Friday, March 29, 2013

Interview: Miranda Kenneally +Things I Can't Forget

Today I'm thrilled to welcome young adult author Miranda Kenneally to the blog to answer a few questions about her newest release, Things I Can't Forget. I have absolutely adored all the books in this fabulous contemporary series, and I highly recommend it to any reader who loves very character-driven stories. Thanks so much for stopping by Miranda!

This series focuses on a variety of different sports including football, softball and horse racing. What's one sport you'd love to work into a future novel just so you can learn more about it?

Curling. Pushing a big piece of steaming metal across the ice with a broom sounds fun! For real though - I would probably want to write about lacrosse, because I have no idea what goes on in that sport. I never even knew it existed until I moved to DC when I was 18.

If you were to sit down with Kate for a promotional interview, what's the first thing you'd ask her? What might she ask you?

If we're talking Kate at the beginning of THINGS I CAN'T FORGET:

I'd ask Kate why she didn't get the guts to ask out Will Whitfield until senior prom, when it was too late for her. Kate would ask me why I haven't been to church in 12 years!

If we're talking the end of the book:

I'd ask Kate if she's going to try out for intramural soccer in college, now that she can run well again. Kate would probably invite me to come back to church with her. And I would consider it, because she asked.

Let's say in a few months you're going to be a counselor at Cumberland Creek summer camp along with Kate. What camp activities have you most and least excited?

Most excited - Swimming, hiking, singing, and making smores.

Least excited - Cooking over a campfire. It's hard to build a fire with wet logs! Also, I am terrified of spiders, so I would not look forward to using a bathhouse where spiders may have nested.

If you could spend five minutes with pre-Catching Jordan Miranda, what would you most like to tell her about the journey she's about to embark on?

I'd tell her not to spend so much time obsessing over whether or not her books are going to fail and to just keep writing the best books she can, because if the books are good, they will sell. I'd also say don't put too much stock in one bad review, but look at the individual lives you influence. If you help just one reader, it's all been worth it.

What's one thing you learned about Kate while writing Things I Can't Forget that you didn't know about her from just your outline or notes?

So many things. I didn't know she was a soccer player in high school. I also didn't know she was a daddy's girl. And I didn't know she liked green beans so much!

• • • • • • • • • • 


Miranda Kenneally is the author of CATCHING JORDAN, STEALING PARKER, THINGS I CAN'T FORGET (March 2013), and RACING SAVANNAH (December 2013). Miranda is the co-creator of Dear Teen Me. The Dear Teen Me Anthology was published on October 31, 2012. She enjoys reading and writing young adult literature, and loves Star Trek, music, sports, Mexican food, Twitter, coffee, and her husband. Miranda is represented by Sara Megibow at Nelson Literary Agency.

• • • • • • • • • • 


Some Rules Were Meant To Be Broken.

Kate Kelly has always been labeled the good girl. Too good, according to some people at school—although they have no idea the guilty secret she carries. Kate turned her back on everything she’s been taught to help her best friend Emily, who accidentally got pregnant. And the guilt over her decision is weighing on her. This summer, she’s a counselor at Cumberland Creek summer camp, and she wants to put the past behind her. Unexpectedly, she runs into Matt – the first guy she ever kissed, and he’s gone from a geeky songwriter who loved The Hardy Boys to a buff lifeguard who loves to flirt – with her. He’s inspiring feelings in her that make her question everything she’s been taught about the world – and help her understand what Emily experienced. Kate used to think the world was black and white, right and wrong. Turns out, life isn’t that easy.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Review: Spellcaster

Spellcaster #1
Claudia Gray
Paranormal Young Adult
370 pages
Available Now
Received from publisher for review

THE STORY (from Amazon)
When Nadia's family moves to Captive's Sound, she instantly realizes there's more to the place than meets the eye. Descended from witches, Nadia can sense that a spell has been cast over the tiny Rhode Island town—a sickness infecting everyone and everything in it. The magic at work is darker and more powerful than anything she's come across and has sunk its claws most deeply into Mateo . . . her rescuer, her friend, and the guy she yearns to get closer to even as he pushes her away.

Mateo has lived in Captive's Sound his entire life, shadowed by small-town gossip and his family's tormented past. Every generation, the local legends say, one member of the family goes mad, claiming to know the future before descending into insanity. When the strange dreams Mateo has been having of rescuing a beautiful girl from a car accident actually come true, he knows he's doomed.

Despite the forces pulling them apart, Nadia and Mateo must work together to break the chains of his terrible family curse, and to prevent a coming disaster that even now threatens the entire town, including Nadia's family, her newfound friends, and her own life.

Spellcaster is a gem of a first installment, introducing us to a handful of wonderfully memorable characters largely free of melodrama and angst whose focus alternates between friends, family, and saving their small town rather than remaining solely on their hormones. This world of magic is easily understood without copious amounts of information or explanation, and the unusual nature of the ingredients for Nadia's spellwork add an extra element of believability to her brand of witchcraft. Instead of actual physical ingredients, Nadia’s spells are cast based largely on memories and experiences–things like “a love unbreakable” needing to be recalled in order for her magic to work–thus granting us access to some of Nadia’s most powerful memories while at the same time highlighting our similarities even as the casting of the spell itself reminds us of our differences.

Nadia is a wonderfully normal heroine (aside from the fact that she’s a witch), a young woman who is madly in love with her younger brother Cole and has assumed the role of caretaker for both him and her father in her mother’s absence. While she finds herself attracted to Mateo from the moment he pulls her from her car’s wreckage, she is not one to pine or suddenly shift the entirety of her life until it revolves completely around him, instead she acknowledges her crush and continues to function as she did prior to meeting him. She carries a heavy weight on her shoulders with her witchcraft, something she can’t share with her father and brother as one of the rules of magic is that men are to remain ignorant of it, but she never complains or whines, always stoically accepting her fairly limited knowledge of magic (courtesy of her mother’s abandonment as both parent and mentor) and seeking to do the best with it she can.

