Thursday, January 31, 2013

Review: House Rules

Chicagoland Vampires #7
Chloe Neill
Adult Urban Fantasy
352 pages
Available February 5th
Received from publisher for review

THE STORY (from Goodreads)
At the tender age of 27, Merit became a sword-wielding vampire. Since then, she’s become the protector of her House, watched Chicago nearly burn to the ground, and seen her Master fall and rise. Now she’ll see her mettle—and her metal —tested like never before.

It started with two . . . Two rogues vanishing without a trace. Someone is targeting Chicago’s vampires, and anyone could be next. With their house in peril, Merit and her Master, the centuries old Ethan Sullivan, must race to stop the disappearances. But as they untangle a web of secret alliances and ancient evils, they realize their foe is more familiar, and more powerful, than they could have ever imagined.

The Chicagoland Vampires series is one that has gained in popularity due in large part to Ms. Neill’s trademark sense of humor and her proficiency in writing witty banter, with a smoldering sexual tension between Merit and deliciously frustrating Master vampire Ethan Sullivan only feeding an already ravenous hunger for the books as a whole. The past couple books have been a bit darker in tone, the playful camaraderie between Merit and both Ethan and Mallory replaced by a somber tone as death and darkness stunned Merit’s world and turned it on its head, but House Rules sees a return of the rapier wit we’ve come to appreciate from Merit, and it’s nothing short of delightful to watch her wield it as she challenges Ethan the way she did in earlier books. Though there is a certain amount of levity threaded through this seventh installment, the seriousness of Cadogan House’s impending defection from the ruling council of vampires is present and accounted for; drama, romance, and mystery all combining to remind us of why we love Merit and company so very much.

Ethan and Merit’s relationship has always been an entertaining battle of wills, Merit’s distaste for authority clashing repeatedly with Ethan’s expectations of obeisance and obedience, and their struggle to patently deny the chemistry between them has been a highlight of each book. The continuation of their stop-and-start relationship in the previous two installments has notched their antics down a touch from amusing to mildly frustrating, but luckily Ms. Neill gives us an Ethan and Merit in House Rules who have learned from their past mistakes and are admirably fighting their knee-jerk reactions to perceived slights in order to set a new standard for their relationship – one of strength and unity rather than fear and doubt.

Though there is no shortage of romantic drama for our leading couple in this story, the way they deal with it shows a great deal of growth, with Ethan in particular making some significant progress in the relationship maturity department. When a few revelations shake the fragile foundation they’ve begun to rebuild, House Rules has them bracing for impact rather than running and ducking for cover as they have before, with Ethan attempting to express his feelings vocally rather than shuttering them away behind his Liege and Master mask. Though he has a long way to go before anyone might describe him as communicative or demonstrative, what we see in this book gives us hope they are on their way to becoming the powerful couple we've always known they could be.

In addition to a strong comedic and romantic performance from both Ethan and Merit, we’re also given a solid mystery in this installment, a serial killer targeting vampires with seemingly little motive keeping us on our toes throughout even as we grit our teeth in frustration at the actions of the Greenwich Presidium against Cadogan House. Ms. Neill successfully juggles several different plotlines, giving each of them due attention while blending them together to form a single cohesive story, and we walk away from this story blissfully satisfied in a way we haven’t quite been for the last couple books.

Rating: 4.5/5

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Fire and Ice Blog Hop: Character Interview with Kaidan Rowe + Giveaway

Today I'm going to attempt to not hyperventilate over the fact that I have Kaidan Rowe, the oh-so sexy and charming love interest from The Sweet Trilogy by Wendy Higgins (Sweet Evil sits atop my list of favorites from last year, you can read my review here) joining me on the blog. Did I also mention he's the son of the Duke of Lust? Yeah. Anyone who has been following this blog for a while knows my interest in Kaidan borders on unhealthily obsessive, but I like to think of it more as adorably fixated. I enjoy deluding myself you see. But, enough about me! Today is all about Kaidan, so for those of you who have yet to meet him, I hope this interview makes you want to do so, and for those of you who have, well, I hope this tides you over a bit until the release of Sweet Peril in April!

This interview is part of the Fire and Ice Blog Hop hosted by Rainy Day Ramblings, Love of Books, Cambria Hebert, The Caffeinated Reviewer, and Mostly Reviews, so be sure and check out all the participants here so you don't miss out on all the reviews, interviews, guest posts and giveaways!

Since this is our first time “meeting”, I figured we should just start things off with a nice icebreaker; something to help us get comfortable with one another. So, here goes. Hypothetically speaking (of course), should I brazenly make a pass at you and put all my feminine wiles (which are obviously legion ;-) to use, what kind of reaction could I expect?

Well, luv, if you were to do that we’d have to pause this interview for a bit, yeah?  ;)   

If you could ask Wendy to write any scene from Sweet Evil from your point of view knowing that Anna would be the only one to read it and be privy to what you were thinking, which scene would you choose?

My first reaction is to say “none” because I’d rather not have the vulnerability of anyone knowing my thoughts. But at the same time it would be interesting for Anna to see herself the way I see her. So I’ll say the night of our first kiss. She has no idea how bleedin sexy she is when she’s not even trying.

What genre of fiction best describes your life (horror, mystery/thriller, etc.)?

Ha. Is there such thing as Horrotica?

You have the ability to look at a woman and know exactly what she needs to see/hear/feel in order to fall into bed with you, thus making the job you do for your father a bit easier. If Anna had a variation of this ability wherein she knew not what it would take to get you into bed, but rather what it would take for you to fall in love, what might this gift show her about you?

I believe you’re stealthily trying to get in my head, but I forgive you because you’re beautiful. However, I still can’t answer this question. The whole idea of “falling in love” is...beyond my scope of understanding. I was raised to see love as a weakness, and frankly it’s difficult to get past that mindset.

Aside from Anna, has any other woman ever resisted the temptation that is you?

No. I’ve had some tough cases that required me to pull out all the stops, but resistance is futile.

If things were a bit simpler for you and Anna and you were able to take her on a date, what would your ideal evening with her consist of?

She’s quite easily impressed and it’s entertaining to watch her be dazzled. I’m thinking dinner overlooking water—something beautiful where I can sit back and just watch her reactions.

For those of us dying a little each day as we wait for the release of Sweet Peril, please take pity on us and describe what we can expect in the sequel using only the title of a song (or songs).

How about “I Hate Myself For Loving You” by Joan Jett. There’s an uplifting little teaser for you, eh?   

Last question, and it’s very serious in nature, so please prepare yourself. When you hear the name “Jenny”, what’s the first thing that pops into your mind?

Sex. Definitely sex.

*Jenny falls down dead*

I'm sorry everyone, I'm not sure I can run this blog any longer because my entire body just liquified and I've taken up permanent residence on the floor. It's been lovely knowing you all ;-)

A huge thank you to Kaidan for stopping by the blog and answering my, ahem, probing questions! More information on Kaidan, The Sweet Trilogy and Wendy Higgins can be found here:

Sweet Evil Buy Link
Sweet Peril Buy Link

SWEET PERIL (releases April 30th from HarperTeen)

Anna Whitt, daughter of a guardian angel and a demon, promised herself she'd never do the work of her father--polluting souls. She'd been naive to make such a claim. She'd been naive about a lot of things.

