Current Giveaways

Review + Giveaway: Sealed with a Curse by Cecy Robson (ends 01/21)
Enter to win an ARC of Sealed with a Curse.

Please Note: New Holiday Review Policy! (extended indefinitely)

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Excerpt + Giveaway: Jennifer Estep

Today, I’d like to welcome Jennifer Estep back to the blog. She’s stopping by of the blog tour for the third book in her Mythos Academy series, Dark Frost, which came out yesterday. You can read my review of Touch of Frost here and Kiss of Frost here. Today, Jennifer has been kind enough to give a sneak peak of Dark Frost with an excerpt and offer up a copy to giveaway.


We scrambled up onto the dais and around to the far side. Daphne took up a position between the knight and the centurion, looking like another proud figure standing there, the golden arrow nocked and ready in the onyx bow. Carson moved to her left, while I stood on her right, the two of us flanking and protecting our archer, just like Coach Ajax had taught us to during all the mock fights we’d had in gym class. Across the room, Logan slid behind the wax Viking.

“We’ll be okay, right?” Carson said, fear making his eyes seem more black than brown behind his glasses.

“Of course, we will,” I said, trying to make my voice light. “Just think how jealous all the other kids will be when they hear that we took on a group of Reapers—and won.”

Carson tried to smile at my lame pep talk, but his lips twisted into a grimace instead. I knew how he felt. After what I’d just seen, I didn’t know if I’d ever be able to smile again. There would be no winning. Not today. Not with the other kids outside injured.

Not with so many dead.

Beside us, Daphne remained silent, although pink sparks snapped all around her now, cracking like fireworks, letting Carson and me know she was just as scared as we were. The Valkyrie stared at me a moment, then at the band geek, before turning her attention to the open doorway. Carson gripped his staff and pushed his glasses up his nose, while I tightened my hold on Vic.

I looked at Logan. Even from across the room, I could see the anticipation in his face. The emotion made his eyes glitter like ice. The Spartan was ready for the Reapers, ready to put his fighting skills to the test. Logan gave me a thumbs-up. His certainty in himself, in us and in what we were about to do, made my stomach unclench the tiniest bit.

We hunkered down and waited for the Reapers to come.

This scene takes place fairly early on in Dark Frost, when Gwen and her friends find themselves having to battle some Reapers of Chaos, the bad guys in my books. I love writing action and fight scenes, but in this case, Gwen and the other characters are scrambling to get ready for the fight. I think –- or at least hope –- that it adds some tension and will make the reader keep turning to pages to see what happens in the battle.

Jennifer Estep is a New York Times bestselling author. Jennifer writes the Mythos Academy young adult urban fantasy series for Kensington. Dark Frost, the third book, was released on May 29. Touch of Frost and Kiss of Frost are the other books in the series. Visit for excerpts and more information about her books.

Thanks again for stopping by! Now for the giveaway. Jennifer has generously offered up one (1) print copy of Dark Frost to one (1) lucky reader. To be entered, just answer the following question:
If you went to Mythos Academy, what type of warrior whiz kid would you be?

Giveaway Rules:
1. Open to US only.
2. Must answer question and leave valid e-mail address.
3. Giveaway ends at 11:59PM Saturday June 9th.
4. Winner will be announced on Sunday June 10th

Title: Dark Frost
Author: Jennifer Estep
Series: Mythos Academy #3
I've seen so many freaky things since I started attending Mythos Academy last fall. I know I'm supposed to be a fearless warrior, but most of the time, I feel like I'm just waiting for the next Bad, Bad Thing to happen. Like someone trying to kill me -- again.

Everyone at Mythos Academy knows me as Gwen Frost, the Gypsy girl who uses her psychometry magic to find lost objects -- and who just may be dating Logan Quinn, the hottest guy in school. But I'm also the girl the Reapers of Chaos want dead in the worst way. The Reapers are the baddest of the bad, the people who murdered my mom. So why do they have it in for me? It turns out my mom hid a powerful artifact called the Helheim Dagger before she died. Now, the Reapers will do anything to get it back. They think I know where the dagger is hidden, but this is one thing I can't use my magic to find. All I do know is that the Reapers are coming for me -- and I'm in for the fight of my life.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Stacking the Shelves (5)

Thanks to Tynga at Tynga's Reviews for hosting Stacking the Shelves and making this awesome graphic!

Stacking The Shelves is all about the books we are adding to our shelves each week, sharing with you our excitement for our newest titles and maybe have you discover a new book in the process! --Tynga

Blood and Silver by James R. Tuck ARC [Pre-Order]
This ARC also came with a cover flat wrapped around it, which was pretty cool. I don't have many cover flats in my big pile of swag. I also wasn't expecting this so soon.

Purchased by Sara:
Skies of Fire by Zoe Archer (on Kindle, not pictured)
A Blood Seduction by Pamela Palmer [Buy Now]
Shadow Bound by Rachel Vincent [Buy Now]
I've been patiently waiting for both of these novels, so I was excited to finally pick them up.