Mateo is as delightfully normal as Nadia, sparing us the assignment of a common young adult hero label such as “bad boy” and instead simply remaining attractively ordinary. He’s neither absurdly popular nor completely shunned, his good looks keeping him largely in the middle of the social ladder even as rumors of his family’s curse try to knock him down a few rungs, and like Nadia, he never despairs of his lot in life. He’s as attracted to Nadia as she is him, but he never comes on too strong or resorts to over the top protective behavior like stalking, instead their romance is quiet, fragile and sweet, progressing slowly but surely throughout. There is a declaration of love that isn’t entirely necessary, but it comes into play late after they’ve spent a great deal of time together and have formed a rather unique bond courtesy of Nadia’s magic, so while we may still feel it’s too soon for such a pronouncement, it’s easy to overlook in favor of all the positives in their relationship.

Overall, Spellcaster is a quick and captivating read full of magic, humor, and romance, complete with a deliciously dark villain whose very presence on the page causes our lips to curl in angry sneer. The story itself feels satisfyingly complete, the smaller storyline playing out in full even as its completion reveals its role as a catalyst for the larger story arc of the series, and I cannot wait to return to Captive’s Sound to see how Nadia grows as both witch and woman as her story continues.

Rating: 4/5

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday: Novella Boyfriend Edition

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!

Typically I choose just one book to focus on each week, but there are so many novellas coming out in the near future that feature some of my very favorite book boys that I couldn't possibly choose between them. I love them all equally you see, and I wouldn't want any of them to feel left out. I know how they all crave my undying affection ;-)

Novellas aren't always my thing–their brevity preventing me from getting to know the characters as well as I want to–but ones written in the POV of beloved characters from already existing series (whose POVs we don't get in the full length books) are a completely different story. Bring them on.

Unraveling #1.5
Elizabeth Norris
Young Adult SciFi
Available Now
HarperTeen Impulse

THE STORY (from Goodreads)
Before the accident. Before their universes collided. Before they fell in love.

Riveting and romantic, Undone: An Unraveling Novella contains three short stories set in the world of Unraveling, the first book in the gripping sci-fi duology by Elizabeth Norris.

Before Ben Michaels saved Janelle Tenner’s life, Janelle saved Ben when he stumbled through an interuniverse portal into a completely new world. That day, he fell in love with the girl of his dreams. And he never forgot her.

Through three stories told from Ben’s point of view, learn how Ben and his friends discovered their ability to travel between worlds, how Ben first met Janelle, and how he pined for her for years before he actually got the chance to meet her, save her life, and capture her heart. And find out what happens to Ben between the cliff-hanger conclusion to
Unraveling and the beginning of its heart-stopping sequel, Unbreakable.

This one is already out, so technically no waiting involved. WIN! I fell madly in love with Ben last year in Unraveling, so any extra time I get to spend with him is a good thing.

Mythos Academy #4.5
Jennifer Estep
Paranormal Young Adult
June 25th
Kensington Teen

*Warning: blurb contains spoilers from book 4, Crimson Frost

THE STORY (from Goodreads)
I’m Logan Quinn, the deadliest Spartan warrior at Mythos Academy. At least I was — until the day I almost killed Gwen Frost.

Professor Metis and Nickamedes say that I’m fine, that Loki and the Reapers don’t have a hold on me anymore, but I can’t risk it. I can’t risk hurting Gwen again. So I’m leaving Mythos and going somewhere far, far away.

I know Gwen wonders what’s happening to me, whether I’m safe. I can’t tell her, but this is my story …

Logan. Quinn. I want in his head. That is all.


Revenants #2.5
Amy Plum
Paranormal Young Adult
April 2nd
HarperTeen Impulse

THE STORY (from Goodreads)
Set in the romantic and death-defying world of the international bestselling Die for Me trilogy, this digital original novella follows Jules, a brooding, immortal French artist who has fallen in love with his best friend’s girlfriend.

Jules Marchenoir is a revenant-an undead being whose fate forces him to sacrifice himself over and over again to save human lives. He’s spent the better part of the last century flirting his way through Paris, but when he met Kate Mercier, the heroine from Amy Plum’s Die for Me trilogy, he knew his afterlife had changed forever and he had found the love of his life. Until Kate fell for his best friend, Vincent. Now Jules is faced with an impossible decision: choosing between his loyal friend and a love truly worth dying for.

Jules is one of my favorite characters from this series, and I always got the sense that he loves Kate, though he covers it up with jokes and witty remarks. I'm definitely looking forward to him being center stage in this novella!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Mini Reviews: Beauty, Starstruck, and Crash and Burn

My mother in law Cathy is flexing her reviewing muscles
on the blog today!

Lauren Conrad
Beauty tips/make-up
288 pages
Available Now
Received from publisher for review

To be honest, when I started these books, I had preconceived ideas based solely on what I knew of Lauren's personality from the show "The Hills".

The first book, Beauty, is a exactly what the title suggests–a beauty book. Ms. Conrad admits that she's learned most of her hints on make-up and hair from the professionals she's worked with while doing reality TV. Her tips are probably geared more for the teen to thirty age group, but do seem to be well-researched and offer helpful instruction.

What I was most surprised by was Ms. Conrad's personal anecdotes and insights. They were thoughtful and well-written. She was not boastful when she talked about personal beauty. She emphasized playing up your best individual features, and trying to be your best self. Her personal beauty idol is her mother, you have to love her for that!!! She was very sweet in her description of her mom.

As in most beauty books, the pictures make it a bit difficult to distinguish and understand all the techniques being depicted, but overall, some good tips and a pleasant surprise in her stories.

Rating: 3.5/5

Fame Game #2
Lauren Conrad
352 pages
Available Now
Received from publisher for review

This is a story of a group of twenty-somethings living in LA working on a reality TV show. Sound familiar? Assuming Ms. Conrad is simply writing about what she knows, it does make you think about reality shows and how they're produced. Most seem to be scripted and not all that real. If you like these type of shows though, it's fun to see "behind the scenes" and even spend some time trying to guess who she may have based some of the characters on.

