Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Celebrating Halloween with Daniel Waters + Break My Heart 1,000 Times


Happy Halloween Everyone! I'm very excited today to turn the blog over to young adult author Daniel Waters who's going recount for us some of his most memorable Halloween costumes as a part of the promotional tour for his latest release Break My Heart 1,000 Times, complete with a truly spectacular visual aid at the bottom of the post. Win. Welcome to Supernatural Snark Daniel!

I thought I would wrap up the Break My Heart 1,000 Times blog tour with something a little lighthearted, so here is a recollection of a few Halloween costumes I have worn: 

This is the first costume I can remember trick or treating with, when I was five or six. The costume was plastic, and had one of those stiff plastic masks that were held on your head by a thin rubber band. A mask like that was the costume de rigueur in the suburban development where I grew up. They held in the heat, and the little breathing slits at the nostrils and mouth were insufficient to permit airflow, so invariably one would snap the band of one's mask ripping it off just at the point it became unbearable. Batman was my favorite superhero, and likely I wore the costume, maskless, for months after Halloween was over as I battled crime. 

The first improvised costume I remember wearing was the classic simple white sheet with eyeholes, which for reasons unknown and unremembered I decided to wear with one of my grandfather's fedoras. A necktie, too. "Ghost with Hat and Tie" like some Dadaist statement. I think I was eight. There are many, many ghosts in Break My Heart 1,000 Times, but I can't remember if any is wearing a hat. If so, I hope it is a fedora. 

Sadly, I have little memory of the rest of my trick or treating costumes in the remaining years, except for the year my beagle escaped and I lost my vampire cape chasing her down. But I do remember the last year I walked the neighborhood, because two of my friends and I wore the same "costumes"; we wore paper bags on our heads and carried axe handles. We didn't go door to door for candy, we just walked around looking ominous. A fireman patrolling the neighborhood asked us if the axe handles were really necessary, and I, as head bagman/spokesperson said, "Of course–would you be scared if we just had bags on our heads?" But in retrospect, I think we were just being jerks. I'm sure we were frightening to little kids and parents alike, but for the wrong reasons and in an inappropriate way. Our costumes violated the spirit of spooky fun that Halloween is supposed to be for little kids. We should have dressed up as something more amusing, like evil clowns. 

I remember wearing this to school when I was in high school. Bill Murray was and is one of my heroes. My costume was a ghostbusters t-shirt, camo pants and for my Proton Pack I carried a very large and very old steampunk-looking spray canister that may or may not still have contained traces deadly insecticide. I've no doubt that if I was attending school today I would be sent home immediately, and rightfully so. The costume looked pretty cool, but was definitely a tactical error, as it weighed about fifty pounds and the kids on the already overcrowded public school already hated me because I went to Catholic school. Veronica and Kirk, in a way, are ghostbusters in BMH1kx but they don't carry around any bulky steampunk gear. Maybe in the sequel. 

See below for the only known photo of me in a Halloween costume–this was probably junior or senior year of high school. Football pads, my Clash Combat Rock "Straight to Hell" t-shirt (my version of rebellion in Catholic school), unstrung plastic bow and sporty bandana. That's my real hair in a mohawk, too–mom was a hairdresser. She sprayed the heck out of my hair and it stood up all day through the slit I made in a bald head wig. I was obsessed with the movie the Road Warrior, and my costume is meant to be The Humungus's main henchman. His name is Wez. He's the guy whose blond boyfriend was hit in the head and killed by a boomerang, which has got to rank as one of the most ignominious film deaths ever, especially since said boomerang was flung by Feral Kid and not "Mad Max" Rockatansky himself. I was too ignorant at the time to realize that boomerang guy was Wez's boyfriend; I just thought he was his pal in post-apocalyptic mayhem. As pretty much everyone else at my school was ignorant of the Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior movie and the existence of Wez, this little factoid passed without comment. Thank you, Julie Mei, for preserving this haunting memory of me as Wez!

(I made this picture nice and large for all to enjoy. No thanks required Daniel) ;-)

More information on Daniel and his books can be found here:


Living in the aftermath of the Event means that seeing the dead is now a part of life, but Veronica wishes that the ghosts would just move on. Instead, the ghosts aren't disappearing--they're gaining power.
When Veronica and her friend, Kirk, decide to investigate why, they stumble upon a more sinister plot than they ever could have imagined. One of Veronica's high school teachers is crippled by the fact that his dead daughter has never returned as a ghost, and he's haunted by the possibility that she's waiting to reappear within a fresh body. Veronica seems like the perfect host. And even if he's wrong, what's the harm in creating one more ghost?

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Rebel Heart: Interview with Moira Young + Giveaway

(Rebel Heart releases October 30th from Simon & Schuster)

I was recently asked to participate in a group phone interview with young adult author Moira Young in which we would all get to ask her our most pressing questions regarding her Dust Lands series. Now, I should mention that as honored as I was to be asked to join the interview, I was also insanely nervous. I don't do any kind of public speaking well, and while this was over the phone and therefore not really public at all, I was still talking to an author and four other bloggers and I was worried they'd get around to me, my mind would shut down, and they'd hear nothing but static and crickets from my end. Awesome. 

Luckily, that didn't happen and I was able to form a few coherent sentences. The other participating bloggers asked some fantastic questions and Moira gave some really in-depth and truly fascinating answers, so I hope you all enjoy the interview!

*apparently I was only supposed to post the questions I posed rather than the entire interview as I posted last night. Well done me. Below is the revised interview*

Ms. Moira Young:  Blood Red Road tells the story of Saba, an 18 year old girl living in the Dust Lands, a vast, dry, lawless place. It starts off with her search for her kidnapped brother and goes on from there.

And it's basically a hero's journey. A western set in the future, I think, I would describe it as, amongst other things.

Jenny:  What's one thing writing Saba's character has taught you about yourself?

Ms. Moira Young:  Oh, well, that’s a very good question. What's one thing? I don't know if I could point to any one thing. The thing that's been surprising to me that she's not apart from me. She is a part of me.

People ask in what way is the character like you or what parts of her are like you. I would say she is absolutely in me.

Of course, I'm not living in a damaged future world, and I'm not fighting in a cage, and my brother hasn't been kidnapped. But those feelings that she has in her situations are all feelings that I've found within myself because I feel like the book lives somewhere in my subconscious and I have to bring it up to the surface.

I've been surprised at the sort of ferocity of that part of myself that has ended up in Saba, that incredible determination. And I guess part of that comes out in the fact that it took me four and a half years to write this book, and I did have to struggle to write it.

All of that was channeled into that character, all of that came out in that character. The fact that all of these characters are parts of me, of my personality, even if I don't use that bit of me on a regular basis or even if I don't know that it exists, that's been a revelation to me, I have to say.

Jenny: And when you say it took four years, was that something that you did constantly, or you set it aside for great periods of time and came back?

