Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Excerpt + Giveaway: By A Thread

Jennifer Estep's Elemental Assassin series is one of my absolute favorites, and today I'm super excited to share a short excerpt with you from the latest release, By a Thread, so you can see a little bit of Gin in action for yourself (you can read my review HERE). She is made of win. Seriously. For those who may have young eyes reading over their shoulders, please note there is some language in the following passage.

I eased out of my bedroom and tiptoed across the dark suite, using the mental map that I’d made earlier to skirt around the couches, tables, and other furniture. I stepped up to the door, careful to keep away from the glass peephole so that whoever was lurking around outside wouldn’t realize I was awake and already waiting for them.

I looked across the suite at the closed door that led to Bria’s bedroom. As an elemental, she’d be able to hear the stone’s cries too, although they wouldn’t resonate as loudly with her, since she had Ice magic and not Stone like I did. I waited a moment, wondering whether she’d heard my alarm and would come out and investigate, but her door remained closed. Looked like I’d have to deal with our visitors myself. Not a problem.

I blocked out the stone’s wails, put my ear close to the door, and listened. Right next to me, the brass doorknob softly turned and rattled.

“Sorry,” someone muttered on the other side of the door. “Wrong key. It’s this one, I think. The third time’s the charm, right?”

So he’d tried two wrong keys already, and that’s what had triggered the protection runes in the stone. Sloppy, sloppy, sloppy. If he’d used the right key the first time, he might have avoided tripping my silent alarm.

“You’d better do more than think,” a familiar voice growled. “That bitch skewered my hand like it was a fucking kebab, and I plan on doing the same to her—and worse.”

So Pete Procter, the guy I’d stabbed earlier at the Sea Breeze, was outside, along with his friend with the keys. But neither one of them were elementals, otherwise they would have heard my alarm and realized they were walking into a trap. Too bad for them.

“And Ron, one of the night clerks, told me that sweet little blond piece of ass is in there with her too,” Pete continued. “We’ll have fun taking turns with her. Maybe both of them, all of us, at the same time. There’ll be enough for everyone.”

Pete laughed at his ugly promise, and I heard a few more sly chuckles chime in with his. Make that more than one friend outside. I smiled in the darkness like an animal baring its fangs. Good. I’d hate to get out of bed just for Pete.

“There,” the second guy said. “I told you I had the right key. Get ready.”

A soft snick sounded as the door unlocked. I eased away from it and stepped behind a fake palm tree in a brass pot in the front corner of the suite.

The door opened a crack, and a pair of bolt cutters slid through the narrow space and caught on the security chain. From my hiding spot, I saw a hand squeeze down on the cutters, which easily sliced through the flimsy metal. Trent, the giant, I thought. He’d have the strength to use the cutters with one hand, and he was probably as pissed at me as Pete was for busting him up earlier. That made at least three guys outside. I wondered how many more Dekes had sent, or if they’d decided to do this on their lonesome. Didn’t much matter. They were all getting dead.

More information on Jennifer and her books, including her amazing young adult Mythos Academy series, can be found here:



Jennifer is nicely offering up a copy of By a Thread to one lucky winner on the blog today. Yay! To enter, please just leave a comment on this post with a valid email address so I can contact you if you win. Giveaway is open to US residents only and will run through midnight EST on Friday, March 2nd after which time a winner will be chosen and announced on the blog. Good luck everyone and thank you again Jennifer!

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Review: Oracle's Moon

(A Novel of the Elder Races #4)
Thea Harrison
Adult Paranormal Romance
336 pages
Available March 6th
Received from publisher for review

THE STORY (from Goodreads)
As a second daughter, Grace Andreas never had to worry about the intrigues of the Elder Races. But when her sister, Petra, and Petra's husband are both killed, Grace inherits the Power and responsibilities of the Oracle of Louisville, as well as her sister's two young children - neither of which she is prepared for.

Yet, she is not alone. Khalil, Demonkind and Djinn prince of House Marid - driven by his genuine caring for the children - has decided to make himself a part of the household both as their guardian and as an exasperating counterpoint to Grace's impudence toward the Elder Races.

But when an attempt is made on Grace's life, she realizes that Khalil is the only one who can protect her - and offer her more than a mortal man...

Where the first three books in the Novels of the Elder Races gave us the deeply passionate, intense, and funny stories of three powerful members of the Wyr demesne and their mates, this fourth installment leads us away from the Wyr connected to Dragos Cuelebre and gives a humorous and fresh romantic pair. One of the highlights of this paranormal romance series in general is Ms. Harrison’s focus on lesser known supernatural entities, and Oracle’s Moon entertains us yet again as a Djinn prince who can exist as nothing more than smoke and air finds himself drawn to a woman who has inherited the ancient power of the Oracle of Delphi. Ms. Harrison has an innate ability to make each novel distinct and unique, with each of her alpha heroes and strong-minded heroines setting themselves apart from those who came before to give us something unexpected and immensely appealing each and every time.

Grace is a young woman who fully embodies the radiant beauty and stunning spirit implied by her name, stepping up to take care of her niece and nephew without a single complaint or hint of resentment for the unexpected turn her life has taken. Her love for her sister’s kids shines from every page, and their family interactions have us laughing, smiling, and feeling an intimate kinship with them as they struggle to not replace what was lost, but rather rebuild it in their new image–a family whose cracks show through in body and mind but who are rendered more stunning for their imperfections. When Khalil insinuates himself into her life against her wishes, she holds her ground and stands up to a man whose power cows most of those with whom he comes in contact, forcing him to toe a line she defines with regard to the children and herself, and ensuring the balance of mental and emotional power is as equal between them as the ancient Power that emanates from both of them physically.

Khalil is perhaps the most enjoyable of Ms. Harrison heroes yet, his interactions with Grace and the little ones incredibly charming and endearing, the hilarity completely at odds with what we expect from someone as ancient and compelling as he. Khalil is so old that not much about life surprises him anymore, and he approaches each event or interaction with a type of detachment that results from having seemingly experienced everything at least once before. With Grace and the kids however, he shakes off his complacency in adorable fashion, venturing into human interaction with his own child-like curiosity as he tests boundaries, asks questions, and makes demands in a way that is remarkably lacking in authority despite the exquisite intensity of his Djinn energy. For him, everything with Grace is a new tactile or abstract sensation, and there’s nothing more satisfying than watching a man that has seen, felt, and experienced everything find joy and contentment in the simplest of everyday pleasures.

Even with the seriousness of the challenges facing Grace and the pain of Khalil’s past with his daughter, Oracle’s Moon has a lightness to it that's infectious and completely addicting, and we close the last page with the almost overwhelming desire to just flip back to the beginning and start all over again. Though we get a complete tale for Khalil and Grace, there is enough room in their physical relationship and the complexity of their distinct Powers for their story to not be fully concluded, and we can only hope that as with Pia and Dragos, Ms. Harrison might return us to their story again in the future so that we might get to treasure them one more time.

Rating: 4.5/5

I'm typically not a reader who highlights favorite or meaningful quotes while reading, but this interaction between Grace and Khalil was just too cute not to share (please note the below passage is taken from the ARC and may differ from the final printed version):

She did not protest, and he thought it was a measure of how the vision had shaken her. He looked at Chloe. "Come over to the table. Sit with your aunt. I will clear away this mess and...I will achieve pancakes."

Grace's lovely, tired face wobbled with what looked suspiciously like mirth, but she had been under so much stress he decided his first impression could not be correct. "You'll
achieve pancakes?"

