Saturday, October 2, 2010

Review: The Darkest Night, by Gena Showalter

The Darkest Night (Lords of the Underworld #1)
by Gena Showalter
Paperback, 374 pages
HQN Books
Released May 1, 2008
ISBN: 0373772467  
ISBN13: 9780373772469

(Goodreads) His powers -- Inhuman
His passion -- Beyond immortal . . .

 All her life, Ashlyn Darrow has been tormented by voices from the past. To end the nightmare, she has come to Budapest seeking help from men rumored to have supernatural abilities, not knowing she'll be swept into the arms of Maddox, their most dangerous member -- a man trapped in a hell of his own. 

Neither can resist the instant hunger than calms their torments . . . and ignites an irresistible passion. But every heated touch and burning kiss will edge them closer to destruction -- and a soul-shattering test of love . . .

Though they carry an eternal curse, the Lords of the Underworld are irresistibly seductive -- and unimaginably powerful . . . Don’t miss this incredible new paranormal series from Gena Showalter!
Welcome to the beginning of my obsession with the Lords of the Underworld!

The first thing that attracted me to this book series was the cover. More so, the tribal butterfly tattoo. You don't really think about manly men with butterflies permanently marking their bodies, right? Reading the back cover, I had to read it. 

Ashlyn's ability - or curse, depending on how you see it - and Maddox's curse and immortality is enough to get you baited. Their first meeting and the transformation within Maddox when he lets his demon control him is just enough to snag you. And, for me, the thing that kept me hooked was the Greek mythology of Pandora's box that was intertwined into the story. 

I instantly fell for Maddox. His description, and his almost barbaric way that he talks to Ashlyn is endearing in it's on cave-man sort of way. Ashlyn is adorable and simply perfect as a heroine - a female that has an ability that does kick some ass, but also has a very vulnerable side. And the way she "saves" Maddox is the most unselfish thing that a woman in love could do. We also meet a lot of the other Lords, each housing their own demons from Pandora's box. My favorite would be Gideon, the keeper of Lies. Blue hair, piercings, and says the opposite of what he means ... I find him absolutely delightful!

What can I say? I love, love, love the way this series is playing out. I also like that each book is a different romantic pairing, but it continues with a main storyline that keeps you moving right through without getting bored. If you're a fan of paranormal romance, I think you'll be quite happy in checking out this series.

Gone, Baby, Gone!

Unfortunately, sometimes life gets in the way of my blogging. I don't like it when it does, but what can you do? I'm packing right now to go out of town and won't return before Friday. I'm actually taking a side job to paint the interior of my godfather's house. I don't know how many of you know this, but I used to be a sub-contracted painter before I was laid off. I absolutely loved it, but I knew I needed to find something else if I wanted to have kids within the next few years. LOL. In any case, this is a chance to do something I love for a short period, so I'm taking it. I'll also be staying with my parents, so I can kill two birds with one stone and help them with renovations in my spare time. 

I didn't have much time to do the advanced posts because I was too busy doing things around my house to make it easier on my husband (and pets) while I'm gone. Nevertheless, reviews will resume (and probably go two-fold) when I get back as I'm taking my computer to type them out while I'm gone. Unfortunately, I won't have much access to the internet until I get home, so there won't be too much activity going on here. I have a few posts scheduled, but it's the usual memes and maybe one review I did in advance. 

Sorry about the hiatus guys, but I will be back in time for the blog hop to catch up with all of you. I hope you all have a wonderful rest of the weekend and a great work week as well!

And if you need me, don't hesitate to e-mail me! Thanks to my phone, I'll have access to that at least. ;)


Friday, October 1, 2010

Hop & Follow Fridays!

This is a weekly event hosted by Jen at Crazy For Books. It's a chance to discover new blogs and to garner new readers for your blog as well.

