Monday, December 31, 2012

Review: The Dead and Buried

Kim Harrington
Paranormal Young Adult
304 pages
Scholastic Point
Available January 1st
Received from publisher for review

THE STORY (from Goodreads)
Jade loves the house she's just moved into with her family. She doesn't even mind being the new girl at the high school: It's a fresh start, and there's that one guy with the dreamy blue eyes. . . . But then things begin happening. Strange, otherworldly things. Jade's little brother claims to see a glimmering girl in his room. Jade's jewelry gets moved around, as if by an invisible hand. Kids at school whisper behind her back like they know something she doesn't.

Soon, Jade must face an impossible fact: that her perfect house is haunted. Haunted by a ghost who's seeking not just vengeance, but the truth. The ghost of a girl who ruled Jade's school — until her untimely death last year. It's up to Jade to put the pieces together before her own life is at stake. As Jade investigates the mystery, she discovers that her new friends in town have more than a few deep, dark secrets. But is one of them a murderer?

The Dead and Buried is a quick and entertaining read, one that’s just creepy enough to encourage daytime reading for those of us who are easily unnerved and just romantic enough to have a few breathy sighs escaping our lips as we flip the pages. While the murder mystery aspect is fairly easy to solve once we look past the abundance of very obvious and very motivated choices, ultimately the discovery of the culprit is not really the sole point of the story. Yes, we want to know who is responsible for Kayla’s death, but more interesting than a simple identity reveal is both Kayla’s presence in Jade’s new house as well as her absence in her circle of friends, a telling contrast that slowly rips the mask of perfection off a young woman to reveal the true face beneath.

Jade is a delightful depiction of normalcy; intelligent, compassionate, and honest but, within those desirable attributes, are shades of gray that make her feel utterly and appealing real. She’s clearly smart, however she’s susceptible to a touch of ego, often convincing herself that she's doing the right thing and has absolutely no other choice but to follow the path she’s on when, if she just took a few moments to look past herself and put a little trust in someone else, she would clearly see a fork in her road. Though we sometimes want to shake our heads at her, she’s often quick to remedy the minor mistakes she makes, allowing us to easily forgive them knowing how easy it is to get caught up in a moment and then think better of a decision after the fact.

The romance is sweet, present enough to satisfy our desire for a little warmth to battle the bitter cold of Kayla’s spectral presence and the truth of her cruelty without overwhelming the other aspects of the story. There are two boys vying for Jade’s affection, however, Jade’s clear preference for one and her utter lack of romantic interest in the other prevents the Jade, Kane, and Donovan dynamic from wedging itself into a tidy triangle shape. Donovan is the clear choice from almost the beginning, and despite a bit of inadvertent game playing with Kane that’s a touch bothersome as Jade tries to integrate herself into Kayla’s circle of friends in order to do a bit of amateur sleuthing, the time spent with Jade leaves a lingering smile on our faces.

Ms. Harrington never fails to entertain with her stories, and The Dead and Buried is yet another strong addition to her resume. Her characters are likable and easy to relate to, radiating a sense of ordinariness despite the extraordinary situations they often find themselves in, and we can’t help but look forward to whatever she’ll write next knowing a new set of fun characters and an engrossing story will surely be waiting for us.

Rating: 4/5

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Creativity Contest: Asunder

Hey Everyone!

I hope you are all having a fantastic holiday season thus far! I just wanted to put up a quick post today to share with you my entries for a creativity contest hosted by Bailey at IB Book Blogging and Jodi Meadows to win and ARC of ASUNDER, the second book in the Incarnate series. These lovely ladies are calling it a creativity contest as the entries do not have to be limited to cover design, but rather can include any type of fan art, poems, playlists, and well, anything generally creative. As I didn't want to scar any of you for life by subjecting you to my sad attempts at poetry, I decided to stick with cover design ;-) Below are my two entries!



The original covers for both INCARNATE and ASUNDER are absolutely stunning and would be nearly impossible to compete with, so instead of trying to find stock photos that might have given me a comparable look, I decided to go with an illustrated design featuring the same butterfly theme for something a little different. I'm pretty pleased with both, but at the moment I'm favoring the second design:)

Friday, December 28, 2012

Review: Foretold

Demon Trappers #4
Jana Oliver
Paranormal Young Adult
352 pages
St. Martin's Griffin
Available Now
Received from publisher for review

THE STORY (from Goodreads)
Now that Riley’s managed to (just barely) fend off Armageddon, everything’s changed. Well . . . most things. After their passionate kiss before the big battle in the cemetery, Beck is back to treating her like a little girl, as if nothing ever happened. While she’d love to just tell him off and move on, Riley vowed to take care of Beck the way he’s taken care of her since her father’s death—but she’s about to get a whole lot more than she bargained for. When she’s commissioned to go with Beck to his hometown and help him care for his dying mother, they stumble too close to a dark and murderous secret, one that Beck fears will drive Riley away from him forever. As chaos breaks loose, Riley may be Beck's only hope for redemption . . . and survival.

Meanwhile, up in Atlanta, it’s quickly becoming clear that Heaven may have won a battle, but the war is far from over. Riley and Beck face a stormy future, as Lucifer's ex-right-hand-man, Sartael, proves himself to be more resilient than anyone thought. He has Atlanta in his grip and is about to begin a brutal war with the prince of Hell. As the seconds tick down toward a final confrontation, it's up to Riley and the man she loves to finally defeat their old enemy, or lose everything they've fought for.

Foretold brings Riley’s journey full circle; what she finds within herself and in her feelings for Beck finally beginning to eclipse what she’s so brutally lost along the way, wrapping this series up in beautifully satisfying fashion. This final installment is essentially separated into two parts, the first half uncovering Beck’s dark and troubled past while the second half focuses on angelic politics as one of the Fallen finally makes his play for the throne of Hell, but Ms. Oliver skillfully ties the two separate threads together through Riley and Beck’s personal relationship, thereby ensuring we’re given a cohesive and thoroughly addictive story.

The first half of this tale is a true joy to read even as the pain in Beck’s past tugs at our heartstrings, granting us the glimpses of what’s molded the man we’ve come to love into the man he is; something we’ve longed for from the moment we met him and knew his attitude toward Riley was a defense mechanism protecting a vulnerable soul. It’s our time with him in small-town Georgia where memories are long and grudges run deep that allows us fully understand the fear that so often drives Beck’s reactions to Riley, a revelation that adds a stunning depth to their relationship in the second half of the book and makes us reevaluate their every interaction up until that point.

Perhaps the most gratifying aspect of this final installment is the continued growth of both Beck and Riley, the giant steps forward they made in Forgiven only lengthening in stride in Foretold, the channels of communication something both give much needed time and attention to opening. While Riley and Beck both have secrets from the other, they don’t keep them hidden for long, sparing us the drawn-out tension and inevitable drama when all is revealed and instead opting to put their trust – a truly momentous gesture for each of them – in the other’s hands in the hope their problems will find a long-awaited champion ready to tackle whatever is laid at their feet. Finally, we see the two of them together as a team; inseparable and fortified by honesty, love, and respect, and standing strong hand in hand even as Atlanta faces her darkest night yet.

