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Saturday, October 30, 2010

In My Mailbox (57)

Thanks to Kristi at The Story Siren for hosting In My Mailbox every week.

So my birthday was on a Tuesday this year, which is the best day of the week. Lol. It amused me that the books from my brother comes alphabetically before the books from my dad. There are a couple more books from my dad that haven't arrived yet. Other gifts not pictured (because they're not books) include Nurse Jackie season 1, Vampire Diaries season 1, Queer as Folk season 3, and LEGO Harry Potter for Nintendo DS. Can't wait to play that, it looks adorable.

From my brother:

Geist by Phillippa Ballantine
When Wicked Craves by J.K. Beck
Misguided Angel by Melissa de la Cruz

From my dad:

Crusade by Nancy Holder & Debbie Viguie
Game Over by Taylor Keating
Blood Trinity by Sherrilyn Kenyon & Dianna Love
Kiss Me Deadly anthology

Review: Warrior by Zoe Archer

Title: Warrior
Author: Zoe Archer
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Release Date: 09/01/10
The vicious attack Capt. Gabriel Huntley witnesses in a dark alley sparks a chain of events that will take him to the ends of the Earth and beyond -- where what is real and what is imagined become terribly confused. And frankly, Huntley couldn't be more pleased. Intrigue, danger, and a beautiful woman in distress -- just what he needs.

Raised thousands of miles from England, Thalia Burgess is no typical Victorian lady. A good thing, because a proper lady would have no hope of recovering the priceless magical artifact Thalia is after. Huntley's assistance might come in handy, though she has to keep him in the dark. But this distractingly handsome soldier isn't easy to deceive...

Plot: 3.5 Stars
The idea of the Blades of the Rose, a group of people spanning the globe that protected magical artifacts from falling into the wrong hands, was a very interesting take on the paranormal romance genre. I don't normally read much history fiction of any sort, but I'm glad I gave this novel a shot. The time period didn't seem to affect the storythat much, probably because Thalia was raised away from Victorian England. I really enjoyed the chase across the continent in search of the magical artifact. It was a breath of fresh air to read about such rural areas, since my reading normally focuses on more urban settings. I'll definitely be reading the next books in this series.

Pace: 3 Stars
The beginning of the novel sucked me in right away and jumped right into the action. But then the pace of the novel slowed down a bit. There were twists and turns that I definitely didn't see coming, but a couple seemed a bit forced. Like they were added in to make the novel longer. But overall, this novel kept me on my toes because I never knew what Thalia and Gabriel would have to face next.

Characters: 4 Stars
My favorite part of this whole novel was how the author gave the secondary characters that Thalia and Gabriel met along the way such depth. I really cared for (or in other cases loathed) many of these smaller characters, which gave the scenes more depth. I also enjoyed the knowledge shown by the author in regards to Mongolian tradition. She really did her research and it showed itself in richers scenes and characters. As far as main characters, I really enjoyed Thalia's strength and Gabriel's stubborness. And I agree with Gabriel when he lamented on how much better Thalia was than the boring women in England. The introduction to other members of the Blades of the Rose near the end of the novel was a great way to lead into future novels.

Cover: 3.5 Stars
I really love when romance covers involve a hot dude that has his shirt on. It's not every day you find one of those. And boy did this cover model have a "don't mess with me" attitude going on. It really made me want to get to know Captain Huntley before I even started the book. Although I like the color palette of the cover, the background really threw me for a loop. I would've never guessed that the story takes place in Mongolia after seeing this cover. It looks like a cowboy stomping threw the desert instead of a retired soldier riding through the Mongolian wilderness. There is a point in which they cross a desert, but it's not the majority of the journey.

Overall: 3.5 Stars

Disclosure: I bought this book for my own enjoyment.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Author Interview: Skyler White

First off, I'd like to thank Skyler White for dropping by again to answer some questions. Her first visit was last March for her release of and Falling, Fly, which I loved. Her new Dark Fantasy novel, In Dreams Begin, releases on November 2nd. I enjoyed In Dreams Begin and will be posting my review soon.

Sara: How would you describe your novel, In Dreams Begin, in three sentences or less, for readers who haven’t heard of it before?

Skyler: When the consciousness of a modern woman wakes up in the body of Maud Gonne, the turn-of-the century Irish revolutionary and famous beauty who might have been part faery, Laura meets and falls in love with the poet W. B. Yeats. As long as she believes the poet exists only in her dreams, her modern life and new marriage benefit from her wild, Victorian love affair, but as she understands that Ida Jameson, a dangerously ambitious amateur occultist, is channeling her actual awareness, things start to fall apart in the present, in the past, and in a mysterious and sinister world between.