"I do not see why not," he said.

"Have you achieved them before?" she asked. A touch of liveliness came back into her vivid eyes and they sparkled.

"That question is irrelevant," he told her, while his eyes narrowed in suspicion on her tired face. On a Djinn, her expression would definitely be laughter. "I will achieve pancakes now."

Monday, February 27, 2012

Guest Post: Jessica Shirvington + Embrace

I'm extremely excited to share the blog today with young adult author Jessica Shirvington who's going to share with us her experience in creating a setting for Embrace, the first book in her new paranormal series. Take it away Jessica!


In my first draft of EMBRACE (there were eight!), I didn’t set the city. I was in two minds the entire time. I suppose I was drawing on all the places I have been around the world. Although I now live in Sydney, when I started to write EMBRACE, my family and I had just moved back from six years living in London. And prior to that, I’d spent quite a lot of time travelling to many cities around the world – so much so, that when I was writing scenes in EMBRACE, I found myself thinking of different cities around the world and never being able to truly decided which one most suited Violet’s world.

In my second and third and fourth drafts, I chose different cities (I’ll never tell) from around the world and set Violet’s story there. But each time, it felt forced.

I wanted her to live in a city, as opposed to some small town where all these major apocalyptic events just miraculously found her. To be believable she had to be in a metropolitan environment, but which one?

In the end, the answer was … any of them, and none of them. It wasn’t that the cities I chose didn’t work; it was that in my mind I’d amalgamated them into what I needed for her story to work for me. So I made the decision to give that option to all of my readers and simply called her city, the City.

It isn’t the ‘done thing’ usually, but I believe for this story, it works. I want readers to be able to put this story where they know. If they live in a city, it can be there, if they live in a rural area, then it isn’t a stretch for them to imagine a city nearby. It is an element of control that I wanted to give to the reader.

That said, I like a little control myself … and I discovered that by giving this open setting for Violet’s hometown, it also opened up the possibility to use other locations around the world that would really pop off the page.

In ENTICED (the sequel, out in September!), Violet and her friends find themselves travelling to Jordan – on a quest to the place of Moses’ death – Mount Nebo. In EMBLAZE (book 3, out March 2013) they travel to the island of Santorini in Greece, which is small and stunning, and holds terrors that none of them are prepared for.

Each book I take the characters somewhere new and as I write the series, I have discovered how very important this is to me. I want my characters to go to the world, to find the problems and be part of the solution, rather than the fight always, and too conveniently, finding them.

Thanks so much for taking the time to stop by Supernatural Snark Jessica! More information on Jessica and her books can be found here:

Embrace official website


It starts with a whisper: “It’s time for you to know who you are…”

Violet Eden dreads her seventeenth birthday. After all, it’s hard to get too excited about the day that marks the anniversary of your mother’s death. As if that wasn’t enough, disturbing dreams haunt her sleep and leave her with very real injuries. There’s a dark tattoo weaving its way up her arms that wasn’t there before.

Violet is determined to get some answers, but nothing could have prepared her for the truth. The guy she thought she could fall in love with has been keeping his identity a secret: he’s only half-human—oh, and same goes for her.

A centuries-old battle between fallen angels and the protectors of humanity has chosen its new warrior. It’s a fight Violet doesn’t want, but she lives her life by two rules: don’t run and don’t quit. When angels seek vengeance and humans are the warriors, you could do a lot worse than betting on Violet Eden…

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Guest Post: T.P. Boje + The Afterlife Series

Today I have author T.P. Boje taking over the blog briefly to make us all consider a very interesting question addressed by her young adult paranormal romance Afterlife series. Welcome to Supernatural Snark T.P.!


Haven’t we all at some point? I used to do it a lot as a kid. Is heaven for real and what is it going to be like once I get there? What kind of a body will I have? What will I look like? Will all of my family come with me? Will I meet my grandmother there?

When I was a child I remember reading Astrid Lindgren’s “The Brothers Lionheart”. To those who don’t know it, it is a book about two brothers that both die and go to the country Nangijala, a land in "the campfires and storytelling days". Here the brothers experience great adventures. Together with a resistance group they lead the struggle against the evil Tengil, who rules with the aid of the fearsome fire-breathing dragon Katla. It is really a very beautiful book and I remember how it made me look upon death in a totally different way. Like it could actually be a new adventure.

As I grew up I never thought much about life after death and if there really was one or not. I was busy living my life and thinking about my life here on earth. But then one day not many months ago a thought just popped into my head. What if we have to go to school when we die?

As it so often happens, the thought wouldn’t go away again once it had come into my head, and I started playing with the idea. If it is true that we leave our bodies here on earth, then we must have some new body on the other side, right? And it would probably take some time to get used to that new body. And how about going through walls and doors and stuff? I mean if we become spirits then we would have to learn how to do all those things, right? And what about flying? That is not something that comes to us easily. We would have to practice first, right? And someone would have to teach us. So eventually I started imagining this school that we all had to graduate from in order to be let into heaven, and soon Meghan popped into my head and started walking around in that school - that just had to be run by angels. She soon made some friends and fell in love (as it often happens when you are sixteen). And that was when the problems began. Because the boy was still human, living on earth, so how could they ever be together?

That was when I realized that a book-series was born. And just like the book “The Brothers Lionheart” from my childhood, it was about how dying is only the beginning of the next great adventure.

Thanks so much for taking the time to be here today T.P.! More information on T.P. and the Afterlife series can be found here:


BEYOND (Afterlife #1)

(Beyond is currently free as a Kindle ebook on Amazon for Prime members, and just $.99 for everyone else, get it HERE)

Have you ever wondered where you go when you die?

Meghan is 16 when it happens to her. She wakes up on a flying steamboat on her way to a school run by Angels in a white marble castle. She meets Mick who helps her through a difficult time in a different world filled with heavenly magic. One day she finds a mirror in the cellar of the school and goes through it. She ends up back on earth where she meets Jason. But Jason is in danger and Meghan knows something important.

Soon she will have to choose between the two worlds.

The one she belongs to now, and the one she left.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Review + Giveaway: Demons at Deadnight

(Divinicus Nex Chronicles #1)
A&E Kirk
Paranormal Young Adult
404 pages
Available Now
Received from authors for review

THE STORY (from Goodreads)
For seventeen-year-old Aurora Lahey, survival is a lifestyle.

Aurora has the crappiest superpower on the planet. And it’s just unleashed a hit squad from hell. Demons are on the hunt, salivating to carve her carcass into confetti.

The Hex Boys—mysterious, hunky, and notorious for their trails of destruction—have the answers Aurora needs to survive. But their overload of deadly secrets and suspicious motives makes trusting them a potentially fatal move.

The battle to save her family, herself, and stop demonic domination may cost Aurora everything worth living for, and force her to reveal her own dark secrets. But no worries. She needs the Hex Boys to pull this off, and, chances are, teaming up with these guys will get her killed anyway.

Demons at Deadnight is a tale brimming with humor and wit, but underneath the smart mouths lies a bit of a sinister edge, the very real threat of death-by-demon preventing us from getting too caught up in the banter and the romance by keeping us cautiously turning each page to see what might pop out at us and make itself known next. The ladies Kirk exhibit a strong talent for characterization, Aurora and the six Hex Boys beautifully developed and more than a little intriguing, charming us with their various distinct personalities while proving to us as we progress that there's more to all of them than just pretty faces and penchants for sarcasm. The demon-populated world, while not entirely clear to us in this first installment, piques our curiosity, driving us to at times want to knock Aurora aside so that we might interrogate those who clearly are privy to information we aren’t so we can satisfy our overwhelming desire to know more.

