Sunday, June 30, 2013

Super Six Sunday: Authors I've Met/Want to Meet

I'm really excited today to be participating in a new feature put together by the fabulous ladies over at Bewitched Bookworms! Inspired by Top Ten Tuesday from The Broke and The Bookish, Super Six Sunday has different book-related topics each week and asks participants to address each topic in the form of a list of six. Obviously. This week, the focus is on authors I've met or would like to meet, so below are just a handful of the authors who turn me into an utter fangirl at the mere mention of their names!

(Pushing the Limits/Dare You To)

I first met Katie when she came to Columbus for a YA author panel at my local bookstore, and even while hyperventilating with excitement, I still managed to plaster a smile on my face and carry on what I hope was a coherent conversation. I don't remember it all that well, it's just a haze of happiness really, but I'm pretty sure I didn't scar her for life. A couple months later I had the pleasure of meeting up with her again for dinner while in NYC for BEA, and I fell in love with her even more. She's adorable and funny and I just need to stop talking before I embarrass myself ;-)

 (Pushy, Me, Katie, Julie Kagawa, and Danny)

(The Iron Fae/Blood of Eden Series)

Dinner with Katie at BEA included Julie Kagawa, a happy surprise addition I had no idea was joining us. It's for the best I didn't know she was coming ahead of time as then I didn't have as much time to stress about being cool, so aside from a brief flustered moment I was able to rise above my awkwardness and not just stare at Julie with a dreamy expression on my face. The whole dinner was simply one giant win and definitely not something I will ever forget.

(The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer)

I unfortunately don't have a picture with Michelle, but I was lucky enough to meet her for lunch at BEA last year, and had one of those surreal moments where I looked around me and realized I was sitting in Bryant Park with my mom, my mother in law, Melissa from I Swim for Oceans and Michelle Hodkin, just chatting away with the author of one of my very favorite series. Thankfully I was able to say more than "I love Noah" to her, but I'm pretty sure it still came out of my mouth a time or two. Or four. Whichever.

(Heist Society/Gallagher Girls series)

I wrote a whole big blog post about my time with Ally Carter here if you're so inclined to read it, but meeting her definitely deserves another mention! At the request of the fantastic people at Disney-Hyperion, I was asked to attend Ally's signing in Cincinnati and come a half hour or so early for a blogger-author meet and greet. Due to a misunderstanding on my part, I arrived under the impression it would be a group of bloggers meeting with Ally, but when I got there it was just me (and my mother in law who I drag to all bookish events). Me and Ally. Ally and Me. Alone in the corner of a bookstore. I had zero questions prepared, but Ally was so incredibly personable and easy going that I was able to shake off my initial shock and enjoy the fact that I had her all to myself for nearly a half hour.

(The Black Dagger Brotherhood)

I actually met J.R. Ward before I started the blog, but I'd been a longtime fan of her Black Dagger Brotherhood series and nearly fell out of my seat with excitement when I saw she was going to be in Columbus for the RT Convention a few years back. I'm obsessed with this series. Obsessed. I took my mother in law (of course) with me to get copies of Lover Mine (my favorite of the series) signed for me and my mom who lives out of town. We were allowed to bring our own books to the signing, so I was holding both copies as we approached the table to buy our tickets.

When purchasing our tickets, the woman informed me that J.R. was only signing one book per person. I nodded that I understood and figured I was good to go because I had two books and there were two of us there. Win. The woman at the door collecting the tickets noticed I was holding two copies of Lover Mine and once again told me that J.R. Ward was only signing one book per person. I blinked this time, looked at Cathy, looked at the two books in my hand and smiled at the woman to indicate all was well. Awesome. I went straight for J.R.'s line once I was in, and upon arriving at the back the woman trying to keep things under control looked at the books in my hands and said what you ask? You guessed it, apparently J.R. Ward was only signing one book per person. I DID NOT KNOW THAT! I finally just gave up and handed a copy to Cathy and we sat down and waited.

The signing itself was only scheduled to be I think 3 hours, and it was glaringly apparent at the 2.5 hour mark that she wasn't going to get through everyone in her line before time was up. Instead of getting up and leaving after 3 hours though, she stayed and made sure every single person that was in her line got their book signed. The people regulating the line wouldn't allow her to take pictures with anyone (understandable, there were a ton of people there), but J.R. made a point to talk to everyone instead of simply signing her book with her head down and then moving on to the next person. She was fantastic.

• • • • • • • • • •

I decided to use my sixth spot for an author I desperately want to meet (aside from Wendy Higgins who knows I adore her and am counting down the minutes until we're finally at the same event and I can hug her). This is likely someone I will never have the chance to meet unless I attend FeverCon, but I dream of coming face to face with the woman who gave me Barrons and Ryodan.

(The Fever Series)

If any of you haven't read the Fever series, I beg you to drop what you're doing and run to the nearest bookstore to pick up all 6 books (technically book 6, Iced, is a spinoff, but they need to be read in order). She writes alpha men like no one else, and I, like untold numbers of others, fell madly in love with Jericho Barrons. He's a complete a-hole, but there is something about him that's indescribably magnetic and I've read the Fever books more times that I care to admit. Even if you end up not liking him or the books, I guarantee you will walk away with strong feelings about the man.

