Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Guest Post: Stacia Kane

I just want to say a huge thanks to Stacia for agreeing to do a guest post and for giving all of us with Terrible fever a little something fun to read while we're trying to wait patiently for book four.

This series is one of my very favorite new Urban Fantasy series, Chess and Terrible are beautifully written and the whole story is gritty, disturbing and utterly addicting.

I'll stop talking now and let Stacia tell you how she came up with the nickname that made us all melt.


Terms of endearment can be funny things. The same term or nickname that makes one woman feel all shivery and precious and warm inside may make another woman jaw-clenchingly angry.

Take “baby.” My husband has always called me baby. I call him baby. It honestly never occurred to me that “baby” could be considered offensive or upsetting or patronizing. But apparently it is; I discovered this a few years ago when I found a whole discussion online about the use of “Baby” in romances and how much the women participating in the discussion hated it.

Then there are things like “Sweetheart.” I call my children sweetheart. I never call my husband that, nor does he call me that. Sweetheart feels sort of diminutive to me.

Or you can get into the more personal terms and nicknames, stuff that comes from a shared history or joke. “Widgins” or “Stumpie” or whatever.

The thing is, what terms of endearment someone uses says something about them and what kind of person they are. (Greyson in my Demons books called Megan “darling,” because he was a “darling” kind of guy. Not everyone is.)

So what sort of endearment would a guy not used to using them use? A guy who doesn’t have a wide education and isn’t necessarily a smoothie with the ladies, a guy who maybe even feels a little nervous about using them? Who isn’t very verbally expressive to begin with, especially. Terrible isn’t as I, think we all know; he’s not used to being verbally affectionate, and he doesn’t think he’s particularly good with words to begin with.

I thought and thought about it, and then I asked everyone I could think of. I emailed my agent and my editor to see if they had any suggestions. I turned to my handy-dandy little Word Museum book, which is where I got a lot of the obscure and archaic words I incorporate into Downspeech, but found nothing; there are lots and lots of words in that book for “whore,” but very few that are actually affectionate, and the ones that are just sound silly now. And I needed something Terrible might reasonably come up with on his own; he’s a lot smarter than he thinks he is, but I doubt he would pull something like “dumpling” or “cuddle bunny” out of thin air, and feel comfortable using it. (Can you imagine? Ha!)

I wanted to use “Angel.” I still wish I could use it; I have a whole backstory for it, wherein because Terrible was two or three years old when Haunted Week happened, one of his earliest memories is of seeing a Christmas display in a window that featured an angel, and little Terrible thought it was beautiful. Sweet, huh? But given that any language of that sort is illegal, and given that for him to call Chess that would necessitate him telling her that whole story, it didn’t feel right. When it came down to it, I couldn’t see him using it, at least not all the time. Maybe once in a great while. And certainly not when they were just friends.

I was actually writing the withdrawal scene when I thought of Chessiebomb. I don’t remember what exactly led me to it, but I do remember making the association in my head between “Chessie” and “Cherry.” And of course, when I think of Cherry, I think of the Runaways’ awesome song “Cherry Bomb,” which has long been one of my favorite songs. And the lyrics fit Chess pretty well, too.

Instantly I knew it was right. It felt authentic, like the kind of thing Terrible might reasonably come up with on his own. It felt like something he would feel comfortable saying. It’s affectionate but not mushy or lovey-dovey, which was of course especially important before they actually got together. So it felt like something he might call her as a friend, and something she might kind of enjoy being called, but it isn’t too heavy or indicative of his secret feelings toward her.

And yes, I also used “baby” in that UNHOLY MAGIC scene. Because you know what? Like it or not, he would say it, especially when she’s ill. He’d never called her that before, so it was indicative of how he felt about her and how he wanted to make her feel better, and the fact that she didn’t even notice, much less feel weird or uncomfortable about it, showed us a few things too: her feelings that she refused to recognize; her comfort level around him; how sick she was.

Of course I had no idea “Chessiebomb” was going to be such a point of interest; to be honest I was afraid people would think it was kind of stupid (I’m always afraid people will find everything I write kind of stupid). So it was really exciting to see the reaction to it, and how much everyone seemed to like it; well, it’s incredibly exciting that people seem to like the books so much, I never even hoped the response would be as enthusiastic as it’s been. It’s a constant source of amazement.

So what do you like about “Chessiebomb,” and what makes it stand out for you? What other sorts of terms of endearment do you think Terrible or Chess would use? Which ones do you use, and which do you love or hate?

Monday, August 30, 2010

Read-a-Thon Wrap Up

I ended up reading Mockingjay, Nightshade, and Sin Undone which is pretty good. I still have Matched and Incarceron on my list (among many others), but I'll get to them eventually.

A big thank you to everyone who entered my Pick Your Perfect Couple challenge, I had a blast seeing all the different pairings you guys came up with! After plugging all the numbers into Random.org, the lucky winner was:

Tina of Tina's Book Reviews


Review: Hex Hall

HEX HALL (Hex Hall Series #1)
Rachel Hawkins
Young Adult
323 pages
Hyperion Books
Available Now

Cast one teeny love spell to help someone less fortunate at prom and what happens? If you're Sophia Mercer, you end up at a boarding school for freaks. Well the brochure would probably say "magically gifted" or Prodigium, but Sophia knows what the fancy moniker really means. She's considered a danger, one who's unable to control her powers and is drawing too much unwanted human attention. So it's Hecate Hall for her.

Sophia's known she's different from the day she turned twelve and came into to her witchy powers, so her social pariah status at human schools has been bearable due to her known fundamental differences. Hex Hall should be different since it's students are vampires, shifters, fae, witches, and warlocks. Soon, however, Sophia finds that one school is pretty much the same as the next. The beautiful, vapid girls are still popular. The hot boy is still swoon-worthy, but ultimately unattainable, and words hurt as much coming from a member of the Prodigium as they did from the mouths of human peers.

Being raised by a human mother has put Sophia at a distinct disadvantage, as now she's even more of an outcast than she was in the human world. She doesn't understand her powers, she's behind in the history of the Prodigium, and everyone around her seems to know a little more about her mysterious warlock father than she does. Her inexperience with witchcraft isn't the only problem she faces as shortly after her arrival, female students are found drained of blood with puncture wounds in their necks. All signs point to Sophia's vampire roommate, but more goes bump in the night at Hex Hall than the students themselves.