Purchased by Christen:
Midnight's Master by Donna Grant [Buy Now]
Christen picked this novel up because she was drawn to the cover. I'll try to get her to review it after she reads it.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Author Interview: Jess Haines

Today, I’d like to welcome Jess Haines to the blog. She’s here to kick off the blog tour for the fourth book in her H&W Investigations series, STALKING THE OTHERS, which come out on July 3rd. You can read my review of HUNTED BY THE OTHERS here and TAKEN BY THE OTHERS here. And stick around! Kensington is hosting a giveaway for the blog tour and the Rafflecopter form can be found at the end of the post.

Sara: How would you describe Stalking the Others, for readers who haven’t heard of it before?

Jess: This is the fourth book in my series, so let me start with a short recap of the other three:

Book 1 –- HUNTED BY THE OTHERS: Shiarra Waynest, a private investigator, is blackmailed into retrieving an artifact from a vampire. The problem? As a human, she doesn’t stand a chance against the Others.

Book 2 -– TAKEN BY THE OTHERS: With the artifact destroyed, Shia believes her dealings with the supernaturals in town are over -- but the vampires, werewolves, and monster hunters in town believe otherwise...

Book 3 –- DECEIVED BY THE OTHERS: Determined to get away from the troubles plaguing her in the city, Shia goes on a vacation with her werewolf boyfriend -- along with his entire pack -- in the Catskills.

Book 4 – STALKING THE OTHERS: After the events and subsequent betrayal Shia experienced in the last book, she’s done being pushed around. If she’s going down, she’ll take out as many of her enemies as she can -- and hope that in the process, she keeps whatever humanity she has left...

So, in this book, Shiarra is in a very bad place. She’s lost her family, her boyfriend, and probably her business and license as a private investigator -- and some might feel she’s also lost her marbles. She’s ready to take on the world, and get some payback from the people who turned her life into her version of a living hell.

It’s not recommended as a starting point -- this is the continuation that picks up right where my last book, DECEIVED BY THE OTHERS, left off.

Sara: In three words, how would you describe your main characters?

Shiarra: Frazzled, overworked, underpaid
Chaz: Hairy werewolf jock
Royce: Sly, sexy vampire
Sara: Cool, confident friend
Arnold: Geeky, funny mage

Sara: Do you have a favorite character to write? Is there a character that’s a bit harder than the rest to write?

Jess: While you might think Shiarra is the obvious answer, it’s actually Arnold. I love him. He’s like the male version of me. Only with magic powers.

As for one who is harder to write than the rest? Jack. He’s a huge pain in the ass. Every time I think I have that vamp hunter pinned, he surprises me with a new twist to his character.

Sara: What sets Stalking the Others apart from the other Urban Fantasy?

Jess: Most urban fantasy novels center around a protagonist who has special powers. Sookie Stackhouse can read minds, Harry Dresden and Rachel Morgan can cast spells, Anita Blake can raise the dead (and bring all the boys to the yard with her magic hoo-ha), etc.

Shiarra is a vanilla human playing with the big boys in the supernatural community. In that way, she’s my “special snowflake”. She has a couple of magic items to help her out, but for the most part, she has to rely on her wits -- what few she has -- and her friends to help her out.

In STALKING THE OTHERS, there’s a chance that could be taken away from her. Good times, eh?

Sara: If Shiarra could work team up with any Urban Fantasy hero or heroine, who would you want her to work with?

Jess: Harry Dresden (from Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files). I love that guy.

Sara: Can we look forward to any more books in the H&W Investigations series? Are you working on any other projects?

Jess: Right now, I’m contracted through six books, though I’ve got plots in mind for more in the series. There are also some spinoff ideas I’ve been kicking around. We’ll see what happens once book six is done.

Most of my attention right now is on completing the next book in the H&W series, but I’ve got some other stuff I’m working on, too.

If you’re familiar with the series, I’ve got a little something I’m looking for a home for right now that features Mouse, the mute vampiress, and Christoph, the dude in the fetish collar who shows up briefly in DECEIVED and again in STALKING THE OTHERS.

Sara: Tell us a little about your writing process. Are you a plotter or a pantser?

Jess: I’m a pantser. All pants, all the time. Much to the occasional dismay of my editor...

As for my process, I sit my butt in the chair and write what comes to me. Of course, I do have to stick to the general outline I gave my editor when he bought books 2-6 on spec, but I often surprise myself with the twists and turns things take along the way. I find it’s a lot more “fresh” if I just let it come instead of trying to force my work to fit a mold.

Sara: What are your influences both in and out of Urban Fantasy?

Jess: Before I was published, I hadn’t had much experience with reading UF. Most of my influences came from outside the genre (though Jim Butcher and Laurell K. Hamilton are to blame for me dipping my toes into the world of writing UF).