The plot is fairly predictable in that the characters don't have much depth, and they are often inexplicably surprised when they have no privacy while on the show. Another small frustration is that the story just ends without any real resolution. There are some lessons learned in the book though, such as fame is fleeting, stick to your values, and work harder and don't settle. These seem to be lessons that Ms. Conrad learned while working in LA because she has moved on and accomplished more than her fifteen minutes of reality fame might have otherwise allowed. I have to say I was biased starting these books, but was pleasantly surprised by both.

Rating: 3.5/5

Michael Hassan
Contemporary Young Adult
544 pages
Balzer + Bray
Available Now
Received from publisher for review

Mr. Hassan takes a unique and interesting approach to a very current topic–school violence. He gives us a look at the lives of two boys, Crash and Burn, one the hero and one the antagonist. Crash is our narrator, writing a book about "the event", and we therefore learn everything through his memories and hindsight. And as many of us know, there is always a different perspective after the fact.

Crash, the hero, and Burn, the perpetrator, have a long history together. Both have similar backgrounds: affluent neighborhoods, problems in school, mental and behavioral issues, and lots of frustration in dealing with life. If we were not told at the beginning of the book who was the hero, we might have had trouble deciding which character was going to crack first.

The chapters alternate between Crash's book and the chaos of the aftermath of him saving the school. This is a very insightful way of presenting the story and keeps us interested throughout. We see how Crash and Burn's lives have intertwined since elementary school, both in positive and negative ways, and really either of these boys could have snapped. Mr. Hassan seems to overload Burn's live with disasters though, and I don't know if anyone could have handled all the bad things that happened to him on top of being poorly medicated for mental illness.

The overabundance of problems in Burn's life as well as the fact that Mr. Hassan spends a touch too much time on Crash's pursuit of drugs, sex, and truancy made the story feel a little overindulgent, especially considering this is a YA book. I realize sex and drugs are often parts of teenagers' lives, but having Crash be so extraordinarily proud of these things (particularly his sexual conquests), as a parent, made me question the message it might be sending to younger readers. I understand that he was not intended to be the typical hero, but I felt certain things were glorified that didn't need to be glorified.

I do think this story opens our eyes to teenage angst and the fact that we can never truly know what is happening below the surface. There are always signs, and there are many in the book that should have been addressed by the adults, but then again hindsight always provides the clarity missing from the original situation.

Maybe that is the message–be aware and don't be afraid to step up and help. That is how Crash saved the day and became the hero.

*Cathy did mention to me when we were discussing her thoughts on this book that she was surprised it was considered YA due to some of Crash's behavior and his constant fixation on sex and drugs. As a result, this book is recommended for older readers.

Rating: 3.5/5

Monday, March 25, 2013

Review: Breaking Point

Article 5 #2
Kristen Simmons
Young Adult/Dystopian
400 pages
Tor Teen
Available Now
Received from publisher for review

THE STORY (from Goodreads)
After faking their deaths to escape from prison, Ember Miller and Chase Jennings have only one goal: to lay low until the Federal Bureau of Reformation forgets they ever existed.

Near-celebrities now for the increasingly sensationalized tales of their struggles with the government, Ember and Chase are recognized and taken in by the Resistance—an underground organization working to systematically take down the government. At headquarters, all eyes are on the sniper, an anonymous assassin taking out FBR soldiers one by one. Rumors are flying about the sniper’s true identity, and Ember and Chase welcome the diversion….

Until the government posts its most-wanted list, and their number one suspect is Ember herself.

Orders are shoot to kill, and soldiers are cleared to fire on suspicion alone. Suddenly Ember can’t even step onto the street without fear of being recognized, and “laying low” is a joke. Even members of the Resistance are starting to look at her sideways.

With Chase urging her to run, Ember must decide: Go into hiding…or fight back?

Breaking Point is a thrilling sequel, every page vibrating with tension on both physical and emotional levels as Chase and Ember take up the fight of the Resistance. This is a story we close the back cover on with our guts roiling and clashing due to the myriad of conflicting emotions, refusing to settle even though we’ve exited Ember’s brutal world of chaos and compliance and returned to the safety of our reality. Ms. Simmons makes the most of every single page in this lengthy tale, perfectly balancing the quiet moments with the action-packed ones to ensure our hearts slowly migrate from the safety and protection of the center of our chests to our sleeves, where they sit vulnerable and exposed to a continued emotional onslaught.

Ember shows a great deal of growth in this second installment, her lingering anger at Chase for his initial enlistment as well as the role he played in her mother’s death slowly fading, allowing her to see Chase more clearly without the red haze of pain clouding her vision. Her progress is of course gradual–her impulsiveness and quick temper still present and accounted for in the first half of the book–but she slowly comes to realize the effect her behavior has on those around her, especially Chase, and she proceeds to make a concerted effort to listen when it’s asked of her, act when she’s needed, and provide support when her pillars of strength start to crumble.

Chase and Ember’s romance is a beacon of light amidst the grit and violence of a terrifying possible future, their relationship perhaps even more tense in this book than in book one as weighted silences and meaningless conversations mask the anxiety and pain churning beneath the surface. Where their initial lack of communication would normally be frustrating, we know in this case the poisonous quiet between them is borne of fear rather than the anger we saw from both in book one, and we simply cannot begrudge them the survival instinct to curl in on themselves in preparation for warding off whatever blow is headed their way next. Ms. Simmons beautifully stuns us with one all-too brief scene though; a fleeting moment between Chase and Ember that suddenly rights scales that had been steadily slipping farther and farther off balance, lifting a weight from our chests and allowing us to suck in a deep breathe for the first time since we started reading.

