Thursday, September 30, 2010

Friday Hopping!

This week's question: How do you spread the word about your blog (e.g. social networking sites, book blog directories, comments on other blogs, etc.)?

I haven't been blogging that long so it's definitely been a learn-as-I-go type of process. Mostly, I like to hop around to other sites and leave comments, not just "great review" comments but ones that are honest and a little more in depth. I think everyone likes getting comments on the reviews we spend so much time writing, so that's been my main way of both finding great blogs and getting great followers in return. I also use Twitter quite a bit, it's been the best way outside of the hops to meet new bloggers and keep up to date on happenings in the book world!

Thanks as always to Crazy for Books for hosting the hop!

Review: Paranormalcy

PARANORMALCY (Paranormalcy #1)
Kiersten White
Young Adult
335 pages
Harper Teen
Available Now

Pink bedazzled taser? Check. Supernatural target designation? Vamp. Repertoire of witty comebacks for said supernatural target? Check. For Evie, this is just another normal day. Another normal bag and tag operation for the International Paranormal Containment Agency of which she is an employee. At a mere sixteen years of age, she travels place to place identifying and catching anything paranormal, a job she's had since she was eight. It's a normal life for her. It's all she knows.

Soon, all she knows starts to shift into uncharted territory. Someone or something outside of IPCA authority is targeting supernatural beings and they're dying in alarmingly large numbers. Add to that a break in at the Center where she lives, resulting in the presence of an unusual young shape shifter who claims the IPCA has information needed to stop this unknown killer, and Evie's relative normalcy is shattered.

This new shape shifter is as unique as Evie, and though he doesn't share her ability to see through paranormal glamours, he's able to see things about her she never knew existed. For a girl who can see the usual and unusual more clearly than anyone else, life begins to blur at the edges, right and wrong are no longer so clearly delineated, and normal versus paranormal becomes more relative and hits closer to home than ever before.

Evie is an absolute joy. Usually character development takes time, and the character/reader relationship is built as we navigate the story together, learning, loving, and fighting battles of every kind as we go. By the end of the book, a kinship is formed and we relate to the character in a way we didn't early on in the story. With Evie, there is no such warm-up, no slow introduction to her personality. Instead, she bursts from the first page fully formed in a blaze of sarcastic glory. She's charismatic, personable, and extraordinarily witty, making her an instant friend and confidant, and effectively sealing her fate as a character whose future one can't help but have a vested interest in.

Ms. White does a marvelous job of capturing a teenager in terms of temperament and disposition without exploiting so many of the common cliches that force a teenage character to progress from realistic to melodramatic and overbearing. Evie is snarky without being irritating, typically pouty at times without resorting to petulance, and affectionate without being lovesick.

In addition to a refreshing youthful female protagonist, we also are introduced to a captivating romantic interest in Lend. Unlike so many love interests in young adult literature, Lend doesn't puff himself up with a false bravado or strut around displaying colorful feathers for our heroine to stroke while his beauty overwhelms her independence and reduces her to someone who measures time by the moments they spend together. Lend is vulnerable from the beginning, uncomfortable in his own skin and plagued by insecurities we've all faced at one time or another, and the two together struggle with understandable identity issues. Because of Evie's unique ability to see through all the faces Lend can create as a shape shifter, their relationship starts with an unavoidable and welcome honesty, and that open candor continues despite the extensive difficulties they face.

The relationship between Evie and Lend serves to ground the reader in a story that pulses with paranormal activity, proving itself to be neither a distraction nor a detraction from the main storyline, but rather a delightful addition that complements an engrossing plot. Every supernatural species is represented and then some, but through the fangs, fur, and glamour, we are held firmly in place by the sweet awkwardness of first love. Hypersensitivity to the other person's physical proximity, adorably innocent internal dialogue addled with questions about possible romantic motives, and constant analysis of every word and gesture permeates their interactions, and we can't help but smile as we remember walking in those very same shoes.

The only minor criticism of this novel would be of an ending where things seem to get resolved quickly and easily, and the reader is left with a lengthy list of unanswered questions. Yes, this is the beginning of a series and we will learn more as we go, but this conclusion feels a little like being left in the shallow end of a pool; we can see further complications, emotional progression, and needed information swirling in the depths of the deeper end, but for the time being, we are left tethered having barely broken the surface. Toss me a pair of floaties and push me into deeper waters, I'm ready for the sequel.

Rating: 4/5

Wednesday, September 29, 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!

Nalini Singh
Paranormal Romance
January 25, 2011

From Goodreads:

When vampire hunter Elena Deveraux became an angel, with magnificent wings the colours of midnight and dawn, it turned her world upside down. Her lover, the stunningly dangerous archangel Raphael, is used to being in control even when it comes to the woman he considers his own.

But Elena has never done well with authority ...especially not when it seems Raphael is the one who needs her help. The archangels may be almost all-powerful, but there are some things that only a Guild Hunter can get done, and Elena and Raphael may be heading for their most dangerous investigation yet.

LOVE this series. The romantic element is absolutely delicious, but not so overpowering that there's no story outside of it. The world of Raphael and the archangels is dark and complicated, and Elena is strong and independent as she tries to navigate her way through it. If you love alpha males, Raphael is the book boyfriend for you.

Also, today is the last day of my NIGHTSHADE giveaway, so if you haven't entered yet, be sure and stop by my fall giveaway page!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Teaser Tuesday: Dead Beautiful

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

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

My read this week is Dead Beautiful by Yvonne Woon. From Goodreads:

After Renee Winters discovers her parents lying dead in California’s Redwood Forest in what appears to be a strange double murder, her grandfather sends her off to Gottfried Academy in Maine, a remote and mysterious high school dedicated to philosophy, “crude sciences,” and Latin: the Language of the Dead. It’s here she meets Dante, a dark and elusive student to whom she feels inexplicably drawn. As they get to know each other better, Dante can’t seem to control his attraction either, and their desires gradually deepen into a complex and dangerous romance. Dangerous because Dante is hiding a frightening secret. A secret so terrible, it has him fearing for Renee’s life.

Dante’s not the only one with secrets, though. Turns out Gottfried Academy has a few of its own... Like, how come students keep disappearing? Why are the prefect-like Monitors creeping around campus during the night? And what exactly are the Headmistress and Professors really up to? Renee is determined to find out why.

Dead Beautiful
is both a compelling romance and thought-provoking read, bringing shocking new meaning to life, death, love, and the nature of the soul.

My teaser (pg 120):

"I heard Eleanor approach as I pushed the wildflowers aside with my trowel. And there it was, the thing that I now knew had been pulling me toward it. Behind me, Eleanor screamed."