For the most part, I’ve always been a fan of cheesy horror and supernatural movies. Buffy, Fright Night, Tremors, The Howling -- you name it, I’ve probably watched it. My tastes in books were pretty eclectic. I’ve probably read 90% of the pre-Fifth Age DragonLance novels, and love authors like Stephen King, Terry Goodkind, Michael Crichton, Kim Harrison, Jim Butcher, etc. I could put together a laundry list, but if it had vampires or dragons in it, I probably read it as a kid. I’d like to think those books helped warp my twisted young mind. *g*

Sara: What are you currently reading?

Jess: I’m currently reading Jennifer Armintrout’s QUEENE OF LIGHT. You might know Jennifer from her très amusing recaps of the novel 50 SHADES OF GREY:

I plan on reading the next two books (CHILD OF DARKNESS and VEIL OF SHADOWS) as soon as possible. I’m about halfway done with the first book, and so far it’s fabulous!

Thanks again for having me, Sara!

Thanks for stopping by Jess! And now for the giveaway. Kensington is offering 15 copies of STALKING THE OTHERS to readers from US/Canada. All you have to do is fill out the Rafflecopter form below. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Title: Stalking the Others
Author: Jess Haines
Series: H&W Investigations #4
Vampires, werewolves, mages -- the Others are very real, and wreaking havoc in Shiarra Waynest’s life. But now, she’s returning the favor...

Once, she was one of the good guys -- or as close as a New York P.I. can get. Then Shiarra Waynest was drawn into the world of the Others. Every faction has its own loyalties and agenda. And Shia’s recent betrayal by her ex-boyfriend means that she may be on the verge of becoming a rogue werewolf at the next full moon.

Of course, with all the threats against her, Shia’s not sure she’ll live long enough to find out. The enigmatic vampire Royce wants her back in his clutches, as do two powerful werewolf packs, along with the police. Instead of going into hiding, Shia is enlisting the aid of her enchanted hunter’s belt and every dirty P.I. trick she knows. If she’s going down, she’ll take out as many of her enemies as she can -- and hope that in the process, she keeps whatever humanity she has left...

Don’t forget to check out Jess Haines’ blog to find the entire blog tour schedule.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday (55)

This book blog meme is hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine.

This book was originally published by Luna in 2005, but they didn't continue the series and it was out of print by the time I learned about it. A couple years later, DAW picked up the series and started publishing... Starting with book two. I have book two already but I hate to start a series that follows the same character in the middle, so I've been waiting patiently for DAW to re-release the first book in this series.

Title: Disappearing Nightly
Author: Laura Resnick
Series: Esther Diamond #1
Publisher: DAW
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Release date: 06/05/12
Chosen by: Sara
The first book in the magical Esther Diamond mystery series...

When mysterious mystical disappearances disrupt her career, struggling actress Esther Diamond teams up with Maximillian Zadok, an eccentric elderly wizard whose day job is protecting the Big Apple from Evil. Meanwhile, the sexy NYPD detective investigating the disappearances fears that Esther and Max may be a bigger problem than the vanishing performers.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Review: Dark Kiss by Michelle Rowen

Title: Dark Kiss
Author: Michelle Rowen
Series: Nightwatchers #1
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Genre: Paranormal Young Adult
Release Date: 05/22/12
Reviewed by: Sara
But the Book:
buy the book from The Book Depository, free delivery
I don't do dangerous.

Smart, über-careful, ordinary Samantha -- that's me. But I just couldn't pass up a surprise kiss from my number one unattainable crush. A kiss that did something to me... something strange. Now I feel hungry all the time, but not for food. It's like part of me is missing -- and I don't know if I can get it back.

Then there's Bishop. At first I thought he was just a street kid, but the secrets he's keeping are as intense as his unearthly blue eyes. If he's what I think he is, he may be the only one who can help me. But something terrifying is closing in, and the one chance Bishop and I have to stop it means losing everything I ever wanted and embracing the darkness inside me...

Plot: 5 Stars
This is the angel/demon book I've been searching for. All too often, angels are too tied to religion for my liking. I really enjoyed that this novel was based around angels and demons, souls, and the balance between it all. Samantha had no idea that one kiss could change so much when she went to the local all-ages club, but that one kiss had everything spiralling out of control. The author's lore surrounding the grays and their hunger reminded me of the lore surrounding succubi/incubi with a twist to make it age appropriate. I also enjoyed how the angels and demons came into play. It was interesting to see them working together to figure out the problem, instead of being pitted against each other.

Pace: 5 Stars
It's not very often I read a book that has me anxious to finish work so that I can dive back in. Now, I would always like to read instead of work, but I don't find myself thinking about my current read at work too much. But this novel had me counting down the minutes until my lunch break so that I could squeeze a couple more chapters in. I was sucked in from the first chapter, and the story never let me go. The pace of the novel was perfect, and it kept me on the edge of my seat until the very last page. I cannot wait for the next novel in this series.

