31 January 2011

Interview: Jon F. Merz

Two weeks ago the last novel of the Lawson the Fixer series by Jon F. Merz was released, Today te author is here answering some questions.

Meet Lawson. A cynical, wise-cracking vampire charged with protecting the Balance between vampires and humans, he is part cop, part spy, and part commando — James Bond with fangs. Lawson mixes shrewd cunning with unmatched lethality to get his job done. He tries his best to dismantle conspiracies, dispatch bad guys, and live long enough to get home. In The Kensei, a battle-weary Lawson heads to Japan for a little rest and some advanced ninja training. But he no sooner steps off the plane than lands in the midst of a Yakuza turf war orchestrated by a shadowy figure known as the Kensei. With the help of Talya, a former KGB-assassin, Lawson must put a stop to the Kensei’s organ trafficking networks, prevent the creation of an army of vampire-human hybrids, and save his own skin in the process.


How long did it take you to write the book?
Since this is the 5th Lawson book, it didn't take me as long as the firts book. I know Lawson very well by now and much of what happens in The Kensei (in terms of the martial arts subplot) is what happened to me on a trip to Japan in February 2003. It was great to be able to inject so much of my firsthand experience into the novel and hopefully, that will come through for the readers as well. I think the idea of blurring the line between fantasy and reality is a fun one to play with in fiction.

What kind of research did you do before writing The Kensei?
The Kensei, in some ways, is the culmination of my 20 years of training in Ninjutsu. A lot of what happens to Lawson throughout The Kensei is based on what happened to me during the trip I spoke about earlier. So, in order to reach that point in my training, it was necessary to study this martial arts system for many years. Additionally, some of the plot ideas with regards to the organ trafficking come from in-depth discussions I've had with several associates of mine who are involved in trying to stop the perpetrators of such crimes.

What are you working on right now?
St. Martin's just signed me on to do another Lawson novel, so the next one - THE RIPPER - will be out in Spring 2012. I need to write that and get it handed in by June. Otherwise, I'm polishing up a middle grade/YA boys adventure series right now that I hope to find a great home for. Additionally, my entire backlist (including all of the Lawson Vampire adventures) just went live on Amazon for the Kindle and on Barnes & Noble.com for the Nook. I hope to sell tons of those!

Can you tell us a little about what happened in previous novels of the Lawson series?
Each Lawson novel is a standalone adventure, so there's no need to read them in order. Lawson has dealt with his fair share of very bad people over the course of his career. In the first book - The Fixer, he has to deal with an old enemy coming back to Boston to awaken an ancient vampire god. In The Invoker, Lawson has to protect a young boy with the power to conjure the spirits of dead vampires. In The Destructor, Lawson has to battle SHiva - a half-vampire, half-lycanthrope assassin intent on murdering the head of the vampire governing body, the Council. And in the fourth book, The Syndicate, Lawson heads to New York to find his missing cousin and runs into vampire organized crime who are about to unleash a new synthetic drug upon the masses. Intermingled with these novels are some novellas and stories that pretty much put Lawson into every horrible situation you can imagine.

How would you describe The Kensei?
The Kensei is a rebirth for Lawson. By the end of The Syndicate, Lawson is burned out, battle weary and heads to Japan for some rest and advanced ninja training. But throughout the course of the book, he comes to realize a number of things about himself and his work, and even his relationship with his girlfriend Talya. So as much as The Kensei is one wild and hellish roller coaster ride for Lawson, he also comes to find a rebirth of his spirit and a rejuvenation of his understanding of his life's work.

What sets apart Lawson from other vampires?
Lawson is a Fixer - divinely chosen from birth to protect the Balance: the secret existence of vampires. He's part-spy, part-commando - think James Bond with fangs. He is the pinnacle of the elite and a whispered rumor in the world of vampires. The Fixer Service is a shadowy organization within an already shadowy race. But Lawson is also a conflicted soul: he hates drinking blood and is in love with a human woman - something forbidden in his society. So how does he reconcile the fact that he enforces the laws he himself violates? I think it makes for a very interesting perspective.

What's different about your vampires? What can you tell us about the hidden world the book is set in?
There are no sparkly vampires in my series. Lawson isn't immortal - neither are any other vampires in my books - but a member of a race of living vampires that have coexisted alongside humanity for thousands of years. Over time, their ingestion of blood has enabled them to distill the life force energy out of it, prolonging their lives and making them much stronger than normal. But the vampires are virtually indistinguishable from humanity, making them that much harder to identify, and indeed, helping to blur that line between fantasy and reality.

Thanks for being here today and good luck with The Kensei.
Thank you very much! I encourage readers to sign up for my free newsletter by going to my website: http://www.jonfmerz.net - it's got free fiction and much more every month!

Review: Evenfall by Liz Michalski


Title: Evenfall
Author: Liz Michalski
Series: -
Genre: Paranormal Romance
/ Contemporary Fiction
Release Date: February 1, 2011
Publisher: Berkley
Edition: Trade Paperback
Source: Publisher
Blurb:

In life, Frank could've had any woman he wanted.

In death, he'll try to win back the one that mattered...

Frank Wildermuth always regretted a mistake he made as a teenager: choosing Clara Murphy over her sister Gert. And like a true Murphy woman, Gert got on with her life, never admitting to heartbreak. Not even now, decades later, with Frank dead-dead, that is, but not quite gone. Now, Frank's niece, Andie Murphy, is back in town to settle his estate, and she sees that things have changed in Hartman, Connecticut. Aunt Gert still drives her crazy, but Cort, the wide-eyed farmboy she used to babysit, is all grown up-with a whole new definition for the word "sleepover." Even freakier are the whispers. Either Andie's losing her mind, or something she can't see is calling out to her-something that insists on putting right the past.


