Thursday, April 3, 2014

Review: Darkfever by Karen Marie Moning





Darkfever
Karen Marie Moning


Series: Fever #1
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Paperback: 384 Pages
Publication: August 28, 2007
by Dell




Synopsis

When MacKayla's sister was murdered, she left a single clue to her death - a cryptic message on Mac's cel phone. Journeying to Ireland in search of answers, Mac is soon faced with an even greater challenge: staying alive long enough to master a power she had no idea she possessed - a gift that allows her to see beyond the world of man, into the dangerous realm of the Fae...

As Mac delves deeper into the mystery of her sister's death, her every move is shadowed by the dark, mysteriou Jericho...while at the same time, the ruthless V'lane - an alpha Fae who makes sex an addiction for human women - closes in on her. As the boundary between worlds begins to crumble, Mac's true mission becomes clear: to find the elusive Sinsar Dubh before someone else claims the all-powerful Dark Book - because whoever gets to it first holds nothing less than complete control both worlds in their hands....


Review

After hearing a lot of awesomeness about this novel, I was really excited to finally pick this up. The plot sounds really intriguing. I love UF mysteries. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to connect with the cast and ended up dropping the book a quarter into the novel.

This is such a frustrating novel. The beginning is pretty vague with things progressing quickly soon after Mac learns of her sister Alina's death. A bit too quickly and impulsively. Though Alina was murdered, Mac wants to go to Dublin and try and get the investigators to reopen the case. I can accept that she believes that the Irish authorities aren't very invested in the case of the death of a foreigner. But I still don't really get why she even wants to investigate her sister's murder on her own. I know that she's deep in grief and not thinking clearly, but did it ever cross her mind that going to Dublin could put her life in danger? Especially after listening to Alina's last message on her voicemail.

I do like how Mac likes dressing up, loves books, and doesn't let people step all over her. However, she's of a rather set mindset and doesn't take even well-meaning advice well. In fact, Jericho's rather aggressive warnings to her serves to fuel her desire to investigate Alina's death instead of scaring her away, and she continues to ignore all the—rather apparent—danger signs and keeps bulldozing deeper and deeper into this dark business. She seems to have this sense of invulnerability and believes nothing can hurt her. This personality trait of hers is a recipe for a trainwreck.

Jericho isn't particularly compelling at this point of the novel. With the story told from the first-person narrative of Mac's perspective, all I see of him is a big brute. He seems to mean well for Mac, but all he's doing is provoking her to keep hacking away at this mystery (she's not being very subtle about it) and putting her life in graver danger. I'm sure he has a reason why he's acting the way he does, but right now he's really like a mercenery character as Mac points out. All steel and no heart for the walking victims, as he aptly describes Mac.

To be fair, I barely made it into a quarter of the novel before giving up on this book, and the novel has barely begun to touch on the mystery surrounding Alina's death. However, this is also why I'm stopping here. It's been such a trainwreck with Mac so far. I don't want to see when she finally, truly, opens her eyes realizes what's really going on. Sure, I expect her to grow up and finally begin to work together with Jericho (albeit only after a lot of resentment on both sides and with a lot of arguing, which may lead to hot, steamy scenes afterwards...), but after all the vexation I went through in the first quarter of the novel, I'm not very keen to continue on this journey with Mac at this time.



Additional Information
Series
  1. Darkfever
  2. Bloodfever
  3. Faefever
  4. Dreamfever
  5. Shadowfever
Content
  • Violence

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Review: Sky Jumpers by Peggy Eddleman





Sky Jumpers
Peggy Eddleman


Series: Sky Jumpers #1
Genre: MG Post Apocalyptic
Paperback: 288 Pages
Publication: September 14, 2013
by Random House Children's Books




Synopsis

What happens when you can’t do the one thing that matters most?

12-year-old Hope lives in White Rock, a town struggling to recover from the green bombs of World War III. The bombs destroyed almost everything that came before, so the skill that matters most in White Rock—sometimes it feels like the only thing that matters—is the ability to invent so that the world can regain some of what it’s lost.

But Hope is terrible at inventing and would much rather sneak off to cliff dive into the Bomb’s Breath—the deadly band of air that covers the crater the town lives in—than fail at yet another invention.

When bandits discover that White Rock has invented priceless antibiotics, they invade. The town must choose whether to hand over the medicine and die from disease in the coming months or to die fighting the bandits now. Hope and her friends, Aaren and Brock, might be the only ones who can escape through the Bomb’s Breath and make the dangerous trek over the snow-covered mountain to get help.

