Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Back to Books Giveaway Hop!

Welcome to my Back to Books Giveaway!

This giveaway hop is hosted by Buried in Books and I Am A Reader, Not A Writer, so check out either of their sites for details on the hop itself!

One winner will be selected and they will have their choice of one of the above titles. The books shown and listed are either some of my favorites or ones that I'm greatly looking forward to when they release. There are books from all my favorite genres: Paranormal Young Adult, Urban Fantasy, and Paranormal Romance, so hopefully there's a little something for everyone!

Since this is a blog hop and you'll all likely be entering numerous giveaways, I'm going to keep things really simple. No complicated extra entries, just follow the blog and fill out the form with your name and email address so I can contact you if you win. If for some reason the form doesn't work, feel free to email me at with BACK TO BOOKS GIVEAWAY in the subject line and I'll make sure you're entered. This giveaway will run through midnight (EST) on Wednesday, September 7th after which time a winner will be chosen, emailed, and announced on the blog.

This giveaway is open INTERNATIONALLY as long as The Book Depository delivers to your country. You can check the list of countries here.


Book Prizes:
Waterfall by Lisa T. Bergren
Vanish by Sophie Jordan
Touch of Frost by Jennifer Estep
Sweet Venom by Tera Lynn Childs
Sweetly by Jackson Pearce
Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake
Archangel's Blade by Nalini Singh
Blood Rights by Kristen Painter
The Darkest Surrender by Gena Showalter
Spider's Revenge by Jennifer Estep

There are over 300 blogs participating in this event, so be sure to check out the other giveaways! All participating blogs are listed below, good luck everyone!

Waterfall Wednesdays

Welcome to the Waterfall Read-Along! For those of you who don't know, the wonderful ladies behind Tina's Book Reviews, Edgy Inspirational Romance, Irresistible Reads, The Unread Reader and myself are hosting a read-along of Lisa T. Bergren's time-travel young adult novel Waterfall (LOVED!). Each week we'll pose and answer five questions about the book and then hop around to the other blogs who have signed up to check out everyone's answers! You're welcome to join the fun at anytime by signing up over at Tina's Book Reviews and then linking your posts to the linky on the host blog each week.

Tina is the host this week, so be sure and pop over to her blog to link up your answers and then stop by Missie at The Unread Reader to get next week's questions.


Waterfall opens with the introduction of Gabi, she's depressed, a little angry and is dealing with feelings of loneliness. Are you connecting with her this soon in the novel? Do you see things you like or dislike?

I don't know that I necessarily liked or disliked Gabi right off the bat, it usually takes me several chapters to develop feelings of any sort for a character. When she found herself in the middle of a battlefield facing medieval knights in full war mode and managed to keep her wits about her, I decided I was a fan. One of my favorite aspects of Gabi is that she never lets herself become overly dramatic, she absorbs whatever situation she's found herself in and logically thinks of her next course of action. Sometimes she makes smart decisions, sometimes she doesn't, but she always seems to stay on the level which I appreciate.

Gabi gets to time travel back to 14th Century Italy- The Dark Ages in its prime. Is there any time in history that fascinates you and would you travel back if you could?

I just finished two books that focused on ancient Egypt and Rome in the time of Cleopatra and I have to say that time period has always been of interest to me. Seeing Egypt in all her glory before Rome took her over would be amazing, and I would absolutely travel back if I could with the caveat that I could return to modern times at a moment of my choosing. While the grandeur and the opulence of Cleopatra's Egypt would be captivating, I like my modern conveniences. Lack of plumbing would be highly problematic. This girl does not go in a chamber pot, or in the street, or wherever else. Indoor plumbing just makes me happy:)

Most of the men, including Marcello have a very set opinion about a woman's place. Gabi gets manhandled a bit in these first few chapters, and even gets asked if she's a witch. The men are shocked when Gabi rides a horse like a man and shimmies down the castle walls. What do you think of mens mentality back then? Gentlemanly, chauvinistic, simple-minded?

I don't think they are simple-minded in any way, they've been raised to view women as the "fairer" sex, meant to excel at certain tasks and not at others, so I don't think their attitudes are chauvinistic given that their views are are not meant in a derogatory fashion–they are just stating what they view as simple fact. That being said, my hackles would definitely rise if I was denied the opportunity to do certain things because it was not my "place", but I think that's mostly because I've grown up believing women equal to men and capable of the same things they are. Oh, and sidesaddle? Absolutely not, I will ride with my legs astride the horse or not all. I'm not falling off just so my legs can stay together ;-)

When Gabi becomes a part of this era, the people are immediately intrigued but suspicious of her. Many judge her by her difference. Do you think this is fair? Have you ever been in a situation where you felt like an outsider or that others were misjudging you?

Sadly, I think people are always judged by their differences. It certainly still happens with alarming frequency today and I imagine it will be some time before suspicion and prejudice against something or someone that deviates from what people view as "normal" will subside. Luckily for me, I've never been in a situation where I've been viewed as an outsider or judged in any way.

What do think the coolest thing would be about living in the Dark Ages? What would be the worst?

Horses! I've grown up around horses and have been riding since I was little, so the thought of getting to ride a horse every single day for transportation sounds pretty appealing to me.

As for the worst part, please see above note about the lack of indoor plumbing. *shudders* Just thinking about it makes me want to run upstairs and give my toilet a big hug.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Jeaniene Frost: Live Virtual Event + Giveaway

Exciting news everyone! To celebrate today's release of One Grave at a Time (yay!), the fantastic Jeaniene Frost along with fellow brilliant authors Melissa Marr and Kelley Armstrong will be available to answer your questions at a live streamed event taking place tonight (August 30th) at 7pm. To watch the event and submit your questions, simply click on the below link when it's time, then login via Facebook or Twitter. Once you've logged in, you'll be able to send any questions you have directly to Jeaniene, Melissa, and Kelley!

Jeaniene Frost, Melissa Marr, and Kelley Armstrong Virtual Event CLICK HERE

Equally exciting, the wonderful people over at Avon Books/HarperCollins have generously provided one copy of One Grave at a Time for me to give away on the blog today! This series is one of my absolute favorites, I can't recommend it highly enough. To enter, just leave a comment on this post with a valid email address so I can contact you if you win. This giveaway is open to US residents only and will run through midnight EST on Friday, September 2nd after which time a winner will be chosen and announced on the blog. Good luck everyone and a huge thank you to Avon/HarperCollins!

Don't forget to make a note of the event time (7pm), I always tell myself I'm going to remember events like this and then I end up forgetting and miss out on talking to some amazing authors. Blogger fail.

ONE GRAVE AT A TIME (from Goodreads)

Having narrowly averted an (under)world war, Cat Crawfield wants nothing more than a little downtime with her vampire husband, Bones. Unfortunately, her gift from New Orleans' voodoo queen just keeps on giving--leading to a personal favor that sends them into battle once again, this time against a villainous spirit.

Centuries ago, Heinrich Kramer was a witch hunter. Now, every All Hallows Eve, he takes physical form to torture innocent women before burning them alive. This year, however, a determined Cat and Bones must risk all to send him back to the other side of eternity--forever. But how do you kill a killer who's already long dead?

Monday, August 29, 2011

Review: Cleopatra's Moon

Vicky Alvear Shecter
Young Adult/Historical
343 pages
Available Now
Received from publisher for review

Cleopatra VIII Selene, daughter of infamous ruler Cleopatra VII and Marcus Antonius, lives a life of privilege in her Egyptian home with her twin brother Alexandros and her younger brother Ptolemy (Ptolly). Things begin to change however when her father finally goes through with the divorce of his Roman wife to be with Cleopatra VII and his family in Egypt.