Monday, September 27, 2010

Review: Venom

VENOM (Elemental Assassin #3)
Jennifer Estep

Urban Fantasy
359 pages

Simon & Schuster

Releases September 28, 2010
Received from author

WARNING: Review contains spoilers from Spider's Bite and Web of Lies, but NO spoilers from Venom.


Gin Blanco is an assassin, and a pretty brilliant one at that. She's trying to retire, trying to focus on running the restaurant her foster father left her with his violent passing, but people who require killing just seem to continually cross her path. And Gin can't seem to say no to someone in need of her special brand of assistance.

This newest pro-bono case hits a little closer to home for Gin than some of the previous ones. Roslyn Phillips and Gin have a difficult history. Aside from being her foster brother's "good time girl", Roslyn is also indirectly responsible for the death of Fletcher Lane, Gin's foster father. Despite her feelings about Roslyn and her role in Fletcher's death, Gin agrees to relieve her of a violent and powerful stalker.

Though Gin is the consummate professional, events leading up to the hit go awry and she and Fletcher's son Finn, her new handler, are forced to regroup repeatedly and come at him from new directions. Further complicating matters is the arrival of Gin's long-lost sister Bria Coolidge, now a detective for the Ashland Police Department. She's got a watchful eye on Gin, Finn, and their exploits though she remains ignorant of Gin's true identity.

Gin must fight with everything she's got as a Stone and Ice elemental, take hits when necessary, deal with the emotional repercussions of a failed relationship as well as the revelation of seeing her baby sister in the flesh, and put her life on the line again and again as a past returns to haunt her and a future becomes a question mark.


Gritty and completely engrossing, Venom is the best installment yet of this fantastic Urban Fantasy series. Gin is a study in contradiction. Where she is outwardly cold, hard (sometimes literally thanks to her ability with stone), and eerily free of emotional conflict when ending someone's life, she's also innately vulnerable. And nowhere is that vulnerability more apparent than in this story. Not only do we get to flashback to the night her family was murdered by Mab Monroe and come to understand how that experience shaped the person she's become, but we also have to watch her in empathetic silence as she tries to pick up the pieces of her disastrous relationship with former Ashland detective, Donovan Caine.

Gin opened herself to Caine in Web of Lies, let him see beneath her assassin exterior so that he might realize that she genuinely cared for him despite his impression of her as being an unfeeling, heartless killer. And even though he saw it, he still walked out and left her behind. She's more damaged by his exit than she cares to admit, and it's refreshing to see such naked, raw emotion from her as she is an expert at hiding it.
She is truly a forced to be reckoned with, meek being a word that will never describe her, and though her profession and darkly reserved exterior might sound as though she would be a difficult character with whom to relate, Ms. Estep does a remarkable job of making her susceptible to the thoughts and opinions of those for whom she cares, turning a stone cold killer into an accessible and intriguing female lead.

Owen Grayson's augmented role is a welcome addition to the story as he becomes a much more integral figure in Gin's harrowing and ultimately lonely life. He's everything Donovan Caine wasn't, and he's a light for Gin at the end of a very dark emotional tunnel. Where Donovan resented his feelings for Gin, Owen embraces them. Where Donovan verbally knocked her down after succumbing to those feelings, Owen builds her back up with his obvious interest. And where Caine's golden eyes reflected disappointment and condemnation, Owen's violet ones shine with respect and admiration.

The storyline is expertly crafted, never lacking in action or intrigue. Though Gin wants desperately to remain off Mab Monroe's radar, the universe is conspiring against her and bringing their inevitable clash that much closer. Ms. Estep is gradually setting us up for the final blowout, and the pieces fall into place seamlessly. Sometimes in a series, the third and fourth books start to struggle in the plot department, the conflict and the character relationships becoming increasingly stale or forced, but this is most certainly not the case for this series. This installment's story is well constructed, well thought out, and sets up Tangled Threads beautifully.

If you haven't had the opportunity to read these books, get yourself to a bookstore immediately for they are not to be missed.

Rating: 5/5

Saturday, September 25, 2010

In My Mailbox #7

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!

For Review:
The Eternal Ones by Kirsten Miller (courtesy of Star Book Tours)

Paranormalcy by Kiersten White
Dead Beautiful by Yvonne Woon

Borrowed (from Karen at For What It's Worth):
Intertwined by Gena Showalter
Unraveled by Gena Showalter

Before you visit another mailbox: be sure and check out my Fall Giveaway, I've got 3 beautiful ARCs of Nightshade up for grabs!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Cover Critique: Honeymoon of the Dead

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.

If you haven't immediately noticed the oddity in this cover, check out our bride's left arm. Sweet baby Jesus. It's as though she took a growth hormone and it only affected this one particular appendage. The right arm seems to be of an ordinary length, so what is happening with her Gumby-inspired, freakishly-long left arm? And does she have an elbow in there, or is that arm boneless, free to flail about wherever it pleases? It could be dangerous to just let it flop about with no rhyme or reason. She could trip over it and knock and elderly person down the stairs. She could take someone's eye out if she's not careful where she aims. There's a plethora of potential disasters just waiting to happen here.

Imagine you're the groom at this wedding. The doors to the church open and there she is. Your bride. There's her lovely lace wedding gown. Her perfect rose bouquet. Her 5-foot long arm, knuckles dragging on the ground beside her like some sort of mutant primate-human hybrid. Brings a tear to the eye just picturing it doesn't it? Oh, and then once she reaches you, you can take her disproportionally tiny hands in yours and pledge your undying devotion. She's a vision. Statuesque, if you will.

I know the frilly bits around her wrists are supposed to be feathers, or some other plush fabric, but they look a little like firecrackers to me. Which, when you think about it, could be helpful in this situation. After all, if she were to lose a hand, that monstrosity of an appendage would be reduced to a shorter, more manageable length. Just saying. And then there's the suspicious bulge down by her legs. I'm going to assume this is her knee, but that is the pointiest knee I've ever seen. Heaven help her groom should she ever get extremely angry at him and decide to bring that weapon up and get him in the groin. He'll need surgery to find his parts again if they don't wind up impaled on her sharpened knee bone first.

Let's take a moment and peruse the space she's standing in shall we? Weirdness is happening in this room. First, we have the champagne glasses which seem to be contemplating jumping ship and hoisting themselves over the side of the table as they lean precariously left when the chair legs and window frame seem to be quite vertical. Then, our bride seems to be caught in some sort of crosswind. Her gauzy nightgown is blowing right, but the flames on the candles of the chandelier are blowing definitively left. What a fascinating conundrum this room is! Absolutely marvelous.

Poor, poor misshapen bride-to-be in her fun-house room. At least she has her cat. And perhaps a spider, as it looks like one has taken up residence in the wonky space created by the u-shape of her inexplicable left arm. I'm sure it's threads of some sort and not a web, but why are there so many strands running amuck in just that area? So many questions to which I have no plausible answers other than this cover is beyond awesome.

