Thursday, March 31, 2011

Blog Hop: April 1-3

This week's question: Since today is April Fool's Day in the USA, what is the best prank you have ever played on someone OR that someone has played on you?

I'm such a nerd. Nothing so interesting as a prank ever happens to me (probably a blessing) and I just don't think I'm creative enough to come up with a quality prank to pull on someone else. I'd probably resort to something lame like popping out at someone from behind a door to try and scare them–something that requires very little skill and has been done numerous times over. I'm kind of awesome like that:)

Thanks so much to Crazy for Books for hosting the hop!

Review: Vowed in Shadows

VOWED IN SHADOWS (Marked Souls #3)
Jessa Slade
Paranormal Romance
368 pages
New American Library/Penguin
Available April 5th
Received from author for review

Jonah Walker and his brethren are possessed by demons. Repentant demons granted, but demons nonetheless. Their possessions have granted them increased fighting ability and supernatural healing–vital aids in their war against the variety of evil beings who have no desire to make amends for their past actions.

Since losing his wife decades ago, Jonah has been alone despite being surrounded by his brothers in arms. The steadily increasing intensity of the war he and his brothers are fighting isn't the only change taking place as one by one his comrades are finding mates–women who are also demon possessed–leaving the pair stronger and more efficient together than they were separately. When he gets the extra sense that precedes the finding of one's mate, Jonah has no choice but to seek her out.

Nim, exotic dancer extraordinaire, has kept a careful eye on the man who's been watching her during her shift for the past week. And when he finally approaches her, he changes her entire life by revealing a world she could have never expected. Now, with the knowledge a soul-deep weakness allowed a demon to take possession of her, she must learn to fight an insurmountable evil while also struggling with an attraction that seems equally impossible.

Vowed in Shadows, third in the Marked Souls series, is a story of intensity and complexity, its pages home to a dark world where demons run rampant–some seeking to harm and others to repent–but all coming together in a gripping battle revealed to us chapter by chapter. Fighting what seems to be a losing battle is a set of characters who are intriguing in their circumstances, their possession by demons who wish to make amends a conceptually fascinating idea, and their relationships to one another are both humorous and sobering. Their distinct personalities often clash and result in witty banter, but the seriousness of their mission and the reality of their demon-ridden lives always lurks beneath the levity of their vocal interactions. Ms. Slade has written a story infinitely creative and mesmerizing in its beautiful grimness, each book a bit stronger than the one before as the unusualness of the world settles in and the strength of the characters comes to the forefront.

Heroine Nim exudes confidence and sensuality, her naked body often used as a weapon to distract men from seeing the emotional scarring that pulses beneath a thin layer of flesh. She has a sharp tongue and a quick wit, frequently putting people in their places before they have the opportunity to make an attempt at breaching the armor she wears like a second skin. While her mouth is a constant source of amusement, her continued denial of Jonah's affection for her is a bit frustrating as she proceeds to clutch to the familiarity of lust as opposed to a true and honest connection. Though her resistance is certainly understandable in the beginning as her life is completely ripped from under her without her conscious knowledge, it becomes a bit grating when Jonah ventures to make his feelings known yet she refuses to let even his deepest sentiments pierce that well-polished and seemingly metal-plated exterior.

Jonah seems to be a man of dual natures, his previous life of dedicated missionary work alongside his wife in fairly direct contrast to the life of a man possessed by a demon and fighting demonic entities on a daily basis. His resolute determination not to be entertained by Nim's many charms is satisfying, and reading as she sweetly corrupts him bit by bit with a sexual tension that positively sparks between them is no hardship. We can't help but wish his communication with Nim might be a bit more open though, his expression of feelings for her often done so only internally through a personal monologue as opposed to externally where he might actually be able to more thoroughly convince her of the veracity of his statements. While he does eventually own his emotions and admit them aloud, so much of the time they spend arguing or in weighted silence might have been avoided if honesty and openness played a bigger role in an otherwise enjoyable romantic pairing.

It should be known that Ms. Slade's world is extremely complicated, and while things are a bit clearer in this third book, the first in the series is weighed down with a significant number of unfamiliar terms and complex differentiations between evil demons, repentant demons, and all the specific types of each on either side of the war. Even in Vowed in Shadows, where terms are no longer quite as burdensome, the extensive descriptions of fantastical creatures at times can be overwhelming, our minds stuttering and struggling to create an image of what's being described but often failing to do so. Her impressive characterization keeps the story from being lost in an unknown darkness though, and I look forward to whatever the future holds for these fighters.

Rating: 3.5/5

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Interview + Giveaway: Myne Whitman and A Love Rekindled

Today I'm excited to welcome Myne Whitman to the blog to answer a few questions about her newest romance release, A Love Rekindled. She's also generously providing a PDF galley as a giveaway to one lucky commenter so be sure and check out the end of the post for all the entry details!

If you had to pick one book (outside your own) that represents everything you love most about the romance genre as a whole, what book would it be and why?

That would be Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte. It was one of the first romance novels I read and the story started my love affair with the genre. I loved it because Jane was such a strong character, she didn’t have to change too greatly and she got the guy.

How much of your writing reflects your personal experiences with living in Nigeria and how much is outside/additional research?

A lot of my writing is shaped by my personal experiences even though the stories are not mine and are totally made up. I also have to use research for some of the characters and locations, places and careers I had no previous knowledge about.

What would you say is your favorite part of your writing day: starting out with all the creative possibilities for the story before you, or wrapping up those thoughts toward the end of the day?

I feel most energized at the beginning of the day. There is this excitement on those days when you sometimes dreamt about your story, or got an insight into a character that had not been there before. At the end of the day, I’m all written out and just want to close the laptop.

In an interview situation, what is one question you wish someone would ask and how would you answer?

The one question I’m getting tired of is about when I started writing. I don’t think that is very important. I’ll prefer to be asked about the future, and what my plans are for my books. I hope to write several more romantic fiction novels, and A Love Rekindled may be the first of a series – The Mukoro Twins.

A Love Rekindled deals with a couple given a second chance at love. If you could change the outcome of one literary couple’s relationship and give them another chance to find happiness either with one another or someone else, who would those two characters be and what would you change?

The Hunchback of Notre-Dame. I first fell in love with Quasimodo in the Disney animated feature as a child even before I read the book later, and I wished that Esmeralda would too. In my own rewrite, he would definitely get the girl after the mad priest is vanquished.

Did you find this book, your second, easier to write than your first since you’d already experienced the full writing to self-publishing journey, or was it equally challenging?

I actually think the second book was harder. The first, A Heart to Mend, started off as excerpts shared on my blog with no expectations. I published it as a lark because some of my readers asked, and it was a pleasant surprise when it took off after I did a blog tour. For A Love Rekindled, I’m taking it more professionally, with full editing and I’m putting a lot more conscious effort into the marketing and publicity.

Is there one particular moment in A Love Rekindled you consider to be the most romantic or poignant?

There is a part that gets me teary-eyed when I was rewriting and even now, it still breaks my heart. It was the time Efe thought Kevwe had rejected her, and she’s crying with her girlfriends. She came to me so clearly then and told me what it could feel like when your heart is crushed from loss and immeasurable grief. I found it very poignant, and some of the beta readers have said so too. I hope it will touch everyone who reads the book.

