Thursday, May 31, 2012

Why I Don’t like Zombies

I have an irrational fear of zombies. It’s obviously irrational because zombies aren’t real, right? RIGHT? Unfortunately, recent events seem to prove otherwise.

A few years ago, I thought of zombies the same way I thought about vampires or any other scary, fictional creature: something meant to entertain and stir the imagination. That was before I saw the horror movie 28 Days Later. The movie itself was scary but no more so than other horror movies I had seen. The awful zombie dreams I started having after watching the movie, however, were not routine and I hated and avoided anything with zombies for a long time after that.

Just last year, I decided to try reading a YA zombie book (zombie lite, if you will) and while it was a nail biter, I felt OK after reading it. While I still avoid anything with zombies on TV or in the theatre, so far I have been OK with zombies in YA books (I will not tackle adult zombie novels, that would be pushing it entirely too far!). As a matter of fact, I’m currently reading Dead Reckoning by Mercedes Lackey and Rosemary Edghill and so far, so good.

This leads me to point of this post. As most of you may have seen on the news or online, there was an attack in Miami last week that has brought my ‘irrational’ fears to the forefront. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, search online for “Miami Zombie” and read about it for yourself. The law enforcement theory that the attack was fueled by drugs has done nothing to reassure me. Instead, this tells me that there are drugs that can turn people into flesh eating zombies!

Ok, let me get serious here. While I’m not building a bunker or gathering supplies in preparation for the zombie apocalypse, the attack and the entire circumstances around it have REALLY creeped me out. Since I live in South Florida, the story is everywhere and even though I am trying my hardest to avoid it.

Is anyone else freaked out by this attack? Am I the only one who thinks the attack sounds like the opening scene to a zombie novel because there is always one case and then the outbreak usually begins a few days later….

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Blog Tour & Interview: Genevieve Graham, Author of Sound of the Heart

I am very happy to welcome Genevieve Graham, author of the new historical novel, Sound of the Heart. Welcome to the blog, Genevieve!

Genevieve Graham graduated from the University of Toronto in 1986 with a Bachelor of Music in Performance (playing the oboe). While on a ski vacation in Alberta, she met her future husband in a chairlift lineup and subsequently moved to Calgary to be with him. They have recently settled in a small, peaceful town in Nova Scotia with their two beautiful daughters.

Writing became an essential part of Genevieve’s life a few years ago, when she began to write her debut novel, Under the Same Sky. The companion novel, Sound of the Heart, is now in stores. Visit her on her website, Facebook, Goodreads or Twitter.

Q: In the spirit of Twitter, tell us about Sound of the Heart in 140 characters or less.
A: Dougal survives Culloden, escapes prison, falls in love. English steal her & send her to colonies as slave. Dougal risks his life to find her.

Q: How did you come up with the idea for Sound of the Heart?
A: After writing “Under the Same Sky” (my first novel), I had no plans to write anything else. I kind of figured that was The End. Fortunately, my editor, Wendy McCurdy at Penguin, knew it wasn’t. She asked for a second book. I, of course, said, “sure!” … then panicked. Another story? Where was I supposed to come up with another story?

It’s a good thing Dougal (who is the brother of Andrew, the hero in “Under the Same Sky”), is a natural storyteller. He showed up very shortly after I’d broken into a feverish sweat over finding a plot and told me just to sit back and listen.

Both the stories begin in Culloden Moor during the infamous Battle of Culloden (Scotland). In “Under the Same Sky”, Andrew escapes the battlefield and his story goes from there. Dougal wasn’t so lucky. Once I started researching the survivors of the battle, discovering what happened to the POWs, I knew that’s where his tale would start.

Q: Where did you get the inspiration for the characters?
A: This may sound evasive, but that’s not what I’m doing … I don’t get inspired to create characters. The characters inspire me. They come fully formed into my head from out of nowhere and introduce themselves. I have very little say in their personalities or decisions.

To get a real feel for the characters' physical aspects, I like to study actors, watching facial expressions, hand gestures, postures, accents, and other things. I've watched countless videos and movies of men like Gerard Butler, Colin Farrell, Josh Holloway, and others. All in the name of research, of course …

Q: Why do you write historical novels and how did you get started?
A: My theory about Historical novels goes like this:
No one alive back then is alive today, right? So there’s no one here to tell us what did or did not happen. Okay. We get that.

I have no idea where my stories come from. I feel them when I’m calm enough to open up to the impossible. They’re like “pushes” in my head or little forces of energy which talk to me, urging me to go this way or that in my writing.

Who’s to say those invisible voices don’t belong to the actual people of my stories? Who’s to say they never existed? Perhaps they did! Perhaps I’m simply writing the stories they actually experienced.
… something for you to think about, anyway! :)

Q: How familiar were you with Scottish history before writing Sound of the Heart? Was a lot of research required?
A: Before I started writing the first book, I knew nothing but what I’d read in Diana Gabaldon’s “Outlander” books. But once I started writing, I was driven. I dove deep into whatever information I could find, going from books to Google, then eventually spending most of my time exchanging emails with reenactors—those people you sometimes see in full costume with cannon and stuff. I met one old fella who saw nothing wrong in being wrapped in 7 layers of heavy wool in the heat of summer. If the Highlanders did it, so could he. Those people are passionate, and I learned a ton from them.

By the time I wrote “Sound of the Heart,” I knew a fair amount, but I wanted to learn about things I’d never known before. I educated myself on forts and prisons and slavery as well as survival skills and other points. I love researching now and always end up with far too much information for my books!

Q: How did you get your first publishing deal and how did that feel?
A: I was introduced to my agent, Jacques de Spoelberch, by an online author friend. Jacques was terrific and spent time helping me hone my ending (read: rewrite) a couple of times. When he set the first manuscript on my editor’s desk at Berkley Sensation (Penguin), it took less than 48 hours before she made an offer—for both books.

How did it feel? Incredible. Much screaming and dancing and hugging was done … and it’s still going on. I am amazed every time I see my name written down on my cover, excited when I’m invited to do a signing or a workshop. The whole experience is surreal, and I hope to be living it for years to come!

Q: What is your favorite part of the writing process? Least favorite?
A: I love when an idea takes over my head and goes straight to my fingers. My absolute favourite moment is when I go back to read some of my book later, and I can’t remember typing what I was reading. Those are usually the best written sections, which tells me that when I’m deep in the “zone,” that’s when I do my best work. Which in turn tells me I shouldn’t try to think too much!

I also love editing, which many people might find strange. But I do. I think of it as sanding down rough edges and creating something beautiful.

Least favourite? Thinking up plots. I love characters and settings and dialogue, but plotlines are definitely not my forte.

