28 September 2010

Interview: Helen Lowe

Today we have with us author Helen Lowe. The Heir of Night, the first book of her Wall of Night series is being released today.

If Night falls, all fall . . .

In the far north of the world of Haarth lies the bitter mountain range known as the Wall of Night. Garrisoned by the Nine Houses of the Derai, the Wall is the final bastion between the peoples of Haarth and the Swarm of Dark—which the Derai have been fighting across worlds and time.

Malian, Heir to the House of Night, knows the history of her people: the unending war with the Darkswarm; the legendary heroes, blazing with long-lost power; the internal strife that has fractured the Derai's former strength. But now the Darkswarm is rising again, and Malian's destiny as Heir of Night is bound inextricably to both ancient legend and any future the Derai—or Haarth—may have.

- When did you started to write?

I first began writing as a little kid, poems and plays that I and my siblings, together with our friends, used to put on for our parents. I continued writing as a teenager and even had a few stories and poems published and broadcast in the wider world (not just the school magazine), but I didn't starting writing fiction seriously until eleven years ago. Since then I have had many short stories and poems published and anthologized, as well as winning and being placed in competitions, and my first novel, Thornspell (Knopf), was published in 2008.

- How long does it usually take you to write a book?

Well, it took me five years to complete The Heir of Night, because at that stage I was writing part-time and I had a day job where I was frequently working 60 to 70 hours a week. I also used to get sent off "on location" quite often, as well, at which times it was very difficult to write at all. But I wrote Thornspell as a full time project, when I had a year off work, and that only took me 6-7 months from "go" until submission date. Thornspell is half the size of Heir, so that suggests a year, perhaps a little more full time, for the next books—and that is pretty much how The Gathering of the Lost (The Wall of Night Series Part 2), is working out, time-wise. The Wall series novels are big books, both in scope and physical size, and the quality of the story and the characterization is also very important to me--but I am absolutely committed to finishing the series as quickly as I can, which is why I have given up the day job to work on them full time (in my "garret"! [Grins])

- Are you a planner? Do you know how each of your books ends?

I am somewhere in between the planner and the intuitive writer. I always have the story arc in my mind from the beginning and I always know how the story will end--in the case of The Wall of Night series, that includes both each of the individual books and the series as a whole. I also roughly know the major milestones along the way, but a great deal can change in between as events unfold and the characters develop. I may take text out of one part of the manuscript and put it in another, remove some material altogether and add new, but so far I have never strayed far from the original story arc. I have also done reasonably detailed synopses for each of the four books—in fact, that is how I realized the Wall story was four books—but I find that the more detailed the planning the more I subconsciously feel that the story is "already written" and my work as the storyteller is done. So I find that the more organic, evolutionary approach to writing, as opposed to very detailed pre-planning, works best for me.

- Which of all your books did you have more fun writing?

You know, each book is unique and so I enjoy them in different ways. I love the darkness and power and richness of The Heir of Night, but the beauty, mystery and adventurousness of Thornspell was also a lot of fun to write. Thornspell was easier to write, because it is a shorter book with only one major point-of-view character, and that has its charm, but the challenge of writing the bigger book, and now the series, is also deeply engaging.

- How many hours a day do you spend writing? Do you prefer writing at day or at night?

I am definitely a lark by inclination, but I can burn the midnight oil when I have to—and in fact I do have to at the moment with The Heir of Night coming out in the USA today (28 September), and in Australia and New Zealand on October 7. The process is heady and exciting, but also a lot of work, especially since I am trying to keep up the momentum on The Gathering of the Lost at the same time.

My minimum hours per day to "just write" are four, for at least five days a week. By "just write" I mean the books: not the blog or website, or answering book related emails, or doing interviews like this, or anything else related to the business of writing. Whenever I can, I do more than that, but the four hour minimum has to be
ring fenced otherwise all the other, more immediate demands would take over. I also have a minimum "new word" limit per day. The target is quite small, deliberately so, because then I don't beat myself up if I'm working on a tricky passage, or I have a lot of revision to do, which results in the number of new words for that day being low. Usually though, I write between 6 to 10 times my minimum "new word" count when I sit down to write.

- Where did you get the idea for the Wall of Night series?

I always find this a difficult question, because The Heir of Night and Wall series are not based on a single idea or a single moment of inspiration, but on the build-up of a series of ideas over time. I had the idea of a twilit world from a very early age, perhaps inspired by the Norse myths which I loved reading, but also shaped by living in Singapore with its swift tropical dusks, and also, I believe, by reading Alan Garner's Elidor around that same time. Elidor is about a world trapped in complete darknesswhich of course The Wall of Night isn'tbut I suspect the possibility of the idea, combined with the environment I was living in and all the mythic material I was reading, worked together to shape my own, early world-building vision. But the vision of the mountainous and windblasted Wall of Night, with it bitter peaks and treacherous ravines, came to me a lot later. Having said that, the Wall of Night world definitely arrived before any of the charactersand interestingly, given my fascination with history, myths and folklore, many of the mythic and historical characters referenced within The Heir of Night, such as the hero Yorindesarinen and the Hunt Master, Xeria and Tasian and Aikanor, were amongst the first to people the world. The idea of the Derai, as a dour, stoic and beleaguered people under arms, evolved out of exploring different stories around those characters.