Characters: 5 Stars
Samantha was a great character. She felt like a real teenager dealing with the supernatural. Sometimes teenage protagonists can come across a bit too adult for me, but the author gave Samantha just the right balance of independence, maturity, and vulnerability. Bishop was sent to lead a team of angels and demons to figure out who was causing a ruckus by making grays, although some things didn't go as planned and his mind came through the trip jumbled. The fact that Samantha could help clear his mind was a great way to introduce her into more of the supernatural. I really liked Bishop, but Kraven was my favorite characters. He's everything I want in a demon: snarky and cocky, without being completely evil.

Cover: 4.5 Stars
The only thing keeping this book from getting 5 Stars in all categories is the cover model's hair. Not only is the hair style not a good look on him, but due to the shine it looks like his hair could be used as a weapon. But personal taste in hair styles aside, this is a fabulous cover. I love the simplicity of a monochromatic cover. Between the blues hues and the gritty texture and the cityscape at the bottom, the cover conveys a bleak feeling reminiscent in parts of the novel. My favorite part of the cover is the model's wings. They are so unlike any wings I have ever seen on a cover before and immediately grabbed my eye. The wings almost look like ink swirled around water and it's a very striking element.

Overall: 5 Stars

Disclosure: I received an eARC via Netgalley.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Mini-Review: Blooded by Amanda Carlson

Title: Blooded
Author: Amanda Carlson
Series: Jessica McClain #0.5
Publisher: Orbit
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Release Date: 04/11/12
Reviewed by: Sara
Jessica McClain was born the only female in an all male race. The only problem is -- she's no wolf. Called a curse, a witch and the Daughter of Evil by the superstitious wolves, Jessica decides to fight for her freedom, at age nineteen, the only way she can -- in the ring.

When she's brutally attacked right after her fight, is it enough to finally earn her freedom off Compound, or will she be forced to endure the hatred even longer...

Mini-Review: This novella is a perfect example of how to introduce a character and her world, and make me want the first novel to ASAP. I love new twists on paranormal lore, and Jessica being a female human born to a werewolf in a world in which all werewolves are male is a great twist. Add to that a myth that has led most of the wolves to think she is evil incarnate, and Jessica has her plate full trying to prove herself. This novella was filled with action and great fight scenes as Jessica tried to show the werewolves that she could hold her own. I also enjoyed the glimpses of other characters that I hope to learn more about when the first novel in the series releases.

Plot: 4.5 Stars
Pace: 5 Stars
Characters: 4.5 Stars
Cover: 4 Stars
Overall: 4.5 Stars

Disclosure: I won an electronic copy of this novella from the author via twitter.

Stacking the Shelves (4)

Thanks to Tynga at Tynga's Reviews for hosting Stacking the Shelves and making this awesome graphic!

Stacking The Shelves is all about the books we are adding to our shelves each week, sharing with you our excitement for our newest titles and maybe have you discover a new book in the process! --Tynga

Blooded by Amanda Carlson
From Amanda Carlson via Twitter
The Bitter Seed of Magic by Suzanne McLeod [Buy Now]
From Suzanne McLeod via her blog
Kithra by Dani Worth
Replicant by Dani Worth
From Dani Worth via Mary's Naughty Whispers
The Impossible Cube by Steven Harper [Buy Now]
Chase Me by Tamara Hogan ARC [Buy Now]
Kiss of the Goblin Prince by Shona Husk ARC [Buy Now]
The Danger that is Damion by Lisa Renee Jones ARC [Buy Now]
Where There's Smoke by Karen Kelley ARC [Buy Now]
From Michelle G of Michelle's Book Blog

Heart of Brass by Kate Cross [Buy Now]
Tiger's Curse by Colleen Houck [Buy Now]
Heart of Brass was purchased by Christen, and it's not pictured because she took it to work to read on her breaks. I was hoping to go to one of Colleen Houck's signings in the Tampa area this weekend, but it didn't work out with my work schedule. But I picked a copy up anyway because I've been wanting to read it for a while.

The Half-Breed Vampire by Theresa Meyers [Buy Now]
I found this on the used book cart at my local library for 50 cents. I always bring change with me to the library because I never know when I'm gonna find something good hiding on the cart.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Mini-Review: Elemental by Brigid Kemmerer

Title: Elemental
Author: Brigid Kemmerer
Series: Elemental #0.5
Publisher: Kensington
Genre: Paranormal Young Adult
Release Date: 03/27/12
Reviewed by: Sara
Earth, Fire, Air, Water – they are more than you dream.

As an air Elemental, 17-year-old Emily Morgan doesn’t have much power. That’s okay -- she knows what happens to kids who do.

Like Michael Merrick. He’s an earth Elemental, one with enough power to level cities. Which makes him sexy, dangerous, and completely off limits. At least according to Emily’s family.

But her summer job puts her in close contact with Michael, and neither of them can help the attraction they feel. When forces of nature like theirs collide, one misstep could get someone killed. Because Emily’s family doesn’t just want her to stay away from him.

They want him dead.

