Saturday, July 30, 2011

In My Mailbox 32 + Winners

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!

Shattered Souls by Mary Lindsey
Rip Tide (Dark Life #2) by Kat Falls
Class Collision: Phoenix Rising by Annette Mackey


Divergent by Veronica Roth
Wolfsbane by Andrea Cremer


Supernaturally by Kiersten White
Saving Francesca by Melina Marchetta
Karma Girl by Jennifer Estep

A huge thank you goes out this week to Teen Book Scene, Scholastic, Annette Mackey, Tara from Fiction Folio and Carissa from Preternatural Primer for sending me so many great books to read!

I also want to extend an enormous thank you to JL Bryan and Jennifer Estep for allowing me to host giveaways of their books this past week, chose the winners and they have both been emailed!


Carissa from Preternatural Primer



Friday, July 29, 2011

Cover Critique: The From Behind Romantic Tackle

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

I know it's been a little while on the critique guys I'm so sorry! Blogger fail. I did 3 covers this week though, so hopefully that makes up for it a little bit.

In my scouring of the internet for the most entertaining of book covers, I began to notice a trend in the poses for historical romance novels and thought I would share my findings with you. I have dubbed it "The From Behind Romantic Tackle". Brilliance, thy name is Jenny. Try not to be intimidated by my way with words, I'm just really on my game today. Enjoy!

So. What exactly do you think he's doing to her? I'm assuming this is supposed to be a passionate embrace given that his hand is all up in her business, but it almost looks as though he's hit some sort of pressure point and just doubled her over doesn't it? The bare skin of her upper thighs must be super sensitive for her to have this incredibly dramatic response to the brush of his fingers, or perhaps we just need to give our kudos to him for having such orgasmic digits. Bravo you master manipulator of the metacarpals!

I've seen cover after cover with this pose (though not so many with this level of enthusiasm, well done cover models, well done!) and it just makes me giggle at the idea that being pounced on from behind, essentially bent in half, and then heavily breathed on is an adequate method of seduction. Maybe I'm just a prude who's not thinking outside the box though. Maybe I'm underestimating the sexiness that is my ear being panted on while the fabric of my dress is getting far more action as my sexy shirtless hero bunches it up than I myself am getting.

Let's see another example shall we?

Ah, look at this clever fellow. He's making this pose his own by switching up the ear/neck breathing and focusing his smoldering exhalations on her eye. Good on you my friend. Way to be a leader and not a follower you magnificent male specimen, show those other romance heroes what you're made of!

While his creative liberty is nothing short of admirable, looking at her face makes me think perhaps it's not really having the desired effect. The woman on the cover of Wild at least seems to be awake and somewhat actively participating in the tackle-de-amor, but this woman appears to have passed out. She also seems to have some sort of problem breathing through her nose given her mouth is gaping open, though it might be entirely possible that our fair-haired romeo could benefit from a mint and the only way she can get into things is to breathe through her mouth. Poor girl.

I would like to be present for some of these photo shoots and see the before and after images wouldn't you? Before I just picture this woman standing there in his embrace, looking bored and wondering how much longer she has to wear 20lbs of red plaid fabric while feigning arousal. Then, as soon as they say action, her knees buckle, her back arches, and her jaw drops open on a dreamy sigh as he does absolutely nothing but press his goods into her backside and blow hot air on her eye. Sexy time has commenced people.

This last one is not a historical romance cover, but it still fits my theme for today's post and is extraordinarily entertaining, so be ready.

Well then. This couple is taking the tackle to a whole new level aren't they? Before we get sidetracked with the fact that he's copping a feel of her breast in order to provide her just a touch of modesty on this cover (so thoughtful isn't he?), I'd like to discuss the spatial relationship of his appendages. Can you just look at where his right elbow is in relation to where his right shoulder should be behind her? He has a stump of an upper right arm apparently because those proportions just don't make sense. The musculature of that same forearm also doesn't seem to match that of his left biceps, so I have no idea who is actually feeling this young woman up. We have a mystery arm with a nipple fetish here. Creepy.

And where has her right arm gone? This is quite the conundrum isn't it? I'm actually beginning to wonder if these two people were actually ever in this picture together or if they were photoshopped into this position. Not only do we have the missing limb/stunted arm situation, but his face seems to have gotten stuck inside her face, as though she has somehow absorbed him. What!? I'm so thoroughly confused and it just makes me happy. Who loves this cover? *raises both hands*

Happy Friday Everyone!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Follow Friday

This Week's Question: Let's step away from books for a second and get personal. What T-Shirt slogan best describes you?

Okay, this is a hard question and I struggled to come up with something witty and clever. Ultimately, it's 11:00 at night and my wittiness is sadly asleep at the moment so I failed this test. I do recall 2 shirts I've seen that made me laugh so I thought I'd share those even though they have really nothing at all to do with me:)

1. Picture of a scarecrow in a field with text saying "Outstanding in his field". HA! Outstanding in his field! Stupid puns amuse me to no end.

2. Brown t-shirt with white type: Shit Creek Paddle Co. Love it:)

Thanks to Parajunkee and Alison Can Read for hosting the hop!

Review: Storm's Heart

STORM'S HEART (Elder Races #2)
Thea Harrison
Paranormal Romance
336 pages
Berkley Sensation/Penguin
Available August 2nd
Received from publisher for review

Warning: Contains mild spoilers from Dragon Bound, but no spoiler's from Storm's Heart.

With the death of her uncle, Tricks (also known as Niniane) is now the rightful heir to the Dark Fae throne. She escaped from a life of politics over two hundred years ago when her entire family was slaughtered, seeking sanctuary with the Wyr and their leader Dragos. Now, she has to return to that life she ran from and be the person she's not entirely sure survived that tragedy.

When Tricks goes missing after a scheduled meeting with Dark Fae representatives, Tiago, as one of the best trackers Dragos has, is sent to find her and ensure her safety. Though he's immeasurably powerful, battle-scarred, and possesses control over lightning and thunder, he finds himself vulnerable to the petite-sized Niniane, and he discovers his need to protect her extends beyond a mere desire to follow orders.

Both Tricks and Tiago knew there would be many who were not happy with her placing a legitimate claim on the throne in the wake of her uncle's death, but they quickly realize the real threat is coming from someone close to her, someone in their small group of people traveling to Niniane's former home. Battling passion and politics, Niniane and Tiago leap into the fray together, hoping their combined emotional and physical strength will restore both order and leadership to the Dark Fae.

The world of Storm's Heart is one that rejuvenates the paranormal romance genre, infusing it with new breeds of hero and heroine who delight us with their charismatic personalities and enthrall us with the newness of their supernatural abilities. Fairly unknown entities such as dragons, thunderbirds, and gryphons dominate the novels of the Elder Races, and we can't help but smile gleefully as these new additions join familiar vampire and faerie favorites to create stories that allow us to revel in what we love most about the genre as a whole while also providing us with new experiences and new characters with whom to fall in love.

Ms. Harrison is a master at creating extraordinarily alpha-male heroes–men who are unapologetically protective and possessive, but who also acknowledge that the need for their women goes far beyond the physical and into a true and believable partnership. Tiago is typically rough on the exterior, strength and dominance oozing from his black-clad physique in staggering waves, but his tenderness and sensitivity when it comes to diminutive Niniane guarantees himself a treasured place in our hearts as we secretly wish for him to step from the pages and turn that slightly intimidating and focused attention our way. He is literally a raging storm encased in flesh, his temper impressive but never overwhelming, and his aggressiveness just enough to remind us what he's capable of as we melt with the knowledge of just how much he tempers that power with his mate.