Foretold is nothing short of a stunning conclusion to the Demon Trapper series, touching on every wish we have for Riley and Beck and seeing that they come true in the gritty, fiery, and thrilling style we’ve come to expect from these books. Fans of this series will absolutely want to cancel any plans for their day when they decide to crack Foretold’s spine, as there is no putting it down once Riley and Beck have them back in their clutches.

Rating: 4.5/5

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Review: Rise

Nightshade Prequel #2
Andrea Cremer
Paranormal Young Adult
432 pages
Available January 8th
Received from publisher for review

THE STORY (from Goodreads)
Everything Conatus stands for is at risk. Hoping to gather enough resistance to save their order, Ember and Barrow attempt a desperate escape. But fate offers little mercy. When their mission is exposed, the  couple face relentless pursuit by the supernatural horrors that act on the commands of Eira’s ally: the mysterious Bosque Mar. A shocking revelation forces Ember out of hiding, sending her back into the heart of dark magic at Tearmunn keep, where she must convince her old friend Alistair of her love or face dire consequences. Ember’s deception offers the only chance for the resistance to succeed, but what she discovers in the shadows beneath the keep will shatter her world and bring about the Witches’ War.

Rise wastes little time returning us to the dark changes taking place in Ember’s world, the promise of answers as to how the wolves of the Nightshade series came to be teasing us until our curiosity ensures we turn the pages with record speed. While the Nightshade world was intriguing (though I confess to only having read the first book), there’s something even more appealing about both prequels; perhaps the fact that we’re starting at the very beginning–the moments just before and the moments of creation–of the wolves that satisfies our inquisitive minds more fully and completely, giving us intimate knowledge that can only enhance Calla’s story should we read the books in chronological order rather than order of release.

Though we switch back and forth between multiple storylines, we spend most of our time with young Ember, a woman we admired immediately in Rift for her desire to step outside what’s deemed “appropriate” for women of her station and embrace a more challenging destiny. She both maintains and strengthens our admiration in this second installment, her desire to fight and protect tempered by her affection for Barrow to make her into a beautiful blend of appealing characteristics. She’s strong without being reckless, thoughtful without living too much in her own head, and in love without all the drama and fanfare, and we know with certainty that she’ll make choices that, though difficult, are ones that are best for all and not simply herself or Barrow.

While there’s no true love triangle in Rise, Ms. Cremer does a spectacular job of depicting Ember’s troubled relationship with childhood best friend Alistair–their every interaction thick with layers of truth and deceit stemming from years of history–and we can’t help but be drawn into their painful web, held in place as a captive audience to their hurt. Even as we despair of the man Alistair is becoming, we cling to the last few remaining vestiges of hope we have that he’ll shake loose from Bosque Mar’s influence and return to the teasing friend and treasured confidante he once was, but each page challenges our stubborn hold on hope, and we look toward the next book with a touch of dread, wondering what fate has in store for him.

Overall, Rise suffers from very few of the pitfalls that plague many a sequel, answering as many questions as it raises and giving us our first glimpse at the intricate and terrifying transformative process for the wolves, something the part of us that constantly asks “how” and “why” is extraordinarily grateful for. Ember’s story is one that can’t be put to page quickly enough, and I will certainly be counting down the days until the next leg of her journey is in my hands.

Rating: 4/5

Monday, December 24, 2012

Review: Prophecy

The Dragon King Chronicles #1
Ellen Oh
Young Adult/Fantasy
312 pages
Available January 2nd
Received from publisher for review

THE STORY (from Goodreads)
Kira’s the only female in the king’s army, and the prince’s bodyguard. She’s a demon slayer and an outcast, hated by nearly everyone in her home city of Hansong. And, she’s their only hope...

Murdered kings and discovered traitors point to a demon invasion, sending Kira on the run with the young prince. He may be the savior predicted in the Dragon King Prophecy, but the missing treasure of myth may be the true key. With only the guidance of the cryptic prophecy, Kira must battle demon soldiers, evil shaman, and the Demon Lord himself to find what was once lost and raise a prince into a king.

Intrigue and mystery, ancient lore and action-packed fantasy come together in this heart-stopping first book in a trilogy.

Showing a great deal of promise before the spine is even cracked, Prophecy has us highly anticipating an adrenaline-fueled story led by a strong but ostracized young heroine, desperately hoping the pages deliver on what the blurb so beautifully teases. Unfortunately the potential Prophecy is never entirely realized, giving us characters who don’t quite make the transition from black and white words to larger-than-life color images, leaving us on the outside looking in rather than in the middle of the action with our hearts on our sleeves, vulnerable to any who wish to inflict serious emotional wounds. Prophecy is read quickly and easily, but for those who seek out complexity and thrive on uncovering layer after layer of their beloved characters, the experience may be a touch underwhelming.

Kira is everything the synopsis promises she’ll be–an extraordinary young woman verbally chastised and openly mocked day in and day out for her fighting prowess and lack of feminine traits, and while she earns our sympathy and admiration from the first page, it doesn’t quite lead to the connection we so desire. There are a handful of opportunities with Kira for Ms. Oh to slice open our skin and slide our young warrior underneath; numerous threads existing that we can’t help but want to tug just to see her unravel, thereby exposing us to a beauty and vulnerability we know is there but simply can’t reach. Instead, our hands ghost over perfectly smooth fabric, and while we’re told there are snags and imperfections present, we’re never given the opportunity to discover them in a tactile, memorable way.

Despite our driving need to get more to the heart of Kira and our subsequent frustration when we’re unable to do so, she is a likable character with some serious fighting skills, making her journey one that’s entertaining even if it leaves us wanting a bit more. The character interactions and dialogue can at times read a little young, making this fantasy adventure perhaps better suited to a younger YA crowd or even middle grade readers who are not looking for as much depth in their character development as some of us older readers are.

Rating: 3/5


Friday, December 21, 2012

Review: The Infernal Devices Manga #1

The Infernal Devices Manga #1
Cassandra Clare
Artwork: HyeKyung Baek
240 pages
Yen Press
Available Now
Received from publisher for review

THE STORY (from Goodreads)
A manga-adaption to the prequel of Cassandra Clare's Mortal Instruments series, The Infernal Devices is the story of Tessa Gray, a sixteen-year-old American girl traveling alone to Victorian London who runs afoul of the city's sordid supernatural underworld. Rescued by the Shadowhunters of the London Institute, Tessa quickly finds herself caught up in an intrigue that may very well destroy her new friends - including the two enigmatic young men, Jem and Will, who have taken her under their wing...

This review is going to be a small departure from my typical reviews as The Infernal Devices: Clockwork Angel is my first foray into manga, and the experience was such an intriguingly distinctive one from simply reading black and white text on a page that it seemed necessary to present my thoughts in a slightly different way. First and foremost, it took a bit of time for me to settle into a format where what is drawn is every bit as important and carries as much weight as what is actually written, the expressions on the faces of Will, Jem and Tessa communicating the emotional element of the story and proving the old adage of pictures being worth a thousand words to be in many ways true.