Mini-Review: This novella was a great intoduction into the author's world. I wasn't sure if I wanted to buy the first book in the series, so when I saw this novella was free on Kindle, I jumped at the chance to check it out. Now, I'm definitely intrigued and can't wait to get my hands on Storm, the first full-length book in the series. The novella introduced the world of the Elementals and their powers, while still keeping a bit of mystery. Emily and Michael were very interesting characters, and I can't wait to learn more about them, and the others who were introduced. The cover is a bright green, which looks good next to the blue and red of books one and two. I really liked the tree branches surrounding the cover model, signifying the powers of an earth elemental.

Plot: 4 Stars
Pace: 4.5 Stars
Characters: 3.5 Stars
Cover: 4 Stars
Overall: 4 Stars

Disclosure: I downloaded a free copy of this novella to my Kindle (may not still be free).

Review: Evil Dark by Justin Gustainis

Title: Evil Dark
Author: Justin Gustainis
Series: Occult Crime Unit Investigation #2
Publisher: Angry Robot
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Release Date: 04/24/12
Reviewed by: Sara
But the Book:
buy the book from The Book Depository, free delivery
My name's Markowski. I carry a badge. Also, a crucifix, some wooden stakes, a big vial of holy water, and a 9mm Beretta loaded with silver bullets.

A series of seemingly motiveless murders of supernatural creatures points to a vigilante targeting the supe community. Markowski wouldn't normally have much of a problem with that, but his daughter may be next on the killer's list...

File Under: Urban Fantasy [ Unnatural Law | Thicker Than Water | The Bite Stuff | Duty Calls ]

Plot: 4.5 Stars
I love the balance between cop procedural and the paranormal in this series. Stan and Karl are a part of the Occult Crimes Unit, and its no different from any other police unit, except for the paranormal creatures. On any given day, Stan and Karl are tring to solve numerous cases involving werewolves, vampires, goblins, witches, and any of the other supernatural creatures that are living in Scranton. If this series was made into a tv show, it would be something like Law and Order: Paranormal Victims Unit.

Pace: 4.5 Stars
This novel was non-stop Paranormal cop drama/action. From the very first page, I was sucked right back into the author's gritty world. This time around I already knew about the no-chapters-only-page-breaks thing, and I didn't even notice. My favorite part about this novel was that Stan and Karl has other cases to work around the big case that was the main focus. These cases filled the spaces between twists and turns, which meant there was no downtime for my brain to wander. This was a fast-paced, gritty Urban Fantasy that I didn't want to put down.

Characters: 4.5 Stars
Although I enjoyed learning more about Stan and Karl, I was really excited to learn more about Stan's daughter, Christine. Between Karl and Christine, Stan's opinion of Supes, or supernatural creatures, has been turned upside-down. It's forced him to face some hard truths, and even get into a couple of arguments. It was also nice to see more of Rachel, a witch that the precinct hires as a consultant for cases. There were also a couple of FBI agents that were introduced, and it was very interesting to see how they interacted with the cops within the precinct. There were also numerous characters introduced as Stan and Karl made progress in their cases, with a few surprises mixed in.

Cover: 4 Stars
If you put this cover next to its predecessor, there's no mistaking that the two go together. The main image of the cover is a bit grainy, like its an actual crime scene photo. Which fits considering the image is a crime scene straight out of the pages of the novel. The bold fonts and font colors draw your attention, while the detailed crime scene keeps it. I liked that a little bit of yellow was used in this cover, since it was so prominent in the first cover. But the addition of red for the title was a great idea, considering how much blood is involved in the cases within the novel.

Overall: 4.5 Stars

Disclosure: I purchased a copy of this novel for my own reading pleasure.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Stacking the Shelves (3)

Thanks to Tynga at Tynga's Reviews for hosting Stacking the Shelves and making this awesome graphic!

Stacking The Shelves is all about the books we are adding to our shelves each week, sharing with you our excitement for our newest titles and maybe have you discover a new book in the process! --Tynga

Summoning the Night by Jenn Bennett [Buy Now]
The Vicious Deep by Zoraida Cordova [Buy Now]
Thanks to Suzanne McLeod and Leanna Renee Hieber! I won Summoning the Night from Suzanne McLeod's blog and a signed copy of The Vicious Deep from Leanna Renee Hieber via twitter.

Struck by Jennifer Bosworth [Buy Now]
Masque of the Red Death by Bethany Griffin [Buy Now]
Sweet Evil by Wendy Higgins by [Buy Now]
Insurgent by Veronica Roth [Buy Now]
Shine by Jeri Smith-Ready [Buy Now]
Blackbirds by Chuck Wendig [Buy Now]
I finally got Insurgent and Shine this week! I had pre-ordered them and it felt like they took forever to get here. I would've liked to get Shine in hardcover to match the others, but I couldn't pass up the deal on the Book Depository (plus, with the new cover it would still stand out). There were so many new YA titles when I went to B&N and went a little crazy (they sent a lot of coupons for Mother's Day).

Kindle: (Christen)
Bear Meets Girl by Shelley Laurenston
Christen grabbed this title because it's on sale for $3.99 right now. She was looking at it in B&N, but didn't want to spend so much since she hasn't read any others in the series, so the sale came at the right time.