Niniane is strong in her own right, her power lying in the force of her infectious personality and her ability to diffuse tension with soothing words and genuine compliments when those around her would resort to more violent means of communicating. Though her relationship with Tiago is a bit of a push and pull in the beginning–her sense of royal responsibility outweighing her desire to pursue a relationship–once the decision to move forward is made, both parties throw their full weight behind the effort to present a unified front to all those who seek to do them harm. Little flashbacks to her gruesome past make us fully appreciate the safety she finds in Tiago's embrace, and we easily root for a woman of intelligence and wit who constantly seeks to put the well-being of others before her own.

Though not quite as strong as its predecessor, Storm's Heart is still an intensely satisfying addition to this series. The political maneuvering, conniving, and corruption make for a slightly quieter read in comparison to Dragos's explosive and combative nature, but Ms. Harrison's characters are written in such rich and lush detail that they exist fully formed in our minds; their features, personalities, strengths and weaknesses etched crystal clear into our memories where they will remain indefinitely no matter how many books we pick up following their stories.

Rating: 4/5

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Interview: Samantha Young

Today I'm excited to welcome paranormal young adult author Samantha Young to the blog to talk about her Tale of Lunamorte trilogy. All three books are available now, so be sure and check the bottom of the post for links on where you can find them!

You got some of your inspiration for Moon Spell by studying Greek mythology; was there one myth in particular that most influenced the creation myth in the book itself?

I wasn’t really influenced by one particular myth; it was more that I was inspired by the personalities of the Greek gods and their individual connections to nature. As my ideas developed certain myths (such as Hades stealing the goddess Demeter’s daughter, Persephone, and making her Queen of the Underworld) just fit. I could use these myths to exact consequences that shaped the evolution of vampyres and lykans etc.

If you could be the descendant of a Greek god, who would you most like to be related to and why?

I think I would be a descendant of Athena. She was intelligent, powerful and wise, and although she was the goddess of war she preferred to sort out disputes through wisdom and practical thinking rather than violence, like her brother Ares. Plus, she was the patron goddess of heroes, which I think is pretty cool; she helped shape the destiny of heroes and I’d like to think I’m creating modern heroes with my books :-)

Out of the three books in the Tale of Lunarmorte series, which would you say was the most difficult to write or had the largest number of significant changes?

Blood Solstice (Part three) was probably the most difficult to write as there is more history in it – I took real events from ancient Greece, Rome, medieval France, and 18th Century Russia to shape around the events in the world I’d created, and this took me a while to research. Moreover, Blood Solstice is the darkest of the three novels and I had to make some pretty tough decisions about the fate of certain characters, which wasn’t easy because as a writer you become pretty attached to them :-(

If you were to interview one of your characters, who would it be and what’s the first thing you would ask them?

If I could interview any one of my characters it would be Saffron. Saffron is an old faerie (shapeshifter). She’s beautiful, confident, smart-mouthed, and pretty much awesome at what she does so everyone thinks she’s not got a care in the world. However she gets kind of vulnerable (and by vulnerable I mean lashes out irrationally) around this one guy. I’m not going to mention who because it would be a spoiler, but if I could ask her anything, I’d ask how she really felt about this certain person… because she never really lets us know :-)

What’s one paranormal book you would most like to see made into a movie?

Vampire Academy without a doubt. The others I would like to see are already on their way to becoming movies, but Vampire Academy isn’t. I wouldn’t want it to be a tv program because sometimes I feel the books lose their edge when their chopped down into episodes. But I’d love to see Rose and Dimitri on the big screen. I also think Nina Dobrev from The Vampire Diaries would make a fantastic Rose. Not sure about Dimitri… maybe a hot unknown.

If Caia could switch fictional worlds and jump into a different young adult book, which world might she choose?

I think Caia might like to help out the gang in The Mortal Instruments series. There’s always so much going on, and it’s such a fun and creative world that she’d never be bored. And since she’s always on the go in The Tale of Lunarmorte, she’d need the same never-ending problems to fix.

What would you say is the best part about being self-published? The most difficult?

The best part about being self-published is the amount of control you have over the entire process. I write when I want, I write what I want and I distribute where I want and at what price I want to retail the books at. Also I get to choose cover art and release the books on a much faster schedule than traditionally published novels. The most difficult part, however, is the fact that I’m doing it all alone. For the most part the editing comes down to me, the formatting of the ebooks and paperbacks (including formatting cover art) comes down to me, marketing and promotion and accounting etc. It’s a lot of work and if you’re serious about self-publishing you have to be prepared to give up a lot of your free time to get it done.

You have a spinoff series releasing in 2012; what element of the world you’ve created are you most looking forward to continuing and expanding in the new books?

At the end of The Tale of Lunarmorte, Caia and the gang were facing a whole new world with a whole new set of problems. I’ve got a lot of fun ideas planned for the new establishment and I’m looking forward to setting it all up. Plus, even though Caia is no longer the protagonist of the new series, she’s going to be popping in and out of the books and I’m looking forward to sharing how things have turned out for her with my readers.

Thanks so much for taking the time to answer my questions Samantha! For more information on Samantha and her books, you can find here here:

Moon Spell (Book 1)
River Cast (Book 2)
Blood Solstice (Book 3)

MOON SPELL (from Goodreads)

Existing in the shadows of our world are supernatural races; children blessed by the ancient Greek gods with unimaginable gifts, and at present they are fighting a two thousand year old war with one another. Into this war Caia Ribeiro is born...

Caia has lived a life shrouded in mystery, isolated from her lykan pack and the supernatural world she belongs to. At seventeen years old it comes as a shock to be uprooted from her dull life playing human and plunged back into pack life. Returning to her world is not an easy one. It comes with the threat of the global underworld war, pack politics, and an impossible attraction to her Alpha, Lucien. It is also an extraordinary and addictive world, a place she feels she may actually belong. If only Caia could get past the feeling that Lucien and the pack were keeping secrets from her. Dangerous secrets about her heritage and the war. In the end… unforgivable secrets.

Forgiven or not, when an old enemy resumes his deadly pursuit of Pack Errante, they will need Caia to come to terms with the truth in order to help save them from their powerful adversary.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Review: Die For Me

DIE FOR ME (Revenants #1)
Amy Plum
Paranormal Young Adult
341 pages
Available Now

Kate is still reeling from the sudden deaths of her parents. She hoped moving to Paris with her sister to live with their grandparents would help her distance herself from the tragedy, but she finds she's in as dark a place as ever despite her new home in the City of Light.

It's not until she meets Vincent that she's finally able to feel something other than pain and misery. He piques her curiosity, especially when she and her sister seem him leap from a bridge in order to save a young woman who's jumped.

As it turns out, Vincent is more of a distraction than Kate could have ever imagined, introducing her to an unbelievable world where there are more questions than answers and more dangerous encounters than quiet romantic moments. The more she learns, the more she realizes a relationship with Vincent might prove to be impossible, because no matter how much he's brought her back to life, death will always be trying to keep them apart.