The artwork by Hyekyung Baek is beautiful, the exaggerated size of the eyes often drawing my gaze and holding it captive, my mind churning out possibility after possibility of all that’s being said through their expressiveness that’s not actually written in the dialog box next to them. My one wish for the illustrations is with regard to Will (pictured on the cover), I’d hoped his trademark sarcasm and wit might play out a little more in the features of his face – the lift of a sardonic brow here or a smirk there in the delivery of his infamous one-liners – but to my slight disappointment his face remained rather stoic throughout aside from the aforementioned ocular embellishment.

I had worried going into this graphic novel that it would be difficult to keep track of who was talking given the facial features of the characters themselves are fairly similar across the board – large eyes, small pixie noses, and an abundance of hair on their heads – but I quickly found there to be little issue in this department, each individual easily distinguishable and recognizable throughout. The only confusion for me came during action sequences, many times the telltale sound effects like “thwack”, “swoosh” and “bam” not providing all that much clarity as to what exactly was taking place. Was someone being punched? Is something on fire? Did someone just die? Without any specific descriptions, the fight scenes often left me blinking, struggling to remember the details of the novel itself to help guide me through.

Though I prefer the character depth and intimacy created in the novel to the more superficial relaying of key events in the manga, it was still a joy to read and certainly a new and entertaining way to spend time in an utterly fascinating world. I certainly look forward to continuing with this series, as there’s something mesmerizing about seeing beloved characters presented in another dimension – their illustrated faces as much fun to study as Cassandra Clare’s words are to imagine.

Rating: 4/5

*It should be noted that I have absolutely no basis for comparison with this rating as this is my first manga, so I went with a 4/5 strictly based on entertainment value alone:)

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Review: Paper Valentine

Brenna Yovanoff
Paranormal-ish Young Adult
368 pages
Available January 8th
Received from publisher for review

THE STORY (from Goodreads)
The city of Ludlow is gripped by the hottest July on record. The asphalt is melting, the birds are dying, petty crime is on the rise, and someone in Hannah Wagnor’s peaceful suburban community is killing girls.

For Hannah, the summer is a complicated one. Her best friend Lillian died six months ago, and Hannah just wants her life to go back to normal. But how can things be normal when Lillian’s ghost is haunting her bedroom, pushing her to investigate the mysterious string of murders? Hannah’s just trying to understand why her friend self-destructed, and where she fits now that Lillian isn’t there to save her a place among the social elite. And she must stop thinking about Finny Boone, the big, enigmatic delinquent whose main hobbies seem to include petty larceny and surprising acts of kindness.

With the entire city in a panic, Hannah soon finds herself drawn into a world of ghost girls and horrifying secrets. She realizes that only by confronting the Valentine Killer will she be able move on with her life—and it’s up to her to put together the pieces before he strikes again.

Paper Valentine is a story that from the synopsis sounds like it's going to be a creepy little murder mystery, and though a serial killer does leave his mark on the pages, what we find is a more character-driven story than initially expected. It bears mentioning however that Ms. Yovanoff's approach to strong characterization is slightly different in nature –  rather than taking a chisel in hand and shaping Hannah and Finny from her mind's eye for us she instead gives us a solid block of marble and a rough sketch for reference, and then turns the tools over to us. We're able to see what she's started, with hints of who these characters are placed carefully and with purpose, but ultimately we're given the opportunity to read into everything that's left unsaid, drawing our own conclusions and ultimately having a hand in the crafting of our relationship with them.

Hannah is not a young woman we know all that well by the end of the story, but what we do know of her is intimate and poignant, and in the end, far more perfect than an in-depth character study would have been in this case. In the beginning Hannah is lacking in substance and transparent to our eyes, not because substance isn't there, but rather because we haven't yet been granted access to it. Slowly over the course of the story we learn about Hannah as she learns about herself, the focus of the story more on the person she was when best friend Lillian was alive versus the person she is now after her death, and we both struggle to determine if there is truly a difference between the two or if the real Hannah has been present all along.

Hannah's relationship with Finny is a bit like watching one of those shows on the Discovery Channel about how something is made, knowing that if we just watch closely enough, we'll walk away from this story a bit richer, privileged to have been exposed to something fascinating. Superficially, Finny and Hannah's romance seems extraordinarily quiet and a bit slow, their time together categorized by long silences not a result of sexual tension, but rather because neither quite has a firm grasp on who they are as individuals given they've both been defined by people and factors outside themselves for so long, and before they can fully relate to someone else, they must first figure out how to relate to themselves. Despite the fact that not much is said between them, they communicate beautifully, using the moments in between words to say what the other most needs to hear.

Overall, Paper Valentine is a bit of an unexpected read; those looking for a murder mystery could easily breeze through this book and find a satisfying if not completely unique story, but they would be missing out on what elevates this book from typical to special. This is a story where part of the experience is analyzing all that's not printed on the pages, spending long minutes after reading thinking over every action and thought to see what other meanings we can decipher when we look at the negative space instead of the positive.

Rating: 4/5

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Review + Giveaway: The Scourge

The Scourge #1
A.G. Henley
Paranormal Young Adult/Dystopian-ish
242 pages
Available now
Received courtesy of Kismet Book Touring for review

THE STORY (From Goodreads)
Seventeen-year-old Groundling, Fennel, is Sightless. She's never been able to see her lush forest home, but she knows its secrets. She knows how the shadows shift when she passes under a canopy of trees. She knows how to hide in the cool, damp caves when the Scourge comes. She knows how devious and arrogant the Groundlings' tree-dwelling neighbors, the Lofties, can be.

And she's always known this day would come—the day she faces the Scourge alone.

The Sightless, like Fenn, are mysteriously protected from the Scourge, the gruesome creatures roaming the forests, reeking of festering flesh and consuming anything—and anyone—living. A Sightless Groundling must brave the Scourge and bring fresh water to the people of the forest. Today, that task becomes Fenn's.

Fenn will have a Lofty Keeper, Peree, as her companion. Everyone knows the Lofties wouldn’t hesitate to shoot an arrow through the back of an unsuspecting Groundling like Fenn, but Peree seems different. A boy with warm, rough hands who smells like summer, he is surprisingly kind and thoughtful. Although Fenn knows his people are treacherous, she finds herself wanting to trust him.

As their forest community teeters on the brink of war, Fenn and Peree must learn to work together to survive the Scourge and ensure their people’s survival. But when Fenn uncovers a secret that shatters her truths, she’s forced to decide who and what to protect—her people, her growing love for Peree, or the elusive dream of lasting peace in the forest.

A book without much hype to prepare us in terms of expectations, The Scourge surprises us as we turn the first page of what is essentially a blank canvas, our opinion completely uncolored by outside influence and our minds wide open as we wonder just what's in store for us. What we find waiting is a hugely engaging story with a fascinating world and well-developed characters, the type who are an extraordinary balance of strength and vulnerability, fighting conflicts both internal and external and encouraging us to pick up their war cry and battle right beside them. Before we even realize it, the hands of the nearest clock are suddenly in a drastically different place than when last we checked them, and we can only shake our heads in delighted shock at how quickly time has passed since everything The Scourge has to offer utterly consumed us.

