Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Review: The Falconer

The Falconer #1
Elizabeth May
Young Adult/Fantasy
336 pages
Chronicle Books
Available May 6th
Source: eARC from publisher for review

THE STORY (from Goodreads)
Heiress. Debutant. Murderer. A new generation of heroines has arrived.

Edinburgh, Scotland, 1844

Lady Aileana Kameron, the only daughter of the Marquess of Douglas, was destined for a life carefully planned around Edinburgh’s social events – right up until a faery killed her mother.

Now it’s the 1844 winter season and Aileana slaughters faeries in secret, in between the endless round of parties, tea and balls. Armed with modified percussion pistols and explosives, she sheds her aristocratic facade every night to go hunting. She’s determined to track down the faery who murdered her mother, and to destroy any who prey on humans in the city’s many dark alleyways.

But the balance between high society and her private war is a delicate one, and as the fae infiltrate the ballroom and Aileana’s father returns home, she has decisions to make. How much is she willing to lose – and just how far will Aileana go for revenge?

The Falconer is a stunning beginning to this trilogy, introducing us to an unforgettable cast of characters who impress with their charm and wit as well as captivate with the seeming endlessness of their mysteries. The fae in Aileana's world are the stuff of nightmares, beasts and monsters of legend brought to spectacular life by Ms. May to both horrify and fascinate readers in turn with their dark mythology. We find ourselves mesmerized from page one, brief but haunting glimpses of the gruesome death of Alieana's mother interspersed with heart-pumping physical battles as our young heroine feeds her vengeance with the blood of those responsible. Though there is a heaviness to the story and the weight of Aileana's grief is a palpable thing, Ms. May infuses this tale of pain and loss with beautifully surprising humor, shocking a laugh out of us on more than one occasion and ensuring we always something positive to cling to when the gravity of what Aileana faces begins to set in.

Aileana, or Kam as the ever-enigmatic fae Kiaran calls her, is a heroine who quickly earns herself a spot at the top of our list of memorable and stand-out young women in fiction, proving herself to be a delight at every turn thanks to an enviable combination of traits. She's not only a skilled fighter, battling and beating monstrous fae who dwarf her in size and strength, but she's also in possession of a enormously entertaining dry wit and a level head that practically makes us giddy. She knows Kiaran is so much more than he appears to be, yet instead of constantly badgering him or deliberately doing the opposite of what he asks out of spite (with the exception of battling fae on her own, but that's an easily forgivable infraction in the context of the story) to provoke a reaction from him, she simply bides her time and asks well-timed questions sparingly. As much as we want to trust in Kiaran, we can't help but respect Aileana's ability to compartmentalize the various facets of his character, lowering her guard in some areas to let him in while remaining ever-mindful of exactly what he is so she's never devastated when some of the secrets he's been withholding come to light.

The Falconer is an achingly romantic story, but in its pages we actually find very little romance, instead the relationship between Aileana and Kiaran exists almost solely in the realm of possibility. The moments between them thrum with tension and awareness one second before we blink and the moment passes, leaving us wondering if we're simply projecting what we desperately want onto the two of them in order to make something from nothing. Kiaran is largely cold and unfeeling–and completely unapologetic for being so–but every once in a while we get the barest glimpse of something more, and that tiny kernel of promise sparks a flame of hope and desire in us greater than any kiss or physical expression of attraction ever could. He is a wild card, an unpredictable and ancient fae whose secrets we don't even begin to uncover in this first installment, and the fact that he appears utterly unattainable throughout only serves to increase his appeal tenfold.

A review of this book would absolutely not be complete without the mention of Derrick, a hilariously lovable pixie who lives in Aileana's dressing room and likes to imbibe on honey, something that results in his telling all those around him the truth about his feelings for them. He's absurd in the best possible way, making us laugh out loud just when we need it most, and he proves to be both friend and unwaveringly loyal companion to Aileana to the bitter end. We're left with what simply cannot be called anything but a cliffhanger, a parting statement brutally slapping us in the face and leaving an unexpected sting in its wake as we try to make sense of it, hoping against hope that what's implied will prove to be false in future books. Despite being evicted at the singularly most intense moment of the story, The Falconer is both gorgeously dark and surprisingly light, making our hearts beat double-time thanks to numerous battle scenes and the powerful but subtle relationship between Aileana and Kiaran, and the wait for book two will be nothing short of painful.

Rating: 4.5/5

Find Elizabeth:


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, April 29, 2014

Review: Open Road Summer

Emery Lord
Contemporary Young Adult
342 pages
Walker Children's/Bloomsbury
Available Now
Source: ARC from publisher for review

THE STORY (from Goodreads)
After breaking up with her bad-news boyfriend, Reagan O’Neill is ready to leave her rebellious ways behind. . . and her best friend, country superstar Lilah Montgomery, is nursing a broken heart of her own. Fortunately, Lilah’s 24-city tour is about to kick off, offering a perfect opportunity for a girls-only summer of break-up ballads and healing hearts. But when Matt Finch joins the tour as its opening act, his boy-next-door charm proves difficult for Reagan to resist, despite her vow to live a drama-free existence. This summer, Reagan and Lilah will navigate the ups and downs of fame and friendship as they come to see that giving your heart to the right person is always a risk worth taking.

