Friday, December 30, 2011

Cover Critique: Best Afternoon Ever

So. Much. To. Talk. About. I don't even know where to start. Oh wait, yes I do. Let's start with that hairless, shirtless delicious treat digitally added to our picnic landscape, because really, he's entirely and fabulously ridiculous isn't he? I think we should all take a minute to do some visualization exercises to help us truly appreciate Blue Apples (we'll address this title later) for everything it is. Here we go.

Let's imagine we're walking through the park on a glorious spring day, enjoying the fresh air and reveling in the feel of the warm sun on our faces. The grass is green, the sky is blue, and we're outside instead of cooped up in the house or at work. Then, as we round a corner on our walking path the above sight greets us. BAM! Naked chest. WHAP! Weirdly slick (sweaty? overly moisturized?) skin. POW! Complete lack of facial expression so we have no idea what's going on inside that head. Is he happy to see us? Are we the ones he's planned this bizarre tableau for? With that bland look and the fact that the picnic basket is blocking our other indicator, it's kind of hard to tell just where he's going with this. Who's traumatized? No one yet? Well, that's perhaps because we have yet to focus our attention on that strip of black fabric at his crotch. I see that and this image pops in my mind:

And I just went blind for a second. Awesome. I can say with one hundred percent certainty that I don't want black spandex-covered junk anywhere near my food Mr. Apples, so let's come more appropriately dressed for dining next time please. Nothing like eating fruit and drinking champagne .5 inches away from a one-eyed snake testing the limits of stretchiness and making a valid attempt to come out and visit. Horrible mental image. *shudders* We clearly need to move on.

I think my favorite part of this cover is the strange combination of mismatched elements and the rather alarming proportional issues present in this photoshop collage o' brilliance. Look at that picnic basket! It's the size of his entire upper body. It's probably a good thing he has so many muscles and can heft it around because I'm not sure my puny arms could manage. Also, the grass surrounding the fruit doesn't at all match the grass behind our bare chested picnic-lover, so it seems he's managed to find himself a place to dine on some sort of dividing line between turf species. Well done, Apples! He deserves a pat on the back for finding such an environmental anomaly, though I feel like if we touched his skin we might stick to it, so probably best to wait until we've finished eating before attempting contact.

Lastly, I don't think I can end this post without mentioning the title. Blue Apples. Really? Is this a blue balls reference? I know my mind is frequently deeper in the gutter than most, but I don't see another way to interpret it. Also, is "succulent" part of the title do you think? If so, that skyrockets its placement on the sexual innuendo scale, and therefore makes me love it all the more. I, of course, looked up the blurb in an effort to become more informed. Thank me later.

Gala is an elite Captain of Dianndra's guard and a proud owner of a male harem. When she volunteers to go on a treacherous mission into enemy territory to steal aphrodisiac fruit and defy an ancient foe, she has no idea what this act of trespass will cost her.

Lord Veren and his lover, Markeen, are gorgeous swords for hire and warriors supreme. Like all Vertanians they are bigger, stronger, braver, and brighter, but they spawn only male children and face a culture in decline. They need female companions. How fortunate for them when they discover a beautiful lust-intoxicated Dianndran wandering in their orchard.

The warriors capture Gala and carry her into their fortress for a night of shared lust that may change two ancient cultures forever.

Huh. That's quite the scenario isn't it? One question: How do I become the proud owner of a male harem? Wait. That's not relevant to this discussion is it? (But seriously, is there like an application process or something? I have references.) No. So I'll move on to my next question. If she knew the blue apples (*giggles*) were aphrodisiacs ahead of time, why did she eat them while wandering through enemy territory? That doesn't seem terribly bright to me. Nothing like being all lusty when you need to be on your game to escape foes and return to your no-doubt spectacularly slutty man harem (and just how many gentlemen does it take to qualify as a harem?). Also, I think the term "companion" might be stretching the truth a bit given they capture Miss Gala whilst in her fog of lust. Companion seems to imply a willing participant, though I guess if she's hopped up on sexy-time fruit her willingness to have at it with two male-spawn-only enemy warriors might reach a new high.

I discovered while researching this cover that it's not the only one of its kind. Oh no. There are more. Like a whole series. *claps hands and laughs maniacally* I'll leave you with Georgia Peach and his sex-tastic necklace and earring. Happy Friday everyone!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Review: Dragonswood

Janet Lee Carey
Paranormal Young Adult
416 pages
Available January 5th
Received for review through Teen Book Scene

THE STORY (from Goodreads)
Wilde Island is in an uproar after the recent death of its king. The uneasy pact between dragons, fairies, and humans is fraying, and a bloodthirsty witch hunter with a hidden agenda whips villages into frenzies with wild accusations. Tess, a blacksmith’s daughter from a tiny hamlet near the mysterious Dragonswood, finds herself caught in the crosshairs of fate when she is accused of witchery and has to flee for her life along with her two best friends.

Not even Tess’s power to see the future can help the girls as they set off on their desperate journey, but she keeps having visions of a man wielding a sword. And when she finally meets him, Tess has no idea how to handle the magnetic attraction she feels for him, or the elusive call she hears from the heart of the Dragonswood.

In this epic romance, an ancient prophecy comes true in a way neither dragon, fairy, nor human would have predicted.

Beautifully crafted and atmospheric, Dragonswood is one of those stories we can see and feel clearly without a great deal of detailed description, the small town in which Tess resides and the mystical surrounding forest appearing easily in our minds as each word seems to have a corresponding frame for the moving picture taking place in our heads. Though we aren’t given much history with regard to the rather tenuous truce between dragon, human, and fairy, it doesn’t detract from our overall enjoyment of this tale, with the action taking place at present enough to capture our attention and hold it throughout. While fantasy elements dance across the pages in all their magical glory, we are truly anchored to the story through Tess—her pain, her desires, and her need to discover a place in the world she can call her own helping us connect on an emotional level that provides us with the comfort we require to open up our imaginations and let ourselves experience what Ms. Carey has written.

Tess has us in her corner from the first few paragraphs in the prologue, the unfortunate circumstances of her reality presented to us in blunt and raw fashion—facts only, with little drama or emotion to be found lurking beneath the black ink—and we find our hearts pounding in anticipation and hope that the concluding pages will paint us a happier picture than the opening ones. While Tess has intimate knowledge of the back of a man’s hand and the sound of his anger, she never loses hope that a better man than her father exists, and despite the recoil she occasionally experiences when Garth raises his arm or moves too suddenly, she never allows herself to be consumed by what was beaten into her. She is fiercely loyal and protective of those around her, constantly striving to help them find their happiness even at the cost of her own.