Overall, Breaking Point is a magnificent follow up to Article 5, captivating us from the very first page and never once losing our rapt attention. Some may still be disappointed by the lack of detailed explanation as to how this post-apocalyptic world came to be, but in my opinion, what we do know is enough to be able to fill in the blanks ourselves, well aware of how easily a shift in power can occur when the world is suddenly thrown into anarchy. We’re left with things very much unresolved, but we are given the satisfaction of one of Ember and Chase’s main goals in this second book being achieved, thereby making the wait for book three more bearable as we revel in one success even as we despair of a separate massive failure.

Rating: 4.5/5

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Things of Awesome: March Edition

Remember back in December when I started this feature and explained my inherent laziness and how it might affect things down the line? Yeah. That came into play a little bit last month when I didn't post any February Things of Awesome. New feature fail. The good news though, is that I'm feeling properly motivated again and have some fun bookish things to share with you all, including another short conversational snippet between me and Kevin.

Nineteen-year old narrator Maya Vidal is struggling to make it through her teenage years. Abandoned by her mother and neglected by her father, Maya lives in Berkeley, California with her willful, outspoken, and wise Grandmother Nidia – affectionately known as Nini – and her gentle and beloved grandfather, Popo, who both help her navigate the turbulent waters of her adolescent years.

When her Popo dies of cancer, Maya is devastated and goes completely off the rails. With her girlfriends—together, they are known as the vampires—she falls into a life of drugs, alcohol, and petty crime. Her Nini attempts to help by enrolling her in a rehabilitation center, but she continues on a downward spiral, winding up in Las Vegas in a dangerous underworld of big time drugs, crime, and prostitution.

With a gang of assassins, the police, the FBI, and Interpol in hot pursuit, Maya flees the country with the help of her Nini to a remote island off the coast of Chile – Chiloé. Adapting to a completely strange new life and in the company of a torture survivor, a lame dog, and other unforgettable characters, Maya records her thoughts as well as her story in her notebook, uncovers a terrible family secret, comes to understand the meaning of love and loyalty, and initiates the greatest adventure of her life: the journey into her own soul.

Thanks to the wonderful people at HarperCollins, I have two ARCs of Maya's Notebook to give away on the blog today. To enter, please just fill out the Rafflecopter form below! Giveaway is open to US residents only.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Touch of Frost, the first book in the outstanding Mythos Academy series by Jennifer Estep is on sale for $2.99 at several retailers through March 25th. This is a favorite series of mine, so if you've been wanting to start it, now is the perfect time to do so!

My name is Gwen Frost, and I go to Mythos Academy -- a school of myths, magic and warrior whiz kids, where even the lowliest geek knows how to chop off somebody's head with a sword and Logan Quinn, the hottest Spartan guy in school, also happens to be the deadliest.

But lately, things have been weird, even for Mythos. First, mean girl Jasmine Ashton was murdered in the Library of Antiquities. Then, someone stole the Bowl of Tears, a magical artifact that can be used to bring about the second Chaos War. You know, death, destruction and lots of other bad, bad things. Freaky stuff like this goes on all the time at Mythos, but I'm determined to find out who killed Jasmine and why - especially since I should have been the one who died . . .

The marketing department at Little, Brown launched an epic and insanely creative campaign for Etiquette & Espionage prior to its release, and they haven't slowed down one bit since it's been out. They've recently designed a very entertaining graphic about what one should do if one's carriage happens to be hijacked by flywaymen. This is vital knowledge people. Many a peril awaits those who travel by carriage ;-)

Check it out HERE. 


Big Bad Bite, an adult paranormal romance from authors Crystal Leo and Melissa Pahl (writing under the name Jessie Lane), has undergone some changes and is being re-released. From the authors:

“We're excited to announce that Big Bad Bite had a makeover! Inside and out! We have a sexy new cover featuring our favorite Wolf, Adam, AND Big Bad Bite was sent off and edited by the amazing girls at C&D Editing

Some might wonder, "Has the story changed?

The answer to that would be yes and no. No, because the story line is still the same. Yes, because it no longer has those pesky grammatical errors, info dumps were cut down, inconsistencies were caught, and best of all, a tiny scene was added! Overall, it's a better story, but still has a kick ass, snarky heroine Jenna, and the snarly, but lovable, Adam who wants her.

So, if you haven't picked up your copy of Big Bad Bite yet, then go get it today!”

• • • • • • • • • •

Jenna O’ Conner has been taught her whole life to hide from everyone. Never to let anyone to close enough to know that she would prefer a shotgun for her birthday over of a bouquet of roses. She’s been smothered by her over protective family so that no one learns what she truly is. Which is not human. Nor, is she considered the norm for the supernatural Other community that is benevolent enough to share this world with the humans.

In a desperate attempt to live her own life away from the small town she was raised in, Jenna obtains her dream job as the newest member on the Wilmington Police Department’s SWAT Team. What she didn’t predict was that she would run into trouble her first day on the job, in the form of a deadly, mouthwatering man named Adam McPhee. Who is also not human, but more like a wolf walking around in human skin. He’s determined to figure out exactly what Jenna is, which unbeknownst to him, could very well put her life in danger. He’s also determined to have her all to himself.

As if that wasn’t enough for Jenna to deal with, bad news blows into town. A group of extremist Shifters who think humans are cattle and factions of Others worldwide should stay within their own species - never to intermingle. Chaos ensues. Jenna has to find a way to shut them down, but in the process of trying to do that, discovers things about herself that even she never thought was possible.


For the full story behind these little conversational snippets go HERE.

Me: (reading in my head) He held out his arms, and she hit him full force right in the chest. He lifted her, hugging her so close that he was sure he crushed her. He spun her round and round as he buried his face in her hair, absorbing the feel of having her in his arms –


*Please let it be noted that the word "ribbit" (yes, like a frog), in this particular instance was not yelled out, but rather belched. BELCHED.

Me: Wow. Seriously?

Kevin: What?

Me: You just interrupted a very romantic scene with your obscene burp. Must you always "ribbit"?

Kevin: Yes.

Me: I've never been less attracted to you than I am right now. I'm pretty sure Bowen (the hero) doesn't ribbit when he belches. In fact, I'm thinking he doesn't belch at all.