For a story that walks hand in hand with death, Die For Me radiates life and vitality, its characters full-bodied enough that we see them clearly through the printed ink and the paper pages, and they are as real and full of color as if we were making our way through a picture book instead of a novel. Though there are a few stereotypical young adult elements sprinkled in here and there, Ms. Plum impresses us with a plethora of unexpected details and mythologies and sets the romantic in us aflame with a relationship so enviable we can't help but glare at our own significant others across the room and chastise them for not being as sweet as Vincent. In the midst of a beautiful romance, she ingeniously threads the utterly intriguing world of revenants, dazzling us with the intricacies of their existence and ensuring we are gleefully anticipating the next installment by the time we close the back cover.

Kate is an extraordinarily ordinary heroine–truly genuine and not overdone in any way, she wins us over quickly with her grief and mourning for her lost parents. While she is understandably devastated, her despair isn't so dramatic that we can't find our way to the heart of her character through the miasma of melancholy and despondency. She's coping but yet keeps enough to herself that we feel as though we are her only friend and our bond, though one-sided, strengthens and solidifies the more we read. Her initial response to Vincent is nothing we haven't seen time and again, but happily for us a declaration of love is slower in coming and seems to be earned on both sides rather than given away freely and easily. She keeps a level head through some fairly spectacular emotional and physical turmoil, and even when that level head seeks to protect her heart by pushing Vincent away, we can appreciate the logical nature of her decision though we do speed our reading to reach the part where the needs of the heart overpower the choices of the mind.

Vincent, though of course devastatingly handsome and charming, proves himself to be a young man of substance–a pretty face backed up by an intelligence and infectious wit. He and his fellow revenants are a true highlight of the story, seeming so beautifully normal despite their very unique existence. Vincent doesn't use sarcasm and swagger to downplay his interest in Kate, rather he chooses to put everything on the table fully knowing his complete honesty will most likely be met with hesitancy and even fear. Theirs is a relationship we want to see succeed with every fiber of our being, and we carve out a portion of our hearts to make room for the two of them knowing Ms. Plum has pieces in place that will challenge and test us all in upcoming installments.

Overall, Die For Me is a highly recommended read that blends new and unfamiliar elements with the comfort and normalcy of young love, managing to create its own delicious recipe that leaves us positively salivating for more. We are left grinning from ear to ear even though we're acutely aware this book is humoring us with only the temporary illusion of happiness, but we consume the crumbs Ms. Plum tosses us eagerly, making sure we absorb enough to sustain us through all that's sure to come.

Rating: 4/5

Monday, July 25, 2011

Guest Post + Giveaway: Jennifer Estep and Touch of Frost

Today I have the pleasure of welcoming author Jennifer Estep back to the blog to talk a little bit about mythology and her new young adult novel Touch of Frost which releases tomorrow (yay!) so be sure and add it to your list. This is the first book in her Mythos Academy series and is just an all-around entertaining read (check out my review HERE). I adore Jennifer's books, so I hope you all pick this one up if you've yet to read anything by her!

Greetings and salutations! First of all, I want to say thanks to Jenny for having me on the blog today. Thanks so much, Jenny!

My name is Jennifer Estep, and I write the Mythos Academy young adult urban fantasy series for Kensington. The books focus on Gwen Frost, a 17-year-old Gypsy girl who has the gift of psychometry, or the ability to know an object’s history just by touching it. After a serious freak-out with her magic, Gwen is shipped off to Mythos Academy, a school for the descendants of ancient warriors like Spartans, Valkyries, Amazons, and more.

Touch of Frost, the first book in the series, comes out tomorrow, July 26.
First Frost
, a prequel e-story to the series, is available now. The second book,
Kiss of Frost
, will hit shelves on Nov. 29.

So today, Jenny asked me to talk a little bit about my favorite myth. There are tons of interesting myths out there from all the different cultures of the world. It’s really hard to pick just one, but I’ve always liked the myth of Psyche and Eros (aka Cupid).

There are a lot of different variations, but basically, the myth goes a little something like this: Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love, is jealous of the human Psyche’s beauty, so she asks her son Eros to shoot Psyche with one of his magic arrows so Psyche will fall in love with an ugly man (or even a monster). However, Eros ends up falling in love with Psyche instead and marries her. But Psyche doesn’t know exactly who her husband is, and despite warnings not to, she eventually uncovers his true identity. Eros leaves Psyche, and she begins to search far and wide for him.

Psyche eventually goes to Aphrodite, who gives her a series of impossible tasks to complete (are there any other kind of tasks in mythology?). But with the help of various creatures and others, Psyche performs the tasks. Eros forgives her, the two are reunited, and Psyche becomes a goddess herself.

Why do I like this myth so much? For one thing, it’s one of the myths that actually has a happy ending. In so many of the myths, humans are killed, turned into animals, or worse by the gods because of the humans’ pride or the gods’ jealous, vengeful natures – like when Athena, the Greek goddess of wisdom, turns the human Arachne into a spider because Arachne boasted that she could weave better than Athena herself. But in this myth, Psyche and Eros end up together, despite all the obstacles that Psyche has to overcome.

But the thing I like most about this myth is that it has an almost fairy tale quality to it, especially with the elements like the mysterious husband, the impossible tasks, and the various helpers who aid Psyche. I like fairy tales just as much as I do mythology, so this story is a nice mix of the two. Also, I just like the idea that true love conquers all – even when it comes to the gods.

What about you guys? What are some of your favorite myths or fairy tales?

Jennifer Estep is a USA Today bestselling author who also writes the Elemental Assassin urban fantasy series for Pocket Books. The books focus on Gin Blanco, an assassin codenamed the Spider who can control the elements of Ice and Stone. When she’s not busy killing people and righting wrongs, Gin runs a barbecue restaurant called the Pork Pit in the fictional Southern metropolis of Ashland. The city is also home to giants, dwarves, vampires, and elementals – Air, Fire, Ice, and Stone.

Books in the series are Spider’s Bite, Web of Lies, Venom, and Tangled Threads. Spider’s Revenge, the fifth book, will be released on Sept. 27. Visit for free short stories, excerpts, and more.

Thanks so much for taking the time to come back on the blog Jennifer! I honestly cannot say enough positive things about Jennifer or her books, she's just one of those authors who makes me happy. She has all sorts of fun extras on her website (listed above) so be sure and check it out if you want to get a feel for her characters and her style.


Jennifer has generously offered up a copy of Touch of Frost to give away to one lucky winner on the blog! To enter, please leave a comment answering Jennifer's question above along with a valid email address so I can contact you if you win. This giveaway is open to US residents only and will run through midnight EST on Friday, July 29th after which time a winner will be chosen and announced on the blog. Good luck everyone!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

In My Mailbox #31 + Winners

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!

Vanish by Sophie Jordan
The Iron Knight by Julie Kagawa
Forever by Maggie Stiefvater
Deadly Cool by Gemma Halliday
Spider's Revenge by Jennifer Estep
Serpent's Kiss by Thea Harrison
Conspiraces by Mercedes Lackey & Rosemary Edghill
Ashfall by Mike Mullin

An enormous thank you to NetGalley, HarperTeen, Harlequin Teen, Scholastic, Teen Book Scene, Jennifer Estep, Penguin, Tor Teen and Mike Mullin for sending me so many amazing books to read and review!

