Monday, December 31, 2012

2012 Reading Challenges

This year I challenged myself to read 125 books. And by books, I mean novels, novellas, graphic novels, mangas, and short stories. Over 100 of these 125 books were actual novels, which was the goal! I've been keeping track of smaller goals on the sidebar, but since they're about to be deleted for my 2013 lists, here they are!

12 New Releases)
1. A Perfect Blood by Kim Harrison
2. Before I Wake by Rachel Vincent
3. Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore
4. Black Heart by Holly Black
5. The Calling by Kelley Armstrong
6. Carnival of Souls by Melissa Marr
7. City of Lost Souls by Cassandra Clare
8. The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater
9. Shine by Jeri Smith-Ready
10. Storm by Brigid Kemmerer
11. Feyland: The Twilight Kingdom by Anthea Sharp
12. Thirteen by Kelley Armstrong

12 Books That Have Been on my Shelf Too Long (YA)
1. Birthmarked by Caragh O'Brien
2. The DUFF by Kody Keplinger
3. The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale
4. Hunger by Jackie Morse Kessler
5. Keeping You a Secret by Julie Anne Peters
6. Little (Grrl) Lost by Charles de Lint
7. Magic Under Glass by Jaclyn Dolamore
8. Matched by Ally Condie
9. Rampant by Diana Peterfreund
10. The Secret Year by Jennifer Hubbard
11. The Dark Wife by Sarah Diemer
12. Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson

12 Middle Grade
1. A Puff of Pink by Miranda Jones
2. Aidan of Oren: The Journey Begins by Alan St. Jean
3. Castle Magic by Miranda Jones
4. Double Trouble by Miranda Jones
5. The Fairy-Tale Detectives by Michael Buckley
6. Forsaken by Katherine Langrish
7. Holly and the Winter Queen by Sarah Diemer
8. Make a Wish by Miranda Jones
9. Skulduggery Pleasant by Derek Landy
10. Splendors and Glooms by Laura Amy Schlitz
11. The Eternity Code by Eoin Colfer
12. Wonderstruck by Brian Selznick

Graphic Novels
1. Kuroshitsuji 8 by Yana Toboso
2. Polly and the Pirates 2 by Ted Naifeh
3. Cinderella: Fables Are Forever by Chris Roberson
4. Jack of Fables 8 by Bill Willingham
5. X-Men: Worlds Apart by Christopher Yost
6. Black Panther: Civil War by Reginald Hudlin
7. Black Panther: The Deadliest of the Species by Reginald Hudlin
8. Black Panther: Little Green Men by Reginald Hudlin
9. X-Men/Black Panther: Wild Kingdom by Peter Milligan
10. Avatar: The Last Airbender - The Promise 1 by Gene Luen Yang
11. Avatar: The Last Airbender - The Promise 2 by Gene Luen Yang
12. Avatar: The Last Airbender - The Promise 3 by Gene Luen Yang

6 Classics (15 years or older)
1. Adventures of a Brownie by Dinah Mulock Craik
2. Annie on my Mind by Nancy Garden
3. The Last Battle by CS Lewis
4. The Secret Circle: The Power by LJ Smith
5. The Silver Chair by CS Lewis
6. Winnie the Pooh by AA Milne

1. Amityville Horrible by Kelley Armstrong
2. Bound by Sophie Oak
3. Forbidden by Kelley Armstrong
4. GunShy by Seleste deLaney
5. Kiss of Death by Seleste deLaney
6. One Solstice Night by Elora Bishop

2012 Reading List

Here is my list for 2012: start Jan 1 and end Dec 31.

N = Novel
Na = Novella
M = Manga
GN = Graphic Novel
A = Anthology

Short Stories are listed at the bottom


1. Never to Sleep by Rachel Vincent (Na)
2. The Secret Circle 3: The Power by L Smith (N)
3. Static by Tawny Stokes (N)
4. GunShy by Seleste deLaney (Na)
5. Clockwork Prince by Cassandra Clare (N)
6. Wonderstruck by Brian Selznick (GN)
7. Nightshade by Andrea Cremer (N)
8. Wolfsbane by Andrea Cremer (N)
9. Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher (N)
10. Bloodrose by Andrea Cremer (N)
11. Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan (N)


12. Dragons Don't Dance (beta-read) by Julie Particka Kulmb (N)
13. The Calling by Kelley Armstrong (N)
14. Everblue by Brenda Pandos (N)
15. Feyland: The Dark Realm by Anthea Sharp (N)
16. The Strange Case of Finley Jayne by Kady Cross (Na)
17. Black Butler volume 8 by Yana Toboso (M)


18. A Perfect Blood by Kim Harrison (N)
19. Trees by Harry Behn
20. Huntress by Malinda Lo (N)
21. Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore (N)


22. Black Heart by Holly Black (N)
23. Across the Universe by Beth Revis (N)
24. Magic Night by Isobelle Carmody
25. Polly and the Pirates volume 2 by Ted Naifeh (GN)
26. Cinderella: Fables are Forever by Chris Roberson (GN)
27. Jack of Fables volume 8 by Bill Willingham (GN)
28. X-Men: Worlds Apart by Christopher Yost (GN)


29. Black Panther: Civil War by Reginald Hudlin (GN)
30. Black Panther: The Deadliest of the Species by Reginald Hudlin (GN)
31. The Unnaturalists by Tiffany Trent (N)
32. Black Panther: Little Green Men by Reginald Hudlin (GN)
33. X-Men/Black Panther: Wild Kingdom by Peter Milligan (GN)
34. Shift by Jeri Smith-Ready (N)
35. Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson (N)
36. Darkest Powers: Dangerous, Divided, and Disenchanted by Kelley Armstrong (A)


37. Purity by Jackson Pearce (N)
38. Sirenz by Charlotte Bennardo and Natalie Zaman (N)
39. Keeping You a Secret by Julie Anne Peters (N)
40. Grl2grl 2 by Julie Anne Peters (Na)
41. Elemental by Brigid Kemmerer (Na)
42. City of Lost Souls by Cassandra Clare (N)
43. Forsaken by Katherine Langrish (Na)
44. Codename: Sailor V, vol 1 by Naoko Takeuchi (M)
45. The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater (N)


46. Sugar Moon by Sarah Diemer (Na)
47. Sirenz Back in Fashion by Charlotte Bennardo and Natalie Zaman (N)
48. Evergreen by Brenda Pandos (N)
49. The Dark Wife by Sarah Diemer (N)
50. Thirteen by Kelley Armstrong (N)
51. Before I Wake by Rachel Vincent (N)


52. Shine by Jeri Smith-Ready (N)
53. Magic Under Glass by Jaclyn Dolamore (N)
54. Storm by Brigid Kemmerer (N)
55. The Big Green Book by Robert Graves (illus by Maurice Sendak)
56. The Secret Year by Jennifer Hubbard (N)
57. The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore by William Joyce
58. Hunger by Jackie Morse Kessler (N)
59. The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein
60. Frankenstein by Rick Walton
61. Rampant by Diana Peterfreudn (N)


62. Avatar: The Last Airbender: The Promise, vol 1 by Gene Luen Yang (GN)
63. Avatar: The Last Airbender: The Promise, vol 2 by Gene Luen Yang (GN)
64. Sorcerers & Secretaries, vol 1 by Amy Kim Ganter (M)
65. Mangaman by Barry Lyga (GN)
66. The DUFF by Kody Keplinger (N)
67. Skulduggery Pleasant by Derek Landy (N)
68. Little (Grrl) Lost by Charles de Lint (N)
69. The Fairy-Tale Detectives by Michael Buckley (N)
70. Sorcerers & Secretaries, vol 2 by Amy Kim Ganter (M)
71. Kiss of Death by Seleste deLaney (N)
72. The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale (N)


73. Ice by Sarah Beth Durst (N)
74. Annie on my Mind by Nancy Garden (N)
75. Feyland: The Bright Court by Anthea Sharp (N)
76. Bound by Sophie Oak (N)
77. The Silver Chair by CS Lewis (N)
78. Make a Wish! by Miranda Jones (N)
79. The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky (N)
80. It's the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown by Charles Shulz
81. Salt Water Taffy: The Legend of Old Salty by Matthew Loux (GN)

