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Mina and the Undead by Amy McCaw – Release Day Book Review #TeamMina

Book cover and bat toy

About the Book

Mina is staying with her sister in New Orleans for Fang Fest 1995. She’s thrilled to land a job in a horror movie mansion, reconnecting with her sister while they scare the tourists. When Mina stumbles upon a body at work, she’s dragged into a murder investigation. Someone is replicating New Orleans’ darkest myths, and Mina must discover the truth before she becomes the latest victim.

Book  Quote “Welcome to the Mansion of the Macabre, your horror movie tour will start  momentarily “

About the Author

Amy McCaw is a YA writer and blogger. She’s the author of Mina and the Undead, a YA murder mystery set in 1995 New Orleans.

Her main interests are books, movies and the macabre, and her debut novel has elements of all of these. If Amy’s not at a book event or reading, she can usually be found scribbling away in her writing room, surrounded by movie memorabilia and an out-of-control signed books collection. Unsurprisingly, she’s a huge Buffy the Vampire Slayer fan and has gone to conventions to meet James Marsters more times than she cares to admit.

Amy also loves travelling and has a particular affinity for America. She’s visited 29 states, 13 Man Vs Food restaurants and many bookish locations, including the cities where Twilight, Interview with a Vampire and Vampire Diaries were set.

If you want to talk with Amy about books or 90s movies, you can find her on Twitter.

Twitter – @yaundermyskin

Blog – www.yaundermyskin.co.uk

Website – http://www.amymccaw.co.uk

Represented by: Sandra Sawicka

What I Thought

Page one of the book

All I had to hear was vampires and the 90s and I was so here for this book. One of the books I remember loving from my teens was The Secret Vampire by LJ Ross so I definitely channelled my past teenager when settling down to read this.

As someone who has always been fascinated by the idea of, but never actually made it to New Orleans, I loved the fact that this is where it was set. We get to see it through Mina’s tourist eyes as well as via the people she is visiting who have been there a while.

I love the fact that at its core this is a story about two sisters who have been estranged and I enjoyed the dynamic between Mina and Libby.

It has a strong cast of supporting characters with Della, Jared, Lucas and Mansion of the Macabre boss Thandie each providing a valuable contribution to the story.

There was a good game of spot the influence to play but the fact that it was set in the 90s made it feel relevant rather than gimmicky. Some of my favourites, Buffy, Lost Boys and Interview with a Vampire make an appearance and I’m sure there is lots I’ll have missed that demand a second read through.

During the first read you will be busy trying to find the clues to the unfolding mystery. Who, or what, is killing people in the style of New Orleans myths and will Mina or one of her new friends be next? There’s also a familial mystery to solve too and the two overlap in surprising ways.

Vampires and convent myth

I was slightly sad that the myth with the vampires and the convent didn’t lead to shoehorning the ‘Show him your/you’re cross’ joke.

This is a gentle introduction to horror with enough pace and tension to keep you racing through but not too much blood and gore to make you need to put the book in the fridge.

At the launch event where author Amy was interviewed by YA horror author Dawn Kurtagich, Amy did say she has more of Mina’s story to tell. So do me a favour and now it’s out go get yourself a copy.

A huge thanks to uclan publishing and Amy for the gifted e-copy for the purposes of an honest review. I picked my print copy up from my local bookshop yesterday and I love the VHS look of it. Cover design by Becky Chilcott, and yes I did try to remove the ‘label’ on the back 🤦‍♀️😂.

Back showing old fashioned price sticker

Do check out what the rest of #TeamMina thought by following the hashtag and go and take the character quiz on Amy’s website to find out which character you’d be. I think we should fangs Katherine Korr who perfectly sums the book up in the quote below.

Author  Quote by Katherine Corr saying fans of Dracula, Buffy and Anne Rice will like this

Teeth Blog Tour: Interview with the author Chele Cooke

Teeth

Blurb:

Medical intern Thomas awakes in a blood-drenched basement and the realisation that his life must change forever. After all, how can he practise medicine when the smell of blood turns him into a vicious killer?

Spencer thinks being a vampire is better than any teen movie made it out to be. Now he must train Thomas and make his mentor proud.

One mistake risks more than either are willing to lose, and a single broken law could turn them from predators to prey.

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Part time author and full time fantacist, Chele Cooke is a sci-fi, fantasy, and paranormal author living in London, UK.

While some know they want to write stories since childhood, Chele first started writing as a teenager writing fanfiction and roleplaying. Before long playing in other people’s worlds wasn’t enough and she started creating her own. Living in San Francisco at the time, she found a lot of inspiration in her favourite city, some of which can be found in her books.

With a degree in Creative Writing, Chele’s first novel was published in 2013. She currently has three books published: two books in a sci-fi series, Out of Orbit, and the first book of a vampire serial, Teeth.

Interview

If you had to describe your book in a tweet (140characters), what would you say?

Come on word count, don’t fail me now.

Teeth is a fast, fun, and bloody vampire story. With more bite for your buck, this book doesn’t shy away from the darker side of the undead.

140 exactly. I feel I need to fist bump someone. {*virtual fist bump}

Was there a specific moment of inspiration for Teeth or was it more out of the blue?