Octavianus, nephew of Julius Caesar and brother to Marcus's displaced wife in Rome, declares war on Cleopatra VII the minute the divorce is finalized. Eventually, when both Cleopatra VII and Marcus meet their tragic ends, Cleopatra Selene and her brother are shipped off to Rome to live with the enemy.

Sequestered in Octavianus's home, Cleopatra Selene finds herself the only one determined to get back to Egypt and claim her rightful place on the throne though she knows it will be nearly impossible to do so. While Alexandros and Ptolly begin to make a home in Rome, Cleopatra Selene constantly plots and plans, but when death finds it's way into her family again and again she begins to wonder if Egypt is her destiny after all.


Cleopatra's Moon is a fascinating trip back in time to ancient Egypt and Rome, delighting our imaginations as fiction and historical fact blend beautifully to present a tale of a young girl with a famous name but hardly a famous story. Though we know certain elements are exaggerated or invented for the sake of the narrative flow, understanding that these people lived and endured tragedy after tragedy when all-conquering Rome absorbed Egypt into its ever-expanding empire keeps us turning the pages to learn more as legendary events unfold before us. Reading of the destruction of the House of Ptolemy through the eyes of Cleopatra's daughter makes the past leapfrog through time to come to vibrant life in the present–the pain so very real, the politicians so very devious, and the betrayal so very heartbreaking.

We meet Cleopatra Selene at the youthful age of seven, follow her through her mother's death at age eleven and then finally accompany her through her time in Rome where she stays until age sixteen. We can easily relate to her desire to be the type of woman her mother was, but we realize long before she does that she is merely going through the motions, trying to live up to a revered icon and symbol of Egypt's strength instead of actually living herself. She walks in the intimidating shadow of her mother long after her death, and we can't help but sigh in both sympathy and exasperation as she weighs every decision and every action against the thoughts and actions of her remarkable mother. Eventually though, as she spends more time alone in the house of her enemy, we finally begin to see her take a few hesitant steps into the light of independence, shaking off some of the weight of her mother's memory and beginning to think in terms of how she herself is going to deal with her situation instead of how Cleopatra would.

Cleopatra Selene, her twin Alexandros, and her youngest brother Ptolly are all a pleasure to read about, the overwhelming nature of the pressure on them to survive in the house of the man who robbed them of their parents, their home, and their crown weighing on us as much as them, making us wish history could magically be rewritten in a way where the fates aren't quite as cruel to their family. Included in the back of the book are several facts about all of the players in this story, details that fill us on on their lives after our brief sojourn with them ends, causing us to be all the more interested in learning as much as we can about their unfathomable existence.

Cleopatra's Moon does start out a bit slow, the build up to the epic demise of Marcus Antonius and Cleopatra VII a bit tedious at times as it's almost 100 pages in the making. Additionally, though we are introduced to Cleopatra Selene when she's seven and continue with her to sixteen, the tone of her voice never really changes to reflect her aging, so we start out reading about a very mature young girl and then continue on reading about the exact same young woman. Despite those minor flaws, Cleopatra's Moon is an enjoyable read, one that keeps us thinking, wondering, and craving more time in Egypt with perhaps the most memorable of its royal families.

Rating: 4/5

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Audiobook Giveaway: All These Things I've Done

Thanks to the wonderful people at Macmillan Audio, I have one audiobook of Gabrielle Zevin's young adult novel All These Things I've Done to give away on the blog today! To enter, please just leave a comment with a valid email address so I can contact you if you win. This giveaway is open to US residents only and will run through midnight EST on September 2nd after which time a winner will be chosen and announced on the blog. A huge thank you to Macmillan Audio for providing the audiobook and good luck everyone!

ALL THESE THINGS I'VE DONE (from Goodreads):

In 2083, chocolate and coffee are illegal, paper is hard to find, water is carefully rationed, and New York City is rife with crime and poverty. And yet, for Anya Balanchine, the sixteen-year-old daughter of the city's most notorious (and dead) crime boss, life is fairly routine. It consists of going to school, taking care of her siblings and her dying grandmother, trying to avoid falling in love with the new assistant D.A.'s son, and avoiding her loser ex-boyfriend. That is until her ex is accidentally poisoned by the chocolate her family manufactures and the police think she's to blame. Suddenly, Anya finds herself thrust unwillingly into the spotlight--at school, in the news, and most importantly, within her mafia family.

Also, I'm a little late announcing the winner of my Beautiful Creatures and Beautiful Darkness giveaway, I apologize for that! chose the below winner and she has been emailed. Thanks to all of you who entered and to Big Honcho Media for organizing the giveaway!


Friday, August 26, 2011

Guest Post: Tera Lynn Childs + Sophie Jordan

I'm super excited today to be a part of a blog tour organized by Big Honcho Media and Harper Teen for Tera Lynn Child's Sweet Venom and Sophie Jordan's Vanish. I've read both of these titles (you can read my reviews HERE and HERE) and absolutely adored them! I'm therefore truly thrilled to allow Tera and Sophie to take over the blog to give us some of their very best romantic advice.


My parents met when my mom was nineteen and my dad was twenty-two and this year they celebrated their forty-fifth wedding anniversary, so I have a pretty amazing romantic example to follow. They met, knew they wanted to get married by the next weekend and got married the next year, after a year apart on opposite sides of the country.

If their relationship has taught me one thing it’s that when you know, you know. My mom knew my dad was the one the moment she saw him. When my grandfather asked her if she was sure, she said she was sure. She never doubted, has never doubted. Not once.

I’ve been in plenty of situations—whether it’s a guy, a literary agent, or a pair of shiny new shoes—where I find myself making the argument. Trying to convince myself that the thing in question is right, that it’s worth the love or the trust or the money. Whenever I realize I’m doing that, I always try to make myself walk away. Because if I’m having doubts now, chances are I’ll regret the thing later.

If you have to talk yourself into something, then it’s not the right thing in the first place. Make things easier on yourself by walking away now, before it’s too late.


Make sure you like him.

Yes, this is the best romantic advice I’ve ever received and ever given. It’s so simple, but true. Of course, you’re first drawn to a “partner” due to that special zing! That first toe-curling moment when you both first see each other. This isn’t to say I’m discounting the importance of chemistry. In the beginning, it might seem like the only important thing. Chemistry. Attraction. I get it. It’s what I write about – partly. The other part, believe it or not, has to do with liking. Both in real life and the stories I make up.

When I craft a book, I create those moments where gazes meet, where hearts race, hands touch and sparks fly. As a writer, I love writing the “steamy” scenes. But just as important are what I call the “quiet” scenes … where a hero and heroine are learning about each other, when they’re discovering common ground and respect for one another. When they’re laughing and having a genuine exchange that sets the groundwork for a healthy future relationship.

If chemistry is the only thing a relationship has going for it … it’s not going to go very far. The same goes for the believability of a romantic couple in a book. Make sure you like each other. Make sure you are friends.

Thanks so much for stopping by ladies! This should be a really fun tour, so be sure and stop by Anna Reads on Monday to see what they have to say next!

Sophie and Tera are going to be making several physical tour stops as well at the following locations. I'm hoping to make it to the Dayton event as that's not far from me, and I would love to see some of you there!

September 7 @ 7 PM Blue Willow Bookshop - Houston, TX

September 8 @ 7 PM Books & Co - Dayton, OH

September 9 @ 7 PM Magic Tree Bookstore - Chicago, IL

October 1 - Austin Teen Book Festival - Austin, TX


Grace just moved to San Francisco and is excited to start over at a new school. The change is full of fresh possibilities, but it’s also a tiny bit scary. It gets scarier when a minotaur walks in the door. And even more shocking when a girl who looks just like her shows up to fight the monster.

