Monday, August 4, 2014

The Doll by Taylor Stevens with Author Q & A and My Review

The Doll
by Taylor Stevens


“A heroine every bit as provocative as Stieg Larsson’s Lisbeth Salander.” –The Dallas Morning News

   Haunted by a life of violence and as proficient with languages as she is with knives, Vanessa Michael Munroe, chameleon and hunter, has built her life on a reputation for getting things done—dangerous and often not-quite-legal things. Born to missionary parents in lawless Africa, taken under the tutelage of gunrunners, and tortured by one of the jungle’s most brutal men, Munroe was forced to do whatever it took to stay alive.

   The ability to survive, fight, adapt, and blend has since taken her across the globe on behalf of corporations, heads of state, and the few private clients who can afford her unique brand of expertise, and these abilities have made her enemies.

   On a busy Dallas street, Munroe is kidnapped by an unseen opponent and thrust into an underground world where women and girls are merchandise and a shadowy figure known as The Doll Maker controls her every move. While trusted friends race to unravel where she is and why she was taken, everything pivots on one simple choice: Munroe must use her unique set of skills to deliver a high-profile young woman into the same nightmare that she once endured, or condemn to torture and certain death the one person she loves above all else.

   Driven by the violence that has made her what she is, cut off from help, and with attempts to escape predicted and prevented, Munroe will hunt for openings, for solutions, and a way to strike back at a man who holds all the cards. Because only one thing is certain: she cannot save everyone.

   In this high-octane thriller for fans of Lee Child, Stieg Larsson, and Robert Ludlum's Bourne trilogy, Vanessa Michael Munroe will have to fight fast, smart and furiously to overcome a dangerous nemesis and deliver her trademark brand of justice.

Now with an excerpt from the latest Vanessa Michael Monroe novel, The Catch

The Doll (Vanessa Michael Munroe, #3)The Doll by Taylor Stevens
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

First, I would like to thank Blogging for Books for sending me this book for an honest review. I have a new author and series that I can now put on my favorites list. Taylor Stevens has done an awesome job writing this book. I have not read the other books yet, but that is now a must on my tbr list. The action, mystery everything is there and you keep reading to find out what happens next and I have fell in love with the main character Munroe and Bradford as well, but especially Munroe. She has to fight her dark side to survive what she must do at all times. The characters are well developed and written and the story-line is amazing. I cannot wait to read the other books in this series.

View all my reviews

About the Author:

TAYLOR STEVENS is the award-winning New York Timesbestselling author of The Informationist, The Innocent andThe Doll. Featuring Vanessa Michael Munroe, the series has received critical acclaim and the books are published in twenty languages. The Informationist has been optioned for film by James Cameron's production company, Lightstorm Entertainment. Born in New York State, and into the Children of God, raised in communes across the globe and denied an education beyond sixth grade, Stevens was in her twenties when she broke free to follow hope and a vague idea of what possibilities lay beyond. She now lives in Texas, and is at work on the next Munroe novel.

Author Q & A

Q: Your debut thriller, The Informationist, was sold to 20 territories, received rave reviews from national media including the New York Times, USA Today, and the Associated Press, and became an instant New York Times bestseller. And we’ve heard film rights were just bought by James Cameron! In your wildest dreams did you foresee this kind of success for your very first publication?

A: My dreams were pretty tame, and I never saw this coming. I’m still waiting for that call that confirms what I’ve suspected—it’s all been a mistake, a fluke, and oops, sorry. Originally, getting published wasn’t even on the map of reasons for writing—the goal was just to write a book, to say that I’d done it, that I’d finished what I’d started. Gradually, as the story progressed and I learned more about publishing, I dared to hope that maybe I could get into print. But this? I had no idea.

Q: The Informationist introduced readers to a mysterious, motorcycle loving, tough-as-nails protagonist named Vanessa “Michael” Munroe. She’s often been described as part Jason Bourne, part Jack Reacher, with a little bit of Lisbeth Salander and Sydney Bristow mixed in. How did you first come up with this bad-ass character?

A: Without much in the way of formal education, and having never attended any creative writing classes, for me, everything about writing fiction unfolded backwards. I had no idea what I was doing—had no plot, no characters—only the location in which the first book would be set, so there was never a brilliant aha moment when Munroe came vividly to life fully created. Imagining what her reactions might be to various scenarios, I was often drawn to the emotional conflict and skill of Jason Bourne and the sensual confidence of Lara Croft, but Munroe’s history, the past that made her who she is and the full development of her passion, was a slow process brought to life over time in counterpoint to the demanding environments she was thrown into. 

Q: You set your first thriller all over the world with a significant amount of time spent in Africa, and your second novel, The Innocent, was set in Buenos Aires and Morocco. Your new novel, The Doll is set in Central Europe—Croatia and Slovenia— and Italy. You seem to favor exotic locales! Tell us about that.

A: It’s one of those things where, once the pattern was established and readers responded so favorably to the international settings in the first story, I had to continue in that vein through the rest of the series. Basically I created my own handcuffs—ha. From a crafting perspective, setting stories internationally is difficult: the research is time intensive and there are exponentially more ways to goof up the details. I try to avoid writing parts of the world that might be considered “obvious” thriller targets—places such as Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iraq. And because the plot has to bend to the location, not the other way around, it means before I even start with an idea of what happens, I have to already figure out where it’s going to happen. 

Q: The Doll takes Munroe inside the underground world of sex slaves and human trafficking where she must outsmart and outmaneuver a shadowy figure known only as “the Doll Maker.” What inspired this plot and this very creepy villain? 

A: My “ideal reader” (the person with whom I discuss everything to do with my writing) asked me, “What would happen if instead of Munroe being the rescuer, she was the victim?” That prompted so many other what-if scenarios: Who would be crazy enough to go after Munroe? Why would they do it? How would they control her? What would be awful enough to motivate her to care? Human trafficking is an issue I’ve been aware of for quite some time, and it seemed to me that many people in developed nations still have a tendency to view it as something that happens only in other countries. I felt it could use more attention and the subject matter worked for the story. That said, it is such a dark, depressing, and almost hopeless topic that I didn’t feel I could properly do it justice in the form of entertainment, so rather than use true-to-life scenarios, I built an extreme outlier situation and used that as the entertainment while contrasting against the starkness of what is reality.

Q: In The Doll Munroe is forced to deliver merchandise in the form of a high-value young woman in order to keep her closest friend, Logan, alive. If she succeeds, she’ll guarantee the young girl’s demise. If she fails, it means Logan’s death. In order to save the ones she loves, she’s pitted not only against the trafficking organization, but against the worst aspects of herself. Was it difficult writing this more personal side of Munroe? 

A: Mostly what I found extraordinarily difficult was developing and writing two stories, with two distinct plot lines, two completely different casts of characters, in two separate time zones, both of which needed to zipper seamlessly together. Each story also needed to have its own story arc, its own tension, its own octane, while still giving the characters enough life to become “real,” all while keeping it within a limited word count and playing it out in parts of the world with which I was unfamiliar. Writing the book nearly killed me!
Q: What’s next for Munroe?

A: She’s headed back to Africa, this time to the north and east where she gets tangled up with a hijacked ship. Readers will have an opportunity to watch how she operates when she ends up in unfamiliar territory where she’s on her own and where she has no prior contacts or connections. And this time—perhaps my inner child is rebelling against the beating it took when writing The Doll—there is only one plot line and one point of view. In The Catch, it’s pure Vanessa Michael Munroe, all the way.

"I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review."

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