Aurora is cute and often very funny, her snappy comebacks keeping one particular Hex Boy on his toes, however, as we move forward with her in the story some of her other behaviors begin to eclipse her rapier wit, leaving us a bit frustrated with her in general. Her continued refusal to be upfront with the Hex Boys is certainly understandable in the beginning as she’s used to dealing with her demon-related abilities all on her own, but when her unwillingness to disclose even the smallest detail of what she knows about herself and her link to the demons persists through nearly three hundred pages, we find ourselves with an exhausted reservoir of patience. She claims her refusal to trust the Hex Boys is a result of their refusal to trust her in kind, but at some point, someone needs to take those first hesitant steps and lay the foundation on which said trust can be built, and in this first book it takes just a touch too long for those initial bricks to be laid.

The Hex Boys themselves are an extremely entertaining bunch however, their brotherly interactions making us snort with laughter as they bait and taunt one another with such enthusiasm that we wish one (or possibly all six) of them could move in next door and proceed to darken our doorsteps at every possible opportunity. While being introduced to all of them very quickly in the beginning is slightly intimidating, once we settle into the story each takes on his own unique personality and sets himself apart from the others, causing our hearts to beat abnormally fast as we fall in love six times over. The romance between Aurora and Ayden is very well executed, their physical attraction instant but thankfully no all-consuming love immediately follows, instead theirs is a relationship of heated antagonism and passionate dislike that flares hot initially and then cools down before building again at a slow, deliciously tense pace.

There are a few flaws with Demons at Deadnight, namely Aurora’s innate stubbornness and her habit of running into danger when she’s told to stay put, but overall it’s a story that feels far shorter than its four hundred pages due to the fact that we can't devour the chapters fast enough to discover what happens. The ending is a touch abrupt, leaving us wondering just who this person is that’s introduced on the final page, however, it’s easy to overlook that small issue and take comfort in how much we enjoyed ourselves reading the 399 pages that came before it.

Rating: 3.5/5


As part of the promotional tour for Demons at Deadnight, A&E Kirk are generously offering up either a paperback copy or an ebook to one lucky winner! Woo hoo! To enter, just leave a comment on this post with a valid email address so I can contact you if you win. This giveaway is INTERNATIONAL and will run through midnight EST on March 2nd after which time a winner will be chosen and announced on the blog.

But wait! I have another giveaway opportunity for you:


To enter to win the Kindle Fire you need to know the secret phrase given out one word at a time by each blog tour host. Put the words together in sequential order and you'll eventually have the secret phrase! Right now you can Tweet and Follow on the AEKIRK Blog Tour Page to get points but starting March 9 (at the end of the tour) you can enter the complete phrase on the AEKIRK Blog Tour Page and earn BIG entry points! Your Kindle Fire will also include your choice of a DEMONS AT DEADNIGHT Skin. Either from the cover, or a Hex Boy group shot or individual "Team" skin of your favorite Hex Hunk!


Before you go, one last quick announcement! The oh-so sexy Hex Boys are planning a Twitter party on Wednesday, February 29th between 9pm and 10pm EST. I like to think they're all getting together in honor of my birthday which just happens to be the following day, but that's most likely not the case. A girl can dream though right? Right. Anyway, I will be online throwing questions their way and most likely hitting on them (it's also possible I will threaten bodily harm to all those who attempt to claim them for their own or lure them away from me. Just want to be upfront about that ;-), so it should be fun. I hope some of you will be able to join us!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Review: Pandemonium

PANDEMONIUM (Delirium #2)
Lauren Oliver
Young Adult/Dystopian
375 pages
Available February 28th
Received from publisher for review

Warning: review contains spoilers from Delirium, but no spoilers from Pandemonium.

THE STORY (from Goodreads)
The old Lena is dead. The old Lena remains with Alex in Portland, Maine, behind a wall of smoke and flame, but the new Lena was born in the Wilds, transformed by hardship, deprivation, and loss.

Now an active member of the resistance, Lena fights for a world in which love will no longer be considered a dangerous disease. Her inner life is as turbulent as the world around her. . . . Although consumed with grief for Alex, might she be falling in love with someone else?

While Delirium introduced us to a world where the pursuit of perfection resulted in the elimination of the very emotions that make life worth living, Pandemonium takes us back to a place where the rawness of pain, love and loss is a tangible thing–the memory of what was within Lena's grasp and then ripped away a companion dogging our every step as we follow her through her life after Alex. Delirium gave us shells of human beings, individuals bottled up tight and sealed with a cure lest a modicum of independent thought or feeling slip through, but with Pandemonium we get a new cast of characters not hindered by the regulations governing those inside the fences. More interestingly however, we get a new Lena. A Lena who used to subscribe to the deceptively appealing poison spouted by proponents of the cure but who now survives with memories of the boy she loved piercing her skin every time her mind drifts back to him, turning her into a sieve through which pour all the tragically beautiful droplets of Alex and his sacrifice.

Ms. Oliver does a stunning job of crafting an Alex-free story, showing us just how strong-willed Lena is without him there to help her navigate a world where touch is encouraged instead of forbidden, and where love leaves scars that are not to be feared but cherished instead. While we may have physically cringed upon reading the synopsis and learning of a possible new love interest for Lena, we quickly realize there is going to be no quick fix for the destruction left in the wake of Alex’s demise, and we take a sort of comfort in her obvious pain knowing she’s clearly no more ready to move on than we are. Chapters split into two time periods in Lena’s life—the time immediately following Lena’s escape over the fence and a few months into the future as she’s on assignment for the resistance—give us action-packed glimpses of a transformed young woman, and it’s easy to find ourselves supporting her in her mourning, her resolve to take advantage of Alex’s gift, and her attempts to build a new life from the literal ashes of her previous one.

New potential love interest Julian is in much the same place Lena was in Delirium, a parrot repeating the ideals and doctrines of a grossly confused society while harboring secret thoughts of what life might be like if things were different. He’s perfectly likeable and his relationship with Lena builds at a slow enough pace to give us time to adjust to him, allowing our damaged and love-shy hearts to warm at an acceptable speed so we don’t feel like our fledgling attraction to Julian is a betrayal of Alex. Though he doesn’t completely win us over in this second installment, he does a multitude of small things that go a long way to helping Lena heal, and for that alone we begin to let him through our Alex-plated defenses.

Though Pandemonium definitely has the feel of a book building us up for what are sure to be epic events in the next installment, Ms. Oliver gives us plenty of new information and creates enough new strong and intriguing relationships to ensure this story isn’t simply filler. We do end with yet another emotional cliffhanger, one we sense coming but one that still hits us like a fist to the gut nonetheless. The final three words spoken are a painful mockery of the words "I love you" that were such a vital part of Delirium, each word tumbling from the speaker’s lips in a way that causes us to erupt in a full body shudder as the venom in them leaves us cold and broken with no other course of action but to wait and see what kind of response they will receive in book three.

Rating: 4.5/5

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Interview: Julie Chibbaro + Deadly

As part of the promotional tour through Teen Book Scene, I'm very excited today to welcome author Julie Chibbaro to the blog to answer a few questions about her young adult medical mystery Deadly.