82. Avatar: The Last Airbender: The Promise, vol 2 by Gene Luen Yang (GN)
83. The Adventures of a Brownie by Dinah Mulock Craik (N)
84. Aidan of Oren: The Journey Begins by Alan St. Jean (N)
85. The Last Battle by CS Lewis (N)
86. My Faith in Frankie by Mike Carey (GN)
87. Matched by Ally Condie (N)


88. Amityville Horrible by Kelley Armstrong (Na)
89. The Pearl Wars by Nick James (N)
90. Double Trouble by Miranda Jones
91. Birthmarked by Caragh O'Brien (N)
92. The Walking Dead, vol 1 by Robert Kirkman (GN)
93. Forbidden by Kelley Armstrong (Na)
94. One Solstice Night by Elora Bishop (Na)
95. The Dark Woods by Sarah and Jennifer Diemer (A)
96. A Puff of Pink by Miranda Jones
97. The Eternity Code by Eoin Colfer (N)
98. Winnie-the-Pooh by AA Milne (N)
99. Castle Magic by Miranda Jones
100. Splendors and Glooms by Laura Amy Schlitz (N)
101. Feyland: The Twilight Kingdom by Anthea Sharp (N)

Short Stories

1. "Yes Alana, There is a Santa Claus" by Seleste deLaney
2. "Christmas in Chains" by Seleste deLaney
3. "Devil's Bargain" by Seleste deLaney
4. "What Have I Done" by Seleste deLaney
5. "The Cost of Love" by Seleste deLaney
6. "Just a Man" by Seleste deLaney
7. "Shift River Scene" by Jeri Smith-Ready
8. "Forever" by Jeri Smith-Ready
9. "Dangerous" by Kelley Armstrong
10. "Divided" by Kelley Armstrong
11. "Disenchanted" by Kelley Armstrong
12. "V-Plates" by Kelley Armstrong
13. "The New Guy" by Kelley Armstrong 14. "Off-Duty Angel" by Kelley Armstrong
15. "A Question of Power" by Cassandra Clare
16. "The Act of Falling" by Cassandra Clare
17. “Far” by Sarah Diemer
18. “The Witch Sea” by Sarah Diemer
19. "From Russia with Love" by Kelley Armstrong
20. “Crow Roads” by Charles de Lint
21. “Seek” by Sarah Diemer
22. “Our Lady of Wolves” by Sarah Diemer
23. “We Grow Accustomed to the Dark” by Sarah Diemer
24. "The Forever Star" by Sarah Diemer
25. "Belonging" by Kelley Armstrong
26. "Hallow's Eve" by Sarah Diemer
27. "Once Upon a Hallow's Eve" by Sarah Diemer
28. "Click-Clack the Rattlebag" by Neil Gaiman
29. "Trouble on the Reserve" by Kim Harrison
30. "Holly and the Winter Queen" by Sarah Diemer

Book Review: The Fairy-Tale Detectives

For Sabrina and Daphne Grimm, life has not been a fairy tale. After the mysterious disappearance of their parents, the sisters are sent to live with their grandmother--a woman they believed was dead! Granny Relda reveals that the girls have two famous ancestors, the Brothers Grimm, whose classic book of fairy tales is actually a collection of case files of magical mischief. Now the girls must take on the family responsibility of being fairy tale detectives.

I think The Fairy-Tale Detectives may be my favorite middle grade book I've read this year. The world Michael Buckley created is so much fun and filled with so many of my favorite fairy tale characters. Sabrina, and her little sister, Daphne, are sent to live with their Granny Relda, after their parents' disappear. Daphne is thrilled to finally get to meet her grandmother, but Sabrina is not to be fooled. The girls were told that their grandmother had passed on. Sabrina wants nothing more than to escape.

After much convincing, she realizes that Granny Relda is indeed their grandmother, and they are descended from the Brothers Grimm. Sabrina and Daphne must save Granny Relda and a whole host of fairy tale characters from the giants that have been unleashed on their town. But who planted the beans and allowed the giants down on earth? There are so many twists and turns, and the mystery is really well developed, that it's hard to see the end coming. And, to be honest, I read this so fast, I didn't have time to think about what was going to come next.

Growing up, I loved fairy tales. And not just the Disney versions. And this series brings all the characters together. Whether you're a kid like Sabrina or the same age as Granny Relda (or somewhere in between) this is a fabulous, fun book that the entire family can enjoy. Read it. Trust me; you won't be disappointed.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Book Review: Skulduggery Pleasant

Meet Skulduggery Pleasant

Ace Detective
Snappy Dresser
Razor-tongued Wit
Crackerjack Sorcerer
Walking, Talking,
Fire-throwing Skeleton

--as well as ally, protector, and mentor of Stephanie Edgley, a very unusual and darkly talented twelve-year-old.

These two alone must defeat an all-consuming ancient evil.

The end of the world?

Over his dead body.

I scored a set of Skulduggery Pleasant by Derek Landy at a used book store a few years ago. As so many books do, they sat on my shelf, unread. I finally read the first book and quite enjoyed it. I often find myself having difficulty getting into Middle Grade books. I have trouble relating to the characters. I'm thirty, so I'm old enough to be a mother of these 10-12 year old kids. It's a paranormal, action adventure. So every time poor Stephanie gets within sight of danger, I'm going "Why isn't her mother with her?" or "Go home where it's safe!" And that wouldn't be an exciting story.

I think it's the age difference that causes the difficulty relating to these kids, and that causes the difficulty with getting into the book. But once the story picks up, I stop having these troubles.

Stephanie meets Skulduggery Pleasant, an acquaintance of her late uncle, shortly after his death. Skulduggery is a walking, talking skeleton. Yep, that's him on the covers. He's also a sorcerer, capable of great magic. He's also quite funny, with a rather dry sense of humor. While he wants to keep Stephanie out of harm's way, danger comes knocking and two are thrust into a non-stop adventure.

Once I got into this book, it didn't want me to put it down. I rarely find myself laughing out loud as much as I did while reading this. I enjoyed both Skulduggery and Stephanie's characters and relationship. Stephanie's parents are rather remover, and Skulduggery makes a good mentor for her. Stephanie grows up a lot, being put in dangerous situations and having to make adult choices. And I can't wait to see where she goes next.

If you're in the mood for something light-hearted and fun, I definitely suggest this series. One thing that draws me to middle grade fiction is that even when danger is surrounding our beloved characters, it doesn't have such a dark and heavy feel as most YA and adult books. And while I like the darkness that is found in such books, it's really nice to break it up with a few middle grades.

Unfortunately, if you're in the US, only the first three books are available. Book seven was published this year, but as the author is from Ireland, these books have not made it over here... yet.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Author Interview: Morgan Keyes

Today on the blog I have Morgan Keyes, author of Darkbeast, a middle grade fantasy, answering a few questions about her inspiration for her new novel. But first, check out the synopsis.

A girl’s love for her raven may put her life in jeopardy in this gripping tale.

In Keara’s world, every child has a darkbeast—a creature that takes dark emotions like anger, pride, and rebellion. Keara’s darkbeast is Caw, a raven, and Keara can be free of her worst feelings by transferring them to Caw. He is her constant companion, and they are magically bound to each other until Keara’s twelfth birthday. For on that day Keara must kill her darkbeast—that is the law. Refusing to kill a darkbeast is an offense to the gods, and such heresy is harshly punished by the feared Inquisitors.

But Keara cannot imagine life without Caw. And she finds herself drawn to the Travelers, actors who tour the country performing revels. Keara is fascinated by their hints of a grand life beyond her tiny village. As her birthday approaches, Keara readies herself to leave childhood—and Caw—behind forever. But when the time comes for the sacrifice, will she be able to kill the creature that is so close to her? And if she cannot, where will she turn, and how can she escape the Inquisitors?

1. Where did the idea for Darkbeast originate?

Darkbeast, the novel, grew out of a short story that I wrote for a Canadian anthology for "reluctant readers" – all of the works in that volume were fantasy stories about children and animals. At the time I wrote the story, I'd been thinking a lot about "cost" – about what we're willing to do for the people we love. I decided to test Keara's devotion to Caw in the most direct way I could think of – challenging her to sacrifice her beloved friend so that she could achieve everything her society expects of her.