This story is utterly bewitching. Forgive the pun. Sophia positively bubbles with a snarky effervescence that is completely charming and instantly alluring. Embarrassing episodes plague her first day at school, and her internal dialogue of sarcastic quips endear her to the reader as we have no choice but to watch as she struggles to give off an air of confidence and nonchalance we've all attempted to project when placed in similar situation. Though her circumstances are decidedly dissimilar from anything we might have experienced, her thoughts, emotions, and reactions are so very human and therefore so very relatable.

Archer Cross is your average bad-boy heartthrob. He's gorgeous, egotistical, irritatingly talented as a warlock, and of course dating the most beautiful girl at Hex Hall. Typical. Though his character is certainly nothing new, there's still that quality to him that makes him fun to hate while we simultaneously hope he switches his romantic attentions to Sophie and tells his prissily perfect girlfriend he's been mistaken all this time. He too has a penchant for sarcasm, and the banter between him and Sophia is as entertaining as their ever-augmenting romantic tension.

The story itself moves at a very rapid pace, the humor and snark beautifully balanced by a formidable threat and a genuine menacing presence permeating the halls of Hecate. Much as the students share a duality in their very nature, they also possess a duality in their personalities. The face they show to the world isn't necessarily the same face reflected in the mirror. Beauty often hides fear and insecurity, just as plain and unassuming can mask an unforeseen strength of character.

Hex Hall has as many facades as the students it houses, the walls thick with secrets and the halls lined with questions, making it an ideal setting for a tale laced with unlikely friendships, tempered violence, dark witchcraft, and impossible romance.

I personally can't wait to see what's to be revealed in book two as we delve deeper into Sophia's family history, her tie to the school itself, and the inevitable choices she'll have to make to finally find a place to belong.

Rating: 4.5/5

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Read-a-Thon Challenge

So, I haven't been quite as productive as I'd hoped. As it stands, I've finished both Mockingjay and Nightshade, so I'm somewhere in the vicinity of 850 pages read. I should be able to get through one more book before the event is over though. Now, for my challenge!

Pick your perfect couple
If you could choose two characters from any two novels, who would you pick as your ideal couple and why? Note: these should be couples that are not already together in their current stories, but rather characters from different novels that you think might be cute together if it were possible!

Here's a few of the couples I would choose:
1. Jace from The Mortal Instruments series and Bryn from Raised by Wolves. I of course enjoyed Jace with Clary, but I was really impressed with Bryn's strength and her ability to adapt to new situations. Clary could be a bit of a pushover at times, and I think Bryn's call-it-like-I-see-it attitude would be a good fit for Jace's alpha personality.

2. Adrian from the Vampire Academy series and Sophie from Hex Hall. This may stem in part from my unwavering loyalty to Dimitri who is my ultimate choice for Rose, but I also really like Adrian and want to see him happy. If possible, I think Sophie would be a good fit since they both are struggling with a magic they don't really understand while an outside threat forces them to jump into their powers head-first.

3. Spade from First Drop of Crimson and Callia from Entwined. I enjoy all of Jeaniene Frost's vampires, and Spade was no exception. I did not, however, love Denise as much as I had hoped. She could be a little whiny at times and often ran off to try to figure things out herself which ended up causing more problems than it solved. Callia is more level-headed and I think would be a fun romantic partner for Spade.

To enter the challenge, just leave a comment with your new pairing, but be sure and leave the name of the book as well so we all know exactly to whom you're referring. Please make sure to leave an email address as well if it's not in your profile so I can contact you. The challenge will run through the end of the Read-a-Thon which is Monday morning. One winner will be chosen and will receive a copy of Infinite Days, one of my favorite reads so far this year! Giveaway is open to US residents only.

From Barnes & Noble

"Throughout all my histories, I found no one I loved more than you...no one."

Those were some of Rhode's last words to me. The last time he would pronounce his love. The last time I would see his face.

It was the first time in 592 years I could take a breath. Lay in the sun. Taste.

Rhode sacrificed himself so I, Lenah Beaudonte, could be human again. So I could stop the blood lust.

I never expected to fall in love with someone else that wasn't Rhode.

But Justin was...daring. Exciting. More beautiful than I could dream.

I never expected to be sixteen again...then again, I never expected my past to come back and haunt me...

I can't wait to see what couples all of you choose!

Friday, August 27, 2010

Cover Critique: HeartMate

Let me preface this post by saying that my design critiques of these covers are in no way, shape or form a reflection on the author, the content or the publisher. I know the authors have very little, if any, control over the design. These are strictly my thoughts stemming from my design experience.


That's really the only thought that came to mind when I first saw this cover. As you can see, I'm going back a few years and critiquing the original cover for HeartMate because there's just too much good stuff here for me to bring to your attention.

First, this is a story of one man's search for his HeartMate (aka true love), and really what search is complete without the companionship of your trusty feline friend? And one with a thyroid problem no less. Sexy men are definitely made sexier by the presence of an overweight cat (is it me or does that collar seem to be choking him and making his head swell to an unnatural size?). If there were two men before me, one with a pudgy feline and one without, I most certainly would choose the one with the affinity for (please insert a more vulgar name for a cat here), er, kitties.

I have to compliment our friend here on his accessories. Check out that necklace! Rappers everywhere would be extremely proud, just as our cover model should be that he was ahead of his time. He also has a mighty fine sword (given that this is a paranormal romance, I will try and restrain myself from making inappropriate anatomy comparisons at this time). I'm guessing it's a sword, though it seems to have a rather blunt end, so perhaps he won't so much poke people with it (ha!) as beat them with it.

And ladies, let's not forget to take a good long look at the feathered brilliance that is his hair. Puffy and silky smooth, just how I like it. I know it's a shadow from his collared shirt, but it almost looks like he has some chest hair attempting to escape his inevitably toned pecs and crawl up his neck. Glorious.

The pinks and purples that make up the background really add to his masculine vibe. Testosterone just oozes from this sword-hefting, puffy-shirt wearing, feline-loving, mullet-sporting god among men. I'm guessing the allusion to space with the moon and stars in the background is meant to convey to us that his lovin' will be "out of this world", and we need to read immediately to be privy to his no-doubt magnificent bedroom abilities.