Open Road Summer is a YA contemporary romance gem, putting on page characters who feel so real it seems as though if we were to reach out and run our fingers across the ink we’d find flesh instead. There’s drama and conflict to be sure, but none of it has the fabricated, over the top feel that reminds us we’re reading fiction, instead we’re given a glimpse at lives that are simultaneously similar and startlingly different from our own. Dee’s world is one of stardom and screaming fans, but with Reagan as our narrator we’re fully behind the scenes rather than in the spotlight, and in the darkness of backstage there is laughter, friendship, heartbreak and tears the limelight simply isn’t privy to.

Reagan is an extraordinarily interesting young woman in terms of the feelings she inspires, the girl she describes prior to the incident that landed her with a broken arm someone very difficult to like for her seemingly callous disregard for both herself and those around her. Old Regan (as she calls her pre-broken arm self) drank, cheated on boyfriends, and made poor decisions at every turn simply because she could, and if not for her dedication to studying hard in school and her unwavering loyalty to Dee we might not have found much of anything in Old Reagan to like. The Reagan we meet in the beginning of the story isn’t an entirely new person however, her somewhat inflated sense of self and the way she constantly draws attention to her looks aspects of her personality that try our patience, but the fact that we’re witnessing her mid-transformation makes this story all the more appealing.

Reagan’s growth is slow but sure, her road a rocky one that only smooths out after it’s been repeatedly walked, and as such we watch as Reagan stumbles along the way, making mistakes and learning from them in the most stunningly satisfying way possible. Her friendship and utter dedication to Dee are things of beauty, absent even an inkling of jealousy or resentment over her best friend’s success. Instead the two of them are simply young women learning life’s lessons the hard way, and finding in the other an immovable pillar of support when their own strength escapes them. Reagan’s friendship with Dee and her relationship with Matt are key elements to this story but they’re not the focus, rather they’re catalysts for the changes we see in Reagan as the summer progresses.

Overall, Open Road Summer is an absolute pleasure to read, the only small thing keeping it from a perfect rating being Reagan’s aforementioned high opinion of her own attractiveness, but about midway through the book the repeated emphasis on the way she looks starts to wane, allowing all her positive qualities (which are numerous) to really shine through. Ms. Lord splashes the pages of this book with the effervescent joy of young love and friendship while enriching both with the emotional turbulence that accompanies growing up, combining the various pieces into a striking whole that will be remembered long after the last page is turned.

Rating: 4.5/5

Find Emery:

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.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Sweet Reckoning Blog Tour: Interview + Giveaway

Today I'm beyond excited to kick off the promotional tour for Sweet Reckoning, the third and final book in the Sweet Trilogy by Wendy Higgins. This series has been on of my very favorites from the moment Kaidan Rowe stepped on page in Sweet Evil (I so enjoy Anna as well, but...Kai. *flails*), and while I'm more than a little sad to see my time with Kaidan come to an end, these books will forever have a prominent place on my shelf of favorites. Wendy was nice enough to answer a few questions for me, and she's also generously offered up a fantastic giveaway, so be sure and check the bottom of the post for all the giveaway details and the full list of participating blogs!

Let’s say Lascivious is on the last stop of their worldwide tour. What’s the title of the final song (either original or cover) of their encore performance?

I can totally see them doing a throwback cover of “Sex and Candy” (originally by Marcy Playground)

Kaidan and Anna have certainly not had an easy road in their relationship, and sometimes misery loves a little company. What one other fictional couple might make Anna and Kaidan feel a bit better about their lot given the difficulties the other couple faces?

Oh, gosh, so many YA couples have been through the wringer and can sympathize with the dangers of forbidden love and people wanting to keep them apart: Layla & Roth/Layla & Zayne from White Hot Kiss, and Rose & Dmitri from Vampire Academy come to mind.

You decide to take Kaidan with you on a multi-city promotional tour for Sweet Reckoning. How many phone numbers would you estimate he would walk away with when the tour was said and done? How many would Kaidan estimate?

I think his pockets would be stuffed full like a chipmunk’s cheeks—hundreds. Kai would probably just chuckle and shrug, as if it were no big deal. I doubt he bothers to keep track.

Anna has shown a great deal of growth throughout the series. What are a couple of things about the Anna at the end of the Sweet Reckoning that make you particularly proud of the woman she’s become?

Like a proud mama, I’m just glad that her heart has stayed big and strong through it all. She’s learned to drink like a champ and party like a rockstar, throw knives with killer accuracy, and face down Dukes who want to see her suffer and die. But she does it all for love.

I once asked Kaidan what scene he would ask you to write from his point of view knowing Anna would be the only one to read it. If he could instead ask you for one scene from Anna’s point of view, which one might he like to see through her eyes?

I think Kai would want any scene where Anna really looks at him—where she sees past his hardened façade and sexy talk to the lost boy underneath it all. I think Kai wants to know that she knows him, the real him, and still loves him.

Sweet Reckoning is the final book in the Sweet Trilogy. What single book or series has your favorite ending of all time?

Two very different series come to mind – the Lux series by Jen Armentrout, and the Harry Potter series, LOL! :) Loved both of those endings. *sigh*

Looking forward to future projects, what piece of advice do you think Kaidan would give you (if asked) as you take new characters on their journeys?

I think Kai would say, “Let them be sexy, luv. Don’t hold back on us.” Haha.

*I LOVE YOU KAIDAN!!! Ahem. Sorry. That just slipped right out...

• • • • • • • • • • • 


It’s time.

Evil is running rampant and sweet Anna Whitt is its target. Nobody knows when or how the Dukes will strike, but Anna and her Nephilim allies will do anything necessary to rid the earth of the demons and their oppressive ways.

