming Book Review/Interview (Posted Simultaneously on both this blog and my newest Wordpress blog)
Friday, June 14th

Hope Against Hope (the third installment of the Mortimer Drake series)
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Amazon (Kindle & Print Edition)Facebook Fan Page for "Mortimer Drake"/Author Website

Wednesday, June 05, 2013

Review of "The Resurrectionist"

   Note: My blog has recently moved to WordPress  but I will keep posting posts on both blogs for the next five months. After five months, this blog will be completely deleted. I advise you to check out the post here on my new wordpress blog (



Excerpt Taken From Quirk Books Product Detail Page:Philadelphia. The late 1870s. A city of cobblestone sidewalks and horse-drawn carriages. Home to the famous anatomist and surgeon Dr. Spencer Black. The son of a “resurrectionist” (aka grave robber), Dr. Black studied at Philadelphia’s esteemed Academy of Medicine, where he develops an unconventional hypothesis: What if the world’s most celebrated mythological beasts—mermaids, minotaurs, and satyrs— were in fact the evolutionary ancestors of humankind?
The Resurrectionist offers two extraordinary books in one. The first is a fictional biography of Dr. Spencer Black, from his humble beginnings to the mysterious disappearance at the end of his life. The second book is Black’s magnum opus: The Codex Extinct Animalia, a Gray’s Anatomy for mythological beasts—dragons, centaurs, Pegasus, Cerberus—all rendered in meticulously detailed black-and-white anatomical illustrations. You need only look at these images to realize they are the work of a madman. The Resurrectionistells his story.


  Quirk Books has always excelled in publishing some of the quirkiest books out there, as the name of this awesome indie publisher's name aptly suggests. What is the novelty, or more appropriately, quirky element of their latest release The Resurrectionist then? First of all, it is a Gothic-horror novel of sorts that is written in the vein of Gothic classics like either Mary Shelley's Frankenstein and Bram Stoker's Dracula. Unlike these classics, Dr. Spencer Black outdoes Victor Frankenstein in the department of depravity, since he endeavors and succeeds in creating multiple hybridized creatures that are partially human, but also experimental replicas of such noteworthy mythological creatures like either minotaurs, mermaids, and satyrs. Anatomical sketches of all these rather subversive creatures are preserved for posterity in the back section of the book, and it is being published for the first time in an attempt to regale readers with some of the most disturbing monstrosities that have ever been created in the name of science (For more sensitive readers or those inclined to gullibility, I only jest by saying that this account is by any means a non-fictional account; well, it might be a bit nonfictional)

 One of the more outstanding qualities of this book is just how believable this disturbing account could be taken as. I'm talking suspension of disbelief that is used very effectively. When I started reading the finely detailed prose of the beginning sections of the book, I had to ask myself: Has this really occurred? Knowing the Philly area really well, I also had to contemplate whether or not these mythological creatures were buried somewhere in Philly. If they were buried, where would they be buried? Hopefully, this kind of grand conspiracy wouldn't inspire Disney to make another National Treasure movie, starring the infamously weird Nicholas Cage of Wicker Man fame? Then, I remembered that this book is reassuringly a fiction book, and I could relax that a more skilled resurrectionist couldn't somehow resurrect Dr. Spencer Black's mythological creatures, emulating the unnatural scientific experiments that he chronicles within this exciting book. This is an entertaining novel, not an instructive piece on how to make people suspect that you've gone completely out of your mind.

 Throughout the narrative portion of the book (the book is part-narrative/part-art book), the question about the ethical limits of science are raised. Currently, we live in an era that fortunately has laws in place that protects human beings from having unwanted experiments conducted on them. Increasingly, there is more controversy about animal rights and whether certain types of experimentation on certain species of animals are unethical. While this book never explicitly delves into such contemporary issues, the novel broaches these questions nonetheless, as it implores the reader to think about the continued debate of the ethical limits of science. In the last hundred years, science has awed us with miraculous drugs and vaccinations that have offered us the means to outwit death. At the same time, we have created such horrific weapons, like the nuclear bomb, that was an abominable weapon that murdered many people's lives during World War II.