Gretchen is tired of monsters pulling her out into the wee hours, especially on a school night, but what can she do? Sending the minotaur back to his bleak home is just another notch on her combat belt. She never expected to run into this girl who could be her double, though.

Greer has her life pretty well put together, thank you very much. But that all tilts sideways when two girls who look eerily like her appear on her doorstep and claim they’re triplets, supernatural descendants of some hideous creature from Greek myth, destined to spend their lives hunting monsters.

These three teenage descendants of Medusa, the once-beautiful Gorgon maligned in myth, must reunite and embrace their fates in this unique paranormal world where monsters lurk in plain sight.


An Impossible Romance. Bitter Rivalries. Deadly Choices.

To save the life of the boy she loves, Jacinda did the unthinkable: She betrayed the most closely guarded secret of her kind. Now she must return to the protection of her pride knowing she might never see Will again—and worse, that because his mind has been shaded, Will’s memories of that fateful night and why she had to flee are gone.

Back home, Jacinda is greeted with hostility and must work to prove her loyalty for both her sake and her family’s. Among the few who will even talk to her are Cassian, the pride’s heir apparent who has always wanted her, and her sister, Tamra, who has been forever changed by a twist of fate. Jacinda knows that she should forget Will and move on—that if he managed to remember and keep his promise to find her, it would only endanger them both. Yet she clings to the hope that someday they will be together again. When the chance arrives to follow her heart, will she risk everything for love?

In bestselling author Sophie Jordan’s dramatic follow-up to Firelight, forbidden love burns brighter than ever.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Review: One Grave at a Time

ONE GRAVE AT A TIME (Night Huntress #6)
Jeaniene Frost
Paranormal Romance
384 pages
Available August 30th
Received from publisher for review

Cat is still experiencing the residual effects of the voodoo queen of New Orlean's blood donation, slowly acclimating to her bevy of new ghostly companions. When longtime spectral friend Fabian brings a ghost with a special request into the home she shares with her husband Bones, she can hardly refuse her assistance after all he's done for them.

Turns out Fabian's friend is one of the many victims of Heinrich Kramer–famed witch hunter, hater of woman, and serial murderer. Though he's long dead, his spirit is still haunting this world and every night on Samhain, his ghostly form gives way to flesh and blood and he returns to the activities he so thoroughly relished in life.

Unable to bear the thought of more woman dying at the hands of such a monster, Cat and Bones immediately set to work in figuring out how to stop him in life and death, but Heinrich proves to be a formidable foe whose hatred has had years to fester and become stronger than ever, and Cat finds herself more deeply involved than she ever imagined.

One of the most impressive aspects of the Night Huntress series as a whole is Ms. Frost's ability to write characters who grow and progress a little in each book, so even when one particular story isn't as action packed or as emotionally intense as others before it, the vibrancy of the characters ensures we can never be anything short of entertained. Some installments offer blistering romance and palpable sexual tension, others have us positively guffawing and sucking in huge breaths like dying fish in between bouts of laughter, and then still others present different levels of drama, each aspect guaranteeing us a different type of reading experience from one story to the next. We are teased with the presence of just a couple of her trademark elements in each book, knowing we'll have to wait for the next installment to get a taste of what is purposefully left out of the one we're reading, and we can't help but smile while flipping the pages as we enjoy creativity at its best.

Cat is particularly remarkable in this newest release, still exhibiting the maturity she began to embrace in the last book by refusing to allow Bones to steamroll her with his protective instincts but also not reacting to that protectiveness by leaping into danger without formulating a plan and utilizing his input first. She listens and discusses problems and solutions with him, and when he begins to slip into his alpha-male role and seeks to keep her safe by his side, she intelligently and rationally compromises with him while still trying to help and defend those who need her like the Cat we all know and love. There does seem to be a little spark missing from the two of them however, and we find ourselves longing for just a touch of the relationship drama that plagued them in the first four books. This is most likely a "grass is always greener" situation though–when the petty (though understandable) jealousies were running rampant we wished for them to be happy and melodrama-free, and now that we've been given our wish, we desire that familiar and incendiary sexual tension resulting from their heated arguments.

While This Side of the Grave moved at a slightly slower pace than the previous books, One Grave at a Time returns us to normal Night Huntress speed, providing us with a truly despicable and diabolical villain constantly on the offensive as he focuses all his considerable animosity on Cat and Bones. His sense of righteousness is enough to make us cringe, and his views on women and witchcraft are more than enough to make bile rise in our throats as he executes his warped understanding of God's will, causing us to read as fast as possible in order to get to the moment where he gets his much-deserved comeuppance. Heinrich is an impressively disgusting specimen, joining the ranks of Cat's father and Gregor as individuals for whom our hatred burns especially bright.

Ms. Frost introduces another new character into the mix in this installment, a man who piques our curiosity and has our instincts on red alert as he worms his way into the government compound with Tate, Juan, and Cooper. It's clear he will be a recurring problem for Cat's former team and Cat herself, and despite his only brief appearances he makes himself memorable and has us itching for the next book to see how he will put into motion the the questionable ideas we can see flickering through his head. Disappointingly, Vlad is noticeably absent in this book–though we are slightly mollified by the fact that he's getting his own series–but Ian is present in all his ridiculous glory, his outlandish arrogance and humor making us feel right at home in a world we love so very much.

Rating: 4/5

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Guest Post: Fisher Amelie + The Understorey

Today I have the pleasure of welcoming author Fisher Amelie to the blog to share with us a fun interview between her and one of the characters from her young adult release The Understorey. So glad to have you on Supernatural Snark Fisher and Elliott!

Okay, so my name is Elliott Gray. I'm sorry to bother you and everything but the author of my story, Fisher Amelie? Heard of her? No? This is her, up above. Still no? If you don't recognize that worried mug, it's okay, it's kind of why I agreed to do this. Anyway, she asked me to interview her for this guest blog post thingie and since I owe her big time and all for getting my girl and I together, I couldn't say no. I've never done anything like this before so, yeah.

Here goes nothing....

Me: Fisher! What's up, dude? How have you been?

Fisher: Uh, I'm doing well, Elliott. Thank you for asking. How have you been?

Me: You're asking me how I've been? You write me, for gosh sakes! You would probably know better than I would. Sheesh.

Fisher: *clears throat* Oh, that's right. Sorry. I suppose you could be better.

Me: Thanks for reminding me.

Fisher: Sorry.

Me: It's okay. Listen, let's get this show on the road. Tell me why you're such a colossal dork.

Fisher: Elliott!

Me: Just kidding. Seriously, you are a dork but I love you, regardless. You're a goof but in a fun way.

Fisher: Thanks?

Me: Alright, so how long did it take you to write The Understorey?

Fisher: Approximately seven months.

Me: Holy schnikes! That's a long time.

Fisher: Is it? Well, it takes me a bit longer to write my books.

Me: Why? Slow typer?

Fisher: No, you cheeky little monkey! I have a two year old son. It's sort of difficult to find the time.

Me: Hmm. Dude, I had no idea. You think you know a person.

Fisher: I'm also married.

Me: Crikey! Maybe we shouldn't talk about me so much in our get togethers. I feel like I know nothing about you.

Fisher: It's alright. If I didn't talk to you about your crazy life where would I get my subject matter?

Me: Good point. Hey, I've always wanted to ask you something.

Fisher: Go on.

Me: Did ya' have to make me so darn tall? Six foot four is sort of embarrassing. People are always staring and gawking.

Fisher: They stare and gawk because you're a hottie, Elliott. Jeez. Would you like me to write your admirers out?

Me: Maybe. I mean, would you?

Fisher: Nope.

Me: Why'd you even ask then?!

Fisher: I don't know. Because you're being sort of bratty?