Justify Full
This Week's Question ...
"How do you spread the word about your blog? (e.g. Social Networking sites, Book Blog Directories, comments on other blogs...)"
I'll be honest and say I didn't know much about social networking for blog promotion when I first began. When I saw other book blogs, my first thought was just, "Hey, this is cool ... I can start a blog to review the books I've read!" I never thought about followers or promotion at all. Then, I got a few followers (somehow) and that's what got me started thinking about following others and getting more followers as well. So, I can't say for absolute certain, but I'm almost positive the first thing I did was introduce myself on the Book Blogs Ning. After that, it wasn't so much about promotion, but I started commenting on other book blogs that I followed and some were nice enough to check out my blog and follow me back. After, there was the blog hops like Jen's and Parajunkee's. I think that's pretty much all I do. =)

What about you? How do you spread the word about your blog??

To join Parajunkee's new feature and make now book blogger friends, just follow these simple rules:

1. Follow the Follow My Book Blog Friday Host { } and any one else you want to follow on the list.
2. Follow our Featured Bloggers.
3. Put your Blog name & URL in the Linky thing.
4. Grab the button up there and place it in a post, this post is for people to find a place to say hi in your comments.
5. Follow Follow Follow as many as you can.
6. If someone comments and says they are following you, be a dear and follow back. Spread the Love...and the followers.
7. If you want to show the link list, just follow the link below the entries and copy and paste it within your post!

This week's question is ...

What books have bitten you???
I know some people may laugh, but the Twilight Saga (Stephenie Meyer) definitely has its teeth in me ... and my husband! We've both read the series three times each, and each time was enjoyable. I also love the Vampire Academy (Richelle Mead) series. Fallen (Lauren Kate) is another big one, as well as the Evernight series (Claudia Gray). Oh, and Shade (Jeri Smith-Ready)! Love, love that book!! Just recently, I read Arson (Estevan Vega) and I can say it has a hold on me. 

There are probably a lot more that I should remember, but those are the main ones.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Review: Arson, by Estevan Vega

by Estevan Vega
Paperback, 318 pages
Tate Publishing
Published May 4, 2010
ISBN: 1615666034  
ISBN13: 9781615666034


Before now, three things were true: he both loved and despised his grandmother; his life was going nowhere; and he was alone. But when a strange girl-who feels more normal behind a mask than inside her own skin-moves in next door, Arson hopes to find something he's never had: purpose. Using what he fears the most about himself, Arson must face his consuming past and confront the nightmare that is present as he walks the fine line between boy and monster. Dark, moody, and breathtakingly relevant, Arson, the chilling chronicle of an isolated boy with unimaginable ability, is sure to ignite the hearts and minds of a new generation.

This is the first book I've ever read that I've given a 5-star review to, yet I want to throw it against the wall. Normally, this type of behavior is reserved for books I couldn't really tolerate. In this case, my patience cannot tolerate waiting for a sequel after the massive cliffhanger I read at the end! 

The first thing I have to do is compliment Estevan Vega, who's storytelling abilities is beyond his years. For most books that I read and review, I reserve a little time at the end of the night to read. I couldn't do that with Arson. Every time I tried to put it down, I found myself sneaking back to it to read just one more chapter, that always ended up being five or so. It wasn't that there were abrupt stops at the end of the chapters and you absolutely have to continue - you just never want to stop because you want to know more about the characters. 

The characters aren't exactly fleshed out completely in the beginning, you learn more about them the more that you read. As a matter of fact, you're still learning about the characters up until the very end of the book ... and you still want to know more. Both Arson and Emery come from not-so-glamorous families and backgrounds. It was definitely refreshing to read about more real characters that deal with bad situations instead of the usual rich, snobby kids that are whining because their daddy didn't buy them something they wanted. These characters go through more than their fair share of problems, but it makes it all the more realistic. We're not dealing with fairy tales, we're dealing with sucky things that happen in real life. You can definitely empathize with the characters - even Arson and Emery's family members.. though I can't say I empathize with Mandy at all. I just wanted to slap her every time she showed up in the novel.

There is a slight paranormal feel to the book. Well, obviously, because you're dealing with a character that can make fire with a single bad thought. However, it's more personal than just paranormal. It's more of a story of a boy dealing with his burden (fire), his guilt (mom died during childbirth), and his grandmother and her not-so-normal, bi-polar and violent behavior. Oh, and the love developing between Arson and mask-wearing Emery. I love these beautifully flawed characters. They really compliment each other well. 