Temptation Rising by A.C. Arthur [Buy Now]
The Wood Queen by Karen Mahoney [Buy Now]
Arcadia Awakens by Kai Meyer [Buy Now]
Dead is Just a Rumor by Marlene Perez [Buy Now]
Dead is Not an Option by Marlene Perez [Buy Now]
Dead is a Battlefield by Marlene Perez [Buy Now]
Beauty Dates the Beast by Jessica Sims [Buy Now]
King of Darkness by Elisabeth Staab [Buy Now]
The Vampire Stalker by Allison van Diepen [Buy Now]
I went a little crazy at the library this week, but I have a reason! I have a library card from a neighboring county that had expired. When I went to the website, it looked like the rules had changed and my county could no longer borrow. I was crushed when I saw this, but figured I'd try anyway. Turns out, I guess I'm grandfathered in because they renewed it! I was really excited to find some recent releases. Beauty Dates the Beast is for Christen because she doesn't like to read my mass markets.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Mini-Review: Legend by Marie Lu

Title: Legend
Author: Marie Lu
Series: Legend #1
Genre: Dystopian Young Adult
Release Date: 11/29/11
Reviewed by: Sara
But the Book:
buy the book from The Book Depository, free delivery
What was once the western United States is now home to the Republic, a nation perpetually at war with its neighbors. Born into an elite family in one of the Republic's wealthiest districts, fifteen-year-old June is a prodigy being groomed for success in the Republic's highest military circles. Born into the slums, fifteen-year-old Day is the country's most wanted criminal. But his motives may not be as malicious as they seem.

From very different worlds, June and Day have no reason to cross paths -- until the day June's brother, Metias, is murdered and Day becomes the prime suspect. Caught in the ultimate game of cat and mouse, Day is in a race for his family's survival, while June seeks to avenge Metias's death. But in a shocking turn of events, the two uncover the truth of what has really brought them together, and the sinister lengths their country will go to keep its secrets.

Full of nonstop action, suspense, and romance, this novel is sure to move readers as much as it thrills.

Mini-Review: This novel is definitely a must read for anyone who needs more dystopian YA after seeing the Hunger Games. My favorite part of the novel was the alternating points of view. Each chapter switches between Day and June, giving the reader a look at both sides of the Republic simultaneously. Sometimes POV switches can slow the plot down, but it did the exact opposite in this novel. Day and June were equally strong and interesting. They really balanced each other out throughout the novel, even before they met. This cover conveys the feel of the novel very well (and looks even better in person). But for a book as fantastic as this, I wish there was just a bit more detail in it.

Plot: 4.5 Stars
Pace: 5 Stars
Characters: 4.5 Stars
Cover: 3.5 Stars
Overall: 4.5 Stars

Disclosure: I received a copy of this novel as a Christmas gift.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday (54)

This book blog meme is hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine.

Title: Wake
Author: Amanda Hocking
Series: Watersong #1
Genre: Paranormal Young Adult
Release date: 08/07/12
Chosen by: Sara
Fall under the spell of Wake -- the first book in an achingly beautiful new series by celebrated author Amanda Hocking -- and lose yourself to the Watersong.

Gorgeous. Fearless. Dangerous. They're the kind of girls you envy; the kind of girls you want to hate. Strangers in town for the summer, Penn, Lexi and Thea have caught everyone's attention -- but it’s Gemma who’s attracted theirs. She’s the one they’ve chosen to be part of their group.

Gemma seems to have it all -- she’s carefree, pretty, and falling in love with Alex, the boy next door. He’s always been just a friend, but this summer they’ve taken their relationship to the next level, and now there’s no going back. Then one night, Gemma’s ordinary life changes forever. She’s taking a late night swim under the stars when she finds Penn, Lexi and Thea partying on the cove. They invite her to join them, and the next morning she wakes up on the beach feeling groggy and sick, knowing something is different.

Suddenly Gemma is stronger, faster, and more beautiful than ever. But her new powers come with a terrifying price. And as she uncovers the truth, she’s is forced to choose between staying with those she loves -- or entering a new world brimming with dark hungers and unimaginable secrets.

Mini-Review: Fever by Lauren DeStefano

Title: Fever
Author: Lauren DeStefano
Series: Chemical Garden #2
Genre: Dystopian Young Adult
Release Date: 02/21/12
Reviewed by: Sara
But the Book:
buy the book from The Book Depository, free delivery
The second book in The Chemical Garden Trilogy reveals a world as captivating -- and as dangerous -- as the one Rhine left behind in Wither.

Rhine and Gabriel have escaped the mansion, but they’re still in danger. Outside, they find a world even more disquieting than the one they left behind.

Determined to get to Manhattan and find Rhine’s twin brother, Rowan, the two press forward, amid threats of being captured again... or worse.