2. Why a raven?

I had originally hoped to write a short story about a griffin, but that animal was already chosen for the anthology! Ultimately, I settled on a raven because of their "split personality" in traditional literature. Ravens can be wise, and they can be witty, but they are also often harbingers of doom. I liked playing with those images as Caw developed.

3. I love the name Keara. (It was actually one of the top names my mom had picked out for me when I was born.) Where did you come up with the name? Was she inspired by someone specific?

In the original short story, all of the names were based on Middle French names. When I shifted to a novel, though, I decided to shift the "palette" of names. Gods and goddesses were drawn from Latin (much as the original concept of my pantheon was taken from Olympus.) Human names were drawn from Celtic tradition. I wanted names that were somewhat familiar to my readers, ideally ones that people identify with strongly (and I succeeded with you – yay!)

Keara is not based on one person; she's an amalgamation of all of my friends from when I was twelve (one person's rebellious streak, another person's willingness to stand up for what she thought was right…) In the end, Keara is a unique character, not directly tied to any one real person.

4. How was writing Darkbeast different from your adult novels? Was it easier? Harder?

I didn't focus on the specific age of my readers as I wrote Darkbeast. A lot of authors will say that they created their middle grade books with those particular readers in mind, adding in a lot of fart jokes and other favorites of tween kids, but that's not the way I work.

Instead, I thought back to the books I loved to read at that age – A Wrinkle in Time, the Narnia series, The Hobbit. Those books had great ideas, strong characters, and superior writing, but I never felt like they were written by adults who were specifically targeting kids. My favorite authors didn't dumb down their ideas or their vocabulary – and neither did I.

Therefore, it wasn't easier or harder to write Darkbeast, compared to my other novels. (There were a few authorial choices I made based on the age group – I didn't include any love scenes, for example. And I didn't add swear words. But my story didn't require either of those, so there was no sacrifice involved!)

5. Are there plans for a Darkbeast 2? Any ideas for other middle grade books?

Darkbeast Rebellion will be published in 2013; it's a sequel that picks up shortly after Darkbeast ends. I have several ideas for stories that continue in Keara's world (but no set plans to write them yet.) I also have ideas for other middle grade books – including one about a boy who lives in a giant library. That one includes dragons. And magic. And … well, I don't have all the details worked out yet!

6. Without giving spoilers, is there anything you'd like to go back and change in Darkbeast?

I love the novel, and I really would not change any part of it. I also love the cover – I am constantly told by readers that they identify with the picture of Keara and Caw. My one concern is that some boys won't read Darkbeast because it has a girl on the cover, but I'd be hard-pressed to give up the beautiful artwork I have.

7. Do you read reviews of your books? Have you ever commented on a review that you disagree with?

I read some reviews of my books, most often the ones that are published in the first couple of months after a book hits the market. It can be exhilarating to discover where I've truly connected with readers (although it's also disappointing to see where I fail to build bonds…)

I never comment on reviews, positive or negative. Reviewers are entitled to their opinions, and I feel as if I'm invading reviewers' "space" if I write a response.

8. Where is your favorite place to write? Do you write the first draft by hand or do you type it?

I write in my home office, on the ground floor of my townhouse, sitting at a computer desk, in front of my iMac desktop computer. I use a software program, Scrivener, that helps me to organize chapters and keep track of research.

One of my major challenges as a writer is tuning out distractions, focusing on the chapter at hand and completing my word count for the day. For that reason, I don't write in coffee shops, libraries, or other public spaces.

9. What are some of your favorite middle grade books?

The most entertaining middle grade book that I've read in the past couple of months was Jonathan Auxier's Peter Nimble and his Fantastic Eyes. It is a very imaginative novel that balances the macabre with traditional quest fantasy. (One of the earliest images in the book is an infant boy whose eyes were pecked out by ravens! He grows up to become the finest thief in the world…)

10. What were some of your favorite children's books while growing up?

I read voraciously when I was in school. In addition to the fantasy novels mentioned above, I was always a big fan of animal stories – Albert Payson Terhune's Lad books, Jim Kjelgaard's Big Red books, and Rascal by Sterling North. As I grew older, I read a lot of traditional fantasy series – Katherine Kurtz's Deryni books, anything by Patricia McKillip, early David Eddings… I also read a lot of biographies; I enjoyed learning details about people who lived in different times and places.

Thank you very much for the opportunity to answer such interesting questions!

Thank you, Morgan!

Visit Morgan Keyes at her site and follow her on Twitter. And don't forget to add Darkbeast to your Goodreads.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Guest Post: JA Campbell

Aine, Thank you for having me here today!

People always ask me where I get my ideas from. The vague shrug of… um… no idea, doesn’t usually satisfy them so I’ve tried to come up with a better answer over the years. The real answer is no book is the same. The first Clanless novel, Senior Year Bites came from a dream. A really short dream about a girl who got turned into a vampire her senior year of high school. A friend of mine and I both decided to write a page based on that story prompt to see how different they came out. The answer is quite different. Mine ended up turning into a novel, and then a series.

The idea for the second novel came from lots of brainstorming with my writing buddy about what could happen next. I’d been reading myths and said hey, this will be fun. I don’t want to give too much of a spoiler but there are shape shifters and vampires and sidhe in this one.

I didn’t plan the first novel out when I wrote it. At the time I was simply writing for fun. I did have to plan the second one much more carefully to make sure I tied up some of the lose plot threads, stayed consistent with the first novel, things like that.

I’m getting ready to start the next novel in the series and let me tell you, I agonized over it for a long time. The question of how to get the sidhe to leave my characters alone for good plagued me for ages or even if I could get the sidhe to leave my poor characters alone. Finally, one night, just before I was about to fall asleep, the entire plot dropped into my lap, figuratively of course. I spent the next hour or two jotting all the notes down, and so I know what I’m going to write for the last one. Now, I don’t outline, but having a general overview helps a ton.

So when people ask me for my inspiration, these days I usually say dreams and random ideas that don’t go away. If they stick around long enough to become a full length novel or a complete short story, chances are I’m going to write it, and hey, who knows… it might turn into a really great series. That’s the best.

Meg managed to survive her senior year of high school as a vampire, and now she’s looking forward to a relaxing summer with her friends before trying to tackle college. Unfortunately, some unfinished business from the previous year rears its ugly head and Meg is forced to deal with the Sidhe who are distinctly unhappy that she killed one of their kind last winter. Then Ann’s parents vanish while they are on their annual summer vacation in Maine and it’s up to Meg and the rest of the gang to come to the rescue. Though she is still trying to figure out who, and what she has become, Meg and her friends feel they are up to the challenge. That is until things really start to fall apart.

Bio: Julie writes fantasy novels. When she’s not out riding her horse, she can usually be found sitting in front of her computer with a cat on her lap and her dog at her side. You can find out more at her website.

You can find Summer Break Blues here: Bono Books, Amazon, Amazon UK, Barnes and Noble, Smashwords, Omnilit.

Giveaway: And now for the good part. Decadent Publishing and I are giving away several books on this tour. You could win your choice of any Decadent/Bono Books ebook including Summer Break Blues, or Senior Year Bites. All you have to do for a chance to win is enter using the Rafflecopter form below. Contest is open internationally.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Why I Love YA

When I was growing up, there weren't very many young adult books. Especially compared to now. In late elementary school, I read every Sweet Valley High book I could get my hands on. But that was about it. I didn't read much in middle and high school, but when I did read, it was adult fantasy. To be honest, I hated reading for a while. The books we had to read for school never kept my attention, and I felt like reading was dull and pointless.

I rediscovered my love of reading in my college years. I owe it all to Kelley Armstrong's Women of the Otherworld series. I went on to discover Kim Harrison, Laurell K Hamilton, PC Cast, and MaryJanice Davidson. For a few years I read somewhere between one and five books per year. I got burnt out on Laurell K Hamilton's Anita Blake series and MaryJanice Davidson's vampire romance, and my reading slowed a bit. But then I started reading YA.