Haunted by demon whisperers, Anna does whatever she can to survive, even if it means embracing her dark side and earning an unwanted reputation as her school's party girl. Her life has never looked more bleak. And all the while there's Kaidan Rowe, son of the Duke of Lust, plaguing her heart and mind.

When an unexpected lost message from the angels surfaces, Anna finds herself traveling the globe with Kopano, son of Wrath, in an attempt to gain support of fellow Nephilim and give them hope for the first time. It soon becomes clear that whatever freedoms Anna and the rest of the Neph are hoping to win will not be gained without a fight. Until then, Anna and Kaidan must put aside the issues between them, overcome the steamiest of temptations yet, and face the ultimate question: is loving someone worth risking their life?

In celebration of Kaidan and his ability to warm up these cold winter nights, I'm giving away either a copy of Sweet Evil for newcomers to the series or a copy of Sweet Peril for those of you who are already in love. Sweet Peril will be a pre-order, I do not have an advanced copy to give away. To enter, please fill out the rafflecopter form below. This giveaway is open to US and Canadian residents only, good luck everyone!
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Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Blog Tour + Giveaway: A Shimmer of Angels

I'm thrilled today to be part of the promotional tour for Lisa M. Basso's paranormal young adult novel, A Shimmer of Angels (releases TODAY from Month9Books). Lisa's temporarily taking over the blog to tell us how two of her angels came to be. Well, to be more specific, how two of her deliciously hot angel boys came to be. *fans self* I like to think of it as swoon-worthy boy week here on the blog. You. Are. Welcome. Before I start drooling uncontrollably, I'll let Lisa tell you all about them!


Angels are a popular genre in YA books today. When I first started writing A SHIMMER OF ANGELS, I knew my angels had to stand out. To craft two very different boys, I first started with character worksheets. My favorite is from here. It can take a long time to fill something like that out, learning and creating while you go. When I was done, I had gotten to know them pretty well. Therefore, Cam and Kade were born.

Cam. Five feet, nine inches of blond angel hotness. Created as Camael, an angel--specifically a Protector--with white wings and a passionate dedication to his job.

Kade. Not to be outdone, we have Kade, birth name Kasade. He's five foot, ten inches with black wings, since he's already Fallen, and one spicy attitude.

I had the basics down. Problem was, when I started writing and they were introduced into more and more scenes, I noticed I didn't have enough information from them yet to be fully rounded and three dimensional. Solution: it was time to dig deeper. I moved on to a character interview, where I asked them questions. First I hit the tough stuff, I burrowed into their pasts, then we gradually moved forward in time to when they each first meet Rayna in A SHIMMER OF ANGELS. Cam helped me understand the way Heaven works, the complications in his world, the reasons for his choices, and the depths of his personality. Kade exploded off the page during my interview. While Cam was more stoic and reserved, Kade was personable and unpredictable. I peeled back his thorny exterior and dug into his past, getting an opportunity to understand him and almost all his facets. And, boy, are there a lot of facets to that boy.

Both Cam and Kade are strong characters with strong wills, but they are also vastly different in almost every way. Cam was created to Protect humans, Kade was created to battle the demons residing on Earth. Kade was sent to Earth to do his job and never allowed back in. Cam wished he could spend more time on Earth, but resides mostly in Heaven. Cam answers to many tiers of angels above him, while Kade roams the Earth alone, they way he likes it (or so he says).

It isn't just the color of their wings and their past experiences that make Cam and Kade so contrasting. Cam believes in the good of humans, that his life isn't worth half of one of ours. Kade...well, read the book, you'll see. I can't give too much away here. ;) Let's just say Kade doesn't exactly feel the same way Cam does. My words, not his. His words would need much censoring.

Kade has struggled to survive for most of his life, has learned to rely on only himself. Maybe some of that will change when Rayna arrives. And Cam, sweet, loyal Cam. Originally created as a hero, Cam's personality and feelings have changed so much from when I first started writing him. Again, I won't give too much away, but Rayna has had quite the effect on my dear angel boys.

I can't wait for everyone to meet Cam and Kade and be a part of their journeys through the Angel Sight trilogy.

Thanks so much for having me, Jenny! And for those of you interested in picking up a copy of A SHIMMER OF ANGELS, know that a portion of the proceeds will go directly to a suicide outreach and prevention program in San Francisco, California. Not only will you get a great read, but you'll also be helping out a charity that is very near and dear to my heart. :)

Thanks for sharing Cam and Kade with us Lisa! More information on Lisa, A Shimmer of Angels and Month9Books can be found here:

Lisa's Website
Lisa on Facebook
Lisa on Twitter
Lisa on Goodreads
Amazon Buy Link
Month9Books Website
Month9Books on Facebook
Month9Books on Twitter

This tour is chock-full of fun interviews, guest posts, and giveaways, so be sure and check out the full list of participating blogs HERE so you don't miss out on anything! Tomorrow's stop is at The Young Adult Connection.


Month9Books, a publisher of speculative fiction for teens and tweens, announces the release of A SHIMMER OF ANGELS, a debut young adult title from Lisa M. Basso.

Sixteen-year-old Rayna sees angels, and has the medication and weekly therapy sessions to prove it. Now, in remission, Rayna starts fresh at a new school, lands a new job, and desperately tries for normalcy. She ignores signs that she may be slipping into the world she has tried so hard to climb out of. But these days, it’s more than just hallucinations that keep Rayna up at night. Students are dying, and she may be the only one who can stop it. Can she keep her job, her sanity, and her friends from dying at the hands of angels she can't admit to seeing?

Author of THE IRON WITCH, Karen Mahoney, says, “A SHIMMER OF ANGELS has a courageous heroine who finds herself in the middle of two gorgeous angels, a fascinating world, and a story that builds to an exciting climax - I'll be looking forward to more from Lisa M. Basso!"


Lisa M. Basso and the amazing team at Month9Books have put together a fantastic giveaway for this tour, enter below for your chance to win! This giveaway is open to US and Canadian residents only. Good luck everyone!

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Monday, January 28, 2013

Review: Scarlet

The Lunar Chronicles #2
Marissa Meyer
Young Adult/Fairytale retelling/Dystopian
464 pages
Feiwel & Friends
Available February 5th
Received from publisher for review

THE STORY (from Goodreads)
Cinder returns in the second thrilling installment of the New York Times-bestselling Lunar Chronicles. She’s trying to break out of prison—even though if she succeeds, she’ll be the Commonwealth’s most wanted fugitive.

Halfway around the world, Scarlet Benoit’s grandmother is missing. It turns out there are many things Scarlet doesn’t know about her grandmother and the grave danger she has lived in her whole life. When Scarlet encounters Wolf, a street fighter who may have information as to her grandmother’s whereabouts, she has no choice but to trust him, though he clearly has a few dark secrets of his own.