  Returning to the plot of the novel, the real ethical dilemma that Dr. Spencer Black's  actions raised lies with whether or not the dead bodies of human beings are truly sacred property: Is it unethical for him to utilize these dead bodies for the creation of new life in the form of hybridized creatures? Are the ethical sanctions of religious organizations relevant to a scientist's endeavors? Even though the narrative section is fairly short, E.B. Hudspeth does an adept job, raising these interesting questions in the frame of a truly engrossing Gothic tale.

     Fascinatingly, the book is skillfully juxtaposed with an entire art section at the end of the book that is filled to the brim with meticulously drawn images of the various creatures that Dr. Spencer Black managed to create during his fictitious lifetime. While paging through this section, I wish I had the means to order poster versions of some of these drawings. They would be the perfect artwork to hang next to my delightfully macabre Edward Gory poster of The Gashlycrumb Tinies. In many ways, the Gothic art style seems partly inspired by Edward Gory, but it really is uniquely its own brand of Gothic art. Of course, the actual shape of the figures pays homage to the monsters from comic-books as well. E.B. Hudspeth's style is really his own eclectic style, and I really loved these well-drawn illustrations, along with some of the accompanying notes that give some brief descriptions of each of the mythological beasts that the infamous Dr. Spencer Black managed to create during his lifetime. If you are either an Edward Gory, Mary Shelley, or Bram Stoker fan like myself, this is the book to check out because it will both entertain and fascinate you for many immeasurably long hours!! For More Information about the novel or its author,

Check out the below links:
Quirk Book's Facebook Page
Event Page for Upcoming Signing at Indy Hall in Philadelphia,PA

Tuesday, June 04, 2013

BEA Wrap-Up 2013

   Please note:I know I'm belaboring this point, but I am planning to delete all posts on this blog in five months, as many of you know, this blog has henceforth been moved over to a new Wordpress location:
    These posts are still only posted here to serve as a reminder to readers of this blog that I have moved. Thank you!



     Every year, BEA is greeted with the same unadulterated fanfare, and a long slog of a sleepless night during the evening prior to the event. For this year, I decided only to attend Thursday because, to be quite frank, Book Expo America normally overwhelms me and expends every last ounce of energy that I paradoxically exerted being excited about prior to the event (can someone please explain this weird adrenal phenomenon?) Anyways, the best way to convey just how exciting this year was is by writing up highlights. Unlike book reviews, this type of writing can become very taxing for me, as I hate  summarily writing a bunch of of things that happened this year in chronological details. It is far easier to discuss certain highlights piecemeal both for the sake of your sanity and my own. 

Highlight A: Interviewing Gugor (star of Razorbill's upcoming The Creature Department)

      Yes, I interviewed a computerized AI monster with the eccentric name of "Gugor." It was really quite a lot of unexpected fun. My notes were very disorganized and haphazard to the point, where I cannot even come up with an accurate transcription of how the interview went between Gugor and myself this past Thursday at the Penguin's fantastic BEA display for  The Creature Department,  written by Robert Paul Weston