Around the time I started reading Kelley Armstrong, I started reading Harry Potter. And I enjoyed that. Some of my other early YA reads were Witch Child by Celia Rees, the Sweep series by Cate Tiernan, and then the Tithe series by Holly Black. But I only read those a few years ago, when I was becoming burnt out on so many paranormal adult series being so similar. In fact, I've dropped all of those series (except Kelley Armstrong and Kim Harrison).

I continued reading YA books, going to PC Cast's House of Night series and Melissa Marr's Wicked Lovely. I loved Wicked Lovely so much that I went online to find her fan site (which is now her official site, and I'm global mod there) and met so many awesome people close to my age who were reading almost nothing but young adult. It was there that I got book recommendations and discussion on these fabulous books.

Kelley Armstrong and Melissa Marr continue to be two of my favorite authors. I'm going to be 30 next month, and I love YA books so much. I have trouble connecting with middle grade books sometimes, and often I find adult books bogged down with too much detail. YA books are often fun, fast reads. And they deal with real issues. I don't think I'd be quite the reader without my YA books. And this blog would probably exist as it did when I first started it (randomness).

Check out this awesome giveaway!

And... this giveaway also. Win free books and help give to charity just by entering.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Author Interview: Sarah Diemer (and giveaway)

If you follow my blog or follow my reviews on Goodreads, then you know that I absolutely love Sarah Diemer's work. I can't get enough of her stories. It's some of the most unique stuff out there. It's very original, and I find that very refreshing considering so many YA books are similar to other YA books.

I was lucky enough to score a little interview with Sarah!

1. What inspired you to become an author?

I've been writing books since I was six years old when I illustrated an EPIC VOLUME about a unicorn with a rainbow horn (and by EPIC, I mean RIDICULOUS). I was deeply influenced by my mother, and my Polish grandmother, Donda, who were constantly putting books into my hands or reading to me--at my insistence--almost constantly since I launched from the womb. My earliest memory is sitting in my grandmother's lap, being read to about a unicorn. You know, which explains everything about me. :D

2. You release books as both Sarah Diemer and Elora Bishop. How are they different?

I write my lesbian YA (Young Adult) fiction under Sarah Diemer, and my lesbian adult fiction under Elora Bishop. I chose to do it this way to differentiate as much as possible between the two genres, but my Elora works are read by my YA fans, and my Sarah works are read by my adult fans, and there’s lots of cross over. My works are categorized as “Adult” under Elora because they have older heroines, and are written differently, but there’s nothing super “adult” (THE OTHER MEANING ;D) about them at all, and they’re very comparable to my YA work. You know. Since I wrote both sets of stories. You can certainly read my Elora works if you’re a teen.

3. Your wife Jennifer is also an author. Are you the first to read each others work? Do you edit each others writing?

Definitely! Jenn is actually an editor, too, so that makes everything awesome and wonderful. We really ARE a cottage industry! *laughing* I also have a team of incredible women who beta my stuff--they're editors or writers or both, and they're absolutely priceless in their feedback. So much of what I'm capable of as a writer is because of the incredible support that my wife and these lovely ladies give me--they push me to the best I can be.

4. What is it like to self-publish? How does that process work?

Self publishing is intensely hard, but incredibly rewarding. You must write something worth reading, pay an editor to edit (or marry one! NO AUTHOR CAN EDIT THEIR OWN WORK PERFECTLY, IT DOESN'T WORK, PLEASE TRUST ME ON THIS.), pay a cover designer to design a cover (or have graphic knowledge), pay a formatter to format it (or have formatting knowledge), and then you must upload it, market it and do eleventy billion other tasks that you weren't ever told about. In return, you hold your destiny in your own hands, and you have the possibility of living the proverbial dream every writer has: working for yourself and being a self employed author. Every time I talk about self publishing, I sort of want to tell people: "it's dangerous to go alone! Take this!" and then give them a volume of hard-earned knowledge that took me almost two years to make enough mistakes to earn. But such a book doesn't exist. If you're looking to do self publishing, do enough research until you think you know everything. Then do a few more month's worth. And then try it. :)

5. Many self-published books have rather plain covers. And I know it's up to the author to get the cover done. Where do your beautiful covers come from and how much say do you have in how they turn out?

Aw, thank you so much! :) I really appreciate that. One of my very first jobs was a graphic designer, and I'm obsessed with design still--so I do all of my covers myself. :) AS SUCH, I get tons of say in how they turn out! *laughing*

6. You write romantic relationships between girls. Why do you choose to write it, and how important do you think it is for lesbian literature to be available for children, teens, and adults?

I personally believe that I have no choice. I'm a lesbian, madly in love with my wife, and I'm a writer. From the earliest of ages, I desperately looked for girls like me in the books and stories I was reading, and I never found them. It was devastating to me. So much so, that from a really early age, I was writing gay stories, because I wanted them so very much. There are so many people like me--girls and women who want stories that reflect them. So I *have* to tell these stories. It's also so incredibly important that straight people read stories about lesbians--you can't have empathy for people if they're invisible to you.

7. I know you're openly pagan. (So am I.) Does your faith influence your work? How?

I think that every aspect of an author is going to influence their writing. We write about experiences we've never had, but who we are is going to color that. Being Pagan is a deep core in my identity, as Sarah, as a woman, as a lesbian, as a writer. I think that my spirituality is very apparent in THE DARK WIFE, my retelling of the Persephone myth. Persephone is my matron Goddess, and I wanted to retell the tale for Her. But I also think it's visible, but not as apparent, in everything else I tell. I write a *lot* about death, the culture surrounding it and what happens to your soul after you've passed on. I don't believe that there are monsters who snatch you (like in my novel TWIXT), or a machine that recycles your spirit (like in my short story, "Far"), but I do believe that our souls live on, and that reflects itself in all of my stories.

8. What has been the hardest project you've worked on? The easiest? The most enjoyable?

The hardest project I've ever worked on is my novel, TWIXT. I've been working on variations of it for over five years now, and no single one has ever been what I wanted that story to be. I call it my "heartache" book--but I know it's going to get finished one of these days. Soon. :) The easiest and most enjoyable one has to be ONE SOLSTICE NIGHT. I LOVE that little book--it's such a happy romp, and those characters are some of my favorites I've ever written. A bumbling witch? A shape-shifting deer? A town where everyone can do magic? *laughing* People always tell me they'd love to live in Benevolence, the town in the story, and I always tell them I would, too. ;)

9. What are you working on now? Any exciting writing news to share?

I actually have some VERY exciting news to share. :) I am now represented by Liza Dawson and Judith Engracia of Liza Dawson Associates. This means that all of my current projects are VERY up in the air, and I'm hopefully going to have some extremely awesome news to share very soon--but until then, I must keep mum. :)

10. Have you and Jennifer ever co-written a story? If so, how did that compare to writing on your own?

Jenn and I have, and it's wonderful. Our writing styles are dissimilar enough, but similar enough where writing with each other is exciting and challenging and really kind of wonderful. Jenn and I have been working on--FOR YEARS!--the "sequel" to THE DARK WIFE, called ALIGHT. It's the first story we told together, back when we first got together, almost nine years now. :) Writing together has always been one of the things we did together that brought us closer.

11. Besides writing, what other artistic endeavors are you pursuing?

*laughing* What am I NOT pursuing would be a shorter answer! :) I'm a really creative person, and I'm always coming up with ideas and dreams and GLITTER PROJECTS. Together, Jenn and I run The Fable Tribe, where we make magical pendants out of old, unloved fairy tale books and original poetry. We're always working on an update for the shop--we fill it with shrines and magical objects and strange, sparkly things. We love that little shop. :) I'm working on knitting a prayer shawl for Jenn, a couple of pairs of fingerless gloves...a few sets of prayer beads and Goddess rosaries, and some Yule presents. Every area in our house is covered in glue and glitter and unfinished-but-patiently-waiting dreams.

12. What are some of your favorite books?

Oh gosh! So many! THE LAST UNICORN by Peter S. Beagle is my bible. THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA are my favorite books in existence. Every book Neil Gaiman, Terry Pratchett, Tamora Pierce and Sarah Waters ever wrote is a glowing gem in my library. I love Libba Bray and Astrid Lindgren, Robin McKinley and Mercedes Lackey. But PATIENCE AND SARAH by Isabel Miller is my favorite book of all time. :) I think I could go on for hours...

