Sunday, October 30, 2011

In My Mailbox #3


In My Mailbox was created by Kristi at The Story Siren. Check out my current giveaways: The Iron Knight, Anna Dressed in Blood, Darker Still and Dark Eden. This week, I got the following books:

From the library:
Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson
Fateful by Claudia Gray

For review:
Article 5 by Kristen Simmons (thank you Tor Teen!)
Laddertop by Orson Scott Card and Emily Janice Card (Thank you, Tor Teen!)

For a giveaway:
I got a fantastic prize pack from HarperTeen and Patrick Carman! It contained a “Fear is the Cure” t-shirt, a lanyard, 10 copies of The Fear Test CD ROM and a bookmark. It’s all up for grabs in the Dark Eden giveaway.

I am really excited about this week because Girl of Fire and Thorns, Fateful and Article 5 are all former Waiting on Wednesday picks and I can’t wait to read them. I am also excited about Laddertop, it will be my first manga! What did you get this week?

Friday, October 28, 2011

Most Memorable Spooky Reads


For the last day of the Halloween Queens Book Giveaway, I wanted to highlight some of my most memorable spooky reads. Don’t forget to enter to win The Iron Knight, Anna Dressed in Blood, Darker Still and Dark Eden. Also, stop by One Page at a Time where KM is giving away a copy of Circle of Fire by Michelle Zink.

Nevermore by Kelly Creagh

Nevermore starts out like other YA books set in high school but soon, the lines between a nightmarish dream world from Edgar Allan Poe’s stories and reality begin to cross. This book channels the creepiness of Poe’s stories with a cool YA spin. Oh yes, there is also Varen, the most swoon worth Goth guy ever! He’s another really great reason to read Nevermore….


Daughter of Smoke and Bone is not so much spooky as it surreal, dark and a bit bizarre, but in a fantastic way. The creep factor lies with the settings and the physical descriptions of the characters. This book is so cool and may be my favorite of the year unless another book comes along to blow me away sometime between now and December.

Savannah Grey by Cliff McNish

While is not my favorite spooky read, it is a very unique horror novel and worth reading. Savannah Grey is a 15-year-old who realizes that she is changing. Nature is turning her into a weapon against an evil that’s as old as the earth itself. Told from alternating perspectives, this book is entertaining and has some good plot twists. I have never read anything else like it.

Hereafter by Tara Hudson

In the mood for some romance with your spooky book? Hereafter offers you the romance between a ghost girl and a guy. In addition to the sweet relationship, it also has soul stealing ghosts and a haunted bridge thrown in for good measure. Like Anna Dressed in Blood, I am so curious about what kind of future the living have with the dead. I will definitely be reading this series to find out!

The Stand by Stephen King

I know I’m going old school here but this is the creepiest book I have ever read and even though it’s not YA, I read it when I was a teenager and yes, it scared the heck out of me. Honestly, this whole list could easily have been of Stephen King novels but I will stick to this one. The Stand is a combination of paranormal, science-fiction, horror and dystopia/apocalyptic. He just doesn’t write them like this anymore…



What are some of your most memorable spooky reads?

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Dark Eden Blog Tour: Interview + Giveaway!

Welcome to the official Dark Eden blog tour! Halloween is just around the corner and to celebrate the publication of Dark Eden, available everywhere November 1st, this month author Patrick Carman will be visiting blogs to share spooky guest posts and sneak peeks from his brand new book and app. I reviewed this book and loved it, you can check out my review here.

Welcome, Patrick! You are undoubtedly the innovator in multi-media/interactive novels and I love the DARK EDEN app! Why does DARK EDEN work so well with multi-media?
Thank you! The truth is, I never know how the multimedia aspect of a project is going to work until I get pretty deep into the woods (publisher cringes). I wrote DARK EDEN twice –once as a straight up book, again as an immersive multimedia app – and then re-wrote the app as we moved through development. Many things come into play: what the app will look like and how it will operate, hiring actors, editing scenes, recording audio diaries – there’s just so much that goes into these things. Along the way my team helps me make the right choices, many of which are made only days before sections of the app go live. We’re dialing this thing in right down to the last second!

What led you to start developing stories in this non-traditional way?
School visits top the list of reasons why some of my projects include multimedia. I’ve visited over 1,300 schools in the past decade, and every year students get more and more distracted. It’s a highly entertaining world they live in, and for a lot of readers, they need a lifeline back to books. Projects like DARK EDEN are designed to blend in with the technological world many teens have become immersed in. My hope is that DARK EDEN is an opportunity for some of our most jaded readers to build some confidence about reading, then move on to a more traditional book.