- What are you working on right now?

Ah, that's easy! I am working very hard indeed on finishing The Gathering of the Lost, the second book in the WALL series, as quickly as I can while making sure that it is just as good if not better than The Heir of Night.

- What can you tell us about The Heir of Night?

The Heir of Night is physically very much about the Wall of Night, although the second book will open out into the wider Haarth world, which is partly referenced in Heir: the Winter Country and the cities of the River; the golden city of Ij and the distant empire of Ishnapur with the Great Deserts beyond; as well as the green hills of Jaransor that may drive the unwary mad.

Within the Wall of Night world of shadow, conflict and decay,
The Heir of Night is primarily the story of Malian, the untried Heir of Night who must leave everything she knows to save herself and her people, and of Kalan, a young man thrust into a hateful life who must fight to break free. But the Wall story is also the story of their race, the Derai, who are locked into an ancient war and are divided internally by prejudice, suspicion and fear. In Heir, Malian and Kalan find themselves caught in the heart of the Derai legacy of darkness, peril and mystery, which they must first unravel and then begin to overcome ...

Although The Heir of Night is dark, epic fantasy, with the traditional elements of the hero's journey, ancient and powerful enemies, and young "protagonists
alone" who must follow that hero's quest, it also contains qualities that are subtly different from the tradition, including the depth and reality of the characters, who are not "just archetypes". The fact that the "hero society" is alien to the world of Haarth—invaders themselves in that senseand have brought their "war-without-end" and their enemy with them, and the associated moral ambiguity of the Derai are also non-traditional elements. The one thing you can be sure of is that this is no "black and white" conflict and no one is entirely as they may seem.

- Can you give us a glimpse at the main characters of the book?

I have already talked about Malian and Kalan, but there are also some very important secondary characters in the book. These include Malian's father, the Earl of Night, and his lover and consort, Rowan Birchmoon, who is also known as the Winter Woman because she is not Derai, but hails from the Winter Country. Other important Derai characters include Nhairin, the lame and scarred steward of the keep; Sister Korriya, who is a priestess and the Earl's kinswoman; and Asantir, the powerful and charismatic Honor Guard captain. Equally important characters who are not Derai comprise the Earls' minstrel Haimyr, and the heralds of the Guild, whom the Derai believe function in some "form of symbiosis." And there are other characters with vital roles in the action of the story who are not human (or Derai)and others again who are not alive ...

- One of the things I liked the most about the book was all the different points of view there were. What made you write the book that way instead of just in Malian's point of view?

The Earl, Rowan Birchmoon, Nhairin, Asantir and the heralds are all point-of-view characters in The Heir of Night and those who are not, such as Haimyr and Korriya, still have important parts to play. In terms of why I wrote it that way ... I do think point-of-view choice is very much driven by the kind of story being told. So Thornspell, which is a fairytale retelling of the story of the prince in Sleeping Beauty, almost demands the single main character, third person point-of-view: because it is the prince's tale, his experiences and perspective drive its telling.

The Heir of Night
has a much larger epic sweep: it is a story, not just of the two central characters and those immediately around them,
but also of the Derai race and the world of Haarth. Employing multiple points of view allows that depth and breadth of story to come throughand also provides a wider scope for immediate events within the story to play out, since we are not just reliant on either Malian or Kalan's eyes and experiences to know what is going on. Using multiple points of view also gives us a broader perspective on Malian and Kalan themselves. We get their take on the world and events—but we also get others' take on their circumstances, and on their characters as well.

- How many books are in the Wall of Night series?

Four--it's a quartet. I'm completing the second book at the moment, with the working title The Gathering of the Lost.

- Thanks so much for being here today and good luck with The Heir of Night.

It's a great pleasure to be here! Thank you for the opportunity and the good wishes. :-)

Check back tomorrow to read my review of The Heir of Night!

25 September 2010

Blog Hop (2)

Blog hop is a meme hosted by Crazy for Books and it runs from Friday to Monday.

Book Blogger Hop

Enter your link and hop over other blogs!

To answer this week's question "When you write reviews, do you write them as you are reading or wait until you have read the entire book?" I'll say that I always finish the book before I start the review. Sometimes I write it right after I finish it but most of the time I write it the day after.