I also hosted two giveaways this week and have a few winners to announce. Thanks so much as always to everyone who entered and congratulations to the winners, you have all been emailed!


Nicci @ Paper Dreams
Andrea B


Jenn B
Ashley @ The Bookish Brunette

Friday, July 22, 2011

Guest Post + Giveaway: JL Bryan and The Paranormals Series

Today I'm super excited to be one of three blogs revealing the cover for the third book in JL Bryan's deliciously dark and fascinating young adult series focusing on a young woman named Jenny and her unusual ability to spread disease at the barest touch. As you can see, this newest installment is titled ALEXANDER DEATH and will be releasing in October. JL is joining me on the blog to talk a little bit about how he came up with the title for the series itself, and be sure and check the bottom of the post for details on the giveaway and the other participating blogs!


When I finished Jenny Pox, I realized there was much more room to explore Jenny's story and her background, but I wasn't sure whether I would actually get around to writing follow-up books or not.

The reviews for the book often said that they would like to see a sequel and learn more about Jenny, and I also heard from a number of readers by email and social media asking whether there would be a sequel. Since I was interested and the readers were interested, I decided to build onto the story. I didn't just want to do a sequel, or an episodic series, but a deeply integrated trilogy where everything was woven together in a satisfying way.

The clearest place to begin was the question of Ashleigh's opposite. If Seth and Jenny were opposites, with their powers to heal and to spread plague, then Ashleigh clearly had an opposite, whose touch had the opposite effect from making people feel love.

Some people have asked why Tommy's touch spreads fear instead of hate. My thinking is that hate is not necessarily the opposite of love. Our strongest hates are personal and often originate in love—we hate the friend or lover who betrays us, for example. That kind of hate is powered by the previous feelings of love that existed.

To me, fear seems like the most direct opposite of love. Love draws people together, while fear separates us from each other. This can be fear of people who are different from you, which can often be alleviated just by getting to know an individual from the feared group. There is also the way fear affects our personal relationships. Fear of getting hurt can stop a relationship from ever forming, or lead to jealousy and conflict within a relationship. So we have love pulling people together in an affectionate, positive and helping way, while fear pushes people apart, divides them, and even makes them willing to use violence.

So, there was Ashleigh's opposite. A couple of other paranormals, Alexander and his opposite Esmeralda, came into the story to shed some light on Jenny's past lives and to move events forward. In Alexander, we have a second person Jenny can touch, so this is the first time in her life she's had relationship options. She can be with Seth or with Alexander, and there are some pros and cons to each of them...

Finally, the series itself needed a name. Jenny and Seth aren't an established kind of paranormal being, like a vampire or werewolf, so this was a challenge. They are fragments of the original chaos that reigned before the universe was created (fellow ancient mythology geeks, you know what I'm talking about). Appropriate words might have included “djinn,” “demons,” “gods,” or the simple Lovecraftian “Old Ones.” These all had connotations that I didn't want to deal with, however. These characters repeatedly reincarnate among humans, but they are not human souls. They're sort of the creatures that snuck in under the cracks in the door to our world. They don't belong here.

In the end, I decided the best word was a general one: paranormals. This makes their supernatural nature clear, but it also points to one of the central conflicts faced by Jenny and Seth, which is their endless struggle to be like “normal” humans, when it is impossible for them to do that.

This is why the trilogy that begins with Jenny Pox is now known as The Paranormals, Book One through Three. Because when you've written more than a quarter-million words about a certain group of characters, it's nice to have an actual word to call them.

Thanks so much for stopping by JL! For more information on both JL and
The Paranormals series (highly recommended, though definitely for older YA audiences as there is some more explicit sex and violence in both published works) you can find him here:



As today is the one year book birthday of JENNY POX (Happy Birthday Jenny!), JL has generously offered up e-book copies of both JENNY POX (book 1) and TOMMY NIGHTMARE (book 2) to one lucky winner. To enter, please just leave a comment with a valid email address so I can contact you if you win. Since these are e-books, this giveaway is international and will run through midnight EST on Friday, July 29th after which time a winner will be chosen and announced on the blog.

Be sure and check out the other two participating blogs as they will have fun guest posts and birthday giveaway celebrations as well:

The Slowest Bookworm
Bewitched Bookworms

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Review: Touch of Frost

(Mythos Academy #1)

Jennifer Estep
Paranormal Young Adult
336 pages
Kensington Publishing Corporation
Available July 26th
Received from author for review

Gwen Frost is unfortunately stuck at a school where everyone seems to belong but her. She's the lone Gypsy with a gift for psychometry, the ability to touch an object and know its history, among Spartans, Valkyries and other students with enviable strength and skill.

While Gwen has no idea why one of the professors showed up at her door one day asking her to attend Mythos Academy, she's quickly distracted from her outsider status by the brutal murder of one the school's most popular young girls and the theft of one of the thirteen artifacts vital to those who wish to instigate a second Chaos War.

No one else seems to care that Jasmine has died, but Gwen can't seem to let her death go. With the somewhat reluctant help of Spartan bad boy Logan Quinn, Gwen attempts to solve Jasmine's murder and the bowl's theft, and in doing so discovers the truth about her family, her reason for being at Mythos, and her role in the impending war.

Touch of Frost is Ms. Estep's foray into the young adult fiction world, and much as she does with her Elemental Assassin series, she provides us with complex and layered characters against a believable supernatural backdrop. One of the shining strengths of her books, in addition to her vibrant characters, is their episodic quality. A large paranormal problem is outlined, and then within that larger arc a smaller piece of the puzzle is integrated–given to us to solve in it's entirety by the conclusion of the book so we are left with a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction at having completed the first leg of Gwen's journey while still knowing there's so much more waiting for us. We are never drowned in preparatory details and explanations but rather are provided just enough information to grab our attention and hold it completely, and as we go along new strands of information are added to blend with our previous knowledge effortlessly.

Gwen is a fun and quirky young woman, feeling very much out of place at a school full of people with extraordinary gifts and skills sets, but dealing with the strangeness of her situation with as much humor as she can muster. She does have a tendency to dwell on her sense of not belonging in those moments when the humor fades away, seeming content to stay isolated while ruminating on all the reasons she feels so alone as opposed to taking measures to remedy her situation. That being said however, part of her appeal is that she is clearly a work in progress, complete with understandable doubts, insecurities, and all the little nagging internal voices that have a tendency to point out our flaws when we least need the reminder. As the story moves forward, we do get to see Gwen start to mature and make an attempt to adjust to her new life, and it becomes apparent to us she will continue to do so with each installment until we inevitably reach the end and can say to ourselves "look how far she's come".

Gorgeous and arrogant, Logan Quinn initially seems as though he will be pretty straightforward and stereotypical–the smoldering, womanizing heartthrob who we can appreciate superficially but ultimately won't affect us on a deeper level. Ms. Estep's characters are never predictable however, and just when we think this is going to be a story where the athletic, popular guy falls for the antisocial misfit, the bottom of the character box we've labeled and placed him in drops out, and we are given fleeting glimpses of a depth we can't help but want to more thoroughly explore. She also has the uncanny ability to write male characters who both attract and repel us simultaneously and who are charming one minute and infuriating the next, forcing us to be ever vigilant and wary even while we're still undeniably intrigued by them. We want to let down our guard with Logan, but we also fear the emotional pain he is clearly capable of inflicting the moment we do, and so we sit on the edge of our seats with our feelings in chaos as we try to decipher a young man whose thoughts and actions are beyond our comprehension.

