Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Today's Kindle Daily Deals: A creepy tale, a romantic thriller, a craft book, speculative science fiction and a fantasy for young adults.



Here's today's Kindle Daily Deal, available for $1.99!

Bedbugs, by Ben H. Winters.

FOR RENT: Top two floors of beautifully renovated brownstone, 1300 sq. ft., 2BR 2BA, eat-in kitchen, one block to parks and playgrounds. No broker’s fee.

Susan and Alex Wendt have found their dream apartment.

Sure, the landlady is a little eccentric. And the elderly handyman drops some cryptic remarks about the basement. But the rent is so low, it’s too good to pass up.

Big mistake. Susan soon discovers that her new home is crawling with bedbugs . . . or is it? She awakens every morning with fresh bites, but neither Alex nor their daughter Emma has a single welt. An exterminator searches the property and turns up nothing. The landlady insists her building is clean. Susan fears she’s going mad—until a more sinister explanation presents itself: she may literally be confronting the bedbug problem from Hell.


From the Trade Paperback edition.
FOR RENT: Top two floors of beautifully renovated brownstone, 1300 sq. ft., 2BR 2BA, eat-in kitchen, one block to parks and playgrounds. No broker’s fee.

Susan and Alex Wendt have found their dream apartment.

Sure, the landlady is a little eccentric. And the elderly handyman drops some cryptic remarks about the basement. But the rent is so low, it’s too good to pass up.

Big mistake. Susan soon discovers that her new home is crawling with bedbugs . . . or is it? She awakens every morning with fresh bites, but neither Alex nor their daughter Emma has a single welt. An exterminator searches the property and turns up nothing. The landlady insists her building is clean. Susan fears she’s going mad—until a more sinister explanation presents itself: she may literally be confronting the bedbug problem from Hell.