I enjoyed this book and I really liked that it was told in three points of view, Andie who has come back to Evenfall to help her aunt Gert and decide what to do with her life, Gert who has a main regret from her past that she has never let herself acknowledge, and Frank who regretted choosing Clara over her sister Gert and is now trying to let Gert know how much she has always meant to him, even though he's now dead.

You may be confused because I said that this was two different genres: paranormal romance and contemporary fiction. The truth is I wasn't sure which genre this book was, one point of view is told by a ghost, so clearly that's paranormal, but Andie's point of view, while it involves some incidents done by Frank, doesn't have a touch of paranormal, so I decided to give it two different labels.

I loved reading about Gert and Frank's story and I liked that it wasn't told in flashbacks, instead we get to read part of their memories and we get comments about what they wished they could have changed or done differently. I sympathized with both characters and I wanted so badly for them to have a happy ending, which is hard seeing as how Frank is dead. Their story is one of really heavy regrets, could have beens and how at the end you don't have all the time in the world to make things right.

Their story heavily impacts Andie's, as she's recovering from a break up and trying to figure out what to do with her life when she meets Cort again, a boy she used to babysit who's not a boy anymore. Cort was one of my favourite characters and I loved seeing him and Andie together.

I wish there could have been a more detailed ending, especially concerning Andie, and that the author could have written from Gert's point of view one last time at the end.
All in all this was a great debut novel told in a beautiful way about life, love, regrets and learning that you shouldn't let opportunities pass since you may not get them again.

Memorable Lines:
Frank

I press my firgertips against the windowpane and feel the molecules slide and shift beneath my weight, smooth as ice. I want to shatter the glass, let it fall like knife-sharp rain. I want to run down the stairs and block her path, grip her by the shoulders until she's finally forced to see me. I want to take her in my arms and weep.
But what power I have is featherlight, the merest echo of desire. I can whisper my yearnings through the walls of this house. I can alter the way an image appears. But I can't make Gert stay.

Rating:

27 January 2011

Review: Animal Magnetism by Jill Shalvis


Title: Animal Magnetism
Author: Jill Shalvis
Series: Animal Magnetism #1
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Release Date: February 1, 2011
Publisher: Berkley Sensation
Edition: Mass Market Paparback
Source: Publisher
Blurb:

Sunshine, Idaho, is a small and sunny town—the perfect home for man and beast. Well, maybe not for man, as pilot-for-hire Brady Miller discovers when his truck is rear-ended by what appears to be Noah’s Ark.

The co-owner of the town’s only kennel, Lilah Young has good reason to be distracted behind the wheel—there are puppies, a piglet, and a duck in her Jeep. But, she doesn’t find it hard to focus on the angry, gorgeous stranger she’s collided with.

Lilah has lived in Sunshine all her life, and though Brady is just passing through, he has her abandoning her instincts and giving in to a primal desire. It’s Brady’s nature to resist being tied down, but there’s something about Lilah and her menagerie—both animal and human—that keeps him coming back for more…


The one thing that immediately made me want to read the book was that the heroine runs her town's kennel. I love stories that have animals in it, plus I have a soft spot for ducks, which this story has, and every time the duck made an appearance it made me laugh. Both the hero, Brady, and the heroine, Lilah, have some issues to work through but they have help at all times from several people in Sunshine.

Lilah helps everyone in town and she formed a very strong friendship with Dell and Adam, Brady's brothers, after her grandmother died. It was sweet seeing how much they cared for her and then seeing them trying to warn Brady off her. Brady has been left by everyone since he was a kid so he made no emotional attachments since he left town, but Dell and Adam don't give up on him and they try to make Brady see that Sunshine is his home. I loved seeing the interactions between these three and I would have liked to see more of them.

As for the relationship between Lilah and Brady, these two have an instant connection, or maybe I should call it attraction, that makes them jump into a no-promises kind of relationship. It was funny seeing these two realize that they were falling for each other and it was also very sweet how they understood each other as no one else did.

If you're looking for a light and sweet romance, this is the book for you. I really hope that we get Dell and Adam's stories.


Memorable Lines:
“Legend says that if you take a moonlight dip, you’ll supposedly find your one true love,” Lilah said.
“Of course.” Brady nodded. “It’s always midnight. So, do you swim often?”
“Never at midnight.”

Rating:

26 January 2011

Review: Visions of Magic by Regan Hastings


Title: Visions of Magic
Author: Regan Hastings
Series: The Awakening #1
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Release Date: February 1, 2011
Publisher: Signet Eclipse
Edition: Mass Market Paparback
Source: Publisher
Blurb:

In the ten years since magic has reemerged in the world, witches have become feared and hunted. For weeks Shea Jameson has been haunted by visions of fire. When she unintentionally performs a spell in public, she becomes one of the hunted. Her only hope is Torin, a dangerously sensual man who claims to be her eternal mate.

After reading the blurb I couldn't wait to get my hands into this book, but after reading a few pages I knew I wasn't going to like the novel much.
The worldbuilding is really good, witches are awakening and the world is afraid of them, to the point of incarcerating them, burning them and in some cases experiment on them, and they do that without having hard evidence that you're a witch.