More recently (with the release of Iced), I fell hard for Ryodan. Ryodan is in the Fever series, but he's a smaller secondary character, and is quite frankly overshadowed by all that is Barrons, but in Iced he's very much the alpha among alphas. Karen sometimes teasers her readers on her Facebook fan page with pictures of beautiful men who fans think fit the image of Barrons and Ryodan she's created in our heads. Not too long ago she posted some pictures of a model by the name of Stuart Reardon who many fans thought embodied Ryodan. I feel the need to share some of these pictures with you, as they will no doubt inspire you to pick up the books and will definitely make you want to meet the woman who wrote his character. You're welcome in advance ;-)

(photo by Gilles Crofta Photography)

(photo by Kemuel Valdes)

(photo by Kemuel Valdes)

Saturday, June 29, 2013

A Post of Pretty: New Covers Part 2

Last weekend I did a cover roundup for some of HarperTeen's stunning Winter 2014 releases, but it seems I jumped the gun a little because they've added even more prettiness to the group, so get ready to make your to-be-read lists even longer (the below are the ones I'm most excited about, but you can see the full list at Epic Reads)!

Melissa Walker • December 23rd, 2013

Spellcaster #2
Claudia Gray • March 4th, 2014

Partials #3
Dan Wells •  March 11th, 2014

Courtney C. Stevens • April 1st, 2014

Alexandra Duncan • April 1st, 2014

And my absolute favorite of this latest group:

Kelley Armstrong • April 8th, 2014

From Goodreads:

In the Forest of the Dead, where the empire’s worst criminals are exiled, twin sisters Moria and Ashyn are charged with a dangerous task. For they are the Keeper and the Seeker, and each year they must quiet the enraged souls of the damned.

Only this year, the souls will not be quieted.

Ambushed and separated by an ancient evil, the sisters’ journey to find each other sends them far from the only home they’ve ever known. Accompanied by a stubborn imperial guard and a dashing condemned thief, the girls cross a once-empty wasteland, now filled with reawakened monsters of legend, as they travel to warn the emperor. But a terrible secret awaits them at court—one that will alter the balance of their world forever.

• • • • • • • • • • 

Also revealed this week was the cover for J.L. Bryan's newest title, Nomad. I'm a huge fan of J.L.'s Jenny Pox series so I'm extremely excited to give Nomad a try!

From Goodreads:

A new dystopian novel from the author of Jenny Pox - coming July 26.

They took everything: her family, her home, her childhood.

By the age of nineteen, Raven has spent most of her life in the sprawling slums of America, fighting as a rebel against the dictatorship. When the rebellion steals an experimental time-travel device, she travels back five decades to the year 2013. Her plan: assassinate the future dictator when he is still young and vulnerable, long before he comes to power. She must move fast to reshape history, because agents from her own time are on her trail, ready to execute her on sight.

• • • • • • • • • • •

Last but hopefully not least, I wanted to share with you one final cover. As some of you who follow this blog consistently know, I make my living as a graphic designer. Up until now I've focused primarily on wedding invitations and related stationery with the occasional corporate branding job thrown in, but in the past several months I've been expanding the scope of my work to include book covers. I recently had the pleasure of working with fantasy author Intisar Khanani to create the cover for Sunbolt, the first book in her Sunbolt Chronicles series. Hope you guys like it!

From Goodreads:

The winding streets and narrow alleys of Karolene hide many secrets, and Hitomi is one of them. Orphaned at a young age, Hitomi has learned to hide her magical aptitude and who her parents really were. Most of all, she must conceal her role in the Shadow League, an underground movement working to undermine the powerful and corrupt Arch Mage Wilhelm Blackflame.

When the League gets word that Blackflame intends to detain—and execute—a leading political family, Hitomi volunteers to help the family escape. But there are more secrets at play than Hitomi’s, and much worse fates than execution. When Hitomi finds herself captured along with her charges, it will take everything she can summon to escape with her life.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Character Interview: Zubis + The Genie Ignites

I'm excited today to introduce author Kellyann Zuzulo and her adult paranormal romance, The Genie Ignites, with a behind the scenes interview with the genie himself, Zubis. The Genie Ignites is a finalist in the Abalone Awards for "Outstanding Ethno-Cultural Romance" so I'm thrilled to give you guys a little inside look at this one, I hope you enjoy!

Our reporter caught up to Zubis via satellite in the desert, in a section known as the Empty Quarter or Rub-al-Khali, an area notorious for genie activity. It is the legendary portal to the world of Jinnistan. He appears quite comfortable sitting on a folding canvas chair in a steel-gray linen tunic, open at the neck, and pair of loose, white, gauzy trousers. [In this reporter’s objective opinion, he is devastatingly handsome.]

Reporter: Is it hot there at the edge of the Rub-al-Khali in Saudi Arabia, Mr. Zubis?