I read that there will be an enhanced e-book version of DARK EDEN for Nook and Kindle. Will the e-book experience differ from reading the printed book in conjunction with using the DARK EDEN app?
Actually, the DARK EDEN book is a total stand-alone and does not interact with the app version. DARK EDEN (both the printed novel and the ebook) is designed for a traditional reader, words only (and some amazing illustrations). The app is the same story told in a multimedia format (words, videos, maps, audio diaries). The Nook will have the full app version of DARKEDEN. The enhanced ebook will include around seven of the 100+ multimedia elements, and some other exclusive content at the end.

What other projects are you working on at this time?
DARK EDEN 2: Eve of Destruction! Also, a teen trilogy I’m not at liberty to talk about yet, and the second FLOORS book, my current middle-grade series for Scholastic. And if you want something really different, check out www.315stories.com, the short story re-imagined for modern teens.

I am so happy to hear that there will be a sequel to DARK EDEN! In honor of Halloween, tell us your best/scariest Halloween memory.
We used to play this old record on a turntable with all kinds of scary Halloween sounds, then hand out candy and terrify all the kids who came by. We were moderately famous for it in our old 1970’s neighborhood. That was some fun!

Thank you, Patrick. Sounds like you guys definitely had the cool Halloween house on the block!

About the book:
When Will Besting approaches Fort Eden for the first time, he knows something isn't right. With more terrifying secrets at every turn he discovers a hidden fear deep inside himself, a dark mystery a thousand years in the making, and the unexpected girl of his dreams. But can he save everyone from the dangers of Fort Eden before it's too late?

Do you dare to face your fears? Take the Dark Eden Fear Test. Follow Patrick Carman on Twitter. Visit the Official Dark Eden Website.

Be sure to check out all the stops on the Dark Eden blog tour
October 4th: The Reader Bee
October 5th: Novel Novice
October 6th: The Bookworms
October 7th: Girls in the Stacks
October 10th: Between the Pages
October 11th: Dark Readers
October 12th: Letters Inside Out
October 13th: The Book Faery
October 14th: Books Complete Me
October 17th: Two Chicks on Books
October 18th: Starry Sky Books
October 19th: Great Imaginations
October 20th: Once Upon a Twilight
October 21st: Me, My Shelf and I
October 24th: Fiktshun
October 25th: PageTurners
October 26th: Icey Books
October 27th: Truly Bookish
October 28th: Stuck in Books

Ready to win a copy of this awesome book and fabulous swag? As a part of my Halloween Queens Book Giveaway week, one grand prize winner will receive: an ARC of Dark Eden, one “Fear is the Cure” t-shirt, a lanyard, one copy of The Fear Test CD ROM and a bookmark. Nine additional winners will receive one copy of The Fear Test CD Rom! That’s 10 winners you guys! To enter, just follow the Rafflecopter instructions and good luck.


Book Review: Dark Eden

As a part of the Halloween Queens Book Giveaway week, I am doing a review of the awesome YA thriller, Dark Eden by Patrick Carman. Stop by tomorrow for the next stop on the Dark Eden blog tour. I will be interviewing Patrick and you can enter to win an ARC of of the book!

Release Date: Nov. 1, 2011
Publisher: HarperCollins Children’s Books
Pages: 336 pages
Genre: Horror, Thriller, Science Fiction
Source: Publisher
Goodreads Summary: Fifteen-year-old Will Besting is sent by his doctor to Fort Eden, an institution meant to help patients suffering from crippling phobias. Once there, Will and six other teenagers take turns in mysterious fear chambers and confront their worst nightmares—with the help of the group facilitator, Rainsford, an enigmatic guide. When the patients emerge from the chamber, they feel emboldened by the previous night's experiences. But each person soon discovers strange, unexplained aches and pains. . . . What is really happening to the seven teens trapped in this dark Eden?
Everyone has fears, right? Imagine having phobias so debilitating, they prevent you from living a normal life, doing things that most people take for granted. For the seven teens who are sent to Fort Eden (a sort of rehab for people with severe phobias), therapy to has failed them and this is their last chance to be cured.

The entire story is told from Will Besting’s perspective and he is a great main character. Even though Will is quirky, Patrick Carman writes these little details that make the character so endearing and well rounded. I love the way Will depends on his recorder and listens to everything, preferring audio over video, choosing sounds over words. While we don’t spend a lot of time with the other characters, we get to know them through Will.

Carman does an excellent job of building suspense throughout the book. I was on the edge of my seat to know what all the character’s fears were and exactly how Rainsford was curing them. I’m happy to say that I was a good girl and restrained myself from peeking at the end of the book while still in the middle of it and I was rewarded with the cool way the story unfolded. I don’t want to give too much away because experiencing Dark Eden’s mystery as it unfolds is a huge part of enjoying the novel.