* Minor spoilers, I don't give away anything important *

The world doesn't look pretty for people with unexplained abilities, so it should be obvious that witches have to be careful. Well, I can tell you that Shea, the main character, makes so many stupid mistakes that there were times I wanted to throw the book against a wall. She runs away from Torin, the hero, without even asking any questions about what's going on, and when she goes around to ask them, she doesn't believe anything the hero says, she doesn't even acknowledge that she's a witch even after using her abilities. Also in one part of the book, after having been attacked and almost killed, they discover she has a tracking chip. Do they take it out? No, of course not. They decide to have sex instead. And then they are attacked, again. At this point I didn't really want to read anymore because both of them were too stupid to live.

There was some mystery, that wasn't a mystery at all because if you haven't figure out who the bad guy is at the middle of the book, you're told anyway. As for the romance, I really didn't like it either. This wasn't a book were the main characters get to know each other, is one were the heroine has to remember her past life and remember the love they had together. I didn't like that, because it seemed to me like to hero was in love with a woman that had her soul in the past and not with Shea herself, but the point isn't even raised in the book.

Would I recommend this book? No. Will I read the next one? Maybe, the overall plot is a good one so there is a chance I may enjoy the next book.


Next Book:
2. Visions of Skyfire (October 2011)

Rating:

Waiting on Wednesday (34)


Title: A Touch Mortal
Author: Leah Clifford
Series: -
Genre: YA
Release Date: February 22, 2011
Publisher: Greenwillow Books
Edition: Hardcover
Blurb:

Eden didn't expect Az.

Not his saunter down the beach toward her. Not his unbelievable pick-up line. Not the instant, undeniable connection. And not his wings.

Yeah.

So long, happily-ever-after.

Now trapped between life and death, cursed to spread chaos with her every touch, Eden could be the key in the eternal struggle between heaven and hell. All because she gave her heart to one of the Fallen, an angel cast out of heaven.

She may lose everything she ever had. She may be betrayed by those she loves most. But Eden will not be a pawn in anyone else's game. Her heart is her own.

And that's only the beginning of the end.

24 January 2011

Review: Beautiful Disaster by Laura Spinella


Title: Beautiful Disaster
Author: Laura Spinella
Series: -
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Release Date: January 4, 2011
Publisher: Berkley
Edition: Trade Paperback
Source: Publisher
Blurb:

Mia Wells's eco-friendly career goals are about to become a reality-but her life-altering moment is interrupted when an unexpected call ushers in her tremulous past. A man who's never left Mia's memory: Flynn, the enigmatic, passionate man whose disappearance broke her heart, has mysteriously resurfaced.

Now back in her life and in the hospital, Flynn is gravely injured. Mia keeps a bedside vigil-terrified that he will die, awestruck at the prospect of his survival. In a story filled with sweetness and suspense, Mia's what-ifs are endless. And Flynn's return ignites an achingly powerful tale about the most enduring love, one that is greater than honor, or friendship, or the passing of time.


This novel is set half in the present and half in the past. I don't usually like it when they're told that way, but it worked really well for this book. In the present we have Flynn, who has been in an accident and is in the ICU and Mia, an interior designer who rushes to the hospital even though it has been more than 12 years seen they have seen each other. The part of the story that's told in the past is about how Mia and Flynn met, how their relationship changed each other and then how Flynn left Mia so suddenly.

Mia and Flynn have a lot of chemistry and you can see the sparks fly through the book. Theirs is a story of redemption and long lost love. What I didn't like was how Mia was so heavily influenced by those around her and how it seemed that at times everyone else was making the choices for her, and she didn't complain much about it. In especific I'm talking about Roxanne, Mia's best friend, who was intruding in things that weren't any of her business all the time. I really couldn't stand her and most of the time I just wanted Mia to tell her to leave her alone, which sadly doesn't happen.

While it may sound like there is plenty of suspense, the truth is that the only thing you wonder is why Flynn left Mia without saying anything to her; the rest is a very complicated, sad and hopeful love story. This was an enjoyable read but I wish the ending could have been expanded and that Mia and Flynn could have spent more time together in the present.


Memorable Lines:
But then there was a gift, unlike any she had ever received. It floated into her ears on a path straight to her heart. The sound was raspy and weak, but familiar as her own skin, a deep voice breaking over that silent prayer.
"I was wrong. I thought this was hell, but I guess - this would be heaven."


Rating:

23 January 2011

Giveaway: Archangel's Consort by Nalini Singh


Today you can win a copy of the latest book of one of my favourite series, Archangel's Consort by Nalini Singh.
All you have to do is fill out the form.

The giveaway ends on January 30th.
US/Canada Only

Extra entries:
+2 Old GFC follower
+1 New GFC follower
+1 Comment on my review of Archangel's Consort.
+1 Tweet


Review: Raven's Quest by Anya Bast


Title: Raven's Quest
Author: Anya Bast
Series: -
Genre: Fantasy Romance
Release Date: February 1, 2011
Publisher: Berkley Sensation
Edition: Trade Paperback
Source: Publisher
Blurb:

Once, Gallus Lucan was in line to inherit the Dragon Throne of Numia—until his future was crushed and his family slain by his malevolent uncle Magnus. Now Lucan has only one ambition: overthrow Magnus and take back what is rightfully his.

Branna ta Cattia is the Raven, a high priestess who has come to Numia to defeat its tyrant. It’s a journey made on the strength of her prophetic dreams, visions of ancient rituals, sacred spells, and of a handsome stranger destined to help her—all in the name of stopping Magnus’s oppression. But Branna’s stranger is more than she expected. For Lucan wants victory his own way. To hell with the consequences.