How would you describe Laura, Amit, Maude, and Will using only three words each?

Laura -- modern, uncertain, rational
Amit -- fearless, generous, practical
Maud -- single-minded, passionate, selfish
Will -- passionate, brave, visionary

Sara: Why time travel? It’s a subject that’s not used too often in the genre. Were you worried it wouldn’t quite fit in with other Urban Fantasy or Paranormal novels? Did you think it would fill a gap in the genre that many authors are not writing about?

Skyler: I wanted to tell a time travel story because I like reading them. I’m interested in other eras, I wanted to map the origins of the Hell Olivia travels to in and Falling, Fly, and I wanted to play with some of the contrasts and similarities between the Victorian age and our own. As for genre, honestly, I don’t think about that while I’m writing. So I guess Dreams, for that reason, probably doesn’t quite fit into either Urban Fantasy or Paranormal Romance as neatly as it might, although there are certainly elements of both. Technically, it’s Dark Fantasy. I know that genre designations are there to help readers find more books of a type they know they like, but I worry that sometimes they become prescriptive rather than descriptive, and I think that’s bad for readers. Readers are much more open-minded than marketing departments give them credit for being. I know that books need to be categorized so bookstores know where to put them, but I think writers have an obligation to challenge all sorts of conventions. Shelving among them.

Sara: The details of the occult practices and possession were very interesting and precise. Was this subject hard to find information about? Or did the research come easily? Was it something you had always planned to include, or did it sneak up on you while researching for other aspects of the story?

Skyler: I’m glad you found it interesting! I did too. The time-travel mechanism in the book evolved from a portal, so the channeling of souls wasn’t something I started out with. It came out of links I discovered between my actual life and Maud’s, but by the time I’d settled on the modern-soul-occupies-Victorian-body idea, I was already deep enough into the lives of Maud and Yeats that the occult was already part of my research, since they were both so heavily involved with it.

There’s plenty of information out there on the occult, but it can be difficult to parse. I restricted myself to period resources though, so everything I was reading about the technology of séances and channeling, “metallic mediums” and ritual sex, was either written by or would have been available to my characters.

Sara: The occult played a large part in your novel, In Dreams Begin. Was this aspect of history expanded upon for your novel, or did you find that many people dabbled in the occult at this time?

Skyler: The occult was the ‘reality TV’ of turn-of-the-century Europe. Mesmerists worked the lecture circuit and professional mediums gave private sessions in the White House. It was great theater. People were expecting science to prove –- really any day now –- the empirical existence of the soul. Technology had already revealed so many other mysteries. If science could turn up microbes and show us distant planets, certainly the spirit realm would be next to yield its secrets. It seems credulous to us now, but really, I think it was a wonderful optimism. Imagine believing that, with the right device or discovery, you could actually see the lingering souls of the dead, or that re-arranging your magnetic field might instantaneously remedy emotional problems or guarantee longevity. To the late Victorians, and really until the First World War, history was seen as one continuous improvement with perfectibility a real –- and probably nearby –- option.

Sara: Your descriptions of all the places visited in the novel are so vivid. I know from the first time you stopped by that you visited Ireland for fun in 2005. Have you taken another trip since for research purpose, or do you have a good memory of your first trip?

Skyler: I went back. Pretty late into writing Dreams, I had an opportunity to go back across the ocean, and since by that stage I already had a pretty evolved draft, I knew where each scene in the book was going to be set. I was able to visit every one of them –- or the closest extant place –- in Ireland, London and Paris, and that hugely affected the book. There were sections that got taken out, or re-written or added based on what I learned traveling. I blogged about it some while I was there.

Sara: There didn’t seem to be any crossover between characters from your first novel, and Falling, Fly, and In Dreams Begin. Was this your intention, did it just happen naturally, or did I miss something?

Skyler: It’s subtle, but it’s there. Olivia from Falling sits next to Laura on the airplane to Ireland. And
*Spoiler alert -- highlight to read*
the thing MacGregor Mathers turns into when the sleeping king moves into his body, with the matte gold fingernails, Victorian dress, and long white hair, the thing with a name “half Gaelic and half God” is Gaehod. The hotel Olivia and Dominic retreat to is built – to a large extent – based on the ideas Ida gives to her devil of possession, which she stole from Yeats’s description of the haven he would like to build as his Castle of Heroes.

Sara: Do you have any future books planned in this dark and edgy world you’ve created?