Fennel is an exceptional young woman, completely sightless in a dangerous world, but yet she, of all the people in their village, is the most equipped for survival. It seems the Scourge–zombie-like creatures who roam the woods around her home and are known to brutally attack and devour whatever’s in their path–don’t harm those who can’t see them, allowing Fennel to venture out for water while the rest of her village retreats to the safety of caves until the Scourge leaves the area once again. Her fear when she’s faced with the putrid smell and terrifying moans escaping the rotting corpses who shuffle along beside her as she gets water is palpable, but she never lets it overwhelm her, finding strength with the assistance of Peree to single-handedly ensure the survival of everyone in the village.

The romance between Fennel and Peree is beautifully executed, the inherent distrust between Fennel’s people, the Groundlings, and Peree’s people, the Lofties, something that takes a while for our two young protagonists to wade through, and we as readers are beyond grateful for the slow progression. Each small step forward in their relationship is a subtle change we’re given time to fully absorb and appreciate, their forced partnership slowly evolving into desired companionship, tentative attraction, and then finally admitted affection, a step that sets the butterflies in our bellies to fluttering at an unprecedented speed.

The only minor complaint with this story is a lack of clarity at times in terms of the world building. We’re not given much information as to how this post-apocalyptic world came to be, or how the Scourge themselves became sick initially, but luckily for us, the journey Peree and Fennel embark on so thoroughly captivates and entertains us with what we do know that it’s difficult to fixate on what we don’t. This first installment concludes nicely, leaving us at a logical stopping place even though all of our questions are far from answered, and we put it down infinitely satisfied despite some of our lingering curiosities with regard to world and its parameters.

Rating: 4/5 


A huge thank you to Kismet Book Touring and A.G. Henley for offering up the absolutely fantastic giveaway going on throughout this tour! To enter, please just fill out the Rafflecopter form below. Good luck everyone!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Guest Post: James Lyon + Kiss of the Butterfly

Today I'm excited to share the blog with author James Lyon so he can tell us a little bit about his novel Kiss of the Butterfly and the vampire mythology found in it. I should mention that it's possible he regrets shooting me his initial email as it led to the creation of a guest post topic I'm sure he never expected to actually have to write about. I find this highly amusing :-) I have to applaud James for being a good sport and tackling his topic with enthusiasm, and I hope you all enjoy the result!


Have you ever said something kinda dumb, and then afterwards kicked yourself in the seat of the pants and asked: “why on earth did I say that?” Well, when Jenny and I were corresponding about this post and my new book Kiss of the Butterfly, I did exactly that. Below is the email exchange that took place:

Jenny: “I read in your previous email that this book deviates from popular vampire legend, and one thing I love about vampire stories is how authors create their own mythology, so maybe something along those lines?”

James: “Your comments about each author constructing his/her own vampire is spot-on… I based all my descriptions of vampires on local Balkan folklore, which gives an altogether different vampire than many are accustomed to… since they don't sparkle, I'll have to teach them to tap-dance or something else.” :-))

Jenny: “Hahaha tap-dancing vampires sound brilliant, can't wait” ;-)

Oh boy. Me and my big mouth. Since I personally know of no tap-dancing vampires, I had to find one. Well, I began the hunt, high and low, far and wide, near and far, Google, Yahoo, Bing, Safari, Chrome, everything!! The pickings were slim.

Buffy the Vampire-Slayer had a demon named Sweet, who tap-danced, but he wasn’t a vampire. The cast of Twilight took tap-dancing lessons prior to shooting the sequel New Moon, but can anyone recall tap-dancing scenes in it? A Goth girl posted a video of herself tap-dancing in the driveway in front of her house in full sunlight on youtube, dressed in her interpretation of a vampire, forgetting that daylight might be unhealthy for the undead. And a High School student posted a sketch of tap-dancing vampires she drew in art class, but never finished, because she spilled nail polish on it. And that was it.

No tap-dancing vampires… couldn’t find any. So I thought I’d hold open auditions on Halloween for any trick-or-treaters dressed as vampires, but since I currently live outside the US in a country where they don’t have Halloween, there were no trick-or-treaters. Instead, all the Catholics celebrated All Saints Eve by going to the graveyards in the evening and lighting candles, while the Orthodox Christians and Muslims didn’t celebrate it at all. All those lit-up graveyards made for a spooky sight, but didn’t help me in my quest for the elusive tap-dancing vampire.

And then I figured out why there are no tap-dancing vampires. You’ll find my answer at the end of this post.

But first, let me share with some tidbits about the vampires in my universe. Vampire legends originated in the Balkans over a thousand years ago, and there are written records of them dating back to as far as 1347. Even today many people believe they exist. Just this year, a man was arrested in Serbia for digging up a neighbor’s coffin and driving a stake through his heart, because he was convinced his neighbor had become a vampire and was haunting the village.

So I decided to go back to the roots of the vampire legend and write about the creatures that existed in the millennia-old folk tales from Montenegro, Serbia, Bosnia, Croatia, and Macedonia. This meant I read lots of dusty old books in exotic languages, and spoke with people in small villages and observed them practice customs designed to ward off vampires. And the vampires I discovered
were altogether different from today’s pop culture vampires, and bore only a faint resemblance to Bram Stoker’s Dracula.

I discovered why they place coins on the eyes of a dead person, why you shouldn’t hang around watermills after dark, why you must not let an animal pass over or under the body of a dead person awaiting burial, why a simple stake isn’t enough, why butterflies cluster on Hawthorn trees and freshly dug graves, and why your new neighbor might not be who you think he is, especially if he is a butcher, cutlery or cookware salesman. I also gained an appreciation for the taste of garlic, and am waiting for the genius to be born who will invent garlic-flavored chocolate bars.

Spoiler alert for Twilight fans: in Kiss of the Butterfly and Balkan folklore, a conflict between vampires and werewolves is impossible.

Now that you’ve come this far, are you ready for my solution as to why there are no tap-dancing vampires?

Well, of course, they’ve all switched to Gangnam Style!!!

A huge thank you to James for making the most of the hand I dealt him and for his extensive search for the legendary tap-dancing vampire;-) More information on James and his books can be found here:

Amazon Buy Link
Amazon UK Buy Link


"I sense it even now. People thirst for it; the entire country is mad with desire for it. And now we are going to war with our brothers because they look like us, and because we can smell our blood coursing through their veins...” 

A dying man’s cryptic letter to an enigmatic professor launches grad student Steven Roberts on an unwitting quest, shrouded in mystery, into the war-torn labyrinth of a disintegrating Eastern European country. Steven plunges into the maelstrom to unearth long-forgotten documents holding clues to an ancient Emperor’s deeply buried secret, an inconceivable and long-forgotten evil that has slumbered for centuries. Steven’s perilous journey stretches from Southern California’s sunny beaches, to the exotically dystopian city-scapes of Budapest, Belgrade, and Bosnia, as it plays out against a backdrop of events that occurred centuries before in the Balkans.