Thank you so much for stopping by Myne! For more information on Myne and A Love Rekindled you can find her here:


To enter the giveaway, please leave a comment on the interview as well as a valid email address so I can contact you if you win. This giveaway will run through midnight on April 8th after which time a winner will be chosen by and announced on the blog. Please note this is a PDF galley.
Good luck everyone!

A LOVE REKINDLED (from Goodreads)

Efe returns to Nigeria after years in the United States, dreaming of a happy, independent life. However, her nights become plagued by nightmares of Kevwe Mukoro, her ex-fiancé. Long hours at work and drinking in nightclubs only provide temporary relief, and when she encounters Kevwe's twin brother, she knows it's a matter of time before Kevwe is back in her life. Sparks fly when they finally meet again, but desire is no match for bitter memories of heartbreak. All these years, Efe believed she was rejected; now Kevwe claims he'd never stopped loving her. Stuck at a crossroads, Kevwe prefers to look to the future, but Efe is not so sure. Can the traumatic events of the past be resolved, and will she give in to rekindled love?

Interview+Giveaway: Angie Smibert and Memento Nora

I'd like to extend a huge Supernatural Snark welcome to Angie Smibert today, I'm excited to have her on the blog answering a few questions about her young adult dystopian novel Memento Nora. I was able to get a sneak peek at this one (you can read my review HERE), releasing April 1st from Marshall Cavendish, thanks to the Cornucopia of Dystopia Blog Tour and I'm just lucky enough to have a copy to giveaway to one lucky commenter. Please see the bottom of the post for details and I hope you guys enjoy the interview!

Memento Nora deals with memories, the ones we want to keep and the ones we often wish we could forget, what is your favorite memory so far of the Memento Nora writing experience?

So far, nothing has beaten getting that first letter (or email) from the publisher saying they wanted to publish Memento Nora. I was so excited I couldn’t remember phone numbers (or that I had a cell phone with all the numbers programmed in). Thank goodness for old fashioned speed dial.

The world of Memento Nora is rather bleak, is there one aspect in particular you found most unnerving while writing, or one you think readers might find most thought-provoking?

Yes, the world is a bit bleak under a façade of glossiness. The unnerving part was realizing how close that world is to ours. I’m not predicting that’s what’s going to happen, but it’s not outside the realm of possibilities.

If you knew you were going to be forced to take the pill to forget something important, where might you write the information and leave it so your post-pill self would find it again?

Good question. I’d probably never find it unless I posted it on the whiteboard above my desk.

Both Micah and Winter are gifted artists, do you have any artistic ability in terms of illustration, sculpture, or design?

Not really. I dabbled with drawing when I was younger. I can fake my way through a half-way decent website design if I don’t need to do any actual drawing or heavy-duty photoshopping.

What’s one trait each of the three main protagonists possesses that you admire most in them?

Possibly because I have none (see above), I do admire Micah’s and Winter’s artistic ability. I also admire Nora’s ability to step outside her comfort zone and take a risk.

If it were possible to romantically match Nora, Micah or Winter with a character from another YA novel, who would it be and why do you think they might work as a couple?

If Winter were dropped into Scott Westerfeld’s Levianthan / Behemoth world, she might develop a crush on Dylan / Deryn Sharp. Winter would recognize “Mr.” Sharp’s secret, and she might be doing the same thing on the Clanker side.

If Memento Nora didn’t have a description on the back cover and could only be marketed to readers using a single quote or line from the book, which one do you think would most pique their interest?

On my bookmarks, I used “In the future, it doesn’t pay to remember.” It’s not exactly a quote, but one of the minor characters does say something very similar.

Thanks so much for taking the time to answer my questions Angie! If you are interested in learning more about Angie and her books, you can find more information here:


To enter the giveaway, please leave a comment on the interview as well as a valid email address so I can contact you if you win. This giveaway will run through midnight on April 8th after which time a winner will be chosen by and announced on the blog. This giveaway is open to US and Canada only as I already have the book in hand, sorry! Good luck everyone!

Review: Memento Nora

Angie Smibert
Young Adult/Dystopian
184 Pages
Marshall Cavendish
Available April 1st
Received for review as part of the Cornucopia of Dystopia Blog Tour

While out in the city with her mother, Nora witnesses firsthand the brutal violence that is a normal and often everyday occurrence where she lives. Bombs go off all the time, and Nora has always just accepted it as part of her life. Until a man lands on the sidewalk at her feet, dead.

To make her life easier, Nora's mom encourages her to go to a Therapeutic Forgetting Clinic, or TFC, so the memory can be erased and won't haunt her the rest of her life. At the clinic, however, everything changes. Nora not only learns a truth about her mother, but she also runs into Micah, a young man who shows her he hasn't swallowed his forgetting pill and taunts her with his quiet rebellion.

Following Micah's lead, Nora chooses to remember and comes to realize the importance of memories. Together with Micah and his friend Winter, she writes a comic strip called Memento and distributes it among her classmates. The comic has a shockingly profound effect, and turns into something life changing for its three young creators.

Thought provoking in the possibilities it presents, Memento Nora is a story that causes us to shift a lot of our attention inward, wondering what we might do if erasing targeted memories was actually an option. So many fascinating questions are raised with such a deceptively simple premise, the idea of a pill to help us forget unwanted moments in time seeming pretty straightforward, but the implications and repercussions of forgetting we quickly learn are broad and enormous in scale. What kind of world would it be if we simply wiped away the image of abuse or violence simply because we could? Would we not become stagnant by choosing to forget the tragedies, the hurts, and the pains, however small or large, that ultimately shape and mold our lives into liquid and ever-changing journeys? Learning from the events of the past, as opposed to dismissing them, seems necessary to ensure we are never held prisoner by a complacency that bypassing progress through memory alteration would inevitably cause.

Though the plot moves quickly and is far darker in the tale it tells than we suspect when we first begin reading, the characterization isn't quite as memorable as a story that just begs to be discussed until the wee hours of the morning. Because we get the point of view of each of our three main protagonists as they recount the events leading to the creation of Memento for the authorities, we don't have enough time in this quick, under-two-hundred-page tale to get to know any of them in a way where we will forever remember their names regardless of how many new characters we meet in other books. While all of their perspectives are intriguing and their separate voices are easy to read, jumping from one mind to the next swiftly keeps the roots through which we absorb all those emotions we crave when reading from extending deep enough beneath the surface to reach the layer where richer and more complex connections are waiting.

Interestingly enough, one of the most fascinating characters is Nora's mom–a woman whose point of view we are actually denied, but who makes a lasting impression on us nonetheless. She inspires both our anger for her willingness to swallow her life away one pill at a time instead of taking control of it, but also our sympathy for enduring a difficult situation and coping the only way she knows how. Her example elicits a strong reaction in both Nora and us, her quiet struggle more shocking to Nora than the violence of the Coalition attacks, and more unnerving to us for its relatability. Reading as Nora, Micah, and Winter seek to release the invisible binds locking those like Nora's mom into a life of contented repetition by revealing the power that stems from possibility is a tense, and ironically, unforgettable experience.

Memento Nora is an enjoyable debut from Ms. Smibert, the strength lying more in a brilliant and compelling story as opposed to deep and layered protagonists, but it is one that certainly makes an impression. Seeing individuals who are capable of blazing a trail into the unknown, thereby stripping themselves of their reliance on the safety of forgetting, but who choose to remain passive is gut-wrenching in its difficulty. However, watching as those who refuse to digest what the government tries to feed them and attempt to affect change despite their fear plasters a hopeful smile on our faces that remains in place until the very end.