As the magic of one woman’s love and the brute force of one’s man revenge unfold, Lucan and Branna realize their destiny as spirit mates—and their fears that the ultimate cost of winning freedom could be greater than either imagined.


This was the first fantasy romance book I've read and I was pleasently surprised. I loved the mix of a strong worldbuilding, an incredible adventure and the sweet and complicated romance between Lucan, the rightful heir of the Dragon Throne, and Branna, the high priestess and most powerful magician of her land.

Throught the novel we are reminded that Lucan never wanted to rule and that it wasn't expected of him since he was the youngest of all the sons his father had. It was very interesting seeing him deal with the responsability of leading an army, plus it was also touching how much he cared for them. As for Branna, she had been preparing to take down Magnus for a long time which might have been the reason why she missed so many obvious things that where happening around her, which frustrated me a little. The romance between Lucan and Branna developed at a nice pace and I liked that it wasn't love at first sight, although I would have prefered for them to get more time alone getting to know each other.

Also, I would have liked to know more about Lucan's family, even though they have been dead for a long time in the novel, as well as the other members of Lucan's army and the other lands Magnus conquered.

Overall, this was a great book that includes magic, an awesome adventure and a very sweet love story. I really hope the author writes another book from the point of view of some of the other characters.


Memorable Lines:
Somewhere, beyond that valley below them, within the borders of Numia, the priest awaited her. She trusted the Goddess to lead her to him. In the land of their enemy lived the man who would be her consort . . . and the salvation of Tir na Ban.


Rating:

International Contest Sunday (23)

International_Contest_Sunday


* Win Divine by Mistake @ Moonstar's Fantasyworld / Ends when she gets 30 followers
* Win Matched or Rules of Attraction @
Once Upon a Quote / Ends January 24th
* Win Fire by Kristin Cashore @ Handle Like Hendrix / Ends January 25th
* Win The Locket by Stacey Jay @ Blkosiner's Book Blog / Ends January 26th
* 100 followers contest @ Y(A)? Cuz We Write / Ends January 28th
* Win a book from the list @ ┬║Mundos┬║ / Ends January 30th
* Win Life, Liberty, and The Pursuit of Sausages @ Deranged Book Lovers / Ends January 31st
* Win XVI by Julia Karr @ Black Fingernailed Reviews / Ends January 31st
* Win Delirium, Shadowfever or the tudor Secret @ The Eclectic Reader / Ends January 31st
* Win your choice of any January release @ Addicted 2 Books / Ends January 31st
* Win books of choice of up to $15 @ Hooked to Books / Ends January 31st
* Contest with over 30 books @ Bloody Bookaholic / Ends February 1st
* Win The Werewolf Upstairs @ Rabid Reads / Ends February 5th
* Win Anna and the French Kiss + a $25 Amazon GC @ Bookrushed / Ends February 12th
* Win a book of your choice of up to £5 @ The Reader Room /Ends February 14th


- Old contest
* New contest

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

22 January 2011

Giveaway: $40 CSN Stores Gift Certificate


Today you can win a $40 CSN Stores gift certificate that you can use in one of their 200 + stores to buy all sorts of modern furniture like bookcases,
suitcases, tables, lamps, desks and many other things.

The only thing you have to do is fill out the form.

US/Canada Only

Ends on February 1st.

Extra Entries:
+2 Old GFC follower
+1 New GFC follower
+1 Tweet


* Winner will be chosen through random.org



21 January 2011

Review: Archangel's Consort by Nalini Singh


Title: Archangel's Consort
Author: Nalini Singh
Series: Guild Hunter #3
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Release Date: January 25, 2011
Publisher: Berkley Sensation
Edition: Mass Market Paparback
Source: Publisher
Blurb:
Vampire hunter Elena Deveraux and her lover, the lethally beautiful archangel Raphael, have returned home to New York only to face an uncompromising new evil…

A vampire has attacked a girls’ school—the assault one of sheer, vicious madness—and it is only the first act. Rampant bloodlust takes vampire after vampire, threatening to make the streets run with blood. Then Raphael himself begins to show signs of an uncontrolled rage, as inexplicable storms darken the city skyline and the earth itself shudders. The omens are suddenly terrifyingly clear.

An ancient and malevolent immortal is rising. The violent winds whisper her name: Caliane. She has returned to reclaim her son, Raphael. Only one thing stands in her way: Elena, the consort who must be destroyed…

At the end of Archangel's Kiss we have Elena trying to recover from the battle against Lijuan. Elena has been protected from the public, but in this entry she finally has to face the public, the people of New York in especific. It was interesting seeing her adapt to her new life as an angel and as an archangel's consort. The relationship between Elena and Raphael is as strong as ever, and even though Caliane, Raphael's mother, does what she can to separate them, it only ends up consolidating their love even more.

I especially liked the interactions between Elena, Raphael and the Seven. They are loyal to the end to Raphael but most of them still disapprove of Elena, and I loved seeing them all fight and quibble. Dangerous and sarcastic Venom still is my favourite of all the Seven, although I'm really curious about the intriguing Jason. It was also great learning more about Illium's past and family, and I really hope Nalini has a HEA for him.

Truth be told, while there's plenty of action, I expected more, especially at the end. There was a lot of build up but the end felt a bit short. Still, I loved this book and I just can't get enough of Elena and Raphael.