Ms. Moira Young: Yes, I did have a period of setting it aside. When I started writing it, it was very different.  It was in a very conventional third person narrative. In fact, it was a dual viewpoint.

The setting was completely different. It was in an ice bound world. There were very few elements of it that bear any resemblance to Blood Red Road as it is now. The only thing that remains the same is that there is a character called Saba.

I wrote perhaps 15,000 words of that book and then had to leave it because we had moved house.  And when I came back to it a couple of months later, I realized that it was not a book that I believed in.  So I started again.

I was also working part time, and so I was doing this on my days off.  And I had no discipline as a writer. I didn't know how to structure a book, a long book particularly.

It was a very halting process. I got discouraged a lot. I left it for periods of time because I just didn't know what to do.

Quite often, writers do take a long time to write their first book, and then it's a terrible shock when you have to write to a deadline after that.

Jenny:  Was there any one thing that surprised you as you were writing? Something that changed unexpectedly or came out different on paper than you had planned in notes or an outline?

Ms. Moira Young:  First of all, I don't plan very much at all. I genuinely have no idea what's going to happen. I really don't, especially in Blood Red Road and Rebel Heart. I really truly had no idea what was going to happen, so I was constantly surprised.

One thing from Blood Red Road that I remember is that, when she was in the cage, and they had planned this escape and the Free Hawks were going to be in the crowd, and then I realized that it would be great to put another obstacle in their way, and I realized that the easiest thing–that the obvious thing and the most horrible thing anybody could do would be to change the gauntlet around so that they have to make their escape through the crowd.

But then I got completely stuck, and I thought how am I going to get out of this situation, I really have no idea. I sort of left it for about a week because I was so terrified that I had no idea how to get her out of this situation.

I've since learned that I really just need to ask my husband because he can always get characters out of trouble with no problem whatsoever.

All of a sudden, I just realized, oh, of course, she'll go through the top and Nero will help her.

And Nero has been fantastic in any number of situations, because he works in three dimensions so he can move into small spaces and he can go places. In an original version, I didn't have her with a crow companion. I had her with a dog. And I was constantly having to worry about what to do with the dog. The crow was a wonderful idea. That was also my husband's idea, to have a crow.

So that was one of the things that surprised me, just getting out of situations like that. And what else particularly surprised me?

I have to admit that I really am constantly surprised. Generally, I get hints that things are going to happen, and I can see them coming up on the horizon. And as I'm writing, I'm saying, oh no, what, what, you're going do what? And then, I just have to go ahead and write it. That seems to be how it happens.

Jenny:  So, does that make writing a second and third book more difficult then, if you don't have a perfectly clear idea where it's going?

Ms. Moira Young: Well, it certainly made the second book agonizing, I must say. The second book was truly agonizing because I didn't know what the third book was going to be about. All I knew was that I would have to set up as much potential conflict as possible that I could draw on for the third book. 

So, I knew that my characters were going to be suffering the fallout from book one, and I would have to set up masses of tension and fractures, I would have to fracture relationships and just leave it on a very uneasy note. That's what I realized would have to happen. I needed to leave the reader wondering.

That was really, really difficult. This book is occurring a little bit differently. I have a better idea of what's going on, but I still have no idea how it's going to end. I truly don't.

Jenny: Oh, goodness, that doesn't leave me with the warm fuzzies. That makes me really nervous.

Ms. Moira Young:  Well, I'm quite nervous, too, actually, to be honest with you. I am quite nervous. I have no idea what's going to happen. I've done masses of reading around the various themes that have been emerging through the two books and that are the spine of it.

I've been reading around the themes and the ideas that I think I might be using in this third book. And I've been going back and really doing very detailed character studies of everybody just so I know exactly where everybody is, what they're feeling from the end of the second book and what their goals are–ultimately, what they're after. Everybody's going have a different agenda.

Heaven knows what's going to happen. It could be interesting.

A huge thank you to Moira for taking so much time to answer my questions!


Thanks to SimonTEEN I have an absolutely amazing giveaway for all of you today! One lucky winner will receive a Dust Lands prize pack including a custom t-shirt, water bottle, and copies of both Blood Red Road and Rebel Heart. *dies* To enter, please just leave a comment regarding the interview along with a valid email address so I can contact you if you win. Giveaway is open to US residents only and will run through midnight on Friday, November 2nd after which time a winner will be chosen and announced on the blog. Good luck everyone!

As an added bonus, SimonTEEN is running a separate Rebel Heart giveaway HERE, so be sure and check it out for another chance to win these fabulous books (this giveaway ends October 31st)!


Saba has spent her whole life in Silverlake, a dried-up wasteland ravaged by constant sandstorms. The Wrecker civilization has long been destroyed, leaving only landfills for Saba and her family to scavenge from. That's fine by her, as long as her beloved twin brother Lugh is around. But when a monster sandstorm arrives, along with four cloaked horsemen, Saba's world is shattered. Lugh is captured, and Saba embarks on an epic quest to get him back.

Suddenly thrown into the lawless, ugly reality of the world outside of desolate Silverlake, Saba is lost without Lugh to guide her. So perhaps the most surprising thing of all is what Saba learns about herself: she's a fierce fighter, an unbeatable survivor, and a cunning opponent. And she has the power to take down a corrupt society from the inside. Teamed up with a handsome daredevil named Jack and a gang of girl revolutionaries called the Free Hawks, Saba stages a showdown that will change the course of her own civilization.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Double Review: Pure + Deity

Covenant Novels #2 and #3
Jennifer L. Armentrout
Paranormal Young Adult
Spencer Hill Press
Pure: Available Now
Deity: Available November 6th
Received from publisher for review

PURE (from Goodreads)
There is need. And then there is Fate

Being destined to become some kind of supernatural electrical outlet isn't exactly awesome--especially when Alexandria's "other half" is everywhere she goes. Seth's in her training room, outside her classes, and keeps showing up in her bedroom--so not cool. Their connection does have some benefits, like staving off her nightmares of the tragic showdown with her mother, but it has no effect on what Alex feels for the forbidden, pure-blooded Aiden. Or what he will do--and sacrifice--for her.

When daimons infiltrate the Covenants and attack students, the gods send furies--lesser gods determined to eradicate any threat to the Covenants and to the gods, and that includes the Apollyon and Alex. And if that and hordes of aether-sucking monsters didn't blow bad enough, a mysterious threat seems willing to do anything to neutralize Seth, even if that means forcing Alex into servitude or killing her.

When the gods are involved, some decisions can never, ever be undone.

Books two and three in the Covenant series build beautifully on the events of Half-Blood, drastically increasing not only the emotional intensity between Alex, Aiden, and Seth, but also the physical intensity between our heroine and the innumerable dangers facing her as a half-blood and an apollyon. Ms. Armentrout’s world is one that continuously ignites our anger and frustration, the treatment of the half-bloods something that sets our teeth to grinding and our fists to clenching as we are constantly reminded that they are perfect to sleep with, abuse, and defend the Pures with their lives, but it remains unacceptable for those who consider themselves an exalted race to love, respect, or die for them in turn. With Pure and continuing into Deity, Ms. Armentrout introduces a new villain, a man who strictly adheres to the most revolting of Pure tenets and causes our lips to curl into an involuntary smile as we root for Alex to show him what she’s made of.