Q: What is your favorite book and what are you currently reading?
A: “Outlander”
“Angela’s Ashes”

Q: What other projects are you working on at this time?
A: The third book in the series, “Out of the Shadows” is currently on my editor’s desk, and we’re waiting to hear if she will be buying it or not. The publishing business is a tough place to be these days, trust me!

I have books on the go all the time, and right now I’m working on a time travel romance based around WW1 time and my little town in Nova Scotia. Other than that, well, I have a few others that are finished (one is Hist.Rom, and the other is chicklit) but need massive work, and another is the beginning of another Scottish historical series, but it’s not nearly done. Thanks for having me here today!

Thank you, Genevieve!

About Sound of the Heart:

Release Date: May 1, 2012
Publisher: Berkley Trade
Pages: 336 pages
Genre: Historical
Buy:  Amazon, B&N, Indiebound

Goodreads Summary: Dougal MacDonnell, a fierce warrior from the Highlands of Scotland, is able to hear the thoughts of other men and dream how the future will unfold. Devastated by the loss of his family during the Battle of Culloden in 1746, he fosters a deep hatred for the English. But when Glenna, the love of his life and a Scottish outlaw, is captured and shipped overseas, Dougal is forced to join an English army made of vanquished Scots. Now fighting on the side of his sworn enemies, he embarks on a journey that will take him across the seas to the colonies. There he will risk everything for the chance to find his true love.

Genevieve has been generous to donate a grand prize for the book tour but hurry up and enter because it ends tomorrow! Here is what she has to say about it:

Grand Prize on the book tour is ...
A signed copy of Sound of the Heart PLUS a four cd set of relaxation cds created by my incredibly talented musical friends, Cori Ashley and Ed Franks. I'll give you a little insight into why I chose these cds as my prize - I'm NOT saying Sound of the Heart is about relaxing … considering the wild adventures Dougal's in for, I doubt he was too relaxed! But Dougal has a gift, similar to his brother's gift. He can relax his mind and hear the thoughts of other men, but he can also sink into his thoughts and hear the sounds and voices of his loved ones as if they were right there with him. These cds were created to help you escape the stress and craziness of your days. Grab a cup of tea or glass of wine (your preference!), light a candle, maybe slip in to a bubble bath, and listen to the sound of your heart.

Waiting on Wednesday: Days of Blood and Starlight

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

Publisher: Little, Brown & Company
Publish Date: Nov. 6, 2012
Genre: Fantasy

Goodreads Summary: In this stunning sequel to the highly acclaimed "Daughter of Smoke and Bone," Karou must come to terms with who and what she is, and how far she'll go to avenge her people. Filled with heartbreak and beauty, mysteries and secrets, new characters and old favorites, Days of Blood and Starlight brings the richness, color and intensity of the first book to a brand new canvas.

Why am I waiting on Days of Blood and Starlight (Daughter of Smoke and Bone #2)? Daughter of Smoke and Bone was incredible! You can read my review here. It was easily one of my favorite books for 2012 and I have been anxiously awaiting the sequel ever since. Additionally, the cover of Days of Blood and Starlight is so beautiful and complements the first book perfectly. What books are you waiting on?

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Book Review: Sound of the Heart

Release Date: May 1, 2012
Publisher: Berkley Trade
Pages: 336 pages
Genre: Historical
Source: Publisher in exchange for an honest review
Goodreads Summary: Dougal MacDonnell, a fierce warrior from the Highlands of Scotland, is able to hear the thoughts of other men and dream how the future will unfold. Devastated by the loss of his family during the Battle of Culloden in 1746, he fosters a deep hatred for the English. But when Glenna, the love of his life and a Scottish outlaw, is captured and shipped overseas, Dougal is forced to join an English army made of vanquished Scots. Now fighting on the side of his sworn enemies, he embarks on a journey that will take him across the seas to the colonies. There he will risk everything for the chance to find his true love.

Sweeping and epic. Those are the words I will use to describe Sound of the Heart. Genevieve Graham has weaved a story that captivates the reader with characters that you genuinely care about and a plot that will keep you reading, desperately wanting to know how it will all turn out.

The story carries you from the battle scarred Highlands of Scotland to the filthy streets of London and the wilds of a young North American territory. Graham’s descriptions are vivid and lush and exactly want I want when I’m reading a historical novel.

Dougal and Glenna, our main characters, are so well developed. I loved that these two were simply friends before they became more than friends. Their overall relationship is wonderfully written and secondary characters are also well done. Dougal’s paranormal ability is subtle and does not take away from the historical setting of the storyline, it only adds to it.

Graham does not sugarcoat the harsh and violent realities of living in the 1700’s, especially for women. Rape, murder and corruption were normal for the time and places and though tragic and heart breaking, they work for this story.

If you love historical romance, Sound of the Heart is definitely for you. If you mostly read paranormal romance but have not read much or any historical, give this a try. The story has its dark portions but the romance and adventure aspects of the novel are awesome and not to be missed! Tomorrow, I will feature an interview with Genevieve Graham where she talks about the book and there will be a giveaway! Make sure you come back and enter to win.

Content: Kissing, sex, attempted rape and actual rape, profanity and violence. This is not a YA novel and I recommend it for 18+.

My Rating: Really Good!

I’m a guest today!

Into The Morning Reads

Jenny at Into The Morning Reads was nice enough to ask me to write a guest post on her blog today! Check out my post about branding your blog and changing reading taste.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Splash Into Summer Giveaway Hop!

Welcome to the Splash Into Summer Giveaway Hop hosted by I Am A Reader Not A Writer and Page Turners Blog. This hop runs from May 25-31.

I live in South Florida and I don’t know about you guys but it has been feeling like summer around here for a while now! But what’s summer without a fabulous summer read so for this hop, I’m giving away an ARC of A Breath of Eyre by Eve Marie Mont. Just fill out the Rafflecopter form below and good luck!


Congrats to Sarika, the winner of the Love In Bloom Giveaway Hop and Shaina, the winner of Goddess Interrupted. The winners were chosen by and have been contacted. I'm starting more giveaways soon so make sure you enter. Thank you to everyone who participated!

Book Review: Halflings

Release Date: Feb. 1, 2012
Publisher: Zondervan
Pages: 288 pages
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Source: Publisher in exchange for an honest review
Goodreads Summary: After being inexplicably targeted by an evil intent on harming her at any cost, seventeen-year-old Nikki finds herself under the watchful guardianship of three mysterious young men who call themselves halflings. Sworn to defend her, misfits Mace, Raven, and Vine battle to keep Nikki safe while hiding their deepest secret—and the wings that come with.

A growing attraction between Nikki and two of her protectors presents a whole other danger. While she risks a broken heart, Mace and Raven could lose everything, including their souls. As the mysteries behind the boys’ powers, as well as her role in a scientist’s dark plan, unfold, Nikki is faced with choices that will affect the future of an entire race of heavenly beings, as well as the precarious equilibrium of the earthly world.