What do you guys think?

A big thanks to Zita for sending this cover to me, I appreciate you thinking of me when you see cover absurdities!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Review: Double Cross

DOUBLE CROSS (The Disillusionists Trilogy #2)
Carolyn Crane
Urban Fantasy
326 pages
Random House
Available September 28, 2010
Received from author

This review contains NO spoilers

Justine Jones is still a hypochondriac, though to a slightly lesser degree. Thanks to Sterling Packard, she's learned to channel her fear and zing it into another person as part of a rehabilitation program referred to as "disillusioning". With the help of Justine, and Packard's team of talented misfits, criminals are mentally disillusioned and subsequently rebooted so they may become a functioning member of society once again.

Despite having a level of control over her hypochondria, Justine's life hasn't gotten any easier. In fact, it's gotten more complicated. She has yet to forgive Packard for deceiving her when he failed to inform her of the price to pay for his knowledge and assistance, but her traitorous body still responds to him though her mind vehemently rejects him. And then there's Midcity itself, currently being terrorized by a group of serial killers whose targets just might include Packard and the Mayor, Otto Sanchez.

Justine has never felt right about disillusioning unsuspecting people, but she's held tight to Packard's promise that they're providing a necessary service. Now, however, with killers on the loose and the men in her life in jeopardy, Justine must come to terms with not only her abilities, but her conscience as well and determine what, and who, is most important before circumstances make the decision for her.

Intricate, captivating, and richly complicated, Double Cross is nothing short of a revelation. This story is teeming with enigmatic and ingenious characters, each with their own agenda and a moral compass they claim points north, but it remains distinctly unclear as to whether their respective norths are in fact the same direction. The plot itself is as mysterious as the characters, overflowing with misdirection and leaving the reader continually guessing as to character allegiances and motives. Just when we think we might have a handle on the situation, it becomes clear that Ms. Crane is way ahead of us, an extremely talented puppet master well in control of our strings.

Justine is a truly fascinating heroine. She wants so badly to be normal, free of the worries and fears that have controlled her life for so long, but she, like so many others, is self-destructive. She trades one debilitating fear for another, exchanging her hypochondria for a fear of accepting her own flaws and truly revealing who she is to another person. She herself is more a victim of disillusionment than any of the criminals she targets, refusing to relinquish the anger and resentment tainting her view of Packard, and thereby denying herself the very thing she wants most: someone who understands all of her and accepts it unflinchingly. Packard is the embodiment of all the things that make Justine different; he strips away the blanket of comfort that is her fixation with illness and mortality and forces her into a reality she's not ready to face. She cannot accept him until she accepts herself, and all we can do is watch helplessly as she attempts to conquer that very fear.

Her internal struggles with regard to Packard make the reader ache, wanting so badly to defy the laws of physics and reach through the pages to provide comfort while simultaneously ripping the self-imposed blinders from her face so that she can see what's truly in front of her. Just as I started to get frustrated with her attitude toward Packard, she begins to get frustrated with herself, and we get to see a growth and progression as she starts to take control of her thoughts and actions, refusing to let fear of any kind dictate her life.

In addition to some personal growth from Justine, we also catch a glimpse of Packard as he drops some of his defensive shields and becomes less the authoritative highcap and more the vulnerable human being. This subtle shift in character makes him more attractive on every level, one thin layer of ambiguity removed from the ultimate mystery man, and leaves us begging for more page time with him.

The ending is as spectacularly brilliant as the build-up, forcing the reader to suck in a breath and frantically claw at the back cover in the hope that more pages will magically appear with the sounds of our distress. The execution of this story is flawless, every angle perfectly thought out, every character blissfully damaged but ultimately redeemable, and every detail cleverly placed to provide the most psychological impact on the reader. We are teased with information, taunted with a relationship with incendiary potential, and tormented by extremely emotional discoveries, leaving us nothing but a quivering mass after the last page has been turned, our mouths agape and our hearts pounding.

Mind Games was good, but Double Cross takes the story to a whole new level. Run to the bookstore on Tuesday.

Rating: 5/5

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Fall Giveaway!

It's finally fall! The lovely ladies over at Good Choice Reading are hosting a fall giveaway in celebration of all things book related and I thought it would be fun to participate. I know Blogfest was just a few short weeks ago, but the fantastic people at Penguin sent me 3 beautiful ARCs of Andrea Cremer's Nightshade and I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to give them to 3 lucky winners. Since I already have the ARCs in my possession and can't use The Book Depository, this particular giveaway is US only.

I like things simple, so as usual entering is really easy. Just fill out the form with your name and contact information and you're done! If the form isn't working, feel free to leave your information in a comment or email me at and I'll make sure you're entered.

Following the blog is absolutely not required to enter, but anyone who would like to follow or already follows will receive an extra entry. There are over 50 blogs participating in this giveaway, so be sure and hop around to enter their contests as well, a list is below. The contest will run through September 29th after which my 3 winners will be chosen and notified. Good luck everyone!

Supernatural Snark Fall Giveaway Entry Form

Fall Giveaway Participants:
  1. A Cozy Reader (US & Canada)
  2. A Musing Reviews (US ONLY)
  3. Bibliognome (US & International)
  4. Blkosiners Book Blog (US Only)
  5. Romance Book Junkie (US ONLY)
  6. Skyla11377 (US & International)
  7. Sinfully Tasty Reads (US ONLY)
  8. Once upon a Twilight (US & Canada)
  9. Crazy Book Reader (US & International)
  10. Dark Readers (UK & International)
  11. Looksie Lovitz (US & International)
  12. My OverStuffed Bookshelf (US ONLY)
  13. To Read or Not To Read (US & International)
  14. Divas Bookcase (US ONLY)
  15. My Neurotic Book Affair (US & Canada)
  16. Sizzling Hot Books (US ONLY)
  17. End of Story, Next Book (US & International)
  18. Paige Maddison (US ONLY)
  19. Kishaz World (US & International)
  20. Iam a Reader, Not a Writer (US & Canada Only)
  21. iB Book Blogging (US ONLY)
  22. Candaces Book Blog (US ONLY)
  23. Reading Angel (US & International)
  24. The Elliott Review (US & International)
  25. J. L. Jackson (US & Canada Only)
  26. Reenas Blog (US & International)
  27. Reflections with Coffee (US & International)
  28. The Itzel Library (US & International)
  29. The Eager Readers (US & International)
  1. Soap Box in My Mind (US ONLY)
  2. Book Noise (US & International)
  3. My Reading Room (US & Canada)
  4. Dark Wyrms Readers (US & International)
  5. Good Choice Reading (US & International)
  6. The Cajun Book Lady (US only)
  7. Read for your future (US & International)
  8. The YA Glutton
  9. resugo reads (US & International)
  10. Jennifer Lane Author of With Good Behavior (US ONLY)
  11. All the days of (US & International)
  12. Two Little Cavaliers (US & International)
  13. SweetNothingsxo (US & International)
  14. Lillie (AliseOnLife): Read My Mind (US & International)
  15. Ex Libris (US & International)
  16. Another Book Junkie (US & International)
  17. JL @ An Avid Readers Musings (US Only)
  18. Divine Perspective (US Only)
  19. BookZone (US Only)
  20. Naked and Unashamed (US Only)
  21. Age is Just a Number (US Only)
  22. Divine Truth Press (US Only)
  23. Susan Kaye Quinn Author of Life, Liberty, and Pursuit (US ONLY)
  24. Wicked Awesome Books(US ONLY)
  25. Scarrlet Reader (US & Canada)
  26. Aines Realm (US & International)
  27. Supernatural Snark (US Only)
  28. Taffys Writing (US & International)
  29. Words are things. . . (US ONLY)