Dark Eden is original, thrilling, suspenseful and an all around enjoyable read. While I recommend it for anyone who likes a really good YA thriller, I especially recommend it for reluctant readers. Another thing I love about this book, no cliffhanger! This book could totally stand alone even though I would love another book in the series.

Content: Kissing, some scary imagery. 

My Rating: Really Good!

Check out the Dark Eden book trailer:

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Interview with Leanna Renee Hieber and Darker Still Giveaway!

I am pleased to welcome Leanna Renee Hieber, award winning, bestselling Gothic Victorian Fantasy author of The Strangely Beautiful series (now available) and Darker Still, A Novel of Magic Most Foul.

Tell us about Darker Still: A Novel of Magic Most Foul
Well, it features a hot British Lord trapped in a painting and is full of: Danger! Intrigue! Mystery! Curses! Magic! Ghosts! Nightmares! Disguises! Pretty Dresses! Stolen kisses! Mayhem! For actual details, here's the bookseller summary:

Title: Darker Still: A Novel of Magic Most Foul
Release Date: Nov. 8, 2011
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Buy: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, WORD Bookstore
The Picture of Dorian Gray meets Pride and Prejudice, with a dash of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. -- New York City, 1880. Seventeen-year-old Natalie Stewart's latest obsession is a painting of the handsome British Lord Denbury. Something in his striking blue eyes calls to her. As his incredibly life-like gaze seems to follow her, Natalie gets the uneasy feeling that details of the painting keep changing... Lord Denbury's soul is trapped in the gilded painting by dark magic while his possessed body commits unspeakable crimes in the city slums. He must lure Natalie into the painting, for only together can they reverse the curse and free his damaged soul.
How did you come up with the idea for the story?
Ever since I was a kid and saw Sesame Street's "Don't Eat The Pictures" where they all get trapped inside the Metropolitan Museum of Art after hours, I've wanted to write a haunted painting story. Then when I read The Picture of Dorian Gray in school, I was done for, and the 'haunted painting' idea nestled into my mind, waiting for the right story and the right characters to tell it. When my agent asked for my next book project after getting the Strangely Beautiful saga underway, this beloved idea from so long ago finally got its turn to shine.

I don't usually gravitate towards writing first person narratives, but it's par for the course for YA fiction. Since Dracula is one of my favourite novels, the epistolary format (meaning a work written in diary entries, letters, newspaper articles) appeals to me, and so Natalie's diary became the perfect way to tell the story. Once I had my main characters and the main 'issue' of the story; Lord Denbury's trapped soul and the mystery of his curse, it unfolded from there.

Where did you get the inspiration for the characters? Which character from the book is your favorite?
Natalie, the heroine and narrator, came at me like a ton of bricks; very distinct and opinionated and she really engaged me with her spirited attitude. I knew that in a story like this, where the hero would be ostensibly trapped for most of the book, that the heroine would have to be an energetic, specific and skilled narrator, and Natalie has enough spunk to make it work. The fact that she doesn't speak makes her inner narrative all the more rich, I think. The idea of a soul trapped in a painting gave rise to my Lord Denbury, a la The Picture of Dorian Gray, and Jonathon grew from there, becoming more nuanced as I continued writing. And I can't pick a favorite, it's like asking a parent to pick a favorite child. I love them all for different reasons. I'm partly in love with Jonathon (every author has to be at least a bit in love with their hero), but Natalie is so very special to me, I can't quantify them separately. And I've only grown to love them all more as I've continued the series.

What do you have in store for the Magic Most Foul world? How many books are planned for the series?
I just finished the sequel and turned it over to my editor. In it we'll see a lot of action and new intrigues. Get ready for a deadly secret society, dreams that could kill, jealousies and betrayal, hot new gentlemen on the scene, hoards of ghosts and healthy doses of reanimation and exorcisms.

As for how many books in the Magic Most Foul saga; I know there will need to be a third book, a fourth could be a possibility, but we may end up sticking with the trilogy format. My editor and I have some decisions to make.

Both Darker Still and your successful Strangely Beautiful series are gothic novels set in the Victorian Era. Why are you drawn to this genre and era?
The first time the Victorian Era had me in thrall was when I was in a production of Oliver Twist at age 9. As a pre-teen I fell in love with Edgar Allan Poe and the Gothic style. I loved Victorian ghost stories. I was 11 or 12 when I started my first novel; a sequel to The Phantom of the Opera, set in 1888. So even at that age, the 1880s called to me, and it's been a muse ever since.

The aesthetics were the first things to draw me in; the whole look of the time period and the stories I'd read that were written then. I love all the rich language and big words. I studied the era in college. While performing as a professional actress in the regional theatre circuit, I took to adapting works of 19th century literature for the professional stage and that gave me a certain confidence and facility with the language. I acted in Victorian-set productions and got a chance to 'live' in the era every night on stage. I've traveled for research to various 19th century sites. So I've "experienced" this past time period that continues to compel me, in a very comprehensive way.