Halflings gets off to fast start. Our main character, Nikki Youngblood, is painting in the woods when she is attacked by enormous, otherworldly creatures called hellhounds. Even though her death seems imminent, Nikki bravely faces the monsters until three gorgeous boys come to her rescue. The boys Mace, Raven and Vine are Halflings: the product of fallen angels and humans and are outcasts in both Heaven and on Earth.

Nikki is an interesting character. She portrayed as a tough, no-nonsense girl, one who has a black belt in karate, drives a motorbike and prefers boyfriend jeans and vintage tees to dresses and make-up. I had a hard time identifying with Nikki mainly because I think the character rejects anything feminine. For the record, I think it’s possible to rock at karate and be into bikes while still being girly. In contrast, Nikki’s best friend, the one who is very girly encourages her to be more feminine, is portrayed as being shallow and boy crazy. I understand and appreciate the message that the author is sending to teen girls but this tomboy character is becoming a bit of a stereotype in YA these days.

While the author tells us that Nikki is a fighter, she does little fighting but gets rescued a lot by the Halflings. There isn’t a huge love triangle here, Nikki is more involved with one boy than with the other and insta-love is involved. I liked the boys. Mace, considered the good one, is more idealistic and while Raven is supposed to be bad, he just seemed jaded and snarky to me.

I didn’t find the angel mythology in Halflings offensive, especially after recently reading two angel books that I did not like at all (Embrace and Fallen). While the mythology had some holes in it, I just went with it and hope those holes will be filled in with the next book in the series.

The romance is Halflings is sweet and the action is exciting. Halflings will undoubtedly appeal to younger teens (its intended audience) who will especially like the three swoon-worthy boys, forbidden love, the quasi love-triangle and paranormal romance. I seriously doubt they will have the issues I did. Parents can also breathe easy as this is an angel book with no questionable content and even has a solid message about putting the greater good above serving yourself.

Despite my issues with Halflings, I do recommend it to teens who love paranormal romance. The ending leaves a lot of questions and a huge opening for the second book in the series, Guardian, which comes out in October.

Content: Kissing and violence.

My Rating: Just Fine

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday: Stormdancer

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

Title: Stormdancer by Jay Kristoff
Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books
Publish Date: Sept. 18, 2012
Genre: Fantasy, Steampunk
Goodreads Summary: A DYING LAND
The Shima Imperium is verging on the brink of environmental collapse; decimated by clockwork industrialization and the machine-worshippers of the Lotus Guild. The skies are red as blood, land choked with toxic pollution, wildlife ravaged by mass extinctions.

The hunters of the imperial court are charged by their Shōgun to capture a thunder tiger—a legendary beast, half-eagle, half-tiger. But any fool knows thunder tigers have been extinct for more than a century, and the price of failing the Shōgun is death.

Yukiko is a child of the Fox clan, possessed of a hidden gift that would see her executed by the Lotus Guild. Accompanying her father on the Shōgun’s hunt, she finds herself stranded: a young woman alone in Shima’s last wilderness, with only a furious, crippled thunder tiger for company. Even though she can hear his thoughts, even though she saved his life, all she knows for certain is he’d rather see her dead than help her.

But together, the pair will form an indomitable friendship, and rise to challenge the might of an empire.

Why am I waiting on Stormdancer? Look at this cover you guys! I adore books with multi-cultural characters and/or settings and this fantasy Japanese setting sounds awesome! PLUS, Stormdancer has steampunk, griffins and the main character is both telepathic and a samurai?!? This is pretty much a must read for me. What books are you waiting on?

Monday, May 21, 2012

Book Review: Shadows on the Moon

Release Date: April 24, 2012
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Pages: 464 pages
Genre: Fantasy
Source: Publisher in exchange for an honest review
Goodreads Summary: A powerful tale of magic, love, and revenge set in fairy-tale Japan.

Trained in the magical art of shadow-weaving, sixteen-year-old Suzume is able to re-create herself in any form - a fabulous gift for a girl desperate to escape her past. But who is she really? Is she a girl of noble birth living under the tyranny of her mother's new husband, Lord Terayama? Or a lowly drudge scraping a living in the ashes of Terayama's kitchens? Or is she Yue, the most beautiful courtesan in the Moonlit Lands? Whatever her true identity, Suzume is destined to use her skills to steal the heart of a prince in a revenge plot to destroy Terayama. And nothing will stop her, not even the one true aspect of her life- her love for a fellow shadow-weaver.

Set in a fantasy version of Japan, Shadows on the Moon is about a young girl, Suzume, who suffers a horrible injustice and becomes obsessed with getting revenge, even if cost her everything: her identity, love and even her freedom.

Suzume is the Cinderella-like character in this fairytale retelling but she is like no other Cinderella you have ever met. She is flawed and vulnerable yet so incredibly strong. I am a very character driven reader and I absolutely loved Suzume, even when she was making awful decisions based on her need for vengence. Zoe Marriott writes Suzume’s tumultuous emotions so well, I felt like I was experiencing them with her. I so wanted her to get revenge on her oppressors! I know it was wrong but Suzume’s pain was so real and the injustice so great, I wanted them to pay for what they did.

I am an escapist reader and tend to avoid issues books and Shadows on the Moon has some serious issues. Suzume has a lot of anger and is depressed. Her mother, a cold and uncaring woman, won’t let her talk about her pain so Suzume starts cutting herself to release her pent up emotions. We are not talking a onetime thing here guys, she cuts repeatedly throughout the book. Normally, heavy issues like this would be a turn-off for me but Marriott’s writing is so good and the entire plot is so well done, I could not stop reading this book!

The secondary characters are also very well written and I was most surprised by Suzume’s love interest, Otieno. He was strong, handsome and totally unexpected! I love that Marriott does not focus on the romance in this book. It’s something that sustains Suzume but it’s her need for revenge that drives her and the story.

I have not even touched on the magical, shadow weaving aspects of this story or the breathtaking setting (while it’s fantasy, looks a lot like feudal Japan) – they are awesome and not to be missed!

Overall, Shadows on the Moon is a fantastic fantasy novel with very realistic contemporary issues. It’s dark, it’s sad, I could not put it down and the ending is completely satisfying. This is my first book by Zoe Marriott but it will not be my last. I already got one of her earlier books, Daughter of the Flames, from my library and I can’t wait to dig in! 

Content: Implied sex, kissing and violence. There are some mature themes that you may want to discuss with your teens before they read this book including the cutting/self-harm (that I mentioned before) and contemplated suicide. There is also a transgender character who has a long term relationship with a married man and characters discuss prostitution. This book is recommended for older/more mature teens and adults.

My Rating: The Best!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Love in Bloom Giveaway Hop!