Teaser Tuesday: Matched

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

Grab your current read
Open to a random page
Share 2 teaser sentences from somewhere on that page but be careful not to include spoilers

My read this week is Matched by Ally Condie (releases November 30 from Penguin):

"She talks and talks, and I imagine Ky's hand making that sweeping curve of the C for my name and my heart beats faster."

"I've given up on talking to him again today when I feel someone brush past me. At the same time I hear a word so soft and quiet I wonder if he said it up on the hill and the wind has just now carried it down to me.
The word is

Monday, September 20, 2010

Review: No Mercy

NO MERCY (Dark Hunter #19)
Sherrilyn Kenyon
Paranormal Romance
343 pages
St. Martin's Press
Available Now

Dev Peltier works the door at Sanctuary, his family's bar and a haven for all varieties of paranormal beings. He recently lost both his parents in a fight to protect his younger sister Aimee's mate, and that loss coupled with his sister's subsequent mating leaves him ready to part with Sanctuary and carve out his own path.

Just as he begins to seriously contemplate leaving his close-knit family behind, a beautiful distraction wearing black leather and riding a bike like death holds no sway over her shows up at Sanctuary's door. Sam is a Dark-Hunter, sworn into the service of Artemis after her brutal death and forbidden from seriously fraternizing with any males that might divert her attention away from her cause.

Dev and Sam share an instant attraction, but all-too soon reality intervenes and the sworn enemy of all Dark-Hunters, the Daimons, prove they are no longer content to stalk the shadows in search of human souls to steal. They've figured out a way to walk in the daylight, giving them an extreme advantage over the Dark-Hunters still relegated to darkness. If that were not a big enough problem, Sam and Dev learn quickly that her past just might hold a secret the Daimons need to change their entire existence for the better, but their quality of life improvement will no doubt be to the detriment of everyone else.

This series never fails to provide a quick, entertaining read. Dev is infectious with his undeniably charming sense of humor, and he only serves to further cement the reader's attraction to him with every word that comes out his mouth without running through a filter first. His sarcasm is laid on so incredibly thick one can practically wring the pages and watch the snark drip out, and his continual quips (mostly relating to his wish to be in various forms of undress with Sam) are outlandishly crude and hilariously inappropriate, leaving us no other alternative than to laugh out loud at his antics and harbor an irrational jealousy of Sam that she is able to win the heart of this ideal fictional hero.

Though Dev is the true highlight of the story, Sam is a gratifying heroine, one who isn't satisfied with letting anyone, even an alpha male bear with an extraordinarily large and fragile ego, fight her battles for her. She dons her armor, wields her sword, and charges into the fray with a prowess to match and exceed any of her male counterparts. So many times in paranormal romances, the female protagonist is strong and capable, but at the end of the day she is often banished to the sidelines or left to fight a lesser battle while the hero charges into battle in all his glory. This time, it's Sam who possesses the necessary skills to solve the Daimon predicament she and Dev are forced into, and it's Dev who is left on the sidelines to watch as Sam proves her skills to be laudable in the extreme.

Ms. Kenyon always does a beautiful job of crafting her secondary characters, and the other Dark-Hunters' interactions with Dev and Sam are endlessly delightful, their verbal sparring providing innumerable memorable quotes. My only complaint is with the inevitable moment when one half of the couple feels it necessary to push the other away in order to spare their life. Just once I want one of them to say "your rejection of me is duly noted, but I don't accept it, " and then refuse to cede the relationship come what may. I think that scenario would be particularly refreshing.

Despite that minor pitfall, No Mercy is a fun read, full of humor and action. It ends with a very interesting development in the Dark-Hunter/Artemis relationship and I am certainly looking forward to watching this new aspect evolve as the series continues.

Rating: 4/5

A few notes on the censorship trials of late

As I'm sure most of you know, the book world has been abuzz lately as several attempts at censorship have been thrust into prominence. First, there was the Ellen Hopkins fiasco, and now a gentlemen named Scroggins has written an article calling out several "filthy" books, berating the authors for the havoc they are inflicting on the country's youth. Now, I'm going to set aside the first amendment issue as I feel it's been thoroughly and eloquently argued into exhaustion and I cannot possible make an argument in it's favor that hasn't already been brilliantly made.

Instead, I'd like to focus on the power of the written word. People like Scroggins, dare I say small minded people of his similar ilk, who have perhaps had the blessing of living a life that has been free of abuse (drug, physical, mental or otherwise) can't possibly understand that a book pertaining to that subject matter could be anything other than harmful in the hands of a teenager. I would never wish such abuse on anyone to inspire understanding, but I can think of a hundred ways a book like that would be and is a blessing to anyone who wants to read it. People who oppose books with controversial subject matter seem to be convinced that the words on the page depicting awful events are what inspire the lewd, abhorrent, and deviant behavior of today, rather than considering the books merely take a reality that already exists and put it in an format where a lesson can be learned, solace can be found, and healing can possibly begin.

How dare we deny a child, teenager or adult an ally to see them through their pain? For that is what fictional characters are, personal allies we connect to, feel for, and inevitably bond with. Perhaps a young girl who has been raped can take comfort in the fact that she's not alone in her experience, but rather someone else, even a fictional someone, has gone through what she's currently suffering. Maybe that knowledge would be enough to stay the hand of someone considering suicide to escape their pain and anguish. Maybe on a lesser scale, that character provides the much needed warmth they aren't yet able to find in another person due to shame and guilt. Not only is it unfair and unjust to say books of such subject matter are filth, but it's downright cruel. Cruel to those who are suffering through abuse of any kind to make them feel as though a book dealing with their reality is unworthy of reading, that their circumstances are so disgusting they don't even deserve to be recorded in fiction. Instead, these books should be extolled for the accurate depiction of the world around us, however much we wish the truth of the words was not so.