Rating: 3.5/5

Be sure and stop by this afternoon for my interview with Ms. Smibert and a giveaway of Memento Nora!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Review: Red Riding Hood

Sarah Blakley-Cartwright
Paranormal Young Adult
329 Pages
Poppy/Little, Brown
Available Now
Received from publisher for review

Violet has always been the quieter sister, the one who keeps to herself and stays comfortably in the shadow of dynamic, older Lucie. She lives in a quiet town, but once a month a selected family has to make a sacrifice to the Wolf so that they may live the remainder of the month in peace.

Violet's quiet, albeit unusual, world is changed entirely with the return of her childhood friend Peter and the gruesome death of her sister. While the town is in an uproar over the death of one of its own, Violet finds herself increasingly attracted to Peter despite both his pauper status and her parents' announcement she is to be engaged to the blacksmith's wealthy son Henry.

When the Wolf continues attacking during the blood moon, the town entreats help of a professional werewolf slayer who informs them the werewolf is surely someone living in the village– someone among them. Violet finds herself in the midst of the chaos when the townspeople learn the Wolf can speak directly to her, her feelings for both Peter and Henry intensifying just as she is offered up as a sacrifice to end the bloodshed.

Red Riding Hood is yet another retelling of a classic story, one with a lot of intensity and violence that makes for a quick read, but it's one whose reimagining isn't quite as strong as its predecessors. With certain books, the characters are so vivid and vibrant it seems as though when we touch the pages our fingers may come in contact with cloth or skin, the individuals about whom we're reading so real there ceases to be a line dividing our world from theirs, and our lives blend together for the duration of the tale. With this story however, our skin brushes merely paper pages, our emotions skittering across the black ink without ever truly seeping in to create that valued bond, and so this book remains simply an inanimate object to us rather than an anthropomorphic entity promising us a journey we can't wait to undertake again and again.

Valerie is a difficult character to understand at times, the reasons for her preferred solitary existence never truly explained to us other than it's simply the way she is, but this small omission is highlighted by her sudden transformation into a social butterfly with the return of Peter and the sudden interest of Henry. As is so common with young adult romance lately, she finds herself instantly in love with the boy she once knew–so much so she's prepared to run away with him hours after his return and despite his ten year long absence. While instant attraction is certainly believable sometimes, even more so with an old childhood friend, the speed with which she's prepared to uproot herself and leave behind her family is highly questionable and a bit off-putting. While we certainly can see Peter's appeal, their interactions pulse with none of the tension forbidden love usually creates, and we feel only fleeting tingles now and then before they fade and we are left alone even though Valerie and Peter are still with us on the page.

There is certainly enough action and mystery in this story to offset an inexplicable romance, but the lack of concrete answers to any of our questions serves to solidify our somewhat indifferent reaction to the book in general. We close the back cover wondering if we actually care enough to look up the real ending or "bonus chapter"–something that isn't printed in the book itself but can only be found online (and wasn't available until the film's release date). With any mystery, there are going to be questions raised along the way, but with Red Riding Hood our curiosity is a heavy burden to bear, the weight of our questions constant and crushing as the gift of knowledge is never offered to lighten our load. Valerie's sister is slain and found with an unreadable note in her hand, but never do we learn what it might have said or who could have written it. The girls' grandmother clearly knows more about the Wolf than she lets on, but yet never does she reveal her thoughts on the matter. And while we have a suspect for the Wolf, we are denied the certainty of our suspicions, left with an ending where our minds are blank save for the presence of a single question mark–a symbol that adequately sums up our entire reaction to this book.

Red Riding Hood is an entertaining read despite its flaws, though it will perhaps be more successful as a film where our visual senses will no doubt be delighted and may allow us to forget some of the elements that so frustrate us in this written form.

Rating: 2/5

Saturday, March 26, 2011


Thanks so much to everyone who entered my Lucky Leprechaun Giveaway and my giveaway of Savita Kalhan's The Long Weekend! I had a fabulous number of entries for both giveaways which was really exciting. Winners are below, both of you have been emailed!


Small Review

Friday, March 25, 2011

Interview: Elana Johnson + Possession

Today I'm enormously excited to welcome Elana Johnson to the blog! She's absolutely hilarious and has been fully embracing my snarky comments to her on Twitter, something that has completely endeared her to me. She also happens to be the author of Possession, a fascinating young adult dystopian novel releasing June 7th from Simon and Schuster. I was lucky enough to receive an ARC courtesy of the Cornucopia of Dsytopia Blog Tour (you can read my review HERE) and Elana was nice enough to answer some questions for me. Hope you all enjoy the interview!

Vi has the unique ability to think something and have it happen in reality. If you possessed this talent, what might be the first thing you would think into happening?

Oh, going straight for the hard questions, I see. Uh… how about getting rid of the laundry? Not necessarily that there wouldn’t be laundry, just that someone else would wash, dry, fold, and put it away. And dishes! And mopping. Okay, pretty much every household chore. Which I now realize this is what maids do. #jeez #Iobviouslyneedamaid

features a lot of new and interesting technologies, what one technological creation of yours do you most wish we had now? Personally, I would want the device that produces any food I ask it to–endless supply of chocolate!

Seriously. That’s a great one. For me, there’s nothing I hate more than driving. Time wasted, every single day. So I’d love to have a teleporter in my living room. “Quick kids! It’s time for dance!” Right into the teleporter; no interrupted writing time. That would be bliss.

Jag is a pretty swoon-worthy guy who will no doubt have readers scanning the pages for a mention of his name, what one young adult male hero has recently made you swoon?

Dude, there’s so many! I really like Liam in Lisa & Laura Roecker’s THE LIAR SOCIETY. I enjoy Will in Sophie Jordan’s FIRELIGHT. I love me some Ky in Ally Condie’s MATCHED. I adore Catcher in Carrie Ryan’s THE DARK AND HOLLOW PLACES. And Peeta from THE HUNGER GAMES trilogy is brilliant. I was Team Gale for a while, but that third book really helped me switch camps.

*PEETA! Sorry, got a little enthusiastic at the mention of his name and felt the need to interrupt the interview and express my enthusiasm in the form of all caps:)

Your characters have some interesting names: Jag, Zenn, Thane. Did you have names floating around in your head first, or did you have the character description and personality worked out before you thought of a name to fit?

I always have a name first. And my names are just sort of what they are. I’ve had people tell me to change some in the past. I hardly ever do. And, uh, I usually don’t have a character description and/or personality worked out until the entire first draft is written. No lie. So names come first.

The end of this story is left fairly open, do you tend to gravitate toward books where your mind can fill in the blanks however you choose, or do you sometimes like things to be wrapped up neatly?

I’m a huge (read: HUGE) fan of endings like The Giver, where the reader can decide for themselves how things ended up. Where they can fill in the blanks. It makes reading a much more interactive experience for me.

If Jag was asked what he found most appealing or impressive about Vi, what might he say? Vi about Jag?

Holy delving deep, Batman! Okay, Jag would say that he was, and continues to be, instantly drawn to Vi’s strength. When she walks into that courtroom the first time with her head held high and talking back to the Greenies? Yeah, that’s a real turn-on for Jag.