The stakes are higher than ever, and Anna is determined that the love she feels will be her strength, not a liability. But trying to protect the ones she loves while running for her life and battling demonic forces proves to be perilous—especially as faces are changing and trust is fleeting. When the Duke of Lust sends Anna’s great love, Kaidan Rowe, to work against her, Anna must decide how much she’s prepared to risk.

In the most sensual and fast-paced installment yet, Sweet Reckoning brings all the beloved Neph together one last time to fight for their freedom.

• • • • • • • • • • • 


After earning a bachelors in Creative Writing from George Mason University and a masters in Curriculum and Instruction from Radford, Wendy taught high school English until becoming a mommy. Writing Young Adult (YA) stories gives her the opportunity to delve into the ambiguities of those pivotal, daunting, and exciting years before adulthood.

She lives in Northern Virginia with her husband, daughter, and son. Sweet Evil is her debut novel.

• • • • • • • • • • • •


Thanks to Wendy, I have a really exciting giveaway to share with you all today! Lucky winners will receive either:

• A Kai Prize Pack (3) - leather bracelet, drumstick pencils, Lascivious Tour pass, Kai button, and signed bookmark/bookplate

• A Bookmark Bundle (10)

Please enter via the Rafflecopter form below. Giveaway is open internationally.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Be sure and follow along on the tour for more interviews, guest posts and chances to win!

Monday, April 28th – Supernatural Snark  - Author Interview
Tuesday, April 29th –  Bewitched Bookworms - Guest Post
Wednesday, April 30th – Jenuine Cupcakes - Character Interview - Anna
Thursday, May 1st – Krista’s Dust Jacket - Author Interview
Friday, May 2nd – Two Chicks on Books   - Guest Post

Monday, May 5th - Curling Up with a Good Book - Author interview
Tuesday, May 6th – Parajunkee - Guest Post
Wednesday, May 7th – fiktshun - Character Interview - Kaidan
Thursday, May 8th – - Guest Post
Friday, May 9th – Alice Marvels  - Character Interview - Belial

Friday, April 25, 2014

Guest Post: Katie Cross + Miss Mabel's School for Girls

Today I'm pleased to have author Katie Cross stopping by the blog to tell us a little bit about her paranormal young adult novel, Miss Mabel's School for Girls. She's brought with her some fun things she thinks we need to be aware of before we tackle this story, so I hope you all enjoy. Welcome to Supernatural Snark Katie!


1. There are no Cinderella types in my books.

2. My main character's name (Bianca) came from a street sign. Classy, right?

3. I don't believe in fairies. That actually has nothing to do with my book.

4. I'm a recovering cinnamon roll addict. This will make sense later.

5. My biggest fear is moose.

6. The word Letum means death in Latin. Read the back blurb and think on that a bit.

7. Snarky characters are my favorite. So . . . there may be one or five in my book.

8. I'm partial to tea.

9. I'm also partial to astronomy

10. I patterned the character Derek (Bianca's father) after my husband, so now I have a crush on him.

*Jenny approves of cinnamon roles and snark. Just wanted to put that out there...

• • • • • • • • • • • • • 


Never underestimate the power of a determined witch.

Letum Wood is a forest of fog and deadfall, home to the quietly famous Miss Mabel’s School for Girls, a place where young witches learn the art of magic.

Sixteen-year-old Bianca Monroe has inherited a deadly curse. Determined to break free before it kills her, she enrolls in the respected school to confront the cunning witch who cast the curse: Miss Mabel.

Bianca finds herself faced with dark magic she didn’t expect, with lessons more dangerous than she could have ever imagined. Will Bianca have the courage to save herself from the curse, or will Miss Mabel’s sinister plan be too powerful?

Miss Mabel’s School for Girls is the first novel in The Network Series, an exciting new fantasy collection. A gripping tale about the struggle to survive, it will take you to a new place and time, one you’ll never want to leave.

• • • • • • • • • • • 


My world revolves around my husband (who is a major hottie), my Vizsla’s, and the mountains.

I wear hiking boots instead of heels when I need to feel powerful, and on a bad day, I love a weightlifting workout. Actually, I love it on a good day.

I don’t eat bread because my thyroid doesn’t like it, although there are days I miss it. Especially ciabatta. Sweet potatoes are kind of my thing. Cookies too.

I write because I never stopped.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Mini Reviews: Hope Ignites + Happily Ever After

Hope #2
Jaci Burton
Adult Contemporary Romance
304 pages
Available now
Source: Finished copy from publisher for review

THE STORY (from Goodreads)
Logan McCormack likes his isolated life on the ranch, until a movie crew starts filming there. When actress Desiree Jenkins blows into his life, she wrecks it harder than the Oklahoma winds with her brutal honesty and soft touch. Des knows this is a temporary stay, but she loves the open freedom of the land, and for the first time in her life, Des feels like she might have found a place she can call home, with a man she might be falling in love with. But Logan’s heart is tougher than the soil beneath them—can she convince him that they belong together?

Hope Ignites is a fun and sexy reverse-Cinderella story (of sorts) wherein a gruff, set-in-his-ways rancher gets amusingly knocked off-kilter by a no-nonsense Hollywood starlet. Desiree, or Des as she prefers to be called, is initially a bit tricky, her openness with regard to what she wants from Logan coming across as pushy when she continuously tries to goad him into action by making references to them begin naked together, but once they do cross that line she quickly becomes the highlight of the story. She’s nothing if not completely honest with Logan at every turn, game playing something she has very little interest in and even less time for given she’s on location for only a few short months.