Some people suggest it's a past life, I don't know about that, all I know is that the era is my muse. I find the era compelling because it's a bit bi-polar, it's difficult, grim and grand, hypocritical, romantic, full of conflict, revolutions, it created amazing social movements and incredible art, it was brimming with new ideas and it was terrified by all the changes in the world, which birthed some of my favorite novels. And the clothes. I really love the clothes.

Your books are a wonderful mix of genres. Do you read the same genre as you write? What are you currently reading?
Thank you, I love so many elements from different genres that I want to blend them all gently and organically into what I write. I read a lot of research material for my work. But in terms of fiction favourite kind of books are historical mysteries because while I love the fantastical and paranormal, I find it a bit hard to read in exactly the same genre as I write. So I gravitate towards Anne Perry, Elizabeth Peters, Erik Larson, etc, so that I can still stay in the flavor of the historical vernacular. But I'm currently reading The Hunger Games because it's a crime not to.

What other projects are you working on at this time?
Having just finished the draft of Magic Most Foul II, I'm back to working on the last Strangely Beautiful novel for next year, and my steampunk novella The World of Tomorrow is Sadly Outdated is being serialized by Doctor Fantastique's Show of Wonders: http://www.doctorfantastiques.com - And my first novel, The Strangely Beautiful Tale of Miss Percy Parker is being adapted into a musical theatre production! So I'll be working on the staged reading this fall in New York City and other developments with the show in the regional theatre circuit, with the goal of moving it to Broadway when it's all up and ready.

I'll be keeping people updated via my various networks, on my website: http://leannareneehieber.com, on Twitter at http://twitter.com/leannarenee on FB at http://facebook.com/lrhieber and via my blog http://leannareneebooks.blogspot.com so please join me for the journey!

In honor of Halloween, what are your favorite horror novels?
All the 19th Century Gothic classics, especially the collected works of Edgar Allan Poe and I'm a particular fan of Stephen King's collected shorts as well. 

Tell us your best/scariest Halloween memory.I was the resident teller-of-ghost-stories in my girl scout troupe and amongst my friends. One October night (I think I was around 7 or 8 years old?) I was entertaining my two friends as I perched on an enormous black leather Queen Anne chair, my father's homemade ceramic lamp in my hand and my long blonde hair down around my shoulders (yeah, like the kid from Poltergeist). The lamp bulb was neat, it flickered like a candle and I do love a good effect. The base and part of tine interior wiring of the lamp was exposed but I cupped it in my small hands like a mug. As I reached the climax of the story - a ghost was climbing inexorably up the stairs, with a death-knell tread, ready to burst in upon the hapless young girls within! - I started to slur my words and gurgle. My blonde hair began to rise up around my shoulders. My friends' eyes bulged out of their skulls as they shrieked, tearing from the room screaming "Lea's possessed! Lea's possessed!" I sat there, helpless, tethered to the electrical current when my finger had slipped too far inside the base of the lamp, until I was able to shake myself free and toss the lamp aside. Looking back, the uncomfortable kiss of voltage was worth the effect.

Great story and thank you, Leanna!

Ready for the giveaway? I’ve read (and love) this book and trust me, you want this one! As a part of the Halloween Queens Book Giveaway hosted by KM from One Page at A Time and myself, I will be giving away a copy of this awesome book! To enter, just click on the read more prompt (if you are on the main page) and follow the Rafflecopter instructions. Don't forget to stop by One Page at A Time to win an autographed copy of Anna Dressed In Blood.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Review and Giveaway: Anna Dressed in Blood!


Welcome to the Halloween Queens Book Giveaway where KM from One Page at A Time and I will be hosting a fantastic week of reviews, author interviews, favorite spooky reads and of course, lots of book giveaways! To kick off this Halloween extravaganza, I will be giving away a copy of Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake! Make sure you stop by One Page at A Time to read what KM thinks of this scary book!

Title: Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake
Publisher: Tor Teen
Genre: Horror
Goodreads Summary: Cas Lowood has inherited an unusual vocation: He kills the dead. So did his father before him, until he was gruesomely murdered by a ghost he sought to kill. Now, armed with his father's mysterious and deadly athame, Cas travels the country with his kitchen-witch mother and their spirit-sniffing cat. Together they follow legends and local lore, trying to keep up with the murderous dead—keeping pesky things like the future and friends at bay.