     Anyways, I can say confidently  that Gugor has some apprehension about being in a musical, mostly due to being semi-self conscious about the whole business surrounding musicals and  unease with singing. For now, his first feat as a public figure will involve starring in this upcoming book. By scanning the below synopsis, you'll see that his upcoming adventure in novel format will be something to look out for, from Penguin, this upcoming Fall. I'll definitely have more information to provide readers about this exciting project in the future.
           "    About The Creature Department: Elliot and Leslie visit their Uncle Archie inside the glass and steel towers of DENKi-3000, the world’s fifth or sixth largest electronics company. They’ve heard rumors about a creature department hidden somewhere inside and they beg their uncle for a look. And it’s unlike anything they’ve ever seen! They meet creatures with wings, creatures with tentacles, creatures with horns, creatures with three heads, creatures who are nothing but head, and even a couple creatures with extremely unmanageable hair. Elliot and Leslie become friends with these hilarious creatures. And then Uncle Archie disappears and the menacing Chuck Quickweather arrives with an announcement that he is going to streamline DENKi-3000 and discover its secret. Elliot and Leslie must team up with the ringleader of the creatures: Jean-Remy, a remarkably perceptive Parisian fairy-bat with sartorial flair, to motivate the creature department into inventing something incredible that will save them all from Quickweather, his evil henchmen, and downsizing." 

    Interestingly enough, our conversation began with a conversation about Gugor's favorite vampire character. He ecstatically began acting out Nicholas Cage's hilarious scene from the film,     , where Nicholas Cage stars as one of the campiest vampires out there. Just, how frightening is Nicholas Cage's "I'M A VAMPIRE, when it is spoken without any gravitas whatsoever!"

    If Nicholas Cage can star in campy films like Vampire Kiss, I reassured Gugor that he'd be fine, potentially starring in a future Creature Department film as himself. Perhaps, if The Creature Department  gains enough interest upon its release this fall, Gugor may very well be on our movie-screens in a short after a release that hopefully won't prove cataclysmic in the wrong sense of the word.

    I wish all my readers had the chance to have the fun opportunity to interview an AI monster that is exceedingly smarter and more friendly than the inferior being named "Cleverbot," who has been fairly popular among internet users for far too long. Perhaps, his ingenious marketing and publicity team will have him tour nationwide, giving readers the first true interview with a fictionalized character that otherwise is some abstract nobody.
   Eventually, the website for the book ( will feature a downloadable App that will enhance the reading experience, and bridge the technological gap between the page and the latest technology that is available on both e-readers and tablets like the IPAD or the Google Nexus. While this book is being targeted for children's fiction market , I am not the first to admit that most of these books have very wide appeal (For example, Harry Potter readers range from the ages of five all the way to, most likely, 100 years old). Interestingly, the visual effects studio, Framestore, that created Dobby in the Harry Potter films and other CGI creations from films like The Golden Compass  are the ones responsible for creating some of the awesome visuals for the planned Creature Departments App in the future.
Lasting Impressions: As evidenced by Penguin Publication's The Creature Department,  publishers are becoming far less apprehensive about the advent of the latest technology, and clever seeking out ways to optimize the latest technology to provide a new dynamic reading experience for the newest generation. Personally, I have seen nothing but more interest in reading overall due to technology. On the HBO front, Game of Thrones is making people accomplish the unthinkable, by reading books that are 1000 pages each.
    With The Creature Department, the planned App and the sheer cleverness of the book itself might help younger readers feel more enticed to read and gain much more enjoyment out of what they are reading. Believe me, this is not the last time you'll be hearing of either Gugor or The Creature Department  on this blog.


Highlight B: Brandon Sanderson YA books


When it comes to fantasy fiction, I veer more towards Brandon Sanderson’s books more so than George R.R. Martin’s book. If I were go into my reasons, I might end up inciting a mad hive of debate, and I feel that would be disingenuous to the marked differences between the types of writers that Brandon Sanderson and George R.R. Martin are (both competent writers with very different writing styles and story interest). I’m a huge fan of Brandon Sanderson’s past works like the wildly creative, Warbreaker, and the truly epic Mistborn series. His long-spanning series (well, there is only one book thus far, but there is bound to be more in the future), the Stormlight Archives, begins with truly dynamic characters and some of the best writing in recent fantasy fiction. In my personal opinion, a lot of fantasy books are extremely ponderous. The problem that plagues many fantasy books is this excessive dumping of exposition in many fantasy books that is not cleverly done, and just makes the reading experience become as laborious as paging through a textbook about Elementary Physics.