As Scarlet and Wolf work to unravel one mystery, they find another when they cross paths with Cinder. Together, they must stay one step ahead of the vicious Lunar Queen who will do anything to make Prince Kai her husband, her king, her prisoner.

Scarlet is a sequel that has us initially on edge, our desire to return to Cinder's story alone rather than embark on an entirely separate journey with a new cast of characters strong enough that we crack the spine with a wary sort of anticipation, hoping our doubts will be quickly proven unfounded. Luckily for us, Ms. Meyer gives us everything we could have wished for in this second installment, teasing us a bit as Scarlet and Cinder's stories run parallel to one another for majority of the book, never quite intersecting even as we know they must at some point cross paths. Normally, this setup can be a touch frustrating for us as readers, our eagerness to stay with one character, in this case Cinder since we are more familiar with her, causing us to skim through the other character's chapters in our haste to return to the one who has most captured our attention, however, Scarlet's story captivates from the beginning, and we revel in our time with her as much as we do our time with Cinder herself.

Though Scarlet's search for her missing grandmother and her budding romance with Wolf is as engrossing as the continuation of Cinder's tale, Scarlet herself doesn't quite grab us emotionally from the beginning the way Cinder did. This could perhaps be attributed to the nature of their original fairytales, with Cinderella's status as an underdog causing us to immediately back her, whereas Little Red Riding Hood is a young woman who isn't quite observant enough to notice her precious grandmother has suddenly developed canine features until it's far too late. Scarlet is thankfully far more layered and interesting than her fairytale counterpart, though they share a similarity in their susceptibility to deceit given Scarlet is often quick to believe what superficial appearance tells her is the truth while neglecting to examine the situation from multiple angles before judgement is passed and a negative opinion is formed.

Despite her inability to think with her mind and heart instead of simply trusting her eyes, Scarlet is certainly someone we come to care about, and her troubled relationship with Wolf is gorgeously depicted. Wolf is a deeply intriguing character, both alpha and beta hero wrapped up in one uniquely contradictory package. On one hand, he's alpha to the extreme, a gifted street fighter with a penchant for using his fists to make a life for himself, but he's also shockingly quiet and often reserved once the adrenaline rush fades from his system. He's both curious and hesitant to spend time in Scarlet's presence when not in a violent setting, often exhibiting a skittishness and fear of the unknown so common in his wild namesake. As Cinder and Kai's did, Scarlet and Wolf's romantic relationship builds slowly, something we appreciate even more given that this story is not theirs alone but instead shared with the aforementioned couple, allowing us plenty of time to truly believe in them together.

Though Scarlet is over 400 pages in length, it passes in an utter blur, our excitement over learning of Kai and Cinder's fate since we left them last combining with our giddiness over the addition of a striking new couple to ensure time absolutely flies by when reading. We of course reach the end with no conclusion to the threat of Queen Levana in place, but we can't help but be content with what we've learned in this installment, feeling optimistic when we look ahead to future books that while we'll often face a “to be continued” of sorts at the end of them, we'll never be left unsatisfied.


Be sure and check out my interview with Marissa Meyer HERE and also enter for a chance to win copies of Cinder and Scarlet!

Friday, January 25, 2013

Scarlet Blog Tour: Interview with Marissa Meyer + A Giveaway

I'm positively giddy today at the fact that I have young adult author Marissa Meyer joining me on the blog as part of the promotional tour for the second book in her Lunar Chronicles series, Scarlet. I absolutely adored the first book in the series, Cinder, and after finishing it Scarlet immediately went to the top of my "I may die if I don't read this" list for 2013. I'm thrilled to say it didn't disappoint! I thought it was a brilliant sequel, and I hope everyone runs to the bookstore on February 5th and loves it as much as I did!

If you could write yourself into any fairytale, which would it be and what role would you play?

This will probably sound crazy, but I have a weird envy toward Rapunzel. All that free time. So much peace and quiet. Just think how many books you could read! But I could probably do without all the crazy-overprotective-witch and blinded-prince stuff.

In Scarlet, we get not only the continuation of Cinder’s story but also the introduction of Scarlet’s journey as well, and both progress side by side until Cinder and Scarlet finally cross paths toward the end. What challenges did writing two separate-but-linked stories present over simply continuing Cinder’s story on its own?

Probably the most difficult part of writing this book (and Book 3, which I’ve just turned into my editor) was keeping a good balance between the storylines. Scarlet is the hero of this book, but Cinder is the hero of the entire series, so I didn’t want readers to get bored with or forget about either protagonist. I did a lot of shuffling around of their different chapters, trying to figure out the best points to break from a storyline and ensure that there was a good mix of suspense and information-gathering. It was kind of like putting together a really big puzzle.

Kai and Wolf are both strong, butterfly-inducing romantic leads, but let’s say they’re not in the picture for Cinder and Scarlet at the moment. Which other fairytale hero (or villain) might each young woman ask on a first date if her life wasn’t so crazy?

Hahaha, what a fun question! Of course, the problem with real fairy tale princes is that so many of them are so booooooring in their original tales, and neither Scarlet nor Cinder would be interested in a relationship with a pretty figurehead. So, hmm. If he was older, Cinder might look twice at Pinocchio—their history of prostheses would at least give them something to talk about. And Scarlet would want someone who fits in on the family farm—perhaps the youngest son in Puss in Boots (they were farmers, right?). In the end, he wouldn’t be ambitious enough for her, but she might want to keep his clever cat around.

If you were facing the same impending battle that Cinder is with the Lunar queen and had an expert fighter like Wolf in your camp, what’s the first thing you’d ask him to teach you?

Any of Levana’s secrets, that he knows. I don’t think any amount of training could turn me into a fighter, so I’d have to rely on wits and strategy.

Thorne is accompanying you on a promotional tour for Scarlet. How long do you think it will take for him to get himself in trouble?

My first tour stop is in Nashville this year, so I suspect it would take him all of an hour before he stole an authentic Elvis jumpsuit, and had convinced himself how goooood he looks in it. Rawr.

If Cinder were to ask you one question about the writing of her character, what do you think she would most want to know?

She might question her fashion decisions. Normally when we think of Cinderella we envision shimmering ball gowns and glass slippers… or at least a neatly pressed apron. But Cinder spends almost the entire series in some form of the boots + cargo pants + plain tank top or T-shirt uniform. Poor girl. I hope someone writes a fanfic that allows her to get dolled up for something!

There are quite a few technological advancements in Cinder and Scarlet’s futuristic world. What one piece of technology do you wish we had here?

Who doesn’t want hovercars? (Bonus: They drive themselves!)

If Emperor Kai were to address fans of the series and give us a briefing as to what to expect from book three, what might his concluding words to us be?

“Please rest assured that the other characters and I are working very hard to ensure the future safety of our planet, but I’m afraid things are going to get a lot worse before they start getting better.” Then as an aside to me, he’d probably ask, “Things are going to get better… right?”