Meticulously researched and set against the background of collapsing Yugoslavia, “Kiss of the Butterfly” weaves Balkan folklore together with intricate historical threads from the 15th, 18th and 20th centuries to create a rich phantasmagorical tapestry of allegory and reality. It is about passion and betrayal, obsession and desire, the thirst for life and the hunger for death. And vampires – which have formed an integral part of Balkan folklore for over a thousand years – are portrayed in their original folkloric form, which differs dramatically from today’s pop culture creations.

“Kiss of the Butterfly” is based on true historical events. In the year of his death, 1476, the Prince of Wallachia -- Vlad III (Dracula) -- committed atrocities under the cloak of medieval Bosnia’s forested mountains, culminating in a bloody massacre in the mining town of Srebrenica. A little over 500 years later, in July 1995, history repeated itself in Srebrenica, when nearly 8,000 people were killed, making it the worst massacre Europe had seen since the Second World War. For most people, the two events seemed unconnected... 

Monday, December 17, 2012

Review: Crimson Frost

Mythos Academy #4
Jennifer Estep
Paranormal Young Adult
384 pages
Kensington Teen
Available December 24th
Received from author for review

THE STORY (from Goodreads)
For a moment, a face flashed before my eyes—the most hideous face I’d ever seen. No matter how hard I tried to forget what had happened, I saw him everywhere I went. It was Loki—the evil god that I’d helped set free against my will.

I should have known that my first official date with Logan Quinn was destined to end in disaster. If we’d gotten into a swordfight, or been ambushed by Reapers, I’d have been more prepared. But getting arrested mid-sip at the local coffee hangout? I didn’t see that one coming.

I’ve been accused of purposely helping the Reapers free Loki from his prison—and the person leading the charge against me is Linus Quinn, Logan’s dad. The worst part is that pretty much everyone at Mythos Academy thinks I’m guilty. If I’m going to get out of this mess alive, I’ll have to do it myself…

As with all the books that have come before it, Crimson Frost beautifully combines an action-packed plot with a strong emotional thread; love, hate, passion, and fear all intricately woven through the battles and the blood to give us story that acts as a perfectly balanced and honed blade – able to inflict wounds easily even as we see hope through the haze of pain. This fourth installment is the most intense yet on both physical and emotional levels, the repercussions of Loki's release at the end of the last book detailed in all their infuriating glory as Gwen bears the full weight of the backlash on her young shoulders. Our love for her and our desire to protect her has never been stronger than it is in Crimson Frost, tears threatening to spill from our eyes at what Gwen has to endure as a result of the label of traitor she's mistakenly assigned, but even as our hearts feel heavy in our chests throughout, Ms. Estep always provides us with moments of relief just when we need them most.

The Gwen Frost of this book is a far cry from the Gwen Frost of the first book even though not all that much time has passed since we first met her, the self-imposed isolation and hesitancy to fully embrace the mythological world almost entirely gone, and a determination and will to succeed however dire the circumstances have taken their place. Part of Gwen's appeal is in her lack of fighting prowess, her ordinary human strength something familiar and comforting amidst the Spartans and Valkyries even as her psychometry magic sets her apart, and we can't help but want to root for her all the more when she stumbles in battle and often emerges the loser rather than the victor. Despite the fact that she's often defeated in hand to hand combat, she never once gives up, sulks, or whines that she's just not good enough, instead she picks up talking sword Vic, lets his blood-thirsty pre-battle talk rile her up, and jumps into the fray to protect those she loves.

Gwen's romance with Spartan Logan Quinn has always been a prominent element in these books–but never an overwhelming one–teasing us with the palpable tension between them without allowing their relationship to become the sole focus of the story. In this installment, their relationship is a bit more in the background than it has been in books past, but though the fight with Loki takes precedence, Ms. Estep never lets their affection fade completely into the shadows of the Reapers, always subtly reminding us of their growing feelings for one another. Once we reach the concluding chapters however, Gwen and Logan's relationship is painfully thrust into the spotlight, and we're left with hearts raw and bruised after a rather sound trampling, hoping and wishing the release date for book five could be moved up by several months to ease the suffering caused by waiting.

Overall, Crimson Frost is the best book of the series yet, challenging the characters and us as readers at every turn, and showing us just how difficult life at Mythos Academy can really be. While much of Gwen's story is dark, humor keeps that darkness from enshrouding us completely, Vic's antics and constant boasts of how brilliant a fighter he would be if Gwen would just point him at a Reaper and let him have at it putting a smile on our faces and lightening the burden Gwen carries with such grace. This series continues to get better as it goes, with each book released only further solidifying Ms. Estep's place on my list of favorite authors.

Rating: 4.5/5

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Omnific Publishing Kindle Giveaway

I just wanted to do a quick post today to share with you an amazing giveaway happening right now courtesy of Omnific Publishing. They currently have three Kindles chock-full of all sorts of fabulous titles up for grabs. I can't even fully express in words the love I have for my Kindle, it's quite possibly my favorite thing ever. All I have to do is push a button and POOF a book (or 12) is magically mine. WIN.

The team at Omnific is better able to summarize the giveaway than I am, so I'll give it to you straight from their mouths:

Omnific Publishing is celebrating the Season of Giving by giving away THREE KINDLES loaded with hot, sweet, rule-breaking romance! Each day will feature a new holiday themed post by Omnific authors. Come back every day to get extra entries!

To enter, just Spread The Love! The Rafflecopter is set up to give entries each time you share about the contest, and each time you share a new post. As an added incentive, most of the posts are sexy and sweet and may just have some hot pictures of cute boys in their holiday best...or out of it ;)

For example, meet the boys from Nicki Elson's Three Daves:

Each day on the Omnific blog, there will be a NEW holiday themed post by your favorite authors & each day is a chance to win a KINDLE stuffed with either YA, Paranormal, or Contemporary Romance. Contest runs from now until December 21st.

Check it out:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Romance: Fiction vs. Reality

It's not very often on this blog that I do a post more personal in nature, but I know I like it when the blogs I love and visit frequently post a little something that gives me a small peek into their world outside of books and blogging, so I thought I might give it a whirl. Mostly this came about as a result of something I saw on Twitter last week; something that, put simply, spoke to me. That sounds a little lame, I know, but when I saw the image I'm about to share with you I knew I had to write about how perfectly it represents my life. And if you can't share these types of profound moments with the entirety of the internet, who can you share them with, you know?

Confession: I love romance. I do. I actively seek out all genres of romance, from contemporary to paranormal, young adult to adult, historical to steampunk. If the book has some sort of sexy, charismatic, funny, sweet, and a-whole-slew-of-other-adjectives hero, I want to read about him. I have an entire list of fictional boyfriends I often tell my husband I would leave him for if they were real (he oh-so kindly takes such statements with a heavy dose of skepticism), and I love nothing more than falling in love with these boys over and over again.

What does this have to do with my moment you ask? The one that made me sit back and go "this is my life in a nutshell" and find a sense of deep peace seeing my exact world put into beautiful, expressive words? Well, here's what led me to that special place people:

THIS. It's like this card was written specifically for me. I saw it, nearly wet myself laughing at its accurate depiction of my day to day life, and then decided it had to be shared, complete with a few snippets of conversation between me and Kevin as supporting evidence that sometimes, just sometimes, the romance of fiction and that of reality can be so very far apart.