13. What is your favorite sabbat?

*laughing* I always joke with Jenn that it's whatever happens to be around the corner. ;D But no, seriously, I'd have to say Samhain. I'm a Halloween girl, to my bones and back, and there's something about Samhain that fills my heart.

My site: Oceanid
My blog: Muse Rising
My Twitter: SarahDiemer
My Tumblr: Oceanid

And because I love Sarah's stuff so much, I'm giving away one copy of anything in Sappho's Boutique. Winner's choice! (Note: If you want a paperback, you must have a US address I can ship to. If you're out of the US, you get a choice of ebook.)

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Friday, October 26, 2012

Book Review: Feyland The Bright Court


Jennet Carter escaped the dark faeries of Feyland once. Now, fey magic is seeping out of the prototype game, beguiling the unwary and threatening everyone she cares about.


Tam Linn may be a hero in-game, but his real life is severely complicated. Still, he'll do whatever it takes to stop the creatures of Feyland, even if it means pushing Jennet toward the new guy in school--the one with an inside connection to sim-gaming... and the uncanny ability to charm everyone he meets.


Despite the danger, Jennet and Tam must return to Feyland to face the magic of the Bright Court--and a powerful new enemy who won't stop until the human world is at the mercy of the Realm of Faerie.

Feyland: The Bright Court by Anthea Sharp picks up right where The Dark Realm left off. Tam is finally going back to school, but both he and Jennet are still dealing with what happened with the Dark Queen. Enter Roy Lassiter. A new guy at school who has a mysterious pull that leaves all the girls swooning over him. Well, all except Jennet.

Tam and Jennet know something's up. And after discovering that Roy's mom is one of the developers for Feyland, they're sure he's been in the faery realm. Tam and Jennet are forced to go back in game to stop Roy and save the girls at their school from his nefarious plans. But this time, the final boss isn't the Dark Queen. It's the Bright King.

This story was just as fun and interesting as the first. I love Anthea's use of folklore. This novel was inspired in part by the fairy tale Childe Rowland. If you want to check out that tale, I suggest checking SurLaLune. And her blending of gaming and faeries makes this trilogy very unique.

If you haven't read The Dark Realm, you can by it for your Kindle for less than a dollar. But I suggest buying The Bright Court with it because if you love faery stories, you'll love these. The final book in this trilogy, The Twilight Kingdom will be available next month. I'm excited!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Meeting Authors: Once Upon a Slightly Different Time

Every year I got to the Baltimore Book Festival on Friday. The festival lasts all weekend, but Friday night at the Children’s Book Store stage is the greatest panel of the festival. Every. Time. This year: “Five authors and editor Ellen Datlow offer their thoughts on the recreation and retelling of fairy tales for a modern audience. Panelists include: Adam Gidwitz, Jessica Day George, Shannon Hale, Sarah Beth Durst, Ellen Datlow, and Michael Buckley.”

Oh. My. Goddess! I practically jumped out of my seat and shouted in delight when I read this. It’s like they planned this panel just for me.

And because it was requested, here’s some of what was discussed. If it’s in quotes, it’s a direct quote. If it’s not, I’m paraphrasing what they said. Authors, if you see this, and I got something wrong, sorry. I was taking notes as best as I could.

Moderator: What was your introduction to fairy tales?

Ellen Datlow: I don’t remember which story, but Oscar Wilde.

Sarah Beth Durst: I don’t remember. Fairy tales were introduced very early, so I don’t remember a time before they were around me.

Shannon Hale: I had a large two-volume set of fairy tales that was beautifully illustrated. One of them was “The Goose Girl.”

Jessica Day George: I remember watching Jim Henson’s Storyteller. At 16 I found PJ Lynch’s version of “East of the Sun, West of the Moon.”

Adam Gidwitz: I had a book of Grimm's tales all my life, but I only opened it five years ago. I agreed to be substitute librarian and thought hey, fairy tales are for kids.

Michael Buckley: I grew up with Disney. And I started real tales midway through the first draft of the first Sisters Grimm. The first fairy tale I read was Pinocchio.

Moderator: How did you come to start to writing fairy tales?

Ellen Datlow: Terri and I edited Best Fantasy and Horror. It was suggested to us to edit a fairy tale anthology. Snow White, Blood Red became the first of several, and it’s still one of the most popular.

Sarah Beth Durst: Into the Wild and Out of the Wild was wish fulfillment. I always wanted something magical to happen, so I made fairy tale characters invade my hometown. With Ice it was the same PJ Lynch version of “East of the Sun, West of the Moon” that Jessica read. I wanted a fairy tale where the girl wasn't asleep or dead for most, and I wanted to save her beast

Shannon Hale: I didn’t pick my favorite. I picked the fairy tale that bugged me the most. “Rapunzel is dumbest.” A guy climbs up her hair and agrees to braid her a ladder out of silk. Why don’t they just chop off her hair and use that. And she mysteriously becomes pregnant. “It’s useless.” My husband loves super hero comics so Rapunzel’s Revenge was born. But don’t worry… there are no mysterious pregnancies here.

Jessica Day George: I fixed the “Twelve Dancing Princesses. I have an edition in German and so does my husband. There were some inconsistencies so I wrote in details from both. Mette Ivie Harrison said she wrote Mira Mirror because she thought Snow White was useless.

Michael Buckley: I wanted to know what would happen if many characters from different fairy tales were stuck in one place and couldn’t die. I pitched a show idea about celebrities who faded from the spotlight because they were recruited to join a secret organization. I changed it into Grimm characters for this series.

Question for Michael: Did you plan out the entire series?

Michael Buckley: I knew ending and most major moments. I knew Sabrina's direction. But there were a lot of surprises.

Do you intend to keep working with faery tales?

Ellen Datlow: Terri and I want to do a new anthology at some point.

Michael Buckley: Sister’s Grimm is done. (lots of sad faces here) I’m working on young adult books with a mermaid. It’s like District 9 meets The Little Mermaid. And I have an idea for a middle grade Steampunk.

Adam Gidwitz: I have another Grimm book planned, and then I want something new. I’ve been reading up on medieval saints lives.

Jessica Day George: I have nothing planned but that doesn't mean I won't in future.

Sarah Beth Durst: I move around in fantasy genre, but I have nothing with faery tales planned. Though they often come into play.

Shannon Hale: The thing I’m working on now I not a retelling. But it’s influenced by Cinderella.

What stories would you like to fix or see fixed?

Michael Buckley: Twilight or 50 Shades of Grey

Ellen Datlow: The Goose Girl. Without giving away spoilers, the part with the beheading.

Michael Buckley: The Wizard of Oz

Adam Gidwitz: I accidentally fixed “Brother and Sister.”

Ellen Datlow: Rumplestiltskin

Michael Buckley: Hansel and Gretel. The witch has a point. They could've used stones instead of food to mark their path. Then they wouldn't have to eat the house.

Do any of you watch Once Upon a Time?

Michael Buckley: No but my lawyer does. Every week.

Jessica Day George: I love it. I never miss it. However, the best Hansel and Gretel is The Simpsons.

What do you think about staying within the lines of archetype and tradition?

Sarah Beth Durst: I don’t stay within the lines, but I’m aware of them. The reason for that is because readers often know the story.

Ellen Datlow: I don't follow to closely. It’s boring.

Shannon Hale: The importance is to change the story. These stories come from an oral tradition. Transform it into something new.

Moderator: Andrew Lang takes out a lot of specifics so you can really see how similar they are.

Adam Gidwitz: Most names used were common. Archetypes help retain an elastic emotional state.

Did you study faery tales?

Jessica Day George: I read a lot and took classes.

Sarah Beth Durst: I read a lot, too, and did lots of research.

How did you come up with the personalities for the Sisters Grimm?

Michael Buckley: I had a girlfriend who was like Daphne in personality and who had a relationship with her sister like Sabrina. My grandma was named Relda. Puck is like my brother.

How do you afford to be an author?

Shannon Hale: “I’m a kept woman.”

Michael Buckley: “I’m a kept man.”

Adam Gidwitz: “I keep Michael.”