What is one of the most interesting tidbits or pieces of trivia you learned while researching the time period? One of the most interesting facts about typhoid?

I was amazed to find out that as late as 1906, people still believed that disease was spread by miasmas, which are clouds of filth. This was called the “Filth Theory” as opposed to what we believe now, which is the “Germ Theory.” Back then, the public didn’t know there was this little invisible thing called a germ that could kill you. I find that fascinating – it really makes me wish I could live a hundred years in the future just to learn what sort of foolishness we believe in now. The most interesting fact about typhoid is its name, which is salmonella typhi. If you follow the news, you’ll see that we still do battle with this salmonella food poisoning. It still makes us very sick to our stomach, and causes thousands of deaths a year.

Prudence pushes gender roles in her time by pursuing a field typically reserved only for men. If you lived in Prudence's New York City and had to secure a job for yourself, what type of work would you go in search of? Do you think you would push boundaries as Prudence does?

I know I had trouble being a brave woman even 20 years ago. Young women are still worried about going into certain fields because they’re not seen as “feminine.” Science, engineering, technology, math; girls don’t want to be seen as nerds. Is it possible to make science more lovely? Maybe girls need to take more control – paint the microscopes pink! If I lived a hundred years ago, I think I might have wanted to be a newspaper reporter – it was a time of yellow journalism, and sensational stories sold papers. I’d like to write some good juicy stories for the papers of the time. I’d push boundaries if my job was fascinating enough, I think. If I were compelled enough.

Whenever I read books that feature a virus or disease, by the time I’m finished I’m completely convinced I have whatever it is I’ve just read about and psychosomatic symptoms emerge in full force. Did you experience any such symptoms while writing or researching?

Um, yes, totally. Because I researched the history of medicine for the book, I had that experience over and over. Mostly because typhoid is a kind of food contamination or poisoning – if I had a stomachache after eating, I thought surely I had salmonella. Luckily, these paranoias don’t last very long!

If Prudence could jump forward in time to the present, what advancements in medical care and research do you think would most impress her?

Antibiotics! An amazing discovery. I wish we had something like antibiotics for every illness. It’s too bad they only work against bacteria. The polio vaccine, also, would impress her. The flu shot. I could go on and on.

Is there one other virus/disease/medical ailment either historically or more recently that you think would particularly fascinate Prudence?

I’ve been thinking of what might be a sequel for her – what sort of case would she become involved in next – and about ten years after the book ends, in 1918, was the influenza pandemic. I could see her finishing medical school, and getting involved with tracking down causes of that disease.

If you could only promote Deadly using a single line from the book (no blurb, no book cover, no other marketing tools whatsoever), which would you choose to most grab a reader’s attention?

That’s a tough question! Deadly is about so many things. But if I had to pick one line that would describe the essence of Prudence, it would be: “I always feel outside, the observer who writes what is happening, and I don’t know whether I will ever get inside, whether I will truly understand the workings of the field of science.” That’s sort of how she feels about everything.

Thanks so much for taking the time to answer my questions Julie! To learn more about Julie and her books, you can find additional information here:



If Prudence Galewski is ever going to get out of Mrs. Browning’s esteemed School for Girls, she must demonstrate her refinement and charm by securing a job appropriate for a young lady. But Prudence isn’t like the other girls. She is fascinated by how the human body works and why it fails.

With a stroke of luck, she lands a position in a laboratory, where she is swept into an investigation of the fever bound to change medical history. Prudence quickly learns that an inquiry of this proportion is not confined to the lab. From ritzy mansions to shady bars and rundown tenements, she explores every potential cause of the disease. But there’s no answer in sight—until the volatile Mary Mallon emerges. Dubbed “Typhoid Mary” by the press, Mary is an Irish immigrant who has worked as a cook in every home the fever has ravaged. Strangely, though, she hasn’t been sick a day in her life. Is the accusation against her an act of discrimination? Or is she the first clue in a new scientific discovery?

Prudence is determined to find out. In a time when science is for men, she’ll have to prove to the city, and to herself, that she can help solve one of the greatest medical mysteries of the twentieth century.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Review: By A Thread

(Elemental Assassin #6)
Jennifer Estep
Urban Fantasy
384 Pages
Available February 28th
Received from author for review

THE STORY (from Goodreads)
When killing people is your job, there’s no such thing as a vacation.

Then again, how often does an assassin live long enough to enjoy her retirement? In this line of work, you either get lucky or you get dead. And since I destroyed my nemesis Mab Monroe a few weeks ago, all of Ashland’s lowlifes are gunning to make a name for themselves by taking out the lethal Spider—me, Gin Blanco. So I’m leaving behind my beloved barbecue joint and heading south with my baby sister, Bria, to cool my heels in a swanky beach town. Call it a weekend of fun in the sun.

But when a powerful vampire with deadly elemental magic threatens an old friend of Bria’s, it looks like I’ll have to dig my silverstone knives out of my suitcase after all. Complicating matters further is the reappearance of Detective Donovan Caine, my old lover. But Donovan is the least of my problems. Because this time, the danger is hot on my trail, and not even my elemental Ice and Stone magic may be enough to save me from getting buried in the sand—permanently.

As hugely entertaining as ever, By A Thread makes it crystal clear yet again how wonderful a storyteller Ms. Estep truly is, delighting us with humor and charm while at the same time pushing every single one of our emotional buttons as Gin continues to grow as a person, an assassin, a sister, and a lover. It’s easy to start this latest story wondering where things can possibly go after the epic showdown and fiery conclusion to the Mab Monroe storyline, questioning whether or not this installment will feel somehow empty without her dark and sinister presence. Our musings and our hesitancy are for naught however, as Ms. Estep ratchets up the emotional intensity to an all time high and gives us a new villain who easily rivals Mab in evil deeds done to others, raising the fine hairs on our arms with his sick games and his certainty that he's untouchable.

Gin has always been the highlight of these books, her strength as a killer-for-hire-turned-pro-bono-defender-of-the-weak always beautifully combined with an innate vulnerability when it comes to those she cares for. In By A Thread, that vulnerability is particularly acute, and like the silverstone embedded in her palms and the blades she brandishes she absorbs everything thrown her way, taking every callous word, disdainful look, and snide comment from those she would easily give her life for into herself and storing it there without so much as a word to her own defense. She gladly hides her own pain, sliding her cold assassin mask in place to spare those around her any guilt or hurt as a result of what she does in the dark of night, and we can’t help but want to scream out loud so that all may hear the virtues we see in her, voicing our opinion of the woman she is and silencing those who judge her for the reputation she carries.

Back to torment both us and Gin is Donovan Caine, his righteousness in full force despite the time that’s passed since he left Ashland and Gin behind without so much as a kind word of parting. He’s as demeaning as ever, verbally berating her for everything he thinks she is or isn’t, but things have changed for Gin in the time since his departure, and it’s beyond satisfying to read Donovan side by side with Owen as Owen proves to us again and again just how clearly he sees Gin when everyone else is blind to anything other than her role as The Spider. He’s never fooled by the mask she wears or the defenses she puts up, and she allows him to see her emotionally bare knowing she’ll never see a look of disgust in those violet eyes at what’s revealed.