[eyebrow goes up] Just Zubis, please. Yes, it can be quite hot. Especially when the lovely Bethany O’Brien stands close.

R: What are you doing in the desert, Zubis?

Z: [appears solemn, though those curlicue glyphs, barely covered by a fall of dense black hair along his brow, have begun to glow.] I await the arrival of Bethany. Only she can liberate me from my 3,000 years of bondage. I was condemned in the time of Solomon and have waited 3,000 years for her to return…. [a glint returns to his golden eyes.]

R: Eh…return? How old is she exactly?

Z: Well, in this incarnation, she is a delectable 32 years old. But her heart first belonged to me when she roamed the earth as the Asima Uruk in the time of Solomon.

R: So what happened to her?

Z: [The rugged lines across his brow deepen with concern.] She died. I was cursed and could not save her.

R: Wow. That’s sad. Now what?

Z: She will come. I will remind her of what we once had and she will be mine again. [He brings his fingers to his lips and his gaze is distant for a moment.]

R: Sounds pretty straightforward. What’s the hold-up?

Ouch! Was that an electrical shock that you just shot at me?!

Z: Hold-up? [He rises to his feet. He is quite large.] Have you ever stood bent against the fury of a harmattan, the gritty West African trade wind, as it bites into your flesh? Have you flicked a scorpion from your ankle before it could strike? Have you felt the unmitigated fury of a female jinni as she uses her wicked wiles to betray your true love? Have you ever lost everything you cared about until only the hope of love remains?

R: Um, no.

Z: Then you should read The Genie Ignites. [He winks and seats himself.]

R: Well, um. Geez. What was I saying? [fanning self] Any wishes left in those snazzy trousers of yours?

Z: [His gaze is steady] I think I could pull one more out…

R: Okay, that’s a wrap! [Speaking to someone off camera: Book me on the next flight to the desert!]

Z: Hold on, lovely. No need to fly. We have the power of the jinn at our disposal. With a flick of your finger, you can download my chronicle and I will meet you there.

R: You got it, handsome! Somebody download The Genie Ignites to my smart phone STAT!

Join me as I fly first class on Genie Air, glass of champagne in hand and nibbling a savory serving of honey-and-currant couscous. Hurry along, now. The second book in Zubis’s series, The Genie Smolders, releases later this month from Boroughs Publishing Group.

Best Wishes,

Kellyann Zuzulo

• • • • • • • • • • 


 A Philadelphia native, Kellyann Zuzulo received a bachelor's degree in journalism from Temple University and has lived in London, Ireland, Boston and Washington, D.C. She has worked as a reporter for local newspapers and as a writer for Yankee Magazine and national consumer and health magazines; as a book development editor; as a media relations representative; and as a director of communications for nonprofits. Her interest in Middle Eastern mythology and legend stems from her stint as a Managing Editor of Publications for the Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia in Washington, D.C. She is a published author of several genie romance novellas. One book, Angels & Genies, was included in a collection for which Charlaine Harris wrote the foreword. Kellyann lives in Pennsylvania with her husband, three children, and a jaunty terrier named Djin-Djin.

• • • • • • • • • • 


Girl meets genie. They fall in love. Girl gets killed. Genie gets cursed. Three millennia later, she’s reincarnated as a smart, somewhat sardonic 21st century editor who can’t remember the great love of her existence. The genie however, will never forget her.

Bethany O’Brien is a 21st century woman with a career, ambition and bills. She has no recollection of how she once felt about a nearly 4,000-year-old genie named Zubis who suddenly invades her world, but he certainly remembers her. In a previous incarnation, Bethany was an important temple priestess who apprenticed to the djinn. Zubis, powerful and alluring, is infuriatingly bemused by Bethany’s skepticism. Once upon a time, he vowed to love her forever and has no plans of breaking his vow. And although the priestess she once was had been taught that a romance with a djinni must never be, Bethany gradually realizes that her love for Zubis cannot be forgotten. Along with the returning glimmers of her past life, Bethany is forced to confront a mandate from an ancient society to kill the genie of her dreams. 

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Review: Neptune's Tears

Susan Waggoner
Young Adult/Dystopian/SciFi
224 pages
Henry Holt
Available now
Source: ARC from publisher for review

THE STORY (from Goodreads)
London, 2218 A.D. Seventeen-year-old Zee is an intern empath. She’s focused on her job, poised for a great career—until one day an attractive patient undoes her hard-earned calm. As an empath, she cannot afford such distractions, but neither can she stay away from David, even when she discovers he’s one of a mysterious alien race. As London comes under attack by anarchist bombings, and as Zee struggles to get a handle on her unusually strong psychic abilities, David starts pulling away. Although Zee’s sure he’s attracted to her, David has secrets he cannot share. But it’s too late for Zee. She’s losing her heart to the gray-eyed alien boy, and she’s determined to follow him—no matter how far it may take her.