Thanks so much for taking the time to answer my questions Marissa! More information on Marissa and the fantastic Lunar Chronicles series can be found here:

Amazon Buy Link

And don't forget to check out the remainder of this tour and the other participating blogs for more interviews, guest posts, reviews and giveaways, all the details can be found HERE. Tomorrow's stop is at Anna Reads.



•     Meet Marissa on tour!
•     Download 2 Lunar Chronicles short stories for only $.99 each
      - Glitches
      - The Queen's Army
•    Read the first 5 chapters of Scarlet
•    Watch the Cinder trailer


Thanks to the fabulous team at Macmillan and Marissa Meyer, I have a paperback copy of Cinder and a hardcover copy of Scarlet to give away on the blog today. *happy dance* To enter, please just fill out the Rafflecopter form below. Giveaway is open US/Canada only. Good luck everyone!

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Thursday, January 24, 2013

Review: 'Til The World Ends

Julie Kagawa, Ann Aguirre, and Karen Duvall
Dystopian Anthology
368 pages
Harlequin Luna
Available January 29th
Received via NetGalley for review

THE STORY (from Goodreads)
DAWN OF EDEN by Julie Kagawa
Before The Immortal Rules, there was Red Lung, a relentless virus determined to take out all in its path. For Kylie, the miracle of her survival is also her burden—as a doctor at one of the clinics for the infected, she is forced to witness endless suffering. What’s worse, strange things are happening to the remains of the dead, and by the time she befriends Ben Archer, she’s beginning to wonder if a global pandemic is the least of her problems….

THISTLE & THORNE by Ann Aguirre
After a catastrophic spill turns the country into a vast chemical wasteland, those who could afford it retreated to fortresses, self-contained communities run by powerful corporations. But for Mari Thistle, life on the outside—in the Red Zone—is a constant struggle. To protect her family, Mari teams up with the mysterious Thorne Goodman. Together, they’ll face an evil plot in both the underworld of the Red Zone and the society inside the fortresses that could destroy those on the outside…for good.

SUN STORM by Karen Duvall
Sarah Daggot has been chasing storms since she was a child. But after the biggest solar flares in history nearly destroy the planet, she becomes a Kinetic, endowed by her exposure to extreme radiation with the power to sense coming storms—in the cosmos and beyond. And she’s not the only one. Sarah believes the Kinetics are destined to join forces and halt the final onslaught of the sun. She’ll vow to keep trying to convince the one missing link in their chain of defense, the enigmatic Ian Matthews, up until the world ends.

DAWN OF EDEN by Julie Kagawa
Typically with novellas there’s not a great deal of backstory for the characters or world, the short page length requiring the action to take place and the relationships to form more quickly, but to our utter delight, Ms. Kagawa’s contribution to this collection is the backstory itself. In it we get to experience the terrifying beginning of what will become the world of The Immortal Rules, the dark and bloody reality of the Red Lung virus depicted for us in gut-wrenching detail as humanity falls and the Rabids rise.

Though The Immortal Rules is a young adult series, albeit a gritty one, this prequel is perhaps more brutal and violent, and certainly more detailed on the romantic front, than The Immortal Rules, sliding it more firmly into the New Adult or adult category given its level of description. The relationship between Ben and Kylie is rich and layered despite the briefness of our time with them, their intimacy seeming to build slowly even though only days pass between their first meeting and a declaration of love, but even with such a short timeline Ms. Kagawa beautifully manages to give us a meaningful and genuine relationship – the birth of a love amidst the death of the world as we know it.

Rating: 4/5

Ms. Aguirre adds a truly magnificent story to this anthology with "Thistle and Thorne", her uncanny ability to craft gorgeously complex characters used to its fullest with this all-too brief tale. Mari is a young woman who shows remarkable growth over the course of the story, her strength and desire to protect her brother and sister obvious from the beginning, but her time with Thorne molds her slowly but surely, adding layer after layer of steel to her already-existing armor coating. She’s a young woman who’s capable and deadly when necessary, yet she possesses none of the cockiness or swagger that typically accompanies abilities such as hers, instead recognizing her weaknesses and working around them to ensure she’s as effective a fighter, protector, and survivor as she can be.

Her relationship with Thorne is a fascinating contrast to what we saw expressed between Kylie and Ben in Ms. Kagawa’s story, the physical intimacy of the latter drastically different from the slightly strange (in the best way possible) and hesitant intimacy of the former. There’s hardly a touch exchanged between Mari and Thorne, but the air between them is thick with possibility and there’s a sense of unspoken understanding that gradually forms, building and strengthening until it becomes an almost physical caress we can feel down to our bones. The beauty of the promise between Mari and Thorne lingers in our hearts and minds long after reading, and it's my deepest wish and most sincere hope that Ms. Aguirre will see fit to return to this world at some point and explore their relationship further.

Rating: 5/5

SUN STORM by Karen Duvall
Though the bleak world depicted in the final novella of this anthology is as fascinating as the two that preceded it, inspiring in us the same thankfulness that our reality is–as of yet–still a far cry from the desperation and devastation portrayed page to page, the characters themselves pale a bit in comparison to our previous two couples. Sarah is a bit of an emotional cyclone, forming an opinion and passing judgment one minute only to spin 180 degrees the next, trusting Ian and then condemning him for his actions before quickly apologizing when her accusations prove false. Additionally, their feelings for one another form quickly and easily, which would be fine as Kylie and Ben’s did as well, but Sarah and Ian’s relationship lacks the poignancy we experienced just pages before with Ms. Kagawa’s and Ms. Aguirre’s contributions.

Overall "Sun Storm" is a quick and entertaining read, but it has the misfortune of following two stories where the characters shine brightly from the pages, illuminating their dark worlds with the beauty and strength of their radiance.

Rating: 3/5

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday: Gorgeous

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

Paul Rudnick
Young Adult
Releases May 1st from Scholastic

From Goodreads:

When eighteen-year-old Becky Randle's mother dies, she's summoned from Missouri to meet Tom Kelly, the top designer in the world. He makes her an impossible offer: He'll create three dresses to transform Becky from an ordinary girl into the world's most beautiful woman.

Becky thinks Tom is a lunatic, but she accepts and is remade as Rebecca. When Becky looks in the mirror, she sees herself--a mess of split ends and cankles. But when anyone else looks at Becky, they see five-alarm hotness.

Soon Rebecca is the darling of the fashion world, but when she meets meets Prince Gregory, heir to the British throne, everything starts to crumble. Because Rebecca aside, Becky loves him. And the idea of a prince looking past Rebecca to fall in love with the ordinary girl inside? There's not enough magic in the world.