In additional to the turmoil surrounding Donovan’s sudden reappearance, we also have a spectacular new villain who challenges Gin physically and mentally at every turn, constantly keeping us on our toes as we are reminded that Gin is not infallible and that her mistakes are often bloody ones. Though we ultimately know Gin will come out on top, Ms. Estep ensures that the journey to victory is not one easily walked, hearts as bruised and broken as Gin's body is before The Spider shows everyone once again what she’s really made of. The closing pages are perhaps the most rewarding of all as Gin confronts past and present demons both physical and emotional, finally refusing to absorb any more rancor in silence and letting the wounds inflicted by words wielded with unprecedented expertise be seen by those who have done the most damage with them.

Rating: 4.5/5

Monday, February 20, 2012

Review: Harbinger

Sara Wilson Etienne
Paranormal Young Adult
320 pages
G.P. Putnam's Sons/Penguin
Available Now
Received from author for review

THE STORY (from Goodreads)
Plagued by waking visions and nightmares, inexplicably drawn to the bones of dead animals, Faye thinks she's going crazy. Fast. Her parents beleive Holbrook Academy might just be the solution. Dr. Mordoch tells her it's the only answer. But Faye knows that something's not quite right about Dr. Mordoch and her creepy, prisonlike school for disturbed teenagers.

What's wrong with Holbrook goes beyond the Takers, sadistic guards who threaten the student body with Tasers and pepper spray; or Nurse, who doles out pills at bedtime and doses of solitary confinement when kids step out of line; or Rita, the strange girl who delivers ominous messages to Faye that never seem to make any sense. What's wrong with Holbrook begins and ends with Faye's red hands; she and her newfound friends--her Holbrook "family"--wake up every morning with their hands stained the terrible brown of dried blood. Faye has no idea what it means but fears she may be the cause.

Because despite the strangeness of Holbrook and the island on which it sits, Faye feels oddly connected to the place; she feels especially linked to the handsome Kel, who helps her unravel the mystery. There's just one problem: Faye's certain Kel's trying to kill her--and maybe the rest of the world, too.

Harbinger is a tale full of dark corners teeming with shadowy secrets that hide from our searching gaze, forcing us to look harder and deeper for brief glances of their flickering forms before they once again dart out of our line of sight and leave us wondering how what we just saw will fit into the overall story. The title alone has us on edge, knowing the connotations associated with such a word are typically negative in nature, and we peel back the first page with our pulses beating a little faster and anticipation leaking from our pores as Faye is rather unceremoniously abandoned at Holbrook Academy. The mystery surrounding the school itself and Faye in particular is decadently thick, layer after layer created and stacked with careful crafting as it waits for us to find the beauty and intrigue in dismantling such a intricate construction.

Faye is a young woman who has our complete support instantaneously as she's deserted by her father, left to deal with the strange terror of her hallucinations on her own with no one but a doctor who places power above concern and instills hatred and fear instead of encouraging trust to help guide her. She and the six other members of her Family have an invisible seventh member in us readers, our blood burning along with theirs at what they're forced to endure, and our rage practically wafting from our bodies as those who are supposed to be helping them seek only to tear them down and crush them under the heels of their boots. Despite their treatment, all six of them stay strong and band together, and we can't help but smile as they are forced to bend but never allow themselves to break.

While Faye and her new friends are characters with whom our connection is a live wire pulsing with the full emotional spectrum, the story itself is a bit confusing at times. The first half beautifully builds the suspense while giving us time to really get to know Faye and company, clues uncovered slowly, though not so tediously as to bore us with filler content while waiting for the next revelation, but the second half seems to shift the story into a completely new gear and we find ourselves desperately trying to catch up. It's almost as though we've been driving through the plot on a clear day at a nice, even pace, only to reach the halfway point and have the heavens open up and pour down on us—we still know where we are and what direction we're headed, but now the details of our journey are blurred and a liquid filter has distorted what we once recognized and understood. Everything exists for us then in shades of muted grays with fuzzy edges, and we can't quite grasp the clarity we need to help us fully appreciate what's happening.

Harbinger is a solid debut from Ms. Wilson overall, with an engaging story and easy-to-love characters, the difference between the first half and the second half is just a touch more prominent than expected. The cruelty of Dr. Mordoch and the Holbrook staff is what initially yanks us into the story and has us flipping the pages with shocking rapidity, however, their vile behavior is never linked to the mystery of the harbinger and all that is brought to light in the second half, so we experience an unfortunate disconnect between what drew us in and where we end up on the last page. Even with those few flaws, it's clear Ms. Wilson is a talented writer and storyteller, and she will be one to watch as her career moves forward.

Rating 3.5/5

Sunday, February 19, 2012


Thanks so much to everyone who took the time to enter my most recent giveaways, and a special thank you to Flux for providing such fabulous book prizes! The below winners have been emailed.


Myra C.



Friday, February 17, 2012

Review: Bad Blood

(House of Comarre #3)

Kristen Painter
Urban Fantasy
352 pages
Available Now
Received from publisher for review

THE STORY (from Goodreads)
Samhain approaches, bringing with it the final melding of the mortal and othernatural worlds. No one knows just how much power the night holds...

Violent murders occur in Paradise City as counterfeit comarré are systematically hunted. The police and the Kubai Mata have more than enough trouble to keep themselves occupied. As war erupts at home, Malkolm and Chrysabelle head to New Orleans to recover the Ring of Sorrows. Chrysabelle is forced to make a life and death decision and will realize that her relationship to Malkolm may have fatal consequences.

The clock is ticking . . .

The third installment in the House of Comarre series, Bad Blood continues to breathtakingly depict the range of shades between light and dark, walking us through denser and darker grays than we’ve experienced before but also ensuring that our eyes adjust quickly and easily with well placed moments of light between Mal and Chrysabelle that make the shadows feel far less menacing. There is always danger, always the potential for pain and suffering, and always the possibility that the next threat will be far worse than the current one, but through it all we have characters who are trying to take the prevalent darkness infecting their world and transform it no matter the cost to themselves, molding it into something better for the future than it is in the present.

Chrysabelle and Malkom are an extraordinarily intriguing couple, their relationship one that’s slowly and painstakingly evolving as they both attempt to come to terms with the nature of their feelings for one another. As at times sweet and caring as Malkom can be, the blackness of his past clings to him, a shroud of pain and death he can never shed no matter how much light Chrysabelle shines on it and a constant reminder to us just what he is capable of should his rigid control slip for even a moment. He is not simply a tortured soul on the now smooth path toward redemption through the love of a woman however, instead he continually makes mistakes and stumbles along the way, often hurting her and himself when his moments of selfishness stemming from years of being his only priority make an appearance. It is these slips that make them such a perfectly flawed pair though, their steps forward often accompanied by steps backward as well, and together all of us trudge forward together to face what challenges Ms. Painter has in store.

The progression of Malkom and Chrysabelle’s relationship is a highlight of this tale, and because we have such an intense desire to follow them and their tenuous connection, the addition of several more independent-but-linked plotlines becomes a bit tedious to wade through. We have always followed several different characters in the books in this series, bouncing from one to the next to give us a broader perspective and feel for this supernatural world, but it seems as though with each new book the number of side stories increases, and we find ourselves getting to spend less and less time with the characters who have come to mean the most to us. Ms. Painter of course does a meticulous job of tying all the separate pieces of the puzzle together, though we can’t help but hope some of our character hopping decreases moving forward, allowing our focus to zero in on the core group of people we love so much.

Overall, Bad Blood is an enjoyable addition to the series if for no other reason than the growing romantic feelings and sexual tension between Malkom and Chrysabelle, two individuals who have more layers than we could ever hope to explore in a single book and who have us eagerly anticipating the next installment.