Alex is as entertaining as ever, her smart mouth continuing to get her into trouble with classmates and authority figures alike, and while we sometimes share in the viewpoint of those around her who wish she were a little less outspoken when in the presence of those who have the power to make her life miserable, we can’t help but appreciate her determination to stand her ground, however misguided at times. As she did in Half-Blood, she often makes snap decisions that have monstrous consequences, but she’s always quick to recognize and admit her mistakes instead of clinging to the pretense that she’s always right. She shows a distinct vulnerability in both Pure and Deity – her love for Aiden like an open wound that’s poked and prodded with rough fingers and her fear that her Awakening will fundamentally alter who she is a piece of sandpaper that rubs and abrades sensitive skin again, and again, and again.

The romantic element is present on a grand scale in both books, the seemingly impossible relationship with Aiden creating a raw ache in our chests as he pushes her away from him and toward Seth, and though we might roll our eyes at the familiar plot device, Ms. Armentrout executes it in spectacular fashion, leaving us with heavy hearts and hollow souls as Alex struggles. What works so well in Alex’s case is that the love triangle is one of circumstance as opposed to conflicted feelings, her heart belonging solely and indisputably to Aiden while her connection to Seth becomes something manufactured as a result of their bond as Apollyons. Seth does play his role as potential suitor stunningly well though, every now and then the cocky arrogance set aside in favor of what appears to be sincerity, but the most intense of their interludes are always precipitated by a change in – or strengthening of – the spiritual cord running between them, reminding us of the difference between what Alex shares with him and what she shares with Aiden.

Readers should prepare themselves for a massive cliffhanger with Deity, the last page leaving us with the desperate desire to write Ms. Armentrout and see what we can do or say to help move the release date for Apollyon up several months. Things in the next book will no doubt be even darker and more intense than what we’ve experienced thus far, and time is sure to pass excruciatingly slowly as we wait to see what’s to become of Alex, Aiden, and Seth.

Rating: 4.5/5

Sunday, October 28, 2012

A Harper Halloween

It's almost time for Halloween! While I've never been big on dressing up myself, I love seeing how creative the neighborhood kids get with their costumes, and this year will be only the second year since the husband and I bought our house six years ago that we've been present for trick or treating. This makes us sound like terrible people, I know, so let me explain. We have two dogs. Two absurdly active, ridiculously adorable–and also slightly insane boxers–who absolutely lose their minds when the doorbell rings at our house. This makes Halloween a stressful time for all parties, so we typically head over to my in-laws where, for some inexplicable reason, the doorbell doesn't bother them nearly as much. I've learned not to ask questions when it comes to our dogs:) So, in conclusion, we're giving Halloween another try this year. Wish us luck!

To help celebrate Halloween, HarperCollins has some outstanding children's, middle grade, and young adult books available, and I wanted to highlight some of them for you to help usher in Halloween week. Assisting me in this endeavor is my amazing mom Pam, (YEAH MOM!) who is making her blogging debut with a few mini reviews of some Harper children's books she read and then gifted to my 3 year-old niece Julianna to help build up her library.


by Susan Hood
Illustrated by Jed Henry


A wonderful hard cover book that acquaints young children with Halloween and the beloved tradition of going door-to-door calling out “Trick or Treat” or “BOO!” The author presents a variety of “what may happen” situations and then helpful “what to do” solutions that may occur on Halloween night to give confidence to even the littlest Trick or Treater.  Enhancing the cute and cleverly written situations are full-page watercolor illustrations that are simply stated and absolutely beautiful! The book is a delight for adults to read aloud, allowing them to interact with the children. It’s destined to be a Halloween favorite!

Rating: 4/5

by Laura Numeroff
Illustrated by Felicia Bond


An adorable board book that is a perfect fit for the very young and preschool child. The author devotes each page to a charming mouse, who decorates one of his seven pumpkins with a face that expresses an emotion. A child not old enough to read can explore how they feel as well as learn to recognize how someone else feels by gazing on the faces of each large pumpkin. The colorful and simply drawn illustrations also help introduce children to the concept of numbers and counting. The author has created a fun and delightful book that will be viewed again and again!
Rating: 3.5/5

By Robin Farley
Pictures by Olga and Aleksey Ivanov


Toddlers learn how Mia and her friends find a way to compromise so everyone enjoys a night of trick or treating in costumes they all had a hand in designing. The book also comes with stickers a child can use to help create new costumes, just like the characters in the story do. The storyline wanders a bit, and some concepts (such as tie-dying) might not be understood, but the watercolor and pencil illustrations as well as the animal characters in the story will likely appeal to little ones. They will also have loads of fun with the stickers!
Rating: 3.5/5


By Neil Gaiman
Illustrations by Dave McKean

From Amazon:

"Coraline discovered the door a little while after they moved into the house. . . ."

When Coraline steps through a door to find another house strangely similar to her own (only better), things seem marvelous.

But there's another mother there, and another father, and they want her to stay and be their little girl. 
They want to change her and never let her go.

Coraline will have to fight with all her wit and courage if she is to save herself and return to her ordinary life.

by Bruce Coville

From Goodreads:

No doubt about it, little brothers can be monsters. When sixth grader Jake Doolittle finds a baby on the doorstep and his mother decides to keep it, those words are more than just an expression. Instead, they perfectly describe the way his new little brother, LD, sprouts pointy ears, thick fur, and "fangs" in moonlight.

Not only is LD a monster. . . . "other" monsters have plans for him. But together with his friend "Weird Lily" Carker, Jake isn't about to let anything happen to the baby. The little guy is still his brother, even if it turns out that LD may be the key to saving the world--or destroying it.

Soon Jake and Lily are on a perilous quest through Always October, a world populated with monsters ranging from the venomous to the ridiculous. Master of comic suspense Bruce Coville presents a tale of ominous dangers and hairbreadth escapes, of the conflict between forces of dark and light, and of the lengths to which one boy will go to save his brother--monster or not.


Gravediggers: Mountain of Bones by Christopher Krovatin
The Whispering House by Rebecca Wade
Scary School: Monsters on the March by Derek the Ghost; Illustrations by Scott M. Fischer


By Susan Dennard

From Goodreads:

The year is 1876, and there’s something strange and deadly loose in Philadelphia…

Eleanor Fitt has a lot to worry about. Her brother has gone missing, her family has fallen on hard times, and her mother is determined to marry her off to any rich young man who walks by. But this is nothing compared to what she’s just read in the newspaper—

The Dead are rising in Philadelphia.

And then, in a frightening attack, a zombie delivers a letter to Eleanor…from her brother.