Though this cover is beyond marvelous, it has since been updated:

From a design perspective, there's no comparison, this latter version is far superior. However, the original cover is so spectacularly ridiculous that I would almost buy the first version as a conversation starter.

What do you guys think?

Time to Hop!

Question: Do you use a rating system for your reviews and if so, what is it and why?

Yes, I use a standard 5 star rating system for my reviews basically just to provide a bottom line. I do sometimes feel limited by having to assign each book a number, but I like having something concrete at the end of my thought process to give my final opinion. Sometimes in my reviews I can head off on an unrelated tangent, and having that number tends to focus me and bring me back on course in explaining what I liked and didn't like about a particular read.

Question: What's the first book you remember reading?

The first one I have a really solid memory of is Roald Dahl's James and the Giant Peach. I love all his books, but this one has always stood out for me. I'm sure I read lots of things prior to it, but I know I read that book over and over again when I was younger.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Review: Tyger Tyger

TYGER TYGER (Goblin Wars #1)
Kersten Hamilton
Young Adult
320 pages
Houghton Mifflin
November 15, 2010
Received from publisher

Teagan's life is going according to plan. She has a job she loves that will put her on track for a scholarship, a loving family, and a slightly less than sane but loyal best friend. Things are as they should be in Teagan's world.

Only things are about to change. Abby is seeing things in her dreams. Disturbing creatures, terrifying and cruel, bent on finding Teagan. It would be easy to dismiss Abby's dreams as nonsense, except some of the things Abby describes Teagan has seen herself in her mother's paintings. Glorious landscapes and breathtaking scenery shine through her mother's canvases, but that glory is also dimmed by the portrayal of creatures just like those Abby described.

Teagan's world is further complicated by the arrival of Finn Mac Cumhaill, a beautiful Irish distraction she doesn't want or need in her life. His presence is electrifying, and just as Teagan is ready to ignore both his effect on her and Abby's talk of goblins, Finn begins regaling her with his own stories of goblinkind. Surely, both Abby and Finn are playing a joke right? Goblins aren't real, they're just stories.

But Teagan's story is just beginning, and it's rougher, grittier and has more consequences than any of the fables she's heard before.

A truly delightful beginning to a darkly whimsical series. I'm thoroughly encouraged by the prevalence of strong, capable female protagonists in young adult literature lately. Teagan is fantastic, intelligent and focused on her future, with ambition, charm, and wit in spades. Though the presence of a wickedly handsome boy with a delicious accent is distracting to her, she isn't overwhelmed by him. Instead, he seems to compliment and enhance the characteristics that are already present, and the romance takes a back seat to the main storyline. Now, I'm a fan of a romantic plotline, so I'm hoping to see that develop in the sequel, but I enjoyed the subtlety of their feelings in this first installment.

Teagan's younger brother Aiden is an absolute joy. He possesses the blunt honesty of so many children who have yet to develop a sense of tact, and has no qualms about making embarrassing observations about those around him. If he catches Finn and Teagan sharing a blushing, emotional gaze, he's sure to point out their resemblance to different flavors of Kool-Aid. He, Teagan, and Finn all engage in witty banter that keeps the reader laughing at the innocuous while the story becomes increasingly precarious, and provides a levity that is a relief from the depth of their current struggles.

The characters are strong and engaging and the world-building is well executed without being overpowering. My main criticism though would be of our villain. Throughout the entire story we are told of his varying degrees of nefariousness, his torture and incarceration of the innocent, and his manipulation of an entire race. He has killed without remorse, he is a god among the goblins, and he is to be feared for his malevolence. And for all that, Teagan, Aiden and Finn are able to temporarily stymie him with seemingly little effort. I expected a little more conflict for all the buildup, but I know the more epic showdown is yet to come as the story continues.

Additionally, though the mythology and folklore is quite fascinating, it's also slightly confusing at times. There are a lot of names for the reader to keep track of, and sometimes the different types of sidhe and their specific allegiances are difficult to manage. Overall, however, Tyger Tyger is fanciful yet serious, humorous yet sobering, and a beautiful start to what is sure to be a very entertaining series.

Rating: 3.5/5

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Waiting on Wednesday

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Breaking The Spine and is a fun way to see what books other bloggers just can't wait to get their hands on!

Last Sacrifice by Richelle Mead
Releases December 7th
Penguin Group
Young Adult

From Goodreads: Murder. Love. Jealousy. And the ultimate sacrifice. Now, with Rose on trial for her life and Lissa first in line for the Royal Throne, nothing will ever be the same between them.

Okay, that's not the most descriptive of blurbs, so for anyone not familiar with this series it follows Rose Hathaway as she attends school in hopes of becoming a guardian. Rose is a Dhampir, half vampire and half human, and it's the job of Dhampirs to guard the Moroi, full vampires, from the Strigoi who embrace the vampire stereotype and live up to every legend of brutality and murder that's been recorded. Rose faces pain, death, betrayal, love, loss and everything in between in this six book series. Last Sacrifice is the sixth and final book, and book five left Rose in a less than ideal situation, so I'm dying to see what Mead has in store for us.

Luckily, though this is the last in the series, Ms. Mead is doing a spinoff series based in the Vampire Academy world, so more is to come!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Dusk till Dawn Read-a-thon

Come join us for the Dusk Till Dawn Read-a-thon! Jami from YA Addict and Jenn from Book Crazy came up with this event and I'm looking forward to seeing how much reading everyone is else is going to get done and entering some great challenges!

I've got a couple great books I'm looking forward to:

Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins
Matched by Ally Condie
Nightshade by Andrea Cremer
Sin Undone by Larissa Ione
Incarceron by Catherine Fisher

I'm guessing I'll make it through the first four, but I'm going to give all five my best shot. If you're interested in participating, pop over to Book Crazy and sign up. Be sure and stop back here on Saturday as I'll be hosting a challenge and having a fantastic giveaway!

Interview: Rebecca Maizel

I want to start by giving a warm welcome to Rebecca Maizel, author of Infinite Days. I absolutely adored this book and immediately wrote Rebecca to ask for this interview, and to my absolute delight, she agreed!

What’s your favorite quote from Infinite Days?