When they arrive in a new town in search of a ghost the locals call Anna Dressed in Blood, Cas doesn't expect anything outside of the ordinary: track, hunt, kill. What he finds instead is a girl entangled in curses and rage, a ghost like he's never faced before. She still wears the dress she wore on the day of her brutal murder in 1958: once white, now stained red and dripping with blood. Since her death, Anna has killed any and every person who has dared to step into the deserted Victorian she used to call home. But she, for whatever reason, spares Cas's life.
Are you in the mood for a really, really creepy book? Then Anna Dressed in Blood may be the book for you. I started reading this expecting a standard ghost story but Anna is nothing like I expected. Filled with ghosts, witches, demons, possessions, voodoo and the occult, Anna Dressed in Blood seriously shocked me and creeped me out. The descriptions of the various specters that Cas encounters and Anna’s crazy house are terrifyingly vivid. Be warned, if you are a visual person like I am, you may keep seeing some of the more bloody scenes play out in your head even after you are done reading the book.

Kendare Blake is a really good story teller and joins an awesome list of female writers who write a boy’s perspective wonderfully. I love Cas. He has a certain confidence and swagger that may have made him arrogant in the hands of another writer but Blake added just enough purposefulness to him to make him very likable. I also love Anna and thought her mix of terror and vulnerability makes you love her as well.

Anna Dressed in Blood does not end with a cliffhanger but Cas and Anna’s story is not done yet. The sequel, Girl of Nightmares, comes out next year.

Content: Kissing, heavy profanity and graphic violence.

Ready to win a copy of Anna Dressed in Blood? Just click on the read more prompt (if you are on the main page) and follow the Rafflecopter instructions.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Spooktactular Giveaway Hop!


Welcome to the Spooktacular Giveaway Hop hosted by I Am A Reader Not A Writer and The Diary of a Bookworm. For this hop, I am giving away a copy of The Iron Knight by Julie Kagawa.

Click on the read more prompt below, follow the Rafflecopter instructions in the form and good luck. Stop by during the week as I will also be giving away a bunch of other books for my Halloween Queens Book Giveaway!


Friday, October 21, 2011

Book Review: The Iron Knight

Title: The Iron Knight by Julie Kagawa
Release Date: Oct. 25, 2011
Publisher: Harlequin
Pages: 386 pages
Genre: Fantasy
Source: Publisher through NetGalley
Goodreads Summary: My name—my True Name—is Ashallayn'darkmyr Tallyn. I am the last remaining son of Mab, Queen of the Unseelie Court. And I am dead to her. My fall began, as many stories do, with a girl…
The Iron Knight is the fourth and final book in the Iron Fey series and if you have yet to read these books, you have to get them! Ms. Kagawa’s world building is excellent, her characters endearing and unforgettable and her stories are fantastic and filled with forbidden and all consuming love.

While the first three books in the series were told from Megan’s point of view, The Iron Knight is told from Ash’s perspective and picks up shortly after the events in The Iron Queen. Megan is now queen of the Iron Realm but Ash cannot be with her there because the iron would kill. To be with the woman he loves, Ash embarks on an epic quest to abandon his life as a faerie and become mortal.

While the first three books were awesome, I am so happy that Ms. Kagawa ended the series with this book! The Iron Knight gives us so much background on Ash, we truly get to understand how he became so cold and guarded, how he became friends and then enemies with Puck and just how much he really loves Megan.

Even more profound, this book is also about being human, what it really means to love unconditionally and to give up everything, even life, for that love. It also brings to mind the fact that we are more than the choices and we have made and more than the sum of our past mistakes (yes, I just quoted a Tenth Avenue North song but it goes so well with this book, I could not get it out of my head while I was reading!). The Iron Knight is darker that previous books in the series and the Nevernever just a bit more twisted. The book also has more action, more emotion and is just an all around spectacular read.

The Iron Knight is a completely satisfying conclusion to my all time favorite fey series. While I did feel like I was saying goodbye to old friends, I am looking forward to Julie Kagawa’s new series, upcoming books, and pretty much read anything else she writes.

Content: Implied sex, kissing, mild profanity and violence.

My Rating: The Best!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday – The Savage Grace

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Breaking the Spine, and specifically spotlights upcoming novels we can't wait to read. This week’s choice is:

Publisher: EgmontUSA
Publish Date: March 13, 2012
Genre: Paranormal
Summary: A troubled soul. An impossible choice. A final battle.

Wrestling with the werewolf curse pulsing deep inside of her, Grace Divine was finally able to find her brother, but it nearly cost her everything.

With her boyfriend, Daniel, stuck in wolf form and Sirhan's death approaching, time is running out for Grace to stop Caleb Kalbi and his gang of demons. If she fails, her family and hometown will perish. Everything rests on Grace's shoulders.