Whoever is controlling the Dead army has taken her brother as well. If Eleanor is going to find him, she’ll have to venture into the lab of the notorious Spirit-Hunters, who protect the city from supernatural forces. But as Eleanor spends more time with the Spirit-Hunters, including their maddeningly stubborn yet handsome inventor, Daniel, the situation becomes dire. And now, not only is her reputation on the line, but her very life may hang in the balance.

* I thoroughly enjoyed this book even though zombies are typically not my thing. You can read my full review HERE.

By Patrick Carman

From Goodreads:

Fifteen-year-old Will Besting is sent by his doctor to Fort Eden, an institution meant to help patients suffering from crippling phobias. Once there, Will and six other teenagers take turns in mysterious fear chambers and confront their worst nightmares—with the help of the group facilitator, Rainsford, an enigmatic guide. When the patients emerge from the chamber, they feel emboldened by the previous night's experiences. But each person soon discovers strange, unexplained aches and pains...

What is really happening to the seven teens trapped in this dark Eden?

*This was a hugely surprising read for me. I had no idea what to expect and it absolutely blew me away. You can read my full review HERE.

By Gretchen McNeil

From Goodreads:

It was supposed to be the weekend of their lives—an exclusive house party on Henry Island. Best friends Meg and Minnie each have their reasons for being there (which involve T.J., the school’s most eligible bachelor) and look forward to three glorious days of boys, booze and fun-filled luxury.

But what they expect is definitely not what they get, and what starts out as fun turns dark and twisted after the discovery of a DVD with a sinister message: Vengeance is mine.

Suddenly people are dying, and with a storm raging, the teens are cut off from the outside world. No electricity, no phones, no internet, and a ferry that isn’t scheduled to return for two days. As the deaths become more violent and the teens turn on each other, can Meg find the killer before more people die? Or is the killer closer to her than she could ever imagine?


The Turning by Francine Prose
Don't Turn Around by Michelle Gagnon
Dark Eden: Eve of Destruction by Patrick Carman

Also, if you haven't seen it yet, be sure and check out the cover reveal for Sweet Peril, the sequel to Sweet Evil, which went up on the blog yesterday. Sweet Evil isn't so much a Halloween read, but I'm including it in this post because Kaidan is scarily sexy (see how I tied this bit in? Well done me.) and it's possible I'm a tiny bit excited for this next book:)

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Cover Reveal: Sweet Peril

Some of you may remember a few weeks back (months back? Time is flying by.) I entered a cover design contest for the sequel to one of my favorite reads of the year, Sweet Evil. During my shameless campaign to encourage votes, I somewhat obsessively went on and on about my love for one Kaidan Rowe, son of the Duke of Lust and ultimate bad boy to heroine Anna's good girl. After finishing Sweet Evil, my love for him was deep, but thinking about him made my heart ache because at the time the sequel to Sweet Evil had not yet been picked up by the publisher. I was less-than amused by this discovery. I needed more of Kaidan. More of his badassery. More of the delicious pain his impossible relationship with Anna caused me. So it was with a heavy heart and mostly bitten-off nails that I awaited any news on Kaidan's fate.

Why am I telling you all this you ask? Well, my heart has lightened considerably recently. Not only has book two been picked up by HarperTeen, but book three has as well which means there is much more Kaidan Rowe in my future. And even better? The official cover for book two, now titled Sweet Peril instead of Sweet Hope, has just been released along with the blurb:

Anna Whitt, daughter of a guardian angel and a demon, promised herself she’d never do the work of her father—polluting souls. She’d been naive to make such a claim. She’d been naive about a lot of things. Haunted by demon whisperers, Anna does whatever she can to survive, even if it means embracing her dark side and earning an unwanted reputation as her school’s party girl. Her life has never looked more bleak. And all the while there’s Kaidan Rowe, son of the Duke of Lust, plaguing her heart and mind.

When an unexpected lost message from the angels surfaces, Anna finds herself traveling the globe with Kopano, son of Wrath, in an attempt to gain support of fellow Nephilim and give them hope for the first time. It soon becomes clear that whatever freedoms Anna and the rest of the Neph are hoping to win will not be gained without a fight. Until then, Anna and Kaidan must put aside the issues between them, overcome the steamiest of temptations yet, and face the ultimate question: is loving someone worth risking their life?

SO EXCITED! And nervous. There's a lot of black on this cover, and I feel like we're getting a little foreshadowing through the literal use of shadow, indicating dark times are clearly ahead. I'm going to need to take deep, soothing breaths before I pick this one up!

If you haven't read Sweet Evil yet, I hope you guys give it a try, and definitely mark your calendars for the release of Sweet Peril from HarperTeen on April 30th, 2013. More information on the amazing Wendy Higgins and her books can be found here:

Wendy on Twitter
Kaidan on Twitter
Sweet Evil Amazon Buy Link
Sweet Peril Amazon Buy Link

Friday, October 26, 2012

Kiss N' Tell Blog Tour + Giveaway

I'm super excited today to be a part of the promotional tour for Janet Gurtler's newest contemporary young adult novel, Who I Kissed. Janet is stopping by to give us a little extra inside information on this story by digging around in protagonist Sam's head and plucking out a few choice tidbits to share with all of us, while also providing a few details on exactly how she's able to get into the minds of her characters. I hope you guys enjoy her insight as much as I did!


"Sam, Sam, Sam. What are we going to do with you?”  

If you can’t tell, I’m using my mother voice. Also I’m talking to a fictitious character. But we’ll ignore that part. When I write teen characters I have to turn my mother voice off. (And embrace the crazy.) Truth be known, I am able to remove my mother voice pretty easily and I find it kind of natural to slip inside the head of a teenager.  

I had a tough time when I was a teenager. I had a lot of internal struggles. I majored in insecurity and angst. And I remember many of those feelings really well. Really, really well.    

So, getting inside the head of a teenager isn’t as hard for me as if should be. Of course, my characters aren’t me.  I give them different challenges and different personality quirks. And then I have to try to think the way they would think. I have to slip into their shoes.

Fortunately, I enjoy imagining getting inside a character’s head. I like to go deep inside and look at things people sometimes try to hide. From themselves and from the world. I like to go there. To places that are uncomfortable. Especially with the challenges of today’s world around them. 
Technology. Expectations. Social media.

I took Samantha to some uncomfortable places in Who I Kissed. Imagine feeling responsible for the death of someone else. How horrifying would that be? How would you possibly get over it? Especially when you’re dealing with your own issues. Sam had some things to overcome even before the accident, but the accident brought them to the surface with a rush. Ultimately, Sam has to learn to let other people in. And that’s not always an easy thing to do. To me she’s a fully formed person with a history and built in likes and dislikes. So let’s take a deeper look at Sam. Let me slide back into her skin for a moment and tell you some of her secrets.

Favorite Book - The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian by Sherman Alexie.   