At just over two hundred pages, Neptune's Tears is a short and exceedingly quick read, thrusting us a couple hundred years into the future as London fights a losing battle against anarchists and their shock wave bombs. While the story itself is easily devoured and moves at a nice pace, only granting us a few moments of quiet to catch our breath before the action or romance heat up again, it feels quite disjointed at times. Zee's empathic ability and the bombings run parallel to her romance with David and his alien status, the two never seeming to cross or link, but continue on side by side so it feels almost as though there are two separate and distinct stories with Zee at the forefront contained in between the covers of this single book.

Zee and David are both characters who might be described as “nice”, lacking characteristics and personalities that truly make them leap from the pages in blaze of memorable glory, instead they are easily lost in the shuffle of thousands of characters those of us who devour multiple books a week every week have bouncing around in our heads. They're both sweet, and there's no doubt we enjoy the time we have with them, but their love does happen quickly (not unsurprising giving the relatively short page length), and we simply don't get to revel in the promise of them and the desirable will they/won't they tension that tightens our guts with romantic anticipation.

Part of the reason our hearts don't quite find themselves pierced (as Zee and company refer to falling in love) the way Zee and David's do is due to the aforementioned separation of the two main aspects of Zee's life: her abilities as an empath and her relationship with David. For a few chapters our focus will be on one or the other, watching as Zee's gift grows as she aids those affected by the bombing before we suddenly switch gears to David, the questions surrounding his alien nature and his reasons for being on Earth, leaving Zee's empathic abilities all but forgotten until a few chapters later when we switch back once again. It's a little like reading while someone continuously moves an eye patch from one of our eyes to the other, each eye seeing something different while the other is covered, and we're denied the clarity that comes when both eyes are able to work together.

Overall, Neptune's Tears leaves us with a myriad of questions regarding the world itself and Zee's empathy, unsure as to whether empaths are unique and are alone in their abilities, or if there are others in this future exhibiting different types of gifts. We also have quite a few questions about David and his alien race, and though some of those questions are explained away toward the end, new questions simply arise from the answers. Neptune's Tears is a story that likely could have benefited from a few additional chapters, allowing those parallel storylines to slowly shift closer together until they eventually merged into a strong, cohesive tale that dazzled us like the diamonds from which it gets its title.

Rating: 3.5/5

Find Susan:

This book was sent to me by the publisher free of charge for the purpose of a review
I received no other compensation and the above is my honest opinion.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Review: Forevermore

Cindy Miles
Paranormal Young Adult
288 pages
Scholastic Point
Available Now
Source: ARC from publisher for review

THE STORY (from Goodreads)
On a misty cliffside, mystery and romance await. . . .

Ivy Calhoun's life has been turned upside down. Her new stepdad has uprooted Ivy and her mom, bringing them to live in an actual castle in the misty Scottish countryside. There are stone-faced servants and shadowy corridors, and the ancient walls seem full of secrets. Ivy is at once frightened and intrigued.

Especially when she meets Logan, a gorgeous, elusive ghost who has haunted the castle grounds for decades. Ivy is immediately drawn to him . . . but Logan is not the only spirit around. Something dark and deadly is afoot, and soon Ivy finds herself in mortal danger.

Is Logan exactly what he seems? Could his mysterious past be tied to Ivy's present? And can Ivy stop herself from falling in love with him?

Forevermore is a quick and engaging read; the type that doesn't test boundaries, push the envelope, or challenge us emotionally, but one that keeps us interested throughout and leaves us with a sweet smile on our faces nonetheless. The story itself is not overly complex, Ivy and Logan's relationship largely drama-free and their supernatural problems resolved with relative ease, but Ms. Miles ensures we are utterly charmed by Logan's thick Scottish brogue and deeply intrigued by the eerie hollowness of the highlands. A couple short hours will see the entirety of this story read from beginning to end, and we then set it aside with all the warmth a pleasant, sweet story leaves lingering in its wake.

Ivy is not a young woman whose layers we peel back chapter by chapter, instead she's simply someone we enjoy spending a short chunk of time with, content with what we do know of her and without a driving need to know more. Despite a strong focus on the romance between her and Logan, she doesn't fall for him instantly or build her days around seeing him again, rather she shows an appropriate amount of fear and hesitation given Logan's ghostly status, and even when they've moved beyond fear, a declaration of love is thankfully a bit longer in coming.

Like Ivy, Logan is a fairly straightforward character, a cute love interest with an undeniably attractive accent that causes our hearts to stutter a time or two in their regular rhythm. He's everything we might dream of meeting should we ever find ourselves in Scotland (minus the ghost part), and his romance with Ivy is full of soft murmurings and quiet hopes for a magical outcome for the two of them, leaving us comfortable and happy even though we know their story will not be one our minds cling to as we begin our next read.

Overall, Forevermore is the perfect light escape into the murky depths of the highlands, the rich brogue of majority of the characters making the story feel almost as though it's being read aloud, and we breeze quickly through it before filing it away as something to be picked up when having a bad day.