As for Vi, well, we get to see and hear all the stuff that she likes about Jag. But maybe the most appealing thing about him is his gentleness, whether she recognizes it or not. The way he handles her like she’s precious, that she could break and there’s no way he’s going to be the one to do it.

Is there any one part of the writing/publishing/marketing process you found to be more difficult than you expected? Easier?

Can you say “emotional rollercoaster”? That, by far, is the hardest part of publishing. The highs are higher than anything you’ve experienced. The lows are so low you can’t see the bottom of them. And you can experience a high at 3:01:06 and a low at 3:01:06:05, getting jerked up and down and sideways. At the end of every day, I feel wrung out emotionally. It happens when I write. During querying. During editing. During submission. During promotion. During every aspect of the publishing process. That’s why I have to unplug from twitter, blogs, and Facebook one day out of every seven. I just can’t take the emotional intensity. Aaaand, now you all know my freakish lameness. I swear I’m in therapy. It’s called email. Ha!

Thank you so much for being here today Elana! If you are interested in learning more about Elana and Possession, you can find more information below, and don't forget to add June 7th to your calendar so you can pick this one up on release day!

Elana's Website
Elana's Blog
Elana on Twitter
Possession Official Website
Possession on Facebook

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Review: Possession

Elana Johnson
Young Adult/Dystopian
416 pages
Simon & Schuster
Available June 7th
Received for review as part of the Cornucopia of Dsytopia Blog Tour

In Vi's world independent thought is discouraged. People think what they are told to think, plugged into daily transmissions from the governing bodies, their minds controlled by those who have the unique ability to influence those around them. But Vi has never been one to dutifully do as she's told.

Arrested for being with her best friend Zenn, a boy, after dark, she's taken to court and banished to the Badlands never to return. While awaiting her transfer, she's placed in a holding cell with Jag, a young man from the Badlands caught distributing illegal technology when he stole across the border between their territories.

In spending forced time with Jag, Vi begins to realize the "baddies" as they're called aren't really bad at all, and they seem to have more freedom than she's ever been granted. When she and Jag escape and go on the run, not only does she learn more about the Badlands, but she discovers she might have an important role to play in a building resistance against the Thinkers and those who would rule through absolute forced control.

In the world of Possession, utter complacency and total compliance are a result of those in power having the ability to exert an incredible level of mental control over the masses, operating under the questionable belief that a society of productive drones is better and stronger than one consisting of those would exercise their free will. Such a world makes us wonder if our own minds would be strong enough to resist as Vi's is, and if we answer yes, we then must ask ourselves if our backbones would be made of equally substantial material. Would our spines stay rigid and unyielding against a controlling force, or would we crumble under the sheer power of individuals like those depicted in this tale? Possession is a fascinating read, one of resistance versus submission, family versus family, and individual choice versus societal obligation, and we eagerly travel along with Vi as she shields her mind from outside influence and allows herself to think freely.

One of the more impressive aspects of this story is a stunning array of well-developed and entertaining characters, their thoughts and actions anchoring us in a foreign environment and wrapping us in the familiar blanket of human emotion amidst a future we do not want to imagine possible. Vi is a fighter, someone not content to simply follow rules that would mold her into someone she doesn't recognize, and whose smart, sassy mouth reflects a sharp mind and independent nature. Jag is a character of particular interest, his confidence in his status as a "baddie" and the ease with which he approaches his flouting of the "goodie" rules and regulations instantly appealing. We can't help but gravitate toward someone who knows exactly where his true allegiance lies and is perfectly comfortable with the actions he must take to ensure he helps his cause in whatever capacity he can. Their attraction to one another, though a bit hurried, is understandable given the context of their surroundings and current predicament, and their complex interactions have the potential to make them a romantic pair we remember for quite some time.

Though Ms. Johnson's characterization is beautifully executed and her writing style easy to read and enthralling, the plot is sometimes a bit difficult to follow. Events happen in rapid succession, and Vi and Jag's multiple escapes and subsequent repeat captures are often accompanied by the use of complicated technologies as well as cryptic remarks from those apprehending them. It becomes clear to us that Vi has a purpose, something unique to offer both the Thinkers and the resistance, but it sometimes feels as though we're swimming through muddy and tumultuous waters as we progress deeper into the story–just when a few pieces of information make things a bit clearer, a new wave crashes down on us, sweeping that clarity away and replacing it with murky truths, uncertain allegiances, and numerous questions.

The ending is left fairly open, not so much as to be tear-your-hair-out frustrating, but definitely enough to have us hoping there will be a second installment where we can revisit a world that, despite it's complex and sometimes confusing nature, houses characters who have become important to us. Ms. Johnson is certainly an author I will be following closely, anxiously awaiting whatever tale she might weave next.

Rating: 3.5/5

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Review: Griffin Rising

Darby Karchut
Paranormal Young Adult
169 pages
Twilight Times Books
Available June 28th
Received from author for review

Griffin is an Angel, one with control over two of the four main Elements whose sole purpose is to protect and guard human lives. Well, that will be his sole goal once he completes his apprenticeship and passes his Proelium, becoming a full Guardian Angel. If he fails, he'll be stripped of his ability to control Earth and Fire and forced to live the remainder of his life as a human.

Though his training begins at the cruel hands of Nicopolis, the verbal and physical abuse sustained leaving indelible scars at the tender age of thirteen, his new mentor Basil is a man of humor and patience with a driving determination to see Griffin succeed. While Griffin attempts to gain control of his Elements and prepare for his final test, he is momentarily distracted from his purpose with the arrival of new neighbor Katie, a young woman who has his instant interest.

Though he wants a relationship with her, he knows it might be impossible due to the fact that he and Basil are constantly on call for their Angel duties, and what teenage girl would actually believe in their existence even if he told her the truth? Just when his life couldn't get any more complex with normal and paranormal complications, Griffin learns that Nicopolis will be overseeing his Proleium, and his former mentor is just as nasty and menacing as ever.

Griffin Rising introduces us to a race of Earth Angels, or Terrae Angeli, separated from the Celestial Angels in both the powers they possess and in their ability to have free will, thereby rendering them characters capable of making mistakes, their every flaw endearing them to us as we recognize our humanity reflected back at us regardless of their supernatural powers. Though Basil and Griffin can bend different Elements to their will, it is the low key moments of mentor to student and father to son interaction that keep us interested, their day to day dynamics both so humorous and touching the paranormal element often fades to the background as the shining joy of a boy recovering from an abusive past radiates from the pages. This is a story that combines a crushing responsibility with the levity of witty banter, mixes moments of teenage awkwardness with the developing maturity that accompanies such a daunting purpose, and illustrates how the word "angel" is not always so easily defined.

Griffin and Basil are the true highlight of this story, their bond a treat to watch slowly form as Griffin begins to heal from past psychological wounds, Basil's patience carefully drawing him from a shell the hand and barbed tongue of a another mentor forced him into. Added to the emotional mix is Griffin's romantic interest in Katie–a relationship that progresses at a refreshingly normal pace, complete with countless minutes and hours spent wondering how the other feels and if their interest might be reciprocated. Though a romance does enter the picture, the familial connection is not forgotten or overshadowed as Basil has many an amusing moment in having to deal with both a Guardian Angel apprentice and a smitten teenage boy, creating a well-rounded tale with strong relationships that span multiple dimensions.