There are several things about Garth and Tess–as well as the dragons and fairies–that become obvious to us far before Tess even begins to entertain the possibility, however the story is interesting enough we still find ourselves enthralled. Events move rapidly at times and then slow back down to give us time to catch our breath before the next daring rescue, narrow escape, or emotional revelation, not drowning us in action nor boring us with too many quite moments but rather keeping a nice pace to guarantee our involvement every page and chapter. Sometimes the ease with which Tess and company achieve their goals tests the limits of believability, but ultimately our loyalty to the characters has us rooting for them strongly enough we don’t find it worth the effort to object to things working out in their favor.

Overall, Dragonswood will delight and entertain most readers, though fans of romance might find themselves wishing for just a bit more pay off between Garth and Tess after all the tantalizing tension sparking between them. That being said however, their relationship is one of sweet innocence and vulnerability as Tess opens herself up to Garth in a way she thought had been knocked out of her by violent touches where there should have only been loving ones, leaving us with a smile on our faces even though we long for more between the two of them. Readers who love adventure and light fantasy will no doubt relish the tangibility of this tale, finishing the last pages with an intense desire to read more of this world.

Rating: 4/5

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Review: Hallowed

HALLOWED (Unearthly #2)
Cynthia Hand
Paranormal Young Adult
416 pages
Available January 17th
Received from NetGalley for review

THE STORY (from Goodreads)
For months Clara Gardner trained to face the fire from her visions, but she wasn’t prepared for the choice she had to make that day. And in the aftermath, she discovered that nothing about being part angel is as straightforward as she thought.

Now, torn between her love for Tucker and her complicated feelings about the roles she and Christian seem destined to play in a world that is both dangerous and beautiful, Clara struggles with a shocking revelation: Someone she loves will die in a matter of months. With her future uncertain, the only thing Clara knows for sure is that the fire was just the beginning.

Hallowed is the type of book we can't wait to start reading, yet our hands remain frozen at our sides and we find we're unable to force them to break the spine knowing that what awaits us will not be a lighthearted jaunt full of whimsy and achingly adorable romance. Instead, we know darkness and pain will most likely be waiting to greet us when we finally work up the courage to open the front cover, delving us deeper into the complex world of the angel-bloods and challenging both us and our beloved characters in ways that are uncomfortable but so very poignant and moving at the same time. Ms. Hand certainly has no interest in leading us along the path of least resistance, throwing down the gauntlet in this second installment and waiting to see if we’ll be strong enough to pick it up and walk alongside Clara, Tucker, and Christian as times get tougher.

A joy to read about, Clara reminds us in this tale of all the reasons why we fell in love with her in Unearthly, continuing to show us her ability to create her own light amidst the stifling darkness of the unknown world she is an intrinsic part of when no one else, not even her own mother, will help her find her way. Her love for Tucker consists of both sweetness and shadows, her seemingly unshakeable confidence that who she is going to be with is going to be her choice–and hers alone–paired in this tale with a nagging doubt that her purpose and her role as an angel-blood might prove to be the blade that slices her free will to ribbons. While she hates the idea that her life isn’t entirely of her own making, she never rages against it or lashes out at those around her at the injustice of it all, instead she quietly mourns the life she might have had were circumstances a bit different, and puts on her game face before she tackles what’s thrown her way with verve.

The love triangle is crafted in a painfully stunning way, the case for both Christian and Tucker hauntingly laid out for us as we feel Clara’s confusion and distress when she looks at them both. What sets this love triangle apart from some of its more frustrating counterparts is that Clara is not one to waffle, never sitting back and studying her feelings for both young men or weighing the pros and cons of each to help her reach a decision. Instead, she’s already chosen, and her choice is Tucker. She chooses to love him with everything she has despite Christian’s presence in her life, so her struggle then becomes not one of dual attraction, but one of choice versus duty, want versus greater purpose, and personal will versus divine will. She wants a life with Tucker, but her angel-blood draw to Christian is too powerful to simply ignore, and as a result we all find ourselves in a twisting, churning emotional maelstrom from which there’s no way to walk away unscathed.

Despite this being the second book in the series, we are not simply sucked into the story in the middle of events and made into pack mules forced to bear the weight of numerous unanswered questions carried over from book one even as new ones are sprung on us, but rather we are given many of the answers we seek by the end to help ease our mental burden even as the heavy presence of our emotional one settles down on our shoulders. Ms. Hand knows just how to appease us enough that we don’t end this installment with a sense of emptiness at having merely been prepped for the following book, but she keeps enough out of reach to have us salivating for book three now that we’ve had a little taste of enlightenment.

Rating: 4/5

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Review: Dreaming of the Wolf

Heart of the Wolf #8
Terry Spear
Adult Paranormal Romance
Available Now
Received from author for review

THE STORY (from Amazon)


Alicia Greiston is a no-nonsense bounty hunter determined to bring a ring of mobsters to justice. Her dogged pursuit of the crime family has forced her to avoid relationships— any man would only become a target for retribution. Luckily, Jake Silver is more than a man, and his instincts are telling him to stop at nothing to protect her.


However, the mob isn't entirely human either, and soon Alicia must flee for her life. When Alicia and Jake's passion begins to spill over into their dreams, Jake learns he will have to do more than defend her— he'll have to show his mate the way of the wolf.

Though Dreaming of the Wolf is the eighth book in Terry Spear’s werewolf series, the romance between Jake and Alicia does stand on its own, introducing those of us who haven’t read the previous books to the world as Alicia finds herself drawn deeper in, and we are able to latch on to the comforting familiarity of sexual tension and desire to keep us grounded. The relationship between our hero and heroine progresses physically with surprising rapidity however, and despite our ability to recognize that instant physical attraction is more than possible, the speed with which the two of them moves denies us the chance to know them individually before we see them as a romantic pair. As a result, Jake and Alicia never quite fully take shape for us as readers, existing more in words and phrases than in crystal clear mental images and memorable emotional cords.

Alicia is a woman who creates a myriad of conflicting feelings, her determination to see the men who killed her mother behind bars admirable and her ability to take what’s thrown at her in stride a trait we can’t help but appreciate, but at the same time her nonchalance with regard to some fairly alarming situations is also a bit troublesome. At one point she is knocked unconscious and abducted, awaking to find herself naked in a strange bedroom knowing there was a man with whom she was vaguely familiar there at some point, and it takes her quite a long time to get to the place where she questions whether or not she could have been raped. Even when she recognizes the possibility of such an intimate violation, she really doesn’t seem all that bothered by it, instead moving on to the other, presumably bigger, problems in her life with what appears to be ease. Everyone of course reacts to traumatic events differently, but Alicia shows so little emotion throughout the entire story that it’s difficult to feel a connection to the problems and events taking place in her life.

