Sunday, December 30, 2012

New Year's Resolutions

My News Year's Resolutions are:

  • Read 200+ books
  • Actually complete more book challenges
  • Read and review a good number of books that I need to read and review
  • Practice and get better at peyote beading
  • Start learning Latin
  • Play more video games

What are your New Year's Resolutions?

Friday, December 28, 2012

The Beginnings of a Queen

The Captive of Kensington Palace by Jean Plaidy

Summary: Victoria is virtually a prisoner in Kensington Palace. Her mother and her mother's chamberlain, Sir John Conroy, are her guards. They will not allow her to associate with anyone that has not been thoroughly and critically checked to make sure Victoria is not made harmed by their very presence.Even her governesses are under scrutiny. She is not even allowed to be alone! Someone must always be with her. Her only hope is in contemplating her coming of age, whereupon she may be free and able to take her "Uncle King's" crown without her dreaded captures taking regency. Her best friends are her "dear" sister Feodora, married and living in Germany; her Uncle Leopold, her cousin-in-law and uncle as well as King of the Belgians; Lehzen, her faithful governess; the King and Queen, whom she is rarely allowed to see; and her cousins that she is also rarely allowed to see. She has scheming uncles trying to usurp her right to the throne, and family fighting over her. Every day she comes closer to her dream of adulthood, and her guards' despair at loss of power.

Review: A slow and surprisingly boring historical fiction book about Queen Victoria.


I had never read a book about Queen Victoria before and I thought it would be interesting to read one, especially since I am a fan of both fiction and non-fiction about the monarchy. Unfortunately, this book was boring and took me a long time to read. I know historical fiction always twists the facts a little, but Queen Victoria's story certainly sounds like an interesting one. I will most definitely pick up another book about Queen Victoria, preferably a non-fiction book to start off with. 


I know that there had to be a contrast between Victoria, who was the hero, his mother and Conroy, who are the bad guys, and Uncle Leopold, whom Victoria adored. It was too much of a contrast. Leopold could do no wrong and her mother and Conroy were evil. It was a little much. Victoria starts to dislike her mother and makes some good, informed decision, but still believes and follows everything Leopold says even though he is manipulating her more than her mother. I might read the second book to see how Victoria handles being queen. I hope she learns the truth about her precious Uncle Leopold. 


Rating:








Recommendation: I would recommend this book to those that enjoy historical fiction about queens or about Queen Victoria specifically.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Scary Beasties and A Love Triangle Does Not Make a Book

Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare

Summary: Magic is dangerous—but love is more dangerous still.

When sixteen-year-old Tessa Gray crosses the ocean to find her brother, her destination is England, the time is the reign of Queen Victoria, and something terrifying is waiting for her in London's Downworld, where vampires, warlocks and other supernatural folk stalk the gaslit streets. Only the Shadowhunters, warriors dedicated to ridding the world of demons, keep order amidst the chaos.

Kidnapped by the mysterious Dark Sisters, members of a secret organization called The Pandemonium Club, Tessa soon learns that she herself is a Downworlder with a rare ability: the power to transform, at will, into another person. What’s more, the Magister, the shadowy figure who runs the Club, will stop at nothing to claim Tessa's power for his own.

Friendless and hunted, Tessa takes refuge with the Shadowhunters of the London Institute, who swear to find her brother if she will use her power to help them. She soon finds herself fascinated by—and torn between—two best friends: James, whose fragile beauty hides a deadly secret, and blue-eyed Will, whose caustic wit and volatile moods keep everyone in his life at arm's length . . . everyone, that is, but Tessa. As their search draws them deep into the heart of an arcane plot that threatens to destroy the Shadowhunters, Tessa realizes that she may need to choose between saving her brother and helping her new friends save the world. . . . and that love may be the most dangerous magic of all.


Review: Yet another young adult novel with supernatural creatures and a love triangle.