Favorite Song - "Tonight Tonight" by Hot Chelle Rae

Favorite Movie - The Avengers

Favorite Food - Jelly Bellies of course! But as far as real food goes, she likes Mexican. Bean burritos. Even though they give her gas. She probably wouldn’t eat them on a date.

First serious crush. Zee.  First heartache. Zee.  Best kiss ever. Zee.

Celebrity Crush -  Corbin Bleu. She is waiting for his acting career to extend beyond High School Musical.

Personal Hero -  Missy Franklin  

Secret Talent - Sam loves to dance. She practices in her room with her iPod. At some point, she’s going to try to convince her swim team to record a dance dare (dancing behind people without them knowing) for the Ellen show. She knows every dance step to "Party Rockin" by LMFAO.  

Most Embarrassing Moment - When her bathing suit split down the butt at a swim meet and she had to finish her race, which was thankfully backstroke.

Thanks for telling us a little bit more about Sam Janet! More information on Janet and her books can be found here:

Interested in meeting Janet? Well, she's going on tour with fellow authors made of win Miranda Kenneally and Lisa and Laura Roecker, so be sure and check out the full schedule HERE to see if the Get Real: Contemps on Tour is coming to a city near you starting November 1st!


She Never Thought A Kiss Could Kill. . .

Samantha is new at school and just recently joined the swim team. She’s been flirting with one of her teammates, Zee, who invites her to a party and just as quickly dumps her for another girl. Hurt, but pretending not to care, she turns to his best friend, Alex, and gives him a kiss.  And he dies—right in her arms. Alex was allergic to peanuts, and Samantha had eaten a peanut butter sandwich right before the party. She didn’t know.  Overnight, Samantha turns into the school pariah and a media sensation explodes. Consumed with guilt, abandoned by her friends, and in jeopardy of losing her swimming scholarship, she will have to find the inner-strength to forgive herself for the tragedy. Critics are already applauding the author’s insight and her ability to make her “character breathe with life” (Kirkus Reviews). Skillfully capturing the raw, honest emotions of her teen protagonists, Janet paints them into a searing portrait of a tragedy that uproots the lives of everyone it touches. 


Thanks to the fabulous team at Sourcebooks, I have one copy of Who I Kissed up for grabs on the blog today! To enter, please leave a comment with your answer to one of the items in bold in the guest post (favorite book, favorite song, favorite movie, etc.) and be sure to leave a valid email address so I can contact you if you win. This giveaway is open to US and Canadian residents only and will run through midnight on Friday, November 2nd after which time a winner will be chosen and emailed. Good luck and have a great weekend everyone!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Review: Death and the Girl Next Door

Darynda Jones
Paranormal Young Adult
274 pages
St. Martin's Press
Available Now
Received from publisher via NetGalley for review

THE STORY (from Goodreads)
Ten years ago, Lorelei's parents disappeared without a trace.  Raised by her grandparents and leaning on the support of her best friends, Lorelei is finally beginning to accept the fact that her parents are never coming home.  For Lorelei, life goes on.

High school is not quite as painful as she thinks it will be, and things are as normal as they can be.  Until the day the school's designated loner, Cameron Lusk, begins to stalk her, turning up where she least expects it,  standing outside her house in the dark, night after night.  Things get even more complicated when a new guy—terrifying, tough, sexy Jared Kovach—comes to school.  Cameron and Jared instantly despise each other and Lorelei seems to be the reason for their animosity.  What does Jared know about her parents?  Why does Cameron tell Jared he can't have Lorelei?  And what will any of them do when Death comes knocking for real?  

Thrilling, sassy, sexy, and inventive, Darynda Jones's first foray into the world of teens will leave readers eager for the next installment.

Death and the Girl Next Door is a bit of a surprising read, the synopsis preparing us for a very familiar setup as we assume a love triangle is imminent between Lorelei, new stalker Cameron, and new student in general Jared, but instead we are refreshingly treated to an entirely different dynamic that has us devouring the pages like word consumption addicts. While Jared and Cameron are both competitive to a fault, the conflict causing them to continually and violently clash is thankfully not romantic in nature, allowing us to breathe a sigh of relief even as our anticipation over the true cause of their seemingly mutual hatred grows each time they face off. Every time we worry the story may be crossing into well-known territory, Ms. Jones either throws a road block in our paths to force us to change direction or she has one of her highly entertaining characters charmingly mock whatever situation they’ve found themselves in, thus ensuring we’re either too surprised or too amused to grow complacent.

Lorelei is a joy of a main character, an often self-deprecating woman with wit in spades who has us easily wrapped around her finger in the opening chapters. She at times exhibits typical teenage girl behavior, namely an intense appreciation for Jared’s physical attributes and the effect those attributes have on the butterflies currently taking up residence in her belly, but she prefaces these moments of swooning with a warning to us as readers that we’re about to witness what she calls a “sad part”, something that consists of heart palpitations and general feelings of fluffiness from her burgeoning crush. She’s absurdly adorable and manages to keep calm under stressful situations, and even on the rare occasion when that calm evaporates, she owns up to her reactions and takes responsibility for the mistakes she makes when she acts out of fear.

The highlight of this story is by far the relationship between Lorelei and best friends Brooke and Glitch, friends she’s had since elementary school who match her sparkling wit with enormous personalities of their own. They have a camaraderie that feels authentic and utterly genuine, the easy banter they toss back and forth attesting to the length of their friendship, and we are instantly at ease with all three of them knowing the casual insults they pass back and forth will never be taken as anything other than what was intended. They have no secrets from one another (except for one I believe may exist on Glitch’s part with regard to his feelings for Brooke) and it never once occurs to any of them to keep any information, however extraordinary or unbelievable it may seem, to themselves, instead opting to include the other two in anything and everything they do.

The only minor criticism of this humorous and engrossing first installment is the story at times seems to jump quickly from one plot point to another; a few extra spokes existing in the larger plot wheel than are necessary to move the story forward. There’s a brief snippet with a poltergeist causing problems for two of Lorelei’s classmates that feels a touch superfluous, and we can’t help but want to do away with any such small impediments that keep us from getting back to Jared and his relationship to both Lorelei and Cameron. Overall though, Death and the Girl Next Door is fun and flirty but not without an edge of darkness to balance the light, and Darynda Jones has just become an auto-buy author for me with this hugely gratifying young adult debut.

Rating: 4/5

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Author Interview: Lisa M. Stasse + The Forsaken

Today I'm thrilled to welcome young adult author Lisa M. Stasse to the blog to answer a few questions about her dystopian novel, The Forsaken. I thoroughly enjoyed this book (you can read my review here) and am already counting down the days until the next book is released. Welcome to Supernatural Snark Lisa!

You’ve just woken up on the wheel groggy and disoriented. What’s the first thing you do?

I try to find anything I can use as a weapon, like a pointed tree branch or something. I paint my face and arms with mud to blend in with the landscape. I try to hide and hike my way through the jungle toward one of the villages in the blue sector, where I'll be safe. If I'm forced to fight, I act as crazy as possible to try to scare the drones away from me!