Me: Nyuck, nyuck, Fisher.

Fisher: Stop saying that. You say that entirely too much. Jules doesn't like it all that much, either.

Me: Seriously? She's never said anything.

Fisher: That's because she's too nice.

Me: You're right. She is. Dang. Okay, mental note: Stop saying 'nyuck'.

Fisher: Elliott, can we get on with this?

Me: *sighs* Alright, for those who don't know, what's your book, my story, The Understorey about?

Fisher: It's a supernatural romance about two teenagers fated for the other. It's sort of a thriller romance.

Me: You forgot to mention what a jerk Sawyer Tuttle is.

Fisher: He is not a jerk, Elliott. He's actually quite nice. You just don't like him all that much because he gives off the impression that he likes Jules.

Me: He does like Jules! He does!

Fisher: Okay, Elliott. If the unfortunate readers of this supposed interview are interested in The Understorey, I'll be sure to attach a link at the end letting them know where to find a more in depth description.

Me: Okay, that's cool. I guess I could stop losing track. Tell me, how did you come up with the name of the novel?

Fisher: Oh, this is cool. Okay, so I knew the book was going to be set in Bramwell, West Virginia and the area has the most beautiful forest. Plus, nature plays such a massive role in all four books of the series, I decided to find something that could relate to both the theme and its scenery.
 I researched what makes up a forest and found that it can be divided into layers much like the ocean or the inside of the earth. From bottom to top, you will find the undergrowth, the understorey, the canopy, and the emergents. Essentially, the life and how the plants in each layer thrive are indicative of the theme of each book. Although, the third and fourth book will be sold as one. The name of the series is 'The Leaving Series'. There's a double meaning in that, tee hee. 'The Leaving Series' is The Understorey, The Canopy, The Undergrowth and The Emergent, in that order.

Me: Get out of town! I had no idea.

Fisher: Well, you never asked.

Me: All true. So, are you writing The Canopy right now?

Fisher: No, I...

Me: WHAT?!?! Why?!

Fisher: Well, because I wanted some time to pass between books so I could come back fresh.

Me: Oh, man! Fisher! I have to wait to find out what happens?

Fisher: Yeah, just like everybody else.

Me: No! Not quite. You're forgetting the part where this is my life.

Fisher: Yeah, but you're fictional. Plus, you'll be happier with the results now that I've stepped away.

Me: Fictional! Fictional! After all we've been through? I can't believe you said that, Fisher. I'm slightly offended which is strange because you determine my moods. *sighs* Well, are you even writing?

Fisher: Gimme' a break, Elliott! If I didn't write, I'd go nuts. Right now I'm working on a young adult romance, I have yet to name, about two orphans who are forced from their foster homes because they suffer the 'eighteen disease'. They're thrown out with practically nothing but a few dollars and the clothes on their back. Both in desperate situations, they run into one another at social services and are instantly captivated by the other. They decide to rely on one another since 'two heads are better than one' but just when it seems they're making headway, crazy, crazy, crazy things begin to happen to them.

Me: Wow. I'd read it.

Fisher: You'd read anything. You read everything you can get your hands on.

Me: I know. I appreciate that, by the way. It's a good trait to have.

Fisher: Agreed.

Me: So, Fisher?

Fisher: Yes, dear?

Me: Jules just texted me.

Fisher: *sighs* Just go.

Me: Alright, love you.

Fisher: Love you too, goof. Tell Jules I miss our girl talks.

Me: I will.

Elliott exits. *crickets chirp*

Okay, so he's gone and that leaves just you and me. I apologize for that. He has no idea what he's doing but he's such a good guy. I'm glad he belongs to me. Good chap.

*taps nails on desk* You know what'd I'd wrestle a bear for right now? Milk and a few chocolate chip cookies. *looks around* I suppose I'll settle for these measly carrot sticks Elliott laid out for me. That must have been Jules' doing. Hmph. I'm in the mood for something sweet, though.

Oh, dash it all! Let's just share an apple pie together on my Facebook Fan Page or @fisheramelie on Twitter. Darn the calories! I'll leave a few slices on Goodreads too, if you'd rather visit me there.

Also, I think I hid a candy bar on my website at

Find Elliott's and Julia's story at Amazon

Find Elliott's and Julia's story at Barnes and Noble
Watch their trailer

P.S. Why is a raven like a writing desk?

THE UNDERSTOREY (from Goodreads)

Elliott Gray is incomplete, scrambling through the dark on his hands and knees, blindly feeling for the switch it would take to bring the peace he's forever been searching for.

Julia Jacobs is unhappy, missing a noticeable piece of her soul, a naked canvas with vivid paints at her disposal but no brush to assemble the vision.

At a young age, courtesy of an unknowing Elliott Gray, Julia tastes the burn of heartache and since then, has silently vowed to her heart that it would never be susceptible to such pain again but when Julia and Elliott discover they share a supernatural connection that's never been revealed before, Elliott makes it his life's goal to convince her they are fated. He knows, if she only gave him but one chance to prove himself, she would not be afraid but when Elliott's best friend Jesse Thomas turns out to be much more than meets the eye, it's all Elliott can do to hold on to his new love, while attempting to survive an enormous threat on their future.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Review: She Smells the Dead + Spirit Storm

Spirit Guide Novels 1 & 2
E.J. Stevens
Paranormal Young Adult
Available Now
Received from author for review

Yuki has recently discovered she has a surprising gift, one that she's not sure she would have chosen for herself: she can smell the dead. She can identify a scent unique to the person who died, something she attempts to use in order to find and help the lingering spirit with their restlessness by taking care of whatever business is keeping them from peace.

As though that weren't unusual enough, she also learns her boyfriend and longtime best friend Calvin is alpha of the local werewolf pack and is just now learning to control his change with the help of mentor Simon.

This series follows Yuki, Calvin, Simon and Yuki's best friend Emma as they all find themselves in one supernatural battle after another, juggling spirits, werewolf life, and the difficulties of making a young romance work.

While the title of the first book calls a rather unsavory picture to mind, our protagonist's penchant for receiving smell impressions that can aid her in the identification of a wayward spirit in need of mortal assistance is actually a rather refreshing concept. Yuki doesn't spend her life bombarded by whiffs of death and decay as one might think, but rather picks up on particular scents such as vinegar or burnt brownies that act as her only sensory clues to who these spirits were when living given she can neither see nor hear them. This basic premise makes for quick and interesting reads, though unfortunately the werewolf angle involving best-friend-turned-boyfriend Cal is far more prominent in both books. Yuki's sensitivity to spirits is linked to Cal's werewolf nature to tie the two disparate worlds together nicely, but we can't help but wish a fascinating gift such as hers might play a bigger role.

Yuki is a spunky goth girl who is both funny and charming, and she embraces the ever-expanding world of the paranormal she's quickly introduced to with little denial. In She Smells the Dead especially there are a few phrases such as "son of a dung beetle" she repeats with somewhat tedious regularity however, continually reminding us of her young age which, for us older readers of young adult fiction, makes her a bit harder to connect to. Her switch from friendship with Cal to something more happens extraordinarily quickly and easily in book one, bypassing some of the delicious tension a transition like that would inevitably cause and leaving us scratching our heads a bit as to why this development didn't happen sooner or why they weren't a couple from the very onset of the story. Their relationship is more interesting and believable in Spirit Storm due to their already established connection, and their interactions are therefore more successful overall.

Books one and two in the Spirit Guide series are well suited for younger readers, touching on a variety of supernatural subjects and detailing the lives of some characters we certainly wouldn't mind learning more about. Conflicts in both books do get resolved with seemingly little effort and fanfare after the buildup though, and given the short page count of both installments, those conflicts could have been expanded upon to add just a few more intricacies to the tale to draw us deeper into this world. That being said, Ms. Stevens shows a lot of promise in her creativity and characterization, her supporting cast of Emma and Simon intriguing us nearly as much as Cal and Yuki do, while Yuki's olfactory perceptions have unlimited plot possibilities moving forward.