This just sounds like a really fun read, and I've always been a fan of the normal-girl-falls-in-love-with-a-prince plotline. Even though she's technically "five-alarm" hot to him and not so much normal, I have a feeling the normal is going to come into play and I can't wait. Also, bonus points for the word "cankles" in the synopsis. Gorgeous cover + handsome prince + story about inner beauty = WHY ISN'T IT MAY YET!? *shakes fist at calendar*

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Provex City Blog Tour: Interview with Michael Pierce + A Giveaway

Today I'm excited to be a part of the promotional tour for Michael Pierce's young adult fantasy novel Provex City. Michael was nice enough to answer a few questions for me, and you'll want to check out the full list of participating blogs for more fun reviews, interviews, and guest posts. Thanks to CBB Book Promotions and Michael there is a fantastic giveaway for this tour as well, all the details are at the bottom of this post.

I went to school with the same kids from first grade until we all graduated, so I’ve never had the uncomfortable first-day-at-a-new-school experience. If you have, can you tell us what was running through your mind just before you walked through the doors for the first time?

I was the “new kid” a lot when I was in school. My family moved every couple years. It was hard because I didn’t make friends quickly and as soon as I began to get comfortable in one place, it was time to move again. What always ran through my head on those first days was, “I hope I’ll find my place here.” I always did, it just took time.

What one aspect or element of Provex City do you wish existed in this reality? 

It would be awesome to have energy healing instead of traditional medicine and surgery. It’s quick, easy, and painless. Then I could get my tendinitis nullified.

Mr. Gordon tells Oliver: "When you truly believe anything is possible, you will be able to open doors where there were only walls." If you could open a door into any fictional world, which one would you most like to visit?

I’d love to open a door into Hogwarts. Like Jeremy in Provex City, I’d have a hard time coming back.

When you stumble upon a scene that gives you trouble when you’re writing, what’s the first thing you do? 

If I can, I like to go for a walk, listening to music and letting my imagination wander. At the start of my walk I ask myself the question, “Where do I go now?” I’ll usually have an answer by the time I get home and be eager to get back to the story.

Oliver finds that he shares the bedroom in his new house with a ghost. If you had your choice of paranormal roommates, what supernatural entity would top your list? 

I’d like a ghost of my very own. I’ve been fascinated with ghosts since I was in elementary school. I don’t want him/her trashing the place, but a few spectral pranks could be entertaining.

What’s one thing writing Oliver’s character has taught you about yourself? 

That with a little focus and dedication, I can accomplish great things as well! I’m teaching Oliver to believe in himself, but he’s also doing the same for me.

Using only the title of another piece of fiction, please share with us what we can expect from you as an author after Provex City

SUSY Asylum.

Thanks so much for taking the time to answer my questions Michael! More information on Michael and Provex City can be found here:

Watch the Trailer


Fifteen-year-old Oliver Grain begins his school year fighting off bullies, learning about the boy who committed suicide in his room, and trying to understand why his history teacher, Mr. Gordon, has taken such a personal interest in him.

Do you believe in ghosts? Do you believe you can make bullies simply disappear? Do you believe you can walk through walls?

Mr. Gordon tells Oliver: "When you truly believe anything is possible, you will be able to open doors where there were only walls." And one of those doors leads Oliver to Provex City, which puts him in far greater danger than he can possibly fathom.


•    Three winners will receive a paperback of Provex City and a $15 Amazon Gift Card (INT)
•    Five additional winners will win paperback copies of Provex City. (INT

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, January 21, 2013

Review: Asunder

Newsoul #2
Jodi Meadows
Young Adult/Fantasy-ish
416 pages
Katherine Tegen Books
Available January 29th
Received from publisher for review

THE STORY (from Goodreads)
Ana has always been the only one. Asunder. Apart. But after Templedark, when many residents of Heart were lost forever, some hold Ana responsible for the darksouls–and the newsouls who may be born in their place.

Many are afraid of Ana’s presence, a constant reminder of unstoppable changes and the unknown. When sylph begin behaving differently toward her and people turn violent, Ana must learn to stand up not only for herself but for those who cannot stand up for themselves.

Ana was told that nosouls can’t love. But newsouls? More than anything, she wants to live and love as an equal among the citizens of Heart, but even when Sam professes his deepest feelings, it seems impossible to overcome a lifetime of rejection.

In this second book in the Incarnate trilogy, Ana discovers the truth about reincarnation and will have to find a way to embrace love and make her young life meaningful. Once again, Jodi Meadows explores the extraordinary beauty and shadowed depths of the soul in a story equal parts epic romance and captivating fantasy.

Asunder reintroduces us to a world that left us a tiny bit confused after the concluding chapters of Incarnate, questions abounding as to the relationship between the temple, the creation of newsouls, and the true death of the darksouls to make us a touch wary when reaching for this second installment. We can't help but wonder if this sequel will follow the formula of so many sequels, simply setting us up for the next book without answering any of our many and varied questions, but luckily for us Ms. Meadows satisfies our curiosity in thrilling fashion. Though the opening chapters with Ana and Sam are a touch slow as we struggle to remember the finer details Heart and the reincarnated souls who make it their home, the story quickly picks up once they return to the city, our protectiveness of Ana and our undisguised disgust for those who treat her so cruelly flaring to life and reestablishing the beautiful connection we formed in book one.

Ana is a character whom, at first glance, appears extraordinarily vulnerable and rather meek, her sheltered upbringing and the emotional abuse she suffered at the hands of her mother making us wonder if she'll ever overcome her inherent desire to belong and instead choose to embrace all that makes her gloriously different. While it takes her a good portion of Asunder to weld a bit of steel to her vertebrae–her natural passivity and desire to refrain from making waves keeping her backbone distressingly pliable for the first half of the book–she does finally find her voice both with regard to the discrimination she faces on a daily basis as well as her relationship with Sam, instilling in us a deep sense of pride when she finally refuses to be disregarded simply for being new.

Sam is a key figure in this story in terms of our connection to Ana's journey overall, not because he's incredibly sweet and supportive throughout, but rather because he's often the opposite (though not in a malicious way), pushing us away from him and toward Ana until her pain and loneliness are our burdens to bear as well as hers. For as much as Sam tells Ana “I love you” and expresses a willingness to wait for her to figure out what those three little words truly mean before she's able to say them back (something we applaud her for), we can't help but wonder if it's not Ana, but in fact Sam himself, who needs to spend some time pondering the definition of love. Sam's love at times seems conditional–he speaks out in her defense when she's verbally and physically attacked and offers safety and comfort when she needs it, however, when those who have known him longest whisper in his ear, he's quick to reevaluate his entire relationship and often hurts Ana by discounting her feelings as those of someone who's too young to know better.

The tension between them keeps us deliciously on edge, providing just enough angst to ensure we're emotionally involved without taking it so far that we start to develop a nervous tick wondering if they're going to be hot or cold when they're together next. The romantic tension is nicely supported by the anticipatory tension stemming from our unanswered questions about Ana and newsouls in general, and we're finally given much of the information we've been craving since learning of Ana's uniqueness. While there is certainly more to learn by the time we reach the last page, we're inordinately grateful for what we do know, and eagerly look forward to what Ana's fresh perspective will bring to a world gone static thanks to five millenia of monotony.