Amazon Exclusive: Q&A with Ben H. Winters


Q: You tackled sea monsters in the New York Times best seller Sense & Sensibility & Sea Monsters. What made you turn to bedbugs?
Ben H. Winters: The monsters in Sea Monsters are very big and very over-the top: giant super-intelligent lobsters, an island that comes to life, that sort of thing. Silly, campy, fun. In
BEDBUGS I challenged myself to create a different kind of monster: serious, dark and deadly, and drawn from reality.
Q: BEDBUGS is told from the perspective of Susan Wendt--a former lawyer turned artist and stay-at-home mom. As a man, was it difficult to write in a woman's voice?
BHW: It was hard, although I would argue that gender is a very small part of what makes us who we are. In other words, it was challenging to get inside Susan's head mainly because I'm not a lawyer, a painter, or a stay-at-home parent, not necessarily because I'm not a woman. The hardest thing was writing in the voice of any kind of person, man or woman, being driven slowly insane by malevolent supernatural bugs.
Q: It is obvious that you have done your homework on bedbugs. What was one of the most surprising facts that you learned about these nasty pests?
BHW: It's pretty horrifying once you start to grasp how long they can stay alive without a host, and also how rapidly and exponentially they reproduce.
But the nastiest fact is something called traumatic insemination. Seriously. Just look it up.
Q: In BEDBUGS, you make many references to Rosemary's Baby. What is it about Rosemary's Baby that inspired you?
BHW: Ira Levin was a master of turning the screw: he slowly, slowly ratchets up poor Rosemary's sense that something is not right about her home, her marriage, her baby. It's so effective because Levin keeps us in her point of view the entire time, so first of all we come to love her, but also we live with her suspicion and her fear and her terror. That seemed like exactly the right way to frame a novel about a peril as creepy and paranoia-inducing as bedbugs.
Q: Lou the handyman and Andrea the landlord are an odd pair of keepers of this idyllic brownstone--how do their characters drive the story forward?
BHW: Well, I'm just honoring my genre, you know. Slightly off-kilter, slightly menacing older people are a staple of slow-burn horror novels: when you've got weird old people in a weird old house, you just know there's something going on.
Q: BEDBUGS is both a mystery and psychological thriller--how do you get inside the head of readers to scare them?
BHW: My goal was to firmly ground the story in the realistic, day-to-day lives of the characters, stuff like grocery shopping at Trader Joe's, taking the kid to the playground, marital squabbles and make-up sex. With just occasional notes of what's to come: a smear of blood here, an unexpected noise there, an unnamed sense of melancholy and dread. Again, it's something you find in books like Rosemary's Baby, The Exorcist, even The Amityville Horror. There's this careful creation of a realistic, familiar world before the darkness begins to seep in.
Q: BEDBUGS is both a mystery and psychological thriller--how do you get inside the head of readers to scare them?
BHW: My goal was to firmly ground the story in the realistic, day-to-day lives of the characters, stuff like grocery shopping at Trader Joe's, taking the kid to the playground, marital squabbles and make-up sex. With just occasional notes of what's to come: a smear of blood here, an unexpected noise there, an unnamed sense of melancholy and dread. Again, it's something you find in books like Rosemary's Baby, The Exorcist, even The Amityville Horror. There's this careful creation of a realistic, familiar world before the darkness begins to seep in.
Q: In BEDBUGS, Brooklyn is a character in itself--why did you choose Brooklyn Heights as your setting?
BHW: I lived in that area for many years, around the corner from Brooklyn Heights in the neighborhood called Downtown Brooklyn. I find that whole section of the city to be so physically beautiful, and the energy to be so interesting. It's full of weirdos, hipsters, old people, young professionals, city workers, and people of literally every race and religion. And it's definitely a landing pad for couples like the Wendts: smart, ambitious young couples, balancing creative energy, ambition, and little kids.
Q: You're the author of an Edgar-nominated children's novel and a New York Times best-selling adult novel. Is there a difference in how you approach writing each genre?
BHW: Obviously, the differences are legion in terms of tone, vocabulary, and content. But there are nuts-and-bolts things you want to do right, no matter who the audience is: you want a solid structure, a careful building of tension, and interesting characters that a reader will care about.
Q: Bedbugs seem to be everywhere! Do you have any personal experiences with bedbugs that informed the novel?
BHW: No, thank God. I know nobody wants them, but after doing all the reading and video-clip watching I did for this book, I really don't want them. Once, when I was seven, I had lice. Here's hoping that's as close as I'll ever get.
Q: When Susan went to set up a play date for her daughter, a neighbor commented that she saw an exterminator at her brownstone and could not risk exposing her family to bedbugs. How have bedbugs made dwellers pariah amongst their neighbors?
BHW: There are all sorts of household pests--rats, roaches, termites, etc.--but there seems to be something about bedbugs that deeply disturbs people in a particularly unsettling way. As a society, we are just extra freaked out by these pernicious little bloodsuckers. So nobody wants to be the person who gave someone else bedbugs, and that leads to a lot of fear, secret shame, and paranoia. All of which, I felt, were rich themes for a novel of supernatural terror.
Q: What are you working on now? Can you share a little about that with us?
BHW: Oh, dear. Good question. I am currently hard at work on a mystery novel, and outlining a new and extremely silly novel for young readers. Also, my daughter is pressuring me pretty hard to write something about princesses, so we'll see where that goes.

260 pages, with a 3.8-star rating from 100 reviews



Here's today's Daily Romance Deal, available for $1.99!

Fear For Me: A Novel of the Bayou Butcher, by Cynthia Eden.

She’s the obsession two men share: one wants her love, the other wants her life.
A shared passion for justice first brought Baton Rouge district attorney Lauren Chandler and US marshal Anthony Ross together—when each played their part in bringing down the infamous Bayou Butcher. The sparks flying between the two made it clear they weren’t just a legal dream team. Then desire had to make way for duty, and what they had was done. But it would never be over.
Five years later, it’s none other than the Butcher who gets things started again, when his shocking jailbreak reunites the lawyer and the lawman…and reignites their love. But this time, the pair is in danger of being permanently parted—by a killer with revenge on his mind, and Lauren on the top of his list. As a new wave of terror sweeps through the streets and swamps of Baton Rouge, one man will pit his boundless passion against another’s relentless hate, for the life of the woman who obsesses them both.


356 pages, with a 4.3-star rating from 371 reviews



Here's today's Daily Non-Fiction Deal, available for $2.99!

The Granny Square Book, by Margaret Hubert.