Kevin: *glances at book cover* You're reading a book about a highlander. There's no way in hell highlanders didn't belch.

Me: Bowen doesn't. I'm quite certain he doesn't fart either. He's a miracle of nature. And manhood.

Kevin: According to that cover, he's also perfectly waxed. Seems unlikely for a highlander.

Me: You don't know that Kevin. You weren't alive then. Maybe this particular clan of highlanders were all inexplicably hairless and perfectly toned. YOU'RE RUINING IT BY QUESTIONING!

Kevin: Okay.

Me: Let me preserve the fantasy, alright? I like to think that somewhere out there is a glorious male specimen who refrains from randomly belching out words in the presence of the woman he's madly in love with.

Kevin: Well, unfortunately for you, that man is not here. Here there be ribbits.

Me: *headdesk*

Friday, March 22, 2013

Guest Post: Kelley Lynn + Fraction of Stone

Today I'm handing the blog over to author Kelley Lynn to give you a few insider details about her YA fantasy debut novel, Fraction of Stone, which just released yesterday. Happy Belated Book Birthday Kelley, and thanks so much for stopping by!

Hello there!

Thanks so much to Jenny here at Supernatural Snark for allowing me a day to crash at her place. It’s kinda like a sleepover! Though her place won’t be a mess when I leave…haha

My name is Kelley Lynn. My debut novel, FRACTION OF STONE, was released by Sapphire Star Publishing on March 21st, 2013. I’m all sorts of excited. I keep waiting for the nerves to creep up but, well, I figure if people like it, awesome! If they don’t, but they give constructive feedback as to why (or maybe it just wasn’t there thing), that’s awesome too. The words on the page are meant to be shared so let’s share em’!

Jenny said that you fabulous Supernatural Snark readers enjoy a ‘peek behind the curtain’. A little VIP treatment, if you would. You guys are smart! That’s how it should be for everything. So here’s a little insight into one of my main characters, which really isn’t a character at all.

My mother has always been fascinated (can I say, slightly obsessed) with weather. I will attempt to show you this with a story.

Growing up, our house had been struck by lightening three times. Yes, three. So lightening does strike the same place more than once, FYI. We had a video camera and before our house was struck for the third time my mother was standing on our porch video the coming storm. It did look beautiful. The rumbling of the thunder and the flashes of light against the dark clouds. So powerful. So alive.

The film cuts out and the next clip you see is my mother videotaping the siding from our house which is strewn all over our yard because, yes, the lightening struck the side of the house and put a hole in our garage.

Cut to my novel, FRACTION OF STONE. Before I started writing it I asked my mother what she would like to see in a book (if she read, which she doesn’t… so maybe she wasn’t the best person to ask but, mom’s know everything, right?) She said she’d love to read about weather. (Big surprise there.) But I ran with it.

In FRACTION OF STONE, there’s a guy and there’s a girl and perhaps their biggest obstacle in the story isn’t a person at all (though there are many who try to hurt them). Their biggest worry is the world, which is falling apart. Earthquakes, tornadoes, floods, the works. I think it’s something unique to FRACTION OF STONE which isn’t seen often in books. I hope I do these scenes justice. Show the vast power the world possesses, even in the process of dying. And how no matter what humanity does, they can’t possibly fight this foe.

In case you’re interested in checking out my novel, below is a bit about it. Thanks again to Supernatural Snark for having me! If anyone has any questions, or would like to share your weather woes, I’d love to hear them. Feel free to discuss in the comments. I’ll be around :-)

• • • • • • • • • •


Wind tunnels, torrential rains and earthquakes tear apart Casden. The cause of the world’s imbalance is unknown, but the mounting occurrences suggest there’s little time before life ceases to exist.

Rydan Gale and Akara Nazreth are the only humans with the ability to wield magic. The tattoo on their necks and the discovery of an ancient book, dictate they are the key to the world’s survival.

But the greatest obstacle for saving mankind isn’t the bizarre creatures, extreme betrayals and magic-fearing men hunting them.

It’s that Akara doesn’t believe the world is worth saving

• • • • • • • • • •


Eventually the day came when the voices in Kelley Lynn’s head were more insistent then her engineering professor’s. So instead of turning to her Thermodynamics book, Kelley brought up a blank page on her computer screen and wrote. Somewhere along the way she became a Young Adult author.

Kelley was born and raised a Midwestern girl. She’s not afraid to sweat and fills her free time with softball, soccer and volleyball. (Though you probably don’t want her on your volleyball team.) She occasionally makes guest appearances as a female vocalist for area bands.

You can find Kelley hanging out at her blog, titled in her name, as well as the group blog she shares with her fellow critique partners, Falling for Fiction. Kelley is a member of the Society of Children’s Books Writers and Illustrators.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Interview and Giveaway: Jennifer Estep + Deadly Sting

Today I'm thrilled to welcome author Jennifer Estep back to the blog to answer a few questions about the latest release in her Elemental Assassin urban fantasy series, Deadly Sting. It's no secret I'm a massive Jennifer Estep fan, and I just cannot get enough of both this series and her young adult Mythos Academy series. I thinks she writes absolutely brilliant characters and tells a fabulous story, so I hope if you've yet to read anything by her that you remedy that immediately!

One of the things I love most about the Elemental Assassin series is each book always features a new and brilliantly despicable villain. Aside from Mab, which villain has been the most fun to pit Gin against?

Thanks! I appreciate that. I always have a lot of fun coming up with the villains, trying to make them evil and charismatic at the same time, and really trying to give them that someone-you-love-to-hate vibe.

I’ve enjoyed writing all of my villains, but if I had to pick one, I would go with Elektra LaFleur, the assassin with electrical elemental magic in Tangled Threads. She’s like Gin in a lot of ways, and it was fun for me to write an evil version of Gin and have them go toe-to-toe with each other.

Let’s say instead of taking a class at the local college, Gin pops over to Mythos Academy to further her education. What class offered at Mythos would Gin most be interested in?