Because Ms. Karchut has created such enjoyable and animated characters, we can't help but want to know more about them, wishing for a few extra details about their respective pasts as well as the history of the Terrae Angeli in general. We know Griffin's history with Nicopolis was brutal, but we are more told than shown that time in his life, and he recovers from it seemingly very quickly when the story's timeline suddenly jumps ahead three years until he reaches sixteen. Additionally, the presence of several journal entries from Griffin, Basil, and eventually Katie is a bit distracting as we long for the events mentioned in those excerpts to happen in real time, those fleeting moments pulling us out of the story for a just a few quick lines before we are dropped back in. The thoughts and musings in the journal passages do not necessarily provide any profound insight into the characters, and they might have easily been worked into the main storyline so events could have progressed more smoothly.

Overall however, Griffin Rising is a strong debut from Ms. Karchut, her characterization impressive and her storytelling engrossing. We are given a complete tale, left with things not wrapped up perfectly, but yet nicely concluded with just enough unknown to force us to make a note of the sequel's release date. Hopefully, the next book will delve deeper into the history missing from this tale so that we will have a more balanced understanding of the world, the Angel hierarchy, and the future for both Basil and Griffin.

Rating: 3.5/5

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Guest Post + Giveaway: Karen Metcalf

Today I'm excited to welcome Karen Metcalf to the blog, she's stopping by to share with us her thoughts on the benefits of an e-reader. She's also offering up copies of her e-book to three lucky commenters, so please check at the bottom of the post for details on the giveaway!

Why I bought an ereader (before my novella was even considered for publication)

When I started querying for a blog tour, I knew I was at a slight disadvantage because I was publishing an ebook. There is still a great deal of people opposed to them. However, there are so many advantages that I think people are missing out on.

To be honest, I’ve read more in the past year than probably any other. And you don’t have to pay the $25 for a hardback, or wait it out for the cheaper paperback version. Books are much, much cheaper. I’ve also gone home to visit in the past, and kicked myself for not bringing enough books, though there was no room in my suitcase, anyway. Now, I have every single book on a device slimmer than a paperback.

I come from a small town. It is a mission to get a new book, so most of the time we just re-read what we had. I convinced my sister to try it out, and she has been converted for life.

I don’t tell you this simply because I have an ebook coming out, I tell you this because I am a reader before I am an author. I know you guys love reading just as much as I do, and I’d hate for you to miss out on some really awesome reads.

Thanks so much for stopping by Karen! For more information on her and her books you can find her here:



As mentioned above, Karen is giving away three copies of IN THE STORM so if you'd like to be entered, please leave a comment on this post with a valid email address so I can contact you if you win. Giveaway will run through midnight EST on Tuesday, March 29th after which time winners will be chosen by and announced on the blog. Good luck everyone!

IN THE STORM (from Goodreads)

Abandoned by the world around her, Carly believes she is fated to a life of torment at the hands of her stepfather and is desperate for an escape. When she can bear the abuse no longer and gives in to a thunderous rage, she suddenly finds herself in an unfamiliar, yet beautiful, storm world. This limbo between dimensions appears to be her private sanctuary, but it may just be her purgatory.

No one escapes fate without sacrifice, but is the price more than Carly is willing to pay?

Monday, March 21, 2011

Review: Entwined

Heather Dixon
Paranormal Young Adult
474 Pages
Greenwillow Books
Available March 29th
Received from publisher for review

Princess Azalea and her eleven younger sisters love to dance. Their mother taught them a variety of dances and steps, and in the wake of her untimely death it's the only thing that helps them through their grief. Their father the King is dealing poorly with the loss of his wife and has been called off to war, seemingly glad to leave behind his twelve reminders of what is now lost to him.

Because the entire home is in mourning, the girls are made to wear black and forbidden from dancing for an entire year, but as their palace has a bit of magic pulsing through it, the girls find a secret passageway leading them through a silver forest and to a beautiful pavilion all set up for their dancing. In this passageway they meet Keeper, a man forced to live in this magical in-between world by the ancient High King, a man rumored to be able to trap souls after death.

While at first Keeper seems welcoming and the girls begin to deal with the pain of their loss, it soon becomes clear there is more to Keeper than a man just looking for a bit of company in his lonely existence. While Azalea has her suspicions, she's distracted from them by the return of her father, the anger over his treatment of her and her sisters prior to his departure rising to the surface. As father and daughters work to build a connection, and suitors for the three eldest daughters come calling, Keeper lies in wait, patiently biding his time before his true intentions can be known.

Full of sweetness and romance and positively radiating charm, Entwined is a story that appeals to us on a variety of levels, luring us in with a bit of humor and whimsy, but utterly enthralling us with its enchanting portrayal of sisterly affection and father/daughter relationships. Between these covers we find ourselves entangled in not only the day to day life of a family dealing with profound loss, but also in the mystery and allure of just a touch of magic–grounding us in the realism of family dynamics while simultaneously stirring our imaginations with fanciful possibilities. Reading this tale is like sitting down to a lush and savory meal where dishes that appeal to every part of our palettes are spread before us in offering, and we are tantalized with various flavors all at once, experiencing each one in rich detail and smiling soundly as we eagerly indulge.

Azalea is a young woman for whom we easily care as she is saddled with the burden of looking after her grieving younger sisters while also dealing with her responsibility as future queen, facing the prospect of a parliament-arranged marriage as opposed to one entered into with love. She admirably stands for all her sisters, boldly questioning and admonishing the King when he pushes his daughters away in bereavement, speaking her mind and heart even as the sharp pain of her own loss constantly pricks at her from all sides. When the house is left in a darkness to match the girls' wardrobes, Azalea assumes the responsibility of lifting the spirits of eleven impressionable young girls, helping them to remember and celebrate their mother through their shared love of dancing. She keeps all our hearts light enough to temporarily banish the encroaching darkness as we together recover from the painful absence of both parents and revel in the sometimes tenuous but always unbreakable bond between these sisters.

One of the more fascinating aspects of this tale is the various relationships between not only the girls, but also the girls and their father, as well as Azalea, Bramble, and Clover's individual relationships with potential husbands. Reading on as the King eventually begins to see the error of his ways and seeks to make amends for the deep and staggering pain his emotional and physical abandonment caused is an absolute pleasure. Each tentative step at forming a connection to his daughters when before he left such intricacies to his wife sends welcome warm shivers down our spines, that blissful heat seeming to flow back into him as though the pages themselves are a conduit between us, and we wish our wholehearted encouragement might give him the strength to fill the gaping hole left by the girls' mother with the laughter and smiles etched across twelve loving faces. Into the humorous and and complex familial bond Ms. Dixon also artfully weaves a subtle touch of romance, just enough to quicken our pulses and flush our cheeks, but not so much as to become the sole focus and take us away from the slowly healing relationship between father and daughters that has us so captivated.

Entwined is a cute story, not one full of action that has us gripping the pages white knuckled, but one that draws us in nonetheless, the subtle changes taking place in each individual character as they struggle with a very personal loss and attempt to remedy the monstrous tear in the fabric of their family a heartwarming drama we can't help but adore. Pick this one up if you enjoy a little magic in your reality, a little humor to alleviate your pain, and a little sweet giddiness to your romance.

Rating: 4/5

Sunday, March 20, 2011

In My Mailbox #25

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!