In response to Lenah seeing Justin and Tracy laughing in the library:

“At Wickham, Tony was my only companion. His friendship kept me company as well as all the memories of my vampire life, piling on and on in my mind like a stack of books, each memory a leather binding, reaching higher and higher toward an endless ceiling.”

Rhode’s love for Lenah is overwhelming and gut-wrenching, and he places her above and before any other. Did you worry how readers might react to Lenah having love interests other than Rhode?

I didn’t worry. You can’t worry when you’re writing how your readers will react. You have to write for yourself, for the characters and for the story they need to tell. And yes, Rhode rules.

Were there any scenes that were cut in the editing process you wish had made it into the book?

I had a different opening – Lenah wakes up in a library in the first version of Infinite Days and debates whether or not she should murder the librarian.

Can you give us one fun fact we might not know about Infinite Days? Something about the story itself or the writing process?

The way Justin looks is based off of the hottest roommate I ever had in my life. Not entirely but the height and the “glowing” sort of aura. SO CUTE.

(This is me shaking my head that none of my roommates ever looked like that!)

If you were Lenah, would you have made the same choice to become human knowing the price that needs to be paid?

Well, Lenah doesn’t know Rhode will die. She knows it’s a possibility but she doesn’t know it will happen for sure. I think if I was Lenah and I was reaching the edge of insanity as she was at the end of her vampire life, yes, I probably would. I imagine her existence would have been nearly unbearable.

If you could interview any literary character, who would it be and what would you ask them?


What’s the most interesting question you’ve been asked as an author?

I did an interview with http://allthingsurbanfantasy.blogspot.com/ and the interview there was really fun. She also wrote a fantastic review, well thought out.

I have thought about Lenah, Rhode and their entire story almost every day since I finished the book a week ago. What’s the last book you read that had a story and characters you just couldn’t stop thinking about?

Wow, thank you so much. Their history is a really long one and their love has literally spanned centuries. So, thank you.

I read AM Jenkins’ novel Beating Heart and I am OBSESSED with Ethan. The author does such an incredible job setting up the relationship between Ethan and the Ghost that haunts his house. AWESOME.

Thanks so much for stopping by Rebecca! If you haven't had a chance to pick up Infinite Days, you are missing out on a truly imaginative and breathtaking story. Run to the bookstore! If you want to learn more about Infinite Days, upcoming Vampire Queen novels, and Rebecca, you can check out these sites:


Vampire Queen Novels
Rebecca's Blog

Monday, August 23, 2010

Review: Infinite Days

INFINITE DAYS (Vampire Queen #1)
Rebecca Maizel

Young Adult

308 pages

St. Martin's Press

Available Now


Lenah Beaudonte has filled her centuries of existence with pain, suffering, blood, and death. Her heart does not beat. Her eyes shed no tears. And her body is merely an empty shell where a soul no longer resides. It's been this way for over 500 years, and in that time she has become the most powerful female vampire in existence. But that time is over.

Lenah has become human thanks to lover, confindante, and eternal companion Rhode. He has given her the dream of all vampires: to be able to feel something other than a constant, insatiable ache. Now she is enrolled in a private boarding school where she must a adapt to a human lifestyle and protect her reprehensible secret so that she may begin anew.

Some say, however, that history always repeats itself. For Lenah, a repeat performance of her former life is the worse scenario she can imagine. For the first time in hundreds of years she wants more than the anguish of others; she wants to live. But the pain and betrayal she left behind will not be ignored, and a hunt begins to reclaim the most vicious vampire of them all.


This story is instantly addicting. The characters' desperation and conflict combined with the story's promise of a life worth living draw you in with deep, drugging pulls that leave the reader the latest victim of the vampire's dark, blissful appeal. This is not the tale of a human girl turned vampire and forced to adapt to supernatural abilities, but rather the tale of a brutal creature given the chance at atonement, and we as readers have the pleasure of watching as the moral depravity disappears and a selflessness and passion take its place.

Lenah is a glorious character. Through her we see that hope can exist in the darkest of places, and life can hold joy in the simplest of moments. It's fascinating to watch as she encounters the world with newly innocent eyes, yet retains a vampiric sight tainted by the basest of instincts. She revels in the brush of her skin against a textured wall, yet can't help but evaluate the movements of her peers and locate those that would make the easiest prey. She is flummoxed and enchanted by CD's and modern technology, yet always looks at the veins on the inside of people's wrists to determine the purity of their blood. The juxtaposition of her completely pristine human nature with the remnants of her unfathomable barbarity is brilliantly executed and absolutely enthralling.

Rhode, though lacking a heartbeat, seems to pulsate with life in his all-too brief appearances. His bond with Lenah is unbreakable, seemingly completely at odds with the cruelty of the vampire way of life, and his love for her shines from the pages with blinding light. Because of my instant attraction and unwavering loyalty to him as a character, I couldn't help but feel a pinch of betrayal as Lenah's focus seems to so easily shift to main love interest Justin. He is a likeable character, but Rhode has a depth that is unmatched despite his significantly reduced page time.

Though the story isn't extremely fast-paced until the last few pages, there is something inherently satisfying in watching Lenah try to reclaim the soul she had ripped from her all those years ago, thereby ensuring that Rhode's gift will not have been for naught. The ending leaves the reader salivating, and were I to be in possession of a pair of fangs, they would have descended in breathless anticipation of sinking them into the next installment.

Rating: 4.5/5

Stay tuned tomorrow for my interview with Rebecca Maizel!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Cover Critique: Matched

Let me preface this post by saying that my design critiques of these covers are in no way, shape or form a reflection on the author, the content or the publisher. I know the authors have very little, if any, control over the design. These are strictly my thoughts stemming from my design experience.

When I look at this cover, I hear bells ringing. And angels singing. And a gospel choir belting "hallelujah". Everything about it just makes that designer part of me smile from ear to ear. I think everyone might know that I tend to gravitate toward subtle, simplistic covers. The ones with a strong focal image and clean, crisp fonts that catch your eye and make you want to buy the book just so you can stare at the cover. I don't enjoy the covers that try to incorporate every single element from the book into the design. It gets too crowded and the eye doesn't know where to look first.