23 September 2010

Guest Author + Giveaway: Jennifer Estep

First, I want to thank Jennifer Estep for being today in the blog. Her next release, Venom, goes out the 28th and you can read my review of the book here.
Also, check out the end of the post for an international giveaway of Venom.

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

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

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

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

So today I thought I would talk a little bit about where I get the ideas for my books. It’s always a popular question with readers. The truth? I get my ideas from just about everywhere.

Books, movies, TV shows, real life, my own overactive imagination. News stories, sound bites, songs, the way someone talks or walks or laughs. They all can spark an idea. For example, many times when I’m watching a TV show or movie, I’ll put myself in the place of one of the characters - or imagine what would happen if a completely new character was introduced. How would the other characters react? How would the relationships change? How would the hero defeat the bad guy - or not?

I call this kind of brainstorming the “what if” game. What if this happened? What if that happened? How would the rest of the story play out? I think “what if” is one of the most inspiring thoughts that a writer can have. To write a book, I think you have to wonder “what if …”

So where did I get the idea for my Elemental Assassin series? Well, I’ve always loved reading about assassin characters, especially in fantasy books. But I started noticing that a lot of the assassins that I would come across in books were, well, whiny. And angsty. And extremely conflicted about being an assassin. It always seemed to me like there was a simple solution to this problem - to just quit being an assassin. But of course, the characters that I read about didn’t seem to consider this - they just kept on being whiny and angsty and conflicted.

So one day, I thought “what if …” there was an assassin who wasn’t so whiny and angsty? What if there was a heroine who was okay with all the bloody, violent things she had to do to survive? What if there was a heroine who was actually one of the good guys in her own dark and twisted way? With that idea, Gin Blanco and the city of Ashland were born.

I’m three books into the Elemental Assassin series now, with two more on the way, and the ideas for several more rattling around in my brain. So I think it was a pretty cool “what if” moment to have. ;-)

What about you guys? Where do you get your inspirations from? What are some of your favorite urban fantasy and paranormal romance books right now?

You can find out more about Jennifer at her site.


You can win a copy of Venom by Jennifer Estep.
All you have to do is answer Jennifer's question and fill out the form.
Following is optional.
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22 September 2010

Review: Venom by Jennifer Estep

Title: Venom
Author: Jennifer Estep
Series: Elemental Assassin #3
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Release Date: September 28, 2010
Publisher: Pocket
Edition: Paperback
It’s hard to be a badass assas­sin when a giant is beat­ing the crap out of you. Luck­ily, I never let pride get in the way of my work. My cur­rent mis­sion is per­sonal: anni­hi­late Mab Mon­roe, the Fire ele­men­tal who mur­dered my fam­ily. Which means pro­tect­ing my iden­tity, even if I have to con­ceal my pow­er­ful Stone and Ice magic when I need it most. To the pub­lic, I’m Gin Blanco, owner of Ashland’s best bar­be­cue joint. To my friends, I’m the Spi­der, retired assas­sin. I still do favors on the side. Like rid­ding a vam­pire friend of her over­sized stalker—Mab’s right-hand goon who almost got me dead with his mas­sive fists. At least irre­sistible Owen Grayson is on my side. The man knows too much about me, but I’ll take my chances. Then there’s Detec­tive Bria Coolidge, one of Ashland’s finest. Until recently, I thought my baby sis­ter was dead. She prob­a­bly thinks the same about me. Lit­tle does she know, I’m a cold-blooded killer … who is about to save her life.

This book is about consequences. After the events of the last book, Mab and her goons are looking for the assassin that killed her lawyer's son and an associate. Because of that Roslyn, the vampire that helped Gin, now is in trouble and needs Gin's skills to get rid of him. But it's easier said than done because this guy is powerful, resourceful and really hard to kill.

I loved seeing Gin evolve from the simple assassin she was in the first book to the complicated revenge driven retired assassin she was in this book. She has to deal with the aftermath of the events from the previous book and that includes the effect it had on her the departure of the Detective Donovan Caine. I never liked the guy and I was glad he was gone, especially since now Owen Grayson is in the picture. Gin has some doubts concerning him and it was interesting seeing her deal with her insecurities and how much Owen really understands her. We get to know the connection between these two and I think that deep down they just match. We also see Gin use her elemental powers more easily, although she keeps being stubborn about trying to develop them.

Another point that was raised in the previous book was Detective Bria Coolidge, also known as Gin's thought dead little sister. We start to get to know her and we can see the similarities between the two sisters, especially concerning the investigation into their family's death. They're both looking for justice, only they use different methods. I liked how she tried to help people even though realistically she can't and how because of that she has become Mab's target. It was also interesting seeing her interact with Finn and I think there's a possible romance in the air.