Overall series rating: 3/5

Monday, August 22, 2011

Review: Vanish

VANISH (Firelight #2)
Sophie Jordan
Paranormal Young Adult
304 pages
Available September 6th
Received for review through Teen Book Scene

Warning: Synopsis contains spoilers from FIRELIGHT, but review is spoiler free.

Jacinda risked the safety of all her draki brethren when she revealed her true form to Will and his Hunter family. Now they know one of the draki's most fiercely guarded secrets: draki can shift into human form. Luckily for Jacinda, another draki is able to use her abilities to wipe all the Hunter minds clean of what they saw, including Will's. With his mind shaded, he'll think she's just vanished without a trace since Cassian is dragging her back to the pride.

Once home again, Jacinda finds herself an outcast. News of her reveal to the Hunters and her love for Will earns her hateful glances and whispered insults from those she used to count as friends. One of the few willing to speak to her is Cassian, proving himself to be understanding of her situation while making it known that his feelings for her haven't changed.

Though Jacinda tries to put Will behind her and focus on her future in the pride, thoughts of him refuse to stay buried, and when he shows up looking for her she knows with absolutely certainty that her place is with him. Will's family draws ever closer to the pride however, and when things go wrong for her yet again, she vows to set it right no matter the cost.

While Firelight detailed Jacinda being snatched from her home and forced into the sweltering isolation of the desert only to find a true sense of belonging and love, Vanish sees her returned home again more alone than she was being the single draki in a vast barren landscape. Only by experiencing the freedom Jacinda found in Firelight despite having to keep so much of her true self hidden are we able to truly understand the stifling effect her return to the pride has on her. What once was a sanctuary is now a prison, her role as a female draki and a fire-breather permanently etched in stone with little hope that her wants for her life will be taken into account. This startling contrast helps our bond to Jacinda strengthen, her restlessness and heartache echoed in the erratic nature of our breathing as her future presses its weight down on us all until we're as ready as she is to escape the claustrophobia of what her pride deems inevitable.

Jacinda, full of fire and fight in the first book, has that passion for life all but extinguished in the opening chapters, stuck in the purgatory of ignorance as to how profoundly Will is affected by the memory wipe, half-heartedly trying to move on but ultimately unable to do so while certainty and closure continue to elude her. However, the more Severin and the other draki push her to conform to what she's never wanted to be, the more air they breathe on the spark buried underneath her guilt, anger, and pain until she comes roaring back and begins to take responsibility for her thoughts and actions as well as the needs of her heart. By the end, the girl who had been existing in pieces separated by conflicting desires begins to knit herself back together and rebel against those, both Hunter and draki, who would hurt her or those she cares about.

Though Will earned our affection and loyalty in book one, he is relegated to the magnificent shadow cast by Cassian in this tale, and only our lingering memories of his moments with Jacinda in Firelight keep us from throwing our full support behind the sleek black onyx draki making a play for Jacinda's heart. Cassian's deliciously diabolical attack on our emotional attachment to Will is all the more dangerous and effective for its subtlety, his staunch support of her upon her return when she faces nothing but mockery and contempt coupled with his willingness to let her create distance between them as she deems necessary is a powerful weapon. Under the quiet onslaught we quickly find ourselves wondering if it would really be so bad for Jacinda to find a new home with him, one half of a power couple leading the pride together. The new dynamic between the three of them is intensely fascinating, and the few brief moments in which she succumbs to Cassian's strength and genuineness are much more believable and forgivable as she battles with individual want versus societal and species responsibility.

Those who get frustrated with cliffhanger endings will most likely shake their heads in dismay at the conclusion of this story though, the final page ending just as momentous events are about to occur. That being said however, Ms. Jordan not only ratchets up the romantic conflict in a way that emotionally splits us down the middle without once frustrating us at the development of a love triangle, but she also reveals some interesting tidbits with regard to Tamra and Will, making us wish for more page time as we attempt to make peace with the wait for book three. Overall, Vanish is a thoroughly enjoyable sequel despite its whopper of an ending, and things are certainly shaping up to only get darker and more dangerous as Jacinda and company attempt a role reversal with the family of Hunters who have been killing them off slowly.

Rating: 4/5

Saturday, August 20, 2011

IMM #35

In My Mailbox was created by Kristi over at The Story Siren and is a great way to see what other bloggers are reading and reviewing. I always love seeing what everyone else got for their week!

Kiss of Frost by Jennifer Estep
Hades by Alexandra Adornetto
Remembrance by Michelle Madow
Torrent by Lisa T. Bergren

Cascade by Lisa T. Bergren

Hourglass by Myra McEntire

A huge thank you this week goes out to Jennifer Estep, Feiwel & Friends, Michelle Madow, Lisa T. Bergren, and Heather from Buried in Books for surprising me with so many fabulous books when I came home from vacation yesterday!

Friday, August 19, 2011

Guest Post: Justin Gustainis

Today I have the pleasure of welcoming author Justin Gustainis to the blog to chat about vampires, guns, and his newest urban fantasy release, Hard Spell. I had the opportunity to read Justin's contribution to the Those Who Fight Monsters anthology and really enjoyed his writing, so I'm excited to let him take over the blog for a day!

“I know what you’re thinking, vamp -- did I fire six silver bullets, or only five?”


The line of dialogue quoted above is from the movie Dirty Harry Van Helsing, starring Clint Eastwood as a ruthless vampire hunter. Is has never been seen in the world that you and I live in, but Stan Markowski, the hero of Hard Spell, has seen it three times (before buying the DVD). Because in Stan’s world, the supernatural is real – and everybody knows it. Supernatural creatures (“supes”) have the same rights as anyone else – and the same responsibility to obey the law. In Scranton, PA, when one of them crosses the line, Stan Markowski is the one who gets the call. He’s a Detective Sergeant on the Scranton Police Department’s Occult Crimes Unit.

Like every cop, Stan carries a gun – a 9mm Beretta (the same model as the one used by the U.S. armed forces). He usually keeps it loaded with silver bullets – proof against both vampires and werewolves, and any human who is dumb enough to get in Stan’s way. He also carries some slugs tipped with cold iron, in case he needs to take down a fairy. And forget Tinkerbell, kids. In Stan’s world, a fairy can kick your ass – and plenty of them will, given an excuse.

Did you ever notice, in all the popular culture representations of vampires (in literature, film, TV, etc.), vampires never use a gun? Sure, they’ve got the fangs, and in many mythologies they are stronger and faster than humans. But why don’t they increase their badass potential by packing heat? It think it’s because a vampire attack is usually described in terms of the vamp wanting to drink your blood. For that, a .38 Special won’t do much good. But what if the vampire doesn’t want to eat you – what if he just doesn’t like you?

The only pop culture example I know of that shows a vampire using a gun is a 1959 western called Curse of the Undead. The bad guy is a vampire, but nobody knows it. He has a big reputation as a gunslinger. Of course, all of his gunfights take place after dark. He’s not actually all that fast – but if the other guy puts a bullet into him first, it has no effect, giving him plenty of time to return fire and kill his opponent. Talk about sneaky. Of course, eventually somebody figures out what’s going on, and makes a silver bullet. That was one surprised vamp gunslinger, I can tell you.