Rating: 4/5

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Things of Awesome: January Edition

Back in December I put together a little fun-book-related-things post and promised I would try and turn it into a monthly feature if my inherent laziness didn't kick in and prevent me from doing so. Surprisingly enough, I've managed to put together this mini feature for the second month in a row! *self high five*

I've made a slight alteration to the format though. From here on out I'm going to list 4 bookish Things of Awesome and then share a book-related conversation between me and my husband. I did a post a few weeks ago about the differences between the romance of my reality and that of fiction, and many of you expressed an interest in reading more of the strange conversations I force Kevin to have with me, so I figured we'll see after this if it's still something of interest to you. Enjoy!


HarperTeen is the publisher behind some of my most anticipated reads of 2013, and they're starting out the year in rather epic style with their Dark Days Tour.  You can find all the information about the tour stops and the participating authors on their website, and I'm crazy jealous of all of you lucky people who get to attend the various signings. Unfortunately, neither of the first two legs of the tour is coming even remotely close to me *sobs* but I've got my fingers crossed that they stop in Ohio at some point!

Though I won't be able to attend any of the actual signings, there is going to be a Twitter chat with Brodi Ashton, Cynthia Hand, Tahereh Mafi and Veronica Rossi on January 30th at 8:15pm EST, and I will be there with a big dorky grin on my face. Luckily, given it's Twitter, no one will be able to see it. I hope lots of you will join me in following @PitchDarkBooks!


I absolutely adored Under the Never Sky and cannot wait to finally get a copy of Through the Ever Night. I've been reading tons of reviews for it and they're all glowing, so I have absurdly high hopes that my love for this series will only grow with the sequel. Check out the trailer:


In September of 2013, Scholastic is going to be publishing a new multi-platform, multi-author fantasy adventure series. What does that mean you ask? Well, I'll let the fabulous people at Scholastic tell you:

Spirit Animals centers around the fantasy world of Erdas where children who come of age go through a ritual to determine if they have a “spirit animal,” a rare bond between human and beast that bestows great powers to both. In this breakthrough series, four children from different cultures undergo an annual ritual and discover that they have been chosen for a greater destiny. Each book in the series will unlock expanded gameplay on the immersive Spirit Animals online game site. The role-playing online game—available through any web browser—will allow kids to customize their own unique heroes, choose their spirit animals, and go on quests to help save the world of Erdas.

“With Scholastic’s latest entry into multi-platform, readers are transported into a whole new fantasy realm with
Spirit Animals,” said Ellie Berger, President, Scholastic Trade. “Spirit Animals has a compelling premise, a relatable cast of multi-cultural characters, magnificent animals, and a vibrant online game—this is 21st century storytelling at its best. We cannot be more excited about introducing this epic series to kids everywhere.”

The first book will be written by New York Times bestselling author Brandon Mull (releases September 10th), and the second book will be written by none other than Maggie Stiefvater (releases January 2014).


BEA Registration is now open! YAY! Anyone that registered last year will know that it was a bit of a debacle with things being unclear as to what type of badge bloggers were supposed to register for and what fees were associated with our badge. Fail. This year, the organizers of the BEA Bloggers Conference (formerly the Book Blogger Convention) have written a post outlining how registration this year has changed. Very helpful. The only problem at the moment (at least for me when I tried) is the registration for the BEA Bloggers Conference (which also includes the 3-day BEA pass) is not currently open, so when you try to go through the registration process, you get held up on the second page. I'm sure that will be remedied soon, unless I'm the only one having that problem in which case I'll need to call them. *sigh*

If you're not registering for the blogger conference though, you should be able to breeze through registration just fine. I'm so looking forward to seeing a lot of you there!


A bookish conversation with my husband:

Me: Question.

Kevin: Yeah?

Me: How come you never say anything exceedingly romantic to me?

Kevin: Like what?

Me: “If I were to live a thousand years, I would belong to you for all of them. If we were to live a thousand lives, I would want to make you mine in each one.” (The Evolution of Mara Dyer)

Kevin: Guys don't talk like that.

Me: I feel like some do.

Kevin: No.

Me: So what you're saying is I shouldn't expect any such heartfelt and swoon-worthy statements from you?

Kevin: Let me ask you this–

Me: Does your question answer my question?

Kevin: In a roundabout sort of way.

Me: Okay.

Kevin: Has the guy who said that ever walked into the bathroom he shares with the girl to whom he said it, climbed in the shower, and proceeded to snake the drain because it was clogged and both guy and girl were standing ankle deep in water whenever they showered?

Me: I'm not sure how this is at all relevant. But no, I don't believe so. Not many romance heroes take the time to snake a shower drain. At least on page.

Kevin: I feel like the above action proves I'm a hero in my own right.

Me: How so?

Kevin: Because, when I snaked said drain and then proceeded to pull out a two-foot long wad of smelly, disgusting hair, I heroically managed to refrain from vomiting.

Me: I'm not sure I'm entirely clear on the point you're trying to make here.

Kevin: I have many points, all brilliant. One, if this guy–

Me: His name is Noah.

Kevin. Right. Well, my point is that if Noah had to actually snake the shower drain of this girl he wants for a thousand lifetimes and was subjected to the misery that is pulling out monstrous clumps of wet hair like I do for you in our current lifetime, he might revise his statement. Some of the romance and mystery leaves a marriage when faced with massive shower drain hairballs. My second point is that I am a man of action, not words.

Me: You are a man of action.

Kevin: Yes.

Me: And?

Kevin: And therefore you know how I feel based on what I do, not what I say.

Me: So you're saying your lifetime-spanning love for me is expressed through an act of plumbing?

Kevin: For the sake of this argument, yes.

Me: It's possible you've made a good point. Though I feel it necessary to mention that if Noah did snake Mara's drain–

Kevin: *snorts*

Me: A little maturity please, Kevin. Honestly.

Kevin: You're one to talk.

Me: Anyway, if Noah was to snake Mara's drain in lieu of a romantic declaration, I don't think he would make Chewbacca noises while he did it.

Kevin: That just goes to show you he is clearly the lesser man. The noises were appropriate based on what I pulled out of that drain.

Me: Fine. You win this one.

Kevin: I fall in love with you a little bit more every time you admit defeat.

Me: If that's the best you can do, I guess I'll take it.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Review: Stolen Nights

Vampire Queen #2
Rebecca Maizel
Paranormal Young Adult
303 pages
St. Martin's Griffin
Available January 29th
Received for blog tour through The Readiacs

Warning: Review contains spoilers from Infinite Days, but no spoilers from Stolen Nights.

THE STORY (from Goodreads)
Lenah Beaudonte should be dead. But having sacrificed herself to save another, she finds herself awakening with strange powers that are neither vampire nor human—and a new enemy on her trail. In her vampire life, Lenah had thought that being human was all she ever wanted; but the human heart suffers pain, heartbreak and loss.

With her new powers growing and the dark force of the Nex after her soul, Lenah faces a choice: between the mortal love of gorgeous Justin, whose passion fed her human soul, and taking a different path to become the mistress of her own destiny, wherever that may lead...