Whereas Des lays everything on the table from page one, Logan is much more reserved and so thoroughly convinced that no one could possibly love ranch life as much as he does that he's the one responsible for much of the push and pull in their relationship. Because Des is so anti-games however, she calls Logan on his behavior every single time, bringing a smile to our faces as we long to hug her for being who she is. Logan, to his credit, is not one to stew in his own righteousness, and after his temper quickly flares it dies right back down and he makes sincere, heartfelt apologies. The two of them together are cute and flirty, and their love scenes are as steamy as readers might expect from Ms. Burton, making Hope Ignites a quick and enjoyable escape from reality.

Rating: 4/5

Find Jaci:

Elizabeth Maxwell
Adult Contemporary Romance-ish
336 pages
Touchstone/Simon & Schuster
Available now
Source: Finished copy from publisher for review

THE STORY (from Goodreads)
At forty-six, Sadie Fuller’s life isn’t exactly romantic. A divorced, overweight, somewhat sexually frustrated mother of an eleven-year-old, she lives in the suburbs, shops the big box stores, makes small talk with her small-minded neighbors, and generally leads a quiet life. But while her daughter is at school, or when Sadie is up late at night, she writes erotic fiction under the name KT Briggs.

Then, during a routine shopping trip, Sadie runs into someone familiar…too familiar, in fact. She encounters an incredibly handsome man exactly like the one in her imagination—and her latest novel. Is Aidan Hathaway really one of her characters? And if so, what is he doing in Target? As Sadie tries to negotiate this strange new world, her eyes begin to open to romantic possibilities in places she never dreamed of looking... places where Happily Ever After might not be so far-fetched after all

While labeled a contemporary romance, Happily Ever After is more a genre unto itself, beautifully combining romantic and magical elements with a hilariously realistic heroine, and eschewing a traditional, predictable route to its titular end in favor of something a little different. In the beginning we get snippets from Sadie’s latest novel, a book with a more typical sweet and innocent heroine who falls quickly and easily for the commanding presence of an overwhelmingly beautiful businessman. While the length of these snippets is a touch frustrating given we’re instantly charmed by Sadie and want to return to her, they do prove vital in setting up the explanation for how Aidan suddenly finds himself in Sadie’s world.

The contrast between Lily (Sadie’s heroine) and Sadie is glaringly apparent in the opening chapters, Lily’s naivete making Sadie’s smart mouth and straightforward approach to life and love absolutely refreshing. Though we might expect the magical twist surrounding Aidan’s arrival in the “real” world to follow a standard romance novel path once he meets Sadie, we should have known just from our short time with her that she would not be one to get caught up in romantic craziness. She’s honest with herself and those around her, and she stands gorgeously on two feet in this story without anyone of the male persuasion necessary to prop her up. That’s not to say she’s not surrounded by a solid cast of secondary characters–because she is–but Sadie is a true delight in this story and the main reason the pages turn with such speed. I will definitely be on the lookout for more from the witty and entertaining Ms. Maxwell.

Rating: 4/5

Find Elizabeth:

These books were 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, April 23, 2014

The Forever Song Blog Tour: Interview + Giveaway

Today I'm thrilled to be a part of the promotional tour for the final book in Julie Kagawa's spectacular Blood of Eden series, The Forever Song. I've always been a fan of vampire stories, but Julie's vampires are truly something special and I simply couldn't love the dark emotional waters she makes us navigate with heroine Allie more. Julie was nice enough to answer a few questions for me, so I hope you all enjoy the interview! Be sure and check the bottom of the post for all the details on an epic giveaway as well as a full list of the participating blogs.

If Allie could call on any character or creature from one of your other novels for help in taking down Sarren, who (or what) would she think might be of the greatest assistance?

Hm, lessee. Well, either Ash or Puck would be pretty helpful against Sarren; both of them have mad sword/dagger skills, and magic to back them up. But I think, if she could call on anyone from any of my other books, it would be Ember the dragon from the upcoming Talon series. Vampires and fire don't mix well. One poof, and Sarren would be ashes.

Let’s say you have the supernatural ability to write yourself out of any situation and transport yourself somewhere else entirely. If you suddenly found yourself in Allie’s world facing down a group of rabids, how might your exit go? (For the sake of argument, let’s also say you have a pen and paper on you at all times and you can write at superhuman speeds given the rabids aren’t overly patient.)

"Suddenly a big red dragon swoops down, blasts the rabids with fire, and lands close to me so I can leap onto its back. With a few powerful beats of its wings, we lift off the ground and soar rapidly to safety." (Hey, I've always wanted to ride a dragon. Might as well take advantage of this new superpower lol.)

Books have always been important to Allie. If she could visit any library throughout history or in today’s world, which library do you think she’s most like to see?

I think she'd love to visit any library, but the New York Public Library and the Library of Congress are both good choices. The New York Public library is huge, and has an old, almost gothic type feel to it, which Allie would appreciate. The Library of Congress is the largest library in the world, and I could see her staying there for months, immersing herself in stories and history, occasionally snacking on those people who rip pages out of library books.

Kanin has been there to teach and guide Allie through her transition from human to vampire. What’s one thing he’s taught her that he most hopes will forever stick with her?

That she can always choose what type of monster she is. 

The world of the Blood of Eden series is a terrifyingly fascinating one. What’s one other world from a piece of fiction that’s both scared and mesmerized you?