That case aside, vampires don’t use guns. But they do in Stan Markowski’s world – some of them, anyway. Like any other city, Scranton has its share of criminal gangs, and one of these is made up of vampires. Vampires need money, too, you know. Most of them live in apartments or houses, not crypts. They need new clothes once in a while, like the rest of us. They like flat screen TVs, too. And have you priced coffins lately? Most vampires earn their living with respectable jobs (on the night shift, of course), but some are drawn by the lure of easy money that a life of crime seems to promise. And if you mess with any of the Fang Gang, they’ll blow you away – and then maybe drink any blood you leave lying around. No sense letting it go to waste.

But even gangfangers know better than to mess with Stan Markowski. Because compared to Stan, Dirty Harry is a Cub Scout – and every vamp in Scranton knows it.

Thanks so much for stopping by today Justin! For more information on Justin and his books, you can find him here:

Watch the trailer

HARDSPELL (from Goodreads):

Stan Markowski is a Detective Sergeant on the Scranton PD's Supernatural Crimes Investigation Unit.

Like the rest of America, Scranton's got an uneasy 'live and let unlive' relationship with the supernatural. But when a vamp puts the bite on an unwilling victim, or some witch casts the wrong kind of spell, that's when they call Markowski. He carries a badge. Also, a crucifix, some wooden stakes, a big vial of holy water, and a 9mm Beretta loaded with silver bullets.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Review: A Beautiful Dark

Jocelyn Davies
Paranormal Young Adult
391 pages
Available September 27th
Received from publisher for review

It hasn't been an easy seventeen years for Skye. She lost her parents in a car crash when she was younger and was taken in by her Aunt Jo. As nice as her Aunt Jo is, her job keeps her away for days and weeks at a time, leaving Skye alone to fend for herself. She's got good friends though and is striving to maintain her stellar grades to get into a great college, hoping to carve out a new life for herself on her own.

On the night of her seventeenth birthday, Skye meets both Asher and Devin when they get into a public fight at the coffee shop where her party's being thrown. As it turns out, both boys are new transfers to her high school and seem more than innocently interested in her and her whereabouts, making her wonder if there's more to them than their pretty faces.

Two boys suddenly taking a keen interest in her is odd enough, but more and more strange things begin happening right around her birthday. The boiler at the coffee shop exploded that night she met the boys. She makes the thermostat in her house rise off the charts and break. And on her school's ski trip, she gets caught in an avalanche only to be saved by Asher and healed by Devin. They seem to know a lot about her, and when they finally explain to her their purpose and her role in all the odd occurrences, she's not sure she can handle her new importance. But the boys need her to choose a side and the time she has to make her decision is rapidly running out.

A Beautiful Dark slowly eases us into a battle of light versus dark but successfully blends the sides together to a degree where a separation between the two becomes nearly indecipherable, and we struggle along with Skye to determine who falls on which side of the line and where the line itself is even drawn. Like Skye, we are clueless as to the fight between the Order and the Rebellion, fledgling newcomers together to Ms. Davies's world of the supernatural as we try to make sense of the cryptic messages spewing from two attractively mysterious young men. We find ourselves drawn easily into the story, hungry for more history and more intriguing intricacies we know are purposefully being held just out of our reach, and we find our patience tested as Skye's is, waiting and wanting desperately for a little crystal clear illumination.

Though we are thankful for Skye's ignorance with regard to her heritage so we need not feel alone in our own, Skye herself plants a few blockades in our path when we try to connect to her. When confronted with tiny pieces of the truth (something that doesn't happen until 150 pages in), she slips into a somewhat tiresome cycle of acceptance and denial. She often decides to allow Asher and Devin to try to teach her what they know only to get frustrated and resort to ignoring them and the changes taking place in the vain hope they'll magically disappear. She also waffles in her attraction to both boys when neither of them seems overly worthy of her attention, making us question her judgment and wonder what she's seeing that we simply aren't.

Both Asher and Devin have moments where we feel we're on the brink of understanding their appeal and our hearts begin to warm to them, only to have one or the other blow shockingly cold and snuff out the small spark that was beginning to ignite our affection. They both claim to have feelings for Skye despite the rules and regulations of their mission warning them against it, but the sincerity of their claims is continually called into question through one gesture or another as they both advance and retreat in a dizzying romantic duel. There is no doubt potential in both of them, but in this first installment they seem to be nothing but smoke and mirrors when we desperately need someone to let us see behind the curtain and touch something tangible.

Additionally, barely any information is revealed to us about the two factions battling for Skye's allegiance for the first several hundred pages, and then toward the end we witness revelation after revelation in rapid succession, culminating in a cliffhanger that has us blinking stupidly in disbelief that it's over. While we wish information could have been distributed a little more evenly throughout the story, the conclusion is undeniably action-packed and surprising, brilliantly turning us into bait squirming on a hook before we even realize it's happening, and we become more involved at that moment than we have been at any point previously. That hook finds it's way under our skin quickly, content to be a permanent reminder for us to pick up book two with the lingering hope we'll be brought into the fold if we just keep reading.

Rating: 3/5

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Waterfall Read-Along

I'm really excited today to post about a fun upcoming event that will take place each Wednesday on the blog starting August 31st and ending the week of September 28th: The Waterfall Read-Along! I just finished this book last night and thoroughly enjoyed it, so if you've yet to read it I highly recommend you give it a try. Along with the fabulous ladies at Tina's Book Reviews, The Unread Reader, Irresistible Reads, and Edgy Inspirational Romance, we will be hosting discussion questions each week that will explore Lisa T. Bergren's absorbing time travel world.

Tina, the wonderful mastermind behind this event, I think does a fabulous job explaining all the details so I'm going to borrow a snippet from her post:

We want you to join us!! Sign up with the Linky, linking up your post announcing the read-along, acquire your copy of Waterfall and read chapters 1-6. The first five questions posted here will be discussed on August 31, 2011, where you can link up your answers and get info about the next week's discussion questions. If you want to use a button (created by the very talented Missie from The Unread Reader) for your sidebar please feel free and link back to the original sign up post. You can also use the buttons for any of the discussion posts and original posts you do. And for everyone who links up and joins the read-along, Lisa Bergren herself has offered a trilogy set of her series to one winner. Yup- that means Waterfall, Cascade and Torrent, all for you!! Signing up and participating automatically enters you into the drawing and if the winner is from the US- Lisa will sign them as well.


August 31- Chapters 1-6 Hosted by Tina at Tinasbookreviews

Sept 7- Chapters 7-11 Hosted by Missie at The Unread Reader

Sept 14- Chapters 12-17 Hosted by Joy & Serena at Edgy Inspirational Romance

Sept 21- Chapters 18-23 Hosted by Jenny at Supernatural Snark

Sept 28- Chapters 24-28 and Wrap Up Hosted by Nic at Irresistible Reads

I'm thrilled to be a part of this event and I can't wait to read everyone's questions and answers and relive Waterfall all over again! To sign up and get the first five questions, head on over to Tina's Book Reviews.

WATERFALL (from Goodreads):

In Waterfall, American teenager Gabi Betarrini accidentally finds herself in Fourteenth-Century Italy . . . Knights. Swords. Horses. Armor. And Italian hotties. Most American teens want an Italian vacation, but the Betarrini sisters have spent every summer of their lives there with their archaeologist parents. Stuck on yet another hot, dusty dig, they are bored out of their minds... until they place their hands atop handprints in an ancient tomb and find themselves catapulted into the Fourteenth Century and in the middle of a fierce battle between knights bent on killing one another.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Giveaway: Beautiful Creatures + Beautiful Darkness

In order to celebrate the October 18th release of Beautiful Chaos and the recent release of Dream Dark, I have a very special giveaway today. Thanks to the fabulous people at Big Honcho Media and Little, Brown Books for Young Readers I have one copy of both Beautiful Creatures and Beautiful Darkness to give to one lucky commenter! To enter, please just leave a comment with a valid email address so I can contact you if you win. This giveaway is open to US residents only and will run through midnight EST on Saturday, August 20th after which time a winner will be chosen and announced on the blog.