Here, there's a single, gorgeous image. I've never really wanted to exist in a bubble before, but if this is what I would look like in said bubble, please sign me up to have my picture taken in one. I love that we can't see the young woman's face, therefore we can project any characteristics we have in our head onto her, and she can be whoever we want her to be. Her hand placement is perfect, helping to define the shape of the bubble further, and filling the space in a way that maintains a balance on either side. Should her hands have been in her lap, there would have been too much weight in the bottom of the image and it would have looked off. Should one hand have been raised and the other down, it would have ruined the symmetry. As it is, her hands add weight to the top of the image to counteract the heaviness of the fabric pooled at the bottom, and they keep the circular shape intact side to side.

Next, there's the color. So many times designers (myself included) are afraid of leaving a background white. We feel the need to fill it with color, not with design elements, but sometimes just large planes of uninterrupted color or people might find the design dull and lifeless. This cover just proves how striking a white background and the perfect accent color can be. The green leaps off the page and immediately draws attention. The different tones and hues of green add depth and make the bubble appear three dimensional, almost as if you could reach in and pop it.

The font choice is ideal. It's rounded ends have a modern feel, and the blurred edges provide the optical illusion of movement. The font, along with the bright green and stark, sterile white, suggest science fiction in a perfectly unassuming way.

My only complaint, and it's quite minor, would be the font choice for Ms. Condie's name. It's the same font as the title for Chloe Neill's Firespell, and since both novels are young adult and paranormal in nature, it's likely that readers of one will at some point run into the other. Not a huge issue by any means, I just associate that font with Firespell since I saw it there first, and would have loved either a completely new and unique font for her name, or a common font where there are no distinguishable characteristics to call to mind another book.

Overall, this cover is, to me, absolutely beautiful. Anyone else think so?

Friday, August 20, 2010

Blog Hop!

Question of the week: How many blogs do you follow?
Well, I follow quite a few. If I had to guess, I would say at least 450 blogs are on my list. There are some I read on a daily basis and some I check in with weekly, but I do like to hop around every other day and see what's happening at the blogs I follow. It's fun to see what everyone else is up to, what their favorite book of the week is, and what new releases they're looking forward to the most. Everyone enjoys comments, so I try to comment as much as possible!

As always a huge thanks to Crazy for Books and Parajunkee for hosting the hops!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Review: Entwined

ENTWINED (Eternal Guardians #2)
Elisabeth Naughton

Paranormal Romance

320 Pages

Available Now


The Eternal Guardians are descendants of the seven greatest heroes in Greek history. Hercules. Achilles. Men of legend. And the Guardians have become the stuff of legends themselves. There is unrest in both the mortal realm and their home of Argolea, and only the Guardians stand between a vengeful goddess and the humans and Argoleans they have sworn to protect with their lives.

Zander is descended of Achilles and the oldest of the Guardians. Being the eldest, he's watched friends, brothers-in-arms, and leaders fall while he continues fighting. Ten years ago he thought he'd found the purpose for his long life. Perhaps his immortality was gifted to him so that he could be around to find Callia, the king's personal healer. It seemed, however, the ever unpredictable Fates had other plans for him, and his relationship with Callia came to an abrupt and emotional end.

Now both Zander and Callia avoid contact with one another as much as possible though both remain in the employment of the king. No talking, no touching, no acknowledging the existence of the other. However, their personal drama is soon escalated by the growing threat of daemons, horrific and detestable creatures who seek to feed on humans; an arranged marriage with the king's daughter, and a history they thought long since buried brought to the surface.
Zander has survived centuries free of his descendant's famous fatal flaw, but his renewed proximity with Callia might be the impetus that reveals that weakness to friend and foe alike.


Two words. Quite. Enjoyable. This series is in the same vein as Sherrilyn Kenyon's Dark Hunters and Gena Showalter's Lords of the Underworld, so fans of either will appreciate the focus on one particular hero and his struggle to defeat a villain of mythological proportions while having his life complicated by a sometimes unwanted female presence. The Guardians are strong, often egotistical, and fiercely protective, making them the ultimate romantic heroes.

Often times in paranormal romance novels, I find myself drawn to the hero but ultimately unable to relate to the heroine. The heroine tends to be of one of two ilks: either she's whiny and causes the hero interminable suffering with her constant denial of both him and their current predicament, or the author sometimes overcompensates by making her almost too self-assured and confident by refusing any and all help from the hero. This type of heroine often insists she is always correct regardless of the information contradicting her personal assessment, and sets off to do what she thinks is best without thought to the alternative consequences outside the ones she has conjured in her head. Neither type is particularly appealing to me.

Callia is a wonderful blend of characteristics, where no one particular trait overwhelms the others to make her cross the boundary from enjoyable to obnoxious. She is intelligent and strong-willed, yet compassionate when the situation is appropriate. She listens to the available information and acts accordingly (except for one instance), keeping her feelings in check and letting rational thought prevail.

Her history with Zander is slowly revealed to us, and it becomes clear that a series of miscommunications has left permanent emotional footprints on both souls. Their history is tragic, their hurt palpable, and their pain obvious in every prolonged loaded silence. This is not the typical meet, fall into lust, profess undying love, and then temporarily separate only to be united in the end type of storyline that dominates so many paranormal romances. Instead, these two share a history of betrayal and loss that makes them seem real despite their paranormal abilities and supernatural environment.

And so as to not be outdone by her beautifully depicted protagonists, Naughton creates a wicked enemy who gives new meaning to "hell hath no fury like a woman scorned". Atalanta, former Argonaut like the Guardians and leader of the daemons, is blissfully cruel and terrifically callous, and I look forward to her continued presence in future installments.

Pick this one up if you like alpha males, strong yet realistic women, and a little Greek mythology in your romance.

Rating: 4/5


We have a winner! There were 154 individual entries and 381 total entries after the extra points were added up, and Random.org generated lucky number 282:


Congratulations! And a huge thank you to everyone who entered!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Waiting on Wednesday

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Breaking The Spine and is a fun way to see what books other bloggers just can't wait to get their hands on!

XVI by Julia Karr (Releases January 6th, 2011)
From Goodreads:
In the year 2150, being a girl isn’t necessarily a good thing, especially when your sixteenth (read sex-teenth) birthday is fast approaching. That in itself would be enough to make anyone more than a little nuts, what with the tattoo and all – but Nina Oberon’s life has taken a definite turn for the worse. Her mother is brutally stabbed and left for dead. Before dying, she entrusts a secret book to Nina, telling her to deliver it to Nina's father. But, first Nina has to find him; since for fifteen years he's been officially dead. Complications arise when she rescues Sal, a mysterious, and ultra hot guy. He seems to like Nina, but also seems to know more about her father than he’s letting on. Then there’s that murderous ex-government agent who’s stalking her, and just happens to be her little sister’s dad.