I might be the odd one out here, but the world of Alice in Wonderland or Through the Looking Glass is totally creepy and terrifying to me. I can't even watch the Disney cartoon without getting uncomfortable at certain parts. Just the thought of being stuck in a world where nothing makes sense, ugh. And I might be showing my age here, but there was a short television series in the 80's of Through the Looking Glass, where Alice is trapped on the other side of the mirror and reads a book called The Jabberwocky. And then, of course, the Jabberwocky appears. I can watch it now and laugh at the cheap 80s movie monster, but back then, as a little kid, it scared the bejeezus out of me.

Youtube link to clip in question:

If we were to join Allie in her quest to hunt down Sarren, what are three things (aside from food and water) we better make sure we have with us if we're to have any hope of surviving the journey?

Well, we'd need weapons, obviously. Something sharp and pointy, like a sword, or a stake. Fire wouldn't be a bad idea, either. And definitely a robust first-aid kit, because if we're going to be taking on Sarren, no one is going to come out of it unscathed.

The Forever Song is the final book in the Blood of Eden trilogy; what about Allie’s character will stand out in your memory most even as you move on to new projects?

I've always loved Allie's determination and stubbornness to hold on to her humanity and not become a monster. Also, the way that she refuses to stay down, to always get back up and fight, even if she's very badly hurt. And she's got a bit of a mouth on her, which made her fights with Jackal all the more entertaining. All in all, she was a fierce, flawed, fun character to write about, and I will miss her, even though I know I ended her story in the best place I could.

• • • • • • • • • • • 

Blood of Eden #3

Allison Sekemoto once struggled with the question: human or monster?

With the death of her love, Zeke, she has her answer.


Allie will embrace her cold vampire side to hunt down and end Sarren, the psychopathic vampire who murdered Zeke. But the path is bloody and long, and Sarren has left many surprises for Allie and her companions—her creator, Kanin, and her blood brother, Jackal.

The trail is leading straight to the one place they must protect at any cost— the last vampire-free zone on Earth, Eden. And Sarren has one final, brutal shock in store for Allie. In a ruined world where no life is sacred and former allies can turn on you in one heartbeat, Allie will face her darkest days. And if she succeeds, triumph is short-lived in the face of surviving forever alone.

• • • • • • • • • • • 

Blood of Eden #1

Allison Sekemoto survives in the Fringe, the outermost circle of a walled-in city.

By day, she and her crew scavenge for food. By night, any one of them could be eaten.

Some days, all that drives Allie is her hatred of them—the vampires who keep humans as blood cattle. Until the night Allie herself dies and becomes one of the monsters.

• • • • • • • • • • • •

Blood of Eden #2

How do you face the end of eternity?

In Allison Sekemoto's world, there is one rule left: Blood calls to blood.

She has done the unthinkable: died so that she might continue to live. Cast out of Eden and separated from the boy she dared to love, Allie will follow the call of blood to save her creator, Kanin, from the psychotic vampire Sarren. But when the trail leads to Allie's birthplace in New Covington, what Allie finds there will change the world forever-and possibly end human and vampire existence.

• • • • • • • • • • • • • 


Julie Kagawa was born in Sacramento, California. But nothing exciting really happened to her there. So, at the age of nine she and her family moved to Hawaii, which she soon discovered was inhabited by large carnivorous insects, colonies of house geckos and frequent hurricanes. She spent much of her time in the ocean, when she wasn’t getting chased out of it  by reef sharks, jellyfish and the odd eel.

To pay the rent, Julie worked in different bookstores over the years, but discovered the managers frowned upon her reading the books she was supposed to be shelving. So she turned to her other passion: training animals. She worked as a professional dog trainer for several years, dodging Chihuahua bites and overly enthusiastic Labradors, until her first book sold and she stopped training to write full-time.

Julie now lives in Louisville, Kentucky, where the frequency of shark attacks are at an all-time low. She lives with her husband, two obnoxious cats, one Australian shepherd who is too smart for his own good and the latest addition, a hyperactive Papillon puppy.

• • • • • • • • • • • 


Each tour stop is offering up the winner’s choice of either THE IMMORTAL RULES, THE ETERNITY CURE or THE FOREVER SONG - whichever book in the series you might be missing!

There are also 2 grand prizes:

• 1 winner will get a complete set of Julie Kagawa’s books, including The Iron Fey Saga and The Blood of Eden Saga!

• 1 winner will get a $100 gift card from either iTunes, Amazon or Barnes & Noble!

Please enter via the Rafflecopter form. Giveaway is open to US/Canada and ends May 2nd.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Be sure and check out the rest of the blogs on the tour for more reviews, interviews and chances to win!

Monday, April 7th – Harlequin Paranormal Romance Blog
Tuesday, April 8th – fiktshun
Wednesday, April 9th – The Page Turners
Thursday, April 10st – Books and Things
Friday, April 11th – Ticket To Anywhere

Monday, April 14th – Two Chicks on Books
Tuesday, April 15th – Parajunkee
Wednesday, April 16th – Refracted Light Reviews
Thursday, April 17st – Bewitched Bookworms
Friday, April 18th – Mundie Moms

Monday, April 21th – A Book Obsession
Tuesday, April 22nd – The Book Cellar
Wednesday, April 23th – Supernatural Snark
Thursday, April 24st – The Busy Bibliophile
Friday, April 25th  – Tyngas Reviews

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Cathy Reviews: Bite-Sized Magic + The Finisher

Along with my mom, my wonderful mother-in-law Cathy is an occasional partner in crime on this blog and I'm thrilled to have her back today to share her thoughts on a couple middle grade titles!