How many times must we argue the same point? Silence only begets silence, and I for one am not content to live in a world of hushed conversations and whispered platitudes.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

In My Mailbox #6

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!

For Review:
XVI by Julia Karr
Sapphique by Catherine Fisher
Double Cross by Carolyn Crane

Wicked Appetite by Janet Evanovich

Friday, September 17, 2010

Cover Critique: Dylan

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 flashing back a few years again to this cover for Dylan, because really, some of these slightly older romance covers are just too amusing for me to pass over without comment. First of all, our friend Dylan here seems to be riding some sort of mutant water buffalo, which, if you ask me, is not the sexiest form of transportation. I concede that it's more likely this is a horse, but I've spent a lot of time around horses and I've never seen one quite so fat and furry. It certainly doesn't help the horse is cropped at the ears and shoulder, leaving nothing but a wild mane and substantial body mass to determine it's species. That, and not too many people ride water buffalo (that I know of), but I think in this case it's a fairly easy mistake to make.

I'm not going to beat around the bush on this one. After the freakishly furry horse, the next thing I see is his, um, package. Manhood? Whatever you want to call it, it's blatantly being thrust in my face in all it's denim-clad glory. You're staring at it now aren't you? Well, no one can blame you, it's right there at eye level for all to gawk at. The position of his outstretched leg and the reins he's holding lead your eye right to that area, making an obvious stare unavoidable. At least that's what I'm going to tell myself as the alternative would be that I have a fixation with Dylan's fictional goods, a disturbing thought in and of itself.

If I were him, I would personally be concerned than in about .5 seconds, the water buffalo I'm riding is going to land from his current bucking movement, and my prized possessions are going to meet backbone in a very abrupt and painful way. Dylan here doesn't seem too concerned however. No, he's a romance hero and therefore impervious to pain, and things like being rendered incapable of reproducing are a non-issue. It's much more important to flex his six-pack, toss his left arm above his head in an I'm-so-manly-I-only-need-to-hold-on-with-one-hand-and-no-legs kind of way, safe with the knowledge that he has dangly bits of steel, and should any harm come to them, he will simply shake it off and walk away with a bowlegged country cowboy swagger. Color me impressed.

Honestly, in the grand design scheme of things this cover isn't that bad, but the horse and his position on it did make me giggle and who can't use a good giggle on a Friday? What's everyone else think of Dylan?

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Yay Blog Hop!

In honor of Book Blogger Appreciation Week, we have been asked as part of the blog hop to take time to honor our favorite book bloggers and why we love them!

To be honest and cliched, there are so many fantastic bloggers out there that I don't even think I could narrow it down to a shortlist. I know it sounds like a cop out, but I follow a lot of blogs and there are things I love about each of them or I wouldn't bother to follow. Some have really thorough and well-written reviews, some have humorous takes on the books they've read, and some have great weekly posts that give me a glimpse into their individual personalities. Sometimes I agree with the reviews and sometimes I don't, but I respect each and every one of my fellow book bloggers and I'm so excited to be involved in such a fun community of people. Much love to all my favorite bloggers and happy Book Blogger Appreciation Week!

Review: Immortal Beloved

IMMORTAL BELOVED (Immortal Beloved #1)
Cate Tiernan
Young Adult
407 pages
Little, Brown
Available Now


Nastasya has spent most of her immortal life hopping from club to club, city to city, drink to drink with her cadre of immortal friends. She doesn't work and doesn't care to, and has given up on finding a meaningful relationship as humans are too short-lived and immortals are the opposite, demanding a commitment she isn't willing to make.

Her closest friend Incy has been with her for nearly a century and they have partied their way across continents and through decades. She hasn't noticed his growing penchant for magick, the innate ability to wield power with which all immortals are born, not until his abuse of it's power one night outside a club. Seeing her dearest friend misuse his magick, and her subsequent decision to walk away from the gentleman he hurt instead of providing aid, causes Nastasya to have an epiphany.

Life has held no meaning for her for centuries, and she realizes she's ready for something else, needs something more than the dawn and dusk of a day that holds no joy. She sets off for a small town in Massachusetts home to a type of rehab for immortals who've gone astray, but in order to move forward, she must first look back and face a history perhaps more painful to endure a second time through.

I couldn't help but compare this story to Infinite Days. Both are stories of young women (in terms of appearance, not age) with brutal histories searching for a life with which they can begin again, free of the darkness that has defined their existence up to this point. Both Lenah and Nastasya have been desensitized by their centuries of life, and seek the ability to feel something other than interminable emptiness. They also both have a group of followers who are unhappy with their respective absences and seek to return them to the fold by any means necessary.

Nastasya isn't quite as beautifully tragic as Lenah. Lenah appreciates every moment of her second chance, takes in all the new sensations, feelings, and longings and breathes them deep so they may be embedded in her senses forever. Nastasya on the other hand, is unable to shake her elitist, socialite attitude and approaches her new beginning much in the way an addict might approach forced rehab. She scoffs at the other immortals and their interest in being something more, makes sarcastic quips to deflect personal interest, and constantly reminds herself that she won't be staying long. Though her attitude is understandable, it makes her somewhat difficult to connect with initially.

Despite her distracting immaturity at times, the relationship between Nastasya and fellow wayward immortal Reyn is a truly fascinating aspect of the story. At first glance, her attraction seems superficial and unoriginal. New girl sees gorgeous boy (or Viking God as she likes to refer to him), falls into lust, but is surprised by his instant and vehement dislike for her. Thus their relationship becomes increasingly antagonistic, but is laced with an underlying heat and passion. Again, not that uncommon. However, soon each page begins to reveal a new facet as more information is garnered, and ever so slowly new strands of mystery are woven, forcing the surface of their relationship to crack and unveiling a cavern of potential underneath.

Because the relationship is so interesting, I wanted to stay in the present and watch it unfold, making the continual flashbacks to Nastaya's former life a little frustrating. Her horrific past is necessary to understanding the present story, but it could have been revealed in one or two flashbacks as opposed to five or six, which would have let the reader burrow more deeply into the story instead of being yanked out just as circumstances get interesting.

In the end, Immortal Beloved is a story of finding acceptance and of caring for something after centuries of indifference. To be more than an empty vessel. To feel. Want. Hope. Dream. And to discover that the smallest joys can have the profoundest effect. I will certainly be picking up book two in the series since the book ends far stronger than it starts, and by the conclusion Nastasya has begun her transformation into a character that has the promise of being one who sticks in my memory.

Rating 3.5/5

Wednesday, September 15, 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!

HEXBOUND (A novel of the Dark Elite #2)
Chloe Neill
Young Adult
January 4th, 2011

From Goodreads:

Lily Parker is new to St. Sophia’s School for Girls, but she’s already learned that magic can be your best friend…or your worst enemy.