I love the cover on this one. I'm looking forward to seeing what everyone else is eagerly anticipating!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Hunger Games Giveaway

A huge thanks to everyone who entered my Hunger Games giveaway, I was overwhelmed by the response! The winner will be posted on Thursday the 19th, so be sure and check back!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Review: Prophecy of the Sisters

Michelle Zink
Young Adult

343 pages

Little, Brown
Available Now


Lia and her twin sister Alice haven't been close in a long time. They don't gossip as sisters often do, they don't share secrets, and they don't lean on one another for support. The sudden and unexpected death of their father aggravates an already tenuous and strained relationship, and acts a catalyst that brings a shadowed family history into the light, drawing a line of demarcation for two young sisters.

Lia's family is unique. For as long as she can remember, each generation has a set of female twins. Their mother and aunt were twins. Their grandmother and her sister. Prior to the death of their father, Lia and Alice know nothing more than their family has an interesting genetic anomaly. They have no idea their unique line of women is the subject of a centuries old prophecy. One that pits one twin sister against the other.

Lia is quickly entangled in a completely unfamiliar world and is left with a cryptic prophetic book she doesn't understand. All she knows is she has a calling, one bigger and more important than she could have ever dreamed for her quiet life. Evil must be stopped. She wields the power to stop it, so her path seems obvious. But soon Lia learns that evil isn't so easily identified, and sometimes the most familiar mask conceals the blackest of souls.

Have you ever read a story you thoroughly enjoyed but can't necessarily pinpoint exactly what it is you liked about it? I flew through this book, closed the back cover, decided I would definitely recommend it, and then sat at my blank computer screen for twenty minutes with absolutely no coherent sentences to show for my effort. Huh. After some additional thought however, I was able to define a few of the elements that made this novel a worthwhile read.

Though stories of predestined fates and ancient legends aren't new, this one gives us a prophecy integrated into a family dynamic, and it is the relationship between the various family members that makes the story so fascinating. Perhaps the most interesting aspect is the age-old nature vs. nurture question brought into play. Are Lia and Alice born with all the character traits that define their respective roles in the prophecy, or does knowledge of the prophecy itself affect their individual behaviors and shape them into the preordained mold? If the prophecy had remained a secret, would the rift between Alice and Lia have continued to grow, or would they have been able to bridge the gap? No one can say for sure, and that element of the unknown makes the story all the more intriguing.

The riddle that makes up the prophecy is beautifully mysterious, creating far more questions than answers and making the pages fly by as Lia desperately searches for any minute detail to aid in her mission. Though I arrived at some conclusions long before the characters, majority of the cryptic message remains indecipherable and deliberately vague, virtually guaranteeing my continuation of the series so that my knowledge may be absolute. I'm nothing if not curious, and the darkness surrounding Lia, Alice, and their fates more than piques my curiosity.

My main criticism would be of love interest James who seems to be a rather superfluous character. Lia and James are already in a relationship when the story begins, so it's not as though we get to follow their courtship and watch them explore the beauty and novelty of first love. He imparts no helpful information, aside from a brief translation in the beginning, and he's not a support system for Lia as she adamantly refuses to enlighten him to the chaos and turmoil that has come to define her existence. Their scenes are brief and somewhat devoid of emotion, and their relationship seems an unnecessary distraction from the main storyline. I'm hoping his role will increase in the remaining two novels and perhaps his purpose will become a little clearer.

All in all, this is a dark and engrossing tale, and now that the premise is established and select details in place, I'm looking forward to getting into the heart of the story with book two.

Rating: 3.5/5

Saturday, August 14, 2010

In My Mailbox #4

In My Mailbox was created by Kristi over at The Story Siren and is a great way to see what other bloggers are reading and reviewing. I always love seeing what everyone else got for their week!

Won from
Books and Things (I actually won something!):
Infinite Days by Rebecca Maizel


Prophecy of the Sisters by Michelle Zink

Entwined by Elisabeth Naughton

It's the last few days for my Hunger Games trilogy giveaway, so if you haven't had a chance to enter, feel free to pop in and do so!

Friday, August 13, 2010

Cover Critique: Tempest Rising

Let me preface this post by saying that my design critiques of these covers are in no way, shape or form a reflection on the author, the content or the publisher. I know the authors have very little, if any, control over the design. These are strictly my thoughts stemming from my design experience.

I'm presenting this week's cover critique in a step-by-step format. This is purely my imagination running wild with one potential scenario of how the designer arrived at the final cover art for Tempest Rising:

Hmmm. This story is about a Selkie. Selkie's are big fans of water, so I think I'll start with a water environment. She's most likely naked when she swims, so I think I'll utilize the classic naked-but-not-really-naked pose for her: topless with long hair to cover her breasts. Oh, and I'll need some strategically placed water ripples.

Nice. I even gave her eyes reminiscent of a hammerhead shark to enhance her water-creature vibe. Well done me.
You know what enhances implied nudity? Snakes. Snakes make every half-naked woman look sexier (Britney Spears anyone?). And I think a banner will be nice for the title, almost as though the snakes are holding it in place.

Shazam! I. Am. Awesome. Still missing something though. Oh! She has a boyfriend. He should be represented on the cover. Perhaps a heart. I'm sure she hearts him. I think to show how truly astounding my creativity is, I'll make that heart have fangs since he's a vampire. A heart with fangs! I deserve a raise.

Design award here I come. Not quite there yet though. I'm not sure what other elements to add, I've really outdone myself thus far. I think maybe I'll just go with some nondescript nature-like elements. Everyone likes nature right? Right.

Those are perhaps the greatest branches ever drawn. And look at the floating purple orbs I added for no apparent reason! Marvelous.
Okay, to finish up I need to add the author's name. But I have so much room left at the bottom that just her name will look lonely since the rest of the cover is so nicely occupied. I know! I'm a big fan of seals. And coffins. Those will flank her name nicely I think.