The Bliss Bakery #3
Kathryn Littlewood
Middle Grade Fantasy
432 pages
Katherine Tegen Books
Available Now
Source: Finished copy from publisher for review

THE STORY (from Goodreads)
This third book in Kathryn Littlewood's acclaimed Bliss trilogy mixes the down-home heart-punch of Ingrid Law's Newbery Honor Book Savvy, the always-on-the-edge-of-chaos comedy of Cheaper by the Dozen, and a humorous magic all its own to create a thoroughly original confection, a delicious guilty pleasure for readers of all ages.

Rose won back her family's magical Cookery Booke in an international baking competition in A Dash of Magic, the second novel in the series. Rose is now world famous—so famous, in fact, that Mr. Butter, head of the Mostess Corporation, has kidnapped her so that she can develop new-and-improved magical recipes for his company's snack cakes. With the magically enhanced Dinkies and Moony Pies, Mr. Butter plans to take over the world.

Together with her brothers, their talking cat and mouse, and an unlikely team of bakers, Rose must overthrow Mr. Butter before he destroys civilization, one magically evil snack cake at a time.

I need to be upfront and tell you that I have an affinity for cozy mysteries. All kinds of them, whether the sleuth knits, reads books, or bakes cookies, I love them all. They are my guilty pleasure! I have enjoyed this genre since I was a child, but way back then the only mysteries around were Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys. So when Jenny passed along this book to me, I gladly jumped at the chance to read it.

Bite-Sized Magic by Kathryn Littlewood is just the type of book I would have loved to have had available when I was younger. It combines two of my favorite things, mystery and baking. And some magic is thrown in for good measure. The effect is delightful. This is the third book in the Bliss series but it's also a stand-alone story. There is a plot thread carried through from previous books, but I didn't feel as if I were lost at the start of this book. Ms. Littlewood does a wonderful job of bringing us up to date without oversaturating us with past details. 

Our sleuth/heroine is Rosemary Bliss, a 12 year old magical baker. She is kidnapped by the evil Mr. Butter to work for him and make magically irresistible snack cakes. (I think this must be a true story as I thoroughly enjoy said snack cakes!) He would like the whole world to be eating only his treats. While she's there, she discovers her family's magic recipes have been stolen and used at his factory. Rosemary has to find a way to save the world from sugar overload as well as her family's bakery.

Ms. Littlewood has cleverly named not only the people but the snack treats. I am sure you can picture what every snack looks like just by the names. This book is a middle grade book that has a lot of charm and therefore was fun to read as an adult. I liked how the children were the heroes and had to figure out how to save everyone. There are lots of chaotic scenes that are so well written that you could imagine it as a movie. It's sure to give kids a sense of empowerment when they read this tale. This is a perfect book for parents to read to their younger children or have their middle grader read it to them. It is a story for the whole family to enjoy.

Rating: 4/5
Find Kathryn:

David Baldacci
Middle Grade/Dystopian
512 pages
Available Now
Source: Finished copy from publisher for review

THE STORY (from Goodreads)
Welcome to Wormwood: a place where curiosity is discouraged and no one has ever left.

Until one girl, Vega Jane, discovers a map that suggests a mysterious world beyond the walls. A world with possibilities and creatures beyond her imagining.

But she will be forced to fight for her freedom. And unravelling the truth may cost Vega her life.

When Jenny told me she received a book by David Baldacci and wanted me to review it, I accepted readily. I am a fan of Mr. Baldacci and have read many of his adult mystery novels and even stood in line last year at BEA to get a signed copy of his latest thriller. Then Jenny mentioned that this book is a middle grade dystopian/fantasy. That caught my attention and I wanted to see if this new book held the same appeal as his adult novels.

The Finisher takes place in a place called Wormland that is surrounded by the Quag. The setting is reminiscent of medieval times. The people live their whole lives in this place in fear of the Quag and the knowledge that there is nothing beyond it. The book has a slow start only because things are unfamiliar and have odd names, but once it gets going you become accustomed to the names and it all starts to flow together nicely. Mr. Baldacci does a good job creating this world, remembering that he is writing a story geared toward middle graders. He gives us a heroine, Vega Jane, who dreams beyond the Quag and bucks the rules of her homeland. Vega Jane is a reluctant heroine but she never tries to find the easy way out. She truly has to fight for her life and the lives of those she loves, while still trying to achieve her dreams.

This story is filled with action young readers–and some of us not so young–will enjoy. There is magic, mysterious wild beasts, evil rulers, and great battles. Older readers should keep an open mind however, thinking back to a time when everything was believable and the only goal was to be entertained by strange and amazing things.

Mr. Baldacci has brought so many of the elements I love from his thrillers into this book. A story that keeps your attention and has lots of action. I think the ending leaves an opening for the possibility of more books in this series.

Rating: 4/5

Find David:

These books were 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 (or in this case, Cathy's) honest opinion.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Review: The Taking

The Taking #1
Kimberly Derting
Paranormal Young Adult
368 pages
Available April 29th
Source: eARC from publisher for review

THE STORY (from Goodreads)
A flash of white light . . . and then . . . nothing.

When sixteen-year-old Kyra Agnew wakes up behind a Dumpster at the Gas ’n’ Sip, she has no memory of how she got there. With a terrible headache and a major case of déjà vu, she heads home only to discover that five years have passed . . . yet she hasn’t aged a day.

Everything else about Kyra’s old life is different. Her parents are divorced, her boyfriend, Austin, is in college and dating her best friend, and her dad has changed from an uptight neat-freak to a drunken conspiracy theorist who blames her five-year disappearance on little green men.