The climax at the end was something that was a little expected (we had to get some fire action), but it definitely twisted into a direction that I didn't see coming. I loved it! Then, there was the happy moment and the end-end ... which is a HUGE cliffhanger that made me stare at the book for a few moments, wondering how exactly it was I was going to go without knowing more until the sequel comes out!

I honestly don't think words in a review could do this book justice. If you like great storytelling with a little darker tone to it, READ THIS BOOK. You won't regret it. Promise.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Review: Twilight, by Stephenie Meyer

Twilight (Twilight Saga #1)
by Stephenie Meyer
Paperback, 498 pages
Little, Brown and Company
Published September 6, 2006
ISBN: 0316015849  
ISBN13: 9780316015844

Isabella Swan's move to Forks, a small, perpetually rainy town in Washington, could have been the most boring move she ever made. But once she meets the mysterious and alluring Edward Cullen, Bella's life takes a thrilling and terrifying turn. Up until now, Edward has managed to keep his vampire identity a secret in the small community he lives in, but now nobody is safe, especially Bella, the person Edward holds most dear. The lovers find themselves balanced precariously on the point of a knife—between desire and danger. Deeply romantic and extraordinarily suspenseful, Twilight captures the struggle between defying our instincts and satisfying our desires. This is a love story with bite.

Side note: This is a re-read. I read this book for the first time three years ago.

So, here's what I think of Twilight. Is it the best writing I've ever read in literature? No. What it is is a young adult novel meant to evoke the emotions that we feel when we first fall in love as a teenager. Does it accomplish this? Yes, I think so.

The story is told from the point of view of Bella Swan. By now, most of us know the story: shy girl moves to small town and meets our brooding hero, Edward Cullen. Even though he seems completely uninterested in everything, he saves Bella's life. Bella knows there's something different about Edward, so curiosity gets the best of her. She confronts Edward and Edward is honest with her. He warns her to stay away, but like any girl - when we're told not to do something, we have to do it. Edward and Bella are caught up in a whirlwind romance that's not only completely dreamy, but also completely dangerous.

I absolutely love this book. To be completely honest, it's the reason why I got into reading again. It also got my husband reading. If something is interesting enough to get my husband to read it, then it's pretty impressive in my book! The first book is more about introductions and details, so we don't really get into the conflict or action until the last quarter of the book. Up until that point is just as interesting, as it deals with new love and the discoveries that come with it.

I found the characters to be fleshed out well. Bella is our main character. She's flawed, but most of her decisions are based on helping others out, which is admirable. Edward is a great love interest. He's very gentlemanly, yet he does things that do remind us that he's more than just human - he is a predator. I know people say he's possessive. Well, yes. Not only is he a boy in love, but he is a vampire. Vampires are essentially selfish in nature and territorial of things that they claim as their own. I don't think it's creepy, it's simple part of his human and vampire nature. Our antagonist James is simply perfect. He's like the vampires we're used to hearing about - he's strong, fast, and thinks of humans as food and nothing more. 

Like all books, there are the lovers and the haters. I'm a lover, so I can't give this book enough praises. It's a nice young adult book with a paranormal edge to it. If you're looking for a fast read though, you might want to look elsewhere. This book is almost 500 pages and does tend to get very descriptive.

Waiting on Wednesday

Memento Nora
by Angie Smibert
Marshall Cavendish Children's Books

To Be Published:
April 2011

Nora, the popular girl and happy consumer, witnesses a horrific bombing on a shopping trip with her mother. In Nora’s near-future world, terrorism is so commonplace that she can pop one little white pill to forget and go on like nothing ever happened. However, when Nora makes her first trip to a Therapeutic Forgetting Clinic, she learns what her mother, a frequent forgetter, has been frequently forgetting. Nora secretly spits out the pill and holds on to her memories. The memory of the bombing as well as her mother’s secret and her budding awareness of the world outside her little clique make it increasingly difficult for Nora to cope. She turns to two new friends, each with their own reasons to remember, and together they share their experiences with their classmates through an underground comic. They soon learn, though, they can’t get away with remembering.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Review: Revelations, by Melissa de la Cruz

(This is my last Blue Bloods book review for my re-read. I think I might do the Twilight Saga next!)