Rating: 3.5/5

Find Cindy:

This book was sent to me by the publisher free of charge for the purpose of a review
I received no other compensation and the above is my honest opinion.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Giveaway: Precious Blood

Today I have a fantastic giveaway to share with you all courtesy of Simon & Schuster! Up for grabs is a copy of Precious Blood by Tonya Hurley and a Precious Blood bookmark; to enter just fill out the Rafflecopter form at the bottom of this post! Please note however, that this book is the same as The Blessed, it has since been retitled and was re-released on May 14th.


What if martyrs and saints lived among us? And what if you were told you were one of them?

Agnes, Cecilia, and Lucy are three lost girls—each with their own personal demons. These girls meet one night when they all end up in the same hospital…and each wake up with a token from a boy they’ve only just met. Sebastian is gorgeous, mysterious, and has a plan for all of them. As each girl gets wrapped up in finding out just who Sebastian is, they each discover their own strengths, and realize the only way to save themselves is to save each other.

The story begins in PRECIOUS BLOOD and continues in PASSIONARIES, available 1/7/14.

• • • • • • • • • • 


(photo by Kevin Mazur)

Tonya Hurley is the New York Times best-selling author of the highly acclaimed “ghostgirl“ book series; creator, writer and producer of animated and live action hit television series; writer and director of independent films; writer and director of commercials for Playstation, Gameboy and Warner Home Video; and creator of groundbreaking videogames. Her new young adult trilogy, THE BLESSED, begins with Precious Blood.

• • • • • • • • • • 

(US residents only)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, June 24, 2013

Review: Famous Last Words

Jennifer Salvato Doktorski
Contemporary Young Adult
288 pages
Henry Holt and Co.
Available July 2nd
Source: ARC from publisher for review

THE STORY (from Goodreads)
Sixteen-year-old Samantha D’Angelo has death on the brain. Her summer internship at the local newspaper has her writing obituaries instead of soaking up the sun at the beach. Between Shelby, Sam’s boy-crazy best friend; her boss Harry, a true-blue newspaper man; and AJ, her fellow “intern scum” (aka the cute drummer for a band called Love Gas), Sam has her hands full. But once she figures out what—or who—is the best part of her summer, will she mess it all up?

As Sam learns her way around both the news room and the real world, she starts to make some momentous realizations about politics, ethics, her family, romance, and most important—herself.

Famous Last Words is a completely satisfying comfort read, a beautifully simplistic story about finding something that ignites passion and drive, and embracing the things that passion teaches us about ourselves. There’s very little drama, romance or otherwise; it’s more a delightful romp in the day-to-day life of Sam as she stumbles through a summer internship, a crush, and an evolving friendship in completely adorable fashion, and though nothing momentous or epic takes place, our time with her feels valuable and well spent regardless.

Sam doesn’t read either overly mature or frustratingly young for her age, instead she seems to fit her sixteen-going-on-seventeen years perfectly, at times fully dedicated to her new job and making herself a better writer while also easily distracted by a cute boy. She has her eyes wide open and yet wears blinders at the same time, her intuition about one of the reporter’s cases and her determination to get the answers he can’t a direct contrast to her complete obliviousness to fellow intern AJ’s interest in her. Granted we have the benefit of outside perspective and AJ masks his feelings well, but we just want to reach in and give her a little shake at times to hopefully reset her focus, providing new perspective so she no longer sees only what's on the periphery and finally gets a glimpse at what’s right in front of her.

Luckily for us Sam’s obliviousness is not of the frustrating variety, rather she’s cutely clueless in the AJ department, and their witty banter combined with the ease they clearly feel with one another proves to be immensely gratifying. They have a few small spats and arguments here and there, but overall their relationship is tense with possibility instead of melodrama and misunderstanding, and it shares equal page time with Sam’s relationships with her family and best friend Shelby. The story itself is focused mostly on Sam herself as she comes to terms with the various pieces of her life taking on new shape and slotting themselves into place in an order different from what she might have expected at the beginning of the summer, and it's simply a pleasure to watch those new slots open up and welcome Sam in.

Overall, Famous Last Words is a quick and lovable read, a great go-to book to lift our spirits on a bad day or in between much darker books.

Rating: 4/5

Find Jennifer:

This book was sent to me by the publisher free of charge for the purpose of a review
I received no other compensation and the above is my honest opinion.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

A Post of Pretty: New Covers

This week has been an insane week for cover reveals, with HarperTeen unleashing a torrent of stunning new designs for their Winter 2014 lineup, and because I'm such a huge fan of all things design-related I wanted to share some of them on the blog today. You can check out the full roundup over at Epic Reads HERE, but below are some of the ones I love most. Is it 2014 yet? *stares longingly at calendar*

Under the Never Sky #3
Veronica Rossi • January 28th, 2014

Taken #2
Erin Bowman • April 15th, 2014

Pivot Point #2
Kasie West • February 11th, 2014

Rosamund Hodge • January 28th, 2014

Newsoul #3
Jodi Meadows •  January 28th, 2014

Everneath #3
Brodi Ashton • January 21st, 2014

Mindee Arnett •  January 21st, 2014

And now for my three favorites on the list:

Claudia Gabel and Cheryl Klam • March 18th, 2014

From Goodreads:

Soon, Elusion® will change the world and life as we know it.