The young men and women that make up Alenna and Liam’s village are all responsible for individual tasks that aid the village as a whole. In what capacity do you think you’d find yourself so as to be most beneficial to those around you?

I would probably not be particularly useful on the wheel, given that I am addicted to Starbucks coffee and to my laptop and iPhone. However, if I was stuck in the village, I would probably be best at cooking (like Rika). I love to cook, and I would rather do that than slaughter people or build huts, so that's probably where I'd end up.

David is an extremely interesting character who keeps us questioning his motives throughout despite how desperately we want to trust him. Name one character from another book who kept you suspicious of them the entire time you were reading.

Yay, I'm so glad you liked David and thought he was interesting! He's one of my favorites. So this actually isn't from a book, but the last character I really loved but was crazily suspicious of for the longest time was the character Sawyer on the TV show LOST.

If you found yourself facing one of the few remaining cameras on the wheel and knew your family could see you even if they couldn’t hear you, what would you try to say to them?

I would want them to know that I love them. And that I hadn't done anything wrong to get sent to the wheel! I'd probably try to tell them not to worry about me too much either, and that I was going to head to the gray zone to try to escape!

Do you remember the first sentence of The Forsaken you wrote? Did it survive all the edits?

In the editing process, I added a brief prologue to the book, so that changed things around a bit. But the first sentence of Chapter 1 actually did make it through all the edits: "As our bus approaches the Harka Museum of re-education, I peer out the window at the soldiers standing out front in the sculpture gardens." I think the only thing I added was the word "Harka" along the way. Other than that, it survived intact!

The feelers are absolutely terrifying in that they represent the unknown. Those who are taken are never seen again, so no one on the island knows exactly what happens once someone gets caught in their grasp. Are they a part of the wheel that popped into your head early on in the writing process, or were they something that came about once other details about the island were in place?

The feelers were actually suggested to me by my husband (who is an obsessive sci-fi fan) when I was babbling to him about all my ideas for the wheel in the planning stages of the book. I instantly took the idea and ran with it! I wanted something really scary, like the tripods in War of the Worlds, and also really technological. Even now, many of our prisons are automated in different ways (as strange as that is) so I wanted to push that concept as far as I could. So they were always part of the design for the wheel. They are essentially the mechanism by which the UNA keeps control over the island.

If Alenna could get a one-sentence message back to the people still living in the UNA about what happens on the wheel, what would she say?

"Worst vacation ever!" Okay, but seriously, she would not say that. That's the kind of silly thing that I would say. But Alenna is very earnest, and the book's journey involves her coming into her own and discovering her own personality and her own strength. I think she would say something like: "Don't trust the government, because the wheel is a lie, and it's filled with normal kids, not criminals, and you need to fight back against the UNA and rebel, before it's too late!"

Thanks so much for taking the time to answer my questions Lisa! More information on Lisa and her books can be found here:

Amazon Buy Link

THE FORSAKEN (from Goodreads)

As an obedient orphan of the U.N.A. (the super-country that was once Mexico, the U.S., and Canada), Alenna learned at an early age to blend in and be quiet—having your parents taken by the police will do that to a girl. But Alenna can’t help but stand out when she fails a test that all sixteen-year-olds have to take: The test says she has a high capacity for brutal violence, and so she is sent to The Wheel, an island where all would-be criminals end up.

The life expectancy of prisoners on The Wheel is just two years, but with dirty, violent, and chaotic conditions, the time seems a lot longer as Alenna is forced to deal with civil wars for land ownership and machines that snatch kids out of their makeshift homes. Desperate, she and the other prisoners concoct a potentially fatal plan to flee the island. Survival may seem impossible, but Alenna is determined to achieve it anyway.


Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Review: The Shadow Society

Marie Rutkoski
Paranormal Young Adult
416 pages
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Available now
Received from publisher for review

THE STORY (from Goodreads)
Darcy Jones doesn’t remember anything before the day she was abandoned as a child outside a Chicago firehouse. She has never really belonged anywhere—but she couldn’t have guessed that she comes from an alternate world where the Great Chicago Fire didn’t happen and deadly creatures called Shades terrorize the human population.

Memories begin to haunt Darcy when a new boy arrives at her high school, and he makes her feel both desire and desired in a way she hadn’t thought possible. But Conn’s interest in her is confusing. It doesn’t line up with the way he first looked at her.

As if she were his enemy.

When Conn betrays Darcy, she realizes that she can’t rely on anything—not herself, not the laws of nature, and certainly not him. Darcy decides to infiltrate the Shadow Society and uncover the Shades’ latest terrorist plot. What she finds out will change her world forever . . .

The Shadow Society is a story that starts out with us walking down a familiar path, a new boy arriving at school and instantly giving off hostile vibes whenever he’s in the presence of our protagonist, but before too long this tale seems to meet a fork in the road, and luckily for us, chooses to deviate from that familiar path and veer off into the darkness and mystery of the unknown. Acting as the catalyst for our shift in circumstances is Conn’s painful betrayal of Darcy, luring her into a vulnerable position (a particular cruelty given her lengthy history of being unwanted as she bounced from foster home to foster home) and then figuratively stabbing her in the back, bleeding every ounce of trust out of her and injecting her with the poison of constant suspicion – a sickness that further impairs an already stunted ability to put faith in those around her not to do her harm. Thus, we spend much of our time reading with our emotions at full boil, with anger, resentment, and finally a spark of hope blending together to ensure we can’t turn the pages fast enough.

Darcy is a young woman we’re not sure we’re going to care for after our somewhat rocky start with her, her attraction to a boy who seems to greatly dislike her and is repeatedly inexplicably harsh causing us to roll our eyes a bit in frustration. After he uses her feelings to shred the innocence that is her ignorance of her past thanks to her memory loss and replaces it with a brutal and physically violent new reality, we find ourselves solidly in her corner, impressed with how she deals with the pain he’s caused. Instead of seeking to inflict pain back on Conn (though he rightly deserves it), she stays level-headed, using her sharp tongue for a few well-aimed cuts and then backing off before she says or does something more than she can live with.

Her shaken trust is something that reverberates through the pages and rattles us to our bones, our startled anger that Conn couldn’t initially see the heart of the girl through the propaganda he’s been fed something that keeps our blood simmering throughout. Conn, for his part, is painfully brilliant at incurring our wrath and then soothing our heated tempers with small acts of kindness, forcing our hearts to plummet to our feet one page only to force a lump into our throats at his seeming earnestness the next. Though Darcy’s anger subsides a bit before ours, it still takes her a while to see Conn in a different light, and it’s an incredibly tense and rewarding journey we experience as two people on opposite sides of a line dare to put their toes right up to it and eventually step over together.