Michael Buckley: Touring. Putting out two books a year. Having a good publisher.

Adam Gidwitz: Getting out and meeting readers. I’m like a traveling salesman.

Michael Buckley: I wanted to be a writer so I wouldn't need to be a salesman. Indie stores are best for selling.

Adam Gidwitz: Teachers and librarians.

Considering how gruesome faery tales are, what do you consider a kids story?

Adam Gidwitz: It’s the technicality. The way it's told. As faery tales move into YA, they become more brutal.

Emma (moderator): Kids love justice. The bad guy gets his.

Michael Buckley: A good book for your child is what's good for them. It depends on who they are.

Shannon Hale: Very young readers can't escape visual brutality in a movie. And they can't visualize a lot of gruesome faery tale stories because they haven't been in that kind of situation. It's beyond what they can imagine.

Adam Gidwitz: Kids know what they're ready for. And it’s easier to put a book down. Movies rush at you.

Emma: Kids get what they can get and everything else goes over their head.

Ellen: It’s great to read to kids to help them understand.

Shannon Hale: I’m a fan of talents that can't be tested for show off.

What do you do when writers block?

Michael Buckley: I never get it. I’m full of ideas. If you do, it might be because you don’t know enough about what you're writing about.

Jessica Day George: If it’s not working I take a few days off and read familiar book.

Sarah Beth Durst: I shut my brain off. Music. Chocolate. And then I write more.

How long does it take you to write a book?

Michael Buckley: Four months for a draft. Four months revising.

Sarah Beth Durst: Six months. Two years originally, but then I learned more about the writing process. I need to outline.

Shannon Hale: A year to four years

Jessica Day George: Six weeks for the last one.

Adam Gidwitz: A year to two years

Do you commission stories for anthologies?

Ellen Datlow: We assign a story. We have to herd them as time goes on. Keep on them. Always get 1/3 more authors than you need. You can only read a story the first time once, so I try not to read any while they’re being written.


This was introduced to me at another panel, but I wanted to share it with you. If you like faery tales, check out Sur La Lune.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Giveaway: Zom-B (winner announced)

When news reports start appearing of a zombie outbreak in Ireland, B's racist father thinks it's a joke-- but even if it isn't, he figures, it's ok to lose a few Irish.

B doesn't fully buy into Dad's racism, but figures it's easier to go along with it than to risk the fights and abuse that will surely follow sticking up for Muslims, blacks, or immigrants. And when dodging his fists doesn't work, B doesn't hesitate to take the piss out of kids at school with a few slaps or cruel remarks.

That is, until zombies attack the school. B is forced on a mad dash through the serpentine corridors of high school, making allegiances with anyone with enough gall to fight off their pursuers.

1. You must be 13 or older.
2. You must follow my blog.
3. You must have a US address I can ship it to.
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If you're the winner, please email me your US mailing address. If I don't receive an email by Sunday November 4 11:59pm, I'll choose a new winner.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Book Review: The Goose Girl

"She was born Anidori-Kiladra Talianna Isilee, Crown Princess of Kildenree, 
and she did not open her eyes for three days."

Anidori-Kiladra Talianna Isilee, Crown Princess of Kildenree, spends the first years of her life under her aunt's guidance learning to communicate with animals. As she grows up Ani develops the skills of animal speech, but is never comfortable speaking with people, so when her silver-tongued lady-in-waiting leads a mutiny during Ani's journey to be married in a foreign land, Ani is helpless and cannot persuade anyone to assist her.

Becoming a goose girl for the king, Ani eventually uses her own special, nearly magical powers to find her way to her true destiny. Shannon Hale has woven an incredible, original and magical tale of a girl who must find her own unusual talents before she can become queen of the people she has made her own.

The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale was added to my list of books I need to read this year because it's simply been on my shelf far too long. Why it's sat there for so long, I have no idea. Because it was amazing. Beautifully written. Just... breath-taking. It's a rare novel that I love so much that I don't want to put it down, and I want to read it slowly so as to savor every word. The Goose Girl was one of those books.

"The Goose Girl" is a fairy tale written by the brothers Grimm. If you want, you can read it here. It tells the story of a young woman, a princess, who is to move to another kingdom and wed the prince. She has the ability to speak to her faithful, loving horse, Falada. Falada was to take the princess to this new kingdom, along with her chambermaid. But the chambermaid was jealous, and during the journey, forced the princess to switch places. Upon arriving at the neighboring kingdom, it was the chambermaid who was introduced as the prince's betrothed. The true princess was given a job... to work with the king's geese. She became the goose girl, working alongside the goose boy. There is much more to the story, but I don't want to spoil it for you.

Shannon Hale's version follows the Grimm version closely, but adds so much. It reads like a fairy tale. (As it should.) And while it is not fast-paced or filled with action scenes, it is simply amazing. Ani is a strong protagonist, and the friends she meets along the way are invaluable. I enjoyed the relationships Ani had with the other characters.

The goose boy, Conrad, was one of my favorites. As was Enna. So it's said with no surprise that I'm especially excited for book two in the Bayern series, Enna Burning. I'm curious to see how the kingdom of Bayern will have changed from The Goose Girl to Enna Burning, and I'm hoping old characters will show up. The Goose Girl has officially been added to my list of favorite books ever!

And because I love the cover so much, here is the Spanish edition. I want it!

Friday, October 5, 2012

Book Review: The DUFF

Seventeen-year-old Bianca Piper is cynical and loyal, and she doesn’t think she’s the prettiest of her friends by a long shot. She’s also way too smart to fall for the charms of man-slut and slimy school hottie Wesley Rush. In fact, Bianca hates him. And when he nicknames her “the Duff,” she throws her Coke in his face.

But things aren’t so great at home right now, and Bianca is desperate for a distraction. She ends up kissing Wesley. Worse, she likes it. Eager for escape, Bianca throws herself into a closeted enemies-with-benefits relationship with him.

Until it all goes horribly awry. It turns out Wesley isn’t such a bad listener, and his life is pretty screwed up, too. Suddenly Bianca realizes with absolute horror that she’s falling for the guy she thought she hated more than anyone.

I was really excited to read The Duff by Kody Keplinger. It's one of those books that I read a line or two of the premise and that's all I needed before I put it on my "to read" list. But it sat on my shelf for a while. I put it on my list of books that needed to be read in 2012.

Bianca is your typical cynical teenager. She lives at home with her dad while her mom tours. She's pretty much M.I.A. for much of Bianca's teen years. B has two best friends who are skinny and gorgeous, and B accompanies them to parties, much to her chagrin. Wesley, a boy from her school known for hooking up with a different girl every week, begins harassing her. More or less. He calls her "the duff". Designated. Ugly. Fat. Friend. Wesley continues to call her Duffy and get under her skin at every moment.

I'm sad to report that I didn't like it as much as I'd hoped. And I think if I'd read the synopsis, I wouldn't have been so disappointed. I wasn't expecting the "friends with benefits" thing to happen. And I pretty much despised Wesley throughout the entire book. He kept calling her Duffy, not realizing it hurt her, and that ticked me off. You call a girl fat and ugly as a nickname, why wouldn't she be insulted. B's cynical attitude was fun at first. She reminded me a lot of myself, actually, until it started to feel forced. When life starts going good, the cynicism needs to be taken down a notch, and I felt she was more bratty than anything by the end.

The book held my attention, and I didn't want to put it down. I laughed. I cried. And I did enjoy it. But as I stated above, I had some definite issues with it. I'm excited to read more by Kody Keplinger soon!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Book Review: Kiss of Death (and winner announced)

Too many years of killer vamps have triggered the curse of the Blood Kissed. They’ve awakened the bloodline that can alter their world, because her blood has the power to control them all—even make them destroy each other.

Jocelyn thought her troubles with vampires were over when she drove a stake through her boyfriend Max’s heart two years ago. Even though she’s engaged to Chad, she’s never really forgotten him. Now Max is back, and Chad is taking her into the heart of the vamp community—and they’re the ones trying to keep her alive. The ones who love her and each seek to claim her for their own. Because once the elders know who she is, they’re all going to want her…or want her dead.