POSSESSION by Elana Johnson (from Goodreads):
Vi knows the Rule: Girls don't walk with boys, and they never even think about kissing them. But no one makes Vi want to break the Rules more than Zenn...and since the Thinkers have chosen him as Vi's future match, how much trouble can one kiss cause? The Thinkers may have brainwashed the rest of the population, but Vi is determined to think for herself.

But the Thinkers are unusually persuasive, and they're set on convincing Vi to become one of them...starting by brainwashing Zenn. Vi can't leave Zenn in the Thinkers' hands, but she's wary of joining the rebellion, especially since that means teaming up with Jag. Jag is egotistical, charismatic, and dangerous--everything Zenn's not. Vi can't quite trust Jag and can't quite resist him, but she also can't give up on Zenn.

This is a game of control or be controlled. And Vi has no choice but to play.

HUNTRESS by Melinda Lo (from Goodreads)
Nature is out of balance in the human world. The sun hasn't shone in years, and crops are failing. Worse yet, strange and hostile creatures have begun to appear. The people's survival hangs in the balance.

To solve the crisis, the oracle stones are cast, and Kaede and Taisin, two seventeen-year-old girls, are picked to go on a dangerous and unheard-of journey to Tanlili, the city of the Fairy Queen. Taisin is a sage, thrumming with magic, and Kaede is of the earth, without a speck of the otherworldly. And yet the two girls' destinies are drawn together during the mission. As members of their party succumb to unearthly attacks and fairy tricks, the two come to rely on each other and even begin to fall in love. But the Kingdom needs only one huntress to save it, and what it takes could tear Kaede and Taisin apart forever.

The exciting adventure prequel to Malinda Lo's highly acclaimed novel Ash is overflowing with lush Chinese influences and details inspired by the I Ching, and is filled with action and romance.

THOSE WHO FIGHT MONSTERS edited by Justin Gustainis

Those Who Fight Monsters: Tales of Occult Detectives
, is your one-stop-shop for Urban Fantasy’s finest anthology of the supernatural. 14 sleuths are gathered together for the first time in all-original tales of unusual cases which require services that go far beyond mere deduction!

Meet the Detectives:

Danny Hendrickson - from Laura Anne Gilman's Cosa Nostradamus series.
Kate Connor - from Julie Kenner’s Demon Hunting Soccer Mom series.
John Taylor - from Simon R. Green’s Nightside series.
Jill Kismet - from Lilith Saintcrow’s Jill Kismet series.
Jessi Hardin - from Carrie Vaughn’s Kitty Norville series.
Quincey Morris - from Justin Gustainis’ Morris/Chastain Investigations series.
Marla Mason - from T. A. Pratt's Marla Mason series.
Tony Foster - from Tanya Huff’s Smoke and Shadows series.
Dawn Madison - from Chris Marie Green’s Vampire Babylon series.
Pete Caldecott - from Caitlin Kittredge’s Black London series.
Tony Giodone - from C. T. Adams and Cathy Clamp’s Tales of the Sazi series.
Jezebel - from Jackie Kessler’s Hell on Earth series.
Piers Knight - from C. J. Henderson’s Brooklyn Knight series.
Cassiel - from Rachel Caine’s Outcast Season series.

Thanks so much to Cornucopia of Dystopia, Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, and Justin Gustainis for sending me books this week!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Lucky Leprechaun Giveaway!

Welcome to my Lucky Leprechaun Giveaway!

This giveaway hop is hosted by Books Complete Me 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 but they haven't been released just yet. 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 LUCKY LEPRECHAUN GIVEAWAY in the subject line or leave a comment and I'll make sure you're entered. This giveaway will run through midnight (EST) on Sunday, March 20th 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:
Demonglass by Rachel Hawkins
Delirium by Lauren Oliver
Entwined by Heather Dixon
City of Fallen Angels by Cassandra Clare (this will be a preorder)
A Touch Mortal by Leah Clifford
Archangel's Consort by Nalini Singh
Lover Unleashed by J.R. Ward (this will be a preorder)
How to Flirt With a Naked Werewolf by Molly Harper
This Side of the Grave by Jeaniene Frost
The Darkest Secret by Gena Showalter (this will be a preorder)

There are over 200 blogs participating in this event, so be sure to check out the other giveaways! All participating blogs are listed below, good luck everyone!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Interview + Giveaway: Savita Kalhan and The Long Weekend

This afternoon I'm thrilled to welcome author Savita Kalhan to the blog! Her young adult novel, The Long Weekend, was extremely surprising to me (in a good way) and left a very memorable impression, so I hope all of you get a chance to read it! Savita has been kind enough to offer up a copy of the book to one lucky commenter, so be sure and check out the bottom of the interview for entry details. If you'd like to read my full review, you can do that HERE.

Hi Jenny, thanks for inviting me here today! I’m looking forward to answering your questions.

So much of the intensity of this story is psychological–the villain isn’t always present but we feel him throughout the entire book. When reading, do you find yourself more anxious with books that are mentally taxing or books that are full of a lot of action and violence?

Oh definitely those that are mentally taxing – especially if they’re psychological thrillers! Books full of action and violence are like films that are full of action and violence – I can watch or read them without really having to do much thinking or engaging with them on a complex level. They’re raw entertainment – fun and absorbing at the time, but pretty forgettable once they’re finished.

What do you feel is the most unnerving or tense scene in the book?

For me it was the scene when Sam goes into the bedroom looking for Lloyd. He’s not sure what he’s going to find – and when I wrote it neither was I! Writing those few chapters was a very tense time because I wasn’t sure myself how far I would go until I started writing them.

Sam’s mind works brilliantly in a very stressful situation, do you think you work well under pressure?

I’d love to say yes! But honestly I’m not sure. I have worked well under pressure in the past, but this kind of pressure isn’t the kind that most people come across in their lives. This is a very different kind of pressure.

The morning The Long Weekend released, do you remember the first thought that went through your head?

Yes – “Oh my god, I’m a real writer!”

Which do you find more terrifying: the disfigured, axe-wielding, slasher movie type, or the more quiet, “normal” person-who-could-be-your-neighbor type?

Both! I’m a real chicken when it comes to horror films! Slasher films give me nightmares and I can’t watch things like Nightmare on Elm Street and Friday the 13th anymore. The more quiet, “normal” person-who-could-be-your-neighbor type movies are equally as terrifying, but in a very different way. I do love watching things like CSI Vegas, and Law and Order, and thrillers, but I draw the line at horrors!

If Sam and Lloyd were to interview you and they asked why you wrote certain events as happening to Lloyd and not Sam, how would you explain your decision to them?

I don’t think I could. I would have to hang my head in shame and apologize profusely to Lloyd.

Is there a reason you chose to write this story with two young male characters as opposed to female?

No, it just happened that way. When I got the idea for the story, Sam’s character and voice arrived and Lloyd followed shortly after. But I’m so glad they did. It would have been a very different story if the characters were female, and actually there are lots of teen and YA books out there where it’s girls who are kidnapped.

Last book that kept you up all night reading? Why?

This book has been out for a long time, but somehow I only got around to reading it recently – Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson. The voice of the character came through so strongly, despite the fact for much of the book the character has no voice. It’s a very poignant, moving story and I absolutely loved it.

I know with just writing simple reviews, every time I re-read my work I find something to edit or change, do you find this as well with your writing? If so, at what point do you decide the book is done and you won’t change another thing?