Skyler: Oh yes! I have a ‘Secret Plan’ (cue cackle). There’s an over-arching series concept at work way in the background of both books that should become more obvious as the whole thing unfolds, but I also have some very specific stories planned. Right now, I have a proposal in with my editor at Berkley for a series-within-a-series. It’s a set of three books following two main characters, set in LA, and concerned with more “normal” supernatural creatures –- monsters and faeries and maybe even a zombie. I want this trilogy to nest inside The Harrowing, and to be faster both to read and write than Dreams and Falling.

Sara: Who are your greatest influences, both in and out of the Urban Fantasy genre?

Skyler: Carl Jung and David Bowie.
That’s outside.
Ursala LeGuin, Tanith Lee, Emma Bull, Marion Zimmer Bradley, Neil Gaiman.
That’s a tiny section of inside.

Sara: What are you currently reading?

Skyler: The Anubis Gates by Tim Powers and The Possessed by Elif Batuman.

Skyler White is the nationally bestselling author of dark fantasy novels ‘and Falling, Fly’ (Berkley, March 2010) and ‘In Dreams Begin’ (Berkley, November 2010). She lives in Austin, TX. Visit her on the web at

Thank you, Skyler, for taking the time to answer my questions! Feel free to post any comments or questions for Skyler.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Review: Darkfever by Karen Marie Moning

Title: Darkfever
Author: Karen Marie Moning
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Release Date: 08/28/07
MacKayla Lane’s life is good. She has great friends, a decent job, and a car that breaks down only every other week or so. In other words, she’s your perfectly ordinary twenty-first century woman.

Or so she thinks... until something extraordinary happens.

When her sister is murdered, leaving a single clue to her death -- a cryptic message on Mac’s cell phone -- Mac journeys to Ireland in search of answers. The quest to find her sister’s killer draws her into a shadowy realm where nothing is as it seems, where good and evil wear the same treacherously seductive mask. She is soon faced with an even greater challenge: staying alive long enough to learn how to handle a power she had no idea she possessed–a gift that allows her to see beyond the world of man, into the dangerous realm of the Fae...

As Mac delves deeper into the mystery of her sister’s death, her every move is shadowed by the dark, mysterious Jericho, a man with no past and only mockery for a future. As she begins to close in on the truth, the ruthless Vlane -- an alpha Fae who makes sex an addiction for human women -- closes in on her. And as the boundary between worlds begins to crumble, Mac’s true mission becomes clear: find the elusive Sinsar Dubh before someone else claims the all-powerful Dark Book -- because whoever gets to it first holds nothing less than complete control of the very fabric of both worlds in their hands...

Plot: 4 Stars
I love a good story where the paranormal creature(s) are terrifying. Too often they're sexy or cute or just like humans. But not the fae in Darkfever. They were gross and ugly and evil. And I loved it. I also enjoyed that the plot wasn't so straightforward. Mac crosses the Atlantic to solve her sister's murder, and then gets swept up into the search for a dark, magical book. She spends most of the novel balancing between trying to figure out what happened to her sister, learning about her powers as a sidhe seer and the fae she can see, and searching for the Sinsar Dubh. There's never a dull moment because there's so much on Mac's plate, but it never seems too overwhelming.

Pace: 4 Stars
The pace of this novel was smooth and steady. There weren't any bumps in which things slowed down and became boring, nor were there moments that seemed rushed and confusing. Everything unfolded in a realistic timeframe. There was never a time where I was left wondering if days in Ireland were longer than 24 hours to accomodate all of the action. Instead, the author spread things out over the course of a couple weeks. This also helped show the progression in which Mac starts to see and really believe in the fae around her. My only gripe is the ending. It's not quite a cliffhanger, but it comes out of nowhere and totally leaves you hanging for book two. Which isn't necessarily a bad thing since I went out and bought Bloodfever the day after I finished it.

Characters: 4 Stars
Mac was a very real character. Often, when reading paranormal stories, characters who are first introduced into the supernatural accept it a bit too quickly and easily. But Mac fought the strange things happening in Ireland tooth and nail. She was stubborn and refused to accept the supernatural until it was shoved right under her nose, and even then, she still seemed skeptical. Jericho Barrons was a nice mix of hot and cold, sugar and spice. Every time you thought he started to care, he's turn around and be mean again. I can't wait to see more of the dynamic between Mac and Barrons. I also hope that future books will have Mac uncover more of what happened to her sister. The bits and pieces throughout this novel were not enough.

Cover: 4.5 Stars
I absolutely love the new re-designed novels. I will admit that I was a little hesitant about reading these books in the past due to the lackluster covers, even though I had heard really good things. So when I saw these new covers, I figured I'd give it a shot. My favorite part is the color. The blue they chose is beautiful, and also fits the emotions of the novel. I also really liked that the cover model was so small. It made her seem lost or confused, which describes Mac for most of the novel. All in all, kudos to whoever decided to switch things up.