Jake is much the same as Alicia in terms of exhibiting any sort of range of feeling outside possessiveness and lust/love, and so we read this story with a more superficial appreciation for a paranormal romance rather than a deep and meaningful reaction to our protagonists. Ms. Spear does create an intriguing family history for Alicia, and the cast of secondary characters–particularly Jake’s brother Tom–add a bit of personality that seems to be missing from both the hero and heroine, so while this particular romance may not have blown us away, there is plenty to indicate that some of the other installments may do just that. I look forward to going back and reading a few of the earlier stories, hoping all the while that maybe a story for Tom may be on it’s way at some point.

Rating: 3/5

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Happy Holidays!

Hey Everyone!

The blog will be quiet for the next few days as I'll be taking a little time off to celebrate the holidays with my family. Regular posting will resume on December 27th and I will have a new cover critique up on the 30th. I hope all of you are having a wonderful holiday season and I'll catch up with you in a few days!

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Interview: Jane Kindred + The Fallen Queen

I'm joined on the blog today by author Jane Kindred whose latest release The Fallen Queen–the first in a new romantic fantasy trilogy–released earlier in December from Entangled Publishing. She was nice enough to answer a few questions for me, and I hope you all enjoy the interview!

All the characters have unusual names; are there any interesting stories about how you came to choose each of them?

Many of them are obscure names from classical angelology and demonology. I wanted to use as many actual angelic/demonic names as I could, but I didn’t want the typical “Michael” or “Gabriel” so I did a lot of research using various sources. I came across Anazakia and it sounded so much like the Russian pronunciation of Anastasia that I thought it would be perfect for my heroine. Belphagor is also a classical fallen angel or demon name, while I gave Vasily a Russian name because he grew up an orphan on the streets of Raqia and was given his name by other street demons who spoke the language of the world of Man (or perhaps named himself; he hasn’t told me yet). Aeval is a fairy queen from Irish folklore, whom I particularly liked because of Brian Merriman’s 18th century poem The Midnight Court. And Kae is the little boy stolen away by the Snow Queen in Hans Christian Andersen’s story. I could go on, but suffice it to say, yes there are many interesting stories behind the names. :)

Is there one thing about either the fantasy world you created or your characters that you can remember being the first piece of The Fallen Queen puzzle to pop into your head and get your wheels turning?

The first thing that came to me was a demon gambler and conman with a name that started with a “B.” My story ideas usually start with a character, and the characters usually come with a name. In Belphagor’s case, I just knew the first letter, which is why I started looking up demon names that started with “B.” As soon as I saw “Belphagor,” I knew it was him.

Are any of the details of the setting of St. Petersburg, Russia based on observations you’ve made in person or did they come strictly from online/library research?

All of them came from personal observation. I traveled to St. Petersburg a few years ago with a summer language immersion program and lived with a Russian family. Every location and detail of St. Petersburg and Novgorod in the book are actual places I visited. (The Lesnoy District flat is the flat I stayed in; I feel kind of bad about “destroying” it, because it was lovely, as was my hostess.) I’ve since spent a lot of time pouring over floor plans of the Winter Palace—including virtually crawling around on the roof via the Hermitage’s webcam—and even studying train schedules, because I wanted everything to be as real as it could.

If The Fallen Queen were made into a movie, what would the tagline on the promotional poster say?

Well, honestly, if I were any good at coming up with taglines, there would be one on the book cover. ;) But maybe part of the first sentence would work: Heaven is not the paradise you’ve been told.

Is there one particular aspect of writing fantasy that you find the most challenging or the most rewarding?

I love writing fantasy for the same reason I love reading it: I love to get so caught up in the details of another world that it seems real, and especially a world full of magic. The most rewarding part of creating a world like that is when readers feel they’ve been there themselves and feel the same affection for my characters that I do.

Do we get to meet other types of demons other than air and fire in this book or in future installments?

Every angel and demon has a dominant element, so yes, there are some of each in every book (although now that I think about it, the only waterspirits in the books are full-blooded angels), and there are different characteristics and powers depending on their angelic order.

If we asked Anazakia to sum up her feelings on the events of The Fallen Queen in one word, what would it be?

I think she might sum it up with a tarot card: Bashnya (The Tower).

Thank you for taking the time to answer my questions Jane! You can find more information on Jane and her books here:



Heaven can go to hell.

Until her cousin slaughtered the supernal family, Anazakia’s father ruled the Heavens, governing noble Host and Fallen peasants alike. Now Anazakia is the last grand duchess of the House of Arkhangel’sk, and all she wants is to stay alive.

Hunted by Seraph assassins, Anazakia flees Heaven with two Fallen thieves—fire demon Vasily and air demon Belphagor, each with their own nefarious agenda—who hide her in the world of Man. The line between vice and virtue soon blurs, and when Belphagor is imprisoned, the unexpected passion of Vasily warms her through the Russian winter.

Heaven seems a distant dream, but when Anazakia learns the truth behind the celestial coup, she will have to return to fight for the throne—even if it means saving the man who murdered everyone she loved.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Guest Post + Giveaway: Tahlia Newland

Today I'm pleased to welcome author Tahlia Newland to the blog to talk to us a little bit about her books and short stories in general. She writes young adult/adult urban fantasy with a touch or more of romance in it and a focus on challenging readers’ perception of reality. Tahlia is also providing a give away to accompany today's post, so be sure and scroll down for more information!


You have probably realised by now that the event of ereaders is revolutionizing the publishing industry, but not only is it giving authors new opportunities, it is doing the same for readers.

A paper book costs as much to print if it is 20,000 words as if its 100,000 words, hence publishers generally don’t want a book over 100,000 words, unless it’s by an author that they can guarantee will sell enough books to cover the extra cost. Also they won’t publish novellas because people don’t want to pay the same amount of money for a little book as they do for a larger book.

But ebooks can be small and charge less – enter the 99c ebook and the common price for novellas of $2.99. I’m talking about independently published works here, not the higher priced books from traditional publishers who are still only publishing longer words and who have yet to work out a competitive price for their ebooks (they’d have to give their authors a lot more and take less themselves to compete with the indie authors.) You’ll also find serialized novels coming out in larger numbers as time goes by.

What’s so special about short stories?

Short stories are a genre of their own. They were popular in the past when many great writers like Edgar Allen Po and George Bernard Shaw wrote them for publication in magazines. The beauty of them is that because of their length, the story is straight to the point, snappy and without frills. A good short story is highly engaging and has a powerful ending, often with a twist or a moral point. Creative authors play with ideas in the short story form, so they can be unusual and imaginative.