For once, inventing isn’t the answer, but the daring and risk-taking that usually gets Hope into trouble might just save them all.


Review
◆ A copy was provided by Random House for review ◆

Sky Jumpers is a captivating read with beautiful story-telling, strong world building, and compelling characters.

Hope's story is reminiscent of Shannon Hale's Princess Academy in that both feature a strong female lead with vulnerabilities who grow into strong girls with the courage and power to save their people. I've always felt that characters like Hope and Miri are the most relatable to girls because we all have something we're working to deal with. For Hope, it's the feeling of inadequacy because she can't invent like everyone else. Sky Jumpers is about her growth as she comes to realize that she has her own strengths, ones that may save her town when no one else can.

The characters are fun and quirky. Hope is an incredibly brave, clever, and feisty heroine, one that will charm readers of all ages. I love how she's quick to take charge in situations, and no one challenges her. She's the leader in her group of friends—guys and girls alike. And there's no questioning her gender or how her behavior isn't like that of a young lady. Her friends are equally admirable, though they don't really show growth over the course of the novel. I especially love Aaren, Brock, and Brenna, and hope to see more of them in book two.

The plot is interesting and filled with fun twists. There were some occasions when the pacing was off or some details were introduced someplace when it would have been better warranted elsewhere, but these didn't take away from my overall enjoyment of the novel. The only thing that really hindered my reading was that I didn't really get a clear picture of the Bomb's Breath. It may have been that I was reading too quickly at the beginning of the novel when it's introduced, but I was confused about its layout and where it stands in relation to other geographical points. A diagram or clearer explanation early on could have helped. But again, it may have been that I wasn't paying enough attention when it is first introduced.

Overall, Sky Jumpers introduces a powerful new voice in MG lit. I appreciate how Sky Jumpers can stand alone as a novel though I am definitely not opposed to it being a series. There is a lot of potential for expanding Hope's world, and I look forward to reading The Forbidden Flats, book two in the Sky Jumpers series!



Additional Information
Series
  1. Sky Jumpers
  2. The Forbidden Flats

Similar Books
Content
  • Some shooting and hostage taking, but clean and suitable for MG readers

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Thrall: Author Interview with Jennifer Quintenz

I'm delighted to have author Jennifer Quintez here on the blog today to talk about her Daughters of Lilith series!


Thrall
by Jennifer Quintenz

Genre: YA MythologicalUrban Fantasy
Paperback: 304 Pages
Publication: May 16, 2012
by Secret Tree Press


Braedyn is a normal girl just trying to survive high school with her two devoted friends, Royal and Cassie. Together they’re doing a pretty good job of shrugging off the slings and arrows cast their way by the popular crowd when a new boy, Lucas, moves into the house next door. Suddenly Braedyn finds herself falling in love for the first time.

But as her sixteenth birthday approaches, Braedyn discovers humankind is at war with the Lilitu, an ancient race of enticing demons that prey on human souls. Her father is a member of the Guard fighting against the Lilitu - and so are the new neighbors, including her crush, Lucas.

As her world starts to unravel at the seams, Braedyn learns the right answers aren’t always clear or easy. And as for “good” and “evil” – it all depends on how we choose to act.

Inspired by the ancient Mesopotamian myths of Lilith and her offspring, Thrall explores first love, strong friendships, and taking on adult responsibilities against the backdrop of powerful supernatural forces and life-and-death stakes.


Author Interview


Tell us a little about yourself and how you got into writing.
Wow! I've been writing (and reading!) since I was a little kid - something my parents supported from day one. But I think I got more serious about writing (and illustrating) one summer when my sister and I taught our golden retriever, Rusty, how to pick apricots off the tree in the back yard. He'd pick them off, we'd get excited, then he'd jump up and pick off another one - yeah, no one ate those things after that. My dad - brace yourself, this might come as a shock - was not pleased. He encouraged my sister and I to turn our energies into writing and illustrating. In fact - for years - my sister and I couldn't get our allowance (even if we'd done all our chores!) until we'd written a poem or a short story for the week. So there you have it. It was either turn to writing, or continue to pursue my goal of de-fruiting the backyard.