Confused and lost, Kyra isn’t sure how to move forward unless she uncovers the truth. With Austin gone, she turns to Tyler, Austin’s annoying kid brother, who is now seventeen and who she has a sudden undeniable attraction to. As Tyler and Kyra retrace her steps from the fateful night of her disappearance, they discover strange phenomena that no one can explain, and they begin to wonder if Kyra’s father is not as crazy as he seems. There are others like her who have been taken . . . and returned. Kyra races to find an explanation and reclaim the life she once had, but what if the life she wants back is not her own?

The Taking is a story that piques our curiosity from the very first page, a number of theories about Kyra’s disappearance turning over in our minds before she’s even gone, and as soon as she returns our anxiety ratchets up in anticipation of learning exactly what happened. Though the first quarter of the book flies by as Kyra’s taken and returned years later to find her life entirely different from the one she left behind, the next quarter moves a touch slower, her struggle to come to terms with all the changes taking center stage and pushing the paranormal aspect to the background. Luckily that lull passes fairly quickly and things pick back up when government suits enter the picture, and suddenly we find ourselves sprinting to the finish, absolutely desperate to find out what’s in store for Kyra.

Kyra is an interesting character, impressing us one minute with the poise and maturity with which she handles the massive upheaval of her life only to frustrate us the next when all of that maturity suddenly disappears and a petulant child takes over. There is many a moment where the fact that she doesn’t simply break down into tears and sob “why me” endears Kyra to us and shows just how strong a young woman she truly is, but she also switches gears quickly, taking all her confusion and hurt out on those who don’t deserve it. To her absolute credit however, her childish moments are fleeting and nearly non-existent after the halfway mark, allowing her to become someone we’re rooting for with our whole hearts.

The romance with Tyler, however awkward if given too much thought seeing as she was previously dating his older brother, is sweet and gives those of us who are romantics at heart the butterflies we so enjoy while reading. Kyra is blissfully honest with Tyler, telling him everything she knows or theorizes when certain aspects of her disappearance don’t add up, all the while risking his rejection to ensure there are no secrets between them. Their open communication is a highlight, the lingering fear associated with many a YA relationship that a misunderstanding will blow up in their faces beautifully absent as the two of them attempt to figure things out together.

Overall, The Taking is an intriguing start to a new series by Ms. Derting, romance and mystery combining with a healthy dose of conspiracy theory to keep us turning the pages with increasing speed the closer we get to the end. We are left with a cliffhanger firmly in place, things for Kyra and company way up in the air on the final page and all the theories we’d amassed in the very beginning still yet to be confirmed. This cliffhanger though, however frustrating, does the job it’s meant to, and I will certainly be picking up book two to find out what’s to become of the characters who have held my interest throughout.

Rating: 4/5

Find Kimberly

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.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Interview: Cassandra Rose Clarke + The Wizard's Promise

Today I'm thrilled to have author Cassandra Rose Clarke stopping by the blog as part of the promotional tour for her upcoming young adult novel, The Wizard's Promise, which releases May 6th from Strange Chemistry. Cassandra was nice enough to answer a few questions for me, so I hope you all enjoy the interview. Welcome to Supernatural Snark Cassandra!

Hanna wants nothing more than to learn how to be a witch. What’s one particular spell or aspect of witchcraft she’s most excited to get a handle on?

Hanna just wants to be able to do magic, rather than spend her days out on a fishing boat. Although she doesn’t think of it this way, it’s almost like she wants witchcraft to be her job, the way people hope to turn their art or writing into jobs. So probably the aspect of witchcraft she’s most excited to learn is one of the more difficult, complicated spells that would prove to people she’s capable of spending her life as a witch rather than a fisherwoman.

To help those of us who have yet to meet Hanna get to know her a little bit better, how might her apprentice master describe her or her dedication to her craft?

If he was speaking where Hanna couldn’t overhear, he’d say she was hardworking and skilled—not just at magic, but at fishing too, since fishing is what she’s currently apprenticed for. Of course, he’d also complain that she doesn’t take her fishing duties seriously, and that she needs to be more practical.

Now, if Hanna could overhear, he’d probably leave off the parts about her being hardworking and skillful. He doesn’t want to be too generous with the compliments.

If Hanna could live in another fictional world (book, movie or TV show) dominated by witches, which one would top her list?

I think Hanna would appreciate living in the world of Once Upon a Time, in particular the parts set in the Enchanted Forest. There would be adventure galore for her, and she’d have plenty of opportunities to test out her powers.

There’s mention of a beautiful non-human boy in the synopsis, and lover of romance that I am, his presence has me absurdly excited to dive into this story. What are three characteristics you think make a love interest swoon-worthy?

Pretty big doses of mystery and broodiness, both tempered by a generous splash of kindness. I love tortured, angsty love interests, but not when their angstiness goes too far and they become jerks!

Let’s say you wake up tomorrow in an unfamiliar world. Which character from any of your books would you call on for help in facing whatever this world might throw at you?

Definitely Ananna, from The Assassin’s Curse. She’s got the street smarts that I sorely lack, plus she knows how to fight and use a sword. I’m pretty sure the two of us could take on anything.

What’s one question you wish you would be asked in an interview and how would you answer?