They are perfect for today’s world, especially for young people with little money and many demands on their time, because they are low price and time commitment. No one is asking you to get caught up in someone else’s world for days. You can read a short story in the half hour while you wait for your date to pick you up and you can read a novella in the time it takes to watch a movie and for a fraction of the cost.

A good anthology of short stories has a linking theme that provides a sense of continuity and unity for the reader. Each story, though unique and in some ways vastly different to the others should add to an overall flavour that makes the book a satisfying whole.

One reader said of my short story collection, A Matter of Perception, “These kept me engaged from start to finish. A very pleasurable read, and what makes it such an interesting collection is that it provides such a variety in tone and supernatural elements yet is held together, yes, by that common supernatural denominator but also such thought-provoking philosophies of life.”

I didn’t use to read short stories, but I’ve been enjoying reading the short works that a lot of indie authors are offering these days. Apart from the pleasures of a short snappy read, it gives you a chance to sample a new author without a big financial commitment. Have you read any short stories recently? Are you planning to?

Thanks so much for stopping by Tahlia! If you'd like more information on Tahlia and her books, you can find it here:

A Matter of Perception
The Drorgon Slayer's Choice


Tahlia is generously offering up 3 e-copies of A Matter of Perception to blog readers today! To enter, please just leave a comment on this post answering Tahlia's questions regarding short stories and include a valid email address so I can contact you if you win. Since these are e-copies, this giveaway is international and will run through Friday, December 30th after which time winners will be chosen and announced on the blog. Good luck everyone!


Do you see what I see? Take a bunch of supernatural beings, a battle of magical light, a mysterious hole in the pavement, a dream of a future past and a pair of rose-coloured glasses, mix them with a little romance and a smidgen of philosophy and you might be left wondering if it isn’t all just a matter of perception.

This entertaining, heart-warming and thought-provoking collection includes the humorous, ‘A Hole in the Pavement’; the poignant, ‘Not Me, It can’t Be’; the intriguing, ‘Drorgon Slayer’s Choice’, and the eerie semi finalist in the Aussiecon 4 Make Ready fantasy/scfi competition of 2010, ‘The Boneyard.’

Review: Shut Out

Kody Keplinger
Contemporary Young Adult
273 pages
Available Now
Received at BEA

Lissa really enjoys spending time with her quarterback boyfriend. That is until they're continually interrupted by pranks conducted by members of the soccer team, a ridiculous perpetuation of a long time feud at their high school. When Lissa finds herself abandoned yet again in favor of payback against the soccer players, she comes up with a plan.

Along with the girlfriends of the other football players and some of the soccer players as well, Lissa institutes a sex strike set to last until the boys can resolve their differences and end the rivalry not one of them can even remember the reason for starting. Everything seems to be going according to plan until Cash.

Cash who was there for her when she and her boyfriend broke up the first time. Cash who took the time to make her feel wanted. Cash who then never called her again when he knew she wanted him to. He takes over as the leader for the guys, and soon Lissa finds herself caught up more drama than she anticipated, learning what was supposed to be simple is anything but.

Shut Out is a highly entertaining second novel from Ms. Keplinger, one that illustrates yet again her talent for being frank and straightforward when dealing with teens and sex without ever glorifying it or protectively covering our eyes as though we can’t handle the reality she’s presenting. Her approach is upfront yet never shoved in our faces, and we can’t help but appreciate that she doesn’t feel it necessary to tiptoe around the issue simply because the target audience is teenagers. In the same vein, she refuses to use the excuse of “being honest” to portray the relationships in a crass or graphic manner, keeping things real while still being appropriate. With Shut Out, we see a variety of reactions to sex and intimacy, both physical and emotional, and at no point is one character’s thoughts on the subject touted as the “ideal” one. Each young woman who takes part in the strike has a different reaction to and level of comfort with sex, and we have the pleasure of reading as all of them learn their individual feelings are neither right nor wrong, but are simply perfect for them and who they are.

Lissa is an enjoyable protagonist, someone who doesn’t stand out in our minds as spectacularly memorable but who has equal parts strength and vulnerability which makes her more than black type on a page. She finds herself the unintentional leader of a group of teenage girls, and just when her behavior with regard to the strike starts to become worrisome, she shakes herself loose and manages to escape the dramatic frenzy she’s worked herself into to return to the more adorably reluctant figurehead we met initially. She walks right up to the line between drama and melodrama and hovers precariously, but ultimately she never completely crosses it, allowing us to see her flaws as realistic as opposed to annoying.

Perhaps the most interesting character is best friend and resident “slut” Chloe, a young woman who neither apologizes nor makes excuses for who she is, but rather owns all the pieces of herself with pride despite the ridicule and negativity directed her way as a result. She’s honest with everyone around her (bluntly so), but more importantly she’s honest with herself in a way that makes us take a moment of introspection as we evaluate the way we see ourselves. It’s her confidence that–while inspiring petty jealousies and snide remarks in the beginning–gives the other girls the strength to admit things they never before would have, thus paving the way for all the girls to take positive steps forward. The reasons Chloe gives for engaging in more casual sexual relationships may be frowned upon by many a reader, but her self-acceptance is something admirable, especially her ability to let the rumors and nastiness roll off her while maintaining a positive opinion of the woman she sees in the mirror.

Though not quite as emotionally intense or raw as The DUFF, Shut Out is a fun addition to Ms. Keplinger’s resume, and ultimately has us greatly looking forward to whatever she’ll come up with next.

Rating: 4/5

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Introducing Miss Holly + Winners

A couple of you may have seen my Tweets last week regarding a new addition to the family, and I thought I would share some pictures with you because, well, she's kind of cute ;-) My husband and I rescued her last Friday from a local shelter where she was on the kill list. The rescue organization we found her through just happened to be at the shelter to rescue another dog when they walked into euthanasia room and saw that she was next up on the list for the evening. Apparently, whoever dropped her off at the shelter said she was a pit bull and, unfortunately, that guaranteed her automatic placement on the kill list. Luckily though, the rescue organization was able to grab her and my husband and I agreed to foster her until we could find her a permanent home.

So, here she is, 11-week old Holly! She may have some pit bull in her, but I also think she has some boxer and maybe some mastiff too based on her coloring. We've received a bunch of adoption applications for her, so we should have a permanent home for her soon which makes me both very happy and very, very sad as I'm kind of attached to her. After this experience though, my husband and I are both hoping to foster again in the future to help save more pit bulls and other "bully breeds" who find themselves with a very short amount of time to find new homes before getting put down.