What inspired the writing of Daughters of Lilith? Did you always know it would be a series?
Funny story... Actually, the Daughters of Lilith was originally written as a pilot for TV (I'm also a TV and film writer). I got many great meetings off the pilot, but heard a few times that the series similar to mine that were getting green-lit were based on existing properties. I thought, hm. I love reading. I love writing. I'll just create an "existing property." And WOW. The learning curve going from TV to novels was steep. When you're writing for TV, you have to try to say a lot with very few words, and you don't want to over-describe anything because - frankly - it's not your job to decide specifically what the characters are wearing, what rooms look like, or even (beyond a pretty general sketch) what they look like. That's left to casting directors, costume directors, set designers, directors, cinematographers - you just provide the blueprint. But when you're writing a novel, you become ALL of those things (and the actors, too - you have to live in your character's heads, deal with their motivations, experience their emotions, etc.)

So - to answer your question - I always planned it to be a series... one way or the other. ;)

What has your road to publication been like?
Amazing. Exhilirating. Frustrating. Many ups and downs. When I decided to turn Thrall into a series of novels, my awesome manager (Marc Manus!) was very supportive. He actually introduced me to several NY book agents, and I ended up working with a great team over at Trident as we sought out a traditional publisher for the series. When those efforts failed to bear fruit (something I'm very used to after working in Hollywood), the discussion became - "should I write a new book... or should I go indie and do this myself?"

I decided to publish the story on my own, designing my own covers, learning all about ebook formatting, etc. And the response has been so gratifying - I only wish I'd started publishing years ago!

How did you work the mythology surrounding Lilith into your world building?
It formed the foundation of everything, really. All the big mysteries that are yet to be revealed, everything really stems from the ancient myths of Lilith and her offspring. Whenever I had a story problem to overcome, I'd go back to the myth (and there are lots of variations over lots of cultures, so this is a very rich myth to drawn from) and see if there wasn't some other wrinkle I could introduce into the story.

What do you enjoy most about the writing process?
First drafts. I spend a long time outlining my draft before I write it to try to iron out all the plot issues before I get into it. Then I get to sit down and try to fall in love with the story, the world, the characters as I write it. When it's going well - it's just an unbeatable feeling. Of course, then you have to READ the first draft...

How would Braedyn describe herself in a tweet? Lucas?

Nice! Um...

Braedyn: Just your typical girl... who can turn herself invisible... and invade your dreams... and maybe mess with your head--but totally normal aside from that!

Lucas: Dealing with Weird since 2007.

If given the opportunity to play a role in Daughters of Lilith, what would you be doing in the story?
Wow - great question! Hm. HMMMM. I kind of love Karayan, the is-she-good-or-bad Lilitu who just wants to have fun but can't seem to completely walk away from the unfolding crisis. But, truth be told, I'm probably way more Cassie in nature - the shy, geeky, beats-to-her-own-drummer (though I only wish I had her fashion courage!) loyal friend.

What are you working on right now?
Funny you should ask... :) I'm actually getting ready to release Sacrifice (Daughters Of Lilith: Book 3), and outlining the final two books to the Daughters saga. Book 4 is titled Guardian and Book 5 is titled Kin.



About the Author

Jennifer Quintenz is an award-winning film and television writer, author, and graphic novelist. She has written for Twentieth Television, Intrepid Pictures, and Archaia Studios Press. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband and son.

Connect with Jennifer
Website | Goodreads | Facebook | Twitter


Monday, March 17, 2014

Review: Under Attack by Hannah Jayne





Under Attack
Hannah Jayne


Series: Underworld Detection Agency Series #2
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Paperback: 322 Pages
Publication: November 1, 2011
by Kensington



Synopsis

Sophie Lawson is a human immune to magic, which comes in handy for helping paranormal beings transition into everyday life. But fallen angel Alex Grace and his search for the Vessel of Souls is one curse she never saw coming. Suddenly an unexplainable string of killings and destruction has even San Francisco's demons fearing for their immortal lives. And Sophie isn't about to trust Alex's all-too-vulnerable charm or his secret agenda. Now their hunt is revealing dangerous secrets about Sophie's past, and malevolent power hellishly close to turning one irreverent human into the ultimate supernatural weapon.


Review

When Sophie opens up the novel talking about hobgoblin slobber, you know you're in for another treat. (NOT the hobgoblin slobber. YES, Sophie and co.) One of the things I love most about Sophie is her quirky sense of humor that comes out even in the most dangerous of situations. Along with the humor comes the tendency to ramble on, and then maybe delve into a sexual fantasy or two. While it does make the plot less streamlined and tight-knit as it could be, I love this trait of Sophie's. It keeps the story light-hearted and fun to read. And, sometimes, one needs to be able to coast through a story that isn't wrought with tension, suspense, and ominous clouds.