Overall: 4 Stars

Disclosure: I bought this book for my own enjoyment.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

In My Mailbox (56)

Thanks to Kristi at The Story Siren for hosting In My Mailbox every week.

My birthday is on Tuesday (I'll be twenty-three and I can't believe it) and so although I technically bought most of these books, they can also be considered gifts from relatives. My grandma is just as much a book lover as me (she has to read the first couple pages of every book she looks at to make sure she doesn't buy one she already has) so, of course, I had to spend her gift on books. It would be sacriligious not to. Lol. Anyway, what did everyone else get this week?


Rebel by Zoe Archer
Scoundrel by Zoe Archer
Secondhand Charm by Julie Berry
Keys to the Repository by Melissa de la Cruz

Crescendo by Becca Fitzpatrick
Hunger by Jackie Morse Kessler
Banished by Sophie Littlefield
Hold Me Closer, Necromancer by Lish McBride

Bloodfever by Karen Marie Moning
Highborn by Yvonne Navarro
Shotgun Sorceress by Lucy A. Snyder


Low Red Moon by Ivy Devlin
Thanks to Abigail from All Things Urban Fantasy! She was very generous to offer to send me a copy after I reminded her about a forgotten giveaway.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Review: Nightshade by Andrea Cremer

Title: Nightshade ARC
Author: Andrea Cremer
Genre: Young Adult
Release Date: 10/19/10
Calla Tor has always known her destiny: After graduating from the Mountain School, she'll be the mate of sexy alpha wolf Ren Laroche and fight with him, side by side, ruling their pack and guarding sacred sites for the Keepers. But when she violates her masters' laws by saving a beautiful human boy out for a hike, Calla begins to question her fate, her existence, and the very essence of the world she has known. By following her heart, she might lose everything -- including her own life. Is forbidden love worth the ultimate sacrifice?

Plot: 3 Stars
I wanted more from this novel. I really enjoyed reading about the push-and-pull Calla was forced to endure between Shay and Ren. I had no problem with the love triangle taking the forefront because it was done in a new way. Normally the heroine is human and the two heroes vying for her affection are supernatural; but in this novel, Calla and Ren were supernatural, while Shay was human. It was refreshing for one of the boys to be the most vulnerable of the triangle. It was the rest of the story that left me wanting more. There wasn't a lot of action until the last couple chapters, and even that was cut short by a cliffhanger ending.

Pace: 3.5 Stars
There were a few moments in which the pace of the novel hit a bump. Every now and then it seemed to slow down a bit as it focused on a specific detail of a scene, but then it would pick right back up again. A detail that I really enjoyed was the phase of the moon at the beginning of each chapter. It kept the timeframe of the novel fresh in your mind as you read. Another detail at the beginning of each chapter were these triangle and lines. They aren't explained until at least two-thirds of the way through, and even then they're barely mentioned. I hope that they'll be explained more thoroughly in future novels since they seem to be important, considering they're placed in each chapter.

Characters: 4.5 Stars
My favorite part of the novel was that the other pack members, besides Calla and Ren, were such well developed characters. As much as the novel focused on the triangle of Calla, Ren, and Shay, the rest of the pack was also focused on since the formation of this new pack was such a big deal. These characters could've easily been cast aside and left in the background. Instead they played quite a large role. The relationship between Keepers and Guardians was also a very interesting take on werewolves, but it did take a little bit longer than I would've liked to be explained. Hopefully there's more to the dynamic to learn in future novels.

Cover: 4 Stars
It's not often that I pick up a book solely because of it's cover, but I would've picked this book up even if I hadn't gotten to read any reviews or its blurb. It's just that beautiful. Although Calla is a bit more of a tomboy than the cover model comes across as (especially considering she tends to keep her hair in a braid), I could imagine her looking like the cover model on the days her mother forced her to dress like a lady. The lily on the cover was a nice touch, considering Ren's nickname for Calla. And the purple color scheme was very eye-catching. For a color that can tend towards dark and depressing, it came across as very fierce on the cover.

Overall: 4 Stars

Disclosure: I received an ARC thru Book It Forward Tours.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

In My Mailbox (55)

Thanks to Kristi at The Story Siren for hosting In My Mailbox every week.