Good question! I think Gin would definitely be interested in Professor Metis’s myth-history class. Gin loves to read, so she’d enjoy learning more about the various myths, gods, goddesses, creatures, warriors, and artifacts that make up the Mythos Academy world.

The secondary characters in this series are hugely entertaining and almost as big of a draw for readers as Gin herself. What book features your favorite cast of secondary characters?

I would say that one of my favorite cast of characters is in the Dortmunder series by Donald E. Westlake. The books are about a group of thieves who get into some really funny and strange situations. So all of the characters are a bit odd and quirky, but still funny and lovable at the same time.

The Elemental Assassin books are always ones I devour in a single sitting because I can’t bear to put them down no matter how late at night (or early in the morning) it’s getting to be. What’s the last book that kept you up reading?

I enjoyed Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo. I’m looking forward to Siege and Storm, the next book in the series.

Gin’s the type of woman who keeps her emotions under wraps, never truly allowing the people in her life to see how much their words and actions sometimes hurt her. If she were to open up to just one person about her current relationship troubles with Owen, who would it be and what’s one thing she’d like them to know about how she feels?

Hmm. Good question. I would say that if Fletcher were still alive, that Gin might confide in him. Fletcher really molded her into the person that she is, so in some ways, I think that she feels closest to him and that he understands her the best (even though he’s dead).

I think Gin would tell Fletcher that she’s grateful for how strong he made her. However, I also think that she would tell him that while she wouldn’t trade that strength, her being an assassin has still cost her more than she thought it would.

Is there a possibility we’ll get a novella or spinoff book featuring Phillip and Eva, or will their relationship unfold more within Gin’s story?

It’s an interesting idea, but I don’t have any plans to do a spinoff story with Phillip and Eva right now, although they will continue to appear with the other characters in my Elemental Assassin books.

But I’ll never say never. I’d love to write more stories from the various characters’ points of view and show their adventures, along with Gin’s. I’ve had several people ask about a Finn and Bria-centered story or book, which I think would be a lot of fun to write. But it just depends on my writing schedule, which is already pretty full for this year. We’ll see what happens.

There’s a piece or two from the Elemental Assassin series, like the name of Gin’s restaurant the Pork Pit, that have been worked into the Mythos Academy series. Is there anything from the Mythos world that’s crossed over into Gin’s?

Definitely. In Widow’s Web, the seventh book in the series, Gin talks about someone growling and sounding like a Fenrir wolf, which is one of the mythological creatures in my Mythos Academy series.

I also have references in my Elemental Assassin and Mythos Academy books to characters from my Bigtime superhero paranormal romance series. For example, in the Elemental Assassin books, Finn often wears suits made by Fiona Fine, who is a fashion designer character in my Bigtime series. In my Mythos Academy series, Gwen has a poster of Karma Girl, a character from my Bigtime series, on the wall of her dorm room.

I think that the references to my other books are fun little Easter eggs for readers. I’ve gotten a few e-mails and comments from folks saying that they like the references, and it’s a lot of fun for me to figure which characters, places, etc. to use and where to work them into the various books and stories.

In the opening chapter of Deadly Sting, Gin is tortured by Finn with dress shopping for a museum gala, and thanks to some things that happen, she determines that red is a color that suits her. What color would you say is going to suit Gin best in Heart of Venom?

Oh, I think that red will continue to be Gin’s color for the foreseeable future. LOL. That’s really all I can say without giving out spoilers for Deadly Sting or future books in the series, though. Happy reading, everyone!

• • • • • • • • • •


I’m a Southern gal through and through. Sassy, sarcastic, and just a tad crazy.

I spent my formative years doing the usual kid things – playing, hanging out with my friends, and making up wild stories in my head.

It’s the last one that’s gotten me into trouble.

I don’t remember the first book I read. Or the second. Or even the third. But somewhere along the way, I fell in love with books and reading. Fairy tales, fantasies, adventure stories, mysteries, romances, westerns. As a kid, I read every book that I could get my hands on.

My mom, bless her, encouraged this obsession by taking me to the library every week. It’s one of my favorite childhood memories. Most folks think penicillin, indoor plumbing, and the Internet are the world’s best inventions. Not me. The greatest thing ever created was a library. Indoor plumbing is a close second, though.

The more I read, the more I thought about writing my own stories. I penned a few poems and short stories over the years, mainly for class assignments. Somewhere along the way, I realized that I wanted to write books for a living.

In college, I majored in English because of my love of books. But what can you do with an English degree? I didn’t know. One semester, I got a job with the college newspaper and discovered you could write stories and make a respectable living. Since that light-bulb moment, I’ve earned a bachelor’s degree in English and journalism, and a master’s degree in professional communications. Currently, I’m an award-winning features page designer for a daily newspaper.

Now, after many, many years of toil and trouble, I’ve achieved my dream of being a bona fide, published, fiction author. I plan to keep on keeping on – writing, dreaming, making up wild stories in my head.

And getting myself into trouble.

• • • • • • • • • •


Red is definitely my color. Good thing, because in my line of work, I end up wearing it a lot.

Most people shy away from blood, but for an assassin like me — Gin Blanco, aka the Spider — it’s just part of the job. Still, it would be nice to get a night off, especially when I’m attending the biggest gala event of the summer at Briartop, Ashland’s fanciest art museum. But it’s just not meant to be. For this exhibition of my late nemesis’ priceless possessions is not only the place to be seen, but the place to be robbed and taken hostage at gunpoint as well. No sooner did I get my champagne than a bunch of the unluckiest thieves ever burst into the museum and started looting the place.

Unlucky why? Because I brought along a couple of knives in addition to my killer dress. Add these to my Ice and Stone magic, and nothing makes me happier than showing the bad guys why red really is my color.

• • • • • • • • • •


Thanks to Jennifer, I have one print copy of Deadly Sting to give away on the blog today. To enter, please just fill out the Rafflecopter form below. Giveaway is open to US residents only. Good luck everyone!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday: The Distance Between Us

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!