As for the other characters, Finn keeps being Finn and the sisters are the same, although we do get some new information into their pasts. I really wanted more interaction between Gin and Mab, but unfortunately there isn't much of it, and I really hope we see some sort of fight between thse two in the future, especially after how Venom ended.

This book had non-stop action, plenty of character development and answered a few questions that were raised in the previous 2 novels. I read it in one sitting and now I can't wait to read Tangled Threads. This series just keeps getting better and better!

Memorable Lines:

I do hope you’ve learned your les­son this time, Ms. Blanco,” Mab said in a pleas­ant voice. “Because Jonah’s right. Next time you cross one of us—any of us—you will die. And I promise you that it will be far more excru­ci­at­ing than what you’ve expe­ri­enced here tonight.”

A bit of black fire flashed in her eyes, back­ing up her deadly promise. Mab Mon­roe smiled at me a moment longer, then turned on her boot heel and van­ished into the cold night.

Previous Books:
1. Spider's Bite - Review
2. Web of Lies - Review

Next Book:
4. Tangled Threads (April 26th 2011)

Rating: 1/2

* I received an eArc of this book from the author for review.

Waiting on Wednesday (21)

Author: Rachel Caine
Title: Ghost Town
Series: Morganville Vampires #9
Genre: YA
Release Date: October 26th 2010
Publisher: NAL
Edition: Hardback

The fragile peace between humans and vampires in Morganville is in trouble, and when Claire takes drastic action, she's put under serious pressure to re-establish the barriers that keep the town residents inside, and wipe the memories of those who leave. But working with her half-crazy vampire boss Myrnin means that things don't always turn out as planned ... and as the people of Morganville begin acting strangely, Claire and her friends must solve the mystery and try to put things right. But one by one, her allies are turning on her ... even the ones she trusts most.

: Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl
Title: Beautiful Darkness
Series: Caster Chronicles #2
Genre: YA
Release Date: October 12th 2010
Publisher: Little, Brown Books
Edition: Hardback

Ethan Wate used to think of Gatlin, the small Southern town he had always called home, as a place where nothing ever changed. Then he met mysterious newcomer Lena Duchannes, who revealed a secret world that had been hidden in plain sight all along. A Gatlin that harbored ancient secrets beneath its moss-covered oaks and cracked sidewalks. A Gatlin where a curse has marked Lena's family of powerful supernaturals for generations. A Gatlin where impossible, magical, life-altering events happen.

Sometimes life-ending.

Together they can face anything Gatlin throws at them, but after suffering a tragic loss, Lena starts to pull away, keeping secrets that test their relationship. And now that Ethan's eyes have been opened to the darker side of Gatlin, there's no going back. Haunted by strange visions only he can see, Ethan is pulled deeper into his town's tangled history and finds himself caught up in the dangerous network of underground passageways endlessly crisscrossing the South, where nothing is as it seems.

20 September 2010

Review: The Mage in Black by Jaye Wells

Title: The Mage in Black
Author: Jaye Wells
Series: Sabina Kane #2
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Release Date: April 1, 2010
Publisher: Orbit
Edition: Paperback
Sabina Kane doesn't have the best track record when it comes to family. After all, her own grandmother, leader of the vampire race, wants her dead. So when she arrives in New York to meet her mage relatives, the reunion puts the fun in dysfunctional. Not only is mage culture completely bizarre, but everyone seems to think she's some kind of 'Chosen' who'll unite the dark races. Sabina doesn't care who chose her, she's not into destiny. But the mages aren't Sabina's only problem. In New York's Black Light District, she has run-ins with fighting demons, hostile werewolves and an opportunistic old flame. Sabina thought she'd take a bite out of the Big Apple - but it looks like it wants to bite back.

This book starts immediately after Red-Headed Stepchild. Sabina goes with Adam to New York to meet the mage council, her twin sister and to begin her magic training.
All through the book Sabina has to deal with major trust issues, and I don't blame her after almost everyone betraying her on the previous book. The problem was that I got tired of her being suspicious of everyone at all times, and the fact that Adam wasn't there with her didn't help matters.

There was a lot more action in this book although there were some scenes (especifically the one with Tiny) that didn't bring anything to the story and it seemed that were there only to add a little more action, and honestly, I could have done without them.
We get introduced to 2 new dark races: the werewolves and the fae. I found the werewolves to be very interesting and I really hope we see more of Michael, they're alpha and then there's the fae. We really only meet one, and we don't learn much on that encounter.

On the love side of the story, we get introduced to an old flame of Sabina's, Slade. It was funny seeing her trying to deal with her bottle up emotions and interact with him. He, alongside Giguhl (Sabina's demon familiar), give the book a lighter tone. He gives Adam a little competiton, but I think everyone who has read this books knows who's going to get the girl. We also finally meet Sabina's sister, and sometimes I liked her more than Sabina herself. She's definitely an interesting and important character and I love seeing develop the relationship between both sisters. Concerning Sabina's magic training, I found it to be one of my favourite parts of the book. You could really ser her deal not only with her magic, but also her emotions.