The one minor complaint with this story that keeps the rating from being higher is the lack of explanation for the utter hatred between humans and Shades. Yes, the Shades are depicted as a paranormal terrorist organization and therefore don’t necessarily need a logical list of reasons for their actions, but we’re given absolutely no information as to what has caused the rift, or how humans discovered the existence of Shades in the first place. Was it simply a fear of that which is different that caused humans to spurn the Shades and earn their brutal retaliation, or was there an event that sparked a torch that still burns? We are given an explanation for many aspects of a Shade’s existence, just not the cause of their feelings, leaving us floundering without a foundation to stand on with regard to the war. Small drawback aside, The Shadow Society is intense and intriguing, and I am greatly looking forward to whatever Ms. Rutkoski chooses to create for us next.

Rating: 4/5

Monday, October 22, 2012

Review: Sapphire Blue

(The Ruby Red Trilogy #2)
Kerstin Gier
Paranormal Young Adult
368 pages
Henry Holt Books for Young Readers
Available October 30th
Received from publisher for review

THE STORY (from Goodreads)
Gwen’s life has been a rollercoaster since she discovered she was the Ruby, the final member of the secret time-traveling Circle of Twelve. In between searching through history for the other time-travelers and asking for a bit of their blood (gross!), she’s been trying to figure out what all the mysteries and prophecies surrounding the Circle really mean.
At least Gwen has plenty of help. Her best friend Lesley follows every lead diligently on the Internet. James the ghost teaches Gwen how to fit in at an eighteenth century party. And Xemerius, the gargoyle demon who has been following Gwen since he caught her kissing Gideon in a church, offers advice on everything. Oh, yes. And of course there is Gideon, the Diamond. One minute he’s very warm indeed; the next he’s freezing cold. Gwen’s not sure what’s going on there, but she’s pretty much destined to find out.
Sapphire Blue picks up at the exact moment Ruby Red left off, giving us little time to reacclimate ourselves with this world of time travel before our minds are forced into overdrive trying to remember the finer details of the many varied characters and their relationships with the past, present and future. Luckily, once we get over the mild surprise caused by our abrupt return to Gwen and Gideon’s sides, we’re able to settle back into the story, and our minds have a few minutes to catch up as Gwen helpfully relays the events of her last time-traveling adventure with Gideon to several interested parties. Some of the more intricate nuances of the time-travel gene are lost on us in this second installment, the complications that arise from traveling back in time as well as the ramifications of such an action causing our brains to hurt if we dwell on them too long, but we are thankfully easily able to focus on the larger mystery surrounding the Circle of Twelve and the various prophecies surrounding it, providing us with direction when we might otherwise get overwhelmed by all the possibilities.

Gwen is a delightful heroine, a young woman who deals surprisingly well with the very sudden upheaval in her life, often approaching her situation with humor when we might lash out in anger and frustration were we in her shoes. She absorbs all the snide comments and general disapproval aimed in her direction without ever showing any outward signs of distress, her mental commentary the only thing to tip us off as to how all the negativity swirling around her affects her, but just as her stoicism (particularly with Gideon) starts to frustrate us, she lets loose her true feelings in a torrent of emotion and finally reveals the wounds each verbal slap and slice have caused. Even as tensions with Gideon and the other Guardians run high, Gwen maintains her sense of humor, only allowing a few brief moments of darkness before she lightens the mood with her trademark witty banter.

Gideon, for his part, is a challenging young man to like in this sequel, our vision of the man we want him to be going hazy in the face of the man he’s currently choosing to be, and our teeth left with no other option but to grind a bit in irritation as his moods seem to shift at the flick of a switch. He actively pursues Gwen when they’re alone only to push her away the moment they appear in anyone else’s line of sight or range of hearing, but as Gwen does, Gideon eventually ventures to place his heart on his sleeve and shows the first stirrings of vulnerability. To ensure we're riding the relationship edge throughout with these two, we find that the chapters are occasionally preceded by a poem, quote, or prophecy, some of which cause nervous flutters of anticipation as they hint at dangerous things to come for the hearts of our two protagonists.

Sapphire Blue does conclude mid-story, a few of the reasons why Gwen and Gideon are traveling to certain dates in the past remaining somewhat unclear to us, however, as mentioned before we are well aware of the larger end goal of their time traveling in general, even if the specifics of certain journeys remain a touch murky. The concluding pages do little to quell our aforementioned nervous flutters, instead ratcheting them up to a more fervent and insistent throb as one character’s parting words to Gideon suddenly take the wait for Emerald Green from painful to excruciating.

Rating: 4/5

Friday, October 19, 2012

Guest Post + Giveaway: Jaye Frances and The Kure

Today I'm turning the blog over to author Jaye Frances so she can tell us a little bit about her novel The Kure and give you all an inside look with a brief excerpt. Jaye has also offered up a Kindle ebook copy of The Kure, so be sure and check the bottom of the post for all the details. Welcome to Supernatural Snark Jaye!

Thank you, Jenny, for hosting me today on Supernatural Snark with my paranormal-occult romance novel, The Kure.

One of my biggest challenges in writing The Kure was creating an authentic male character—John Tyler—who would remain true to his personality, disposition, and conscience, regardless of the situation or circumstances. And that had to be especially true during that moment of unexpected surprise when he first laid eyes on the woman who would change his life forever.

With the main characters, John Tyler and Sarah Sheridan, destined to become eternal lovers, I wanted readers to sense the electricity in the air as they met for the first time, their behavior exuding the kind of magnetism suggestive of the classic “love at first sight.” And although John was caught off-guard, mostly because his mission to meet Sarah was less than honorable, it was important to develop their love interest as a happy accident, providing the characters—and the reader—with all the nuances of the unpredictable.

In this excerpt from The Kure, John gets his first glimpse of Sarah, and wonders why their paths haven’t crossed until now. As he fumbles with the requisite courtesies and tries to maintain his composure, Sarah teases him, enchanting him with her playful charm and unpretentious nature.

Her eyes were the first of her features he would later recall with absolute clarity—wide, bright and clear, and so blue they reminded him of an azure field of forget-me-nots. Her lips were slightly parted, easily ripening into a full smile. As John nodded in acknowledgement, Sarah responded with a tilt of her head, sending a shimmering curtain of sun yellow hair rippling across her shoulders.

She was more than pretty, and with the soft, seductive curves of a woman, she radiated the raw promise of opportunity, the kind that could easily inspire a man to offer everything he owned in exchange for a place in her future.

John tried to imagine how circumstances, or perhaps fate, had kept her hidden for so long. They lived only a couple of miles apart, using the same roads, shopping at the same stores, even attending the same church—at least the five or six times a year John occupied the back pew for services. Yet their paths had remained separate. Until today.

He tried to remember when he’d seen her last. It might have been five, maybe six years ago, when she would have passed him on the street as a quiet and unremarkable child, with no indication of the flawless beauty she would become.

John’s father had once told him that a man’s first glimpse of a woman determines the destiny of both. For an instant, he wondered.