TA DA! It's truly something to behold isn't it? Please refrain from falling at my feet spouting odes to my brilliance, that would be embarrassing.


No offense meant to the illustrator, he/she is obviously very talented, this type of illustration just doesn't appeal to my particular tastes. Of course, my husband walked behind me while I was writing this post and went "wow, that's a really cool cover, " so what do I know?

What do you guys think?

Hopping on the 13th!

First off, Happy Friday the 13th to everyone!

This weeks question: How many books do you have on your "to be read" shelf?
I think I have somewhere in the vicinity of 30 which actually doesn't seem to be that many! I'm pretty good at plowing through my books and I *try* not to buy too many extras week to week, but sometimes that doesn't always work out:) Coupons are my downfall. I have to use every one that crosses my path. Basically I love buying books, I can't help it. There's something relaxing about walking into a bookstore, looking at all the fun covers, and knowing I'm going to walk out with a few!

Thanks to Crazy for Books and Parajunkee for hosting the hops!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Review: Wildthorn

Jane Eagland

Young Adult

352 pages
Houghton Mifflin
September 6th, 2010

Received from publisher


Wildthorn Hall is an asylum. Its residents are the mentally deficient, the forgotten, and the unwanted. Its galleries, save one, are dark, windowless, and full of female guards with an affinity for inflicting pain on those who cannot defend themselves. Louisa Cosgrove doesn't belong here. Shouldn't be here. She's not insane, she has a strained but still loving relationship with her mother, and she's supposed to be on her way to her new place of employment. There's been a mistake.

Everyone at Wildthorn says her name is Lucy Childs and she's merely deluded herself into thinking she's this Lousia Cosgrove. The doctors and staff members claim they have her best interests in mind, but as she's stripped of her valuables, clothes, and dignity, it becomes clear that to them she's just another girl come to join the ranks of lunacy.

Allies are few and far between, trust is not an option, and if she wants to prove her sanity, Louisa needs to get a look at the papers that confined her to this prison. Who could have done this? Why won't anyone listen? Who is Lucy Childs? Louisa must find the answers to all these questions and more before her mental and emotional strength is depleted by the barrenness of her circumstance, and she becomes nothing more than the simpering, mental invalid they already think her to be.


Ms. Eagland certainly knows how to write a compelling story. The misery and hopelessness of having one's own identity called into question is thoroughly haunting, and Louisa's fight to retain her sanity in the face utter oblivion pulls the heart strings to a new and shocking tautness. Written in the first person, the reader is often left alone with Louisa and her thoughts as conversation in the asylum is limited at best, forcing us to live every indignity, every injustice, every betrayal with her. Her pain is our pain. Her fears are our fears. And we wish that perhaps our strength might leak through the pages and buoy her as she drifts alone through uncharted waters.

If you're looking for a novel that's action-packed, this is not it. The beginning is a little slow as the story alternates between Louisa's past and present, but soon it evolves into an intellectual mystery at it's finest. A story where the reader must constantly question whether we can trust the thoughts to which we're privy. Louisa seems so certain she is who she says she is, and we're presented with multiple flashbacks of the events leading up to her institutionalization that seem to corroborate her story, but are those memories really hers? Is she really Louisa Cosgrove and this is all a mistake as we so desperately want to believe, or is she truly ill and these hints about her past are the creations of a mind with diminished capacity?

Louisa herself is beautifully written as a strong, proud, intelligent, and outspoken young women living in a time where women with intellectual abilities were shunned and treated as outcasts for daring to believe they might be equals of men. A time when excessive reading, when done by a female, was thought to lead to insanity and was wholly inappropriate for the fairer sex. Louisa pushes every boundary, refusing to adhere to the standard practices of society women, and that characteristic in conjunction with her unwavering strength in the face of a seemingly hopeless fate makes her a truly inspired protagonist.

Though not a dominant storyline by any means, some readers may be deterred by the exploration of a budding same-sex romance. Personally, I say those readers would be missing out on a character who isn't afraid to blur the lines of gender distinction in terms of occupation, sexuality, and place in society, and who chips away at established constructs with nothing short of an admirable confidence.

A beautiful, touching, and fascinating tale, Wildthorn should be added to your to-be-read pile as soon as possible.

Rating: 4/5

Monday, August 9, 2010

Review: The Thirteenth Chime

Emma Michaels

Young Adult

209 Pages

Bokheim Publishing
Available August 13th, 2010

Received for review


Destiny and her best friend Stephanie are taking a much needed breather from the stresses of school finals and are planning on spending a few blissful days at Stephanie's new beach house. Unbeknownst to them, blissful will not be an adjective they will choose to describe their time by the sea.

Shortly after arriving, a freak accident occurs, putting both Stephanie and her mother in the hospital. Alone and frightened by the unusual circumstances surrounding the accident, Destiny calls her ex-boyfriend David, whom she has always been able to lean on in times of need, for moral support. David, still struggling with his unforeseen dismissal almost a year ago, flies in to be the proverbial shoulder-to-cry-on.

Once there, David begins to realize that something has truly scared Destiny, and it's not the thought of an intruder in their home as the police would have them believe. Her fear has more to do with an unusual grandfather clock at the top of a staircase; a staircase in a house with a reputation situated on a cliff overlooking an island prison. Clues begin to fall into place, a mystery begins to unravel, and David must shoulder hurt feelings and focus on Destiny before the clock strikes thirteen.

This novel has a story that shows promise. The mystery element unfolds nicely, with some twists and turns that are fairly unpredictable and could lead to intriguing future revelations in subsequent books. It also has a very beautiful cover design. That being said however, I do have some fundamental problems with the book as a whole.

Character development for me is one of the most intrinsic parts of creating a good story. Without characters that draw me in, I feel like an outsider with my nose pressed up against the window pane wanting desperately to be inside where the action is taking place. I like characters that force me to feel. I love to love characters. I love to hate characters. I love to love to hate them. But most importantly, I love to be wholly and completely involved in their world, however temporarily. The most successful characters for me are those that are multifaceted, with layers that are subtly revealed as the storyline progresses, drawing me further and further in until I'm screaming and crying and completely submerged in their emotional trials and tribulations.