A new technology called Elusion is sweeping the country. An app, visor and wristband will virtually transport you to an exotic destination where adventure can be pursued without the complications—or consequences—of real life.

Regan is an Elusion insider. Or at least she used to be. Her father invented the program, and her best friend, Patrick, heir to the tech giant Orexis, is about to release it nationwide. But ever since her father’s unexpected death, Regan can’t bear to Escape, especially since waking up from the dream means crashing back to her grim reality.

Still, when there are rumors of trouble in Elusion—accusations that it’s addictive and dangerous— Regan is determined to defend it. But the critics of Elusion come from surprising sources, including Josh, the handsome skeptic with his own personal stakes. As Regan investigates the claims, she discovers a disturbing web of secrets. She will soon have to choose between love and loyalty…a decision that will affect the lives of millions.

Suspense, thrills, and romance fuel this near-future story about the seductive nature of a perfect virtual world, and how far one girl will go to uncover the truth behind the illusions.

Natalie Whipple • April 1st, 2014

From Natalie Whipple's Blog:

They say a witch lives in the old house under the bridge . . .

What the residents of Willow’s End don’t know is that there are two witches living in the crumbling old house draped in ivy. Ancient, toothless Dorothea Hemlock . . . and her seventeen-year-old granddaughter, Josephine.

Jo has always managed to keep her magical life separate from her normal one. But now the mysterious Curse that killed her mother—and so many Hemlock witches before her—has returned. Soon Jo realizes that the life she’s fought to keep hidden could destroy the one she’s worked so hard to protect.

Ryan Graudin • February 11th, 2014

From Goodreads:

Emrys—a fiery, red-headed Fae—always embraced her life in the Highlands, far from the city’s draining technology, until she’s sent to London to rejoin the Faery Guard. But this isn’t any normal assignment—she’s sent to guard Prince Richard: Britain’s notorious, partying bad boy and soon-to-be King. The prince’s careless ways and royal blood make him the irresistible for the dark spirits that feed on mortals. Sweet, disheveled, and alive with adventure—Richard is one charge who will put Emrys’s magic and heart to the test.

When an ancient force begins preying on the monarchy, Emrys must hunt through the London’s magical underworld, facing down Banshees, Black Dogs and Green Women to find the one who threatens Richard’s life. In this chaos of dark magic, palace murders and paparazzi, Emrys finds herself facing an impossible choice. For despite all her powers, Emrys has discovered a force that burns brighter than magic: love.

What do you guys think? Which is your favorite?

Friday, June 21, 2013

Preview Package: Keeping Her + Cora Carmack

I don't think it will come as a surprise to those of you who read this blog with any frequency, but I just have to say it again: I adore Cora Carmack's books. I read Losing It a while back and loved it, and then I devoured Faking It just a little bit ago and loved that one even more. Cora Carmack, in my opinion, writes fantastic characters and the types of stories that just suck you right in and absolutely refuse to let you get back to your regularly scheduled life before you reach the last page.

I may or may not have done a spastic happy dance when I found out my time with Garrick and Bliss from Losing It was in fact not over, as Ms. Carmack is gifting us with a novella about their life together post-last chapter. I KNOW! It's awesome. To get you as excited as I am about the upcoming release of Keeping Her (August 13th from William Morrow), I have a very special preview package to share with you today, you'll find all the goodness below.

If that wasn't enough excitement for one day, I have even more news to share. First, Cora and author Jay Crownover (Rule) will be participating in a Goodreads chat on June 26th, so be sure and mark your calendars! Second, join Cora on her Facebook page from 3-4pm EDT on June 27th for a little book club fun with Faking It. You can ask her all your most desperate questions about Max, Cade and their relationship, but first be sure and check out all the preview package fun!

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Garrick Taylor and Bliss Edwards managed to find their happily-ever-after despite a rather . . . ahem . . . complicated start. By comparison, meeting the parents should be an absolute breeze, right?

But from the moment the pair lands in London, new snags just keep cropping up: a disapproving mother-in-law-to-be, more than one (mostly) minor mishap, and the realization that perhaps they aren't quite as ready for their future as they thought.

As it turns out, the only thing harder than finding love is keeping it.


Stick With Me!

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Hey Everyone!

I just wanted to do a quick post this morning about Bloglovin' for those of you who aren't familiar with it. Rumor has it that in a few weeks Google is going to do away with Google Reader, so any of you that rely on it to keep up with the latest happenings on your favorite blogs will lose that connection. It's unclear (at least to me, if someone knows for sure, please update us all in the comments!) as to whether this means Google Friend Connect will be departing along with Google Reader or if it will stay, but fear not because there's Bloglovin'.

I've been using Bloglovin' for weeks now and I really like it. I wasn't a big Google Reader person to start with so I can't really tell you all the differences between the two, but I do love getting my daily update email from Bloglovin' so I can scroll through and see what posts I might have missed when making my rounds. It makes me feel plugged in to this community I love so very much.