(Holly with big brothers Gatsby and Griffin)

To be completely random, I also thought I would announce the winners of my Love Potions e-book giveaway! Thank you so much to all those who entered, and to Michelle for so generously offering up three copies. All the winners have been emailed!

Felicia @ Geeky Blogger's Book Blog
Ashley @ The Bookish Brunette
Jen M

Friday, December 16, 2011

Coming Soon: Tempting Tuesdays, A Some Girls Bite Read-Along


If you take a twenty-seven year-old grad-student-turned-vampire with a penchant for sarcasm, add it to the drama of being turned without permission, then factor in an arrogant but absurdly attractive Master vampire who's unused to having his buttons pushed, what do you get? Well, I'll tell you. You get Chloe Neill's Some Girls Bite, the first book in her hugely entertaining Chicagoland Vampires series!

The lovely Tina at Tina's Book Reviews, Rummanah at Books in the Spotlight, Missie at The Unread Reader, and I are going to be hosting a read-along for Some Girls Bite starting January 3rd and running every Tuesday through January 31st, and we cannot tell you how excited we would be if you guys would join us! For those of you who are unfamiliar with how a read-along works, fear not, it's really easy. Sign up using the below linky (we'd love it if you could grab a button and do a short post announcing your participation to help spread the word), buy or borrow a copy of Some Girls Bite, and take a look at the questions for chapters 1-4 listed at the bottom of this post. Those five questions will be discussed here on Supernatural Snark to kick off the event on January 3rd. Simply put a post together wherein you answer the questions and then come here to link up your answers so that everyone participating can hop around, read, and comment like a giant virtual book club. Fun right? Right ;-)

Below is the schedule for the event so you can follow along. The second five discussion questions will be posted on Tina's blog on the 3rd so you'll have plenty of time to answer the questions before we all post again on the 10th.

January 3rd - Chapters 1-4 (Jenny at Supernatural Snark)
January 10th - Chapters 5-8 (Tina at Tina's Book Reviews)
January 17th - Chapters 9-12 (Rummanah at Books in the Spotlight)
January 24th - Chapters 13-15 + epilogue (Missie at The Unread Reader)
January 31st - Special guest post by Chloe Neill and our grand prize giveaway!

Everyone who signs up for the read-along and participates each week will be entered in our grand prize giveaway, with the winner announced on each of our blogs on the 31st. The prize pack (pictured below) includes a Sentinel 04 t-shirt, a copy of the second book in the series Friday Night Bites, and a copy of Chloe's newest release in her young adult series Charmfall. In addition to the grand prize winner, two additional winners will also receive copies of Charmfall.

International participants: The giveaway is open to you as well (as long as The Book Depository delivers to your country), though we will be substituting the t-shirt and Charmfall for the next 2 books in the Chicagoland Vampires series after Friday Night Bites, so you will receive Friday Night Bites, Twice Bitten, and Hard Bitten.

If you're not familiar with this series, it's an adult urban fantasy series, but I beg all of you wonderful readers who typically stick to young adult fiction exclusively not to write this one off. It's ripe with romantic tension (think Rose and Dimitri in Vampire Academy) and has loads of humor, and I honestly cannot recommend it enough! Have I convinced you yet? No? You need more? Well, it just so happens that Ethan Sullivan (Master of Cadogan House) has been one of my past book boyfriends, so I leave you with the below image as my final attempt to get you on board (you can see the full post and read some snippets HERE):


Sure, the life of a graduate student wasn't exactly glamorous, but it was Merit's. She was doing fine until a rogue vampire attacked her. But he only got a sip before he was scared away by another bloodsucker-and this one decided the best way to save her life was to make her the walking undead.

Turns out her savior was the Master vampire of Cadogan House. Now she's traded sweating over her thesis for learning to fit in at a Hyde Park mansion full of vamps loyal to Ethan "Lord o' the Manor" Sullivan. Of course, as a tall, green-eyed, four-hundred- year-old vampire, he has centuries' worth of charm, but unfortunately he expects her gratitude- and servitude. But an inconvenient sunlight allergy and Ethan's attitude are the least of her concerns. Someone's still out to get her. Her initiation into Chicago's nightlife may be the first skirmish in a war-and there will be blood.


1. Let’s say tomorrow a “vampire manifesto” as Merit calls it runs in newspapers across the country announcing their existence. How do you think you would react? If you were hesitant to believe initially, what would it take to convince you they were real?

2. Since being turned into a vampire means complete removal from your former life and a new job serving your House in some capacity, what do you think you would miss most about the life you live now?

3. What are your first impressions of Merit and how she’s handling all the changes in her life?

4. When you first read the description of Ethan, what actor/model/person you know pops into your head as the perfect embodiment of him? Feel free to include pictures ;-)

5. Do you think Merit’s anger at Ethan himself, not the situation, is justified?


Please feel free to grab a button for the event and we look forward to having you join us in January!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Review: Water Wars

Cameron Stracher
Young Adult/Dystopian
240 pages
Sourcebooks Fire
Available Now
Received from publisher for review

The world is shaped differently now. New borders exist between new countries made up of previously independent states, and new rules exist to regulate and control what's left of the world's almost non-existent drinkable water supply.

For Vera, this is simply life as she knows it, but when she meets Kai her entire world view shifts. He claims there's fresh water left and he can find it. And then just like that he's gone, leaving behind a ransacked apartment and little else for Vera and her brother Will to help them understand what happened to him.

Convinced he's been kidnapped for his water knowledge, Vera and Will set out in search of him but instead find themselves in the middle of a battle for power, struggling to live long enough to find their friend and the boy who just might be capable of saving them all.

Water Wars presents us with a rather bleak future, one we can’t really say we’re overly shocked to see laid out before us given the predictions of many a current environmentalist, and one where guilt is a tangible entity on our shoulders as we read, pointing things out as we go to show us just how responsible we as a whole are for the state of this fictional world. Water is the currency for Vera and the rest of the inhabitants of this vast dry and cracked empire–worth more than gold, more than morality and ethics, and more than life itself—as it is dammed and hoarded, stolen and polluted, and then rationed to the very last drop. All we can do is lick our lips to wipe away the dust and dryness that isn’t there while swearing the paper gets more brittle with every flip of the page as though the story is sucking the very life out of them just as our characters are being so brutally robbed of it themselves.

Though the premise certainly brings to light a future scenario that has every possibility of truly coming to pass–carrying with it a message of weight and importance–it remains simply a story; black and white letters on pages that progress in ascending numerical order. Vera and Will never feel quite real, instead reading of them is a bit like standing outside in the pouring rain where there is infinite potential to absorb what’s falling all around us, but instead of wearing short sleeves we are outfitted in waterproof jackets, forcing all the conflicts and emotions of this world to bead up and slide right off instead of seeping into the skin on contact. We want to care and we want to be horrified at the damage caused by humanity’s abuse of natural resources, but without that thriving connection to our main characters the intensity of their circumstances is significantly muted.