First and foremost, this book was not steampunk. Sure, there were some clockwork devices and clockwork automatons, but that was about it. I know that steampunk books can certainly have some supernatural creatures within their pages, but Clockwork Angel focused so heavily on supernatural beings, to the exclusion of just about everything else. I did like the mythology behind the supernatural creatures. I liked the concepts of mudanes, Downworlders, and Shadowhunters. It is a bit hard to believe that teenagers would be fighting supernatural beings and why aren't there move of them?

Second, why a love triangle? Frankly, I saw no reason for anyone to love Tessa nor did I love between Tessa, Jem, and Will. Tessa irked me and she felt so useless even though she had an interesting and useful power. Will was a jerk, plain and simple. He wasn't a likable jerk either (unlike a character like Dr. House). I get that he is attractive, but what's beyond that? Nothing much that I could see. I really liked Jem. He was a great character and I hope that he winds up with someone better than Tessa, perhaps Will (even though I know that won't happen and while I did say Will was a jerk, Jem and Will have their own unique relationship).

Rating:






Recommendation: I would recommend this book to those that like supernatural creatures and don't mind love triangles in their ya books.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Maybe He is Actually Right After All

The Scandalous, Dissolute, No-Good Mr. Wright by Tessa Dare

Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher in exchange for a review.

Summary: Miss Eliza Cade is a lady in waiting. And waiting.

Because of a foolish mistake in her youth, she's not allowed "out" in Society until her three older sisters are wed. But while she's trying to be good, she keeps bumping elbows—and, more distressingly, lips—with notorious rake Harry Wright. Every moment she spends with him, she risks complete ruin.

The sensual passions he stirs in her are so wrong . . . but Eliza just can't resist Mr. Wright.


Review: A sweet and quick romance read with enjoyable and likable characters.

The romance between Eliza and Harry really is a sweet one. Sure, there was plenty of passion and a few stolen kisses, but what stands out the most is how they came to care about and love each other. This story is told over a few years, which I enjoyed since it only helped to build the tension between them. Plus, I am getting very sick of instalove so it was a nice choice to have so much time pass in a novella. I always got a giggle out how the main male character is named Mr. Wright even though he is supposed to be so bad and therefore, very wrong for Eliza.

I adored Harry. He was an amazing man. I will admit that, at first, Harry really grated on my nerves and I was prepared to dislike him, but as the story went on, I came to care a lot for him. He had a big heart and thought of others before himself. What I liked most about him is that he held back his passions for Eliza. He didn't try to seduce her or force him to have sex with her. Big bonus in my book. Eliza was a bit naive at times, but she had a good heart and I was glad she got her happy ending.

Rating:






Recommendation: I would recommend this book to those are looking for a sweet, slow romance story.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?


It's Monday! What Are You Reading? is a meme hosted by Book Journey. This meme lets you show fellow readers what you have read, what you are reading, and what you will be reading.

Recently Read:






Currently Reading:



To Read:



Monday, December 24, 2012

Why Do Multiverses Scare You So?

Endless Universe: Beyond the Big Bang by Paul J. Steinhardt

Summary: Two world-renowned scientists present an audacious new vision of the cosmos that “steals the thunder from the Big Bang theory.” —Wall Street Journal

The Big Bang theory—widely regarded as the leading explanation for the origin of the universe—posits that space and time sprang into being about 14 billion years ago in a hot, expanding fireball of nearly infinite density. Over the last three decades the theory has been repeatedly revised to address such issues as how galaxies and stars first formed and why the expansion of the universe is speeding up today. Furthermore, an explanation has yet to be found for what caused the Big Bang in the first place.

In Endless Universe, Paul J. Steinhardt and Neil Turok, both distinguished theoretical physicists, present a bold new cosmology. Steinhardt and Turok “contend that what we think of as the moment of creation was simply part of an infinite cycle of titanic collisions between our universe and a parallel world” (Discover). They recount the remarkable developments in astronomy, particle physics, and superstring theory that form the basis for their groundbreaking “Cyclic Universe” theory. According to this theory, the Big Bang was not the beginning of time but the bridge to a past filled with endlessly repeating cycles of evolution, each accompanied by the creation of new matter and the formation of new galaxies, stars, and planets.