I definitely enjoyed this book, and personally I think it was better than Red-Headed stepchild. It has more action, more character development and at last we see the bad guys make a big move. I can't wait to read the third book after the cliffhanger the book left us in.

Memorable Lines:

I leaned forward, ready to tell Adam where he could shove his morality.
“Guys!” Giguhl shouted.
Adam and I spun around together and yelled. “What?”
“I’ve been shot in the ass!”

Previous Book:
1. Red-Headed Stepchild - Review

Next Book:
3. Green Eyed Demon (Mar 2011)



So, the CSN Stores $50 Gift Card giveaway ended the other day. The contest had a lot of entries. Thanks so much for entering and I'll say welcome to all the new followers of the blog.

The winner of the GC is ...


Congrats! I'll be in contact with you shortly.

Thanks again to everyone for participating, and if you didn't win, be sure to check back on Thursday. There will be a brand new giveaway of Venom by Jennifer Estep.

18 September 2010

Review: Red-Headed Stepchild by Jaye Wells

Title: Red-Headed Stepchild
Author: Jaye Wells
Series: Sabina Kane #1
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Release Date: April 1, 2009
Publisher: Orbit
Edition: Paperback

In a world where being of mixed-blood is a major liability, Sabina doesn’t really fit in. And being an assassin – the only profession fit for an outcast – doesn’t help matters. But she’s never brought her work home. Until now.

Her latest mission is uncomfortably complex, and threatens the fragile peace between the vampire and mage races. As Sabina scrambles to figure out which side she’s on, she uncovers a tangled political web, some nasty facts about her family and some unexpected new talents. Any of these things could be worryingly life-changing, but together, they could be fatal …

Sabina is a mixed race assassin who works for her grandmother. Even though she has both mage and vampire blood, she only acknowledges her vampire side. For her everything was black and white, either you were on one side or in another but as she starts to step out of her shell she realizes that not everything was as she believed.

The world in which the book is set has nothing new. We have vampires, mages, demons, fae and probably some other creatures we haven't seen yet. What I did like was the twist about the weakness the vampires have of apples (apple wood, apple juice, if it's made of apple, it hurts vamps) and the demons. Well, I guess I'm speaking of one demon in particular, and that's Giguhl. He provides a source of humour that it's much needed in the novel.

The problem I had with the book was that I didn't really like the protagonist. I was reading some parts of the book and I was thinking "Wake up! Everyone is lying to you!" but of course she didn't, and she kept being loyal to a group that harmed her countless times (and by the way, she had proof of it). She was naive, too trusting and hard headed (so much so that sometimes it bordered on stupid).

Now, there were some characters that were very interesting, like Adam the mage or Briallen the faery and I really hope we get more information on them in future books.
This was a nice debut book and while I had some problems with it, I enjoyed it.

Memorable Lines:

"Is that all you bought?"
His eyes shot to the left. "Um."
I clenched my teeth. "What else?"
"A Super Mega Juicer, he said quickly. "But, Sabina, seriously that juicer is a miracle machine."
"I'm a vampire, Giguhl. The only liquids I drink are blood or alcohol. I don't do juice."
"You might want to consider a little roughage in your diet. According to the commercial, an increase in fiber will help you be more regular."

Next Books:
2. The Mage in Black
3. Green Eyed Demon (Mar 2011)


17 September 2010

Blog Hop (1)

Blog hop is a meme hosted by Crazy for Books and it runs from Friday to Monday.

Book Blogger Hop

Enter your link and hop over other blogs!

16 September 2010

Review: Return to Paradise by Simone Elkeles

Title: Return to Paradise
Author: Simone Elkeles
Series: Leaving Paradise #2
Genre: YA
Release Date: September 1, 2010
Publisher: Flux
Edition: Paperback
Maggie and Caleb just went through the worst year of their lives. Hit by a car and starting life over with a limp, Maggie never thought she would forgive Caleb. But she did—and fell in love. What they shared was real. But Caleb wanted to be free from the past—and a terrible secret: he wasn't the one who hit Maggie. So he left Paradise—and Maggie—forever. When Maggie and Caleb run into each other in a different town, they can't deny their true feelings. Will Maggie let Caleb get away again? Or will Caleb face the truth and return to Paradise?

In my opinion the last book, Leaving Paradise, didn't have a satisfying ending. This second book at least gives it to us. After leaving town Caleb gets into to trouble. Again. To avoid going to jail he has to do a program that makes him and the rest of the people in it go from place to place telling teens why they shouldn't drink and drive. Caleb goes as one of the representatives of the offender side and Maggie goes as the victim side. Of course, they didn't know the other was going to be there and this creates trouble for everyone (I think this was a little easy, if you ask me).