That’s such a hard call to make! I think you get a gut feeling when it’s there. Having it read by other people who are good readers, and who are able to be perfectly honest about your work is very important. You don’t have to take any advice offered, but I find it is important to hear a few different points of view. It helps you see your work more clearly.

If The Long Weekend were made into a movie, what would the poster or voice-over tagline be?

“Sam and Lloyd, two kids who get in the wrong car.

They’re locked up in dark secluded mansion…where the monster is real.

Will either of them get out alive…?”

I’d love your followers to come over to my website, and have a look around, leave me a message on my message board and tell me what they think of The Long Weekend!

They can also find me on twitter

And on Facebook

For the international GIVEAWAY competition, I’d like your followers to answer this question in the comments section – What was the last book that kept them up all night reading? I’m looking forward to reading their responses!

Thanks so much for inviting me here, Jenny!


Thanks so much for stopping by and providing readers with a chance to win your book Savita! If you haven't had a chance to read this book yet, please add it to your list, it's an amazing story! To enter the giveaway, please leave a comment answering Savita's question as well as a valid email address so I can contact you if you win. This giveaway will run through midnight on March 25th after which time a winner will be chosen by and announced on the blog. This giveaway is international. Good luck everyone!

Review: The Long Weekend

Savita Kalhan
Young Adult
180 Pages
Andersen Press (London)
Available Now
Received from I Swim For Oceans and Savita Kalhan for review

Sam couldn't be more excited that he has found a best friend in Lloyd his first week at a new school and is looking forward to hanging out with him over the weekend. However, when both boys mistake the man offering them a ride home for the other boy's father, they find themselves in for a very different weekend than the one they had planned.

While Lloyd remains oblivious to their current situation thinking his wealthy father has planned some extravagant fun event for the two of them, Sam becomes increasingly aware of the danger they're in. Forced to separate upon arriving at a sprawling mansion, neither Sam nor Lloyd realize the full extent of the separate terrors both will have to endure before the weekend is over.

A spectacularly eerie and suspenseful tale, The Long Weekend wastes little time drawing us into the action and putting us on edge as the gravity of Sam and Lloyd's mistake settles over us with a tangible weight we carry with us to the very end. We want so badly to join in the boys' initial denial of their situation, hoping and wishing events will not unravel as we secretly know they will, the incessant tingling of our pebbled skin and the sick twist in our guts evidence we cannot ignore or rationalize away as we are forced to come to the same horrifying conclusion as Sam–that his situation is dire, his life is at risk, and his options are limited. For a story short in length it lacks for nothing, the tension and fear so thick we can almost taste it, our mouths shockingly dry while we repeatedly try to swallow past the lump in our throats and cling to vain hope we might be able to save Sam and Lloyd with the safety of our reality. Though our wish to rescue them is a futile one, Ms. Kalhan ensures we are with the boys every step of the way, pulses pounding so loudly we're convinced the villain will sense us and our fear ratcheting up with every echoing thump as we know we can do nothing but read on, invisible but involved companions to Sam and Lloyd through an experience that will profoundly change their lives.

Sam is a character of infinite loyalty and ingenuity, making up in mental strength what he lacks in physical as an eleven year old boy, assessing his situation with admirable calm and refusing to meekly accept his status as a victim. He thinks clearly and soundly, makes difficult decisions, and attempts to thwart a man bigger, stronger, and disgustingly unhinged. His patience with a very traumatized Lloyd is painful to witness, our hearts aching with every quiet reassurance uttered as we know even if both boys make it home, their lives will be irrevocably changed. Every time Lloyd freezes in fear we stop breathing, wondering if the time has come where he or Sam will accept defeat and resign themselves to a fate no child should have to endure, the anxiety pulsing in these quiet moments of indecision so potent our bodies tremble in anticipation, waiting, watching, and willing them to fight just a little longer.

Perhaps the most impressive aspect of this story is Ms. Kalhan's ability to elicit extreme emotional reactions with her delicate handling of a difficult subject matter. Though it's clear to us what happens to Lloyd, the details are sparse, thereby augmenting an already suffocatingly tense atmosphere with the added uneasiness of the unknown. She works a similar magic on our villain, the description of him brief and succinct yet we feel the weight of his presence as though we have seen him clearly, knowing we will forever remember the feel of him–the chill and disgust he calls forth from us markers we will always recognize and associate with a monster. Though he never touches us physically as he does Lloyd, we do not walk away from this story unscathed, the remnants of his sickness remaining permanently with us as brands so deeply embedded in our skin they will never fully fade.

Overall, The Long Weekend is a story that both shocks and unnerves us, the depth of terror and fear punching us in the gut with a force we are grossly unprepared for, doubling us over as we choke and sputter and try to regain our equilibrium so we can walk side by side with Sam and Lloyd with the hope they will share in our recovery. Quick, fast, and unleashing a deluge of overwhelming emotions, this is a story that should occupy a spot at the top of everyone's to be read pile.

Rating: 4.5/5

Stop back in this afternoon for my interview with Ms. Kalhan as well as a giveaway of The Long Weekend!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Book Boyfriend: Owen Grayson

My Book Boyfriend is a weekly meme hosted by Missie at The Unread Reader, one that gives us the opportunity to introduce our latest literary crushes and match up their descriptions with a few pictures of a gentleman we think fits the bill. This week I've picked Owen Grayson from Jennifer Estep's Elemental Assassin books, a fabulous urban fantasy series I just cannot get enough of. There are three books out at the moment, and the fourth, Tangled Threads, releases on April 26th.

A brief description of Owen:

He had a thick head of hair that was a glossy blue-black, while his eyes were a light violet. A white, thin scar slashed diagonally across his chin. It offset the crooked tilt of his nose. Those were the only two flaws in his chiseled features, which somehow added even more character to his face, rather than detracting from his good looks.

He cut an impressive figure. Striking, confident, aggressive, forceful. Someone who demanded attention.
(pg 32 of Web of Lies)

So, per usual, I have completely ignored the dark hair description and gone in favor of my sudden attraction to blonds. However, I wanted to pick someone who seemed to capture the feel of Owen, exuding that confidence mentioned above and I think Chris Hemsworth has that striking swagger to him. Hope you enjoy some of my favorite Owen moments!

Owen speaking to Gin:

"...Curiosity is a trait of mine, I'm afraid. But I was much more interested in just holding your hand."

"What are you? Twelve?"

Grayson flashed me another smile. "Sometimes the most sensual pleasures are the simplest ones."

I looked at him a moment. Then I threw back my head and laughed. "Wow. That was lame. Do you try that line out on all the ladies? Or just me?"

Instead of being insulted, Grayson's smile deepened, and his violet eyes glowed with warmth. "Just you, Gin. You're the only one who's ever called me on it."


Grayson's thumb traced over the circle embedded in my palm, the center of the spider rune that marked my skin. A little tingle of interest sparked to life in the pit of my stomach. A small sizzle of awareness, of potential, of possibilities.

(pg 55 of Venom)

"No problem Mr. Grayson. Just taking out a bit of trash that got onto the riverboat this evening."

Trash wasn't the worst thing I'd ever been called. Hardly enough to make me roll my eyes. But the word made Owen's gaze simmer like violet fire. For a moment, I felt a blast of cold emanate from his body...Owen's face remained smooth, except for the scar under his chin. It whitened under the strain of his clenched jaw.