Elixir by Hilary Duff
Beautiful Darkness by Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl


Kiss of Midnight by Lara Adrian

Monday, October 11, 2010

Guest Blog + Giveaway: Jennifer Estep

Today I'd like to welcome Jennifer Estep, who is stopping by to talk about her new Urban Fantasy release, Venom, the third novel in her Elemental Assassins series, which released on September 28th. You can see my 5 Star review here. Her topic for this guest blog is why she writes Urban Fantasy. I found it very interesting, and hope you do to!

Greetings and salutations! First of all, I want to say thanks to Sara for having me on the blog today. Thanks, Sara!

Some of you might know me as the author of the Elemental Assassin urban fantasy series. The books focus on Gin Blanco, an assassin codenamed the Spider who can control the elements of Ice and Stone. When she’s not busy killing people and righting wrongs, Gin runs a barbecue restaurant called the Pork Pit in the fictional southern metropolis of Ashland. The city is also home to giants, dwarves, vam¬pires, and elementals == Air, Fire, Ice, and Stone.

The first two books in the series are Spider’s Bite and Web of Lies. Venom, the third book, came out on Sept. 28. Tangled Threads, the fourth book, will be published in May 2011, while the fifth book (untitled) will be released in October 2011.

I’ve also sold a young adult urban fantasy series called Mythos Academy. The first book is called Touch of Frost and will be out in August 2011. The books focus on Gwen Frost, a Gypsy girl who has the gift of psychometry, or the ability to know an object’s history just by touching it. After a serious freak-out with her magic, Gwen finds herself shipped off to Mythos Academy, a school for the descendents of ancient warriors like Spartans, Valkyries, and more.

So Sara asked me to talk today about why I write urban fantasy.

The truth? Because I suck at writing epic fantasy. Seriously. That’s it. That’s my big secret. I can’t write epic fantasy, so I write urban fantasy instead. LOL.

It all started back in high school and college when I read The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings books by J.R.R. Tolkien. After Tolkien, I moved on to other epic fantasy authors like David Eddings and Terry Brooks. Somewhere along the way, I decided that I wanted to write my own epic fantasy novel.

So I did -- and it was terrible. It had just about every cliché in it that you can imagine, namely that a farm girl discovers that she has Powerful Magic and a Great Big Destiny to fulfill.

Of course, I didn’t know it was terrible back then, so I sat down and I wrote a second epic fantasy book. It wasn’t quite as cliché as the first one, but it wasn’t great by any stretch of the imagination. After that, I started a couple more epic fantasy books before I realized that as much as I loved reading the genre, I just wasn’t that great writing it. I just didn’t really like describing the sort of medieval world that you find in a lot of epic fantasy books.

So one day, I decided to set my latest book in a modern-day setting -- and it was like a light bulb came on over my head. The book and descriptions were so much easier to write, and the story flowed so much better. It wasn’t my best work, but it put me on the right path.

Ever since then, all my fantasy books have been in a modern setting. For some reason, I just find it easier to write about a world where there’s electricity and cars and indoor plumbing. LOL.

Plus, I really like the urban fantasy genre. I like reading it, and I love all the strong, sassy heroines in the genre. I wanted to add my own tough heroine to the mix with Gin Blanco, and urban fantasy let me do that, as well as create a really dark, gritty world for her to play in. Also, I love writing fight scenes, and you can’t have an assassin character without writing at least a few fight scenes in every book. ;-)

So there you have it – some of the reasons that I write urban fantasy.

What about you guys? What are some of your favorite urban or epic fantasy books?

Thanks for stopping by Jennifer!

I also have a copy of Venom to give away, courtesy of Jennifer. All you have to do to be entered is answer Jennifer's question above! The giveaway is for US/Canada only, and will last until midnight Tuesday 10/19. I'll announce the winner on Wednesday 10/20.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

In My Mailbox (54)

Thanks to Kristi at The Story Siren for hosting In My Mailbox every week.


Nightshade by Andrea Cremer
Thanks to Book It Forward Tours @ Dark Faerie Tales!
In Dreams Begin by Skyler White
Thanks to Skyler White and Penguin!


The Iron Duke by Meljean Brook
Poison Kissed by Erica Hayes
Crave by J.R. Ward
Zombies vs. Unicorns antholody

Review: Venom by Jennifer Estep

Title: Venom
Author: Jennifer Estep
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Release Date: 09/28/10
What kind of assassin works pro bono?