Stolen Nights is a complicated read; not necessarily so in terms of plot, but rather as a result of an emotional attachment that formed quickly and with surprising strength in the opening chapters of Infinite Days before quieting as Lenah’s human journey continued, only to return and be played upon with deft fingers in this second installment. Rhode’s sacrifice for Lenah in the first book had a profound impact, the utter love and devotion he felt for her creating a specter that continually raised the fine hairs on our arms as memories of him danced through Lenah’s mind, and while our affection for Justin grew as the story progressed, the indelible marks left by Rhode’s fingers around our hearts remained. Now in Stolen Nights, those marks return with a painful vengeance, Justin’s ability to staunch some of the emotional bleeding rendered completely ineffective in the face of Rhode’s presence as a flesh and blood mortal.

A character with whom a deep and poignant emotional connection is formed despite limited page time is rare, but so is one such as Rhode Lewin, therefore his effect on us should come as no surprise. Our time with him in Stolen Nights is granted in brief snippets, but just as was the case with Infinite Days, so much feeling is communicated by his very presence, and we feel the full weight of his love, his frustration and his pain as he struggles in this new life settle heavily into our bones. Our previous affection for Justin seems to disintegrate almost immediately once we realize Rhode’s survived the ritual as Lenah has, shocking us a bit with our own fickleness until we realize Rhode has owned our love and loyalty from his first appearance, making the emotional entanglements between the three of them all the more complex.

Lenah is as stripped bare by Rhode’s return as we are, her months-long relationship with Justin no match for her centuries-long relationship with him, but a cruel decree rubs salt in an already open and raw wound, creating chaos from the order Lenah had created with her selfless act to save Vicken at the end of book one. Though it’s clear to us that if circumstances were different Lenah would move heaven and earth to be with Rhode again, some of the selfishness so inherent in a vampire’s makeup seems to rise to the surface despite her current mortality as she repeatedly turns to Justin as a balm to soothe the pain of Rhode’s proximity. Her actions are something we understand logically, knowing the wounds Rhode tears open his with unexpected arrival are not ones she can simply close on her own, but she does at times test the boundaries of our tolerance, continually thinking only of her own pain without once acknowledging either Rhode’s or Justin’s.

Though Lenah’s thoughts are self-centered for majority of the book, the conclusion sees the expansion of her previous tunnel vision, her mistakes with Rhode, Justin, Vicken and so many of those she’s met in her extraordinarily long life made clear and accepted, complete with a gut-wrenching remedy that leaves us numb save for a throbbing ache in our chests. An epilogue from Rhode himself thankfully leaves us with a spark of hope that perhaps things for Lenah and company will not be left as they are, and we may all be given one more chance to see Lenah and Rhode as we so desperately wish them to be.

Rating: 4/5

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Review: The Duchess War

Brothers Sinister #1
Courtney Milan
Adult Historical Romance
Available Now
Received from author for review

THE STORY (from Goodreads)
Sometimes love is an accident.

This time, it’s a strategy.

Miss Minerva Lane is a quiet, bespectacled wallflower, and she wants to keep it that way. After all, the last time she was the center of attention, it ended badly--so badly that she changed her name to escape her scandalous past. Wallflowers may not be the prettiest of blooms, but at least they don't get trampled. So when a handsome duke comes to town, the last thing she wants is his attention.

But that is precisely what she gets.

Because Robert Blaisdell, the Duke of Clermont, is not fooled. When Minnie figures out what he's up to, he realizes there is more to than her spectacles and her quiet ways. And he's determined to lay her every secret bare before she can discover his. But this time, one shy miss may prove to be more than his match...

The first full length novel in Ms. Milan's new Brothers Sinister series, The Duchess War gives us the wonderfully rich characters we've come to expect from her books, delighting us with two people who are a beautiful combination of strengths and weaknesses and who find the counterpoint to each of those things in the other. This newest release is perhaps one of her slower-building romances, the careful courtship dance between Minnie and Robert both humorous and tension filled as they struggle with the shape their families molded them into, longing to be the sculptors of their own forms but at a loss as to where to start once they pick up the chisel.

Minnie is a spitfire masquerading as a quiet and unassuming young woman, her repeated interactions with Robert the only moments she allows the stranglehold she has on her true personality to lessen enough that a flame or two escapes. She's frightfully intelligent and exceedingly clever, her banter with Robert gloriously entertaining as she gives little mind to his status as a duke when she opens her mouth, allowing insults, innuendo and ego to slip out and dance merrily in the air between them. She has a painful past, one that instilled in her such fear that she allowed her aunts and society as a whole to pinch and twist her until an ordinary veneer masked and imprisoned an extraordinary woman. The threat of her past does at times cause her strike out in self defense before a strike against her can be made, but the strength of her reactions to what haunts her is so great that it's difficult to muster up any ire at her for doing so.

Robert, like Minnie, has allowed his mother's indifference and his father's cruelty to make him a chimera of sorts, their combined action and inaction forcing two distinct individuals–the man he currently is and the man he wants so desperately to be–to exist side by side in one body and battle each other for dominance. He lives with the constant fear that he is his father's son, analyzing his every thought and action and comparing it to his father's to see if he is in danger of becoming a man who would exploit his station to his every personal and professional advantage. Watching as two deeply terrified but amazingly strong individuals find someone to whom they can hand their worst fears and find solace and warmth– rather than disgust or condemnation–upon the baring of their soul is a pleasure to read about, and an experience we can't help but want to repeat again and again.

Though the secondary characters play a very small role in this first installment, Ms. Milan manages to make them memorable despite their brief appearances, and we can only sit back and smile when we see them on page, knowing their souls are the next to be bared to us as the series continues. Overall, The Duchess War is a highly enjoyable start to this new series and yet another winner from Ms. Milan.

Rating: 4/5

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

WriteOnCon: Pitch-Fest!

I was recently made aware of a very cool event coming up in February and March wherein aspiring middle grade and young adult writers will have the amazing opportunity to pitch their books to literary agents. There's a whole lot more to this event than that though, so I'm just going to let you have it straight from the fabulous people at WriteOnCon:

We here at WriteOnCon have decided that we sleep too much. To rectify that, we're organizing a mid-winter "Luck 'O the Irish" pitch-fest, where agents, book bloggers, and authors will team up to read and vote for the best pitches of 2013.

You read that right! A pitch-fest! At WriteOnCon!

But you won't need a pot 'o gold–or a lucky leprechaun–to participate, because our goal is to make sure you're well prepared. After all, we have bonafide literary agents coming to this thing! Yes, they will be reading the pitches, and yes, they are looking to sign clients. It could be you!

Not a writer? WE STILL NEED YOU! We're recruiting book bloggers and readers to spread the word and to vote for their favorites. Advocate for the books you want to see published–contact us at to become an official WOC 2013 Pitch-Fest Blogger. You'll even get a special button (see above). Ooooo. Shiny buttons.