I adore the scandalous conversations between Sophie and Nina. They remind me of the insults some sisters at heart will exchange in a way that really means to say, "I love you" and "BFF 4Ever." They're such girls like that. And the way they'll talk about delicious men they can just eat up! The story never lacks for humor and entertainment be it Sophie's own narration or her interactions with others. Okay, Sophie can be a bit of a drama queen at times, and when she's down and doesn't get the comfort treatment that she wants, she'll lash out at people, but I can't stay annoyed at her for long. Her personality is just so vibrant and compelling.

The supporting cast is as fun as ever. I'm glad to see some familiar faces return along with references to occurences from the first book, such as Steve and his new love life. (Who knew that one could get fond of a stinky troll?) Vlad is another character that I love and am glad to see return. He's the perfect image of an angsty teenager who, inside, is really a big softie with a good heart. Alex is as sexy as ever, if a bit antsy and overprotective of Sophie in this novel, and Will is a charming addition to the group. He isn't around much though, so I don't have much to comment on—only that I look forward to seeing more of him in the future.

Still, I have to confess that I liked the first novel more. I liked exploring the demon world much more than the fallen angel side. The whole specter part was weird, especially as it didn't really seem to have anything to add to the plot other than bizarre conversations with the specter. There didn't seem to be much keeping the plot moving, as Sophie doesn't know enough about the situation to take the initiative to investigate. She can only live life and respond to changes in the situation. Also, unlike the first novel, this one doesn't do a good job standing on its own. Going into the final pages, many plot threads were still unresolved, and it felt rushed at the end. Even then, some things remain to be addressed in future installments in the series.

Overall, this is proving to be a fun series filled laugh-out-loud humor, sexiness, and heart-pounding action. I love Sophie and her friends and am looking forward to reading Under Suspicion, the third installment in the Underworld Detection Agency series!



Additional Information
Series
  1. Under Wraps
  2. Under Attack
  3. Under Suspicion
  4. Under the Gun
  5. Under A Spell
  6. Under the Final Moon
Content
  • Kissing
  • Language
  • Sex & sexual fantasies
  • Torture & violence


On another note
1.
I don't think I can convey just how much this book entertains me. Even though the plot isn't highly intricate and developed, the characters are so much fun that it doesn't really bother me. As I mentioned in my review, sometimes I just need a fun, laugh-out-loud read.

2.
The cover is gorgeous and totally UF, but it doesn't really fit my image of Sophie. I doubt she has the confidence to pull off that sexy attire. Plus, she gets freaked out holding a gun, and here she is looking badass with one in each hand. I bet she'd love to be able to convey that image though. (See what she does with the gun when Alex catches her by surprise in book one.)


Favorite passage
There are so many laugh-out-loud moments in this novel, but the best have to be the conversations between Sophie and Nina. Even in the saddest, most despairing, of moments (yes, I'm being melodramatic like Sophie is here), they still have room for sexy men in their thoughts and aren't afraid to make light of the situation.
She rushed in, my coat and purse clutched in her pale hands.

"What happened? Are you okay? Did she come after you again?

"I'm fine," I whimpered. "My life is just a toilet bowl of despair and I look like a battered wife, but I'm fine. I just want to go home and take a nap."

Nina smiled sympathetically. "Can I drive you?"

I shook my head. "I'll be fine. But can you cover for me?"

Nina's sweet smile turned salacious and she popped a button on her blouse. "You mean distract Dixon until closing? You bet."

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Wakeworld: Review & Giveaway





Wakeworld
Kerry Shafer


Series: The Between #2
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Paperback: 304 Pages
Publication: January 28, 2014
by Ace




Synopsis

Vivian Maylor is trying to hold it together. But her attempts to build a life with the man she loves seem doomed by the dragon inside her yearning to break free. Vivian is a dreamshifter, the last line of defense between reality and the dreamworld, and the only one of her kind.

Weston Jennings also believes he is the only one of his kind. He fears his powers as a dreamshifter, and resists learning to control them. After suffering a tragic loss, Weston heads deep into the woods of the Pacific Northwest to embrace a safe life of solitude. But when a terrible mistake leads to an innocent’s death, his guilt drives him to his former home, where he encounters what he never thought he would find: another shifter.

Now Vivian and Weston must work together to defeat a new threat to the dreamworld.


Review
◆ A copy was provided by Ace for review ◆

Wakeworld is a beautifully written story with a unique concept. I love a good fantasy with a world (or worlds in this case) that is well crafted and believable, and I very much like the concept of having the dreamworld, the between, and the wakeworld (of our current reality). As a constant day dreamer, I am particularly fond of the idea of a dreamworld and of dreamshifters. The dragons, sorcerers, and penguin guardians just make it better.