In addition to a bit of character detachment, there’s also a small believability issue when it comes to some of the events experienced by Will and Vera on their search for Kai. Granted, a great deal of the fun with reading comes from the temporary suspension of belief for the duration of the story, but the extraordinary nature of the crashes, floods, escapes, and general trouble Will and Vera find themselves in and manage to survive stretches our willingness to believe almost to its breaking point. Both Will and Vera live through a multitude of life-threatening situations, and while they don’t come away unscathed, their fairly severe injuries don’t appear to hinder them all that much, and they (along with the people they befriend) carry on with few side effects despite the loss of blood or the broken bones. In a world that is for the most part reality-based with no paranormal or supernatural happenings, the fantastical nature of the continuous cycle of peril and survival creates additional distance between the story and us as readers.

Overall, Water Wars is well written and forces us to have a new appreciation for the availability of precious H2O in our homes and lives, we just can’t help but wish we could unzip and remove our weather-resistant coverings so that we feel every nuance of the story without a barrier in between.

Rating: 3/5

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Character Interview + Giveaway: Mike Woods and Catching Jordan

Today I'm hugely excited to welcome Jordan's brother, Mike Woods, to the blog as part of the promotional tour through Teen Book Scene. Mike was nice enough to answer a few questions for me about growing up with Jordan as well as playing football, and it's possible I unintentionally got him to share a bit of personal information as well (go me!). If you have yet to read Catching Jordan, I hope you make time in the near future as it was one of my favorite books of the year (you can read my full review here)!

If you could sit your dad down and talk to him about Jordan knowing he would actually listen to you, what would you most like to say?

She’s as strong as me and has just as much heart. Jordan and I aren’t that different.

What was the very first thing to come out of the mouth of Jake Reynolds when you introduced him to Jordan?

“I know you’re from Tennessee because you’re the only ten I see.” And yes, then I punched Jake in the face. But that’s par for the course with Jake. People are always slapping him.

*Jenny falls down dead laughing* I think I love Jake a little bit ;-)

Do you have a favorite family football moment between you and Jordan, or between you, your dad, and Jordan?

One year when I was nine and Jordan was six, when Dad was still playing for the Cowboys, his team didn’t make it to the Super Bowl and he decided to stay home with us and watch it in front of the TV. Our TV was tiny then, only like 32 inches, and Dad kept complaining about how small the screen was and maybe we should’ve gone to the game in Los Angeles, and Mom kept smacking his hand and telling him to shush. During the halftime show, there was a performance by Bon Jovi that was also broadcast in 3D. Mom had picked up the special 3D glasses for us at the grocery store, and we all put them on, even Dad. He looked damned ridiculous. And Jordan and I laughed and made fun of him for hours and he kept wrestling us to the floor. Yes, he was still wearing those 3D glasses when he put me in the headlock.

You excel at talking to people and chatting them up. Who would you say you’ve had the most fun schmoozing in recent history?

Most people only think of me as the quarterback of the Tennessee Vols. Sometimes I wonder if people even know I have a life beyond football. I’m majoring in business (bet you didn’t know that!), and well, at the beginning of the school year, the university had the gall to put me in an 8:00 a.m. class. I just don’t do 8:00 a.m. And that means I certainly don’t do class at 8:00 a.m. I’m not like my sister, Jordan – she’s a morning person. So I was desperate to get out of this class (International Econ), so I went to see my advisor. I had never been to see her before, as the school had never made such an egregious error with my schedule. Turns out my advisor, Jackie, is insanely attractive, and she was having none of my “8:00 a.m. and I just don’t get along!” talk. I told her that I needed my beauty sleep. She just stared at me and crossed her mile-long legs and my heart flew up into my throat. After twenty minutes of me pleading, Jackie yawned and told me to grow up and get out of bed like everyone else. Needless to say, my schmoozing didn’t work and I’m reminded of that three times a week at 8:00 a.m. during International Econ.

I am going to ask Jackie on a date as soon as I get the nerve. Would I get in trouble for dating my college advisor? I should ask Dad’s lawyer.

Do you still worry about whether or not people will compare your football career to your dad’s or have you been playing long enough that you no longer feel you’re in his shadow?

I worry about that every day. Every time I fumble or throw an interception. But regardless, I love the game, and that’s what matters, not me trying to live up to something I could never compete with. Besides, if I don’t make it in the NFL, I’ll try to buy a franchise one day. (As soon as I save up the money and have the credit to get the loans.)

How much do we love Mike? I believe there are two scheduled companion novels for Catching Jordan scheduled for 2012 and 2013 (cannot wait!), so you can find more information on those, Miranda, and Catching Jordan here:



Kari over at A Good Addiction is hosting a giveaway for a very cool marked up, one of a kind copy of Catching Jordan with additional entries for all of you who are following the tour. You can find the form and all the information including a list of the tour stops HERE. Commenting on this post will grant you one extra entry.


What girl doesn't want to be surrounded by gorgeous jocks day in and day out? Jordan Woods isn't just surrounded by hot guys, though - she leads them as the captain and quarterback on her high school football team. They all see her as one of the guys, and that's just fine. As long as she gets her athletic scholarship to a powerhouse university. But now there's a new guy in town who threatens her starring position on the team... and has her suddenly wishing to be seen as more than just a teammate.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Review: Flesh and Blood

(House of Comarre #2)
Kristen Painter
Adult Urban Fantasy
416 pages
Orbit/Hachette Book Group
Available Now
Received from publisher for review

THE STORY (from Goodreads)
Those born into the comarré life produced blood in rich, pure, powerful abundance...

With the Ring of Sorrows still missing, and the covenant between othernaturals and mortals broken, Chrysabelle and Malkolm’s problems are just beginning. Chrysabelle still owes Malkolm for his help, but fulfilling that debt means returning to Corvinestri, the hidden vampire city where neither is welcome.

This second installment in the House of Comarre series builds beautifully on the events of the first book, returning us to a blindingly gorgeous pair of opposites who, for all their differences, are both struggling to escape the confines of a life not of their choosing. Ms. Painter is extraordinarily aptly named–an artist exquisitely capable of crafting characters who are carefully rendered studies in contrasts–wielding black type on a white page as opposed to brushstrokes on a canvas but creating a work of art just the same. In this tale we begin to see some interesting shading take place, where Chrysabelle and Malkolm were pretty clearly delineated light and dark in book one we now begin to see them blend, highlights and lowlights combining to create a picture with more depth and detail than we saw previously, and we stand back appreciatively to search each new shade of gray for meaning we know is there waiting.