There was an original idea which came about because a good friend of mine was writing a story about down on their luck 80’s rock band vampires (VERY funny story.) Anyway, I had an idea about two vampires getting stuck in a coffee shop during the day. They can’t leave and they have to keep buying coffee to be allowed to stay, so they end up on an extreme caffeine high.

Whilst I didn’t use this particular idea in this book, it was the idea that started the ball rolling, and after that the ideas just kept on coming.

What was your favourite thing about writing Teeth?

It has to be the characters, without a doubt. These guys started off as nothing and they came to me whilst writing. It was a very organic experience. For the first ten chapters I had no idea where I was going, I was just writing. It was very freeing.

Who was your favourite character to write about in Teeth?

I think it has to be Spencer. As I said, the characters developed as time went on, and Spencer just grew into this incredibly complex and interesting character to write about. He has a lot of issues, some of which are only made worse throughout the book. We’ll definitely be seeing a lot more of Spencer as the series continues. I’ll be exploring more of their histories and such in later books.

How many drafts did it take to write Teeth?

That’s actually a difficult question, because I rarely work in a straight draft number method. Some authors will need to get all the way through the first draft before they start editing, but I find I get to a certain point and then I need to bring everything up to speed before I continue.

I’d say that it probably went through about six drafts. Some of these were part edits and some full run throughs. There were two edits by other people and then lots of tinkering.

I’ll always find something to change. If I could continue working on a book forever, I probably would.

If someone wanted to read a book after Teeth that was similar, what book would you recommend?

Admittedly, most of my paranormal genre experience has been through television and movies. I’m a big fan of Buffy/Angel and True Blood, so those would probably be the stories I’d direct people to as I think they’re probably the closest in my feelings about vampires with the same injections of humour and horror in equal measures.

As for books, I think I have to go back to a classic and say ‘Interview with the Vampire’ by Anne Rice. Though the style is very different and is based very much in the gothic view of vampires, it’s less about the romance aspects and more about seeing vampires through their own perspective instead of a view from the outside in (which a lot of modern paranormal books do by having a human as the point of view character.) IwtV also has a lot of great ideas that I adore, like what happens when you turn a child into a vampire.

Where is your favourite place to write?

Somewhere no one will stare at me when I begin giggling at myself, or when I start crying whilst writing an emotional scene.

Seriously, I’ll generally write in my house where it’s quiet and I can concentrate fully. I have an extremely comfortable desk chair.

Are you someone who plans all of your books meticulously or are you more of a “pantser”?

That’s funny, because with most stories I am a meticulous planner. I’ll generally have about 10,000 words of planning before I write the first word of a manuscript. I’ll have bullet points and diagrams of locations, etc.

However, when it came to Teeth, as I said above, I wrote ten chapters before I knew anything. My favourite romance in the story actually weren’t going to be anything until it suddenly happened and I realised how well it worked.

Obviously, there was lots of planning before I did the rewrites and big edits, but mostly that involved where I needed to put hints to later plots and character developments.

Pantsing was incredibly fun on this project, but I’ll be going back to planning with the next book.

What piece of advice would you give to aspiring authors? 

Writing is about the long game. This is a difficult thing to come to terms with, especially when you’re on that first novel. We all want to think that people will notice our first book and scream ‘genius’ but the likelihood is that your first novel will sink into the pool of what you’re going to become as an author. You’re constantly learning and growing, and your writing will reflect that.

So always keep an eye on what you’re going to be doing next, where you’re heading towards. It doesn’t matter if you don’t get there straight away, just keep plugging on, one step at a time. Most importantly, be professional and keep your head. No matter whether you think nobody is watching you right now, the internet saves things, and as you gain readers you don’t want people to be able to look back and see that you were one of those authors who attacked a reviewer, or something like that. It’s the long game, and you have to play fair all the way.

 

Thanks very much for having me, Kirsty. These were some great questions. If any readers have anything they’d like to ask me, leave a comment and I’ll get back to you, or I’m always open to questions on Goodreads.

We’ll have to thank Faye for the questions this time and for organising the tour.

Now I haven’t managed to read the book yet but it sounds exactly like my kind of story so I’ll be entering to win a copy – click the link below to do the same.

 

Link to the Rafflecopter Giveaway

There is a tour wide giveaway during the tour.

The prizes include;

Three sets of all Chele Cooke’s books as e-books

Seven e-books of Teeth

 

 

 

Gruesome and Bloodsocks by Jane Holiday – Book Review

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So I’ve made my first completed read of 2014 a kids’ book from 1987 that I found at my parents. Don’t remember reading it before though.

This is the story of Augusta, otherwise known as Gruesome Gussie, and her cat Bloodsocks. Gruesome is a vampire who is allergic to blood, it makes her sick and she comes out in silver spots. Because of her refusal to drink blood her vampire family banish her from their graveyard. She moves to another town where they make her move into a council house and sign on the dole (seems easy apart from the paperwork in 1987?!).

Her best friend becomes a skinhead youth called Leotard and she has to adapt by wearing pink! There is a sub plot where Bloodsocks and other neighbourhood pets are petnapped, and her vampire family find her again.
All in all this is an entertaining little read with some fun illustrations by Steven Appleby. Would recommend for bedtime reading with little ones.

3.5/5

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