I can't even begin to explain how much I appreciate each and every one of you taking time out of your day to read my blog, it means the absolute world to me and there just wouldn't be a blog without all of you. I hope when Google Reader goes away that many of you will make the transition to Bloglovin' and continue to follow this blog and others you love, as being a part of this amazing community brings a smile to my face every single day.

Please be sure and check back at noon today as I have a special treat for fans of the New Adult genre and Cora Carmack in particular, but for now, this is me hugging all of you treasured readers, friends, and fellow bloggers.

{{{{{{{{{{{MASSIVE HUGS}}}}}}}}}}

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Thursday, June 20, 2013

Guest Post: Deborah Valentine + The Knightmare

I'm excited today to have author Deborah Valentine stop by the blog to talk to us a little bit about love and her new historical time travel fantasy, The Knightmare. Welcome to Supernatural Snark Deborah!


“The name of wife may seem more sacred or more binding, but sweeter for me will always be the word mistress, or, if you will permit me, that of concubine...”

Now there’s the way to decline a marriage proposal! Incredibly, this is a quote from the 12th century from the brilliant scholar and eventual Abbess of the Paraclete Convent, Heloise. Could 20th century bra-burners have done it more eloquently – or elegantly? Heloise was a master (or rather, mistress) of words. Her affair with her tutor, the great philosopher Peter Abelard, was the stuff of legend, though it was indeed a true story. How far ahead of her time was this charmingly independent Heloise? Or perhaps it isn’t that she was ahead of her time, but that across millenniums many women have thought as she did and some are just better advertised.

So why do I bring this up? Because, as a writer, we all have read stories that have touched us, inspired us, made us look at the world differently and have served as a jumping off point for our own imaginations. For me, Abelard and Heloise is one such story, lurking round the corners of my mind for many years. I read their collected letters as a teenager and they stuck with me becoming an – I hate to use to the word ‘obsessive’ – let’s just say an intense and much loved area of research. Finally, it became a pivotal point for my book, The Knightmare.

As the saying goes, it is love that makes the world go round; and love is nothing if it doesn’t encounter an obstacle or two, or more. And what is great about writing is that you don’t have to be literal, one story breeds another. The Knightmare came about because I imagined what might have happened to their son, because they did indeed have one who has disappeared from history. What would he be like? What choices would he make in life when his parents’ love affair had such tragic consequences? For they were tragic. To cut a convoluted story short, Heloise’s guardian had Abelard hideously mutilated and he became an abbot while Heloise was forced into a convent (where she excelled, by the way, as a brilliant administrator).

And so a character was born, my Knight Templar, trying to avoid love, a medieval workaholic falling headlong into his own series of unfortunate decisions while trying desperately not to repeat what he saw as his parents’ mistakes. Many of us have done the same, ergo no matter how fantastical the story what the writer hits on is a universal truth about the way human beings behave. The idea of using a genuine historical figure and naming them as such – putting words in a real person’s mouth or purporting to know what they thought as if I’d witnessed events personally – gives me the heebie-jeebies.

I’ve changed many things – the names, played with the time frame, juggled things round, lied as writers do. I’m sure the real son of Abelard and Heloise didn’t become a Knight Templar, fall in love with a ‘witch’ (although I do hope he found someone equally unsuitable), participate in sword fights or the Albigensian Crusade, or assisted an alchemist in pagan rituals, or has been reincarnated as an career-focused Formula One driver. But I still hope I’ve done the lad justice and given him an adventure, even if it is fiction. In its own way, it is a homage to real people I admire greatly. As I said before, this is a great joy of writing, you don’t have to be literal. In fact, it’s better if you’re not.

As a postscript to Abelard and Heloise, after ten years of separation they started working together as abbot and abbess. A different kind of relationship, a different kind of love. Perhaps not so tragic after all, just not the conventional happy ending. Perhaps even, one day, a whole other story.

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Deborah Valentine is a British author, editor and screenwriter who once lived in California but far preferred the British weather and fled to London, where she has resided for many years. She is the author of three books published by Victor Gollancz Ltd in the UK, and Bantam and Avon in the US. Unorthodox Methods was the first in the series, followed by A Collector of Photographs and the Ireland-based Fine Distinctions. A Collector of Photographs was short-listed for an Edgar Allan Poe, a Shamus, a Macavity and an Anthony Boucher award. Fine Distinctions was also short-listed for an Edgar. They featured the characters of former California sheriff Kevin Bryce and artist Katharine Craig, charting their turbulent romance amid murder and mayhem. They are soon to be available as eBooks on the Orion imprint The Murder Room. With the publication of The Knightmare she has embarked on a new series of books with a supernatural edge.

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France, 1209: A Knight Templar riding through an eerie forest is suddenly attacked by an assassin as a man and woman watch from a distant hillside. When his death seems certain, the woman takes up a sword...