Endless Universe provides answers to longstanding problems with the Big Bang model, while offering a provocative new view of both the past and the future of the cosmos.  It is a “theory that could solve the cosmic mystery” (USA Today).


Review: An informative overview of inflationary and cyclic theory, but with a definite skewing towards cyclic theory. 

This book focuses on two possible explanations for how our universe came to be. It includes a good deal of history and includes some theories that have been debunked. The idea of an inflationary universe scared a good number of people, including Einstein. Even today, the idea of an inflationary universe is still scaring people. The picture has changed quite a bit with the inclusion of dark energy and dark matter. The idea of a cyclic universe has been postulated to explain the universe. 

The authors focus very heavily on the cyclic universe and obviously hope that the cyclic universe will be proven correct. They say that when one needs to add to a theory, that theory becomes somewhat useless. Yet, that is what the authors appear to do with cyclic theory. Unless there are some mysterious properties in dark energy, the universe will expand forever, but the authors state there might be mysterious properties that helps slow down the expansion and eventually contract the expansion. I can believe that the current universe is due to two branes colliding, but how many branes are there? Will you ever be able to discover the force that draws them together? What would happen if different ones collide? 

The inflationary universe seems to frighten the authors because it means that there is a multiverse and the universe we live in just happens to be one that life occurred in because the conditions were right. I don't see that as part of the anthropomorphic principle. Multiple universes means that conditions will vary widely and in some universes, at least ours, life will form. The fact that we may be only one of multiple universes doesn't scare me.

Rating:






Recommendation: I would recommend this book to those interested in theories of the universe that are not the standard inflationary theory. 

Happy Holidays!

I hope everyone has a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!!

Expect a New Year's Resolution post from me soon.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Lethal Inheritance Tour: Excerpt and Giveaway

Lethal Inheritance Tour 



Lethal Inheritance is a YA/adult mystical fantasy novel, the first  in the Diamond Peak Series by Tahlia Newland, author of the acclaimed You Can't Shatter Me. The story has action, adventure, romance, mystery, flashes of humour and a mix of fantasy and reality

Synopsis If last night was real, Ariel should be dead. She’s not, but her mother has disappeared, there are bruises on her neck and the hideous beast in the photo looks frighteningly familiar.  

You can’t send police into a tunnel that doesn’t exist after a villain they can’t see, so when shadow demons kidnap her mother, Ariel has to mount the rescue mission herself.  Hot on the trail, she enters a hidden layer of reality only to find that the demons are hunting her, and they feed on fear. Ariel must defeat them before they kill her and enslave her mother. But how do you kill terrifying demons when your fear makes them stronger?

A quirky old guide teaches her how to locate and unleash her inner power, and while battling hallucinogenic mist, treacherous terrain, murderous earth spirits and self-doubt, she falls in love with Nick, a Warrior whose power is more than either of them can handle.  Ariel’s journey challenges her perception, tests her awareness and takes her deep into her heart and mind to confront, and ultimately transcend, her fear and anger.


What readers are saying


‘I have read a lot of fantasy and I consider this outstanding. It is so exciting and surprising that I didn’t want to put it down. I could never guess what would happen next. It’s a great adventure story bursting with wonder and magic and has an excellent ending.’ Geoffry Beatson.

‘Newland weaves another fantastic tale of supernatural amazement and peril. This story was filled with symbolism and allegory. Dealing with the very real problem of evil, this is no light-hearted, meaningless read . . . Lethal Inheritance was a fantastic and fun read with lots of action and truly spectacular imagery. The emotional lives of the main characters were honest and tumultuous, drawing the reader in.’ Kate Policani, author.

‘In this exciting allegorical YA urban fantasy/magical realism novel, author Tahlia Newland weaves philosophical questions about perception, fear, compassion and love into a fast-paced fantasy adventure that is a highly entertaining and metaphysically fascinating tale for readers of all ages.’ Krisi Keley, author.