The final installment in The Dark Divine trilogy brings Daniel and Grace's love story to a breathtaking conclusion.
I LOVED the first two books in this Dark Devine series and cannot wait to find out how it all ends. If you have not started this series, you should before the final book comes out. Additionally, it’s awesome how all the covers complement each other. What books are you waiting on?

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Book Review: Daughter of Smoke and Bone

Release Date: Sept. 27, 2011
Publisher: Little, Brown & Company
Pages: 420 pages
Genre: Fantasy
Source: Library
Goodreads Summary: Around the world, black handprints are appearing on doorways, scorched there by winged strangers who have crept through a slit in the sky. In a dark and dusty shop, a devil's supply of human teeth grown dangerously low. And in the tangled lanes of Prague, a young art student is about to be caught up in a brutal otherwordly war.

Meet Karou. She fills her sketchbooks with monsters that may or may not be real; she's prone to disappearing on mysterious "errands"; she speaks many languages--not all of them human; and her bright blue hair actually grows out of her head that color. Who is she? That is the question that haunts her, and she's about to find out.

When one of the strangers--beautiful, haunted Akiva--fixes his fire-colored eyes on her in an alley in Marrakesh, the result is blood and starlight, secrets unveiled, and a star-crossed love whose roots drink deep of a violent past. But will Karou live to regret learning the truth about herself?
I wasn’t sure how to approach Daughter of Smoke and Bone at first. Both the summary and the book’s cover art are vague and then there is the hint that this may be an angel book, which I usually avoid. After reading enough reviews that assured me that the mythology is this book is different than what we traditionally associate with angels, I decided to give Daughter of Smoke and Bone a try. I’m very happy that I did. Easily, Daughter of Smoke and Bone is one of my favorite books of the year. 

Laini Taylor certainly has a way with words. Her writing is so vivid and the world building is incredible. While reading this book, I could very clearly imagine the scenes in Prague, Marrakesh, the city of Loramendi and even the battle fields on Eretz. And the characters! Karou is a fantastic main character, both vulnerable and fierce at the same time. And Akiva, oh Akiva…. His pain, anger and love are such real, visceral things that are awesomely written.

There are certain plot devices used in this book that usually annoy me (characters declaring love very quickly after meeting and stalkerish behavior), but Ms. Taylor makes it work and work well. The story is incredible and well plotted, the characters are amazing and well rounded.

As great as the characters and world building are, the thing about the book that I really love is the original, dark and fantastical story that Ms. Taylor has imagined and thankfully, shared with us. I don’t want to give too much away, this book is something you should experience on your own and fall in love with it as I did. The sequel, which comes out next year, is now at the top of my list for must read books in 2012.

Content: Implied sex, kissing, mild profanity and heavy violence. While this is marketed as a young adult novel, only Karou and her friend Zuzana are teenagers. Everyone else is an adult including Akiva and Karou’s ex-boyfriend, Kaz. Daughter and Smoke and Bone reads like an adult fantasy novel and may be more appropriate for older teens. 

My Rating: The Best!

Monday, October 17, 2011

In My Mailbox #2


In My Mailbox was created by Kristi at The Story Siren. This week, I got the following books:

From the library:
Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor
The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin
Modelland by Tyra Banks (for a joint review with Lisa from Read. Breath. Relax)

For review:
Dearly, Departed by Lia Habel (Thank you, Random House and NetGalley)

I love my library and not that long ago, I got almost all my books from there. Then I discovered NetGalley and Simon & Schuster Galley Grab and could not resist getting a lot of books from these two awesome outlets which left me little time to read anything else. Unfortunately, I have been neglecting my library and so I am now trying to request less ARCs and borrow more library books. It will be hard but I am off to a great start this week and have even pushed Daughter of Smoke and Bone to the top of my list. I am half-way through it and so far, it is really good. What did you get in your mailbox? 

Friday, October 14, 2011

Book Review: Awake at Dawn

Release Date: Oct. 11, 2011
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin
Pages: 400 pages
Genre: Paranormal
Source: Publisher
Goodreads Summary: Now that she’s settled in at Shadow Falls Camp, Kylie Galen’s determined to discover the extent of her supernatural abilities. But with a ghost insisting someone Kylie loves is about die, a rogue vampire on a murdering rampage, and her sixth sense telling her someone is watching her, Kylie’s quest for answers is quickly put on hold.

To make matters worse, just when she’s about to give her heart to Derek, a half-fairy, he starts pulling away. When Lucas, a werewolf with whom Kylie shares a secret past, returns, Kylie’s feels more conflicted than ever. Her weekend with her mom should have been the just the break Kylie needs, but it turns out to be her breaking point. Someone from the dark side of the supernatural world has plans for Kylie--and it'll take all her resources to get back to Shadow Falls alive...
There are many YA books out there about boarding schools for paranormals but this Shadow Falls series is my favorite. Not only are these books very character driven (which I love) but the plot is solid as well.