Revelations (Blue Bloods #3)
by Melissa de la Cruz
Hardcover, 256 pages
Published October 28, 2008
ISBN: 1423102282  
ISBN13: 9781423102281

Have you ever wondered what secrets lurk behind the closed doors of New York City's wealthiest families? They're powerful, they're famous... they're undead. 
Schuyler Van Alen's blood legacy has just been called into question--is the young vampire in fact a Blue Blood, or is it the sinister Silver Blood that runs through her veins? As controversy swirls, Schuyler is left stranded in the Force household, trapped under the same roof as her cunning nemesis, Mimi Force, and her forbidden crush, Jack Force.

When one of the Gates of Hell is breached by Silver Bloods in Rio de Janeiro, however, the Blue Bloods will need Schuyler on their side. The stakes are high; the battle is bloody; and through it all, Carnavale rages on. And in the end, one vampire's secret identity will be exposed in a revelation that shocks everyone.

Things aren't really looking up for Schuyler much in the book - Charles Force now has custody of her and she lives with the Force family, including Mimi and Jack of course. After saving Mimi in Italy, Mimi still treats Schuyler like crap and Jack is now ignoring her ... or so we think. Oh, and the Silver Bloods are starting to show their ugly faces now. Could it get any worse? By the end of the book, there's one answer: yes, it could get worse. And it does.

Even though I love the Blue Bloods series, I had a very hot-cold relationship with this book. There's not much that goes on. Schuyler is treated like crap a lot and you really feel bad for her - but, then she'll go and do something stupid and you'll be mad at her ... until something happens to her again. Mimi is the same as always, but she's good at being bad, which is something you have to give her credit for. Oliver, on top of being in love with Schuyler, is now also her consort. Honestly, you have to feel sorry for him. He's desperately in love with her and goes out of his way to do anything for her that she may possibly need ... yet, he's left in the dark about a lot of things and his love is obviously unrequited. Jack is hot and cold. Yet, like any boy that's bad for you, you find yourself making excuses for him just as much as Schuyler does! I have to say I think my favorite character in this series so far is Bliss, as well as feeling for her. She's got a lot going on and she has to endure it all on her own.

Plot-wise, the story didn't do much. Besides trying to figure out a solution for the Silver Bloods, there's just more fancy parties, eating, spending money, etc. Honestly, to feel threatened ... the Blue Bloods are surely not doing much about it. However, like every Blue Bloods novel, the story picks up at the end. The last 50 pages or so will have you on the edge of your seat and what happens at the end will have you dumb-struck.

In all, it's a fast little read that messes with your emotions a little too much for my liking. However, like everything that's bad for you, I always end up coming back for more. Blue Bloods is definitely a guilty pleasure for me.

Review of the Series: Blue Bloods  |  Masquerade  |   Revelations  |  The Van Alen Legacy

Movie News!

For all of you Twilight fans, I have a little Breaking Dawn movie news for you!

Maggie Grace, who is known for her role in Taken (or her role as Shannon Rutherford for all of you Lost fans), has been cast as Irena in the fourth installment of the Twilight Saga.

Irena is part of the Denali clan, who are considered cousins to the Cullens as they are the only other vegetarian clan of vampires. Irena is instrumental in Breaking Dawn, as she is scorned by the loss of her lover and, holding Bella responsible, sets a horrible chain of events off by her vengeful actions.

I actually like Maggie Grace, but she's playing one of the characters I don't much like in Breaking Dawn. I'm sure she can pull of "woman scorned" well, though.

The first installment of Breaking Dawn will be released in theaters November 18, 2011 - with the second installment following in November of 2012. 

For all of you worried about the end of the world ... have no fear! You'll get to finish all of the Twilight movies before you die!! 

I'm totally joking, by the way. ;)

Teaser Tuesdays!

 Teaser Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by MizB @ Should Be Reading.