Welcome to the Love In Bloom Giveaway Hop hosted by I Am A Reader Not A Writer and & Portrait of a Book. This hop runs from May 18 – May 23.

For this hop, I’m giving away one e-book copy of Starcrossed by Josephine Angelini (from Amazon, Nook, Google, iTunes or Kobo). This book is awesome, you can read my review here, and the sequel is coming out at the end of the month so you want to read it now!

Because I am giving away an e-book, this giveaway is international. Just fill out the Rafflecopter form below and good luck!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday: The Assassin’s Curse

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

Publisher: Strange Chemistry
Publish Date: Oct. 2, 2012
Genre: Fantasy
Goodreads Summary: Ananna of the Tanarau is the eldest daughter of a highly-ranked family in the loose assortment of cutthroats and thieves in the Pirate's Confederation. When she runs away from the marriage her parents have arranged for her, they hire Naji the assassin to murder her.

When a mysterious woman in a dress shop offers her magical assistance for dealing with the assassin, Ananna accepts. She never went in much for magic herself -- she lacks the talent for it -- but she's not quite ready to die yet, either. Unfortunately, the woman's magic fails.

Fortunately, Ananna inadvertently saves the assassin's life in the skirmish, thus activating a curse that had been placed on him a few years earlier. Now, whenever her life is in danger, he must protect her -- or else he experiences tremendous physical pain. Neither Ananna nor the assassin, Naji, are pleased about this development.

Follow Annana and Naji as they sail across the globe, visiting such mysterious places as the Court of Salt and Waves, in their desperate effort to lift the curse. Soon they will discover that only by completing three impossible tasks will they be able to set themselves free.
Why am I waiting on The Assassin’s Curse? I know I’m not supposed to judge a book by its cover but seriously guys, the artwork on this cover is gorgeous! Plus, it sounds really, really good and like the kind of high fantasy book that I love. What books are you waiting on?

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Book Review: Prophet

Release Date: April 1, 2012
Publisher: Bethany House
Pages: 352 pages
Genre: Fantasy, Christian
Source: Won from LibraryThing Early Reviewers

Goodreads Summary: Ela Roeh of Parne doesn't understand why her beloved Creator, the Infinite, wants her to become His prophet. She's undignified and bad-tempered, and at age seventeen she's much too young. In addition, no prophet of Parne has ever been a girl. Worst of all, as Parne's elders often warn, if she agrees to become the Infinite's prophet, Ela knows she will die young.

Yet she can't imagine living without Him. Determined to hear the Infinite's voice, Ela accepts the sacred vinewood branch and is sent to bring the Infinite's word to a nation torn apart by war. There she meets a young ambassador determined to bring his own justice for his oppressed people. As they form an unlikely partnership, Ela battles how to balance the leading of her heart with the leading of the Infinite.
I love crossover Christian fiction. It gives everyone, even those who normally wouldn’t read a Christian novel, the chance to enjoy the genre without feeling that they are being preached to. Prophet is a fantastic example of really good crossover Christian fiction. This book easily appeals to YA readers, fantasy lovers and anyone who likes action and supernatural elements in their books.

In a vision, 17-year-old Ela Roeh sees the city of Ytar being attacked and burned to the ground by the rivaling city-state, Istgard. Ela hears the voice of the Infinite choosing her to be his prophet and go to Istgard, tell them to turn from their evil ways and free the women and children they look captive in Ytar. Even though she is afraid, Ela accepts this enormous and daunting task, one that changes her life in ways she could never imagine.

The world building in Prophet is awesome. Larson makes it easy to envision impressive ancient cities, bloody battle scenes and ferocious wild animals with deadly venom. I really enjoyed getting lost in Ela’s world and especially loved the characters.

Ela is not your typical main character. She doesn’t wield a sword (her staff is very cool, however) or is able to singlehandedly fight off armies of men. She is really just an ordinary girl who is chosen for an extraordinary purpose. I love Ela, she is brave, determined, completely trusts the Infinite and through Him, she does extraordinary things. I love that she is still human and works hard to keep her snark in check. Even though every prophet from Parne has died young, Ela still marches courageously into every situation not knowing if she will survive it. The other characters are very well written as well and I loved the sweet romance between Ela and Kien. I cannot wait for the next book in the series, Judge, to see where this romance goes.

Prophet is an exciting and sweeping novel that I highly recommend for fantasy lovers everywhere, teens and adults alike. Judge comes out in November and it’s definitely on my must read list for the end of the year. On a side note, the cover of Prophet is perfect! It looks exactly like how Ela is described in the book.

Content: Kissing and violence.

My Rating: Really Good!

Monday, May 14, 2012

Interview with Kimberly Reid, Author of the Langdon Prep Series

I’m very happy to welcome Kimberly Reid, author of My Own Worst Frenemy (Langdon Prep #1) and Creeping with the Enemy (Langdon Prep #2), to the blog!

Kimberly Reid grew up in Atlanta where she lived some of the same experiences Chanti Evans does in the Langdon Prep series: she attended a prep school where she did not fit in, her mom was a police detective and she always wanted to help her solve crimes. Like Chanti, she has lived most of her life around law enforcement types.

But that's about where the similarities end. Kimberly is way too conflict-averse (scared) to be a detective although she did give her two cents on some of her mother’s cases whether asked or not.

She now lives in Colorado, which is why she has Chanti solving crimes in the beautiful city of Denver. It’s a lot like any other big city except the mountains make it feel like you’re home but also on vacation.

Q: Tell us about Creeping with the Enemy

A: It’s the second book in a mystery series about fifteen-year-old Chanti Evans, the daughter of an undercover cop who has been offered a scholarship to Langdon Prep, an elite private school on the other side of town from her tough neighborhood. She doesn’t want to go, but her mom thinks it’s the best way to keep Chanti out of trouble. It turns out there is more scandal and intrigue at Langdon than back home, and Chanti needs to use detective skills learned from mom to keep herself and her friends out of danger. In Creeping with the Enemy, Chanti has to figure out secrets her friend Bethanie is keeping, including her new boyfriend, before she gets hurt in more ways than a broken heart.

Q: How did you come up with the idea for The Langdon Prep Series? 

A: I was watching an episode of Veronica Mars and realized how similar her TV life was to my real life when I was in high school, minus all the crime-solving. My mother was a police detective and I learned a lot about crime-solving from her, but I never had a chance to put it into practice. This series gives me a chance to play detective. As for the Langdon Prep part, that also really happened to me. I grew up in a so-so neighborhood but won a scholarship to a private school way across town. Compared to me, I thought all those kids were living like the Kardashians and I felt out of place. So basically I ripped off my life and added more than a dash of drama and danger.

Q: Where did you get the inspiration for the characters? 