Be sure and check out Dream Dark: A Beautiful Creatures Story available now, it's a great way to tide you over until the release of Beautiful Chaos!


This all-new original e-book story stars Link, who undergoes a heart-racing transformation after the climactic battle in Beautiful Darkness. Dream Dark also includes an exclusive sneak peek at the first five chapters of Beautiful Chaos, the third book in the bestselling Beautiful Creatures series.

Find more information HERE

BEAUTIFUL CHAOS from Goodreads:

Ethan Wate thought he was getting used to the strange, impossible events happening in Gatlin, his small Southern town. But now that Ethan and Lena have returned home, strange and impossible have taken on new meanings. Swarms of locusts, record-breaking heat, and devastating storms ravage Gatlin as Ethan and Lena struggle to understand the impact of Lena's Claiming. Even Lena's family of powerful Supernaturals is affected - and their abilities begin to dangerously misfire. As time passes, one question becomes clear: What - or who - will need to be sacrificed to save Gatlin?

For Ethan, the chaos is a frightening but welcome distraction. He's being haunted in his dreams again, but this time it isn't by Lena - and whatever is haunting him is following him out of his dreams and into his everyday life. Even worse, Ethan is gradually losing pieces of himself - forgetting names, phone numbers, even memories. He doesn't know why, and most days he's too afraid to ask.

Sometimes there isn't just one answer or one choice. Sometimes there's no going back. And this time there won't be a happy ending.

Beautiful Chaos releases October 18th and you can find more information about it and the first two books in the series HERE. Good luck everyone!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Review: The Girl of Fire and Thorns

(Fire and Thorns #1)
Rae Carson
Young Adult Fantasy
422 pages
Received from publisher for review

It's Elisa's sixteenth birthday. It's also her wedding day. Her father has arranged her marriage to King Alejandro as part of a political alliance in preparation for the upcoming war with the Invierne. Not many outside those closest to her know that she is also the bearer of the Godstone, a sparkling blue gem in her navel that shows everyone God has chosen her for a special Service. Only one in every century is chosen.

Elisa doesn't feel like a chosen one. She's not as beautiful or charming as her older sister, and as soon as she reaches her new husband's kingdom, he asks that she lie to those in the court and keep their marriage a secret. She learns why when she sees his stunning mistress. Alone and unsure, Elisa wonders what's in store for her.

Not long after her arrival, Elisa wakes to find a cloth over her face, coming to hours later and miles away from the palace. Taken by a group of young men and women her age, they lead her to an outpost in the desert and show her that the war her husband is preparing for has actually already begun. With them, Elisa finds a new purpose and learns some of the history of the Godstone, most notably that the bearers almost always die young. With war raging, she has little doubt she will soon join them in demise, but hopes she can fulfill her Service before she goes.

Reading part one of The Girl of Fire and Thorns (there are three sections) is a bit like playing that game where you (along with a group of other gluttons for punishment) spin in circles as fast as possible and then attempt to run in a straight line quicker than those around you while onlookers watch in amusement as everyone wobbles about extraordinarily disoriented. In the same vein, we as readers are dropped into Elisa's story, informed quickly she bears something called a Godstone and is being pawned off to a marriage of convenience and politics, but we are given so little history as to how we've reached this point. We are told of an impending war with a group of people called the Invierne, yet we know nothing about them or why they are at odds with Elisa's new husband, and while we are aware Elisa has been chosen for the Godstone we are given no background information regarding it either. Thus, we find ourselves floundering a bit in a world with already established political relationships we don't fully comprehend, grasping for something concrete to steady us as we're tugged along on Elisa's journey.

Once we reach part two, it's as though a switch gets flipped and we suddenly find ourselves intrigued and invested as our feet, previously dragging on this adventure, move faster and faster until we're flat out sprinting to get to the end in order to find out what happens. This change is due in most part to Elisa herself, starting out in the beginning a girl who constantly fixates on her weight and the fact that she's not as pretty or skinny as those around her, and who seems content with her ignorance of the Service she is to perform as a bearer. When she's kidnapped about 150 pages in however, Elisa sheds the skin (literally and figuratively) of the slightly chubby princess with a backbone that bends to the will of others as needed, and gradually transforms into a young woman of drive and determination–that previous spinal bend slowly straightening and solidifying into steel. She grows from a shy follower to a bold leader, leaving her melancholic musings on physical appearance behind and focusing on learning as much as she can about who she is as a bearer and how she can help those who so clearly need her.

With Elisa's progress from a girl comprised of transparent vapors whom our fingers slip right through as we try to connect to her to a tangible intellectual powerhouse no longer afraid to speak her mind, we find ourselves utterly captivated. The questions regarding the history of the war between the Invierne and the rest of the territories become irrelevant as the relationships between Elisa and those who look up to her strengthen and grow in emotional complexity, drawing our attention away from what we don't know and dazzling us with what's currently taking place on the pages. Ms. Carson also makes it abundantly clear that no character is safe in this world of fantasy she's created, fraying the strands of our newly developed connections and showing us just how involved we've become by delivering some well-placed blows to the heart.

The Girl of Fire and Thorns ends far stronger than it starts, progressing into a truly entertaining tale that leaves us craving more. There is still a lot of history missing by the end of these 400 plus pages, but as it is the first in a series, presumably we'll learn a bit more as we continue forth. Elisa is a remarkable heroine once the kidnapping sparks a fire in her, proving to both her and us just how much of a fighter she truly is, and I for one cannot wait to see how she will continue to mature in the next couple books.

Because I had such drastically different reactions to part one versus parts two and three, I'm splitting my rating:

Part 1: 3/5
Parts 2&3: 4/5

Saturday, August 13, 2011

IMM #34

In My Mailbox was created by Kristi over at The Story Siren and is a great way to see what other bloggers are reading and reviewing. I always love seeing what everyone else got for their week!

Sweetly by Jackson Pearce
The Shattering by Karen Healey
Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor
Amplified by Tara Kelly
Anathema by Megg Jensen

Changing the Game by Jaci Burton

An enormous thank you this week to Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, Macmillan, and Megg Jensen for sending me the above to read, I'm really looking forward to all of them!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Cover Critique: Bad Brad + An Enchanted Update

Let me preface this post by saying that my critiques of these covers are in no way, shape or form a reflection on the author, the content or the publisher. I know the authors have very little, if any, control over the design. These are strictly my thoughts meant simply to be humorous and not insulting.

Um. I'm not sure I can fully express my thoughts on this cover in words, but I'm going to try. Maybe talking it out will help me better understand just what is happening here because I find myself at a loss. Why, oh why, has the image of his body been cropped this way? Basically, and stop me if I'm wrong, it looks like Brad here is beginning to lift a leg as though he's going to pass gas and send those little candle flames up in a blaze of smelly glory with his noxious fumes. Is that why he's bad? He ruins the Festival of Lights by stripping naked and then streaking from one light show to the next farting on candles? Is that what I'm to take away from this cover? One word my friends: Sexy. I personally find myself unbearably attracted to men who use their body's natural flatulence in creative, if fire hazardous, ways. Honestly, who doesn't? You and me Brad, we're a match made in heaven.

So, now that we've established that our naughty friend Brad either enjoys having his butt cheeks singed and/or thinks farting on flames is hilarious, we can afford to look at the other element on the cover: A coil of rope. Huh. Does he tie people up and torture them by forcing them to stay in the same room with him while he puts on his little show? *full body shudder* I can just picture this as some sort of fraternity stunt where a poor pledge is tied to a chair in a room full of candles, covered with a blanket and then forced to endure a repeated dutch oven by Brad and company. Romantic feelings this cover does not inspire.