Being extremely judicious with my fantasy fiction, I have admittedly read very few adult fantasy books, and this is a very hard admission to make. There is a lot of very strange pseudo-psychological rhetoric that wants to diagnose readers like myself, as being ADD. Except, I think people, including myself at times, seem to lapse in remembering that readers have varying tastes, and no one should ever feel obligated to either enjoy or like a book just for the sake of conforming to popular expectations. Personally, I am sometimes both thrilled with the popularity of Game of Thrones, and extremely annoyed at times. There has been a truly discouraging trend going on, which revolves around some people insisting that people, interested in the fantasy/scifi genre, should only read Game of Thrones, as it is purportedly the only well-written fantasy book out there. I think this comes from a very fervid, elitist minority of fans. But, I have heard some other disenchanting things from people I know, who show no interest in the series due to the strange, hostile behavior of fans. Most fans aren’t like this, and many of them are huge fans of the other books in the genre that are written with varying writing styles. That is why I like fantasy fiction because there is truly an inherent variety in the genre.

The popularity of Game of Thrones is the perfect opportunity, though, to show newcomers to the genre just how diverse the market is, even if some of the aforementioned elitists wish to dissuade people from exploring other titles. Brandon Sanderson was really the first author to make me understand the mechanics of magic systems, see that action sequences can be written without feeling interminable, and having exposition that is actually integral to the plot. Instead of seeing Patrick Rothfuss, George R.R. Martin, and Brandon Sanderson as vying for the iron throne, we should see all three as equally competent fantasy writers that meet the needs of different types of readers, who have varying interests.

Personally, I have found Brandon Sanderson’s style to be my favorite though among the three most recognizable faces of fantasy fiction right now, and I think it is the witticism in his dialogue that seems completely missing in the more rough and serious Game of Thrones. That is the reason I waited nearly two hours for Brandon Sanderson’s signing for The Rithmatist, which has a magic system that revolves around chalk. I knew, in advance, that this book, andSteelheart that I received at a later signing would offer me hours of endless entertainment without the agonizing periods of boredom that greet me during reading some other fantasy books. Of course, authors like Maria V. Snyder, Jon Sprunk, DB Jackson, and several others have helped make me reconsider all these limiting preconceived notions that I have about fantasy fiction.

Lasting Impressions I keep making some lazy assumptions just because I haven’t gotten around to other author’s books in the genre. Anyways, the main point of the above rant was to drive home my point that it is important that we civilly discuss books with other people in the spirit of knowing that everybody loves different books. There is no one series that is magically the single best fantasy novel.

Having seen the excitement people have for The Rithmatist and Steelheart has shown that HBO’s Game of Thrones has above all convinced large numbers of people to delve into a genre that does have its thorny side. Personally, I hope to review both titles in hopes of highlighting just how versatile in style that the genre is, and how Brandon Sanderson contributes to a growing YA market that also is much more diverse than the stereotype of it predominately being mostly Paranormal Romance books.
   Lasting Impressions I shouldn't judge other authors so harshly because there really is a diverse number of different writers in the genre, and I keep making some lazy assumptions just because I haven't gotten around to other author's books. Anyways, the main point of the above rant was to drive home my point that it is important that we civilly discuss books with other people in the spirit of knowing that everybody loves different books. There is no one series that magically makes you both smarter and superior to other people.
   Having seen the excitement people have for The Rithmatist  and Steelheart has shown that HBO's Game of Thrones  has above all convinced large numbers of people to delve into a genre that does have its thorny side. Personally, I hope to review both titles in hopes of highlighting just how versatile in style that the genre is, and how Brandon Sanderson contributes to a growing YA market that also is much more diverse than the stereotype of it predominately being mostly Paranormal Romance books.

Thanks to all the bloggers and other fantastic people I talked to at BEA!! Tomorrow, reviews will return as usual. Sorry for the delays, as of recently, with my reviews!