A: Since I got the basic premise from my real life, Chanti and her mom were inspired by my mother and me, though the book is not autobiographical and the characters are quite different than us. Chanti’s mom is a lot stricter than mine was, and I was more practical and sensible than Chanti – I had to grow up before I found my sense of adventure. Marco, Chanti’s love interest, was inspired by all the boys I crushed on in my teens who didn’t know I existed. Bethanie – I’m not quite sure where Bethanie came from – I guess I just conjured her up. I had great friends as a teen, but ex-juvenile delinquent MJ is the friend I never had but wish I did – there never would have been a dull moment and I’d always have good backup in a fight. 

Q: Which character from the series is your favorite? 

A: Probably MJ. I think I can have a lot of fun with her character as the series goes on.

Q: What do you have in store for The Langdon Prep Series? How many books do you have planned? 

A: In Creeping with the Enemy, I introduce an ongoing story – a mystery about Chanti’s family – that will provide a backdrop to the new case Chanti will work in each book. As her detective skills grow, she’ll use them to solve the bigger family mystery. When I first thought up the series, I wanted to take Chanti into college because I was working on a college campus at the time and figured I could use that experience in the book. But as slowly as I’m progressing through her junior year, I think that would take more than the six or seven books I had originally planned. But so much of how long a series lasts is driven by how long the readers want to keep reading it.

Q: On Truly Bookish, I highlight YA books written by ethnic minorities or featuring ethnic minorities as main characters. I love the idea that your main character is a 15-year-old sleuth and a girl of color! Why do you think it is important to have characters of different backgrounds and ethnicities in YA fiction? 

A: I was a big reader as early as I can remember, and read just about anything I could get my hands on, but rarely did those books have characters of color. I still enjoyed reading them, but wondered why I didn’t see faces like mine in my early picture books, or later, why kids like those I saw every day in my neighborhood didn’t show up in fiction. Were we not interesting or pretty or smart enough to be part of the story? So I want to give young readers of color a chance to read stories that aren’t about race or cultural history and identity but do include characters of color experiencing the same fun/angst/tragedy/romance/fear that white characters get to in YA books. Kids everywhere, no matter their race or cultural perspective, have to deal with the same issues on the way to growing up.

Q: Do you read the same genre as you write? What are you currently reading?

A: I like to read in all genres of fiction, adult and YA, as well as nonfiction and poetry. As a reader, it’s just more interesting to read around. As a writer, it keeps me from getting tunnel-vision if I read outside my genre, and the diversity helps me improve my writing skills. Right now, I’m catching up on Lee Child’s Jack Reacher series and I’ll be starting Toni Morrison’s new book. Upcoming YA books I want to check out include Angela Johnson’s A Certain October, Kekla Magoon’s 37 Things I Love, and Malin Alegria’s Crossing the Line. So many books, so little time.

Q: What other projects are you working on at this time?

A: I’m working on the third book in the Langdon Prep series, which will be out next year.

Thank you, Kimberly!

About Creeping with the Enemy

Release Date: May 1, 2012
Publisher: Kensington
Buy: Amazon, B&N, Books-A-Million
Goodreads Summary: Using skills learned from her mom, an undercover cop, Chanti Evans has already exposed lies and made enemies at her posh new school, so she’s no stranger to the games people play. But she’s learning the hard way that at Langdon Prep, friends can play more dangerous games than any enemy.

There’s nothing like having someone in your corner when you’re the new girl in school, but Chanti can’t help suspecting that everything about her new friend, Bethanie, is a lie—especially once she starts skipping classes and blowing Chanti off for her mysterious crush, Cole. Chanti really doesn’t need the trouble of finding out the truth. She’s busy enough trying to convince her almost-boyfriend Marco that her amateur sleuthing won’t come between them again. But when Bethanie disappears with Cole, Chanti has only one chance to find her—even as her investigation puts her love life, and everything else, at risk….

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Interview + Giveaway with Andrew Fukuda, Author of The Hunt

I’m thrilled to welcome Andrew Fukuda, author of The Hunt, to the blog! I reviewed The Hunt yesterday, it is so good and you can read my review here. Welcome to the blog, Andrew!

Born in Manhattan and raised in Hong Kong, Andrew Fukuda is half-Chinese, half-Japanese. After earning a bachelor's degree in history from Cornell University, Fukuda worked in Manhattan's Chinatown with the immigrant teen community. That experience led to the writing of Crossing, his debut novel that was selected by ALA Booklist as an Editor's Choice, Top Ten First Novel, and Top Ten Crime Novel in 2010. Before becoming a full time writer, Fukuda was a criminal prosecutor for seven years. He currently resides on Long Island, New York, with his family.

Me: In the spirit of Twitter, tell us about The Hunt in 140 characters or less.

AF: Don’t get eaten. #RunForYourLife

Me: The combination of humans being hunted to extinction and the nature of the hunters in The Hunt is unique and exciting! How did you come up with the idea for the story?

AF: The Hunt likely began while watching Adam Lambert’s performance of Tears for Fears’ Mad World on American Idol. The following lyrics made an impression, and stayed with me for days afterwards.

Went to school and I was very nervous
No one knew me, no one knew me
Hello teacher tell me what's my lesson
Look right through me, look right through me.

From those lyrics, a single image popped into my head: of a boy sitting in a classroom, desperately lonely despite the many students around him, wanting to be ignored. This boy had a secret, I came to see, one so awful that if it were ever made known his otherwise civil classmates would--in a split second--kill him. I pondered what that secret might be. When it came to me, I literally jumped out of my seat: the boy was the only surviving human in a world filled with vampire-like creatures. No existence could be lonelier or scarier than that.

Me: Now that is a cool way to come up with an idea for a story!

Me: I read in your bio that your debut novel, Crossing, was inspired by your work in Manhattan's Chinatown with the immigrant teen community. What were your inspirations while you were writing The Hunt?

AF: There were many inspirations while writing The Hunt, but I feel particularly indebted to Edward Hopper, a painter who once stated that he had a “propensity for solitude.” His work Morning Sun was a painting I returned to time and again, especially during dry spells in my writing. Something about the stark loneliness of the woman on the bed despite (or because of) the sunlight captured the solitude and isolation with which I wanted to fill the pages of this book. I feel indebted to this painting for the way it spoke of loneliness in a manner that was both nuanced and powerful. Hopefully, this layered kind of loneliness came through in the protagonist Gene of The Hunt.

Me: What do you have in store for the series and how many books will there be?

AF: I can’t get into specifics but there are some mind-blowing revelations to come. The Hunt is a trilogy, so two more books to come.

Me: Why do you write novels for young adults and how did you get started?

AF: I’m not sure I ever planned to be a YA author. I’ve always written simply for myself. In fact, while writing The Hunt, I wasn’t aware I was penning a YA book. I simply wrote in a way which came natural to me. My wife likes to tease that deep down, I’m a perpetual (wait: did she say petulant?) teenager; I prefer to think there’s an eternal fountain of youth in me.