These two have a lot of things to deal with, starting with Caleb, who still has to admit he wasn't the one that drove the car and has to deal with the emotions of being punished for something he didn't do. For a good part of the book Caleb is a jerk. He lashes out to everyone and there were times where I wanted to smack him. Meanwhile Maggie was trying to prove to everyone how strong she was and how she has moved on, but at the end of it it wasn't true. She was just as scared as before and was only putting up a front. I really enjoyed seeing this two together and I especially liked the scenes where Maggie tries to help Caleb.

We get an update on some characters, like Caleb's and Maggie's families, Kendra, Brian, ... Then we meet some new ones, like Lenny, a guy who at first seems an idiot but later you realize is much more. The character that annoyed me no end was Leah. She hasn't changed at all since the first book and most of the time I wanted to yell at her and make her admit the truth.

Overall, this was a great final chapter of the Maggie and Caleb love story. Loose ends get tied up, the truth finally comes out and all the characters deal with the consequences of the car accident and Caleb's arrest.

Memorable Lines:

Caleb pounds his fist hard into the tree trunk. His knuckles are bleeding from the force, but he doesn't seem to notice as he storms up to me.
"The truth is that I didn't hit you with that car! I went to fucking jail for a whole fucking year for something I didn't fucking do! And you know what? It sucked. I resented every moment in juvie because I wasn't supposed to be there in the first place!"

Previous Book:
1. Leaving Paradise - Review


15 September 2010

Giveaway Last Call: $50 CSN Stores Gift Card

You only have a few hours left to enter the $50 CSN Stores giftcard giveaway.
Remember, you get an extra entry if you're a follower.
Fill out the form here.

Waiting on Wednesday (20)

Author: Patricia Briggs
Title: Masques
Series: Aralorn #1
Genre: Fantasy
Release Date: September 28th 2010
Publisher: Ace
Edition: Paperback

After an upbringing of proper behavior and oppressive expectations, Aralorn fled her noble birthright for a life of adventure as a mercenary spy. Her latest mission involves spying on the increasingly powerful sorcerer Geoffrey ae'Magi. But in a war against an enemy armed with the powers of illusion, how do you know who the true enemy is-or where he will strike next?

Author: Ilona Andrews
Title: Bayou Moon
Series: The Edge #2
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Release Date: September 28th 2010
Publisher: Ace
Edition: Paperback

Cerise Mar and her unruly clan are cash poor but land rich, claiming a large swathe of the Mire, the Edge swamplands between the state of Louisiana and the Weird. When her parents vanish, her clan’s long-time rivals are suspect number one.

But all is not as it seems. Two nations of the Weird are waging a cold war fought by feint and espionage, and their conflict is about to spill over into the Edge—and Cerise’s life. William, a changeling soldier who left behind the politics of the Weird, has been forced back into service to track down a rival nation’s spymaster.

When William’s and Cerise’s missions lead them to cross paths, sparks fly—but they’ll have to work together if they want to succeed ... and survive.

14 September 2010

Review: The Iron Hunt by Marjorie M. Liu

Title: The Iron Hunt
Author: Marjorie M. Liu
Series: Hunter Kiss #1
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Release Date: May 6, 2010
Publisher: Orbit
Edition: Paperback

During the day, Maxine’s tattoos are her armour and she is invincible. At night they peel from her skin to take on forms of their own, leaving her human and vulnerable, and revealing themselves to be demons sleeping beneath her skin. But these demons are the best friends and bodyguards a woman could have. And Maxine needs bodyguards. She is the last in a line of women with power in their blood, trained to keep the world safe from malignant beings who would do us harm.

But ten thousand years after its creation, the prison dimension that kept the worst of these from us is failing, and all the Wardens save Maxine are dead. She must bear the burden of her bloodline and join the last wild hunt against the enemy.

This is the first book of the new series Hunter Kiss in which we have Maxine, the last warrior of her kind, trying to stop the demons from destroying the planet. The world in which the story is set is nothing new to the genre, but Maxine does have some unique characteristics. She has been taugh since childhood to be independent and to not have any long term relationships of any kind but she's lonely and gets tired of following the rules, so she settles in Seattle.

One of the problems I had with the book was that most of the characters where already established, so I didn't really feel a connection with them and I didn't care for them as much as Maxine (especially for Grant). And then there were other characters of which we didn't know anything at all, like Sarai, Jack & Tracker, which was really frustrating.

I loved the idea of the "living tattoos" that make Maxine untouchable at day and then at night they come to life as "her boys", little demons that defend her to the death. They were really cute and funny and at the same time absolutely lethal.
Another think that frustrated me was that it was obvious that there were a lot of kinds of demons, but Maxine didn't really care about that, so that means the reader doesn't get the information either, and not being able to tell which one was which one drove me nuts.