Unfortunately, the characters here are lacking that much-needed depth. David and Destiny are very one-dimensional, their thoughts and feelings told to the reader instead of shown. David reflects thoughtfully. Destiny smiles smugly. Everyone chuckles lightly. All thoughts and emotions are presented in short, staccato bursts that don't provide any substance to which the reader can latch on and hold tight.

Furthermore, the relationship between David and Destiny is confusing and somewhat uncomfortable at times. It's not very clear why the relationship ended initially, only that it was a surprise to David, and their interactions are awkward in a way that I don't think is completely intentional. David has valid reasons for being upset with Destiny over her past behavior, yet he drops everything to rush to her side when she's engaged to someone else, and once he's there, all serious conversation is eschewed by Destiny punching him in the arm and giggling. He gets punched in the arm quite a bit.

I have a few other issues with the writing itself, the primary one being that it lacks a maturity and finesse I've seen from some other young adult writers. There are numerous brilliantly written, engaging, and haunting paranormal young adult novels out there at the moment, and this one just isn't on the same playing field. That's not to say future novels won't be improved upon, however.

There are a couple problems with the sequence of events as well, but as characters are the most fundamental part of the story for me, my primary issue is with their individual personalities and relationships. I believe this debut from Ms. Michaels has a solid idea and good bones, but it's missing the heart to give it vibrancy and truly bring it to life.

Rating: 1.5/5

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Review: City of Ghosts

CITY OF GHOSTS (Downside Ghosts #3)
Stacia Kane
Urban Fantasy

408 pages
Random House
Available Now


Some days it just didn't pay to get out of bed; in that sense at least, this day was no different from any others.

That about sums up Chess Putnam's life at the moment. Her relationship with perhaps the only person she's ever truly cared about is broken; a deep fissure of betrayal running through it that she fears is beyond repair. Add that to her persistent drug habit, a forced partnership with a member of the elite Black Squad, and dismembered body parts showing up all over Downside, and you have a little glimpse of a day in the life of Chess.

While struggling with an emotional upheaval, Chess must soldier on and work with Lauren, a fiery redhead whose status in the Church is augmented through a blatant case of nepotism, in order to find those responsible for Downside's latest gruesome deaths. Lauren and Chess's partnership is strained at best, with Lauren pulling rank and disregarding Chess's valid observations in favor staying on task. Lauren's refusal to acknowledge that coincidences aren't particularly common in Downside forces Chess to seek out reluctant assistance from Terrible.

Now, with their respective hearts in tatters, Chess and Terrible must stalk a killer more powerful than anyone the Church has faced before, and one with magic of unimaginable darkness and a vendetta that can only be appeased through total destruction and anarchy.


Ms. Kane has an uncanny ability to write a novel laced with such tangible tension that the very pages seem almost thicker with it. The vestiges of Chess's relationship with Terrible haunt her every waking moment, and even her sleeping ones, causing her search for oblivion to increase exponentially. Every snippet of dialogue between them has a venomous edge, his hurt and pain at her actions in the previous novel leaking into their every interaction. Each verbal lash he dispenses, though valid, seems to reverberate down the spine of the book, creating an echoing tension that coils in my gut as I hang on every word. It's absolutely captivating.

In the previous two novels, the cases Chess is working have been at the forefront, with Chess's personal life being only a gratifying yet secondary storyline. In this newest installment however, her relationship with Terrible is thrust into prominence in all it's gut-wrenching glory, giving us a closer look at both character's pain and vulnerability, and making our connection to them that much deeper and more potent.

And though the relationship becomes a greater focus, the newest set of Downside villains does not disappoint. They are perhaps more horrifying, more deserving of our utter shock and awe, and more clever than their predecessors. New types of magic are introduced, darker, blacker and more sinister, rattling the very foundation of Chess's entire belief system. Now not only can Chess not trust in herself, but she's faced with the prospect of not being able to trust in the Church, which just might be enough to ruin her entirely and leaves readers reeling from the latest set of revelations.

Downside is an unbelievable place in which to get absorbed. The characters are in ruin, yet have such strength. The supernatural beings are terrifying and seemingly unbeatable, yet we are given hope that light might prevail. And the story is wrought with anxiety and extreme hostility, yet poignant just when the tension threatens to overwhelm.

Perhaps most satisfying is an ending that leaves us with a sliver of faith that Chess and Terrible's road to redemption, though certainly assured to be difficult still, may be paved with smoother stones than those of the one leading up to this point. This series is addicting, and I'm as sure to enter withdrawal waiting for the next book as Chess would be without her drug of choice.

Rating: 5/5

Friday, August 6, 2010

Cover Critique: Incarceron and Hunger

Let me preface this post by saying that my design critiques of these covers are in no way, shape or form a reflection on the author, the content or the publisher. I know the authors have very little, if any, control over the design. These are strictly my thoughts stemming from my design experience.

Hmmmm. Anyone else seeing double? Both covers are gorgeous, I just find it interesting how similar they are despite the different publishers and therefore presumably different design teams. As it is, I've concocted a fictional conversation between the respective designers during the design process:

Incarceron Designer (to be abbreviated ID): Hey

Hunger Designer (to be abbreviated HD): 'Sup (we designers are very hip and cool)

ID: How's your cover design going?

HD: Good. It's almost done, I'm liking what I have so far. I've gone with an eerie blue-gray and black color scheme that I think represents Famine well. I've also played around with a heavily textured background and vignetted the corners so there is a gradient effect from the image to solid black. You're jealous of my design skills right?

ID: Um. I've done a blue-gray and black color scheme, textured my background and vignetted my corners to black as well. So I'm apparently not jealous, but of the same mind.

HD: What! Send me your file.

ID: Send me your file!

They email each other the files.

HD: Maybe no one will notice?

ID: ...

HD: Right. We'll just tell everyone great minds think alike.

ID: At least my type treatment is better than yours. I've got an interesting, eye catching font. See how my serifs extend above and below some of the letters? And how my size and height alternate letter to letter? It's ingenious. Visually engaging. You have a boring, linear serif font.

HD: Real mature. My author's name is more readable because it pops off the black. And I have a quote. What say you to that?

ID: I say you pilfered my design that's what.

HD: I pilfered? You were clearly influenced by me. You even took my nature theme. I put branches in my background and then you try to one-up me with your leaves.

ID: I added gears and clock faces, so that's something. But you know what?

HD: What?

ID: My book releases before yours. I win.

HD: Crap.