Granny squares are to crochet what pieced squares are to quilting. They originated with pioneer women using up precious scraps of yarn to make blankets for their families, and over the years, many recognized, named patterns have been handed down from one generation to the next. Beyond this treasury of 75 different granny square motifs, Margaret Hubert shows the evolution of the granny square, how it can be used and interpreted in different ways with different yarns, and how today's crocheter can design her own projects using the granny squares of her choice with the yarn choices of today. Just as Margaret learned from her grandmother and mother and then passed the skill down to her daughter and granddaughter, each generation finds new uses and artistic ways to interpret granny squares.

178 pages, with a 4.8-star rating from 160 reviews



Here's today's Daily Science Fiction/Fantasy Deal, available for $1.99!

MetaGame, by Sam Landstrom.

Speculative science fiction at its finest, MetaGame by Sam Landstrom is a ‘future gamers’ field guide and a philosophical cyberpunk adventure. In this original and disturbingly irreverent prospective world, gaming is more than a diversion—and gamers are, literally, in it for life. The OverSoul, an enigmatic, unifying force, offers winners points that add up to currency. Reigning champs are given the gift of immortality—while losers are condemned to aging and death. D_Light is one of the best players in his Family and will do anything to win, even if it means committing murder. When he’s invited to a MetaGame—an exclusive, high-stakes competition—he jumps at the chance. But after the first quest, D_Light’s overly ambitious ways brand him a renegade. With a warped sense of freewill that is needed to prevail, D_Light must either kill someone he’s grown to love—or lose everything.