· Grab your current read.
· Open to a random page.
· Share two (2) "teaser" sentences from somewhere on that page.
· BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (Make sure that what you share doesn't give too much away! You don't want to ruin the book for others!)
· Share the author and title, too, so that the other TT participants can add the book to their TBR lists if they like your teasers!

Arson, by Estevan Vega

The spider was done at last. Arson watched it crawl across the web trailing from the bedpost to the ceiling. The dead-eyed spider danced upon the final strand and awaited its prey, huddled in the darkness. 

Arson's hand began to burn once more, and this time he let it seduce him. "I hate you," he cried. Frustration and sadness and torment altogether. Arson reached out with one finger and burned the web, letting it fall like ashes at his feet.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Cover Premiere: Forever

Maggie Stiefvater, author of the Wolves of Mercy Falls series has just unveiled the cover to the third (and final) book in the series, Forever. For more information on her post, please go here.

Without further ado ... I give you the cover ...

It seriously makes my little heart go pitter-patter. It keeps with the same theme, but this one is slightly darker. And red. ;) So, what do you guys think? Are you digging the cover as much as I am?

And psst! Don't forget to pre-order your copy to complete the trilogy! You can pre-order here. So, go do it ... now! ;)

Previous books' covers...

Review: Gothic!, by Various Authors

Gothic!: Ten Original Dark Tales
by Various Authors
Paperback, 256
Published June 13, 2006
ISBN: 1406309672
ISBN13: 9781406309676

Enter the gothic world in this celebration of the literary form made famous by such writers as Mary Shelley and Edgar Allan Poe. From a lovesick count and the ghost of his brutalized servant and a serial killer who defies death, to a house with a violent mind of its own and another that holds within its peeling walls a grotesque secret, these ten stories draw on dark fantasy and fairy tale, horror and wild humour, the supernatural and the surreal...

Since this is an anthology, it's going to be short and sweet because I don't want to give too much away! Gothic! is a collection of ten short stories by known and not-so-known authors that have one thing in common: they know how to write a pretty eerie story. Now, mind you, gothic isn't necessarily scary like horror stories are. Gothic stories don't necessarily make you lose sleep, but you may keep a few lights on when you go to bed.

In this anthology, you really have to take the good with the bad. Some stories are spot-on, they story is well-written and fleshed out enough to be an understandable short story and also has those "creepy" moments I talked about before. Some stories sounded promising, but fell a little short. Then there was one or two that didn't have anything, except maybe good grammar. I have to say that Neil Gaiman's story, "Forbidden Brides of the Faceless Slaves in the Nameless House of the Night of Dread Desire" was as good as I expected it to be. Gaiman's an incredible writer and he delivered in this as well. I think the story I was most disappointed with was Gregory Maguire's "The Prank". It was definitely not the worst, but I'm a huge fan of his and I thought he could have done a little better.

Overall, I'd recommend this as a good book to curl up with on the couch under the soft light of a table lamp late at night. I'd say this is "Halloween-creepy" - based on horror, but a little too commercial and kiddy to be truly scary.

Monday, Monday!

It's Monday again! They always seem to come around entirely too fast! So, what's new with me? I went to Asheville this weekend, which is why you guys got some Follow Friday responses late. Sorry! I caught some type of bug while up there, so I'm not 100%. However, not 100% gives me a day or two of recoup, which means extra time online to catch up! Good, right? I also posted a few non-YA book reviews to books that I read for authors. I'm going to try and stick to the trend of keeping these type reviews for the weekend and make the week mostly all about YA, since it seems to be what I'm tending to lean toward the most.

Books I've Read Last Week...
Gothic!, by Various Authors
Revelations, by Melissa de la Cruz

Books on This Week's Agenda...
Dracula In Love, by Karen Essex
Museum of Thieves, by Lian Tanner
The Adoration of Jenna Fox, by Mary E. Pearson

Special Notes...
My 27th Birthday Celebration is still active and going strong! 70+ entries so far! Contest ends October 16th, so be sure to enter!
Kate Kaynak, author of Minder, has contacted me about reviewing her books. Along with the reviews, she has been generous enough to offer a signed copy of its sequel Adversary for a giveaway! Coming soon!!