Kasie West
Contemporary Young Adult
Releases July 2nd from HarperTeen

THE STORY (from Goodreads)
Seventeen-year-old Caymen Meyers studies the rich like her own personal science experiment, and after years of observation she’s pretty sure they’re only good for one thing—spending money on useless stuff, like the porcelain dolls in her mother’s shop.

So when Xander Spence walks into the store to pick up a doll for his grandmother, it only takes one glance for Caymen to figure out he’s oozing rich. Despite his charming ways and that he’s one of the first people who actually gets her, she’s smart enough to know his interest won’t last. Because if there’s one thing she’s learned from her mother’s warnings, it’s that the rich have a short attention span. But Xander keeps coming around, despite her best efforts to scare him off. And much to her dismay, she's beginning to enjoy his company.

She knows her mom can’t find out—she wouldn’t approve. She’d much rather Caymen hang out with the local rocker who hasn’t been raised by money. But just when Xander’s attention and loyalty are about to convince Caymen that being rich isn’t a character flaw, she finds out that money is a much bigger part of their relationship than she’d ever realized. And that Xander’s not the only one she should’ve been worried about.

First, I feel it necessary to confess that I am a Kasie West fangirl. Utterly and completely. I read Pivot Point earlier this year and fell madly in love with it, immediately adding Kasie to my list of auto-buy authors. While I initially despaired over the fact that I have to wait a full year (really, I should be used to this wait by now given practically every book I pick up is part of a series, but it kills me every time) for book two, I soon learned that Kasie was releasing The Distance Between Us in July. Cue insta-happiness. 

Second, I can't wait to get my lips hands on Xander this book!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Review: Deadly Sting

Elemental Assassin #8
Jennifer Estep
Adult Urban Fantasy
400 pages
Pocket Books
Available March 26th
Received through Edelweiss for review

THE STORY (from Goodreads)
Red is definitely my color. Good thing, because in my line of work, I end up wearing it a lot.

Most people shy away from blood, but for an assassin like me — Gin Blanco, aka the Spider — it’s just part of the job. Still, it would be nice to get a night off, especially when I’m attending the biggest gala event of the summer at Briartop, Ashland’s fanciest art museum. But it’s just not meant to be. For this exhibition of my late nemesis’ priceless possessions is not only the place to be seen, but the place to be robbed and taken hostage at gunpoint as well. No sooner did I get my champagne than a bunch of the unluckiest thieves ever burst into the museum and started looting the place.

Unlucky why? Because I brought along a couple of knives in addition to my killer dress. Add these to my Ice and Stone magic, and nothing makes me happier than showing the bad guys why red really is my color.

Coming off the emotionally intense sixth and seventh installments where Gin and Owen faced their respective pasts in the form of ex-lovers, Deadly Sting is a bit lighter in comparison (though still plenty violent as Gin is physically incapable of going any length of time without finding trouble). While certainly action-packed with Gin demonstrating her many and varied skills with a silverstone blade to protect those she loves, this latest Elemental Assassin novel feels more like a middle book than any of the previous installments, the focus remaining almost solely on Gin’s battle with her newest villain as the emotional intricacies that bind our hearts to Gin’s are temporarily placed on the back burner.

The beautiful juxtaposition of Gin’s deadly fierceness with her quiet vulnerability when it comes to matters of the heart has always been a highlight of this series, cementing our bond to a woman we can’t help but feel inordinately protective of despite her obvious capability when it comes to protecting and defending herself. Though she’s proven again and again she’ll let no physical assault from anyone go unanswered, that reaction does not extend to emotional blows, and her tendency to continue to protect those around her from further hurt by not expressing her own is front and center in this installment. While typically this behavior of hers is admirable–something that makes us want to wrap our arms around her and hold tight–there are times when we feel smothered by her capacity for understanding and her rationalization of the feelings of others, her continued silence a heavy burden given we want nothing more than to shout out her pain to those who should be most aware of it even without it being given voice.

Much of our frustration is with regard to Owen (and his relationship with Gin), someone who previously has been a fundamental supporter and champion of Gin and all that she is. Though we certainly understand his need for space after the death of his ex-fiance at Gin's hands, his inability to acknowledge Gin’s feelings because he’s too consumed by his own knocks him down a peg or two on the ladder of our esteem and regard. The fault can’t simply be laid at Owen’s feet alone however, Gin’s aforementioned tendency to keep things bottled up only adding to our collective misery as she continues to spare his broad shoulders the additional weight of her own heartbreak. Just once we would love for the aggressiveness Gin shows in physical situations to extend to emotional ones, wishing she would make Owen (and previously Donovan and Bria before him) aware of how deeply his actions– or inaction–cut.

Even though Deadly Sting isn’t the strongest addition to the series and Gin’s trademark stoicism causes our protective instincts to flare–this time with the desire to guard her against her own silence–we’re still undeniably entertained. Ms. Estep never fails to write a good story; one that keeps us up late reading and then rushing to look up the release date for the next book upon finishing.

Rating:  3.5/5

Monday, March 18, 2013

Review: Going Vintage

Lindsey Leavitt
Contemporary Young Adult
320 pages
Available March 26th
Received for review via NetGalley

THE STORY (from Goodreads)
When Mallory’s boyfriend, Jeremy, cheats on her with an online girlfriend, Mallory decides the best way to de-Jeremy her life is to de-modernize things too. Inspired by a list of goals her grandmother made in1962, Mallory swears off technology and returns to a simpler time (when boyfriends couldn’t cheat with computer avatars). The List:

1. Run for pep club secretary
2. Host a fancy dinner party/soiree
3. Sew a dress for Homecoming
4. Find a steady
5. Do something dangerous

But simple proves to be crazy-complicated, and the details of the past begin to change Mallory’s present. Add in a too-busy grandmother, a sassy sister, and the cute pep-club president–who just happens to be her ex’s cousin–and soon Mallory begins to wonder if going vintage is going too far.