Overall, Touch of Frost is a strong first installment despite Gwen's initial melancholy, and the events for book two are nicely set up without leaving us frustrated over a lack of resolution. The mystery element is well-executed, with clues skillfully placed to keep us suspicious of everyone involved. Ms. Estep is an auto-buy author for me, and I am eagerly anticipating book two so I can laugh with, and root for, Gwen as she begins to find a place among the myths and legends.

Rating: 4/5

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Tens List: Christopher Grant + Teenie

As part of a promotional tour through Teen Book Scene, I have author Christopher Grant joining me on the blog today to share with us some of his favorite places in the world. Thanks so much for stopping by Christopher!


I love to travel, so this list is biased towards places I’ve been or would like to go to in the near future.

1. Grenada - It’s a small Caribbean Island not too far away from South America. I had the pleasure of living there for six months and it changed my life. It was a welcome relief from the hustle and bustle of New York City. There was rhythm to life there. It was everywhere, in the food, in the music, in the way folks communicated with each other. I love that I am of Caribbean descent. We have a colorful way of expressing ourselves. Everyone has a nickname and believe me, they’re spot on. My barber’s name was Cow. I asked him, “Cow, why do they call you Cow?” He answered, “I guess because of my nose.” …Wow.

2. Dubai - The gap between the haves and havenots was startling. I met some interesting people there, folks who emigrated from Pakistan, the Philippines, and the Ukraine, all in an effort to make a better life for themselves and their families. I know every man thinks his burden is the heaviest, but watching some of those guys doing hardcore manual labor in 110 degree heat was humbling.

3. Costa Rica - I’ve never been to Costa Rica, but it’s high on my list. My wife has talked about the pace of life, the natural beauty, tarantulas as big as my hand, belligerent monkeys that steal and DRINK alcoholic beverages, and boa constrictors curled up in her room. So much to write about!

4. India - Yet another place that I haven’t had the privilege of visiting, but plan to shortly. I have always been fascinated by the culture, the food (seasoned with lava), and the caste system.

5. Gaza - Rich in history and (unfortunately) conflict. The area is a character in and of itself.

6. Arizona - I’m sure I could pump out a few hundred pages about their controversial, “Jim-Crow-like” immigration policies.

7. Tibet - I’ve got to know how those monks survive in such treacherous conditions. Mind over matter?

8. Jamaica - My father was born there. My sister told me that one of our great grandmothers was a Maroon (
I will write something about this one day. That is a guarantee.

9. Scotland - From discussions with my father, I’ve learned that my great-grandfather was born in Scotland. Though he lived in Jamaica for much of his life, my great-grandfather still wore a kilt. I would love to explore and write about that part of my lineage, though I’m a bit unsure of how my chicken legs would look in a kilt.

10. Barbados - My mother was born in Barbados and I’ve spent quite a bit of time there. It’s commonly referred to Little England. They still wear wigs in court and have that trademark British arrogance. A friend of mine asked my aunt why Bajans (short for Barbadians) thought they were better than everyone else. Her response, “Because we are.”

For more information on Christopher and TEENIE, you can find him here:


TEENIE (from Goodreads)

High school freshman Martine (Teenie for short) is a good student, with a bright future ahead of her. She's desperate to be accepted into a prestigious study abroad program in Spain so that she can see what life is like beyond the streets of Brooklyn. She wouldn't mind escaping from her strict (though lovable) parents for awhile either. But when the captain of the basketball team starts to pay attention to her after she's pined away for him for months and Cherise, her best friend, meets a guy online, Teenie's mind is on anything but her schoolwork. Teenie's longtime crush isn't what he seemed to be, nor is her best friend's online love. Can Teenie get her act together in time to save her friendship with Cherise, save her grade point average so that she can study in Spain, and save herself from a potentially dangerous relationship?

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Review: Chicks Kick Butt

Edited by Rachel Caine and Kerrie L. Hughes
Urban Fantasy Anthology
343 pages
Available Now
Received from publisher for review

This anthology includes 13 short stories from some renowned urban fantasy authors including Rachel Caine, Karen Chance, Rachel Vincent, Lilith Saintcrow, P.N. Elrod, Jenna Black, Cheyenne McCray, Elizabeth A. Vaughn, Jeanne C. Stein, Carole Nelson Douglas, L.A. Banks, Susan Krinard, and Nancy Holder.

As indicated by the title, Chicks Kick Butt is an anthology featuring heroines who might not mind being referred to as damsels but who would certainly take offense to the name if paired with the words "in distress" and the implications that accompany such a label. Though these women often find themselves in no small amount of trouble, they prefer to fight their own battles with sharp minds, sharp weapons, and sharp figurative and literal claws. Majority of the stories in this action-packed collection are highly entertaining, our heroines for the most part reaching through the pages, curling their fists in the collar of our shirts and yanking us into their world where they may temporarily go down fighting but always emerge on top - possibly bruised, most likely bloody, but also irrefutably kick-ass.

Hunt by Rachel Vincent
In Ms. Vincent's addition to this anthology we are thrust in the brutal and gritty world of her Shifters series, accompanying main heroine Faythe's cousin Abby on a camping trip gone horrifically awry. Even those unfamiliar with the six-book series will be able to connect to this story, one of Ms. Vincent's many gifts being her ability to deny us the opportunity to remain detached, instead forcing us to shore up our courage and join the fight alongside characters who we instantly let into our hearts whether we've met them before or are introduced to them here for the first time. Abby's tale is dark and violent, but as always, Ms. Vincent gives us a young woman with unfathomable strength and resilience, and we draw on her many positive attributes to lead us through the pain and death of her world.

In Vino Veritas by Karen Chance
Ms. Chance has a wonderful sense of humor, giving us a lighter snippet from her Midnight Daughter series featuring a dhampir named Dory who has an uncanny knack for getting caught in the middle of other people's problematic business dealings. This short has her attempting to drink a full vampire under the table in order to help an acquaintance, eliciting many an amused snort from us that beautifully balances some of the seriousness of the other contributions.

Nine Tenths of the Law by Jenna Black
Morgan Kingsley is a demon-possessed exorcist who's just been tasked with exorcising a teenage girl at the request of her of her morally questionable parents. Though some of us might not be acquainted with Ms. Kingsley and how she came to be possessed by the king of the demons, Ms. Black does a fabulous job of making the need for that information irrelevant as we hit the ground running with Morgan and her demonic resident. We know enough to clearly understand and enjoy, but also remain curious enough about Kingsley's history to want to go back and start at the beginning.

There are several more standout stories in this anthology, and as usual, some where we clearly would have benefited from having read the series from which the heroine is pulled. Overall however, this is a solid collection that gives both longtime fans of particular characters a little more time in a world they love, while also providing newcomers the opportunity to find women for whom they can easily root and then walk away knowing where to find more should they color themselves impressed.

Rating: 4/5

Monday, July 18, 2011

Pearl: Excerpt

As part of the promotional tour through Teen Book Scene, I have a brief excerpt from Jo Knowles's young adult novel PEARL to share with you today. PEARL releases tomorrow (July 19th) and you can read my review HERE. Enjoy!