For all that Chrysabelle is glittering gold filigree to Malkolm’s tortured blackness, we get the pleasure of watching them tentatively step away from their opposite ends of the spectrum and hesitantly move toward middle ground and perhaps the comfort and sanctuary for which they’ve both long been searching. They are such stunning contradictions: the purity of the comarre versus the perceived stain of a cursed vampiric soul, with Chrysabelle's air of royalty and desired rank versus Malkom's displaced nobility making their pairing all the more fascinating to read as they slowly try to shed the roles that have defined them previously and find a new beginning. Watching as Chrysabelle flounders a bit trying to figure out who she is if not wholly and completely comarre and as Malkolm dares to put his faith in someone else when all the hands that received his love and loyalty previously have spread their fingers wide to let those gifts sift through is both exhilarating and painful, but their difficult journey ensures our unwavering interest through to the very end.

The introduction of a new possible romantic interest is initially a bit of a detraction to the overall story, our love for Malkolm based the time spent with him already as well as our knowledge of the brutal betrayals that make up his past forcing our hackles up as though he and Chrysabelle are ours to protect from any unwanted influence. Vampire slayer Creek is nearly impossible to dislike however, and Ms. Painter does an admirable job of not turning this story into a competition for Chrysabelle’s affections, but rather she works him into events in a way where his importance extends far beyond that of mere romantic foil character for the main couple. We know some things about him but certainly not all, and there is enough about him left in the unknown category to keep us on our guard and suspicious of his motives despite his status as an ally to both Malkolm and Chrysabelle.

As with Blood Rights, Flesh and Blood is teeming with interesting twists and turns, alliances made and dissolved quickly and easily to keep our minds churning as to exactly who we can trust, who could be playing us and those we care about, and who is the biggest bad of them all. Ms. Painter has a gift for writing characters who epitomize both good and evil but who also prove there are varying degrees to such categorization, making each classification far broader in scale than we might think before reading. We are left with not a cliffhanger per se, but definitely with events left unresolved and some very large questions looming so that our need to pick up the next book and start it is one that will not be ignored.

Rating: 4/5

Monday, December 12, 2011

Author Interview: Sharde Richardson + Watched

As part of the promotional tour through Teen Book Scene, I have the pleasure of welcoming author Sharde Richardson to the blog today to answer a few questions about her paranormal young adult release Watched. Watched is available now and you can read my full review here!

If you suddenly found yourself with the ability to see demons, what is the first
thing you would do?

I’d probably hide, pray for my Sentry to show up and hope that he/she would know what to do.

Is there some aspect of Mikayla as a character you are most proud of?

She’s brave. As you can tell from my answer above, I lack that quality.

Watched has an absolutely stunning cover; what is the last book that caught your eye simply from cover design alone?

Thanks! I’ll be sure to tell Claudia, the artist, that you said that. I guess the one book I’ve seen recently that caught my eye from cover design alone would be Ella Minnow Pea by Mark Dunn. There are different covers for this book, but if you find the one that makes you say, “Oh, I get it!” then you’re looking at the right one. It’s not particularly stunning, as it is clever.

(For those interested, here it is on Goodreads with its various covers)

What has been the single most rewarding part of writing your first novel?

People actually want to read it. I think I could live without being paid, just knowing there’s someone out there enjoying something I wrote. It kind of makes me immortal.

Let’s say there are demons after you and you have nothing on you but the clothes on your body and a pocket full of Q-tips. You can’t use a car as a getaway option because you have a record number of speeding tickets to your name and can’t risk one more ;-) What is your escape strategy?

I DO have a record number of speeding tickets to my name. How nice of you to bring that up! I guess I’d have to invoke the powers of the tooth fairy and fly away. No, seriously, the answer is obvious, Jenny. I’d just do as most Hunters and fade.

Thanks for having me, Jenny.

Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions Sharde! You can find more information on Sharde and Watched here:



Mikayla doesn't want much: just to rock out to her favorite band, become the next Kwiki Stop video gaming champion, and keep her Q-tip habit under control. What she does want is the sight of the sudden inexplicable dark auras around everyone to stop. Problem is, those auras are demons and Mikayla is the last trait holder with the power to ban them. Which is a total buzz kill.

To make matters worse, the town folk of Sulphur Springs don't look the same, and her classmates are a little dark in the eyes. There are murders, suicides, reckless skinny-dipping, gratuitous use of Q-tips, and newfound powers that Mikayla must learn to control.

Her past becomes present when a shape-shifter tells her what her true identity is, and how to keep the demons of Hell from nipping at her Converse. Through him she'll discover who to trust, who to kiss, and how valuable her abilities are to the right beings. Because the evils of Hell aren't staying down without a fight...

Or without her soul.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Cover Critique: Glow Worms Are Sexy

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

Do you need a minute? I'm pretty sure I do because this is a spectacularly brilliant cover (Get it? Brilliant? Because of the lighting? Right. Moving on.). First, I think we should start with the obvious: the glowing. I find myself flummoxed. Baffled. Confused. Dare I say befuddled? The title is telling us Romeo has been unleashed, but from where I ask you? A radioactive drum? Is he an escaped science experiment who must be naked at all times because his radioactivity won't allow clothes to stay on his body? Is he also magnetic? Because that woman is plastered to his back with her face adhered to his shoulder like she's stuck there as a result of some unseen force.

Here's the plot scenario I'm picturing: Our Romeo has escaped or been set free from some sort of medical or scientific experiment gone wrong, and since that slimy smirk seems to imply he's a wee bit cocky, I'm going to go with he's elected to not wear any articles of clothing in the hopes that both his animal magnetism and his weird glowing will attract the ladies. The cover comes to us a few moments after he's lured in his first female, and he's turning to look at us to say "Heh. Look at what my radioactive nudity just accomplished. I'm impressive, no? Wait till you see what else I can make light up."

Which leads me to my next line of questioning. I think you all know where I'm headed, so let's not be shy about it because we're all mature here. *snort* Do you think his junk glows in the dark? I just have visions of him using his manhood like a flashlight to prowl around at night in search of women, and when he finds one, he blinks his pecker on and off in a firefly-like mating ritual (I have no idea if blinking is actually a mating ritual for fireflies, but let's just go with it, okay?) to draw them in before his strong magnetic pull overtakes them. Just think of all the power his special cock light grants him! He should write the people responsible for his odd glow a thank you note, because with that ridiculous chia-pet-like hair and that "I'm a bit of a douche" expression (which I fear may be his only one) he would sadly be naked woman-free otherwise I think.