‘Fast paced and full of adventure, this story has a wide appeal. Tahlia offers strong characters in a well constructed world. A theme she continues throughout her writing focuses on self respect, self reliance and mental strength.  This book was a delight to read.’ Annie Evett ‘Lethal Inheritance was engrossing from the earliest pages with original characters, plots and settings. The pace doesn’t slow throughout the novel, which made me continually want more and hungry for the next book. I loved the Gimps, in fact I loved the whole concept of the book and especially the little challenges throughout, such as the Lures, Reeds and Shifting Stones.’ Racheal Gillespie.

‘Lethal Inheritance has a unique blend of spirituality, philosophy and magical realism (or realistic magic) . . . a fun read, seamlessly layered with philosophical themes adding depth to the adventure, with engaging characters and evil antagonists, a bit of humour and romance and great action sequences’  Kevin Berry, author.

Purchase Links The prequel short story, including chapter one is FREE. Download links here. US Kindle Store UK Kindle Store Kobo Store Apple ibook store Barnes and Noble

Excerpt


Chapter 1—Abduction

A strange black shape flittered past the window.  It could have been someone in a hooded cloak silhouetted against the street light, except that it appeared to glide rather than walk, and no one could possibly be on the side path of Ariel’s house in fancy dress.

Despite the balmy evening, a flash of cold shivered down Ariel’s spine. She raced to the window, stuck her head outside and looked down the path. Whatever it was had disappeared into the darkness—if it had been there at all. Ariel suspected it was merely the result of tired eyes and an overworked brain.

She slid the window closed, turned her back on the mystery and glared at the books strewn across the dining room table. Tension squeezed her skull. Its cause, her Maths book, lay open, its jumbled symbols exposed by the stark circle of light cast by the reading lamp. She slumped into the chair and switched off the too-revealing beam. It only illuminated her never-ending work load.

The street light cast an eerie glow into the old dining room. The wooden sideboard, almost invisible in the dark, hugged the wall, and the chairs clung to the table like shipwrecked sailors to the remains of their battered ship. They floated, but she sunk. Darkness closed in around her and dragged her down with the weight of final exams only two weeks away. It wasn’t fair. She deserved a life. Something, anything, other than exams.

‘What are you doing in the dark?’ Ariel’s mother’s voice cut through the gloom as light cut the darkness and exposed the room in all its tatty glory.

Ariel blinked and spun to face her mother. ‘Nothing. Absolutely nothing,’ she replied with satisfaction.

Her mother, Nadima, leaned through the doorway, one hand resting on the light switch. Her straight fair hair swung around her shoulders and framed a worn but pretty face. Her eyes were a little red, but it was the first of September, she’d probably been crying, and Ariel knew better than to mention the unmentionable.

‘Are you all right?’ Nadima asked.

‘Fine.’ If you don’t include imagining things. ‘I’m over it. That’s all. Sick to death of all of this.’ Ariel swept her hand across the table and knocked the books to the floor with a clatter.

The corners of Nadima’s mouth curled slightly but never made it into a smile. ‘You’re just tired. You need a break and some apple crumble.’ 

The thought of dessert made Ariel’s smile large enough for both of them.

‘Come and get it while it’s hot,’ Nadima called as she left the room.

Ariel heaved herself out of her chair and followed her mother down the gloomy hall into the kitchen/living room at the back of the old Federation style house. The white walls and copious light in the renovation lifted her spirits the moment she crossed the threshold, and the smell of hot apples and cinnamon drew an appreciative rumble from her stomach.

She caught sight of herself mirrored in the wall of sliding doors that opened onto the veranda and leafy garden. Her ghostly auburn-haired reflection, clad in lumpy sweater and jeans, echoed the sense she had of herself as an insubstantial form floating through an illusion called life. Jaded at seventeen, she thought dryly. 

Nadima lifted a bundle of old towels from a box on the floor and deposited it on her photo-strewn desk on the other side of the room.

‘Not another one,’ Ariel said with a hint of a whine.

‘How could I say no?’ Nadima replied as she unwrapped the bundle and revealed a bright-eyed baby wombat. ‘He’s so cute. Aren’t you Spud?’

Ariel screwed up her nose. ‘Ew.’ Cute sure, but the smell . . . at least this one had hair already. ‘I refuse to do night duty.’