When we get to the paint-chipped front steps of my house, Henry moves closer to me. I can smell his deodorant and the fabric softener Sally uses because she likes the little teddy bear on the ads. I move closer too, so that our arms touch.

Being close to Henry has always made me feel safe. Ever since I met him at the MiniMart on the corner of our street. I was there to buy my mom some ginger-ale for her hangover and get myself a treat with the change. Henry was buying his mom Soap Digest and some Suzie Q’s. We were seven and it was July. Sally said later this was a sign, us being seven and meeting in the seventh month. She said we were meant to be friends forever.

That first day, Henry and I stepped out of the MiniMart together and began to walk back home, side by side.

“What’s your name?” he asked shyly.

“Bean,” I said. At school, everyone called me by my real name, Pearl. But right away, I knew Henry wasn’t like everyone else.

“Bean. As in the vegetable?”

“Actually, it’s a legume.”

He gave me a weird look. I just shrugged. I knew it was a stupid name, but it’s what I’d always been. My mom said she named me Pearl because I was her unexpected gem. But I don’t think pearls are actually gems. And I don’t think I’m one, either. Gus said the first time he held me, I felt soft and squishy like a bean, not hard and cold like a pearl. But I personally believed the real reason he wouldn’t call me Pearl was for the simple reason that it was the name my mom chose.

PEARL (from Goodreads)

Bean (née Pearl) and Henry, misfits and best friends, have the strangest mothers in town. Henry’s mom Sally never leaves the house. Bean’s mom Lexie, if she is home, is likely nursing a hangover or venting to her friend Claire about Bean’s beloved grandfather Gus, the third member of their sunny household.

Gus’s death unleashes a host of family secrets that brings them all together. And they threaten to change everything—including Bean’s relationship with Henry, her first friend, and who also might turn out to be her first love.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Giveaway: Forever

Thanks to the generous people at Big Honcho Media and Scholastic I have 2 copies of FOREVER to give away today along with matching keychains! To enter, please just leave a comment with a valid email address so I can contact you if you win. This giveaway is open to US residents only and will run through midnight EST on July 22nd after which the two winners will be chosen and announced on the blog. Good luck everyone!

Don't forget to checkout This Is Teen, an online community Scholastic recently launched to connect readers with their favorite young adult authors and books. You can find the latest news on Maggie Stiefvater and Forever HERE.

FOREVER (from Goodreads):

The thrilling conclusion to #1 bestselling Shiver trilogy from Maggie Stiefvater


When Sam met Grace, he was a wolf and she was a girl. Eventually he found a way to become a boy, and their love moved from a curious distance to the intense closeness of shared lives.


That should have been the end of their story. But Grace was not meant to stay human. Now she is the wolf. And the wolves of Mercy Falls are about to be killed in one final, spectacular hunt.


Sam would do anything for Grace. But can one boy and one love really change a hostile, predatory world? The past, the present, and the future are about to collide in one pure moment - a moment of death or life, farewell or forever.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Blogfest 2011

Welcome to my Blogfest 2011 Giveaway!

Two lucky winners will have their choice of one book from the above group. The books pictured are either some of my favorites for the year so far or ones that haven't been released just yet but I'm positively dying to get my hands on. There are books from each of my favorite genres: paranormal young adult, urban fantasy, and paranormal romance, so hopefully there's a little something for everyone!

I know everyone visiting this weekend will be entering a lot of giveaways, so I just want to keep things simple. No complicated extra entries, just follow the blog and fill out the form below 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 BLOGFEST 2011 in the subject line I'll make sure you're entered. This contest will run through midnight EST on Sunday, July 17th after which time the winners will be chosen 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:
Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake
Supernaturally by Kiersten White
Blood Red Road by Moira Young
Trial By Fire by Jennifer Lynn Barnes
Shift by Jeri Smith-Ready
Bad Taste in Boys by Carrie Harris
Possess by Gretchen McNeil
Wolfsbane by Andrea Cremer
Archangel's Blade by Nalini Singh
Storm's Heart by Thea Harrison
Hard Bitten by Chloe Neill
Dragon Bound by Thea Harrison
One Grave at a Time by Jeaniene Frost
Kiss of Snow by Nalini Singh
Blood Bound by Rachel Vincent

Now, Blogfest is basically a giant blog hop with fantastic giveaways, so to keep the hop going, I have the next 5 blogs on the list for you to visit:

Sweeping Me
Tundra Books
Tales from a Small Town
Taming the Book Shelf
Teens Read and Write

Also, be sure and check out the full list of participants at A Journey of Books. For anyone hopping down the list, you can use the tracking site where each blog that you track as having visited earns you another entry into a special giveaway! Just click on Blogfest 2011 Tracking Site and follow the directions to make use of this feature.

Good luck everyone!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Review: Pearl

Jo Knowles
Contemporary Young Adult
224 pages
Henry Holt/Macmillan
Available July 19th
Received for review
through Teen Book Scene

Pearl, aka Bean, is pretty used to how things are in her life. Her mother isn't really much of a mother at all, working late and coming home drunk only to get into an argument with her father over the poor decisions he feels she's making. At least Bean has Henry, her best friend and a young man that has family issues of his own.

When Bean's grandfather dies unexpectedly, her entire world changes. Not only does her mother not seem overly upset, but her mom's best friend Claire moves in and she can hear them laughing late at night when, for Bean, the grief and loss are almost more than she can bear.

Though Henry's mom Sally almost never leaves their house, she agrees to come to Bean's grandfather's funeral and ends up befriending both Bean's mom and Claire. This new friendship coupled with her grandfather's absence leads to some new family drama, and the shocking realization that things are not now, nor have they ever been, what they've seemed to Bean.

Quietly compelling, Pearl is one of those stories that gives us just a few frames in the moving picture of one particular character's life, pulling us into Bean's world quickly for a couple brief moments of conflict before we are released back into our own lives. While there is certainly drama, it never crosses the line into melodrama but rather remains engagingly intimate, as though we alone are the only ones that will share in the pain, the healing, and the growth Pearl experiences regardless of the number of people who will actually read this tale. For a short period of time we are her invisible confidantes, lending support when it's needed and wishing our fingers could fall through the pages to lace with hers as family history is brought to light in a softer way no less compelling for it's subdued delivery.

Pearl and Henry are characters to whom we instantly form a camaraderie, wanting and hoping to shield them from the difficulties of their lonely existence. Both have mothers who have temporarily forgotten what it means to raise a child, retreating so deeply into the trivialities of their own lives they leave no time for the inclusion of their flesh and blood. As we see them both through Pearl's eyes, we feel both anger and sadness, willing them to see how their smallest actions or inactions have the most profound effect on their children. For their part, Pearl and Henry take their mothers in stride, their familiarity with the detachment disheartening but the strength of their bond and the support system they've built with one another enough to bring a wistful smile to our faces.

The evolving relationships between all the characters are a pleasure to read, the passing of one person the catalyst for so many positive changes as new life is sparked from the literal ashes of death. The snippet of time we're given in Pearl is engaging, but it is a brief interlude that doesn't necessarily linger long in our memories once we've finished reading. It's a quick snapshot–we blink and it's over– and we find ourselves ready to move on without feeling the need to dwell on the events or replay them in our minds to make the experience last that little bit longer. Pearl is a fast, interesting read, just not one that will burn a hole on our shelves as a permanent brand to let us know it's there.