Going Vintage is an extremely cute contemporary read, one that explores not only our current addiction to technology, but also how various relationship dynamics are affected by the online world in a humorous way that keeps us laughing and nodding our heads in agreement with Mallory’s quest to return to what’s she’s sure was a simpler time. Her realization that a simpler time in terms of technology does not necessarily equate to an easier life–free of challenges or heartache–is a joy to follow as the light slowly dawns, illuminating aspects of her family that were previously kept secret as well as aspects of herself that aren’t altogether complimentary.

Mallory is an absolute delight of a protagonist, her dry sense of humor drawing us in immediately even as her boyfriend’s online activities temporarily bring her world to a screeching halt. Her voice as she tells her story is beautifully conversational in nature, setting us immediately at ease and making us feel as though she’s sitting across from us relaying her experiences complete with animated hand gestures and a rich tonality to her storytelling. While she may take her shunning of modern technology a bit far after Jeremy’s betrayal, she approaches her family’s minor dramas and her budding relationship with Oliver maturely and logically, never allowing herself to get so swept up that her emotions override rational thought.

While lovers of romance (like me) may be a tiny bit disappointed that things with Oliver don’t progress all that far, the realist in us can’t help but appreciate Mallory’s approach to the fledgling relationship. She refreshingly opts to take her interest in Oliver at a snail’s pace, wanting to learn more about who she is first instead of quickly jumping into the arms of someone new and allowing herself to be defined by a life other than her own. This story is not about Mallory and Oliver but rather Mallory individually–her strengths and weaknesses and how they affect the decisions she makes moving forward–and we’re by her side every step of the way as she becomes both teacher and student in a lesson about herself.

Overall, Going Vintage is a quick and entertaining read full of witty banter and small dramas that has us watching the number of pages remaining dwindle with a frown as we don’t want our time with Mallory to end.

Rating: 4/5

Friday, March 15, 2013

Interview: Mindee Arnett + The Nightmare Affair

I'm chock-full of giddiness today because I have the pleasure of welcoming young adult author Mindee Arnett to the blog to answer a few questions about the first book in her new series, The Nightmare Affair. I absolutely adored this book (read my full review here), it was full of snark and romance and mystery, and I simply couldn't put it down. A huge thank you to Mindee for taking the time to answer all my questions, and I hope you all enjoy the interview!

If you were a Nightmare like Dusty, what would you dread seeing most in someone’s dreams?

Oh my, probably all the naked people? I know that some of my worst nightmares growing up were the ones where I would find myself at school without any pants on. Even thinking about it makes me embarrassed. And really, witnessing someone else’s mortal embarrassment can be just as bad.

Let’s say you find yourself in Eli’s shoes, attending a school for magically gifted students when you yourself are ordinary. What would you love and hate most about the experience?

I would love just seeing and experiencing the magic, especially combined with all the history of it. I think I would be paralyzed by wonder. But eventually, I would hate not being able to participate. It would be pure torture. Poor Eli. I’m feeling sorry for him all over again.

Dusty is given an extra assignment thanks to her smart mouth. She has to travel to the world of any young adult piece of fiction and witness the dreams of a character of her choosing and then report back with her findings. Whose sleepy mind would she most like to see into?

I think she would pick Cas Lowood from Anna Dressed in Blood. I imagine Cas’s dreams are pretty scary given his day job, but I think Dusty would have a fun time making him dream about fluffy kittens and unicorns instead. Plus, who wouldn’t want to meet Cas? He’s the epitome of cool.

If your computer was to develop a personality like the technology at Dusty’s school has, what type of personality would it have and what kinds of things would it do to express itself?

My current computer is a brand new Mac Air, and I’m quite sure it would have a brainy- chic attitude. I think it would mostly express itself with quirky Doctor Who sounds and wiseass remarks when I make silly typos.

My previous computer was a Dell, and it would be stubborn and crotchety, a bit like an electronic mule. It would express itself with loud, annoying noise and unnecessary commentary, a lot like the computers at Arkwell.

Eli can’t manipulate his own dreams the way Dusty can, but if he could, is there any one place he would like to show her while he has her all to himself away from the real world?

Such a tough question! I think Eli is a bit of a rugged romantic. I think he would take her somewhere very remote and naturally beautiful, like the top of a mountain. This song is a little dated, but I think Eli is a bit like the “cowboy” in the Dixie Chicks song “Cowboy Take Me Away.”

What’s the strangest or most inconvenient place you’ve found yourself when a brilliant idea for a story has popped into your head?

I get a lot of ideas in the shower or while cleaning stalls. Pretty strange, I know, but I guess it’s because both activities are physical and methodical, the perfect activity for the creative mind to wander.

Dreams are rarely straightforward and often times deliver meaning only through symbolism. If Dusty was to get a peek at the events of book two in dream form, what’s one symbolic element she might see there?

Birds. I won’t say what kind of bird or anything, but definitely birds. And funnily enough, I think the cover artist for The Nightmare Affair, the lovely Kate Forrester, must be psychic because she put this on the cover long before I started writing book 2:


Thanks so much for such a fabulous interview!

• • • • • • • • • • 


Mindee Arnett lives on a horse farm in Ohio with her husband, two kids, a couple of dogs, and an inappropriate number of cats. She’s addicted to jumping horses and telling tales of magic, the macabre, and outer space. She has far more dreams than nightmares.

• • • • • • • • • • 


Sixteen-year-old Dusty Everhart breaks into houses late at night, but not because she’s a criminal. No, she’s a Nightmare.


Being the only Nightmare at Arkwell Academy, a boarding school for magickind, and living in the shadow of her mother’s infamy, is hard enough. But when Dusty sneaks into Eli Booker’s house, things get a whole lot more complicated. He’s hot, which means sitting on his chest and invading his dreams couldn’t get much more embarrassing. But it does. Eli is dreaming of a murder.

Then Eli’s dream comes true.

Now Dusty has to follow the clues—both within Eli’s dreams and out of them—to stop the killer before more people turn up dead. And before the killer learns what she’s up to and marks her as the next target.