Me: What is your favorite thing about writing?

AF: I love the creation and exploration of completely new worlds of my own imagining. Somebody once said that the art of creation is a sacred act, and there are times – when I’ve written the perfect sentence/paragraph/chapter – that I’d tend to agree.

Me: What are you currently reading?

AF: The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey. Her writing is some kind of wonderful. It curls my toes and makes me want to hug myself.

Me: Thank you, Andrew!

About The Hunt
Release Date: May 8, 2012
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin
Genre: Dystopia, Horror
Buy: Amazon, B&N, Book Depository

Goodreads Summary: Don’t Sweat. Don’t Laugh. Don’t draw attention to yourself. And most of all, whatever you do, do not fall in love with one of them.

Gene is different from everyone else around him. He can’t run with lightning speed, sunlight doesn’t hurt him and he doesn’t have an unquenchable lust for blood. Gene is a human, and he knows the rules. Keep the truth a secret. It’s the only way to stay alive in a world of night—a world where humans are considered a delicacy and hunted for their blood.

When he’s chosen for a once in a lifetime opportunity to hunt the last remaining humans, Gene’s carefully constructed life begins to crumble around him. He’s thrust into the path of a girl who makes him feel things he never thought possible—and into a ruthless pack of hunters whose suspicions about his true nature are growing. Now that Gene has finally found something worth fighting for, his need to survive is stronger than ever—but is it worth the cost of his humanity?

And now for the giveaway. As a part of the 2012 Muti-Cultural Book Challenge, St. Martin’s Griffin was wonderful enough to offer a finished copy of The Hunt for giveaway. If you take part in the challenge, you will have more entries in the giveaway. You can sign up for the challenge here. Just fill out the Rafflecopter form below and good luck!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Book Review: The Hunt

Release Date: May 8, 2012
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin
Pages: 293 pages
Genre: Dystopia, Horror
Source: Publisher in exchange for an honest review

Goodreads Summary: Don’t Sweat. Don’t Laugh. Don’t draw attention to yourself. And most of all, whatever you do, do not fall in love with one of them.

Gene is different from everyone else around him. He can’t run with lightning speed, sunlight doesn’t hurt him and he doesn’t have an unquenchable lust for blood. Gene is a human, and he knows the rules. Keep the truth a secret. It’s the only way to stay alive in a world of night—a world where humans are considered a delicacy and hunted for their blood.

When he’s chosen for a once in a lifetime opportunity to hunt the last remaining humans, Gene’s carefully constructed life begins to crumble around him. He’s thrust into the path of a girl who makes him feel things he never thought possible—and into a ruthless pack of hunters whose suspicions about his true nature are growing. Now that Gene has finally found something worth fighting for, his need to survive is stronger than ever—but is it worth the cost of his humanity?

While I know that unputdownable is not a real word, it pretty much describes The Hunt. This book is compulsively readable from the very first page and never slows down. There are so many things to love about The Hunt, I will mention a few of them here:

World building: In this dystopian future, vampires rule the world and consider themselves people. Humans, or hepers, are a vampire delicacy and are thought to be extinct except for a few that the government keeps in a facility to study. While some of the vampires mannerisms and lifestyle are familiar (sleeping during the day and awake at night, super fast and strong), Fukuda introduces some charcteristics that are completely different from what readers are familiar with and takes the time to really highlight their behavior (drooling and salivating excessively, scratching their wrists instead of laughing, making out by rubbing their elbows into each other’s armpits). These strange behaviors are one of the reasons that this book is so unique.

Well developed characters: Gene is smart and strong but in his need to stay under the radar and blend in with the vamps, he under achieves in school. His real genius is living among the predators without being detected and it is really interesting to see the lengths he goes through to stay safe. While I liked Gene a lot, the most intriguing character is Ashley June, the gorgeous and popular vampire girl at Gene’s school that he has always been attracted to but smart enough to know to stay away from.

The vampires: These vampires are the most vicious I have ever seen, working themselves into a slobbering frenzy at the mere mention of human flesh and blood. Yes guys, they eat flesh too and they attack like crazed animals in the wild. These are the scariest vamps I have ever read about.

The suspense!: I cannot emphasize how much of a nail biting, edge of your seat read this is. I’m a squeamish reader and honestly, I was creeped out, grossed out and yet I could not put The Hunt down because I HAD to know what happened next. Despite my squeamishness, I raced through the book and am so ready for more!

If you like horror, adventure, suspense, tons of action or just highly original and entertaining books, The Hunt is for you. There are some fantastic plot twists and a killer of a cliffhanger ending. I highly recommend it and cannot wait to read the sequel. Tomorrow, I will feature an interview with Andrew Fukuda and host a giveaway of The Hunt!

Content: Kissing and violence.

My Rating: Really Good!

Monday, May 7, 2012

Book Review: The Immortal Rules

Release Date: April 24, 2012
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Pages: 480 pages
Genre: Paranormal
Source: Publisher in exchange for an honest review

Goodreads Summary: In a future world, Vampires reign. Humans are blood cattle. And one girl will search for the key to save humanity.

Allison Sekemoto survives in the Fringe, the outermost circle of a vampire city. By day, she and her crew scavenge for food. By night, any one of them could be eaten.

Some days, all that drives Allie is her hatred of them. The vampires who keep humans as blood cattle. Until the night Allie herself is attacked—and given the ultimate choice. Die… or become one of the monsters.

Faced with her own mortality, Allie becomes what she despises most. To survive, she must learn the rules of being immortal, including the most important: go long enough without human blood, and you will go mad.

Then Allie is forced to flee into the unknown, outside her city walls. There she joins a ragged band of humans who are seeking a legend—a possible cure to the disease that killed off most of humankind and created the rabids, the mindless creatures who threaten humans and vampires alike.

But it isn’t easy to pass for human. Especially not around Zeke, who might see past the monster inside her. And Allie soon must decide what—and who—is worth dying for.

I’m a huge fan of Julie Kagawa’s Iron Fey series so when I heard she was writing a dystopian book about vampires, I was excited about the dystopia but a bit skeptical about the vampires. Turns out that I had nothing to be unsure about because The Immortal Rules is a solid start to a new series!

Kagawa’s world building is really good. The world was ravaged by a plague that led to both vampires and humans working together to find a cure but instead creating devastating consequences. The vampires now rule and keep humans holed up in walled cities where they use their blood for food. Allison refuses to willingly give the vamps her blood in exchange for food, clothing and shelter so she lives on the fringes where she scavenges to get by. When she ventures outside the walls looking for food, she is attacked and infected by rabids: monsters that are neither human nor vampire (more like flesh eating zombies). She is saved by a vamp named Kanin who gives her a choice: she can either die or become a vampire, the thing she hates the most. Allie chooses to live as a vamp and this is really where the story picks up.