Rating: 3/5

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Guest Post: Michael Young + The Last Archangel

Today author Michael Young is taking over the blog to interview one of the characters from his young adult urban fantasy novel THE LAST ARCHANGEL which releases tomorrow (July 14th). Welcome to Supernatural Snark Michael and Jarom!

Today with us we have Jarom the cherub. He’s looking a little shell shocked. What’s the matter, kid? Never seen a city before?

Jarom: Actually, no, not an earthly one. It’s a little…dingy.

Interviewer: What did you expect? You mean they don’t let you look down here with your little heavenly periscopes or something?

Jarom: Oh, we could. I just never wanted to. It is heaven after all.

Interviewer: So, first I want to ask, are the streets there really paved with gold?

Jarom: Gold? For a garbage can maybe. We’ve got much better stuff than gold up there.

Interviewer: Interesting. Now tell me, what about St. Peter? Does he really sit up there at the gates and wait for everyone? Sounds like that could get a little boring.

Jarom: I think it would be more accurate to say the “Saints Peter” do that job.

Interviewer: I don’t understand.

Jarom: The St. Peter you’re thinking about only does it once in a while. Basically, they recruit anyone who happens to be named Peter and split up the shifts among them. Most newcomers are too starry-eyed to notice the difference.

Interviewer: So what’s your job up there? Do you work for Cupid or something?

Jarom: Cupid? Heavens, no. He may look cuddly, but don’t get on his bad side, and don’t even think about using the word ‘cute’. Those heart-tipped arrows are plenty sharp. I actually work in the ambrosia business.

Interviewer: Ambrosia? Tell us about it.

Jarom: It’s only best food on heaven or earth. Manna comes in at a close second. Sometimes we even mix the two and have ambrosia filled manna. Literally, a match made in heaven.

Interviewer: So would you care to share the recipe? Sounds like I could win a few contests with that one.

Jarom: I only wish I could. Sharing the secrets of Heaven with man is a banishable offense. If I gave you a taste, I’d have to kill you.

Interviewer: A donut to die for. Now you’re just being cruel.

Jarom: I really am sorry. One angel who gave away secrets got made a destroying angel for thousands of years. I can’t think of anything worse than that.

Thanks so much for stopping by guys! For more information on Michael and THE LAST ARCHANGEL you can find him here:

Author Blog
Last Archangel Website


Xandir has been exiled to earth until the end of time. But when his cherub trainee disappears, Xandir makes a deal with rogue angels and giants that could restore life to the mortal woman he loves and end his assignment as a destroying angel in exchange for helping them bring about the end of the world and all of mankind.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Cover Interview: Siren's Storm

As part of the blog tour through Teen Book Scene, I'm thrilled to welcome author Lisa Papademetriou to the blog to answer a few questions about the cover for her young adult novel Siren's Storm which releases today (yay!). This interview deals strictly with the cover and its design elements, something that makes me very happy since graphic design is such a major part of my life. Hope you all enjoy!

The use of a monochromatic green has a beautiful but eerie and otherworldly visual effect on this cover. What do you think it is about green in particular that lends itself so well to representations of the supernatural?

This is a really interesting question. There are a lot of things in the natural world that glow green in darkness. I remember, once, kicking a pile of sand on a beach in Guatemala, and watching green phosphorescent sparks fly. Since humans rely so much on vision, darkness makes us uneasy, and things that glow seem magical. That’s my guess.

The tagline “ vengeance is eternal” is powerful and certainly memorable; is there a tagline from either a book or film that really stood out for you and made you want to run to the bookstore or movie theater so you could see how that teaser played out?

First--thank you! I came up with that tagline. In the shower. (Why are showers such good places to think? I wish I had one at my desk.) Anyway, a tagline I’ve always loved is from Alien: “In space, no one can hear you scream.” And I once wrote a tagline that I’ve always liked: “Some things are too terrifying to be real. Some aren’t.” I love that one because it’s really evocative, and yet makes no sense, when you think about it. And everyone at the publishing house thought it was BRILLIANT, which made me love it even more.

Do you have a favorite element of the cover–use of color, image choice, font? Is there any one element you would change?

I think the color is my favorite thing about this cover. I also like the icons on the spine. I wouldn’t really change anything about it--I feel really lucky to have such a gorgeous cover.

What was the last book you picked up off the shelf just because the cover really caught your eye?

Several years ago, I was dying to have two copies of Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell--one black one and one white one. That’s the last time that a cover really, really appealed to me, and what’s odd is that it’s a very simple cover.

Did you have an idea in your head of what the cover would look like? What went through your mind when you saw the initial proof for the first time?

I hated the cover when I saw it for the first time! I wanted it to be an image of a lightning-swept sky, and a Siren walking into the water. But now I see that this is much better--it really leaps off the shelf.

What are your thoughts on judging a book by its cover? Not necessarily in terms of judging the quality of the writing by the cover, but rather the overall effect a beautiful design can have with regard to grabbing consumer attention. I guess a more succinct question would be do you think good design sells?

The cover is the most important marketing tool that a book has. I’ve seen books increase sales dramatically with just a cover change. Of course, you don’t judge a book by its cover--you can only judge it after you’ve read it. But you do judge whether or not to *buy* it based on the cover. You can’t read it until after you’ve bought it. That’s the problem.

Do you know anything about how the cover is going to be printed? Whether they will use a metallic ink to add a paranormal shimmer or another specialty printing method? Anything in particular you’ d like to see them use?

I would LOVE it if they used metallic ink, or maybe a matte cover with spot varnish on the eye and the text, but I don’t think they’re planning on it. I don’t care--I’m happy!

Thanks so much for taking the time to answer my questions Lisa! For more information on Lisa and her books, you can find her here:


SIREN'S STORM (from Goodreads)

Nothing has been the same for Will ever since what happened last summer. One day, on an ordinary sailing trip with his brother, there is a strange accident. When Will wakes up, he learns his brother has disappeared, presumed drowned. Worst of all, Will can't remember what happened—his family finds him unconscious, with no memory of the accident.

Now Will and his best friend and neighbor, Gretchen, are starting a new summer. Gretchen seems troubled—her sleepwalking habit is getting worse, and she keeps waking up closer and closer to the water. Will is drawn to Asia, the exotic new girl in town. Nobody knows where she's from—all Will knows is that her beauty and her mesmerizing voice have a powerful effect on people.

Then there is another mysterious drowning, and Will and Gretchen begin to wonder: Is Asia just another beautiful, wealthy summer resident? Or is she something entirely more sinister . . . and inhuman.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Review: Original Sin

(Personal Demons #2)

Lisa Desrochers
Paranormal Young Adult
400 pages
Tor Teen
Available Now
Received from publisher for review

Warning: Synopsis contains spoilers from Personal Demons, but no spoilers for Original Sin.

For Frannie Cavanaugh, things should be pretty ideal. Her former-demon boyfriend Luc has been made mortal thanks to her unusual gift of Sway, and her twin brother Matt who passed away years ago has been sent back to her as a guardian angel. Then she has gorgeous angel Gabe keeping an eye on her as well. Life is supposed to be good.