The characters are interesting and well-developed. They were people whose lives I could become invested in. I especially like how the story alternates points of view, as it let me get to know each character more, and it gave the story more dimension. Though hesitant to embrace her identity, Vivian is a strong character, and I have high hopes for her continued growth in the next book. I also like Weston. There's something about a broken character that really pull at my heartstrings. The other characters are wonderful as well. However, I feel like I could appreciate some of the characters a lot more after raeding Between, the first book in the series, and I do plan on remedying this in the near future!

The story is fast-paced. While it kept me turning the pages, wanting to know what happens next, I do wish that it spent a little more time with descriptions. The worlds in this book are fantastic and have the potential to be so much more. I really wanted to spend a little more time with the scenery and world building. There is so much intricacy here and a lot of potential for future development as the series progresses.

While it is possible to read Wakeworld without having read Between, I do recommend reading the first book beforehand. It would have given me a better perspective to start with.

Do I recommend this book? Yes, I do!



Additional Information
Series
  1. Between
  2. Wakeworld
Similar Books



Content
  • Kissing
  • Violence



About the Author



Kerry Schafer is licensed both as a Mental Health Professional and an RN, and spends most of her daylight hours helping people–usually even with a smile. In books, she gets to blow stuff up, preferably with something more interesting than a bomb. Dragons are good; exploding giant slime toads are even better. She has published two novels with Ace Books: BETWEEN, which was released in January 2013, and WAKEWORLD, slated to hit stores in January 2014. She is also the author of THE DREAM WARS novellas, available where electronic books are sold. Kerry and her Viking live in Colville, Washington, in a little house surrounded by rocks, trees, and gangs of deer and wild turkeys.

Connect with Kerry
Website | Goodreads | Facebook | Twitter





Giveaway


A print copy of Wakeworld

Open to the US only

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, March 10, 2014

16 Things I Thought Were True: Author Q&A

I'm delighted to participate in the book tour for Janet Gurtler's latest novel 16 Things I Thought Were True. I love her work, and 16 Things is no exception! Today, I have for you my review of 16 Things as well as a Q&A with Janet.


16 Things I Thought Were True
by Janet Gurtler

Genre: YA Contemporary
Paperback: 304 Pages
Publication: March 4, 2014
by Sourcebooks Fire


Heart attacks happen to other people #thingsIthoughtweretrue

When Morgan's mom gets sick, it's hard not to panic. Without her mother, she would have no one—until she finds out the dad who walked out on her as a baby isn't as far away as she thought...

Adam is a stuck-up, uptight jerk #thingsIthoughtweretrue

Now that they have a summer job together, Morgan's getting to know the real Adam, and he's actually pretty sweet...in a nerdy-hot kind of way. He even offers to go with her to find her dad. Road trip, anyone?

5000 Twitter followers are all the friends I need #thingsIthoughtweretrue

With Adam in the back seat, a hyper chatterbox named Amy behind the wheel, and plenty of Cheetos to fuel their trip, Morgan feels ready for anything. She's not expecting a flat tire, a missed ferry, a fake girlfriend...and that these two people she barely knew before the summer started will become the people she can't imagine living without.


Author Q&A


What do you look for in road trip stories?
Fun, whacky things that you do when you’re trapped in a car with someone. You really get to know people when you’re in a car together for hours and hours. You have the best talks and things get real. That’s what I look for. Real. And funny.

The inspiration behind 16 Things I Thought Were True.
I am an oldie but a goodie. Ha ha. I tell people I’m a goodie anyhow. My point being that I did a lot of stupid things when I was a teen. And I was always the person who got caught. So I imagined that if I were a teen in today’s world, I would have embarrassing things spread all over the Internet. And what if something embarrassing went viral? It would force lots of changes…

What kinds of real-life experiences were drawn from for the writing of 16 Things?
I’ve hidden in bathrooms for a little while to take a breather from social situations that make me uncomfortable. Morgan did that. J The twin’s car, the Cutlass 422, that belongs to my husband. There are some things woven in, embarrassing moments etc that “May” have come from real life.



About the Author


Janet's road to author was a little windy. While in college, she worked as a DJ in a night club. After college she worked as an advertising copywriter for radio and then TV and eventually was lured over to sales and marketing. She missed writing though and, years later, she started her first book. She has been writing books ever since.

Connect with Janet
Website | Goodreads | Facebook | Twitter