I was so excited when Seleste deLaney announced that there was going to be a full length novel in her Blood Kissed series. I really enjoyed "Of Course I Try" and "The Ghost of Vampire Present" so I was thrilled that we'd get more.

Jocelyn thinks that Max is dead. Because she killed him. He was a vampire after all. And she's engaged to Chad. The thing is... he's a vampire as well. So when Max comes back and she finds out what Chad is, she finds herself mixed up with two bloodsuckers who band together to protect her. She's one of the blood kissed, and she's extra tasty to the vamps. And not only is she stuck with both of them, she's attracted to them both.

At the beginning I was Team Max, and by the end... I'm still Team Max. But seeing Max and Chad interact together and with Jocelyn and other vampires was fun. The world Seleste created was interesting. Her vampires aren't quite the same as those we see all over. To find a unique vampire book these days is rare. I highly recommend checking out all of Seleste deLaney's work. You won't be disappointed. But please be aware, that her books are not for teens. They are very adult. ; )

You may recall, I did a giveaway in September for an ebook copy. The winner is...

Donna S

Congrats and enjoy!

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Giveaway: Kiss of Death

Too many years of killer vamps have triggered the curse of the Blood Kissed. They’ve awakened the bloodline that can alter their world, because her blood has the power to control them all—even make them destroy each other.

Jocelyn thought her troubles with vampires were over when she drove a stake through her boyfriend Max’s heart two years ago. Even though she’s engaged to Chad, she’s never really forgotten him. Now Max is back, and Chad is taking her into the heart of the vamp community—and they’re the ones trying to keep her alive. The ones who love her and each seek to claim her for their own. Because once the elders know who she is, they’re all going to want her…or want her dead.

The amazing Seleste deLaney recently published Kiss of Death, the first novel in her Blood Kissed series. There are two short stories that come before this one (Of Course I Try and The Ghost of Vampire Present), but you won't need to have read them before this.

I am giving away one ebook copy. It can either be through Amazon for your Kindle, through Barnes and Noble your Nook, or your choice of format (not paperback) through Mundania Press' website. You can read an excerpt at Mundania Press.

This is the first time I've used Rafflecopter, so we're crossing our fingers this works out the way it's supposed to. You must be 18 or older to enter this giveaway. Good luck!

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Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Book Review: Rampant

Forget everything you ever knew about unicorns...

Real unicorns are venomous, man-eating monsters with huge fangs and razor-sharp horns. Fortunately, they've been extinct for a hundred and fifty years.

Or not.

Astrid had always scoffed at her eccentric mother's stories about killer unicorns. But when one of the monsters attacks her boyfriend—thereby ruining any chance of him taking her to the prom—Astrid finds herself headed to Rome to train as a unicorn hunter at the ancient cloisters the hunters have used for centuries.

However, at the cloisters all is not what it seems. Outside, the unicorns wait to attack. And within, Astrid faces other, unexpected threats: from the crumbling, bone-covered walls that vibrate with a terrible power to the hidden agendas of her fellow hunters to—perhaps most dangerously of all—her growing attraction to a handsome art student ... an attraction that could jeopardize everything.

Rampant by Diana Peterfreund has sat on my shelf since it came out. And, somehow, it didn't manage to be read until now. So I put it on my challenge list of "Books-I-need-to-read-this-year-because-they've-been-sitting-on-my-shelf-too-damn-long." I'm a bit horrified at myself that it sat for so long, especially since I loved it so much!

Astrid Llewellyn lives with her mother above the garage of her Uncle John's house. She grew up with her cousin, Phillipa, who is only a few years older. They're more like sisters than cousins. And after Astrid saves her boyfriend's life after a unicorn attack, her mother sends her to Rome to train with other unicorn hunters. They are all girls, all virgins, and all descendants of Alexander the Great.

I really liked Astrid. She was very realistic in her thoughts and actions. The incredulity of finding out unicorns are real, even though her mother has told her about these killer monsters all her life. The unfairness of being sent to Rome to live with strangers and train to put her life in danger so she can kill unicorns. The fear and sickness she feels at taking the life of another. If I were in her shoes, I would probably have the same reactions. Though, without the unicorn hunter blood, I'd be useless in battle.

I really enjoyed the characters and the story, but I also enjoyed the setting. I spent ten days in Italy - 3 days in Rome - several years ago. While I'm not familiar with everything that was mentioned, there were some places Astrid saw that I'd been to. It's always exciting to me to know the setting of the book (like with books set in DC or Baltimore). I loved every bit of reading this book, and I can't wait to read Ascendant, "Errant" and "The Care and Feeding of Your Baby Unicorn" from Zombies vs. Unicorns. And for the record, I'm firmly Team Unicorn.

In this world, not all unicorns are dangerous. To hunters, that is. All five types of unicorns are said to be ruthless killers. But the smallest type, the zhi, love the unicorn hunter. In fact, their love is what proves a girl worthy of being a hunter. My favorite character in this book is one such creature, a zhi named Bonegrinder. One of my favorite animals is a goat. And I have a friend who has a pet goat that acts very dog-like. Even plays fetch. So I imagined him a lot, since Bonegrinder reminded me of him. And I searched online to find a picture of what Bonegrinder looked like in my head. This is how I imagined her. You can visit the artist's page here. How could anyone not want a pet one of these adorable, beautiful creatures?

Go read Rampant. You won't be disappointed!

Saturday, August 25, 2012

PAYA Giveaway Winner

The winner of the PAYA Giveaway is...

Laura F from Scotland!

Congrats! Your book will be in the mail soon.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Book Review: The Unnaturalists

In an alternate London where magical creatures are preserved in a museum, two teens find themselves caught in a web of intrigue, deception, and danger.

Vespa Nyx wants nothing more than to spend the rest of her life cataloging Unnatural creatures in her father’s museum, but as she gets older, the requirement to become a lady and find a husband is looming large. Syrus Reed’s Tinker family has always served and revered the Unnaturals from afar, but when his family is captured to be refinery slaves, he finds that his fate may be bound up with Vespa’s—and with the Unnaturals.

As the danger grows, Vespa and Syrus find themselves in a tightening web of deception and intrigue. At stake may be the fate of New London—and the world.

I received an arc of The Unnaturalists by Tiffany Trent for review. It's set in an alternate Victorian London and follows Vespa Nyx and Syrus Reed. Vespa is a young woman who lives with her father and aunt (her father's sister) and lives for working in her father's museum. This museum is filled with "unnaturals" which includes a sphinx, silphids, and other oddities. She longs to be a Pedant, but women aren't allowed to become take on that role. Syrus is a tinker. He lives with his family in the forest. They have their own village and way of life. They practice magic and are feared. But i much preferred their way of life over the "normal" people.

I don't want to say too much because there are a lot of twists and turns, and Tiffany Trent definitely keeps us guessing. Vespa is not who we initially believe her to be. Neither is Syrus. In fact, Pedant Lumin, Vespa's father, and a whole host of characters have secrets that you'll be dying to figure out. I really liked Vespa and Syrus. I loved that in this world Charles Darwin is considered a saint. And Arthur Rackham is named. There were a lot of little things that made my geeky self grin while reading.

One thing I really liked about The Unnaturalists, one thing that stood out and deserves a mention, was the lack of romance between the two main characters. Most every YA book I've read has romance. And while I'm not opposed to romance, it tends to be as big a plot point as the paranormal stuff going down. So this was a refreshing change. And have you seen this cover? The picture in this post is pretty, but you really must hold it in your hands to fully appreciate it. It's one of my favorite covers of all of 2012. And while you have this book in your hands, check out the first few chapters. Trust me, you'll not want to put this book down.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Book Review: Storm

Becca Chandler is suddenly getting all the guys - all the ones she doesn't want. Ever since her ex-boyfriend spread those lies about her. Then she saves Chris Merrick from a beating in the school parking lot. Chris is different. Way different: he can control water just like his brothers can control fire, wind, and earth. They're powerful. Dangerous. Marked for death.

And now that she knows the truth, so is Becca.

Secrets are hard to keep when your life's at stake. When Hunter, the mysterious new kid around school, turns up with a talent for being in the wrong place at the right time, Becca thinks she can trust him. But then Hunter goes head-to-head with Chris, and Becca wonders who's hiding the most dangerous truth of all.