•     Pitch-fest runs from March 18-22. Authors, book bloggers, readers, and our fabulous literary agents will be voting on the pitches. The favorites in each category will win prizes, including some great agent feedback or membership in the official WriteOnCon mentorship program!

•     There will only be a limited number of pitches accepted. That number is unknown at this time, because it depends on how many agents attend. We're still recruiting agents and will let you know the final numbers as soon as we do! Pitches will be selected randomly, so it doesn’t matter what time zone you live in.

•     The agents have selected their top three genres, and pitches will ONLY be accepted in those genres. Again, all genres are unknown at this time as we're still finalizing agents, but don't worry. We will make announcements about genres and numbers as things solidify (sign up for our newsletter so you don't miss a thing!). At this time, we are only focusing on the children's market, so you can know now that this pitch-fest will focus only on middle grade and young adult genres.

•     We're announcing this now, before all details are finalized, because we're running a "perfect your pitch" workshop in February. This will take place in the WriteOnCon forums, and will work much the same as the query critique boards do during the annual WOC. You will post your pitch, and your peers will critique it. We will have posts from industry professionals on writing pitches and genre classification.

We're doing this for a good reason. We want your pitch to be as perfect as possible once the submission window hits in March. We will only be accepting your entry for the pitch-fest one time. We will not change your genre or edit your pitch after it has been submitted. This workshop during February is the time for you to fine-tune your pitch and get feedback about which genre your novel really belongs in.

•     Only one pitch per person. Put forth your best work.

•     Pitches should be for polished and query-ready novels only. That means if you haven't finished your novel yet, you shouldn't pitch. Still revising? Don't pitch. The agents attending are looking for material, and when they request, you want to be ready to send out your novel. We're announcing early to give you time to finish!


February 18-March 10 - Forum peer pitch critiques (Carolin has the forum boards built! Check them out HERE)

March 11-13 - Submission of final pitches (this will be done through a Google form, NOT in the forum--details to come!)

March 14-17 - We build the boards in the forum (they will be hidden until March 18)

March 18-22 - Voting and commenting by literary agents, mentor authors, and book bloggers

We can't wait to see you at the Luck o' the Irish Pitch-Fest! Watch the WOC newsletter and site for more updates as we get closer to liftoff. Yeah, that was totally a mixed metaphor.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Review: Iced

Fever Series #6/Dani O'Malley #1
Karen Marie Moning
Adult Urban Fantasy
495 pages
Delacorte Press
Available Now
Purchased copy

THE STORY (from Goodreads)
The year is 1 AWC—After the Wall Crash. The Fae are free and hunting us. It’s a war zone out there, and no two days are alike. I’m Dani O’Malley, the chaos-filled streets of Dublin are my home, and there’s no place I’d rather be.

Dani “Mega” O’Malley plays by her own set of rules—and in a world overrun by Dark Fae, her biggest rule is: Do what it takes to survive. Possessing rare talents and the all-powerful Sword of Light, Dani is more than equipped for the task. In fact, she’s one of the rare humans who can defend themselves against the Unseelie. But now, amid the pandemonium, her greatest gifts have turned into serious liabilities.

Dani’s ex–best friend, MacKayla Lane, wants her dead, the terrifying Unseelie princes have put a price on her head, and Inspector Jayne, the head of the police force, is after her sword and will stop at nothing to get it. What’s more, people are being mysteriously frozen to death all over the city, encased on the spot in sub-zero, icy tableaux.

When Dublin’s most seductive nightclub gets blanketed in hoarfrost, Dani finds herself at the mercy of Ryodan, the club’s ruthless, immortal owner. He needs her quick wit and exceptional skill to figure out what’s freezing Fae and humans dead in their tracks—and Ryodan will do anything to ensure her compliance.

Dodging bullets, fangs, and fists, Dani must strike treacherous bargains and make desperate alliances to save her beloved Dublin—before everything and everyone in it gets iced.

With Iced, Ms. Moning has proved yet again how truly gifted a storyteller she is, crafting a world and characters with so many facets we know we'll never see them all no matter how many books she writes or how deeply she lets us delve, the gears in our minds frantically turning to keep track of subtle clues and nuances we know will come into play as Dani's journey continues to unfold. There is many a reader whom will likely pick up Iced and find it less palatable than the first five books of her Fever series, Dani's young age and the multitude of men who have her on their radar perhaps pushing a boundary some may feel uncomfortable edging close to (though in my opinion, Dani's age is handled perfectly), but without a doubt this story will inspire conversation, and Ms. Moning makes it nearly impossible to reach the end of one of her books without having so many thoughts we can do nothing else but find the first available person and allow our theories to spill from our mouths before we choke on their numbers.

As mentioned previously, some readers may shy away from this book given Dani is only fourteen and part of the appeal of the previous five books set in this world is the undeniable and combustible sexual tension thrumming between Mac and Jericho Barrons, leaving many of us to wonder how Dani's youth will affect the dynamic between her, Ryodan and Christian. What's important to understand prior to reading is that this series, despite its teenage protagonist, is in no way a young adult novel. Dani's world is violent and bleak and Ms. Moning rarely pulls her punches, throwing down a gauntlet for her characters and readers at every possibly opportunity. She then waits to see if we're all brave enough to pick it up, testing us to see if we're able to face that which challenges, that which hurts, and that which makes us question. While it's true Dani is fourteen in terms of years, she's far older in terms of life experience, her solitary existence forcing her to emotionally age far faster than any young woman should have to, and she continues to prove to us again and again in Iced just how capable she is of surviving whatever is thrown her way.

Ryodan proves to be as enigmatic a man as Barrons, but for all their similarities, Ms. Moning does an absolutely stunning job of carefully and meticulously outlining their fundamental differences; the power and blunt personalities both men share beautifully overshadowed by the more subtle variations of their characters. Ryodan pushes Dani, is at times downright cruel, and often has us wondering if we've made the same mistake we've watched other women make with both him and Barrons – projecting the men we want them to be onto the men they actually are, thereby losing ourselves a bit in a dangerous illusion that promises nothing but pain if we can't shake ourselves loose of the naivety of hope. Just as we start to question ourselves when it comes to Ryodan however, Ms. Moning masterfully shows us a tiny patch of softness (soft being a relative term); a miniscule chink in the armor of an immaculately outfitted labyrinthine mystery encased in flesh and blood, and we latch onto it like the desperate and greedy readers we are, reveling in our small victory even as we gear up for the next battle of discovery.

Overall, Iced is a stunning continuation of the Fever world, Dani's dark history and intimate knowledge of the many pains life has to offer an intriguing contrast to Mac's penchant for pastel colors and her initial bumbling naivete. Dani is knowledgeable and skilled, and while her young years at times surface in the form of attitude, we can't really begrudge her her youthful outbursts given the dire situations she repeatedly finds herself in. Looking forward we can only guess how Dan's life will change as she ages, the number of theories we have increasing exponentially the longer we think about this first installment, and we find upon closing the back cover that the only drawback is the sure-to-be unbearable wait for book two.

Rating: 5/5