Except those in Hell aren't as enthusiastic about Luc's transformation and defection from their ranks as Frannie is, and they decide to come after him in force to figure out just how his mortality is possible. With Luc in constant danger and Gabe having to leave her in the hands of only Matt as a guardian, Frannie struggles to get control of her life and protect those she loves by attempting to learn more about her Sway.

The demons are extremely intent on reversing the heavenly tag on Luc's soul though, and their methods of achieving their goal threaten everything in Frannie's life: her boyfriend, her family, and her friends. She quickly realizes a tag on her soul for Heaven doesn't protect her from pain, and Hell and King Lucifer will stop at nothing to claim they feel is rightfully theirs.

Original Sin is a story that beautifully escapes the snare second books in a series sometimes fall prey to, increasing the emotional intensity and physical action while also answering some of our lingering questions from book one before forcing us to ask new ones. While Personal Demons had a bit of a lighter feel and some rather spectacular romantic waffling on Frannie's part, this second installment shows us some significant character growth while introducing new elements that never let us forget we're reading a story that deals with demons. There are darker and more serious undertones this time around, trapping us in a bubble of tension and unease as every character's most minute action proves to have a serious ripple effect on those around them. We devour the pages as the divide between good and evil becomes not so clearly delineated, and decisions are made that cause fissures to form in our hearts, waiting for the slightest of provocations to crack them wide open and send us reeling.

Frannie, a difficult young woman to like in the first book due to her constant indecision with regard to Luc and Gabe, is remarkably more mature in majority of Original Sin. Content with her relationship with Luc, we are spared her incessant pining for Gabe and her frustrating habit of shedding clothes whenever in the presence of either one of them. She attempts to better understand her Sway while also coping with the difficulties and dangers of her new celestial and demon-tainted existence. Toward the end some of her newfound growth does begin to dissolve under the emotional onslaught of certain events, and though she resorts to some familiarly bothersome behavior, we are able to take comfort in the thoughts and actions we've witnessed throughout most of the book, hoping we'll only see more of them in the future.

Ms. Desrochers spares us no drama in this story, spending the beginning hundred or so pages getting us reacquainted with the characters and allowing us to bask in the warmth emanating from Luc and Frannie, their incandescence spreading from the pages to our tingling fingertips before those crackling sparks are doused with a deliciously painful turn of events. Their relationship in Personal Demons was superficially enjoyable and full of angst, but Ms. Desrochers manages to draw us under the surface in Original Sin, ensuring we have a vested interest in their happiness before unleashing a barrage of tests that threaten everything we've just come to hold dear. This unpredictability is welcome despite the pain it causes, and we find ourselves appreciating the new darkness as it obscures our vision and keeps us on edge wondering what torment might come next.

One small drawback in this installment is the addition of Matt's point of view to both Luc and Frannie's, his selfishness and disregard for his sister's wishes slightly off-putting until we reach the end and better understand the role he is to play, but up to that point we read his scenes quickly in the hope of returning to Luc and Frannie as soon as possible. In spite of that drawback as well as some continuing issues with Frannie, Original Sin is a highly entertaining read and one full of interesting twists that have us looking to the future with guts clenched and muscles held rigid as we wait to see what Heaven and Hell hold in store for those of us on the mortal coil.

Rating: 4/5

Saturday, July 9, 2011

In My Mailbox #30

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!

The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson (Thank you HarperCollins)
The Mephisto Covenant by Trinity Faegan (Thank you Egmont and NetGalley)
Dark Souls by Paula Morris (Thank you Scholastic Point)

A Need So Beautiful by Suzanne Young (Thank you SO much Nic@Irresistible Reads)

And the winner of my ABITHICA giveaway:


A big thank you too to all of you who entered the giveaway and a special thanks to Susan Goldsmith for offering up a signed copy for the blog. Congratulations to Vivien, you have been emailed!

Friday, July 8, 2011

Review: In the Arms of Stone Angels

Jordan Dane
Paranormal Young Adult
320 pages
Available Now
Received via Net Galley for review

Two years ago Brenna Nash called 911 and informed them she found the boy she loves crouching over the dead body of a classmate gripping a knife and chanting to himself. She hasn't seen him since that day. Now, after a couple long years, Brenna and her mother are returning to the small town where she made that fateful call and sentenced her best friend and first love to an unfathomable fate.

Upon her return, Brenna learns that White Bird has been in a mental institution the entire time she's been away, locked in his own mind and unresponsive to any outside stimuli. Though she's spent most of her time thinking about how that call changed her own life, she's finally realizing the impact she had on the one person she feels truly understood her.

There are plenty of people in town who aren't happy to see Brenna and her Native American sympathies back however, and they seek to keep her from looking into White Bird's case any way they can. The more she digs though, the more she begins to think her accusation against her best friend was very, very wrong, and maybe the person responsible for her classmate's death isn't the most obvious choice after all.

In the Arms of Stone Angels is a story both saddening and disheartening initially, drawing our attention to a darker side of humanity where certain individuals take gross pleasure in the pain and suffering of others as a way of ensuring their own misery isn't without ample company. Because we know people like Brenna's peers are unlikely to express any type of guilt or remorse over their actions, it becomes agonizingly clear that they will only steadily increase the intensity of their assault on her, a realization that causes are fingers to itch with the need to skip ahead to the end to hopefully relieve some of our stress and give us the strength to endure whatever atrocities are likely to occur. Even if we did flip to the end and find the opposite to be true– things with Brenna only getting worse instead of better–at least we could take a small comfort in being able to prepare ourselves for what's to come. We therefore wrestle with ourselves the entire time we're reading, wanting a definitive emotion, either happiness and relief or anger and hurt, to latch on to as a lifesaver to keep us afloat in the tempest of hate found in this little town.

Brenna is a hard young woman, an attitude of indifference firmly in place as she shuns a world she feels shunned her first. She's shrouded herself in so many layers of simulated feelings it's almost impossible to get to the heart of her, and we falter repeatedly as we attempt to decipher her true emotions from those she merely projects as a diversion from the truth. Her relationship with her mother is strained to a truly spectacular degree, so full of holes she doesn't even know where to begin patching should she wish to, so she instead decides to do nothing and allows those holes to slowly widen. Luckily for us though, Brenna exhibits some truly impressive growth as the story progresses, expanding her Brenna-centric world to eventually include her mother and us as she fights for the life of a friend to whom a grave injustice has been done.

Though the story is powerful and compelling and Brenna is a strong young heroine, the events toward the end seem to get resolved rather easily for the strength of the hatred and discrimination infecting both the teenagers and adults in this tale. For hundreds of pages we are tied in mental and emotional knots of increasing complexity, but then just as our determination to see wrongs righted reaches its peak, the ties unwind and slip free of their own accord and we're given a neatly wrapped-up resolution. People who have been truly awful seem to change their attitudes with little argument or opposition, causing the sincerity of their repentance to remain suspect with us given the quick nature of their turnaround. Perhaps if we were given a little extra time in the town itself and with Brenna and White Bird as well instead of being cut off fairly immediately after the truth comes to light, the changes might not have been as questionable. Overall however, In the Arms of Stone Angels is a darkly entertaining read, angering and pleasing us equally as we see a slow attitude adjustment start with one young woman and then spread like wildfire.

Rating: 3.5/5