Random side note: Do you think he's packing pen light type equipment down there or Maglite heavy duty flashlight type equipment? Too much inappropriate junk speculation going on here you say? You're probably right. But I bet you're all now scrolling back up to examine his knee-covered crotch more closely aren't you? And I'm going with pen light. That is all.

I'm sure you all know by now that I love coming up with my own theories behind these covers and enjoy guessing what they could be about before looking up the blurb and seeing how far off I am, so I of course tracked the synopsis down to see if it could enlighten me (Enlighten! Ha! Cleverness, thou hath met your match in me;-) *congratulates self* I'm on a roll today):

When Christine spies hunky vamp Romeo across a crowded bar, flirtation turns to mind-blowing sex and sex to deeper feelings. They won't give each other up but their secrets may drive them apart.

Huh. That was quite possibly the least informative blurb ever written. Super. Is the glowing one of the secrets that will drive them apart? I think my wiener flashlight/radioactive magnet scenario is more entertaining, so I'm going to pretend the above synopsis doesn't exist and that our Romeo is instead just a man channeling his inner glow worm in an effort to find true love. Or mind-blowing sex. Whichever.

Happy Friday Everyone!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Cover Reveal: Embrace by Jessica Shirvington

I'm super excited today to share with you the beautiful new cover for Jessica Shirvington's upcoming paranormal young adult novel Embrace, releasing March 1st from Sourcebooks Fire. I think most of us love to swoon over pretty book covers, it's almost as much fun as reading the books themselves, so here we go:

It starts with a whisper.

“It’s time for you to know who you are…”

Strange dreams leave her with very real injuries and there’s a dark tattoo weaving its way up her arms. The guy she thought she could fall in love with just told her he’s only half-human—oh, and same goes for her. And she keeps hearing a distant fluttering of wings.

Violet Eden is having a very bad 17th birthday.

But if angels seek vengeance and humans are the warriors, you could do a lot worse than betting on Violet Eden…

I have to say angel books have been pretty hit or miss with me in the past, but lately I've been enjoying them more and more and I absolutely cannot wait to dive into this one! For more information on Embrace and the series as a whole, be sure and visit the Sourcebooks site:

Embrace Series

Embrace Cover Reveal Teaser from Sourcebooks Inc on Vimeo.

Review: Shattered Souls

Mary Lindsey
Paranormal Young Adult
336 Pages
Available Now
Received for review
through Teen Book Scene

Lenzi has a problem. She hears voices talking to her–pleading with her to help them–and she thinks she's going crazy just like her dad did. At her request, her boyfriend Zak takes her to her father's grave late at night so she can feel closer to him. When Zak passes out drunk on a bench in the graveyard, Lenzi thinks she's alone until a young man named Alden approaches her and calls her Rose.

Thrown off-kilter by the presence of a stranger who seems intent on calling her by another woman's name, Lenzi tries to get him to leave her alone. It's only when he mentions the voices that she decides to listen. It seems Lenzi has lived several lifetimes as a woman named Rose–a woman who helps restless spirits complete tasks that will help them find peace and move on, and Alden has been by her side as her Protector in each lifetime.

Wanting to deny everything Alden tells her but unable to do so the more she hears the spirits whispering to her, Lenzi decides to throw herself into the world of Speakers and Protectors and attempt to fulfill a destiny lifetimes in the making, regardless of the fact she can't remember anything from her past as Rose. Rose's history quickly catches up with Lenzi however, and she finds herself haunted by a ghost with a vendetta while fighting the memory of a woman she can't remember for Alden's love.

Shattered Souls gives us an interesting take on assisting the dead with the resolution of any business anchoring them to the mortal plane, adding an extra layer of complexity to the world by incorporating the cyclical nature of Lenzi and Alden's connection. Not only do we get to watch as Lenzi deals with her assimilation from normal human to paranormal spiritual guide but we also get the added drama of her past-lifetime amnesia and its effect on her relationship with Alden. The link between them is a complicated knot from the very beginning–their history together having already pulled the strands taut–and one of the more fascinating aspects of the story is witnessing Lenzi unravel her ties to Rose and Alden while finding a way to twist new knots that bind the young woman she is today to the man she's lived with for lifetimes.

Once Lenzi moves past her "I'm not cut out for this" mindset and begins to embrace her job as a Speaker, she quickly becomes a character we connect with and long to help as she flounders in a world that's new to her mind and body in this cycle but old to her soul. She's determined to make Alden see her for who she is without painting her with Rose's brush, and we can't help but feel a pang of sympathy for her every time a comparison is made to a woman she doesn't know. While Lenzi is likeable for the most part, her feelings for Alden do develop rather swiftly given she has no recollection of their past time together, and she casts boyfriend Zak aside easily after mere moments before labeling him as the one normal thing in her life to keep her grounded. She ignores him and hides Alden from him before the official break up, dropping her a few rungs down our maturity ladder as we frown on her behavior even while our support of her in other areas continues to grow.

Alden, for as big a role as he plays in this story, remains a bit of a mystery to us throughout. We get a few of his memories of his time with Rose, but even with them and the interactions he has with Lenzi, he's still like looking upon a reflection in water–at times we can see him clearly and his edges are defined and recognizable, then the wind will blow and he'll shift out of focus again before we can grab on and hold tight. Part of his appeal is in this very elusiveness though, forcing us to keep questioning whether he's in love with the woman he remembers or the one standing in front of him now, and we read as fast as possible to attempt to get past the ripples to the place where the water is calm enough to give us an unwavering look at who he truly is.

The story itself is intriguing but feels just a touch choppy, three separate conflicts transpiring and then getting resolved within this one book. First we have the past-life amnesia mystery and the reintroduction of the Speaker/Protector world to Lenzi and by extension us, then we move on to a malevolent spirit bent on revenge for Rose's actions in a previous life, and then finally we have a dramatic clash between Zak and Alden. Though the growing relationship between Lenzi and Alden does link each mini-episode to the others, there's still a lingering sense of incongruity between the malevolent spirit and the Zak showdown, with each piece of the story feeling as though it could have been expanded upon to make the overall arc flow better. That being said however, the chapters do fly by at blurring speed and this tale is easily devoured in one sitting, making it a solid read even with its few flaws.

Rating: 3.5/5

Ms. Lindsey asked the blog participants on this tour to take pictures of the Shattered Souls ARC mailed from person to person with their pets, so I'm including the pictures I sent her below. This is Gatsby who is typically not as in love with the camera as Griffin, but Griffin kept trying to lick the book when it was put next to him so he had to sit in a little time out while Gatsby got all the glory :-)