They say absolute power corrupts absolutely. Turns out, even a little magic can turn you to the dark side. That’s why Lily has to learn how to control her newly discovered paranormal abilities, on top of avoiding the snobs who think they run her school, nursing a crush on a cute sophomore with a big, werewolf-y secret, and fighting the good fight with her best friend Scout as they take on Chicago’s nastiest nightlife—including the tainted magic users known as Reapers.

Then Lily’s invited to a private meeting with Sebastian. He’s hot, powerful, and offering to help her harness the magic flowing in her veins in a way no one else can. He’s also a Reaper. Lily can’t hide her suspicions. But she’ll soon find out that the line between good and evil isn’t always clear…

I really enjoyed the first book in this series, Firespell, so I'm looking forward to book 2. Chloe Neill is one of my favorite authors, her Chicagoland Vampires series is absolutely fantastic (I drool for Ethan). She's wonderfully sarcastic, something that always appeals to me, and I consistently devour her books in one sitting. I love the cover as well, the colors are gorgeous and the type treatment is perfection.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

BBAW Blogger Interview: Kari from The Five Borough Book Review

It's Book Blogger Appreciation Week! As part of this week's festivities, we are swapping interviews with fellow bloggers, and my partner is the lovely lady pictured to the left. Her name is Kari and she is one of the bloggers for The Five Borough Book Review. Check out her interview below to get to know her a little better!

Let’s start simple. Why did you decide to start the blog?

Originally, I just started it as a way for my friends to discuss the books we read, since we never have found time for any kind of organized book club. I’m sure I’m like most people with book blogs in that I thought I was being sooooo unique with my great idea of a book blog…then quickly learned that I was not the first to have the idea.

List your top three books or book series.

Gloria by Keith Maillard
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith
A Walk Across America by Peter Jenkins

If you could live the life of any character, who would it be and why?

Anne Shirley from Anne of Green Gables. I love love love the setting and time period when everything just seemed so much simpler, more about people and human emotion, without modern distractions. I actually recently wrote a blog post about this after rewatching the CBC films. The movies really make it more appealing as the art direction and cinematography makes the stories just look gorgeous.

Your bookshelves, organized or chaotic?

Pretty chaotic, I guess. I have books piled on my crowded apartment shelves and books that can’t fit there piled on my office desk. The only organization is that I put hardcovers together, so it looks nicer. And I put books by the same author together. I’m in the process of moving to an apartment with much more book space, so maybe they’ll be nicer in the future.

Favorite time of day to read?

Late afternoon/early evening. I used to love sitting on my front porch swing in the summer in Nashville, reading from the 4-7:00 hours as I watched the neighbors come home from work and I had the light of a low sun. But now in New York, I’m not particularly fond of one hour over another.

If you could change the ending of any book, what book would it be and how would you have it end?

The ending that sticks out in my mind as the worst ever is My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult. I actually threw the book across the room once I finished. Despite intended to be a “twist” ending, I thought it was so trite and contrived, and I haven’t read another Picoult book since. I would’ve just let the story end without that stupid “surprise.”

List three fun facts about yourself or your blog.

In college, I went to see Conan O’Brien filmed and on that day, he gave out free roundtrip JetBlue tickets to every member of the audience. So, I went to Puerto Rico.

I am destined to work around books. I worked at the public library in high school, I work in publishing now, and I’m going to grad school for library science.

I lived in London for five months and then backpacked through Europe. I’m trying to advance my French-speaking, because Paris is the city I’d go if I ever lived in Europe for a period of time.

Favorite part of living in NYC?

Everything is really convenient.

What is the one book you wish could be made into a movie or television series knowing it would be everything you wanted it to be?

The Betsy-Tacy series, into a quaint miniseries produced by PBS or something. So really, it should just be an American version of Road to Avonlea (though I’ve never actually watched the Road to Avonlea series but I know I’d love it, which is why it’s on my Netflix queue waiting for the weather to get cold enough for me to justify spending hours inside watching TV on DVDs).

What is your favorite book blog (outside of your own)? Favorite non-book blog?

I love reading Sasha & The Silverfish, because Sasha doesn’t write her blog like she’s writing for anyone other than herself. I think there’s a noticeable difference from when you write your honest reaction as if you’re writing for yourself versus when you’re writing to an audience. It’s something I try to remind myself to do. In terms of non-book blogs, I like smitten kitchen for its food inspiration, Design*Sponge for its home design inspiration, and Color Me Katie for its lovin’ life inspiration.

Thanks so much to Kari for stopping by!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Blogfest Winners!

I had a blast at Blogfest this past weekend, how about you? I entered more giveaways than I would have thought possible in a 3 day period, and I can't wait to participate again next year. I had an amazing turnout for my giveaway and I thank everyone who took the time to follow the blog and enter! Without further ado, out of 518 entries my three winners are:

#229 - Be Reading
#113 - elaing8

#474 - Marianna

Congratulations! You all have been sent an email, so be sure and check for it so you can send me your book requests.

Review: Clockwork Angel

CLOCKWORK ANGEL (The Infernal Devices #1)
Cassandra Clare
Young Adult
476 pages
Simon & Schuster
Available Now

Tessa Gray has just been sent a ticket to London by her brother. Perfect timing. Her aunt and guardian just passed away, leaving Tessa practically penniless and incredibly lonely. She hopes London might be a new beginning for her and Nate, one where they can lean on each other for support and make their way in a world that has done it's best to cripple them with loss.

But what's waiting for Tessa in London isn't Nate. And it certainly isn't the promise of a better life. Instead she finds herself at the mercy of the Dark Sisters, two strange and horrifying women who introduce her to London's magical underbelly. It seems Tessa is something special, possessing an ability never before seen by Downworlders (demons, warlocks, vampires and the like).

Tessa can physically change form, shifting her body into that of another as long as she has an object of theirs to guide her. This gift allows her not only to change physical form, but also gives her the ability to slip into the mind of the person she mimics as well, making her a much sought-after commodity. She's quickly thrust into the confusing world of the Shadowhunters, facing creatures that shouldn't exist while searching for her brother and jostling an attraction to one shadowhunter in particular. She quickly learns that though she can change shape at will, she can't change her feelings as easily, and her vulnerable heart is perhaps her most threatening foe.

Ms. Clare has a gift for writing a stunning cast of characters that slips seamlessly under the reader's skin and takes root, forcing us to feel for them and with them as they traverse their physical and emotional obstacles. Tessa is a wonderful heroine, strong willed and independent, and lacking the passivity of her time. She's not broken by her circumstances with the Dark Sisters, accepts the existence of the occult with admirable aplomb, and despite the bleakness of her time in London, keeps her heart open and her mind clear.