Present, Formula 1 race, Magny Cours: Observed by the very same couple, Conor Westfield, a career-obsessed Scottish driver, is in a horrible racing accident. Miraculously, he survives what seemed to be certain death.

As he is recovering from his injuries Conor’s childhood nightmare recurs, a strange jumble of terrifying images that feel more like memories than dreams. Can it be mere coincidence that the very next morning he is informed a mysterious woman with whom he had very brief affair has died and left him as her heir? But this was no ordinary woman and no ordinary affair. Dogged by a niggling feeling of déjà vu, Conor travels to Amsterdam to identify the body. At her home he finds an illuminated book that transports him back in time, to a woman he left behind and a life lived in the shadow of a tragedy that cries out across 800 years for resolution.

Weaving history with the present, fact with fantasy, The Knightmare is an unforgettable story of angels and alchemy, betrayal and sacrifice, and a truly extraordinary love.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Review + Giveaway: Impostor

Variants #1
Susanne Winnacker
Paranormal Young Adult
274 pages
Available Now
Source: Finished copy from Media Masters Publicity/Razorbill

THE STORY (from Goodreads)
Tessa is a Variant, able to absorb the DNA of anyone she touches and mimic their appearance. Shunned by her family, she’s spent the last two years training with the Forces with Extraordinary Abilities, a secret branch of the FBI. When a serial killer rocks a small town in Oregon, Tessa is given a mission: she must impersonate Madison, a local teen, to find the killer before he strikes again.

Tessa hates everything about being an impostor—the stress, the danger, the deceit—but loves playing the role of a normal girl. As Madison, she finds friends, romance, and the kind of loving family she’d do anything to keep. Amid action, suspense, and a ticking clock, this super-human comes to a very human conclusion: even a girl who can look like anyone struggles the most with being herself.

Impostor is a deeply satisfying start to a new series, balancing romance and mystery perfectly so that we get just enough of each to keep our nerves on edge and our emotions in flux. Many times with murder mysteries there is a blatantly obvious suspect from the beginning, a glaring red herring that we know cannot possibly be the true culprit just from the sheer number of signs that point to them. Our focus then shifts to the person least suspicious, and the game of whodunit becomes less of a challenge. With Impostor, Ms. Winnacker gives us a decent sized pool of possible killers, but instead of any one of them standing out as a red herring or a sleeper suspect, everyone on Tessa’s list is a genuine possibility, and while the identity of the killer at the end is not a jaw-dropping surprise, our keen detective’s eye does spend majority of the story bouncing around from one potential threat to the next.

Tessa possess a very unique and dangerous gift in the context of politics, terrorism and espionage, able to shift her appearance to take on that of anyone with whom she’s physically come in contact. She’s both strong and vulnerable, her training with the FEA preparing her in self-defense, crime scene investigation and various other related areas for a future agent, but her job impersonating Madison is her very first in the field, and we get a front row seat to see just how very different training is from a real mission. Her gift, as she finds out, is not as flawless and reliable as everyone thinks it is, and her time with Madison’s loving family is a stark and painful reminder of the absence of her own family, causing our hearts to hurt for her as the type of life she wants most is handed to her on a silver platter of deceit.

The romance with Alec is a highlight, no insta-love or threat of a romantic third party in sight, just the relationship between two people who have been friends for years but who clearly want to be so much more. Their every interaction is ripe with tension, a delicious sense of anticipation thrumming between them whenever they come in contact, but Alec remains hesitant and repeatedly tries to deny any attraction, citing the difference in their ages as well as the fact that he has a girlfriend who works with both of them at the FEA. While at first the idea that Alec could play with Tessa’s heart when he’s with someone else puts us off, it’s made very clear to us that there is something more to his relationship with Kate than meets the eye, the suddenness of their couple status despite his obvious feelings for Tessa raising many a red flag we can’t wait to see explored in future books.

Overall, Impostor is a book that gives us a complete story in this first installment, but the revelations surrounding Madison’s killer provide this series with legs to stand on, a much larger enemy sliding into place and a new group of FEA recruits that have the potential to wreak havoc on the suddenly fragile bond between Alec and Tessa entering the picture. Those who might be looking for thorough explanations for Tessa and the other Variants' gifts will not find them in this book, their differences from the rest of humanity simply are what they are, but the story and characters are engaging enough to distract from any pressing questions, and it's simply a delight to read on a variety of levels.

Rating: 4/5

Find Impostor:

Check out my interview with Susanne! 

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Susanne Winnacker studied law before she became a full-time writer. She lives with her husband, a dog that looks like a sheep and three bunnies that have destroyed every piece of furniture she's ever owned in Germany. She loves coffee (in every shape and form), traveling and animals. When she isn't writing, you can usually find her in the kitchen, experimenting with new vegan dishes.

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Thanks to Razorbill, I have one hardcover copy of Impostor to give away on the blog today! WOO HOO! I hope everyone loves this book as much as I did. To enter, please fill out the Rafflecopter form below. Giveaway is open to US residents only, good luck everyone!
a Rafflecopter giveaway