The storm is coming.

After reading Elemental (a prequel to the Elemental series) I was excited to pick up book one, Storm by Brigid Kemmerer. Once again, I didn't read the synopsis and was slightly disappointed in the beginning that it wasn't a continuation of the novella. While Michael Merrick was a main character in Elemental, his younger brother Chris was the main character here. Well, him and Becca Chandler.

Becca has a reputation with the boys at school. They think she's a slut, that she sleeps around, and she gets harassed about it. Chris never really paid attention to Becca until she saved his life. And he finds himself trying to protect her. But she has another boy protecting her. New guy, Hunter.

I had a bit of difficulty getting into this one. There are four Merrick brothers. Michael is the oldest and has custody of his three younger brothers, all of whom are in high school. They are all elementals, the strongest of their kind. Michael is earth. Chris is water. And the twins are fire and air. To be honest, all four of them were assholes in the beginning. I didn't like any of them, and that's a big thing for me. How can I like a book if I think the love interest is a d-bag? They were aggressive and crass and like a lot of guys I went to high school with. Except for the elemental thing. And the guys that these characters reminded me of... they weren't friends. They were the kind of guys who teased me and treated me badly. It took a while for me to get past that.

Hunter was very helpful at this point. I didn't completely trust him, but at least he was sweet and kind and appeared to actually care about Becca. I enjoyed reading Hunter and Becca and I eventually warmed up to Chris. There were several times when I almost put the book down, but I'm glad I didn't. I ended up liking it quite a bit, and I'm excited to read the next novella in this series, Fearless, and then the second novel, Spark, which comes out next Tuesday. Definitely give this one a shot.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Book Review: Magic Under Glass

Nimira is a music-hall performer forced to dance for pennies to an audience of leering drunks. When wealthy sorcerer Hollin Parry hires her to do a special act - singing accompaniment to an exquisite piano-playing automaton, Nimira believes it is the start of a new life. In Parry's world, however, buried secrets stir.

Unsettling below-stairs rumours abound about ghosts, a mad woman roaming the halls, and of Parry's involvement in a gang of ruthless sorcerers who torture fairies for sport. When Nimira discovers the spirit of a dashing young fairy gentleman is trapped inside the automaton's stiff limbs, waiting for someone to break the curse and set him free, the two fall in love. But it is a love set against a dreadful race against time to save the entire fairy realm, which is in mortal peril.

I read Magic Under Glass by Jaclyn Dolamore in anticipation of meeting her later this month. I hate meeting authors and then when they ask if I read their book, answering with "No... but it's on my shelf." And believe me, I've told so may authors this. I'm sad I waited so long to read this since it was amazing. But, at the same time, now I don't have to wait long for the next book. (It just came in the mail.)

Magic Under Glass was such a unique book. I haven't read anything like it. And I've read many books that included faeries. Nimira (Nim) is our main character. She left her homeland after losing her mother. In this new country she performs, singing and dancing, with other girls like her. Her skin is dark (like the girl in the second book cover) while the natives to this country are fairer skinned. She is looked down upon, even after she leaves the dance hall to join a special performance.

Wealthy sorcerer, Hollin Parry, hires her to sing, accompanied by an automaton that plays the piano. All of the singers hired before her leave after claiming the automaton is haunted. Nim doesn't believe it, but soon finds that the automaton isn't what he seems. There is a spirit trapped somewhere inside, but he's not a ghost.

Soon after I started this book, I realized that I'd never read the description for it. The cover caught my eye and friends had said they loved it, so I bought it on impulse. That's not an unusual thing for me. And it sat on my shelf far too long. There was a bit of controversy concerning the cover. The top picture in my post is the original cover. But it was redone, so the cover you'll see on the shelf is the second picture in this post. Personally, I like the first image best. The cover was redone because Nim looks like the girl in the second book cover. I have nothing against the second cover. The girl is cute. But it's kind of boring while the first one is just amazing. I really wish they'd have done the first cover with the girl from the second. It would have been just as stunning, but it also would've been accurate.

Which one do you like best? And how do you feel about putting a white girl on the cover of a book when the main character has dark hair and skin?

Monday, August 13, 2012

Book Review: Thirteen

The #1 New York Times bestselling author Kelley Armstrong delivers the novel her fans have been clamoring for: The epic finale of the Otherworld series.

It’s been more than ten years, a dozen installments, and hundreds of thousands of copies since Kelley Armstrong introduced readers to the all-too-real denizens of the Otherworld: witches, werewolves, necromancers, vampires, and half-demons, among others. And it’s all been leading to Thirteen, the final installment, the novel that brings all of these stories to a stunning conclusion.

A war is brewing—the first battle has been waged and Savannah Levine is left standing, albeit battered and bruised. She has rescued her half brother from supernatural medical testing, but he’s fighting to stay alive. The Supernatural Liberation Movement took him hostage, and they have a maniacal plan to expose the supernatural world to the unknowing.

Savannah has called upon her inner energy to summon spells with frightening strength, a strength she never knew she had, as she fights to keep her world from shattering. But it’s more than a matter of supernaturals against one another—both heaven and hell have entered the war; hellhounds, genetically modified werewolves, and all forces of good and evil have joined the fray.

Uniting Savannah with Adam, Paige, Lucas, Jaime, Hope, and other lost-but-notforgotten characters in one epic battle, Thirteen is a grand, crowd-pleasing closer for Armstrong’s legions of fans.

Oh... mai... goddess... I'm going to apologize upfront for my fangirly review of Thirteen by Kelley Armstrong. She is a writing goddess. I've loved everything I've read of hers, and this last book is no different. I stayed up until after midnight, waiting for it to download on my Kindle. And I read for two hours, before sleeping until 9 and waking up to finish it. It was read, more or less, in one sitting.

Thirteen picks up right where Spell Bound left off, with Savannah drenched, Jeremy and Adam looking like they'd been playing in gravel, and Jaime... all neat and put-together. Jaime and Savannah run off in search of clothing, so Jeremy, Adam, and Bryce can come out of hiding. You don't want to be seen walking around near an explosion, looking like you were involved. But Jaime and Savannah are the two characters in this series that are most likely to get into trouble. They found trouble alright. Savannah is arrested, and to keep the team together, Jaime mock attacks one of the officers, and is carted off with her.

Things are not looking up for these two heroines when they're thrown in jail, without being booked, and find they aren't the only supernaturals at this police station. Something is definitely up.

I'm beyond sad that this is the final book in the series. I'm able to go on only because Kelley has promised us anthologies, novellas, short stories, and more novels (possibly... at one point in the future). I cried when I closed the book. Not because the ending is sad. But because it's over!!!!!! *re-read that last part very dramatically* I've read many series that ended with a weak book. And I've read many series that went way past where it should have ended. But I think Kelley did an amazing job wrapping this series up while leaving enough loose ends.

Things I personally loved about this book... While it was told from Savannah's point of view, Jaime, Eve, Elena, Paige, and Hope all had a chapter written from their point of view in third person. There was a lot of Jaime. And Jaime is my favorite character from this series. It brought together almost everyone from the entire series. Things I would've liked to see... More Paige. More Cassandra and Aaron. But all-in-all... one of the best books of the series.

And I can honestly say, I can't wait for the next book. Kelley has a novella (which I've pre-ordered from Subterranean Press) coming out this December. There is a reason to go on!

The Women of the Otherworld has been a favorite series of mine since there were only two books... which has been for about a decade. It breaks my heart that the series is done, but it's not completely over. Kelley has said there will be more novellas (frex, the one coming out this December) and short stories. If you haven't read these books yet, you're missing out:
1. Bitten
2. Stolen
3. Dime Store Magic
4. Industrial Magic
5. Haunted
6. Broken
7. No Humans Involved
8. Personal Demon
9. Living with the Dead
10. Frostbitten
11. Waking the Witch
12. Spellbound
13. Thirteen

Currently, there are two anthology collections:
Men of the Otherworld
Tales of the Otherworld

And don't forget to check out these novellas from Subterranean Press:
Angelic (available only as an ebook at this time)
Counterfeit Magic
Forbidden (coming this winter)
Becoming (graphic novel)