Will is both deliciously attractive and incredibly aggravating. He cuts a swath through the pages with his arrogant attitude and abundance of sarcasm, seemingly leaving broken hearts and empty alcohol bottles in his wake. It's glaringly obvious however that the snark and bravado are defense mechanisms, keeping those who might break down his emotional barriers at arm's length so he doesn't have to reveal any truths about himself. He's of the mindset to show people the worst so they can't ever claim to be disappointed.

Despite his lofty attitude and periodic emotional vacancy, Will is quite charming, and that charm is not lost on the reader. We can't help but be drawn to him as Tessa is, fighting the voice in our head that says he's trouble, and rather submitting to the instinct that says he's damaged, but not destroyed. Damaged means there's hope of restoration, and there's a vulnerability to him that sneaks through a crack in his facade every now and then, leading us to believe that he wants Tessa's comfort and affection despite the actions that definitively say otherwise.

Jem is the gentleman to Will's roguish playboy. He's the voice of reason in a world of unpredictability, and he possesses a sensitivity and wisdom far beyond his young years. The differences between him and Will are astounding, and the two together with Tessa make for a love triangle of epic proportions. Watching the relationship between these three unfold and evolve is something I am greatly anticipating.

If brilliant characterization weren't enough, there's also a story that's masterfully executed, clues artfully placed with just enough information to pique curiosity, but not so much as to give any significant details away. There's mystery after mystery to keep the reader enthralled, virtually begging for more as the pages fly by with blurring speed. Ms. Clare has brought an entirely new dynamic to a familiar story for fans of The Mortal Instruments, and it's like coming home with all the comfort of recognizable objects and terminology, yet we are given a drastically different tale that prevents that familiarity from turning stagnant and repetitive.

Tessa, Will, and Jem are characters of depth, with an intoxicating humor and intelligence that demands we pay attention to their story. I'm fully invested in their world, worrying about them, hurting for them, and laughing with them. That kind of investment is fairly rare and is the mark of a book that has successfully embedded itself in my heart and mind and will be staying there for some time.

Rating: 4.5/5

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Blogfest 2010

Welcome to my Blogfest Giveaway!

There will be 3 individual winners, and those people will have their choice of one hardback or two paperbacks from the above group. The books listed are some of my favorites for the year so far, or ones that I'm greatly looking forward to but haven't gotten to just yet. There are books from each of my favorite genres: Urban Fantasy, Paranormal Romance, and Paranormal Young Adult, so hopefully there's a little something for everyone!

I know everyone visiting this weekend will be entering a lot of giveaways, so I just want to keep things simple. No complicated extra entries, just follow the blog and fill out the form with your name and email address so I can contact you if you win. If for some reason the form doesn't work, feel free to email me at with BLOGFEST in the subject line or leave a comment and I'll make sure you're entered. Winners will be chosen on Monday the 13th and will be notified via email as well as posted on the blog.

Supernatural Snark Blogfest Entry Form

This giveaway is open internationally as long as The Book Depository delivers to your country. You can check the list of countries here.

Book prizes:

Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins
Firelight by Sophie Jordan
Infinite Days by Rebecca Maizel
The Iron Daughter by Julie Kagawa
Paranormalcy by Kiersten White
Spiders Bite by Jennifer Estep
Web of Lies by Jennifer Estep
Unholy Ghosts by Stacia Kane
Unholy Magic by Stacia Kane
City of Ghosts by Stacia Kane
No Mercy by Sherrilyn Kenyon
Sin Undone by Larissa Ione
Eternal Kiss of Darkness by Jeaniene Frost
Lover Mine by JR Ward
Twice Bitten by Chloe Neill

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

Genre Reviews

Also, be sure and check out the full list of participants here. For anyone hopping blog to blog, you can track your progress and if you use the tracking site, you'll be entered in the Blogfest massive giveaway! Just click on Blogfest 2010 Tracking Site and follow the directions!

Good luck everyone!

Review: The Replacement

Brenna Yovanoff
Young Adult
343 pages
September 21, 2010
Received via Star Book Tours for review

Gentry isn't your typical quaint suburban town. The problems here don't revolve around getting kids to school on time, working long hours, or even paying a variety of bills. Gentry has a very specific set of problems. Every seven years, a child is taken and replaced with something else, something not quite right that dies shortly after the switch is made.

Instead of searching for answers and preventing the swaps from taking place, the people of Gentry pretend it isn't happening. Things are the way they are, and that's how it will always be.

Mackie Doyle just happens to be one of the replacements, only he didn't die. He's grown up with an aversion to iron, blood, and consecrated ground, but he's alive when so many others have perished. Now the sequence is starting all over again with a young girl getting replaced, and Mackie is slowly learning the truth the town of Gentry is so determined to ignore. Continuing on stifled by oppressive silence is no longer an option for him.

The crowning achievement of this book is it's underlying message. Children in Gentry are dying, yet not a single voice rises out of the masses to object. The collective inaction of the town is shocking, and serves as an exaggerated example of how the true betrayal of humanity is indifference. The root of evil lies not just in the malicious deeds of others or in the people that exist at the opposite end of the spectrum, but also, and perhaps more importantly, in the good people who choose to look the other way. The idea that those whose hands are literally coated in the blood of the innocent might share equal culpability for the dark deeds committed with those who merely do nothing to prevent them makes The Replacement a very thought-provoking read.

Mackie is other. People would say he's a part of what plagues the town of Gentry, where the desire for prosperity has bred complacency to such a degree that the inhabitants turn a blind eye to the deaths of their own children. With each child's death, those who mastermind the switches grant the town good fortune, so the citizens continue to remain passive. But it's not Mackie, nor any of those like him, who is the true monster. He may be less than human by the town's definition, but it's his voice, with the help of friends Tate and Roswell, that rises out of the dark and dank and dares to question. This book truly makes the reader reflect on what it means to be human, and how thin the veil between good and evil can truly be.

Though the message is beautifully woven through this story, it's power resonating deep under the reader's skin with every word read, the ending leaves a little to be desired. This book is about choices. Choosing to step forward when others would cower back. Choosing to fight when others would simply comply. But yet, when the final showdown is reached, Mackie is still the only one to make a decision. He looks back to see his friends rendered immobile, leaving him to his fate as he propels himself forward into the hands of the enemy. Are they outnumbered? Absolutely. But inaction can be rationalized in any number of ways and the end result is still the same: no one acts. That's been the point from the beginning, and I hoped that Mackie's strength of character would have taken root and spread a bit further by the end. Surely if one can make a stand, so can many.

My other small issue is with Tate and Mackie's relationship. The story itself is so strong that the relationships between the individual characters seem to get overwhelmed. Tate flits back and forth emotionally, harboring anger and resentment for Mackie over the disappearance of her sister one minute, then feigning interest the next. Mackie seems fairly content with either outcome, whether they are friends or something more, and it seems as though the story would have been just as brutally honest and ultimately just as successful had the romantic subplot been nonexistent.