Nothing amuses me more than being so deeply involved in the romance between two characters that I feel compelled to share the fictional love with my husband, and then take it one step further by questioning him as to why our real love isn't nearly as dramatic or epic as the one about which I'm reading. This is usually what happens:

(For those of you who have not read the Black Dagger Brotherhood series by J.R. Ward, this conversation might not make much sense. Basically, when the Brothers find the person they want to spend the rest of their lives with, they give off a scent of dark spices - a vampire bonding scent that essentially tells everyone around them who the person responsible for inciting that reaction in them belongs to. It sounds weird out of context of the books, but it just works when you're in their world.)

ME: Kevin?

KEVIN: Yeah.

ME: How come when you're near me you don't emit a scent of dark spices?

KEVIN: What?

ME: When you look at me or are in close proximity to me, how come that doesn't trigger any sort of bonding scent from you?

KEVIN: What the hell are you reading?

ME: Nothing you need to concern yourself with.

KEVIN: Clearly I do given you just asked me why my body doesn't leak a weird spice smell upon seeing you.

ME: I'm just saying maybe there's something physically wrong with you that that's not happening.

KEVIN: I think it's more likely there's something wrong with you mentally that you think it should.

ME: I'm almost positive that's not the case. Bonding scents are sexy! You should have one.

KEVIN: I think I'm done talking about this.

ME: Fine. But if you were a Brother, you'd have a bonding scent. And also, you'd tattoo my full name in monstrously large letters across your shoulders so everyone could see the depth of your love for me in ink.

KEVIN: Jesus.

These types of conversations happen fairly often and usually deteriorate rather quickly because Kevin just can't grasp what real love is supposed to be like ;-) I try to share my expertise in this area given my extensive studying of the subject matter, but he, for some inexplicable reason, does not find my knowledge useful.

I was doing a reread of the Fever series by Karen Marie Moning when a new question for Kevin popped in my head. I'd just read the following line:

"One day you may kiss a man you can't breathe without, and find breath is of little consequence" - Jericho Barrons

ME: Kevin?

KEVIN: Yeah.

ME: Do you love me so much you find it difficult to breathe without me?

KEVIN: I don't even want to know what you're reading to make you ask me that.

ME: This is me opening the door wide for you to say something exceedingly romantic about how much I mean to you. Now you just need to walk through it.

KEVIN: How very considerate of you to open that door for me.

ME: I know. Please dazzle me with a statement brimming with so much love that it reminds me in glorious detail of all the reasons I married you.

KEVIN: Right. I do of course love you, however, I've discovered I'm capable of breathing all day at work when you're not present. I'm kind of amazing like that.

ME: You're also a bit of an a-hole. Compliment fail.

I have to admit the lack of constant drama-filled, swoon-worthy romance in our reality is not the fault of Kevin alone. I may contribute a tiny, tiny bit ;-)

ME: Okay, I'm ready to go run errands.

KEVIN: Wait. Did you seriously just go upstairs and change from one pair of sweatpants to another?

ME: Uh, yeah. These are my "going out" sweatpants Kevin. I can't go out in my pajamas now can I? I want to look nice for you when we're out and about. Obviously.

KEVIN: I'm pretty sure you slept in that exact pair of sweatpants last week.

ME: Yes, I did. However, I've washed them since then and have not yet worn them to sleep this week, so they are now, officially, daytime sweatpants. The ones I just took off are nighttime sweatpants. Now that I'm in my daytime sweats and clearly looking my best, we can proceed with our daytime activities.

KEVIN: Jesus.

In all seriousness though, I'm a lucky woman. Kevin is extremely supportive of me, the business I run from home and this blog, and he makes me laugh on a daily basis. While there are no bonding scents or telling indicators of love like an inability to breathe when not in my presence (honestly Kevin!), I wouldn't trade him or my life for the world (well, maybe for Jericho Barrons ;-)

I figured I'd conclude this rather lengthy and rambling post with a few family pictures. Yes, there are WAY more pictures of our dogs than there are of us because Kevin and I almost never take any pictures together and our boys (Gatsby and Griffin) are our babies. We're behind-the-camera type of people and we're both good with that. Hence, the wedding photos below from 5 years ago. They're the only decent pictures I have of us together. It's both funny and pathetic really that we have so few pictures of us as a couple, but here's our little family:

Friday, December 14, 2012

Tempest Blog Tour: Character Interview with Jackson + Giveaway

I'm hugely excited today to be a part of the promotional tour for the paperback release of Tempest, a young adult time travel tale by Julie Cross. Protagonist Jackson has kindly agreed to sit down and answer a few questions for me about his relationship with Holly and his experiences traveling back in time. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and highly recommend it to those who enjoy a good time-bending story with a strong romance added in!

If you could jump back in time and experience one significant historical event, which one would you choose to be a part of?

I ask myself this question all the time and my answer changes almost daily. On one of my trips to Europe I was forced into a tour of a concentration camp…man that was depressing. But after that, I think I wouldn’t mind watching them tear the Berlin wall down. And there’s a few World Series games I’d love to see, but then again, if I already know the outcome, I don’t think it’d be much different to see it in person than to watch video footage. I’ve heard the Beatles used to perform at this dive bars in Germany before they became big and every concert broke out in a chair throw, all out bar brawl. I’d want to be hiding in a corner somewhere out of the line of fire, but it’d be cool to see one of those concerts. 

What would you say is the biggest difference between the Holly of 2007 and the Holly of 2009?

Honestly, 007 Holly makes me a little nervous. Not just because she’s always climbing things and flipping off of them, but because 009 Holly knew exactly what she wanted and why and I just keep thinking that maybe older Holly was sure of herself because of all the events that happen between 2007 and 2009. And what if I’m messing that up? I guess it’s just a lot of pressure with 007 Holly, being the one who knows more. I’m not used to that responsibility.

In the same vein, if Holly could time travel and was able to meet the Jackson of 2007, what might she say is the biggest difference between him and the one she loves in 2009?

First off, the 17 year old version of me would NOT have asked 009 Holly out. Not in a million years. She would have scared the crap out of me. All her talk about the future and what she wanted to do with her life…I’ve made some progress in two years, but even the 19 year old me struggled with idea of Holly being more than a summer fling. Just because I was too afraid to call us anything at first, that doesn’t mean I ever wanted to give her up. It’s complicated. Very complicated. And that’s proof that younger me, would have run away at the first sign of his attachment to this girl.

What’s your favorite time travel-related movie or book?

Back To The Future, hands down. The second movie is my favorite.

If you could travel back to just before Julie started putting you on paper and plant in her head one characteristic or facet of yourself that you wish she’d included in your story, what would it be?

Before Courtney died, before my life got all screwed up, my dad and I were really close. He even coached my Little League teams all the way through 8th grade. In middle school, I wasn’t really into girls yet or parties or drinking. I was all baseball and comic books and music. Courtney, on the other hand, was an angsty, whiny, typical 13 year old girl and I think hanging out with me, was a nice break from her girl drama for my dad. So, I guess it’d be nice to have that part of me back that looked at my dad as someone who always had the answer and always did the right thing. He was strict and old fashioned when it came to manners and responsibility, but he let me screw up and didn’t judge me. He and I are totally cool now, but we had a rough few years and I’d love to have him there for me in those years after Courtney died. But I get why he pulled away.