Awake at Dawn is the perfect follow-up to Born at Midnight. The book picks up shortly after where Born at Midnight ended with Kylie at Shadow Falls Camp trying to figure out what kind of paranormal she is and working through the other drama that surrounds her life.

This book is all about relationships: Kylie’s relationships with her parents, with her friends Della, Miranda and Holiday and of course, with the two love interest, Derek and Lucas. Kylie is such a likable character. Her issues are legitimate and I never felt that she was being whiny or that the angst was overdone. While I don’t usually like love triangles, Ms. Hunter does this one well and even I could not choose between the boys, they are just so great. It also helps that the romance was not the book’s main plot which centers firmly on Kylie finding out who and what she really is. While the relationships and characters are awesome, I love the paranormal aspects of the book as well.

If you like paranormal YA fiction, you will love this series, it’s just so good. I cannot wait to read the next book in the series, Taken at Dusk, which comes out in April 2012.

Content: Kissing, sexual situations and violence. There are some steamy scenes in this book that may be more appropriate for more mature teens.  

My Rating: Really Good!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday – The Book of Blood and Shadow

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Breaking the Spine, and specifically spotlights upcoming novels we can't wait to read. This week’s choice is:
Publisher: Random House
Publish Date: April 10, 2012
Genre: Mystery, Thriller
Summary: One girl is determined to find the truth and avenge the dead. It was like a nightmare, but there was no waking up. When the night began, Nora had two best friends and an embarrassingly storybook one true love. When it ended, she had nothing but blood on her hands and an echoing scream that stopped only when the tranquilizers pierced her veins and left her in the merciful dark.

But the next morning, it was all still true: Chris was dead. His girlfriend Adriane, Nora's best friend, was catatonic. And Max, Nora's sweet, smart, soft-spoken Prince Charming, was gone. He was also--according to the police, according to her parents, according to everyone--a murderer.

Desperate to prove his innocence, Nora follows the trail of blood, no matter where it leads. It ultimately brings her to the ancient streets of Prague, where she is drawn into a dark web of secret societies and shadowy conspirators, all driven by a mad desire to possess something that might not even exist. For buried in a centuries-old manuscript is the secret to ultimate knowledge and communion with the divine; it is said that he who controls the Lumen Dei controls the world. Unbeknownst to her, Nora now holds the crucial key to unlocking its secrets. Her night of blood is just one piece in a puzzle that spans continents and centuries. Solving it may be the only way she can save her own life.
The Book of Blood and Shadow sounds fantastic and wonderfully different from the YA books I have been reading recently. Love the cover and the reflection of Prague in her eye. I requested this from NetGalley and am really hoping that I get approved for it. What are you guys waiting on?

Monday, October 10, 2011

Book Review: Kiss of Night

Release Date: Oct. 7, 2011
Publisher: FaithWords
Pages: 306 pages
Genre: Supernatural Christian Fiction
Rating: 3.5 stars
Source: Publisher
Goodreads Summary: Centuries ago, Raphael was a blasphemous knight who fought in the Crusades purely for his own mercenary benefit, and to satisfy his taste for killing. Now, condemned for his evil passions and hypocrisy, he wanders the earth a vampire, cursed with first-hand knowledge of the supernatural world he once denied existed. The powerful relic he still possesses from his days as a Crusader has been stolen by a rival vampire who has recruited an army of soulless underlings to aid him in spreading evil. At the time he learns this, Raphael has been hunting this vampire for nearly a century, and it seems the final battle is destined to take place in Prague. For help in this quest, Raphael must enlist the aid of two humans, David and Susan, who suddenly find themselves immersed in a world they never imagined, entangled with supernatural forces they can't control. Susan, in particular, finds herself conflicted as she struggles with her inexplicable attraction to Raphael. In the end, both Susan and Raphael will be called upon to exercise courage and faith, and in the process, the question, "What would happen if a vampire truly accepted God?" is answered.
Kiss of Night puts a whole new spin on the classic vampire story. Vampirism, it turns out, is a curse bestowed on men and women who are so depraved, they need more than a standard lifetime to turn from wickedness and be redeemed. Raphael is one of those men. A crusader who killed everyone in his path, Raphael killed for the joy and thrill of killing. Now a 700-year-old vampire, Raphael wants the help of Susan, descendant from a line of humans who can sense the supernatural, to defeat a group of vampires that have resisted redemption and have only become more evil as they age.

Kiss of Night is good supernatural Christian fiction, a genre that’s relatively new to me but one that I absolutely love. Along with the idea that no one is beyond redemption, the story effortlessly weaves in themes of sacrifice, love and prayer that flows well and is never preachy.