Memorable Lines:
"There is a legend," Raphael murmured, his wings flaring out as he tugged her into the curve of his body--as if he would protect her. "That mountains will shake and rivers overflow, while ice creeps across the world and fields drown in rain." He looked down her at, his eyes that impossible, inhuman chrome blue. "All this will come to pass . . . when an Ancient awakens."

Previous Books:
1. Angel's Blood
2. Archangel's Kiss

Next Book:
4. Archangel's Blade (November 2011)

Rating:

20 January 2011

Review: Hexbound by Chloe Neill


Title: Hexbound
Author: Chloe Neill
Series: Dark Elite #2
Genre: YA
Release Date: January 4, 2011
Publisher: Signet
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Source: Publisher
Blurb:

They say absolute power corrupts absolutely. Turns out, even a little magic can turn you to the dark side. That’s why Lily has to learn how to control her newly discovered paranormal abilities, on top of avoiding the snobs who think they run her school, nursing a crush on a cute sophomore with a big, werewolf-y secret, and fighting the good fight with her best friend Scout as they take on Chicago’s nastiest nightlife—including the tainted magic users known as Reapers.

Then Lily’s invited to a private meeting with Sebastian. He’s hot, powerful, and offering to help her harness the magic flowing in her veins in a way no one else can. He’s also a Reaper. Lily can’t hide her suspicions. But she’ll soon find out that the line between good and evil isn’t always clear…

Those people that enjoyed Firespell will love this entry. The friendship between Lily and Scout is as strong as ever, they are partners in crime and best friends. Lily has to learn how to use her newly found ability and it was interesting seeing her "play" with her powers and watching her accept help from a very intriguing enemy. One of the most important things that happen in this book is that Lily realizes that things aren't as black and white as she has always thought.

Sebastian has become one of my favourite characters, he's a Reaper but at the end of the book I wasn't really sure if he was evil or not. I wish the author could have explored more the connection between Lily and Sebastian and I really hope she writes more about him in the next book.

As for Jason, we finally discover what his secret was. The truth is that I expected more: more information about the werewolves, more reaction on Lily's part and more explanations from Jason. On the positive side, I love the sweet relationship the have.

The thing I had more problems was the plot. The beginning of the book isn't very fast, and we keep getting information little by little only to solve all the issues in the last 20 pages, and even then there wasn't much of a resolution.

Anyway, this is a short and fast read, perfect for those who enjoyed the previous book. I really hope we get some solid answers in the next book.


Memorable Lines:
Scout snorted and crossed one ankle over the other, her shoes glinting in the sunlight.
“And now I know why I keep finding glitter on my bedroom floor.”
“Whatever. My shoes do not shed.”
I gave her a dubious look.
“Seriously. That’s just . . . um . . . horn dust from the unicorns that braid your hair while you sleep.”

Previous Book:
1. Firespell - Review

Next Book:
3. TBD (2012)

Rating:

19 January 2011

Review: Shadow Hills by Anastasia Hopcus

Title: Shadow Hills
Author: Anastasia Hopcus
Series: -
Genre: YA
Release Date: July 13, 2010
Publisher: Egmont
Edition: Hardcover
Source: Bought
Blurb:
After her sister Athena's tragic death, it's obvious that grief-stricken Persephone "Phe" Archer no longer belongs in Los Angeles. Hoping to make sense of her sister's sudden demise and the cryptic dreams following it, Phe abandons her bubbly LA life to attend an uptight East Coast preparatory school in Shadow Hills, MA — a school which her sister mysteriously mentioned in her last diary entry before she died.

Once there, Phe quickly realizes that something is deeply amiss in her new town. Not only does Shadow Hills' history boast an unexplained epidemic that decimated hundreds of its citizens in the 1700s, but its modern townies also seem eerily psychic, with the bizarre ability to bend metal. Even Zach — the gorgeous stranger Phe meets and immediately begins to lust after — seems as if he is hiding something serious. Phe is determined to get to the bottom of it. The longer she stays there, the more she suspects that her sister's untimely death and her own destiny are intricately linked to those who reside in Shadow Hills.

I read this novel in one sitting, once I started I just couldn't stop. Phe, the main character, decides to go to the Shadow Hills boarding school to discover it's connection to her sister's death. Phe is a very tough girl; she's been through a lot and is trying to figure out who she is while discovering Shadow Hills' secrets. She's a very likeable character and I loved seeing her relationship with Zach evolve. Zach is a mysterious but sweet character, he has a connection with Phe and tries to help her the best he can, even though most of the time it means breaking the rules. I loved how they trusted each other no matter what.

Shadow Hills is a strange but very interesting little town, I liked how the author introduced us little by little to most people, although I would have liked to know more about the town's past and what kind of changes the inhabitans of the town suffered.
Dreams are very important in this book, Phe's dreams
in especific. Most of the time I hate reading dreams, but the author made those scenes very interesting and cryptic, they worked really well in this book.

This was a very intriguing and suspesful debut book, with a heavy touch of romance and supernatural events. While this is a stand alone novel, I really hope the author is working on a second book. This was definitely one of my favourite 2010 YA books.


Memorable Lines:
The real reason I couldn’t tear my gaze away, the thing that turned my muscles to ice even as my skin burned, was the one and only thought running through my mind: That’s him. That is the guy from my dream.


Rating:

Winners


So, I have to announce the winners of a couple giveaways.

The winner of a signed copy of Arcane Circle by Linda Robertson is:


donnas !!!

And the winner of Mercy Blade by Faith Hunter is:


van pham !!!