There are a few problems, but overall this is a dark and compelling story, full of beguiling creatures that force us to closely examine our day to day choices, and make us acutely aware of the extreme consequences of our own apathy.

Rating: 3.5/5

Wednesday, September 8, 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!

THIS SIDE OF THE GRAVE (Night Huntress #5)
Jeaniene Frost
February 22nd, 2011

From Goodreads:
Danger waits on both sides of the grave…

Half-vampire Cat Crawfield and her vampire husband Bones have fought for their lives, as well as for their relationship. But just when they’ve triumphed over the latest battle, Cat’s new and unexpected abilities threaten to upset a long-standing balance…

With the mysterious disappearance of vampires, rumors abound that a species war is brewing. A zealot is inciting tensions between the vampires and ghouls, and if these two powerful groups clash, innocent mortals could become collateral damage. Now Cat and Bones are forced to seek help from a dangerous “ally”—the ghoul queen of New Orleans herself. But the price of her assistance may prove more treacherous than even the threat of a supernatural war. …to say nothing of the repercussions Cat never imagined.

Oh Bones, how I've missed you this year! It's been a long year without a full length Cat and Bones novel and though we've gotten 2 spinoff books, nothing quite compares to Bones. If you haven't read Jeaniene Frost's series, run to the bookstore! She's got a great sense of humor and Bones is most definitely swoon-worthy.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Interview: Sophie Jordan

Sophie Jordan's young adult novel, Firelight, releases today and she was nice enough to stop by and answer a few questions!

What made you choose dragons out of all the paranormal beings?

I knew I wanted to write a paranormal YA for awhile before I came up with the “draki-descendant from dragon” premise. It might sound silly, but I really did wait for the idea to come to me. I wanted to write a young adult novel with a strong romance (of course!), but the paranormal element was elusive. I wanted the paranormal aspect to be unique and fresh – both for the current market and me, too. I needed to be excited about it. I had lots of ideas flit through my mind that I quickly dismissed, but when I landed on dragons I knew I hit something that wasn’t being done in YA, and I got very excited. When I started thinking about how dragons might have evolved I knew I had the making of a great new paranormal world.

What is your favorite part of writing about first love?

Oh, that first meeting! The sparks! And, of course, there has to be conflict, otherwise things would get boring. So I guess my favorite part in writing about first love is establishing the conflict that is working to tear the “lovers” apart.

Do you find it more difficult to create a character (physical description, emotions, thoughts) or to name them?

Naming characters is pretty simple for me. I have lots of names swirling around my head. A character’s thoughts, however, can get tricky. I feel fairly in control of writing description and emotions … but sometimes you can get too close to a character and lose objectivity. You can miss the mark about what they should be thinking in a certain scene given what’s happening. When I revise, this is what I’m mostly cleaning up.

What is your favorite Firelight moment? Something during the writing process? Publishing? Promoting?

As difficult and hair-pulling as it is, I loved revising Firelight. By that time, I had something to work with. The bones were there, I just had to flesh it out. Even though the material was a bit rough, I could see the promise, the hint of what was to come. This is where the magic happens!

Do you have any special plans for release day?

Well, I’ll probably write – for a little while at least! But then I’ll gather some close friends for lunch at one of my fav places and then maybe stalk Firelight in a book store or two!

Thank you so much to Sophie for stopping by! If you're interested in learning more about Sophie and Firelight, you can find her here:

Monday, September 6, 2010

Review: Sin Undone

Larissa Ione
Paranormal Romance
400 pages
Hachette Book Group
Available Now
Received from Rex Robot Reviews ARC Tour

Sin lives her life much in the way of her shortened moniker. She's the only female Seminus demon in existence, needs sex for her very survival, and works as a master assassin. She's convinced herself she has very few needs outside of carnal ones, and has closed herself off from all those that might make her believe she needs anything other than what her demon is known for.

Emotional attachment issues are the least of Sin's current problems however. Sin has a gift for creating diseases, having the power to conjure a disease and pass it to another human, shifter, vampire or demon. She inadvertently used her gift to create a plague that's spreading rapidly through the werewolf population with a 0% survival rate. Suddenly, lack of sex is not biggest factor that can kill her, but rather the assassins from her den who seek to eliminate her as master to snag the spot for themselves along with the members of werewolf council who want her to answer for the deaths of so many of their kind, take precedence.

Con, who's half werewolf, half vampire, is asked to bring her before the council for punishment. This is problematic for a variety of reasons, not the least of which his former intimate encounter with Sin. Con also has her four demon brother's to deal with, any one of whom would gladly rip him to pieces for hurting her. As he and Sin struggle to find a cure for the disease and a reprieve from punishment, it becomes clear that the hurt her brothers were so concerned about will not be physical, but emotional.

An absolutely brilliant end to the series. As I've said before, I typically have trouble relating to the heroines in paranormal romance novels, but Sin is a fantastic combination of strength and vulnerability. Her past was dark and bleak as she found herself adrift with a demonic essence she didn't know she possessed, forced to enter into physical relationships that had no real meaning beyond a moment of pleasure. As a result, she has an understandable aversion to any kind of significant personal relationship and keeps any manifestation of her feelings blanketed in an air of indifference. But unlike so many heroines, when the truth of her feelings is eventually asked of her, she doesn't spout half truths or give vague generalities that leave the thick-plated emotional armor untarnished, but rather lets that armor fall away and allows Con to see all of her. It's a beautiful thing to read.

Con, for his part, returns the favor and allows Sin to see his insecurities, his secrets, and his baggage so they are constantly on equal footing. He asks no more of her than he is willing to give, and their relationship is truly one of two alpha personalities joining to create something stronger, rather than an alpha male forcing his female to submit.

Ms. Ione does a superb job in crafting their delicate relationship, and when the inevitable moment comes when Con is forced to push Sin away to save her life, the venom lining his words is so intense the reader can't help but wince, hearts leaping from our chests and dropping somewhere in our guts. The words become more than words, morphing into shards of glass so sharp edged, we're in danger of slicing a finger open on the page, leaving a pain no longer vicarious in nature, but one as real as if Con had spoken directly to us.

In addition to two strong, intelligent and intense protagonists, there is also a very interesting and engaging storyline. Though the relationship takes center stage, it is fully supported by a war of the species, keeping the reader as physically engaged in the action as they are emotionally captivated by the relationship. There's not a page that passes by without passion or conflict, and I found myself reading the last page long before I wanted to be finished.

Sin Undone
is a paranormal romance at it's finest and should be added to any romance lover's bookshelf.

Rating: 5/5