I like Allie. She struggles to hold on to her humanity even when letting the powerful monster inside her loose would be easier on her. She is strong, brave and I love that she uses a katana as her weapon of choice. I also liked her relationship with Zeke – it was well developed and sweet. By far, however, my favorite character in the book was Kanin who, thankfully, is more of a father figure and not a love interest for Allie. I am looking forward to seeing more of him in the upcoming books.

I had a few minor issues with the book, the main one being with the leader of the band of humans that Allie joins with. I’m not sure what I’m supposed to think about him. Jeb is a religious zealot who by his own admission believes that God has abandoned every human on Earth. He is physically and emotionally abusive and leads by intimidation, fear and violence but even Allie admits that sometimes his decisions are correct. He is at times portrayed as being wise, strong and living according to the Bible but this clashes with his cruel nature and underlying craziness. The other issue is the cover. The picture of Allie crying blood tears is very appropriate but it would have been great if the model looked more Asian, the way Allie is described in the book. These are just minor issues with the story which overall is very good.

The Immortal Rules is fast paced, features strong characters and is extremely entertaining. I am eagerly looking forward to the next book in the series.

Content: Kissing, mild profanity and violence. 

My Rating: Really Good!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Q&A + Giveaway With Aimée Carter

I’m thrilled to welcome Aimée Carter, author of the Goddess Test series to the blog! I am a huge fan of mythology and Aimée’s series is awesome. I reviewed Goddess Interrupted last month, you can read my review here. Welcome to the blog, Aimée! 

Q: How familiar were you with Greek myths and folklore before writing the Goddess Test series? Was a lot of research required?

A: I first fell in love with Greek mythology when I was a kid learning how to read, and my infatuation only grew from there. I’ve studied various kinds of mythology for years, sometimes for class and always for fun, but even then I put a great deal of research into the Goddess Test series. Mostly as a refresher to make sure I was getting my facts right, but I also researched the various myths looking for ways to tie the plots and characters together in unexpected ways.

Q: Was Goddess Interrupted any easier or harder to write than the first book in the series, The Goddess Test?

A: It was both easier and harder, in a strange way. I rewrote The Goddess Test multiple times, and I’ve never edited a book more heavily in my life. Goddess Interrupted did require some editing, of course, but it was much easier.

However, the pressure to deliver a sequel worthy of the series made the writing process for Goddess Interrupted more difficult than I’d anticipated. There’s something called the “sophomore slump”, where sequels or second books generally don’t quite match up to the second, and I wanted to avoid that at all cost. So that added a lot of stress, but in the end, I was very happy with the results.

Q: You give the gods and goddesses in the series “ordinary names” – Zeus is named Walter, Aphrodite goes by Ava, Hermes is named James. Why did you do that and do the more contemporary names have any significance?

A: This was something I went back and forth on multiple times. Initially the characters Kate encounters weren’t council members at all – I changed that very, very quickly though. By the second draft, I had a place for each of the Olympians, and I did some heavy rewriting to replace my first draft characters with the gods. I wanted to find a way to keep their names the same, but since they’re supposed to live among us in secret in the modern world, it didn’t really make sense. How many men named Zeus do you know, or women called Aphrodite? On top of that, keeping the council’s identities secret was incredibly important to the plot. So eventually I decided they would have changed their names when Western civilization stopped worshipping them as gods, allowing them to live freely among us.

I did choose each name for what it means, some more than others – Walter, for instance, means “army leader”, while James means “supplanter”. The exception is Calliope, which in the story was chosen by her counterpart for its Greek roots. The reason the gods changed their names – and why Artemis didn’t wind up with the name Diana – is explained throughout the series, but you get to actually see this happen in The Goddess Legacy (July 31).

Q: Goddess Interrupted begins with the main character Kate Winters adjusting to her new life as an immortal. Given Kate’s innate strength and stubbornness, was it difficult to switch gears to portray her as a bit more vulnerable and unsure of herself in her new role as goddess AND wife?

A: Not so much, to be honest – her progression felt natural to me. While Kate is very tough in certain ways, she’s extremely vulnerable as well. She’s emotionally dependent on the people around her (her mother in the first book, Henry in the second), and that in and of itself carves the path she takes in the sequel. She’s spent six months with Henry, falling in love with him and forming a relationship she thinks is going to last for eternity. But Henry is battling his own demons and isn’t ready to be the person she needs him to be, and because Kate is so stubborn, she has a hard time coming to terms with that. In the sequel, Kate really is her own worst enemy emotionally – her entire world has changed, after all, and that’s a lot for anyone to take – but it’s all part of her development into a goddess and queen.

Q: Kate finds herself trying to work through her rather complicated relationship with James, as well as her relationship with her new husband, Henry (Hades). Neither seems to be black and white, but rather varying shades of gray. Were any of Kate’s feelings or situations based on any relationship struggles you’ve been through?

A: Not personally, no, but I did try to make Kate’s relationships with the people in her life as realistic as possible. She isn’t perfect, and neither are they, and that’s something they all have to work through at varying points in the series. None of the relationships in the books are based off of specific experiences I’ve been through though.

Q: What is your favorite part of the writing process? Least favorite?

A: Outlining is by far my favorite part of the process. I love the idea stage, where anything’s possible, and it’s such a shiny place. All of that comes crashing down when I write the first draft though, which is the hardest part for me. I tend to get mentally exhausted about two thirds to three quarters of the way into the manuscript, and it’s always a struggle for me to push through it, especially if I’m on a deadline. And inevitably there are a ton of problems I didn’t notice in the outline stage that have to be fixed for the story to work. I’m a perfectionist, so in order for me to continue writing the story, everything I’ve already written has to make sense.

Q: Do you have a favorite quote or line from a poem or book?

A: I love so many quotes that I couldn’t possibly pick a favorite.

Q: How did you get your first publishing deal and how did that feel?

A: My agent, Rosemary Stimola, sent the manuscript out to various publishers, and after a long submission process, Harlequin TEEN offered to publish it! I was stunned at first, but that quickly gave way to giddiness. It was an incredible feeling to know I’d be published, and to this day, I still can’t quite believe it.

Q: When is the next book in the series due out? Any hints on what will happen in book 3?

A: Goddess Interrupted, the sequel to The Goddess Test, came out in late March. The next book in the series, The Goddess Legacy, will be out July 31. It’s a collection of five novellas told in the perspectives of Calliope, Ava, Persephone, James, and Henry, and together they form one story.

The third book in the series, The Goddess Inheritance, is currently scheduled to be released in March 2013. Unfortunately I can’t say too much about it, but the challenges that Kate will face are pretty clear by the end of the sequel!