While this book was interesting and in some ways had fresh ideas, sometimes it didn't really go anywhere and even though it has great characters and at the end we do get some sort of closure, I was expecting more from the book, especially more action. I'll have to read the second book to get some sort of final conclusion.

Memorable Lines:

Rex stared at me like I was viler than a splat of diarrhea. ‘You just don’t care, period. You’re still looking for an excuse to kill me, Hunter.’

‘I don’t need an excuse.’ I tugged sharply on my gloves. Mary stared, but I no longer cared if she saw my tattoos.
Rex, despite his bravado, stepped back.

Next Books:
2. Darkness Calls
3. A Wild Light


* I received this book from the publisher for review.

13 September 2010

Review: Tangled by Carolyn Mackler

Title: Tangled
Author: Carolyn Mackler
Series: None
Genre: YA
Release Date: December 29, 2009
Publisher: Harper Teen
Edition: Hardback
Paradise wasn't supposed to suck.

Not the state of being, but a resort in the Caribbean.

Jena, Dakota, Skye, and Owen are all there for different reasons, but at Paradise their lives become tangled together in ways none of them can predict. Paradise will change them all.

It will change Jena, whose first brush with romance takes her that much closer to having a life, and not just reading about those infinitely cooler and more exciting.

It will change Dakota, who needs the devastating truth about his past to make him realize that he doesn't have to be a jerk just because people think he's one.

It will change Skye, a heartbreakingly beautiful actress, who must come to terms with the fact that for once she has to stop playing a role or face the consequences.

And it will change Owen, who has never risked anything before and who will take the leap from his online life to a real one all because of a girl he met at Paradise. . . .

From confused to confident and back again, one thing's certain: Four months after it all begins, none of them will ever be the same.

Tangled is the tale of 4 teens and is written from the point of view of all of them. The first narrator is Jena. Through her we meet all the teens. She has some issues with her looks and she deals with them in her story. I liked how well the author managed to write about them and how Jena doesn't change instantly, it takes her time to accept herself.
Her part of the story is my second favourite and I wished the author could have given us another glimpse into Jena's mind.

Next comes Dakota. He's a messed up teen that is trying to deal with some heavy stuff. He doesn't value himself much and the people around him aren't helping. I started reading his part thinking he was a selfish jerk, but we find out why he acts that way and that absolves him a little. I wished we could have seen him apologize for the things he did and although he does feel sorry, I don't think it was enough.

Then we have Skye. My first impression of her wasn't a good one. She seemed a selfish brat who was looking for attention. I didn't change my mind after reading from her point of view. She's dealing with issues, too, but I have no idea where they came from or why she didn't ask for help. In short, the only thing I liked about her story was that we get to se Jena again.

Finally we have Owen. He's Dakota's younger brother and he prefers dealing with online life as opposed to real life. He has been sheltered all his life but thanks to the help of a friend, he finally begins to live real life. This was my favourite point of view; I think it was because I could relate to him the most. I loved how even though he overcame his fears he still was scared. I also liked how Jena plays an important role in his story.

All in all, this was an enjoyable read about fears and complexes and how to overcome them. The way it was told was fresh although I would have prefered to read more from the point of view of Jena and Owen.

Memorable Lines:

This was not how it was supposed to happen. I was supposed to bump into him when I was clothed, my hair blown out, makeup on. I know some girls, like Skye, can pull off the au naturel thing. But I need all the intervention the cosmetic world has to offer.

As he climbed into the tub, I had a sudden panic that I was going to fart and even though the light was faint he’d detect telltale bubbles. I quickly reassured myself that the jets were on (good move, Jena), so I was covered on one front. But that still left me in a hot tub, barely clothed, with the hottest guy on the planet.

It doesn’t get more awful than this.


12 September 2010

International Contest Sunday (16)

- Amina Black will give away Personal Demons & The Iron Daughter to 2 winners when she gets 100 followers.
Ends when she gets 100 followers.
Enter here.

* Michelle Hodkin is giving away a copy of The Duff by Kody Keplinger.
Ends on September 12th.
Enter here.

* Lovely Lulu is giving away a copy of Hourglass by Claudia Gray.
Ends on September 13th.
Enter here.

* Ex Libris is having a 500 followers giveaway. You could win one of the books from her list. There will be 5 winners.
Ends on September 13th.
Enter here.

* Breathless Books is having a 50+ follower giveaway. You could win one of the books from her wishlist.
Ends on September 15th.
Enter here.

* Sparkling Reviews is giving away an ARC of Nightshade by Andrea Cremer.
Ends on September 16th.
Enter here.