Rating: 4/5

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Review: Perception

PERCEPTION (Clarity #2)
Kim Harrington
Young Adult
288 pages
Scholastic Point
Available March 1st
Received from publisher for review

THE STORY (from Goodreads)
When you can see things others can't, what do you do when someone's watching you?

Everybody knows about Clarity "Clare" Fern. She's the psychic girl in school, the one who can place her hands on something and see hidden visions from the past.

Only Clare would rather not be a celebrity. She prefers hanging back, observing. Her gift is not a game to her.

But then someone starts playing with her head . . . and heart. Messages and gifts from a secret admirer crop up everywhere Clare turns. Could they be from Gabriel, the gorgeous boy who gets Clare's pulse racing? Or from Justin, Clare's hopeful ex-boyfriend who'd do anything to win her back?

One thing is certain. Clare needs to solve this mystery, and soon. Because the messages are becoming sinister, and a girl in town has suddenly disappeared.

Perception returns us to the life of Clare Fern, a young woman with an extrasensory gift who, despite having such, does not allow her life to revolve around or be dominated by the paranormal. Instead, we get a very real and down-to-earth girl plagued by insecurities, family troubles, and boy drama who holds us as spellbound as any of her supernatural contemporaries. The mystery element (in this installment a stalker) is nothing new or overly surprising, with a couple red herrings appropriately placed to keep us guessing and a gradual build up of tension that erupts in an action packed conclusion, but it's well executed and highly entertaining nonetheless, woven seamlessly into the trials and tribulations of Clare’s love and home life. Ms. Harrington writes with a fluid grace, characters and events combining and conflicting with an ease that most likely defies the amount of time spent carefully crafting each sentence, and we find ourselves laughing, sighing, and holding our breath as we sit back and thoroughly enjoy the telling of a good story.

Clare is a young woman who feels utterly genuine, her snark and humor prevalent enough to keep us snorting at her one-liners but not so overdone to the point where nothing sincere spills from her mouth, and whose mature handling of various situations turns us into adoring fans for sparing us copious amounts of teenage angst. Her romantic situation with Gabriel and Justin certainly could play out in melodramatic fashion, but both Clare and the boys deal with their love triangle in a way that makes it seem like such a thing may not be as far fetched as other scenarios have made us believe. She is understandably torn between the two, but she doesn’t spend all day every day worrying over making a decision, instead she often stops, catalogs her reactions to both young men, and then realizes she has no idea what she’s feeling or what to do about it; a realization that makes us smile because we know she’s never going to resort to playing romantic games in order to more clearly define those feelings.

On the boys’ side, Justin and Gabriel both make solid cases for themselves, never giving Clare an ultimatum or set amount of time in which she needs to come up with an answer for them, and both continue their pursuit of her without ever pushing her too far. They drop hints and playfully flirt, making us laugh while they continue to confuse us as though we’re the ones caught between them, but never once does their behavior have us rolling our eyes or shaking our heads in dismay. Though the relationship between the three of them is a main element, it’s not the sole focus, and Ms. Harrington proceeds to paint us a picture with more than a single color, bringing in both superficial and more complex issues with regard to both Clare’s mom and brother Perry to give us a complete image rich in tonality that holds us transfixed.

Overall, Perception is a quick and fun read with a spectacularly tangible cast of characters who would have us lining up to move to their small summer-tourist town if it weren’t for the somewhat alarming number of dead bodies that seem to pop up there. With Clare’s romantic decision seemingly made at the end of this story, the coming months for us will be all the more difficult to bear as we wait to see both how the ensuing ripples said decision will cause in her life will play out as well as what trouble will possibly find it’s way to her doorstop next.

Rating: 4/5

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Mini Reviews: The Calling + Crossroads

Ashley Lynn Willis
Adult Paranormal Romance (sort of)
360 pages
Available Now
Received from author for review

THE STORY (from Goodreads)
Mandy Hardy lost more than a breast to cancer; she lost her fiancé when he dumped her a week before her mastectomy. Her ego bruised and her self-esteem battered, Mandy’s sure she’ll never fall in love again.

Justin Seward is a headstrong Coast Guard Rescue Swimmer with a heart of gold and the supernatural ability to command the seas. He had to hide his feelings while Mandy was engaged to his best friend. Now that she’s free, he’s vowed to make her his.

Together, they may hold the key to each other’s salvation. But when Justin’s past catches up with him, and Mandy’s ex-fiancé wants vengeance, they realize they might not live long enough for happily ever after.

The Calling is a story difficult to adequately categorize, strong romantic elements accompanied by an interesting paranormal twist to give us something that should feel like a paranormal romance, yet something about that definition doesn’t quite seem to fit either, and we are left a bit adrift as we try to determine our overall reaction to this tale. Part of the issue lies with the world building, mainly the fact that there’s very little at all to help support and foster believability in the supernatural element. The world of The Calling is identical to our own in every conceivable way save the addition of Justin’s ability to manipulate and control water (a result of his being a descendant of Triton), and so his relationship to the sea feels a bit random in an otherwise contemporary and realistic world. If descendents of Triton exist, shouldn’t there be descendents of other gods as well? Where are all the other people who also have to heed the Calling? What are their lives like? We never learn much of the history surrounding this paranormal ability, and meet no other characters other than Justin’s father who share his gifts or similar ones, so we’re left with quite a few questions that if answered would have added a richness and tangibility to the reading experience.

Ms. Willis is a talented storyteller however, and her characters have little trouble carving out places for themselves in our hearts as we tangle ourselves in their lives and their trials. The relationship between Justin and Mandy feels genuine and is one we can easily root for knowing everything they’ve gone through on their journey to the warmth of one another's embrace, and we can’t help but have the almost irresistible urge to flip to the end just to ensure they find the happiness they both so clearly deserve. With the exception of one fairly large overreaction on Mandy’s part, both she and Justin are thoroughly enjoyable protagonists, and Ms. Willis is an author I will look forward to reading more of as her career progresses.

Rating 3.5/5

CROSSROADS (Crossroads Academy #1)
J.J. Bonds
Paranormal Young Adult
310 pages
Available Now
Received from author for review

THE STORY (from Goodreads)
When Katia enrolled at Crossroads Academy she knew things weren’t exactly going to be easy. The sole heir to the worlds’ most powerful vampire, her presence was bound to cause a stir. But nothing could have prepared her for this. Whispers follow everywhere she goes. So does trouble.

But Katia will do her time at Crossroads. After all, she’s only enrolled at the prestigious school for pure blood vampires to fulfill a promise to her Great Uncle Aldo. Tucked away in the Green Mountains of Vermont, Katia hopes to shed the demons of her past and focus on her education. Raised blissfully unaware of the entire vamp world, she’s got a lot of catching up to do.

As Katia learns more about this dark society and her own legacy, protecting her past becomes increasingly difficult. Bodies start turning up in nearby Rutland and Katia is sucked into a twisted web of danger and deceit. Haunted by nightmares she can’t explain and a thirst for blood that is never sated, Katia will do whatever it takes to keep her past buried. What choice does she have? Exposure will shake the Elder’s Council to its core and likely result in a death sentence at the hands of the Linkuri.

Nothing at Crossroads is what it seems and Katia’s secrets may be the darkest of them all.