‘Oh, darling. I wouldn’t expect you to,’ Nadima replied.

Famous last words, Ariel thought. As soon as her mother got too tired from getting up every two hours to feed him, Ariel would have to step in, or suffer a horribly grumpy mother. The last orphaned wombat they’d taken in had ended up in one of Nadima’s photo-shoots. Ariel’s favourite was a Photoshopped image of a woman in an evening gown lounging on a giant wombat as if he were a sofa.

She spooned dessert onto a plate, added some ice cream, stuffed a glorious spoonful in her mouth and watched her mother change the wombat’s makeshift pouch. Ariel liked his name. Spud. It suited his potato shape. He wriggled and waved his paws, his soft belly and innocent face a stark contrast to the lethal claws, a little like the unease that raked beneath the calm exterior of Ariel’s life.

Nadima gathered the re-swaddled wombat in her arms, picked up a doll-sized baby bottle, stuck it in Spud’s mouth and began pacing. While Spud tugged on the teat, Ariel sat at the breakfast bar and munched on the stewed apple and its scrumptious crunchy topping. A strange feeling rustled up her spine, a sense that someone watched her. She peered warily through the glass sliders and scanned the garden.

At first, nothing. Then two red spots, like fiery eyes, penetrated the darkness and raised goose-bumps. A very large dog? More likely that stupid kid from down the street with laser pens. But the red spots disappeared too fast for Ariel to be sure she’d even seen them. She leapt up and pulled the curtains. The creepy feeling disappeared, but she’d have words with that kid at the bus stop tomorrow. He had no right skulking about in their garden.

The wombat sucked on in a steady rhythm but Nadima stopped pacing, her knuckles white where she gripped the bottle. Had she sensed something too? ‘I think we should leave early,’ she said.

‘What?’ Ariel’s spoon stopped an inch from her mouth.

‘The camping trip. Let’s leave tomorrow morning.’ Nadima plonked the now empty bottle on the bench. 

Ariel lowered her spoon. ‘No way, I’ve got training after school tomorrow. There’s a race coming up, remember? I’m planning to beat Molly Gainsbrough in the eight hundred metres.’

Nadima pursed her lips, hugged the wombat tighter and patted his back. ‘You’d win the fencing medal if you went back to it.’

Ariel grimaced. ‘Give it up, Mum, I’d rather run than stick a blade in someone.’

Nadima sighed. ‘Fine, we’ll go Friday.’

‘Why?’

‘We’ll make it a long weekend. We could both do with the extra day.’

Ariel frowned. What was going on? Her mother never let her skip school. But why complain? ‘Fine. Where are we going?’

Nadima stared into space and began rocking the wombat like a baby. ‘Somewhere new. It’s a surprise.’ 

‘New? What’s new within a two hundred kilometre radius?’

‘You’ll see.’ Her clipped tone signalled the end of the conversation. Ariel let it go. She figured she’d find out soon enough and, although she loved immersing herself in nature for a whole weekend, right now, even talking about walking for miles with a pack on her back was just plain exhausting.

She licked her bowl while Nadima stowed the wombat back in the cardboard box on the floor. ‘Sleep well, Spud.’ She turned to Ariel and opened her arms. ‘Goodnight, sweetheart.’

Ariel’s heart ached at the sadness in her mother’s eyes. Even the comforting embrace they shared couldn’t make up for the absence that plagued their lives.

Ariel’s mobile rang. She broke the embrace and grabbed her phone from the coffee table. ‘Hi, Tamara.’ 

‘Love you,’ Nadima mouthed.

Ariel waved her mother goodnight and turned towards the door.

‘Hey, guess what?’ Tamara sounded pretty hyped up.

‘A walrus is sitting on your cat.’ Ariel flicked on the hall light and wandered towards her room.

‘What? Oh, shut up. Mitch’s asked me to go to the formal.’ Ariel smiled.

‘I told you he would.’

‘Yeah, well, he might not have. What about you and Mathew and the movies?’

Ariel shrugged. ‘I don’t think so. He wants to see some blood-thirsty thriller. Yuk.’