* Sarah's Book Reviews is giving away a copy of both Nearly Departed & Inmortal Remains by Rook Hastings to 2 winners.
Ends on September 17th.
Enter here.

* Letras y más letras is celebrating her birthday by giving away Black by Ted Dekker or a book up to $10 from the Book Depository.
Ends on September 17th.
Enter here.

* Tea Mouse is givng away a copy of The Iron Daughter by Julie Kagawa.
Ends on September 19th.
Enter here.

- In Which a Girl Reads is having a huge blogiversary contest. 3 winners will get to choose books from her list.
Ends on September 19th.
Enter here.

* First Novels Club is having a Vladimir Tod giveaway. 5 winners will get a tote bag with some goodies inside.
Ends on September 21st.
Enter here.

- End of Story, Next Book is having a 100+ followers giveaway. You could win a book up to $15 from the Book Depository.
Ends on September 22nd.
Enter here.

- Writing From the Tub is giving away 5 copies of Trash by Andy Mulligan.
Ends on September 24th.
Enter here.

- Reading Teen is having a back to school giveaway bash. You could win one of the ARC's on the list.
Ends on September 24th.
Enter here.

- I Should Be Writing is having a mega giveaway. 2 winners will get 2 books from her TBR pile.
Ends on September 30th.
Enter here.

- Reading With Tequila is having a 1000 follower contest. The winners will get the books they want from her list.
Ends on September 30th.
Enter here.

* A Fanatic's Book Blog is giving away 3 amazon giftcards to 3 lucky winners.
Ends on September 30th.
Enter here.

* The Eclectic Reader is having a September competition. You could win one of the 4 books from her list.
Ends on September 30th.
Enter here.

* The Bibliophilic Book Blog is having a blogiversary giveaway. You could win an E-reader, books, swag ...
Ends on November 7th.
Enter here.

- Old contest
* New contest

Do you want me to put your international contest on my post? Contact me with the details.

10 September 2010

Review: The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson

Title: The Sky Is Everywhere
Author: Jandy Nelson
Series: None
Genre: YA
Release Date: June 7, 2010
Publisher: Walker Books
Edition: Hardback
Seventeen-year-old Lennie Walker, bookworm and band geek, plays second clarinet and spends her time tucked safely and happily in the shadow of her fiery older sister, Bailey. But when Bailey
dies abruptly, Lennie is catapulted to center stage of her own life—and, despite her nonexistent history with boys, suddenly finds herself struggling to balance two. Toby was Bailey’s boyfriend; his grief mirrors Lennie’s own. Joe is the new boy in
town, a transplant from Paris whose nearly magical grin is matched only by his musical talent. For Lennie, they’re the sun and the moon; one boy takes her out of her sorrow, the other comforts her in it. But just like their celestial counterparts, they can’t collide without the whole wide world exploding.

I had this book on my wishlist for quite some time, so when it arrived at my house I devoured it in one sitting.
Lennie is a very likeable character who's confused about a lot of things and it's dealing with the death of her older sister. Through the book we see her and her family dealing with the pain of Bailey's death as well as seeing them try to move on with their lives.

Lennie's family is very entertaining. We have her grandmother, a gardener that believes that Lennie's life is reflected in a plant and when it gets sick everyone starts to worry and her uncle Big, an ultimate romantic who has been married a lot of times and has had countless romances.

Then there's the "love triangle". Toby, her sister's boyfriend and Joe, the new kid at school. Both of them are really different and give something important to Lennie. Toby understands her pain like nobody else while Joe makes her feel alive again.

I loved the format of the book. In the story Lennie writes notes and then leaves them in random places. In between chapters we got to see some of the notes she wrote, and that gave the characters a new depth, especially when the notes were transcriptions of conversations Lennie had with her sister Bailey.

While this is a book that deals with the pain of death, it's done in such way that it isn't dark at all. It approaches it in a light and hopeful sort of way that works beautifully in the book.
At the end, this is an incredible novel about love, dealing with the loss of a loved one and how to move on without that person in your life. This is a must read for YA lovers.

Memorable Lines:

"Everyone calls me Lennie," I say. Not very original, but better than guh, which was the alternative, and it does the trick. He looks down at his feet for a second and I take a breath and regroup for Round Two.

"Been wondering about that actually, Lennon after John?" he asks, again holding my gaze—it's entirely possible I'm going to faint. Or burst into flames.

I nod. "Mom was a hippie." This is northern Northern California after all—the final frontier of freakerdom. Just in the eleventh grade we have a girl named Electricity, a guy named Magic Bus, and countless flowers: Tulip, Begonia, and Poppy—all parent-given-on-the-birth-certificate names. Tulip is a two-ton bruiser of a guy who would be the star of our football team if we were the kind of school that had a football team. We're not. We're the kind of school that has optional morning meditation in the gym.