Congrats to both winners and thanks to everyone else for participating. I've already emailed them and they have both claimed their prizes.
Check back tomorrow for a new giveaway.

Waiting on Wednesday (33)


Title: Vesper
Author: Jeff Sampson
Series: Deviants #1
Genre: YA
Release Date: January 25, 2011
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Edition: Hardcover
Blurb:

Emily Webb is a geek. And she’s happy that way. Content hiding under hoodies and curling up to watch old horror flicks, she’s never been the kind of girl who sneaks out for midnight parties. And she’s definitely not the kind of girl who starts fights or flirts with other girls’ boyfriends. Until one night Emily finds herself doing exactly that . . . the same night one of her classmates—also named Emily—is found mysteriously murdered.

The thing is, Emily doesn’t know why she’s doing any of this. By day, she’s the same old boring Emily, but by night, she turns into a thrill seeker. With every nightfall, Emily gets wilder until it’s no longer just her personality that changes. Her body can do things it never could before: Emily is now strong, fast, and utterly fearless. And soon Emily realizes that she’s not just coming out of her shell . . . there’s something much bigger going on. Is she bewitched by the soul of the other, murdered Emily? Or is Emily Webb becoming something else entirely— something not human?

As Emily hunts for answers, she finds out that she’s not the only one this is happening to—some of her classmates are changing as well. Who is turning these teens into monsters—and how many people will they kill to get what they want?

18 January 2011

Review: Deadlock by Moira Rogers


Title: Deadlock
Author: Moira Rogers
Series: Southern Arcana #3
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Release Date: January 4, 2011
Publisher: Samhain
Edition: eBook
Source: Author
Blurb:

Carmen Mendoza's shapeshifter father abandoned her. Raised by her psychic mother, Carmen ignored her paternal family's political machinations--until the day they decided to use her in their bid for power. Trapped between two worlds and snared by a vicious spell meant to wake her inner wolf, Carmen's only hope is to trust the one man strong enough to soothe her darkest instincts.

Born a pureblood wolf, Alec Jacobson lives as a rebel, the black sheep alpha who protects the supernatural residents of New Orleans from wolf politics. Too bad he can't protect himself from his need for Carmen. Staking a claim on his enemy's niece will turn his city into a battleground, unless he can find a way to stop breaking the rules--and start making them.

The first thing I'll say is that I love this series. I love the characters, the ruthless world they live in, how they fight to try to make their world a better place and how it always includes a very hot and sexy romance. That doesn't change in Deadlock. This novel focuses on Alec, the stubborn alpha who at first only wants to be left alone, and Carmen, an empath with a lot of problems, the main one being her family.

One of the things I liked the most about this couple was that they worked really well together. Alec grows a lot in this book, I loved how he wanted to be a better person for Carmen and how at the end he fought for what he believed in, for what was right. The problem I had was that I didn't connect with Carmen; I would have liked to know more about her and her past.
The worldbuilding is expanded in this book and I really enjoyed reading about the wolf pack structure and learning a bit more about empaths.

One of the main storylines is the relationship between Kat and Andrew. I might be in the minority here but after how badly Andrew hurt Kat I want him to suffer. A lot. The next book is about them and I really want Kat to raise some hell.

This was a great entry to the series, with plenty of action and world changing events, but most importantly, a very hot and sweet romance with a devious, powerful and sexy hero and a clever and strong heroine.


Memorable Lines:
Kat nodded. "You can go, Alec. I'm okay. Just promise me you and Jackson aren't going to go track down my date and eat him."
"Not going to track him down."
"Or eat him."
The corner of Alec's mouth twitched. "Or eat him."

Previous Books:
1. Crux - Review
2. Crossroads

Next Book:
4. Cipher (September 2011)


Rating:

10 January 2011

Review: Demon Marked by Anna J. Evans


Title: Demon Marked
Author: Anna J. Evans
Series: Demon Bound #2
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Release Date: January 4, 2011
Publisher: Signet Eclipse
Edition: Trade Paperback
Source: Publisher
Blurb:

Emma Quinn satisfies her demonic cravings by feeding on human life force, and keeps her conscience clean by preying only upon those who deserve it. But when Emma overindulges one night, she's in trouble with her victim's gang-or she will be...if they find his body. She turns to mob lawyer Andre Conti, an arrogant womanizer-a man who doesn't believe in her powers, but who will awaken sensual cravings Emma wasn't sure she possessed...

I haven't read the previous book of this series, but I had no trouble following the novel. I was surprised that the heroine, Emma, was 20 years old, although she has been through so much that she doesn't seem that young. I liked that even though she is a very strong character with a deadly ability that she has to use constantly, she still has hopes and dreams and it's not bitter about the kind of life she has had to live.

Andre is a 30 something sex addict, something I've never read about in a book, and I would've liked the author to explore that more. He also has gone through some bad stuff, but ultimately he is a good guy who is stuck at the "family business". The romance between these two at first seems to grow slowly, but the truth is that the story develops in one day. They have a really strong connection once Emma uses her ability on him, and while it may seem a little rushed seeing as how pages before they didn't like each other much, if at all, it works really well.

The world this book is set in is half paranormal, half dystopian. There were a lot of things that I would've liked could have been explained more, especially about the Demons and how they got there in the first place. This was a easy, fast read with plenty of action and intrigue and a very strong romance. I hope there's a third book, because I really want to read about Ginger and Mickey!