It’s hard to be a badass assassin when a giant is beating the crap out of you. Luckily, I never let pride get in the way of my work. My current mission is personal: annihilate Mab Monroe, the Fire elemental who murdered my family. Which means protecting my identity, even if I have to conceal my powerful Stone and Ice magic when I need it most. To the public, I’m Gin Blanco, owner of Ashland’s best barbecue joint. To my friends, I’m the Spider, retired assassin. I still do favors on the side. Like ridding a vampire friend of her oversized stalker -- Mab’s right-hand goon who almost got me dead with his massive fists. At least irresistible Owen Grayson is on my side. The man knows too much about me, but I’ll take my chances. Then there’s Detective Bria Coolidge, one of Ashland’s finest. Until recently, I thought my baby sister was dead. She probably thinks the same about me. Little does she know, I’m a cold-blooded killer... who is about to save her life.

Plot: 5 Stars
Finally! Gin faces the bomb that was dropped at the end of Spider's Bite and begins to deal with the fact that her younger sister is alive. I still wanted more to come from this twist, but I understand given the circumstances that it'll take time. I love that Gin's retirement from the assassin game keeps getting interrupted by pro-bono work. Her target in this novel isn't just anyone, it's one of Mab Monroe's top dogs. It was great to watch her go after someone that played into her eventual endgame, and not just some random bad guy. It was also interesting to see how events from past novels shaped the plot for Venom. Without certain events from happening in past books, she wouldn't have had a specific reason to go after Mab's enforcer and get her plan in motion.

Pace: 5 Stars
I couldn't put this novel down. One of my favorite parts about getting into a series (especially when the books are released so close together) is that I get so immersed in a world and a group of characters that I already love. The author doesn't need to bog the novel down with introductions to the characters and setting, and can just jump right into the action. This novel had twists and turns around every corner, many of them catching me by complete surprise. The author is one of the best I've read at composing such intricate and well developed plots that keep me engaged from page one, until the end.

Characters: 5 Stars
Not only did we see even more development in Gin's character, but we're also introduced to her younger, long-lost sister. We get a good taste for Bria and how the death of their mother and oldest sister shaped her into the young women we're introduced to. Gin did a great job of keeping Bria at arms length without driving her away or causing too much suspicion. Owen Grayson was a very interesting character. After getting quick glimpses of him in Web of Lies it was great to get to know him better. Especially when he inadvertantly got himself tangled up in Gin's mess throughout the novel. And of course, I loved seeing more of Finn, JoJo, and Sophia.

Cover: 4.5 Star
I love the colors of this cover. It really matches the emotions and setting of the novel. The details in the background are fantastic. I love the details on the riverboat. This series has been gifted with great cover art. The attention to detail is some of the best I've seen in the genre. The covers always include an actual place and scene from the novel, instead of just a random cityscape. My only complaint, and it's quite minor, is the positioning of the cover model. The pose seems a bit forced and unnatural. I understand that the spider rune on the model's palm is a big part of Gin's character, but I feel like a different pose could've shown it off and felt more natural.

Overall: 5 Stars

Disclosure: I received an eARC of this book from the author and also bought a copy of this book for my own enjoyment.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Review: Dead Beautiful by Yvonne Woon

Title: Dead Beautiful
Author: Yvonne Woon
Genre: Young Adult
Release Date: 09/21/10
After Renee Winters discovers her parents lying dead in California’s Redwood Forest in what appears to be a strange double murder, her grandfather sends her off to Gottfried Academy in Maine, a remote and mysterious high school dedicated to philosophy, “crude sciences,” and Latin: the Language of the Dead. It’s here she meets Dante, a dark and elusive student to whom she feels inexplicably drawn.

As they get to know each other better, Dante can’t seem to control his attraction either, and their desires gradually deepen into a complex and dangerous romance. Dangerous because Dante is hiding a frightening secret. A secret so terrible, it has him fearing for Renee’s life.

Dante’s not the only one with secrets, though. Turns out Gottfried Academy has a few of its own... Like, how come students keep disappearing? Why are the prefect-like Monitors creeping around campus during the night? And what exactly are the Headmistress and Professors really up to? Renee is determined to find out why.
Dead Beautiful is both a compelling romance and thought-provoking read, bringing shocking new meaning to life, death, love, and the nature of the soul.

Plot: 5 Stars
This is one of the most unique young adult novels I have read in a while. Most YA novels that revolve around a special school is where the students learn about their powers or how to deal with the creatures they've turned into. But in this novel, the private academy, Gottfried, is where Renee is sent to help keep her safe. It's a very odd school, with classes that seem random, such as Latin being the only foreign language taught and horticulture being one of the few sciences. But as the story progresses, it comes out that the academy has a second, secret reason for operating and there are many things that the teachers don't want the student body to know.