The road they are on is long and perilous -- and in a world where young women only live to age twenty and men die at age twenty-five, time is precious. In this sequel to Lauren DeStefano’s harrowing Wither, Rhine must decide if freedom is worth the price -- now that she has more to lose than ever.

Mini-Review: I really enjoyed the messed up carnival aspect of this novel. Although it's only a portion of the tretcherous trip Rhine and Gabriel make, it gave a much needed perpective into the world outside of the mansion. The trek the characters made up the coast allowed for a lot of details in regards to world-building that the first novel didn't. And it was a very quick read. Normally, stories including a lot of searching or running tend to bore me, but the many roadblocks Rhine and Gabriel ran into made for some great twists and turns. Plus, the ending left me craving the third novel immediately. Rhine and Gabriel are both sick during different times during the novel, and this allows each to take turns leading the way. There were numerous new characters introduced, many of which were interesting. The cover, although not nearly as striking as the first, was still very eye-catching due to the little details. Plus, I really enjoyed that the colors were very complimentary to the first since so many things about the novel were very different from the first.

Plot: 4 Stars
Pace: 4.5 Stars
Characters: 4 Stars
Cover: 4 Stars
Overall: 4 Stars

Disclosure: I bought a copy of this novel for my own reading pleasure.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Stacking the Shelves (2)

Thanks to Tynga at Tynga's Reviews for hosting Stacking the Shelves and making this awesome graphic!

Stacking The Shelves is all about the books we are adding to our shelves each week, sharing with you our excitement for our newest titles and maybe have you discover a new book in the process! --Tynga

Purchased by Sara:
Dead Reckoning by Charlaine Harris [Buy Now]
Deadlocked by Charlaine Harris [Buy Now]
Ascend by Amanda Hocking [Buy Now]
For the book signing, I purchased Deadlocked (we needed to buy at least one book to get a ticket), and I also grabbed Dead Reckoning from work because I had a gift card. I actually purchased Ascend last week, but forgot to include it.

Purchased by Christen:
All Together Dead by Charlaine Harris [Buy Now]
We owned books 1-6 prior to the book signing, so Christen grabbed a copy of book seven to get signed.

Charlaine Harris Book Signing

So this past Thursday, Christen and I took a drive up to Jacksonville for Charlaine Harris' book signing for her release of Deadlocked. Neither of us had been back to Jacksonville since Christen's graduation in 2010. So before heading to the beach, we stopped by Riverside for an early dinner at The Casbah. Anyone who goes to Jacksonville must go to The Casbah.

After a delicious meal, we headed across town to the beach. The Bookmark was a small bookstore one block from the beach that we didn't know existed until this week. We arrived an hour early, right before the big rush of people, and got pretty good seats. There were so many people in attendance, not all could fit inside the small bookstore so there were speakers set up outside.

Charlaine Harris answered questions from the crowd for a half an hour. I was very happy that there weren't a lot of spoilers because I have only read through book seven. There were a couple spoilery questions that she would not answer, but overall it was a very interesting Q&A. She even answered some questions about her other series and hinted at future projects after she finishes Sookie's story with book thirteen. The best thing I learned: the Harper Connolly series has been picked up by SyFy.

Even though we were in a very early group to get our books signs (since we pre-ordered), we stuck around until the end so that we could get all of our books signed (We have all but eight, nine, and ten, plus, Christen brought the collection of short stories and an anthology). Charlaine Harris' personal policy is that she will sign two books at a time, but you can wait in line again (and again and again) if you have more. She broke policy and signed four for me at the end because there were only three others left in line.

I tend to be very shy, so I probably came across star-struck when it was my turn to meet Charlaine. I thanked her for writing the series because Dead Until Dark was the first Urban Fantasy novel I ever picked up after venturing away from the YA section for the first time (and as you can see from my blog, that's kind of a big deal). This was the first book signing that Christen was excited for (and not just dragged to by me), so I made sure to get a picture of her with Charlaine.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Month in Review: March + April

I think I'm going to make a habit this year of doing these month in review posts every two months. It makes it look like I read more. Lol. March was a pretty good month for me, but April really dragged in regards to getting some reading done. My dad was in the hospital for a little bit (he's out and better now), and there were a lot of changes at work. Sometimes I read more when I'm stressed, but this wasn't one of those times.

Although it says I only read five books in April, it was a bit more than that. I started two other review books that I couldn't get into (due to the circumstances) and have set them aside for now. I was trying to force myself through them, but sometimes I've just gotta read something for me (hence the extra dystopian novels... I blame the HG movie). And I started another novel on the 29th hoping to finish it in time. I'm still reading so it'll be the first one for May! I'm still mostly on track for my goal of 104 books for the year.

And here's the breakdown for March: four Urban Fantasy, three Paranormal Romance (one was also Steampunk), three Paranormal Young Adult.