"Ms. Blanco is my date for the evening," Owen replied in a mild tone. "She's hardly trash. I suggest you let go of her arm. Most ladies don't like to be manhandled."

"Only in bed," I quipped. "And even then, I still like to be on top."

His mouth quirked at my flip remark, and our eyes met and held. Gray on violet. Desire simmered in Owen's eyes underneath his anger, and I knew he could see the emotion reflected in my gaze. But there was something else, another emotion in his cold face that surprised me–concern. For me.

(pg 208 of Venom)

"I don't judge you for what you've done, Gin. Why are you judging me for another man's mistakes? Because Donovan Caine did make a mistake," Owen said in a soft voice. "Letting someone like you go."

"Someone like me?"

Owen got to his feet and moved until he was standing in front of me. "Someone strong and tough and smart and sassy and sexy as hell. That's why I'm interested, Gin. Because you're all of those things and more..."
(pg 254 of Venom)

And just in case you wanted to see the muscles that accompany that pretty face, this is a screen capture from the upcoming movie Thor. You're welcome:)

TANGLED THREADS (Elemental Assassin #4)
from Goodreads:

I’d rather face a dozen lethal assassins any night than deal with something as tricky, convoluted, and fragile as my feelings.

But here I am. Gin Blanco, the semi-retired assassin known as the Spider. Hovering outside sexy businessman Owen Grayson’s front door like a nervous teenage girl. One thing I like about Owen: he doesn’t shy away from my past—or my present. And right now I have a bull’s-eye on my forehead. Cold-blooded Fire elemental Mab Monroe has hired one of the smartest assassins in the business to trap me. Elektra LaFleur is skilled and efficient, with deadly electrical elemental magic as potent as my own Ice and Stone powers. Which means there’s a fifty-fifty chance one of us won’t survive this battle. I intend to kill LaFleur—or die trying—because Mab wants the assassin to take out my baby sister, Detective Bria Coolidge, too. The only problem is, Bria has no idea I’m her long-lost sibling . . . or that I’m the murderer she’s been chasing through Ashland for weeks. And what Bria doesn’t know just might get us both dead. . . .

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Teaser Tuesday: Possession

Teaser Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by MizB at Should Be Reading and here's how it works:

Grab your current read
Open to a random page
Share a snippet from somewhere on that page but be careful not to include spoilers

My teaser today is from Possession by Elana Johnson:

If we weren't on the run for our lives, if I wasn't tagged and worried about how we were going to get to the Badlands and then all the way to Seaside, I might have been terrified at the thought of kissing him. Slowly, I placed one hand on his chest.

"Freeze!" a woman yelled.

*teaser is from an ARC so quote is therefore subject to change before publication.

POSSESSION (from Goodreads)

Vi knows the Rule: Girls don't walk with boys, and they never even think about kissing them. But no one makes Vi want to break the Rules more than Zenn...and since the Thinkers have chosen him as Vi's future match, how much trouble can one kiss cause? The Thinkers may have brainwashed the rest of the population, but Vi is determined to think for herself.

But the Thinkers are unusually persuasive, and they're set on convincing Vi to become one of them...starting by brainwashing Zenn. Vi can't leave Zenn in the Thinkers' hands, but she's wary of joining the rebellion, especially since that means teaming up with Jag. Jag is egotistical, charismatic, and dangerous--everything Zenn's not. Vi can't quite trust Jag and can't quite resist him, but she also can't give up on Zenn.

This is a game of control or be controlled. And Vi has no choice but to play.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Review: Wither

WITHER (The Chemical Garden Trilogy #1)
Lauren DeStefano
Young Adult
358 Page
Simon & Schuster
Available March 22nd
Received from publisher for review

Rhine is going to die in four years. Her death will come at age twenty along with every other woman, just as every young man will pass at age twenty-five due to a virus infecting the younger generations. Her body will give out slowly and inexorably not long after her birthday.

In order to keep the human population from dying out, young woman are constantly kidnapped and forced into polygamous marriages, expected to produce children at young ages and do their part for the perpetuation of society. Rhine has seen the Gatherers brutally collecting girls, and she figures as long as she's careful, she will never be one of them.

Unfortunately, even with her twin brother Rowan looking out for her, Rhine finds herself at the regal home of Linden Ashby, standing before him as his one of his three wives. Initially consumed with only thoughts of escape, Rhine soon finds some semblance of home with her sister wives, Linden, and a servant named Gabriel, but she never forgets how she came to be there in the first place and what will happen to her if she doesn't adequately fulfill her role as a woman and wife.

Darkly fascinating and exquisitely grim, Wither introduces us to a bleak future where human lives are horrifically truncated, and with the reduction in lifespan comes the deterioration of morality and ethics. Human trafficking has become a premium, and the goodness and light of humanity is rapidly shriveling along with the cells of the body infected by the virus, leaving behind the brutality, the lies, and the grievous deeds conducted in name of survival and finding an antidote. In the sprawling mansion that has become Rhine's gilded cage, she and her fellow sister wives are no longer individuals with hearts, souls, and emotions but rather are strands of DNA and the carriers of future children who represent possible genetic salvation to Linden's father and resident housemaster Vaughn. We can't help but sit motionless, riveted to a story with dynamic characters, monstrous secrets, and a very uncertain future.

Smart and cunning, Rhine is a young woman who wastes little time wallowing in useless self-pity, instead constantly planning and plotting a possible escape from a dire situation dressed up in opulent surroundings and glittering clothing. She conducts herself in a manner that earns our respect and admiration, refusing to be cajoled into certain compromising situations despite the role she's playing, and maintaining an independence when she easily could have become a numbered wife–a nameless, faceless, husk of a woman who's relinquished all hope along with the control of her body. As intriguing as Rhine herself are the intricate relationships formed between her and her sister wives, each individual harboring secrets of her own, willing to share only what she wants known while keeping the most vital information close to the chest. Cecily and Jenna are both beautifully depicted, each understanding there is a subtle art to surviving their circumstances and they wield their separate paintbrushes with a cleverness and aptitude that makes the creative dance between all three young women an enthralling thing to read.

Linden is a fascinating character in his own right, a man who keeps our emotions constantly shifting between affection and resentment as his role in Rhine's predicament is kept deliberately ambiguous. At times, his seeming kindness and vulnerability slip past our defensive walls and we begin to warm to him, only to remember what brought the women to his home in the first place, just as Rhine continues to remember, and both her and our impenetrable shields snap back into place. He is both innocent and guilty, victim and villain, and kind husband and captor, so adept at maintaining his guileless facade we struggle to decipher if it's the truth or yet another illusion in a house full of false freedom, simulated marriage, and pretend emotional connections.

The one drawback of this unique tale is a lack of history regarding the virus and the unfathomable evolutionary retrogression. For such a profound turn of events for all humanity, a little more information on the cause of the virus and its initial discovery would have been welcome. We attend a variety of parties and public functions along with Rhine as she executes her role as first wife with a flawless grace, and while one such event would have sufficed for us to understand Rhine's augmenting position within the marriage's social structure, we are subjected to several more–somewhat unnecessary deviations where the page time might have been better spent illuminating the world a bit more. Overall, however, Wither is a highly enjoyable read and Ms. DeStefano has created a spectacular array of memorable characters who keep us constantly on our toes, thinking and wondering as to what's in their minds and hearts as they all attempt to live in the face of certain death.

Rating: 4/5