Pace: 4.5 Stars
My favorite part of this whole novel is that it takes most of the school year for the events of the novel to take place. All too often novels that take place at a school like this don't end up spanning the whole school year and end up feeling very rushed. But this novel progressed at a slower, more reasonable pace. Important events took place over the course of a couploe months instead of being crammed into less than a week, and it made things seem more real. It made the relationships Renee formed seem natural instead of rushed. I also like that this novel had a definitive ending, instead of leaving it open to a possible sequel. Sometimes one book is all you need, and this one was great.

Characters: 4.5 Stars
Renee was a very likeable character. She tried to follow the rules, but often found herself questioning them, especially since Gottfried was so different from the public school she was used to. Dante was a very interesting male character, although at times he seemed to talk in circles. I liked the slower progression of Renee and Dante getting to know each other; it didn't feel as much like love-at-first-sight as many of these paranormal YA novels do. Renee's roommate was a great character for her to have as a friend since they were different, but not complete opposites. I just wish we could've learned a bit more about the monitors by actually observing them, instead of just being told.

Cover: 4.5 Stars
I loved the lush, green forest in the background. It paints a very accurate picture of the setting of the novel. Although there isn't a specific archway mentioned in the novel, it's also an accurate representation of Gottfried Academy and it's history. Although the cover model isn't how I pictured Renee, she could be Renee since the author only gives us a vague description of the main character. I love when a main character isn't decribed down to a T, especially when a story is told from first person point of view, otherwise it can feel like the main character can't stop talking about themselves. My only problem with the cover is that the outfit the cover model is wearing isn't something Renee would wear, but other than that it's a great cover.

Overall: 4.5 Stars

Disclosure: I bought this book for my own enjoyment.

Review: No Mercy by Sherrilyn Kenyon

Title: No Mercy
Author: Sherrilyn Kenyon
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Release Date: 09/07/10
Live fast, fight hard and if you have to die then take as many of your enemies with you as you can. That is the Amazon credo and it was one Samia lived and died by. Now in contemporary New Orleans, the immortal Amazon warrior is about to learn that there’s a worse evil coming to slaughter mankind than she’s ever faced before.

Shapeshifter Dev Peltier has stood guard at the front of Sanctuary for almost two hundred years and in that time, he’s seen it all. Or so he thought. Now their enemies have discovered a new source of power -- one that makes a mockery of anything faced to date.

The war is on and Dev and Sam are guarding ground zero. But in order to win, they will have to break the most cardinal of all rules and pray it doesn’t unravel the universe as we know it.

Plot: 4 Stars
First off, I have to say that this is my first Kenyon novel and I was a bit tentative to jump in headfirst this far into a series. But having done it with other authors and not been completely lost, I figured I'd give it a shot. And I definitely wasn't disappointed. While there were minor details or in reference to minor characters or references to certain events in the past that could've been expanded on, I never once felt lost or confused. The author did a great job of giving bits and pieces of the past. It was enough to fill anyone in that hadn't read every book, but not so much as to bog the story down with too much background information. The idea of the different supernatural races was a very interesting take on vampires and shapeshifters. I'll definitely be picking up more Kenyon novels in the future, both future and past releases.

Pace: 3.5 Stars
The first half of this novel felt like one of those run-of-the-mill urban fantasy/paranormal romances where everything, and I mean everything that can go wrong will go wrong. It seemed like every time Sam or Dev turned around, someone was attacking them or capturing them or threatening them. Luckily, this didn't last. The second half involved more action on Sam and Dev's part than standing around and waiting for the baddies to come to them. They really took things into their own hands and didn't let the circumstances overwhelm them. All in all, this was a quick read that kept me interested.

Characters: 4.5 Stars
I really enjoyed both Sam and Dev. Sam was a very strong female character, but what I enjoyed most about her was the vulnerability underneath the hardened exterior. She was a great blend of hard and soft. Dev was a very likeable male character. He stood out from many Paranormal Romance heroes I've read in that he wasn't rude or overly macho. My only complaint would be that I wish we could've seen more of Dev's siblings, especially considering how much of the book happened at Sanctuary, where they all live and work.

Cover: 3.5 Stars
As simple as the cover is, I often like covers that don't fill my mind with any preconceived notions of what a character might look like. Too often, the cover model's don't fit with the description of the character and I like to make my own version in my head without anything to disrupt that. The colors of this cover work very well. I can't pinpoint why, but I couldn't imagine this story with a cover that wasn't done in hues of red. The color just really fit. My only objection is the large shape on the cover. I don't remember anything in the book refencing a shape like the one on the cover, so it leaves me wondering if it was completely random, or if I'm missing something from a past book.