Nicely paced and entertaining, Crossroads yanks us into the halls of its title’s academy and thrusts us quickly forward through Katia’s tale, not necessarily blowing us away with the uniqueness of the vampire lore or the complexity of the characters themselves, but keeping us interested the entire way through nonetheless. More strongly plot-driven than character-driven, Ms. Bonds builds an interesting mystery as we go, flashes from Katia’s violent past causing our eyebrows to raise in question as to their relevance to her present, and though those eyebrows stay raised for quite some time, all the seemingly disparate elements are beautifully strung together to create a powerful and action-packed conclusion.

While the story is well executed and has us closing the back cover thoroughly satisfied with the way the all the individual pieces were crafted, the characterization leaves us longing for the same depth and care as is dedicated to the detailing of specific events. Katia is a bit sour and generally moody for majority of the book, and though she often recognizes her own negativity, she does little to improve her attitude and therefore repeatedly thwarts our attempts to reach out and connect with her. We know little of the reasons behind her despondency other than she simply doesn’t want to be at Crossroads, and that reason alone is not strong enough to have us fighting to claw our way through her melancholy to uncover the woman beneath.

Rating: 3.5/5

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Interview: Amy Lignor + Until Next Time

Today I'm excited to welcome young adult author Amy Lignor to the blog to answer a few questions about the first book in her new paranormal series, Until Next Time. I've been reading a lot of angel stories lately and always enjoy the different mythologies the author creates for this paranormal entity, so while I haven't read Until Next Time yet, I'm very much looking forward to seeing how Amy writes her angels!

If both Matt and Emily had to summarize their experiences with the events that take place in Until Next Time in only one word, what word would each use?

Emily: Learned
Matt: Emancipation

Would you rather be the warrior or the angel half of a team?

I wish I could say the angel, but I don’t think I have the strength to be that calm for that long without sparking, or demanding to know what the heck is going on around me, so I would have to say the warrior. This is a job of defense, protection, strength and the ability to save the ones you care about. It’s a job written in stone.

What aspect of the angel mythology you’ve created is your favorite or the most interesting to write?

How an innocent has to deal with human emotions. Unless you’re an infant, you’re not innocent. We learn with our eyes, and ears, and the everyday situations we get stuck in as we grow up. So writing Emily and Matt is almost like a new, mysterious path for me to walk down, being able to get inside the minds of completely unhindered and unaffected souls and see how they deal with running face-first into things we take for granted, like battle, love, romance, fear, anger - all of it. With Emily and Matt they were created, taught and trained as each other’s soul mate, so they went down knowing only one thing - that they were by each other’s side and protected. Hence, when they were split apart, keeping that faith in each other in a chaotic world was a very cool experience.

Let’s say your part of the world of Until Next Time and one half of an angel/warrior pairing with a new “life” to which you’ve been assigned. What single human emotion do you think would be most difficult for you to understand in general or most difficult for you to deal with when faced with it directly?

The most difficult to deal with would be love. There are so many facets that you need to know and understand. All of those ‘mental’ and communication skills are in your head, but that overwhelming emotion comes directly from your heart and you end up racing into that ‘dream.’ The great things that come from it are absolute heaven, but the downsides that can come with it are nightmarish.

Which really leads to the one human emotion that I don’t understand, which is hatred. I mean, Contact was a movie that had this incredible line where a ‘being’ was speaking to a human and said that he was absolutely amazed by our species, because we could have the most incredible dreams and the most horrific nightmares all at the same time. That really struck home. Hatred can come from everything - envy, a battle for superiority, a bad mood, a word that shouldn’t have been said, and then that’s it - we just hate automatically - and I think that’s the one thing that could bring us all down for good.

What would Matt say is his favorite part of spending time in the lives he’s assigned? Is there one life/assignment in particular that stands out most in his memory?

Actually, Matt loves everything about his job. Being the warrior he longed for his ability to be free. The passion he had for saving and fighting was strong, and he kept it. I think what he didn’t expect was having to vie for the girl who was already his. I think his absolute favorite ‘assignment’ comes when he’s in a world on the cusp of change and living in New York City. He goes into a life that’s beyond interesting and, with Emily, has a truly amazing experience. In the beginning, Matt was still that young, fresh soul who had the world at his feet. He made all those human mistakes and dealt with all of that pain we have, but in this particular life he was more grown-up. He was already wearing his battle scars outside AND in, which changed him.

When you think about release day, what's the first word that pops into your head?


Have you ever cheated and read the end of a book first? Do you ever think you might write the end of a book first and work your way back to the beginning?

LOL. Actually, no. I’ve never understood the point of reading a story if you already know the end. I’m one of those ‘wide-eyed kids’ who still likes to go through the story right beside the characters and have a ball. But since we’re being completely honest, there have been some where I got ten or fifteen chapters into the novel and they were just not my cup of tea, or so slow moving that I HAD to flip to the back of the book to see the end because I just couldn’t take it anymore.

When writing, the end of the book is already in my head - even the end of the whole series. But when I sit down to type, I always begin on page one because you never know when and where those twists and turns will happen when you’re creating the story, and I wouldn’t want to miss one.

If you could give your pre-Until Next Time self one piece of advice about the characters, story, writing process, or marketing process, what would you tell her?

There will be lots of sleepless nights, but if you can create a story that’s unique and touches someone else’s heart out there than keep going, drink a lot of coffee, and stop whining (because the dog is the only one listening anyway and he just wants you to be quiet and give him another treat. LOL)

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



How does a girl choose between the one who steals her heart and the one who owns her soul?

Matt and Emily were created for a specific job. Raised and trained as the ultimate angel/warrior team, they are sent down to save, defend, judge and forgive, depending on the 'life' they've been assigned. What they don't realize is that the power of human emotions, such as love, anger, passion and fear can take over even the best of souls, causing them to make mistakes and follow paths that lead to confusion and heartache.

When the reason for their training is finally revealed, the angel/warrior team find themselves thrust into a world they know nothing about. Matt takes over the life of Daniel, a young man with a great deal of baggage. Emily becomes Liz, a girl living in a remote village who relies on nothing more than her own strength to survive. A violent storm erupts one night, and framed in the window of Liz's establishment is a frightening face. Let in by the soul of a Good Samaritan, the two visitors bring with them a past full of secrets that could literally change an angel's path and a warrior's plans.

From murder to redemption, this angel/warrior team must find a way to keep the faith they have in each other in a world that's ripping them apart.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Review: Scarlet

A.C. Gaughen
Young Adult
304 pages
Walker Children's Books
Available February 14th
Received through NetGalley for review

THE STORY (from Goodreads)
Many readers know the tale of Robin Hood, but they will be swept away by this new version full of action, secrets, and romance.

Posing as one of Robin Hood’s thieves to avoid the wrath of the evil Thief Taker Lord Gisbourne, Scarlet has kept her identity secret from all of Nottinghamshire. Only the Hood and his band know the truth: the agile thief posing as a whip of a boy is actually a fearless young woman with a secret past. Helping the people of Nottingham outwit the corrupt Sheriff of Nottingham could cost Scarlet her life as Gisbourne closes in.

It’s only her fierce loyalty to Robin—whose quick smiles and sharp temper have the rare power to unsettle her—that keeps Scarlet going and makes this fight worth dying for.