Amazon Exclusive: A Q&A with Sam Landstrom

Question: MetaGame takes place in a futuristic world where biotech, nanotech, gaming, and "religion" merge to blur the lines between fantasy and reality. How did you dream up the story line?
Sam Landstrom: Funny you should say "dream," because that’s literally how it started. One night I had a vivid dream in which I was a devil in a ghetto apartment complex and was being hunted by the police. The whole idea took off from there. Gradually, I built a world around that single scene. For months, I fleshed out the world in a private blog with over 60 posts with titles like "Fashion," "Economics," "Religion," "Lingo," "Work," etc. I continually worked to hook these together logically, keeping in mind that one aspect of this futuristic society would influence the others. Once I felt I had a reasonable world, I hung a plot outline on it (including my dream scene). As I wrote the book, the world continued to evolve; in fact, the present book has only a slight resemblance to those early blog posts I created two years ago.
Question: You’ve previously worked in a lab programming robots to help sequence the human genome. Did this experience and background knowledge play a role in the story?
Sam Landstrom: At a high level, yes. Back in the lab, before I got interested in software, I wanted to be a genetic engineer. I felt then, as I do now, that biotechnology will eventually become ubiquitous in our lives and so I wanted to help design that future. At the same time, I wondered what exactly that future would look like. To me, being able to engineer the living is an incredibly powerful technology that can do wonderful things for humanity, but, at the same time, elicits in me a primal dread... just the sort of stew I like for fiction! Obviously, I’m not the only one with such an outlook, since biotech is a sci-fi staple.
I don’t include lab techniques or techs from that job because they would be far obsolete in the future. Heck, they’re completely obsolete now, and it’s only been 10 years! Given this, the technology I wrote about is a wild extrapolation, an entertaining guess, really. About all I tried to convey in the book from my time at the lab, in a literal sense, was the genuine passion and intelligence I observed in those who work in this field.
Question: What research did you do while writing MetaGame?
Sam Landstrom: Most of the research I did was related to confirming that the future technologies presented in the book are even theoretically possible and how they might be implemented. For example, how can a machine read and write to a person’s mind? With difficulty, as it turns out! Luckily for my readers, I only used this research to color my descriptions and confine the scope of these future technologies, not to provide in-depth specifications. Thanks to this balance, I think MetaGame gets to stay in the hard sci-fi category while remaining, first and foremost, an entertaining book.
Question: What authors or books have influenced your writing?
Sam Landstrom: Lucky for me, the public school system forced me to read 1984, Brave New World, and Fahrenheit 451. These books were more about sociology and philosophy than technology, and they taught me that sci-fi did not necessarily require aliens or spaceships.
In addition to these stand-alone books, I really enjoyed the Dune series by Frank Herbert because he built up a fully realized universe that included components of religion, politics, economics, and even ecology. Dune had a big influence on MetaGame.
I have heard from several readers that MetaGame shares elements with Neal Stephenson’s work. This might not be a coincidence since I read The Diamond Age and Snow Crash before writing MetaGame. Good stuff.
Question: MetaGame fits solidly in the sci-fi/cyberpunk genre, but also weaves in philosophy and thriller writing. Have you considered trying your hand at other genres in the future?
Sam Landstrom: Yes, in fact I’m writing a fantasy novel now. Magic, monsters, infinite dimensions, a high school kegger.. You get the idea--not hard sci-fi, but entertaining and, hopefully, a bit thought provoking.
Question: Have you always wanted to write? What other careers have you pursued?
Sam Landstrom: I’ve wanted to write off and on over the years. When I was really young (like 8-9 years old) I pumped out books; however, these quick reads emphasized pictures over writing. The art sported a lot of guns blazing, swords swinging, blood spraying, heads flying through the air, etc. I went to a hippie school that wasn’t big into formal education. I remember my older cousin reading one of my books, after which he told me, "You need to start a sentence with a capital letter and end with a period." First of all, I didn’t know what he was talking about and second, who cares? I didn’t understand why he wasn’t praising me for the awesome action scenes. I mean, you just didn’t see that kind of stuff in books I found in the library, much less at school! I like to think my writing has improved since those days, although my grammar could still use some work. Thank God for good editors.
As an adult, I’ve had many different career interests I considered pursuing, including underwater archaeology and neurology. When I started college, I actually went in with the intention of becoming a doctor, but quickly discovered I was more into the science of medicine than the actual application of it, hence the degree in molecular biology. Aside from working in software (my current career) and in biotech, I spent a lot of time on the water as a deck hand, first on a passenger ferry, and then on a small cruise ship in Alaska. I was really considering a life at sea. However, it turns out I was ill suited to the regimen of a sailor’s job. Captains were not impressed with what I thought were creative solutions to problems, nor with me setting my own priorities.
Question: What's next for you?
Sam Landstrom: I’m sort of writing three books at once--the fantasy novel I mentioned earlier, as well as a prequel and sequel to MetaGame. I’ve made the most progress on the fantasy, so that’s what I’ll likely finish first. On the side, I also started developing a smart-phone application that is a virtual boyfriend for young women. I hope to make him handsome and charming, even as he speaks in a computer-generated Stephen Hawking voice. I’ve heard you can get a long way with flattery, so I’m hoping a phone can successfully use the same strategy. I’m not sure when I’ll finish that, if ever. By the way, I’d make a virtual girlfriend too, but giving men what they want through a phone (or any media) is too easy.


424 pages, with a 4.2-star rating from 236 reviews



Here's today's Daily Youth Deal, available for $1.99!

Scorched, by Mari Mancusi.

Save the Dragon. Destroy the World.
Trinity Foxx is used to her grandfather's crazy stories, so she doesn't believe the latest treasure he brought home to their failing West Texas museum is a real dragon's egg. Not until Connor Jacks, a dragon hunter from the future, tells Trinity that the world is about to be wiped out by a fiery dragon war—unless they find a way to stop it.
Save the Dragon. Save the World
But Connor's not the only one after the egg. His twin brother Caleb believes dragons have the power to save mankind and must be protected. Caleb has seen too many dragons destroyed in the war-scorched future—he'll do whatever it takes to save this one.
With a host of enemies hot on her heels, Trinity must decide who to believe. Connor the brave solider? Caleb the cocky rebel? Or the baby dragon that's starting to whisper to her...saying they are destined? The fate of the world may depend on her choice.
"Tense and action-packed. It's a brave new world, and I reveled in every page."—Sophie Jordan, New York Times bestselling author of Firelight
"A smoking triptych of time traveling, dubious double-crossing and enough dragons to sate the hungriest of gamers and fantasy fiends."—Kirkus

353 pages, with a 4.2-star rating from 69 reviews



Happy Reading!

Betsy

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