Raphael is swoon worthy and the budding relationship between him and Susan, though a bit quick, is still well done. I was (very pleasantly) surprised that the couple kiss passionately on more than one occasion, you don’t usually find that in Christian fiction. I loved the vampire mythology and Raphael’s flashbacks to times before and after he was turned.

While I enjoyed Kiss of Night, the book does have some minor flaws. The story is told from alternating character perspectives and I found the constant change a bit jarring. Additionally, as I mentioned before, the romances in the story develop quickly.

The story is fast paced, thrilling and leaves mysteries that will hopefully be unfolded in upcoming sequels. The book does end in a wicked cliffhanger but that’s what keeps us coming back, right? I will definitely be reading upcoming books in this series. I recommend this for anyone who is looking for something a little different in supernatural/paranormal fiction.

Content: Kissing and violence.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

In My Mailbox (My First!)


In My Mailbox was created by Kristi at The Story Siren. I love reading about what’s in other people’s IMMs and commenting on them but have never done one myself. I figured this was a good week to start so here is my first IMM! This week, I got the following books:



For Review:
Dark Eden by Patrick Carman (Thank you, HarperCollins)
Tangled (Torn #2) by Erica O’Rourke (Thank you, Kensington)
Dark Inside by Jeyn Roberts (Thank you, S&S Galley Grab)

Purchased:
Carrier of the Mark by Leigh Fallon

Won:
Saltwater Vampires by Kristy Eagar (Thank you, Jenny from Supernatural Snark)

What did you get in your mailbox? 

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Book Review: Eve

Title: Eve by Anna Carey
Release Date: Oct. 4, 2011
Publisher: HarperTeen
Pages: 336 pages
Genre: Dystopia, Science Fiction
Rating: 3.5 stars
Source: Publisher
Goodreads Summary: The year is 2032, sixteen years after a deadly virus—and the vaccine intended to protect against it—wiped out most of the earth’s population. The night before eighteen-year-old Eve’s graduation from her all-girls school she discovers what really happens to new graduates, and the horrifying fate that awaits her.

Fleeing the only home she’s ever known, Eve sets off on a long, treacherous journey, searching for a place she can survive. Along the way she encounters Caleb, a rough, rebellious boy living in the wild. Separated from men her whole life, Eve has been taught to fear them, but Caleb slowly wins her trust...and her heart. He promises to protect her, but when soldiers begin hunting them, Eve must choose between true love and her life.
I love dystopian/apocalyptic novels and Eve is a good addition to the genre. After a virus destroys most of the population, the US has reverted to a monarchy form of government and is slowly working to rebuild the population and civilization.

Eve, an orphan, attends an isolated girls’ school where the students are well educated and taken care of. She is pretty, smart, the head of her class and looking forward to attending university to learn a trade and move to the wonderful City of Sand, a utopia-like place she has only heard about. Eve and her classmates are indoctrinated to believe that men and love are bad and can only hurt you. As a result of spending the majority of her life in this school, she is extremely sheltered and na├»ve.

Much of the story takes place in the wild and I enjoyed the world that Anna Carey built. It’s always interesting to wonder what the world would look like if civilization fell apart and the author did a great job creating that apocalyptic desolation and decay. I adored Caleb’s character and how Eve grows to trust and love him. I did, however, spent much of the novel wanting Eve to take more control of her own situation but I realize that her going from street dumb to a street smart, kick-butt kind of girl in a matter of a few weeks would be unrealistic. There is room for her character to grow and become stronger and I look forward to it.

The book does end with a cliffhanger and I will definitely be reading the sequel. This is a good start to what I hope will be an exciting new series!

Content: Kissing and violence.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Halloween Queens Book Giveaway!


Halloween is almost here and I am so excited to be hosting a fantastic week of reviews, author interviews, favorite spooky reads and of course, giveaways of really great books! From Oct. 24-28, my fellow Halloween queen and fantastic affiliate KM from One Page at A Time and I will be hosting this Halloween extravaganza! Here is what I have planned for the week:

Monday: Review and giveaway of Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake
Tuesday: Interview with Leanna Renee Hieber and Darker Still giveaway
Wednesday: Dark Eden Review
Thursday: Interview with Patrick Carman and Dark Eden giveaway
Friday: My favorite spooky reads

Make sure to check KM's site and see the authors she will be featuring and the books she will be giving away. It's going to be a really fun week and I super excited about it. We would love for you to grad the giveaway button to help get the word out and thanks to Kristin Rae for making it!

Giveaway Winner!

The winner of the ARC of Supernaturally is Kelsey D.! The winner was chosen by Random.org and has been notified by email.

Thank you to everyone who participated in the giveaway. I have a few more giveaways coming up so make sure you enter.

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