Review: Mozan and The Return of Magic, by Stephan Davied

Mozan and The Return of Magic
by Stephan Davied
Paperback, 282 pages
Published July 13, 2010
ISBN: 0578054450
ISBN13: 9780578054452

When the vile sorceress of Fyonhaireshizer kidnaps thirteen year old Mozan, prince of Mazolean, he has no choice but to lead four other abducted royal children on a quest to save their families and kingdom. They must battle dark spirits, gargoyles, one eyed ogres and their own internal demons before they ultimately unite in the kingdom of Mazolean. It is here they meet Anzon, The Lion King and where Mozan learns that his very existence fulfills an ancient and powerful prophecy. 

This book started out a little slow for me. I don’t know if it was because I was just really tired, or because introductions to main characters just seem slow. However, after the first forty pages or so, the story picked up for me and I found myself devouring every page until the end.

Davied does a brilliant job of storytelling, and an even better job at world building in the Allian Kingdom. Even without the map at the front of the book (which was great), I could get a clear picture on the lands and where the Kingdoms were placed beside of one another. The story was a page-turner, full of adventure, mythical creatures, and magic. It definitely had a bit of a Tolkien feel to it, in that it’s a fantasy full of believable make-believe. ;)

Aside from their adventures, my favorite parts was the dynamic personalities and character development of each of the children in the book. I think my favorites would have to be Mozan of Mozolean (the main character), as well as Harah of Antorell. Harah is continuously maturing and coming into her own throughout the entire novel, though it’s subtle. Her love for animals also softened my heart toward her. Then there is Alexa, who is a devious, yet delightful antagonist to the story. She’s definitely a woman scorned, looking for her own revenge.

I have to refrain from saying too much so I don’t spoil the story for anyone. This is a wonderful fantasy children’s book that is a promising start to a series.

Special Note: This book was won on LibraryThing's Member Giveaway in exchange for review.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Non-YA Review: Back To The Homeplace, by William Leverne Smith

Back to the Homeplace
by William Leverne Smith
Paperback, 266 pages
Published March 25, 2010
ISBN: 1451560400
ISBN13: 9781451560404


The novel is set on a farm and in a nearby fictional community located in the southern Missouri Ozark hills and near a fictional western branch of the Current River. The story revolves around a family dilemma following the death of their matriarch and the unusual will she left to insure the continuity of the farm intact which has been in her family for over 150 years.

The year is 1987. The varied background and viewpoints of the adult children coming Back to the Homeplace ignite controversy and expose long kept secrets as each family member searches for his or her share of the family legacy. While the older family members stake their claims on land and fortunes, the younger ones search for love and acceptance. Subplots involve AIDS Awareness in 1987 issues and a support group for domestic violence incidents.

At the heart of this family life story is how we do or do not effectively communicate among family members - parents with children, among children and grandchildren.

Author William Leverne Smith takes us back to the late 1980s with a compelling story about a family that returns to their roots at the Homeplace (not necessarily by choice) in accordance with their parents' unusual will.

The introductions with the newspaper headlines for each chapter was original and helped to take you back to 1987, when the story takes place. I do have to say that all of the characters coming in at once in the beginning did confuse me and had me flipping back a few times to remember who was who. However, once you start getting into the story better, the characters start taking on personalities of their own and there is no mistaking them from there on out. Also, some of the dialogue seemed a little too formal for the time and small town feel of the story, but it doesn't take you away from the story at all.

Smith's vivid description of the Homeplace makes me want to hop in my car and travel to see this gorgeous place! This is a refreshingly original story that is so well-written, you'll feel as though you're there with the family, feeling all of the highs and lows with them. All of the characters are fleshed out and people that, even if we don't want to admit it, we can compare to people that we know in our own lives. The plot is full of realistic situations and twists that have you turning page after page until you run out of pages to turn. You'll laugh, you'll cry, you'll gasp - get ready for a roller coaster because your emotions will be on a wild ride!

This is honestly one of the best stories about a family saga that I have read in some time. I also found out that there will be a sequel, which is going straight on my wish list. It's a high-ranking recommendation from me!

Special Note: Book was provided by author in exchange for honest review.
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