What year do you think Adam would most like to visit if he was able to accompany you on one of your time jumps?

The depths of Adam Silverman’s mind are honestly too great and mysterious for me to be able to answer this question.

Let’s say you suddenly have a glitch in your ability and you can only travel back to one specific moment with Holly. Which moment would you be content to relive again and again?

Is this blog PG only? Oh well…you asked so, I’ll answer. I’d easily go back to the first night we slept together but only if it includes the hours that followed. I’ve replayed all of it so many times I might not even need to do a time jump to feel like I’m there. Maybe that seems shallow or overly-hormonal but you know what? It really was pretty awesome. And even though I couldn’t say it at the time, I think that’s when I stopped falling in love with her and let myself start being in love with her.

Give us a one-word teaser that describes what you go through emotionally in Vortex.


Thanks so much for taking the time to answer my questions Jackson! This is the second-to-last stop on the tour, so be sure and check out the conclusion tomorrow at Through the Looking Glass! You can also view the full schedule to go back through all the fun guest posts, interviews, and giveaways over the course of the tour. More information on Julie and her books can be found here:

Amazon Buy Link


Thanks to Sara at Through the Looking Glass and Julie Cross, I have one signed paperback copy of Tempest to give away on the blog today! YAY! To enter please just fill out the Rafflecopter form below. This giveaway is open to US and Canadian residents only and will run through midnight EST on Monday, December 17th after which time a winner will be chosen and emailed. Good luck everyone!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


The year is 2009. Nineteen-year-old Jackson Meyer is a normal guy… he’s in college, has a girlfriend… and he can travel back through time. But it’s not like the movies – nothing changes in the present after his jumps, there’s no space-time continuum issues or broken flux capacitors – it’s just harmless fun.

That is… until the day strangers burst in on Jackson and his girlfriend, Holly, and during a struggle with Jackson, Holly is fatally shot. In his panic, Jackson jumps back two years to 2007, but this is not like his previous time jumps. Now he’s stuck in 2007 and can’t get back to the future.

Desperate to somehow return to 2009 to save Holly but unable to return to his rightful year, Jackson settles into 2007 and learns what he can about his abilities.

But it’s not long before the people who shot Holly in 2009 come looking for Jackson in the past, and these “Enemies of Time” will stop at nothing to recruit this powerful young time-traveler. Recruit… or kill him.

Piecing together the clues about his father, the Enemies of Time, and himself, Jackson must decide how far he’s willing to go to save Holly… and possibly the entire world.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Review: Tempest

Tempest #1
Julie Cross
Young Adult/Time Travel
352 pages
St. Martin's Press
Released in paperback this week!
Received from Through The Looking Glass for blog tour

THE STORY (from Goodreads)
The year is 2009.  Nineteen-year-old Jackson Meyer is a normal guy… he’s in college, has a girlfriend… and he can travel back through time. But it’s not like the movies – nothing changes in the present after his jumps, there’s no space-time continuum issues or broken flux capacitors – it’s just harmless fun.

That is… until the day strangers burst in on Jackson and his girlfriend, Holly, and during a struggle with Jackson, Holly is fatally shot. In his panic, Jackson jumps back two years to 2007, but this is not like his previous time jumps. Now he’s stuck in 2007 and can’t get back to the future.

Desperate to somehow return to 2009 to save Holly but unable to return to his rightful year, Jackson settles into 2007 and learns what he can about his abilities.

But it’s not long before the people who shot Holly in 2009 come looking for Jackson in the past, and these “Enemies of Time” will stop at nothing to recruit this powerful young time-traveler.  Recruit… or kill him.

Piecing together the clues about his father, the Enemies of Time, and himself, Jackson must decide how far he’s willing to go to save Holly… and possibly the entire world.

Tempest, like most time travel books, raises a series of fascinating philosophical questions; ones that start out fairly simple with various what-ifs, but the longer we think on them, the more complex they become until we’ve tangled ourselves in to a series of intriguing knots that keep us entertained for the duration of the story and long after. As fun, and sometimes mind-numbing, as pondering the ramifications of time travel can be, a perhaps more interesting aspect of Tempest is its focus on Jackson’s romance with Holly, as his return to the past alters his initial meeting with her and creates an entirely new path for their relationship to tread. It’s engrossing to watch as Jackson tries to charm a girl who’s already his two years in the future, and we can’t help but wonder how this change of events will affect them as a couple.

One of the more complex questions that arises from Jackson and Holly's unique situation is if love is in some ways circumstantial – are there such things as the right time and the right place to meet someone? Have certain events occurred in our lives to shape us into the people we are currently, thereby allowing us to fit snugly with someone else when we might not otherwise without those specific pieces in place? It’s made clear to us that the Holly of 2007 is a different young woman than the Holly of 2009, a spontaneity to this younger version that 009 Holly has traded in for a more reserved and careful demeanor, making her an almost entirely separate character from the girl we first meet. Thinking about Jackson’s struggle to adapt his feelings for the woman he knows intimately to the one that’s currently standing before him is something that keeps us up late at night, questioning our own lives and relationships and how they might have been if just one tiny event in our lives had turned out differently.

With many time travel stories, the sheer weight of possibility sits heavy on our shoulders, the aforementioned what-ifs at times requiring us to take a step away from the story to get our thoughts in order before we tackle the infinite complexity of defying time once again. Luckily for us with this tale, Ms. Cross manages to present the rules and parameters of her time travel world in rather simplistic fashion, not so simplistic as it feels dumbed-down or as though she’s speaking slowly to make sure we understand, but rather she gradually introduces us to the theories put forth by Jackson and friend Adam to give us ample time to absorb information before we move on to the next complication.

Overall, Tempest is a story that leaves a great deal of space in between the lines on the pages, providing us with plenty of room to make interpretations, question motives, and watch as the line between the good guys and bad guys blurs the harder we stare at it. We’re riveted from page one and never lose interest until we reach the last page, the conclusion of this first installment leaving our hearts full to bursting with questions and objections, even as we recognize the reasoning behind Jackson’s decisions. Only a month left until the release of Vortex, and it certainly cannot get in my hands quickly enough.

Rating: 4/5

*Be sure and check back tomorrow for a character interview with Jackson and a giveaway!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Deck The Halls With Heven and Hell: Guest Post + Giveaway with Cambria Hebert

Today I'm thrilled to be a stop on young adult author Cambria Hebert's Deck the Halls with Heven and Hell blog tour, a fabulous event that kicked off a few days ago and runs through this Friday. Each stop has a fun post from Cambria and a giveaway, so be sure and check out the full schedule and follow along for lots of book and swag goodies!

Cambria is doing all of us who wait until the last minute to do their holiday shopping a solid today by giving us a few tips on what to avoid buying for those special people in our lives. Thanks in advance Cambria ;-)

Hello Everyone!

I am so excited to be here today as part of the Deck the Halls with Heven and Hell event!