Scarlet is a story that despite the use of familiar characters and a familiar premise feels fresh and new, the world of Robin Hood looking very different through the eyes of a female Will Scarlet–a young woman who steals and swears better than the boys in their band of misfits but who can’t quite hide the flush in her cheeks and the beating of her heart at the sight of Robin behind her boyish façade. Never before has the concept of thievery been quite so appealing, and while we know intellectually that stealing is not an act to be admired or glorified, our own fingers can’t help but twitch with the desire to be as sticky as Scarlet’s so that we might contribute to the fight against a tyrannical prince and sheriff no matter how illegal our choice of weapons. Into a classic tale Ms. Gaughen weaves a complicated and dark past for our young heroine, making her more than simple words on a page, more than a girl in boy’s clothing, and more than someone relegated to the shadows cast by the great Robin of Locksley.

It takes a couple chapters to really settle in with Scarlet as a narrator, the dialect wherein she often uses the word “were” in place of “was” (ie “I were looking right at him”) taking some getting used to before it simply becomes a part of who she is and therefore something we can’t help but love because we adore her so thoroughly. She wields her knives with unerring precision, pulling more than her weight in their band of four and proving again and again that she’s a force to be reckoned with. When the boys attempt to remind her that she’s a girl and could possibly need looking after, she’s quick to prove otherwise, repeatedly being the first into danger to save an innocent life and back out again before Robin, Little John, and Much even know she’s gone.

Perhaps most memorable and intriguing in this tale is the relationship between Scarlet and Rob, the two of them so frighteningly similar and so obliviously blind to their own similarities that they repeatedly clash, butting heads again and again without ever thinking to truly open their eyes and see what’s standing in front of them. Both are struggling to atone for past sins, using self-inflicted emotional pain as currency to pay the debt they both feel they owe to God and country for the blood they’ve spilled, never once allowing the health and safety they now provide to those around them to balance the perceived taint on their souls. They hurt one another both intentionally and unintentionally, but it’s abundantly clear to us that their actions and sharp words are never intended the way they seem, and we wait with breath held for the moment when they'll allow their hearts to communicate what body language and mouths cannot.

Overall, Scarlet is a wonderfully well-rounded debut from Ms. Gaughen; a layered tale where light attempts to fight the encroaching darkness through shades of gray, and where a young woman fights for a home and a family she doesn’t feel she deserves even though the opposite is true. Ms. Gaughen is an author I will be watching from now on, and I cannot wait to see what she will delight us with next.

Rating: 4.5/5

Friday, February 10, 2012

Guest Post + Giveaway: Resa Nelson + The Dragonslayer Series

Today I'm handing the reins of Supernatural Snark over to author Resa Nelson who's going to give us an inside look into how she researches material for her Dragonslayer fantasy series. She's also offering up a giveaway of books one and two, so be sure and check the bottom of the post for details. Thanks so much for being here today Resa!


When writing my 4-book Dragonslayer series, I did most of my research before I wrote Book 1 (The Dragonslayer's Sword) or while I was writing it. All of the research I had done – and which I've described during my blog tour so far – gave me a wealth of information that I kept drawing upon while writing Books 2 and 3. It wasn't until deep in Book 3 that I felt the need to delve into research again. Today I'm writing about how doing plenty of research in advance makes it easier to do research on the fly when you get into the depths of a series of books.

The earliest stages of my research took place about 11 years ago. What is now a 4-book series began as one short story that was published in a magazine. I never had any intent of writing more Dragonslayer stories, much less a novel, much less an entire series! Fortunately, all of my readers are smarter than I am. There was such a strong response from readers to that one little Dragonslayer short story that I decided to write a second short story set in the same world with the same characters, and it was published in the same magazine, Science Fiction Age. In addition to reader response, both short stories were nominated for the Nebula Award. But my policy is this: I won't write a novel unless I come up with an idea that excites me so much that I can't stop thinking about it. I won't write a novel unless I have an idea that I love with my whole heart. Writing a novel that I'm not wildly excited about would be a waste of my time, my publisher's time, and most importantly my readers’ time.

So it took about 8 years or so for me to come up with an idea I loved for the first Dragonslayer novel (The Dragonslayer’s Sword). My theory about the Dragonslayer world is that it takes place in a world parallel to ours during a medieval-type era. I've always loved Viking culture, so I decided to model my world on the beginning of the Viking era. That's when my research began in earnest. Luckily, because I've been a lifelong fans of Vikings, I already had a big shelf full of books. I kept collecting more books as I sank into research mode.

Fast forward several years to a point where Book 1 had not only been published but also nominated for the Nebula Award and named a Finalist for the EPPIE Award, which thrilled me. I had decided to wait to see how people responded to Book 1 and had written a standalone novel (Our Lady of the Absolute, a fantasy/mystery/thriller inspired by ancient Egypt but set in our modern day). After all, if readers didn't like Book 1, it would be foolish to keep writing the series – my time would be better spent writing other books. But a combination of award nominations and very positive (and often enthusiastic) reader response convinced me to write the entire series.

Now fast forward again. Book 1 is in print, Book 2 (The Iron Maiden) has been accepted for publication, and I'm getting close to writing the end of Book 3 (which is currently scheduled for publication in 2012). All of a sudden, my main character Astrid encounters a group of characters who become critical to her journey. The problem is that I didn't know they were going to show up. Now what was I going to do?

The solution turned out to be a lot easier than I would have guessed. I went to the bookcase in my living room and started sorting through the books about women in the Viking age that I'd bought years ago. I sat down and flipped through them. One book especially appealed to me and seemed to be a good match with what was happening in Book 3 at that time. I skimmed through some sections of my research book and read other sections very carefully. These new characters that had showed up in Book 3 began to take shape and form in my head.

It took maybe an afternoon or two to do the research for that particular part of Book 3. I didn't have to go to the library or request interlibrary loan, which I'd spent many months doing when I first started the series. I didn't have to do an Internet search. I had everything I needed at my fingertips because I'd already done a lot of research and had gathered a collection of books that genuinely interest me. And that allowed me to do research on the fly in a very quick and efficient way when something unexpected popped up in my own novel that I wanted to understand and develop before committing words to paper. For me, that’s a great way to do research on the fly.


Resa is generously offering up signed paperback copies of both The Dragonslayer's Sword and The Iron Maiden to those people following the promotional tour. To enter, just send an email to (email addresses will be used only for giveaway purposes) with "Dragonslayer Giveaway" as the subject. This giveaway is INTERNATIONAL and will run through the end of the tour on February 14th. For those who want to double their chances of winning, there is also a Goodreads giveaway (which can be found HERE) for The Dragonslayer's Sword, though this particular giveaway it is open to US residents only.

If you'd like to try a sample of the series, you can download a free "mini" ebook (in PDF form) titled Dragonslayer Stories HERE.

Additional information, including other stops on the promotional tour, can be found on these sites:

Iron Maiden Trailer


For Astrid, a blacksmith who makes swords for dragonslayers, the emergence of a strange gemstone from her body sets in motion a chain of events that threaten to destroy her life. Her happiness is shattered when her lover-the dragonslayer-disappears without a trace, and the life that she knows and loves implodes without warning.

Astrid lives in a world of shapeshifters whose thoughts have the power to change not only themselves but others. Everything Astrid knows to be true is called into question when she learns the truth about her past and the mysterious family from which she was separated as a child.

Reality turns inside out as Astrid gradually learns the truth about the people she loves as well as those she disdains. With the fate of dragons, ghosts, and slaves in foreign lands resting on her shoulders, Astrid faces the challenge of deciding who she is and how she will stand up inside her own skin. Will she withdraw and hide from the world that has disappointed her so much...or will she rise to lead others to freedom and peace?