I think we're supposed to get an erotic BDSM vibe with the candles and the rope and the nakedness, but the way all the elements come together is just so very wrong. I keep blinking at the image thinking maybe the next time I close my eyes I'm going to open them to find the candles have been snuffed out by Bad Brad's wind, and in my infinite maturity, I find that endlessly amusing. Win.

Moving on from Baddy McBad above, some of you may remember a few weeks back I did a critique of some beautifully illustrated covers that were just a touch awkward due to the foliage emerging from the young woman's backside. If you missed that one, or can't recall it, allow me to refresh your memory:

Ah yes, the butt blooms. Magnificent. Since the little tagline said "more erotic bedtime stories" I figured there must have been a prequel to the above title and got very excited as to what it could possibly look like after the gorgeous bizarreness of this one. So I looked it up and found this:

I was most aggrieved at the seeming normalcy of this cover, and you may remember I had been hoping for some sort of nipple blossom in this image given that her bum was the focus of book two. Well, ask and ye shall receive my friends, ask and ye shall receive. Behold:

What a spectacular titty lily she has! She's positively orgasmic over the fact that her breasts have spawned such a monstrous flower, and I have to say I feel just a bit self-conscious that my own boobs have no such abilities. Alas, my nipples are quite infertile. How disappointing for me.

She better come out of her pleasure-induced stupor quickly though, those black birds seem to have a keen interest in her bosom flora and look as though they are gearing up to dive bomb her chest at any moment. Snap out of it my little naked nymph, danger is brewing!

The illustration on this cover again is beautiful, but the placement of the flower just makes me giddy happy. A big thank you to Aleksandra for finding this gem and bringing it to my attention!

Happy Friday Everyone:)

Interview: Thea Harrison

I'm extremely excited today to welcome author Thea Harrison to the blog! She writes the Novels of the Elder Races, a paranormal romance series that has quickly become one of my very favorite addictions. Her books are fresh and fun and feature some oh-so swoon-worthy alpha male heroes. If you're a fan of memorable characters whose romances never overshadow the plot itself, then this is a series you must try! Storm's Heart, book two in the series, released last week (you can read my review HERE) and book three, Serpent's Kiss, releases October 4th.

Do you remember the first aspect of the Elder Races books to pop into your head? Was it a single character or something specific about the world?

I love this question! The whole thing began as a collection of images floating around in the back of my mind. One of the most persistent of the images was of the Dragon Bound heroine Pia running on the beach. The passage went like this:

She glanced at the sky and paused. In the distance over the water, a patch of the sky rippled. It looked like the watery shimmer of heat waves off an asphalt highway on a hot summer day. But the May evening was cooling down, the sky just starting to darken in the east and there was no asphalt anywhere near that ripple.

She shaded her eyes. What was it? It was big and seemed to be getting bigger fast. She watched the patch grow, her stomach clenching. She’d never seen anything like it before, but she knew it was wrong.

Wait a minute. That shimmering patch of air wasn’t growing bigger. It was getting

Your world introduces us to some lesser-known supernatural beings such as thunderbirds and gryphons; is there one being in particular that has been the most fun to research or write about?

You zeroed right in on the two creatures I’ve had the most fun researching to date! I got excited when I realized that I hadn’t read anything with thunderbird shifter characters in it. That doesn’t mean they aren’t out there, written by someone—I just haven’t read of them before, and this was in part how Tiago was born. I also have enjoyed what I’ve read about gryphons. Wikipedia has an enjoyable article, for anyone who might be interested at:

If Tricks had to pick a favorite item of clothing or accessory, what might she choose? If Tiago had to pick a favorite weapon?

This is another awesome question! But Tricks might have fainted in my head just now. ONE favorite item of clothing or accessory? Just ONE? Sure you mean one favorite TYPE of clothing or accessory. (See, she has started the wheedling and bargaining already.) If that is what you meant, she would have to pick shoes. She has a serious shoe addiction.

Tiago feels the same way about weaponry, but if push comes to shove—and it has before—he would have to pick a battle axe. He’s got the strength to wield battle axes singlehandedly, and they can do maximum damage in a battle.

Dragos doesn’t necessarily seem like the type to welcome strangers into his territory, was it difficult for Tricks to convince him to provide her with sanctuary after she fled her home?

Dragos immediately saw the advantages to giving Tricks asylum in the Wyr demesne. He had had a peaceful rapport with Tricks’s father Rhian, and he saw nothing good coming from Urien usurping power. Dragos knows how to play a political long game. He knew if he gave Tricks shelter, he could create an almost unparalleled alliance with the Dark Fae Queen if he could keep her alive and wait for the right opportunity to see her on the throne.

If Tricks and Tiago had to sit down and interview each other as part of the promotional tour for Storm's Heart, what might be the first question out of each of their mouths?

This is another awesome question! I’m seeing them being interviewed by Bob Eubanks from The Newlywed Game. Tricks and Tiago are a great example of how opposites attract. They are completely drawn to each other and yet mystified at the same time. I actually think any interview with them would run the risk of going completely off the rails. It might go something like this:

Tiago: Why do you wear make-up?
Tricks: What do you mean—why do I wear make-up? Don’t you like me with make-up?
Tiago (cagily): I think you are beautiful no matter what.
Tricks: That’s not what I asked. I asked if you liked me with make-up.
Tiago: This is a stupid conversation.
Tricks: Did you just call me stupid?
Tiago: NO. Shut up. Come here.
Tricks (whispering): We’re still on camera. People are watching!
Tiago (to the audience): Go away. Find your own person to kiss.

What would Tiago say has been the hardest thing about adapting to the world’s changes through his extraordinarily long lifetime?

For Tiago, the hardest thing about adapting to the world’s changes has been the sweeping changes brought by modern civilization. He has a difficult time if he is cooped up too much in modern cities.

You write such wonderful romantic pairings–characters who win us over with their flaws and vulnerabilities and who make us smile with their strength and intelligence. Do you have a favorite paranormal couple outside your own books?

The first couple that came to mind was Eileen Wilks’ Lupi series, with Lily Yu and werewolf Rule Turner. I love those two, and I especially love that we get to revisit them in several books!

All of your characters have such unusual names, do you do any research to find them or do they just come to you as you develop their personalities?

Some of my characters’ names come to me, and others I have to research. For instance, Dragos’s name was one I had to research. His names, both Dragos and Cuelebre, have meaning. Dragon Bound’s heroine Pia’s first name came to me, but then I had to do research for the rest of her name. Tiago Black Eagle’s name came easily to me, and so did Niniane Lorelle. Sometimes, though, I’ve got to dig for a little extra meaning.

On the cover of both Dragon Bound and Serpent's Kiss, we get to see Dragos’s and Rune’s faces, but with Tiago we just get his torso (and what a lovely torso it is). Is there a reason he wished to keep his face to remain hidden?

As far as I know, there is no reason at all for this. The Berkley art department created all three book cover images. I provided initial input only in a general way. For example, when I was asked, I said that Storm’s Heart’s cover should have a stormy, darker aspect, and it would be wonderful if Serpent’s Kiss had the colors of a desert in it. I love how there is an urban scene in the background of each one.

If you had to describe your experience with writing the novels of the Elder Races thus far in one word, what would that word be?


What word would you use to describe how you see the future of the series?


Thank you so much for having me. I had terrific fun!

Thank you so much for taking the time to answer my questions Thea! As of now, I believe there are going to be six books total in the series (here's hoping there's more beyond that!), all coming out several months apart. For more information on Thea and her books, you can find her here:

Dragon Bound
Storm's Heart
Serpent's Kiss
Oracle's Moon