Without hesitating, Sarah stepped into the room, her light blue cotton skirt flowing easily over her legs, the material caressing her thighs as she moved. Her fitted white blouse clung glove-tight around her small waist, the loosely laced bodice revealing the rounded shape of her full breasts.

John expected her to walk toward her father, and perhaps sit in the vacant chair next to him. Instead, she stopped in front of the loveseat, standing so close that if John straightened his fingers, he could easily touch the fabric covering her legs. The possibility made his lower lip begin to quiver, and he pulled it between his teeth and bit hard.

Forced to concede to Sarah’s presence, Sheridan paused. Unwilling to lose the opportunity to control his daughter’s introduction, he quickly spoke again, his manner brusque and determined. “Sarah, this young man, John Tyler, is here to speak with you. About some business with the pastor.”

John realized he was still sitting. Nerves shot him forward. Raw pain pulled him back. Determined to hide the tormenting ache, he leaned on the arm of the loveseat, steadying himself. Readjusting his handhold, he pushed himself off the seat and slowly made it to his feet.

Sarah’s eyes seemed to grow larger as she spoke. “Oh? I hope I’m not in trouble for missing services last Sunday.” Her smile widened in a playful challenge.

John tried to return her lighthearted greeting, but his efforts appeared forced and twisted, far from the sincere interest he wanted to convey. “No . . . no, I’m sure that’s not the case,” he stammered.

“Well, your message must be very important, especially if Pastor Fielding asked you to ride all the way out here.” Her voice was as welcome as a warm spring day, with enough invitation to disarm a wild stallion.

John started to shrug, then stopped himself. “I’m not sure. It’s hard to tell with the pastor.”

Sarah nodded as if she knew exactly what he was talking about, and then turning slightly, she gave John a tiny wink, letting him interpret it for himself.

For a moment, he forgot the pain.

Thanks so much for stopping by Jaye! More information on Jaye and her books can be found here:

Amazon Buy Link

Jaye is generously offering up a Kindle ebook of The Kure to one lucky winner! Before entering, please note The Kure is an adult book, not YA, and is recommended for older readers. You can check out some of Jaye's notes on the dark historical practices depicted in the book here if you'd like to get a better feel as to whether or not this book is for you. To enter, please leave a comment with a valid email address so I can contact you if you win. Since this is an ebook, the giveaway is international provided you have a Kindle. Giveaway will run through midnight on Friday, October 26th after which time a winner will be chosen and emailed. Good luck everyone!

John Tyler, a young man in his early twenties, awakens to find a ghastly affliction taking over his body. When the village doctor offers the conventional, and potentially disfiguring, treatment as the only cure, John tenaciously convinces the doctor to reveal an alternative remedy—a forbidden ritual contained within an ancient manuscript called the Kure.

Although initially rejecting the vile and sinister rite, John realizes, too late, that the ritual is more than a faded promise scrawled on a page of crumbling paper. And as cure quickly becomes curse, the demonic text unleashes a dark power that drives him to consider the unthinkable—a depraved and wicked act requiring the corruption of an innocent soul.

Ultimately, John must choose between his desperate need to arrest the plague that is destroying his body, and the virtue of the woman he loves, knowing the wrong decision could cost him his life.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Review + Giveaway: The Kingmakers

(Vampire Empire #3)
Clay Griffith and Susan Griffith
Urban Fantasy
392 pages
Available Now
Received from publisher for review

THE STORY (from Amazon)
A war to the death.

Empress Adele has launched a grand crusade against the vampire clans of the north. Prince Gareth, the vampire lord of Scotland, serves the Equatorian cause, fighting in the bloody trenches of France in his guise as the dashing Greyfriar. But the human armies are pinned down, battered by harsh weather and merciless attacks from vampire packs.

To even the odds, Adele unleashes the power of her geomancy, a fear- some weapon capable of slaughtering vampires in vast numbers. However, the power she expends threatens her own life even as she questions the morality of such a weapon.

As the war turns ever bloodier and Adele is threatened by betrayal, Gareth faces a terrible choice. Their only hope is a desperate strike against the lord of the vampire clans—Gareth's brother, Cesare. It is a gamble that could win the war or signal the final days of the Greyfriar.

The Vampire Empire trilogy rushes to a heart-wrenching conclusion of honor and love, hatred and vengeance, sacrifice and loss.

Completing a dark and brilliant trilogy, The Kingmakers beautifully balances the brutality of the war Equatoria wages against the vampires in the north with the warmth and tenderness emanating from the relationship between Adele and vampire prince Gareth. We are continuously subjected to the death and destruction claiming the front lines – the frailty of human bodies remarkably apparent as the claws and fangs of the vampire hordes easily rend flesh from bone – but just as we are reminded of our physical vulnerabilities, the Griffiths pull us out of the darkness with a display of mental fortitude and strength of will from Adele and those around her, keeping us hovering on a precipice between success and failure in the many battles facing our beloved protagonists.

The highlight of this series is the should-be impossible relationship between Adele and Gareth, their quiet moments together ones that hold us captivated as we revel in Gareth’s unexpected sense of humor and their clear love for one another. Gareth possesses a dry wit, bantering with Adele in a way that never fails to surprise us given the dark seriousness of his brethren, and delighting us with a laugh before the reality of their circumstances sobers us one again. Part of Gareth’s appeal has always been his unusual interest in everyday human activities, and in this last installment we get to see that inquisitiveness in all its glory as he attempts to make a suitable dinner for Adele and accompanies her to the opera. We’re never able to forget what Gareth truly is despite the differences in his personality, and it’s an equal pleasure to watch Gareth use his vampire abilities to come to the defense of Adele and the country she loves as it is to see him obliterate everything humanity thought it knew about vampires.

The Griffiths do a spectacular job of bringing Adele and Gareth’s story to an end in a way that satisfies without tying up every last thread into a perfect bow, allowing us the freedom to use our imaginations as to their future without overwhelming us with a vast expanse of uncertainty when we finish the last page. The battles with the various villains aren’t perhaps quite as epic as we might have anticipated given the build-up, the fight with Flay in particular over with unexpected speed given her fighting capabilities and her surprisingly human motivation to hurt Gareth as much as he’s hurt her. That said however, things toward the end are anything but easy for both Gareth and Adele, and we can’t help but grip the pages of the final chapters with such force our fingers tingle for long minutes afterward as the blood finally returns to them. Powerfully romantic, gritty, and compelling, the Vampire Empire series is a success on every level.

Rating: 4/5

More information on Clay, Susan, and the outstanding Vampire Empire trilogy can be found here:


Today kicks of the blog tour for The Kingmakers (ignore the starting date on the banner, it lies ;-), so be sure and check out Clay and Susan's blog for the full tour details and the list of participating blogs. As part of this promotional tour, the Griffiths are offering up an amazing giveaway including autographed copies of the entire Vampire Empire trilogy as well as a stunning steampunk-themed necklace:

How gorgeous is that? To enter, please just fill out the Rafflecopter form below. Good luck everyone!

a Rafflecopter giveaway