Okay, technically I have been asked about this, but not since I moved to a new house! The question is about where you write and what your writing set-up looks like. Since my laptop broke, I’ve been chained to a desktop, so no more writing in a Starbucks or in the park for me. However, I have set up an entire writing room in my new house, and I just love it. I re-acquired my childhood desk and set my computer up on that, and I even put in a daybed—which I used to beg my parents for when I was kid. Finally got one! I’ve installed shelves to keep all my papers and things organized. Oh, and the walls are mint green! I just need to add some artwork and the room will be sweet writing perfection.

If you could promote The Wizard’s Promise using only a single quote from the book to entice readers, which one would you choose to share?

“I don’t make a habit of trusting boys who can swim in ice water,” I said.

Isolfr gave me one perfect, dazzling smiling. “I’m not a normal boy.”

• • • • • • • • • • • 


All Hanna Euli wants is to become a proper witch – but unfortunately, she’s stuck as an apprentice to a grumpy fisherman. When their boat gets caught up in a mysterious storm and blown wildly off course, Hanna finds herself further away from home than she’s ever been before.

As she tries to get back, she learns there may be more to her apprentice master than she realized, especially when a mysterious, beautiful, and very non-human boy begins following her through the ocean, claiming that he needs Hanna’s help.

• • • • • • • • • • • 


 Photo: Brittany at Flashbox Shop

Cassandra Rose Clarke grew up in south Texas and currently lives in a suburb of Houston, where she writes and teaches composition at a local college. She graduated in 2006 from The University of St. Thomas with a B.A. in English, and two years later she completed her master’s degree in creative writing at The University of Texas at Austin. In 2010 she attended the Clarion West Writer’s Workshop in Seattle, where she was a recipient of the Susan C. Petrey Clarion Scholarship Fund.

Cassandra’s first adult novel, The Mad Scientist’s Daughter, was a finalist for the 2013 Philip K. Dick Award, and her YA novel, The Assassin’s Curse, was nominated for YALSA’s 2014 Best Fiction for Young Adults. Her short fiction has appeared in Strange Horizons and Daily Science Fiction.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Review: Don't Look Back

Jennifer L. Armentrout
Young Adult/Mystery
384 pages
Disney Hyperion
Available Now
Source: ARC from publisher for review

THE STORY (from Goodreads)
Samantha is a stranger in her own life. Until the night she disappeared with her best friend, Cassie, everyone said Sam had it all-popularity, wealth, and a dream boyfriend.

Sam has resurfaced, but she has no recollection of who she was or what happened to her that night. As she tries to piece together her life from before, she realizes it's one she no longer wants any part of. The old Sam took "mean girl" to a whole new level, and it's clear she and Cassie were more like best enemies. Sam is pretty sure that losing her memories is like winning the lottery. She's getting a second chance at being a better daughter, sister, and friend, and she's falling hard for Carson Ortiz, a boy who has always looked out for her-even if the old Sam treated him like trash.

But Cassie is still missing, and the facts about what happened to her that night isn't just buried deep inside of Sam's memory-someone else knows, someone who wants to make sure Sam stays quiet. All Sam wants is the truth, and if she can unlock her clouded memories of that fateful night, she can finally move on. But what if not remembering is the only thing keeping Sam alive?

Don't Look Back has a premise that's always fascinating no matter how many times we may have run across it previously, the loss of memory automatically connecting us to our heroine given we want her questions answered as much as we want our own. The totality of Sam's amnesia makes her unreliable as a narrator, so each clue she uncovers we can't help but want to analyze from every possible angle, looking for something Sam simply doesn't see or that she misinterprets. As a result, the tension in this story is at an all-time high, theories swirling in our minds and emotions a jumbled mess as we attempt to sort through what we knew of Sam before the night she disappeared and compare her to the girl she appears to be now, the distance between the two an enormous gaping chasm we can't wait bridge.

Sam is easy to like from the beginning, her horror at the type of person she used to be matching our own, uniting us in our shared distaste for someone who treated others so abominably for her own amusement. The post-accident Sam is a young woman we can fully support, someone who, while understandably confused as friends, family and a boyfriend all try to remind her of the girl who disappeared on them days prior, doesn't use that confusion to fall back on bad habits. She doesn't let her friends or her boyfriend convince her to be that stereotypical mean girl once again, instead she stands up to them repeatedly and apologizes for their behavior to those on the receiving end of their mockery. She's also fairly upfront (with one or two exceptions) with both the few people she trusts and the police when she remembers bits and pieces of that night, choosing to step forward with what she knows even when those around try to tell her the things she's seeing in her mind aren't important.

Ms. Armentrout is well-known for her ability to write romances with varying levels of heat, and while there is romance in this story, it's one of her more quiet ones, Sam's amnesia remaining the focus throughout. Her relationship with Carson–one previously strained by by cruel words and near constant put-downs–evolves slowly as Sam attempts to remedy the mistakes of a girl she can't imagine herself being, but as it grows and changes we also have the distinct displeasure of dealing with Sam's actual boyfriend Del. It takes Sam a bit longer than we'd like to finally break things off with him despite the unease she feels the moment she sees him after the accident, and while it's easy to understand her hesitancy to make too many changes when so many things around her have already shifted, we can't help but wish she cut him loose far earlier. There's no true love triangle though as Del is more villainous than anything else, and Carson is one of those beautiful good guys who refuses to move forward with Sam until she's free and clear of Del's entanglement, moving him up the ladder of our attraction with impressive speed.

Overall, Don't Look Back is an entertaining read with a well-executed mystery and a sweet romance, and though it's not necessarily one that dazzles with its uniqueness, it still takes us on a ride we don't want to be over even once we reach the last page.

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.