I know everyone is likely out trying to shop til they drop to get all their holiday shopping done. The crowds, the sales… the choices! It’s enough to make a grown woman cry (or is that just me?). So today I thought I would help you all out by telling you what NOT to buy. Believe me, this list will save you!

So without further delay allow me to tell you the Top 10 worst Christmas gifts to ever give:

10. Nose hair clippers – you are supposed to pretend you don’t see the hair that is making its way toward grandpa’s (or grandmas !) lips.

9. A vacuum cleaner – this is especially true for men. They won’t know what it’s for and women will think you are trying to make her do all the cleaning.

8. Fruit cake – unless the person wanted a door stopper.

7. Automotive parts – especially one tire instead of four :/

6. A framed picture of yourself – it’s just weird.

5. Toothbrush or other hygiene product – the person will think you are trying to tell them they smell.

4. Underwear – Just don’t do it. Every time you see them you will wonder if they are wearing those panties you bought them. It’s just wrong!

3. A “cupcake car” reportedly going for $25,000. No I am not kidding:

2. Re-gifted item – Yes, this is tempting because it requires less time shopping. But if you didn’t want it what makes you think someone else would???

1. A Snuggie – Just get the person a really great blanket and a book.

What is the worst gift you have ever gotten?

Happy Holiday’s everyone and remember to enter the giveaway!

*My grandma gave me a license plate once. It was not attached to a car. Just a license plate. When I stared at her in confusion after realizing she was not telling me something amazing was waiting in the garage for me, she told me she got it because I liked horses and the license plate had a picture of a horse on it. Awesome.

Cambria Hebert is the author of the young adult paranormal Heven and Hell series. She loves a caramel latte, hates math and is afraid of chickens (yes, chickens). In addition to her many writing credits she is also the co-host for JournalJabber, a blog talk radio show that focuses on writing and books. She currently lives in Pennsylvania where she is plotting her next book. More information on her and her books can be found here



Thanks to Cambria, I have a fabulous prize package to give away on the blog today. To enter, please just fill out the Rafflecopter form below! Giveaway is open to US residents only and will run through midnight EST on Saturday, December 15th after which time a winner will be chosen and emailed. Good luck everyone!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

There Comes a Prophet: Excerpt + Giveaway

Today I'm excited to be a part of the promotional tour for There Comes A Prophet, a young adult dystopian novel by David Litwack. I have the pleasure of sharing with you a short excerpt from the novel, and there is a fabulous giveaway opportunity for those following the tour, so be sure and check the bottom of the post for details!


“Is this what you want me to do, Orah, run like a coward?”

“Not to run, but to be careful, especially with the vicar so near.”

“Only one in three are taken.”

“It’s not worth the risk, Nathaniel. Or have you forgotten the look of those who have been taught? The far off stare, the dreams seemingly ripped away.”

Dreams ripped away. What good were dreams if they stayed unfulfilled? Since coming of age the month before, Nathaniel had brooded on one thought — life was passing him by.

This tour kicked off last week and runs through December 21st, and you can find all the participating blogs at CBB Book Promotions. More information on David and his books can be found here:

Amazon Buy Link


Thanks to CBB Book Promotions and David Litwack, there are 10 paperback copies of There Comes a Prophet up for grabs as a tour wide giveaway for US and Canadian residents, and 10 ebook copies up for grabs for international readers. To enter, please just fill out the rafflecopter form below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Who among us will cast aside a comfortable existence and risk death to follow a dream?

A world kept peaceful for a thousand years by the magic of the ruling vicars. But a threat lurks from a violent past. Wizards from the darkness have hidden their sorcery in a place called the keep and left a trail of clues that have never been solved.

Nathaniel has grown up longing for more but unwilling to challenge the vicars. Until his friend Thomas is taken for a teaching, the mysterious coming-of-age ritual. Thomas returns but with his dreams ripped away. When Orah is taken next, Nathaniel tries to rescue her and ends up in the prisons of Temple City. There he meets the first keeper of the ancient clues. But when he seeks the keep, what he finds is not magic at all.

If he reveals the truth, the words of the book of light might come to pass:

“If there comes among you a prophet saying ‘Let us return to the darkness,’ you shall stone him, because he has sought to thrust you away from the light.”

Monday, December 10, 2012

Review: The Twisted Tragedy of Miss Natalie Stewart

Magic Most Foul #2
Leanna Renee Heiber
Paranormal Young Adult
332 pages
Sourcebooks Fire
Available now
Received from publisher for review

THE STORY (from Goodreads)
I'm coming for you.

The whispers haunt her dreams and fill her waking hours with dread. Something odd is happening. Something...unnatural.

Possession of the living. Resurrection of the dead. And Natalie Stewart is caught right in the middle. Jonathon, the one person she thought she could trust, has become a double agent for the dark side. But he plays the part so well, Natalie has to wonder just how much he's really acting.

She can't even see what it is she's fighting. But the cost of losing her heart, her sanity...her soul.

The Twisted Tragedy of Miss Natalie Stewart picks up immediately where Darker Still left off, giving us the barest of hints as to what happened previously and encouraging us to really dig deep into the recesses of our minds to recall all the finer and darker details of Natalie and Jonathon’s meeting. Ms. Hieber gives us ample time to remember however, as the second leg of Natalie’s journey into the world of the supernatural moves forward slowly and carefully, setting each piece of the story purposefully on the playing board before the game actually begins in the last third of the novel.

Part of this second installment’s quieter feel stems from the separation of Natalie and Jonathon shortly after tour reintroduction to them, our desire to see their relationship strengthen and deepen now that canvas and curse no longer stand between them strong enough that we can’t help but be a touch disappointed when we’re denied time to see them truly together. There was a declaration of love in Darker Still despite the brevity of their acquaintance – the dire situation they both faced allowing for a level of believability with regard to rapid escalation of their feelings – and we crack the spine of book two with the hope that we’ll finally get to see the emotional connection that supports the vocalization of those three little words. Unfortunately, their relationship doesn’t quite reach the bar we set for them prior to reading, at least in this installment, but the potential for them as a couple is undeniably present.

While the romance is a touch lackluster in this second book, it should be noted that the focus of the story is clearly not intended to be on Natalie and Jonathon’s love, though it does play a major role, but instead on the mystery surrounding those who cursed Jonathon in the first place and their reasons for doing so. Jonathon’s imprisonment in the painting was clearly but a cog in a darkly insidious paranormal machine, and Ms. Hieber does a beautiful job of taking us by the shoulders in this book and turning us in a slow circle so we can clearly see how much larger and more terrifying the Society’s plans actually are. Our eyes are forced open wide, the realization of how far the claws of supernatural malevolence reach and how deeply they’ve sunk into a variety of people ensuring we’re on the edge of our seats during the action-packed conclusion.

Overall, The Twisted Tragedy of Miss Natalie Stewart takes a little while to really get rolling, but once it does, the outcome of what’s been started is something we simply cannot breathe another minute without knowing. The darkest things are clearly still to come, and I will certainly be continuing on with Natalie and Jonathon to see how their light fares against a seemingly unstoppable blackness.

Rating: 3.5/5