Memorable Lines:

She craved human life force and had to steal the vitality of others to survive. But she only stole from those who deserved what she did to them, those whose karmic balance was firmly tipped into the realm of evil. The choice allowed her to sleep at night, and as an added bonus…
Evil was damned tasty.

Previous Book:
1. Shadow Marked

Rating:


06 January 2011

Review: Frostfire by Lynn Viehl


Title: Frostfire
Author: Lynn Viehl
Series: Kyndred #3
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Release Date: January 4, 2011
Publisher: Signet Select
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Source: Publisher
Blurb:

As one of the genetically enhanced Kyndred, Lilah's mind-reading powers make her vulnerable to a mysterious biotech company willing to murder to acquire her superhuman DNA. But her true fear may come from her own Kyndred brethren...

I'll start by saying that this cover is much better than the ones from previous books. As I said in my reviews of the other books of this series, I still think there are too many unnecesary narrators, and while they did give insights into other characters, I would have prefered if the novel focused exclusively on the main characters. Also, the fact that I haven't read any of her Darkyn books yet and that she includes so many characters of that series in the novel made me feel lost in some parts, plus I didn't feel connected to the Darkyn and there was a lot of information that was assumed the reader knew and wasn't explained, even though I had no idea what they were talking about.

Lilah is a interesting character, she's very strong and has had to be on her own since she was very young. I liked that she didn't panic when she was in a very bad situation, that she had a clear head and knew what she wanted. As for Walker, he's a bit of a mystery. He's damaged and tries from the start to protect Lilah from himself. I loved how he treated Lilah, he always had a reasuring word or touch for her and while sometimes he lost control, the love he and Lilah had for each other always brought him back to sanity. Walker and Lilah had a very strong conection from the start, that only strengthened as time went by.

This was an interesting entry to the series, with plenty of action, a good mystery and a very sweet romance. I got lost in some parts, but if you've read the Darkyn series I don't think you'll get lost at all.

Memorable Lines:

"Tell me," he said before he could stop himself. "Tell me again what you feel for me."
"You know it," she looked down at his face and smiled, her eyes clear, her expression pure joy. "You're all over me, inside me, in my bones and my blood and my heart. You're part of my skin and my breath and my secrets. You're my love, my lover, my beloved, the sun in my dreams, and the stars in my soul."

Previous Books:
1. Shadowlight - Review
2. Dreamveil

Next Book:
4. Nightshine (TBD)

Rating:

05 January 2011

Review: A Werewolf in Manhattan by Vicki Lewis Thompson


Title: A Werewolf in Manhattan
Author: Vicki Lewis Thompson
Series: Wild About You #1
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Release Date: January 4, 2011
Publisher: Signet Eclipse
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Source: Publisher
Blurb:

Emma Gavin writes about werewolves, but that doesn't mean she believes in them-not until a pack of real-life New York weres decide to investigate the striking accuracy of her "fiction".

When Aiden Wallace, son and heir of the pack leader, tries to sniff out Emma's potential informant, he discovers something even more dangerous- an undeniable attraction to her.


This was one of my most wanted books of January 2011 and while it was entertaining, it didn't live up to my expectations.

Emma, one of the main characters, is an introvert who realizes she wants more of her life when she meets Aiden, the other main character. These two have an instant atraction, they fight it for a big part of the book but then they give in. Emma is a funny character and I liked that she put herself out there, risking humiliation but trying to get what she wants anyway. On the negative side, I found Emma to be a little unbelievable, especially the part where she truly believes that writing is more important than losing her life.

As for Aiden, for a security expert, he made quite a lot of stupid mistakes. I also didn't like that he didn't stand up for what he believed was right and that he kept playing the martyr for a big chunk of the book. On the other side, he was very sweet and attentive and he always tried his best to keep his promises. I also loved his interactions with his brother, who I found to be a very interesting character.

The big problem I had with this book is that since the beggining we're told that the bad guy is dangerous and could cause a big problem for all the werewolves, but at the end there wasn't much of a confrontation. I really hope the author closes that storyline in her next book.

There wasn't much of a worldbuilding but you do get a very sweet romance. All in all, this was a quick and funny book, perfect if you're looking for a very light read.


Memorable Lines:

“And you want her.”
Aidan tried to stare his brother down, but it was no use. Roarke’s senses were as finely tuned as his, and they were brothers, only nineteen months apart. The minute Roarke had walked into the club, he’d known.
So Aidan said the only thing he could. “I’ll control it.”
“What, your johnson?”
That brought a snort from Sylvester.
Usually Aidan rolled with his brother’s cracks, but tonight he wasn’t amused. “The situation, Roarke. I’ll control the situation.”

Next Book:
2. A Werewolf in the North Woods (October 2011)

Rating:


Waiting on Wednesday (32)


Title: Shadowfever
Author: Karen Marie Moning
Series: Fever #5
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Release Date: January 18, 2011
Publisher: Delacorte
Edition: Hardcover
Blurb:

MacKayla Lane was just a child when she and her sister, Alina were given up for adoption and banished from Ireland forever.

Twenty years later, Alina is dead and Mac has returned to the country that expelled them to hunt her sister's murderer. But after discovering that she descends from a bloodline both gifted and cursed, Mac is plunged into a secret history: an ancient conflict between humans and immortals that have lived concealed among us for thousands of years.

What follows is a shocking chain of events with devastating consequences, and now Mac struggles to cope with grief, while continuing her mission to acquire and control the Sinsar Dubh--a book of dark, forbidden magic scribed by the mythical Unseelie King that contains the power to create and destroy worlds.