Q: After the huge success of The Goddess Test, Goddess Interrupted is on many, many TBR lists for this summer. What’s on your TBR list?

A: I’m so excited for a slew of books coming out – The Girl in the Clockwork Collar, Grave Mercy, The Selection, The Serpent’s Shadow, Philippa Gregory’s YA novel, and a ton of others. I never have as much time to read as I want, but I’m definitely making time for all of those and more!

Q: Yearbook Superlatives! If you went to high school with the Greek gods and goddesses, who would you vote for?
  • Most likely to succeed? - Hera
  • Class clown? - Hermes
  • Nicest? – Demeter or Hephaestus
  • Best dressed? - Aphrodite
  • Best dancer? - Apollo
  • Most school spirit? - Iris
  • Most likely to attend summer school? - Ares
  • Teachers pet? – Athena
Thank you, Aimée!
About Goddess Interrupted

Release Date: March 27, 2012
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Goodreads Summary: Kate Winters has won immortality. But if she wants a life with Henry in the Underworld, she'll have to fight for it. Becoming immortal wasn't supposed to be the easy part. Though Kate is about to be crowned Queen of the Underworld, she's as isolated as ever. And despite her growing love for Henry, ruler of the Underworld, he's becoming ever more distant and secretive. Then, in the midst of Kate's coronation, Henry is abducted by the only being powerful enough to kill him: the King of the Titans. As the other gods prepare for a war that could end them all, it is up to Kate to save Henry from the depths of Tartarus. But in order to navigate the endless caverns of the Underworld, Kate must enlist the help of the one person who is the greatest threat to her future. Henry's first wife, Persephone.

And now for the giveaway. Just fill out the Rafflecopter form below and good luck!


Congrats to Kim H., the winner of the Fairy Tale Giveaway Hop. The winner was chosen by and has been contacted. I'm starting more giveaways soon so make sure you enter. Thank you to everyone who participated!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday: Throne of Glass

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

Publisher: Bloomsbury
Publish Date: Aug. 7, 2012
Genre: Fantasy
Goodreads Summary: After serving out a year of hard labor in the salt mines of Endovier for her crimes, 18-year-old assassin Celaena Sardothien is dragged before the Crown Prince. Prince Dorian offers her her freedom on one condition: she must act as his champion in a competition to find a new royal assassin.

Her opponents are men—thieves and assassins and warriors from across the empire, each sponsored by a member of the kings council. If she beats her opponents in a series of eliminations, she’ll serve the kingdom for three years and then be granted her freedom.

Celaena finds her training sessions with the captain of the guard, Westfall, challenging and exhilirating. But she’s bored stiff by court life. Things get a little more interesting when the prince starts to show interest in her... but it’s the gruff Captain Westfall who seems to understand her best.

Then one of the other contestants turns up dead... quickly followed by another. Can Celaena figure out who the killer is before she becomes a victim? As the young assassin investigates, her search leads her to discover a greater destiny than she could possibly have imagined.

Why am I waiting on Throne of Glass? Have you guys heard all the buzz about this book? It sounds awesome and I love a good fantasy novel! Additionally, it’s also been getting rave reviews and I’m really excited to read it for myself. What books are you waiting on?

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Book Review: Love Amid the Ashes

Release Date: March 2011
Publisher: Revell
Pages: 411 pages
Genre: Christian Historical
Goodreads Summary: Readers often think of Job sitting on the ash heap, his life in shambles. But how did he get there? What was Job's life like before tragedy struck? What did he think as his world came crashing down around him? And what was life like after God restored his wealth, health, and family? Through painstaking research and a writer's creative mind, Mesu Andrews weaves an emotional and stirring account of this well-known story told through the eyes of the women who loved him. Drawing together the account of Job with those of Esau's tribe and Jacob's daughter Dinah, Love Amid the Ashes breathes life, romance, and passion into the classic biblical story of suffering and steadfast faith.

I’m a huge fan of Christian historical fiction and love books based on people from the Bible. It takes a lot of creativity for a writer to take small bits of history and weave entire stories out of them and when it’s done well, it’s really enjoyable. Most times, the story is great and completely believable, other times if falls short and misses the mark. Unfortunately, Love Amid the Ashes missed the mark for me.

A story based on the Biblical account of Job is great material to work with. Mesu Andrews makes good use of the potions of Job’s story that we are very familiar with but Job is not really the main character in this book, Dinah is. Honestly, this surprised me as I thought the story would focus on Job more than anyone else.

Dinah is Jacob’s only daughter, the one who, according to scripture, was raped by Prince Shechem and whose brothers took revenge by killing the prince and all the men in the city. Andrews’ book puts a different spin on the situation. Instead of being raped, Shechem approached 15-year-old Dinah, proposed to her and the two eloped, all on the same day. In Love Amid the Ashes, Dinah was actually in love with her husband, her brothers slaughtered him and she was labeled and an evil temptress by everyone who heard the rumors. This is the first portion of the story that I had an issue with. I have a hard time believing that with the culture she lived in, this girl, with Jacob for a father and those 12 men for brothers, would be crazy enough to run off with a man from a different culture and religion who she had just met.

Now an adult, Dinah is pretty much unmarriageable because of her reputation but her grandfather’s dying request is that she become the second wife of Job’s oldest son. Job, being a distant cousin and a faithful man who trusts God decides to honor the request and takes Dinah on a lengthy trip to his family’s home.

The middle part of the book does focus on Job and his trials including his wife’s inappropriate relationship with another man, her idolatry and a host of other things, but the point of the story is muddled with the fact that Dinah is constantly in the picture, people treat her like a whore, a bad luck charm and the reason why calamity has befallen Job in the first place. I also have an issue with the fact that Dinah’s looks (she is tall and thin with blond hair and blue eyes) are mentioned several times, especially the blond hair. Her description sounds more like European supermodel than Middle Eastern woman but maybe that’s just me.

This book also has a lot of secondary characters, many of them I thought were unnecessary and the extra made this book way too long. Another thing I found surprising is the author’s extremely unflattering portrayal of twin brothers and patriarchs of their families, Jacob and Esau. I know Jacob did some conniving things but I would like to think that circumstances in his life, including physically wrestling with God, humbled and softened him. Not according to Andrews. She writes them as two of the biggest jerks and meanest fathers ever.  

Love Amid the Ashes is not a bad book by any means and this review may be coming out harsher than I intend it.  There is a very good message in the book that regardless of your past is, after you seek God’s forgiveness, you are free from the shame and embarrassment of whatever you did. But Job did not sin against God and so there is the second message that you should praise and trust God in all your circumstance.  The story just felt like several books mashed together and there is too much going on. Most reviewers seem to love it but it just was not the book for me.

Content: Kissing, some violence.

My Rating: Just Fine


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