March: 10

How to Flirt With a Naked Werewolf by Molly Harper (4 Stars)
Curses! A F**ked Up Fairy Tale by J.A. Kazimer (DNF)
Black Howl by Christina Henry (5 Stars)
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins (4.5 Stars)
Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins (5 Stars)
Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins (4 Stars)
Kamikaze by Moira Rogers (3 Stars)
Knight's Curse by Karen Duvall (3.5 Stars)
Dark Descendant by Jenna Black (4 Stars)
Wicked as They Come by Delilah S. Dawson (4.5 Stars)

And here's the breakdown for April: one Paranormal Young Adult, two Dystopian Young Adult, two Paranormal Romance.

April: 5

The Dragon Stirs by Lynda Aicher (3.5 Stars)
ReVamped by Ada Adams (3 Stars)
Alantis Rising by Alyssa Day (DNF)
Fever by Lauren DeStefano (4 Stars) review coming soon
Legend by Marie Lu (4.5 Stars) review coming soon

So what did everyone else read in April?

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Review: ReVamped by Ada Adams

Title: ReVamped
Author: Ada Adams
Series: Angel Creek #1
Genre: Paranormal Young Adult
Release Date: 02/19/12
Reviewed by: Sara
A simple mission turned deadly.

Nineteen-year-old vampire Dawn has led a sheltered life within the confines of her father’s presidential headquarters. Upon being sent on a mission to revamp four goofy misfits into guardians of a peaceful little town of Angel Creek, Dawn believes that all her dreams have finally come true. What starts off as a simple task, turns into something unexpected, changing Dawn’s life forever and leading the action-loving, thrill-seeking vampire teen on a path of mystery, danger and intrigue.

When a human girl is kidnapped by a group of rogue vamps, Dawn discovers that there is more going on in Angel Creek than meets the eye. And it all connects to Ethan, the cute newcomer who seems too perfect to be true, Sebastian, the mysterious vampire with a turbulent past, and even Dawn herself. Dawn must not only succeed in revamping the troubled recruits, but must also prevent the vampire race from being overtaken by a malevolent villain who has a strange and obsessive fascination with her. As threat escalates, romance blooms, and ghosts from her past begin to surface, Dawn is sure of only one thing: her life will never be the same.

Plot: 3.5 Stars
The vampires in this novel were a nice spin on the myth. There was just enough creativity to make them stand out against many other vampires, without them seeming too far-fetched. I also liked a lot of little details about the world the author created. There were some parts of this novel that read a bit more adult Urban Fantasy than Paranormal Young Adult (mostly the drug that gives the user vampire powers), but considering Dawn was a bit older than your average YA main character it worked. This novel had a few twists and turns I was expecting, but also a few that caught me off-guard.

Pace: 2.5 Stars
It took me a little to get into this novel. There were some punctuation inconsistancies (mostly the lack of quotations when a character spoke multiple paragraphs of dialogue) that I had to get used to while reading. Plus, the first half of the novel unfolded very slowly. It wasn't until I was around sixty percent through the novel that the action really started to grab me. One thing that really slowed this novel down was the dialogue. I'm all for characters explaining things in the place of paragraphs of descriptions, but the dialogue was often very wordy and sometimes ended up sounding more like a lecture than a casual conversation.

Characters: 2.5 Stars
I didn't really connect with the characters in this novel, because I feel like I didn't get to know them that well. I didn't get a lot of anyone's past, and therefore didn't always understand their motivations one hundred percent. I learned the most about Dawn, the main character, but some of the information was shared really late in the novel. I would have understood her and her choices a little better had some details been shared earlier. Ethan's character seemed to be there just to move the plot along at some points. Sebastian was a very intriguing character, but was a little too mysterious. The four recruits were a very odd mix of characters, but I liked them together and wish I could've learned more about them.

Cover: 3.5 Stars
This cover is very striking. I like the position of the cover model. You only get to see half of her face, but her expression grabs your attention. The purple is very bright and saturated, but still balanced. I like the cracked glass in the background. It fills the empty space without drawing the eye from the cover model. My favorite part of the cover is the font. The backwards letters are very interesting and unique, and the embellishments to the font are perfect. The necklace is an interesting addition, but its position is a little strange. It's sitting too high on her neck and off to the side.

Overall: 3 Stars

Disclosure: I received a copy of this novel for review from the author.

Waiting on Wednesday (53)

This book blog meme is hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine.

Title: Darklands
Author: Nancy Holzner
Series: Deadtown #4
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Release date: 07/31/12
Chosen by: Sara
They call it Deadtown: the city’s quarantined section for its inhuman and undead residents. Most humans stay far from its border -- but Victory Vaughn, Boston’s only professional demon slayer, isn’t exactly human...

Boston’s demons have been disappearing, and Vicky’s clients are canceling left and right. While fewer demons might seem like a good thing, Vicky suspects foul play. A missing Celtic cauldron from Harvard’s Peabody museum leads her to an unwelcome conclusion: Pryce, her demi-demon cousin and bitter enemy, is trying to regain his full powers.

But Pryce isn’t alone. He’s conjured another, darker villain from Vicky’s past. To stop them from destroying everything she loves, she’ll have to face her own worst fear -- in the realm of the dead itself.