04 January 2011

Interview + Giveaway: Faith Hunter

Mercy Blade, the 3rd Jane Yellowrock book by Faith Hunter, is being released today. Faith is here with us answering some questions about the series and her latest book.

Things are heating up in the Big Easy. Weres have announced their existence tot he world, and revived the bitter tensions that run between them and their old enemies: vampires. As a trusted employee of Leo Pellissier, Blood Master of the City, Jane finds herself caught in the cross fire.

When Jane is attacked by a pack of marauding were-wolves, she is thankful for the help of a mysterious stranger named Girrard. He explains that he used to be Leo’s “Mercy Blade,” a sacred position charged with killing vampires who have gone insane. What Jane doesn’t know is why this powerful assassin left New Orleans − or, more troubling, why he’s now returned. It’s definitely not to make Jane’s life easier...


Which of all your books did you have more fun writing?
Hmmm. That’s like asking a mother which baby was easiest to birth. Hard to answer, because it’s all hard work! But, I suppose, Skinwalker was the most pure fun. There is something exhilarating about creating a world, where it’s all new and fresh and full of discovery. Learning the way that Jane and Beast live was like journey into the darks of their minds.

What are you working on right now?
Raven Cursed
, book four of the Jane Yellowrock series.
Rogue Mage
, the role playing game / world book for the Rogue Mage series. Five short stories, 2 set in Jane’s world, 2 in Thorn St. Croix’s world, and one just for fun! Whew! I’m busy!

What can you tell us about Mercy Blade?
Kirsten Nolan a reviewer
for
bookseriesreviews.blogspot.com came up with a great blurb for it. Hope you don’t mind me posting it here… It’s way better than any I came up with!

Jane Yellowrock, Rogue Vampire Hunter, is working for the vampires. That means delivering unwelcome messages to snarly supernaturals, and overseeing security for parties and balls, amongst other things. And it means she's got to work closely with Bruiser, which makes Jane uncomfortable and Beast very happy. When the werewolves and werecats come out of the closet on international television Jane begins to learn that there is still a lot of Vampire and Supernatural history she hasn't learned. Unfortunately, not knowing what happened 100 years ago can mean the difference in understanding current events and being totally out of the loop. Jane doesn't deal well with being out of the loop, but between an absent boyfriend and pieces of history she doesn't understand -- she has to survive as best she can.

How much control and/or influence does Beast have over Jane?
A lot more than Jane thinks she does. And Beast is amused that Jane thinks she is alpha and Beast is beta. Not always so. They have a love-hate relationship, made very difficult because their two souls share the same body. And … they keep secrets from one another. Sometimes big secrets!

At this point, how many people know Jane is a skinwalker and how many suspect?
Hmmm. (thinking) Knows: By the end of Mercy Blade, Molly, Big Evan, and Angie Baby. The vamp priestess, Sabina. The Mercy Blade. Those who suspect: Leo. All the vamps have always known she isn’t human, because she smells so different. Bruiser suspects something, but isn’t sure what. The weres suspect. Bethany suspects. Derek Lee and his soldiers. Evangelina knows something, but not what.

One of the things I've been wondering about is: what happened with the sliver of the cross?
The item from vamp history that was featured in BloodCross comes back into play for a brief moment in Mercy Blade. And also maybe in book five (as yet untitled). However, just for you I’ll say, Sabina gets it back.

It seems like right now Leo is in grieving mode. How has he been doing? Is that going to change anytime soon? Does he still blame Jane?
One major plot line in Mercy Blade is all about Leo, and why he is so out of control, and how he might be better. By the end of Mercy Blade, Leo is well on the road to working through his grief. I’m not finished with Raven Cursed yet, but it feels as if he will be over his grief by the book’s end and ready to move forward. In lots of ways! Leo is a survivor. He sees the long-view, meaning that he isn’t bothered by the short term setbacks of life. If he doesn’t get what he wants today, he’ll simply play a waiting game and get it tomorrow. Jane hasn’t figured that out yet!

Can you tell us a bit more about how the witches work? Also, are we ever going to see where Jane lives?
Second question first. Mercy Blade opens in Jane’s apartment in the Appalachian Mountains. Raven Cursed takes place in the Appalachian Mountains. But Jane is growing and changing, and is a woman without a true home, for now. When she finds her home, her true home, then I can share with everyone. Right now, I’m in the dark too!

Witches are going to explained a lot better in Raven Cursed, and we get to see the working of a full coven, which is always at least five witches. There can be fewer witches in a working group, as long the non-witches have some gift, or awareness of power. Such people can be used as power sinks or to funnel power through to but for a big working, you always need five. And for the biggest workings and the best strongest covens, one needs one witch of each major power: water, air, stone (mineral), earth, moon are the most common, but there are also a few fire witches, and a very few rare others.

Bruiser and Rick are both love interests for Jane. Is the choice she made at the end of Blood Cross final? Is there still hope for the other guy?
As Beast says, “Big cats do not mate for life.”

Jane is never going to be an easy woman to love or to live with. I think she will always have rocky relationships. Hope for another guy? Heck yes! And her Beast reeeeeally likes Bruiser and Leo.

Is there yet a release date for the 4th book, Raven Cursed?
Nothing is written in stone yet. I hope for an early release. Keep your fingers crossed!

Thanks so much for being here today, Faith.
It was and is my pleasure!

You can learn more about Faith on her site.

Giveaway
I have one copy of Mercy Blade to giveaway.
US only / Ends January 11th.
All you have to do is fill out the form.