‘Hey, he’s hot. You’ve got to make a few concessions.’

‘He’s also a surfer, Tamara, and I’m not cut out to be a surfie chick. Freckles, remember.’ She walked into the saffron walled sanctuary of her bedroom and turned on the light.

‘He’s also a really hot runner.’

‘Duh! That’s how I met him.’

‘Oh yeah. Hey, you could go jogging together.’

‘Red-faced and sweaty is not my best look, Tamara.’

‘You might have a point there. But, look, he really likes you and I thought you liked him.’

Ariel shrugged. ‘Not that much.’ She kicked the pile of clothes on the floor, salvaged her pyjamas, shook them out and threw them on the bed as she talked.

‘You’re not scared, are you? About his reputation, I mean.’

‘No, I’m not scared. I just don’t want to be his girlfriend.’

‘Yeah, well, I suppose it’s not surprising that you’re a bit slow with guys. I mean, no brothers and all.’

Ariel opened her mouth but Tamara cut in. ‘Whoops, Mum’s yelling. I gotta go. See ya tomorrow.’

‘Okay, bye.’ Ariel switched off her phone, walked to the window and stared into the night.

Slow with guys, huh? Sure, she was cautious. With good reason. She’d seen girls fall head over heels in love and land on their faces with their brains turned to mush. Mind you, Tamara was right about the lack of males in her life. She and her mother never had a man in their house unless he’d come to fix something. She couldn’t even remember her father, and her mother never dated. Fifteen years after the event, her mother still wouldn’t tell her exactly how her father had died.

Agitation simmered in her cells and fuelled a growing urge to rock whatever boat she was in, even to dive in and see what was underneath. But Ariel didn’t know where to dive, what into, or how. She felt disconnected, unreal, as if she only floated on the surface of life and beneath her fathoms of dark water remained unexplored.

The last thing she remembered before falling asleep was thinking that nothing major would change in a hurry. Two hours later, she discovered she was wrong.

***

Ariel jolted awake to the brutal sound of splintering wood and a resounding crash at the side door.

‘Ariel. Run!’ Her mother’s scream sliced through the fog in Ariel’s brain.

Her eyes flew open. She catapulted out of bed and stumbled towards the door in confusion. A series of thuds came up the hallway, getting closer, as if someone was kicking all the doors open. Ariel grabbed her fleecy Ugg boots, opened the window and jumped out just before her bedroom door crashed open.

She flung herself under a leafy shrub and pushed back against the fence. Bright street light spilled onto the side of her red brick house, but none penetrated her hiding place in the fence’s shadow. Even so, her heart pounded and every muscle in her body tensed in fear. She peered through a gap in the leaves and shivered. 

Something black and vaguely human-shaped struggled out the window, cursing in a voice as spiky as ice shards. Its skin, hanging in folds like the fabric of a long hooded cloak, rippled as it turned. White flames flicked, like snake tongues, from two slits in its hideous face, and a thin-lipped mouth curled into a sneer. The claws on its long loose arms flexed and unflexed as if warming up for a fight, and it stunk like rotten potatoes.

Ariel froze, eyes wide, struggling to comprehend the creature before her. Nothing like this existed in her world. It had to be a dream. But it felt horribly real.

A chilling voice from down the path raised the hairs on the back of Ariel’s neck and the creature swung towards the sound. ‘The spawn’s run off. I say we take this one and come back for the other.’

The owner of the voice, another creature, came into view, eyes blazing red. Ariel gasped and slapped her hands over her mouth to muffle the sound. But the beast’s attention fixed on Ariel’s mother who hung limply in the red-eyed creature’s arms, her hands tied behind her back. Something black and shiny gagged her. 

Ariel’s world began to unravel. This could not be happening, and yet, it was. She stared at the impossible creature and one word only penetrated the numbness of her mind. It rose as if from a long forgotten memory—demon.

‘Stand and walk,’ the red-eyed demon growled as he set her on her feet, ‘or I’ll stick you with this.’ It raised a clawed index finger in front of Nadima’s face and the claw grew into a silvery talon the length of Ariel’s forearm. The fiery line of the creature’s mouth curled with sadistic pleasure.