Overall: 4 Stars

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the publicist.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Review: Strange Angels by Lili St. Crow

Title: Strange Angels
Author: Lili St. Crow
Genre: Young Adult
Release Date: 05/14/09
Dru Anderson has been “strange” for as long as she can remember. She travels from town to town with her father, hunting the things that go bump in the night and eat the unwary. It’s a weird life, but a good one -- until it all explodes and a zombie busts into her new house.

Alone, terrified, and trapped in an icy town, Dru’s going to need every inch of her wit and training to stay alive. Can she trust the boy who is just a little too adult -- and just happens to get bit by a werwulf? Or the strange blue-eyed boy who tells her she’s heir to a long-forgotten power? Can she even trust her own instincts?

Because Dru is not the first in her family to be killed by the darkness of the Real World. The monsters have decided to hunt back -- and now Dru has to figure out who to trust, who to fight, and when to run. And not incidentally, she has to figure out how she’s going to get out of this alive.

And she has to do it by sundown, or it’s all over...

Plot: 3.5 Stars
My favorite part of this book was the scary factor. Whether it be zombies, werewolves, or vampires, they were all frightening. And the paranormal creatures had interesting twists that set them apart from other novels. There were definitely a lot of twists and turns in this novel that completely took me by surprise. I just wish the ending had had a bit more action. It seemed like the book had been revving up for a crazy showdown, and the ending didn't quite live up to that. But the ending definitely leaves you wanting the next book without being a cliffhanger.

Pace: 2.5 Stars
This was one of those books that falls into that dreaded slump around two-thirds of the way through. The beginning of the book comes at you really fast and hooks you within minutes, but the pace definitely starts to slow down once you've been hooked. It seemed like Dru spent a little too much time thinking things through or complaining or reminiscing, instead of actually doing them. There were also certain phrases that she used that really stuck out and seemed a little weird and forced, and because of that, Dru's overuse of them really stood out.

Characters: 3 Stars
Dru was a very interesting character. I loved that she was tough, but also felt fear when the moment required it. Too many young adult protagonists aren't frightened of the monsters when any normal person would be. It helped make Dru feel more real. I wish we could've learned more about Dru's parents. It felt like we were shown they're habits and told how they would've reacted, but we don't really learn that much about them.

Cover: 3 Stars
I love shiny covers because they really catch my attention. But this cover is a little too dark to be so shiny. From many angles, you can't really see much of the image. If the actual image were a little brighter or had more contrast, it would hold up more underneath the shine. But other than that, the cover is great. The model chosen is exactly how I pictured Dru. Stark was a very interesting character, and I definitely hope to see more of him in the next book.

Overall: 3 Stars

Disclosure: I bought this book for my own enjoyment.

Blog-o-versary Giveaway Winner

There were 21 participants for a total of 60 total entries. Using, the winner of the Blog-o-versary Giveaway is...


You have 72 hours to respond to my e-mail with your mailing information, so I can get the package in the mail. Congratulations!

Saturday, October 2, 2010

In My Mailbox (53)

Thanks to Kristi at The Story Siren for hosting In My Mailbox every week.


The Spirit Thief by Rachel Aaron
Siren Song by Cat Adams
Warrior by Zoe Archer
When Pleasure Rules by J.K. Beck

Masques by Patricia Briggs
Double Cross by Carolyn Crane
Afterlife by Merrie Destefano
Venom by Jennifer Estep

Torment by Lauren Kate
Grave Witch by Kalayna Price
The Replacements by Brenna Yovanoff

And don't forget to enter my Blog-o-versary Giveaway! The prize includes a copy of Embers by Laura Bickle, Dead Witch Walking by Kim Harrison, Blood of the Demon by Diana Rowland and lots of swag (including a couple signed bookmarks). It ends Monday night at midnight. :)

Month In Review: September

For once, I'm happy with the number of books I read. I'm ok with eight books for September. The amount of reviews I've written for these books, on the other hand, is what I'm not happy with. I was all ready to bang out two or three last night or this morning, but life came in the way. This morning, we put our fifteen year old cat, Hobbes, down and I just don't think the last couple reviews will be written for a couple days. But don't worry, I will get to them. Especially No Mercy since I received a copy for my review.

Anyway, here are the books I read in September (along with links to their respective reviews):

September: 8

Radiance by Alyson Noel 3 Stars

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins 4 Stars

Sparks by Laura Bickle 4.5 Stars

Paranormalcy by Kiersten White 4.5 Stars

Strange Angels by Lili St. Crow 3 Stars review coming soon

No Mercy by Sherrilyn Kenyon 4 Stars review coming soon

Dead Beautiful by Yvonne Woon 4.5 Stars review coming soon

Twelve by Jasper Kent DNF

So what did everyone else read in September?