Nadima jerked into life and ran, but the white-eyed demon threw a noose over her head. It jolted her to a stop and turned her scream into a choked gurgle. 

Ariel pressed her lips together, stifling the urge to cry out.

The red-eyed demon held its gleaming talon to Nadima’s throat just above where her white-knuckled hands gripped the noose, her eyes wide and glassy. ‘Try that again and we’ll forget our meal and send you to hell instead.’

‘Feed us,’ the white-eyed demon hissed and placed its talon on the side of her neck.

Nadima froze. Her face reddened and tears seeped from her eyes. The tip of Red-Eye’s talon caressed her throat and came to rest on the other side of her neck. A rumbling sound emerged from the demons’ throats, a kind of demonic purr. Their bodies grew, their eyes flickered more brightly and their satisfied smirks bore a perverse resemblance to bliss.

Ariel’s stomach churned. Fear numbed her mind and froze her in place.

The larger, red-eyed demon eventually removed its talon from Nadima’s neck and jabbed her in the back. She flinched. ‘Walk,’ he growled. The other demon yanked on the rope and pulled her towards the road like an unwilling dog on a leash. Ariel’s mother stumbled after them as if in a daze.

As soon as they’d gone, Ariel pulled on her Ugg boots, her fingers trembling, and crawled out from under the bush. What now? Police? By the time they got here, her mother would have disappeared. She had to find out where the demons were taking her and, if possible, free her. But how? She didn’t even have a weapon. Or did she?

Ariel raced down the path, through the shattered door and into the kitchen where she grabbed the largest, sharpest knife before running onto the street after the demons. She saw them several houses away, heading towards the hill at the end of the street. You can do this, she told herself, then dashed after them. Past the unseeing eyes of curtained windows and the silent mouths of closed doors, she followed them, being careful to stay out of sight. Her neighbours were probably all asleep. No one to see, no one to speak of it, no one to help, even if they could.

The only sound came from a party in the Thompson’s backyard. There, voices laughed and talked loudly over the pounding music that streamed from the garden. She wondered if she should go in and ask for help, but figured that, no doubt tipsy by now, they would just laugh at her, and before she got anyone to take her seriously, Nadima could have disappeared, or worse.

At the cul-de-sac at the end of the road, the demons took the dimly lit path between the houses, then the footbridge over the stream. Ariel hurried after them and crouched out of sight behind the bridge railings. The weight of impending doom settled on Ariel as the threesome left the path, and Nadima stumbled over the rough ground lit only by the silver light of the waning moon. The three stopped at the base of the hill before a dense shadow so dark that it seemed to suck all light into its blackness. All light and all hope.

Despite the warm night, Ariel’s skin turned cold. But if she didn’t do something, who would? She dashed to a large rock and hid behind it, her heart thumping.

Suddenly, Nadima came to life. She ducked to the side, yanked the rope out of the white-eyed demon’s hands and fled. But Red-Eyes spun and tackled her, then locked his long arms around her and pulled her to her feet. She jabbed her elbows backwards and kicked hard, but the gruesome creature didn’t flinch. Nadima struggled uselessly as he dragged her into what Ariel could now see was a jagged hole in the hillside.

Panic hit, hot and blinding. Ariel raced towards them, knife at the ready, but White-Eyes leapt from the shadows and grabbed her wrist with one clawed hand.

‘Got ya,’ he growled, eyes flaring.

Giveaway: a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Another Case of Author Insertion

Dead Beautiful by Yvonne Woon

Summary: On the morning of her sixteenth birthday, Renée Winters was still an ordinary girl. She spent her summers at the beach, had the perfect best friend, and had just started dating the cutest guy at school. No one she'd ever known had died. But all that changes when she finds her parents dead in the Redwood Forest, in what appears to be a strange double murder.

After the funeral Renée’s wealthy grandfather sends her to Gottfried Academy, a remote and mysterious boarding school in Maine, where she finds herself studying subjects like Philosophy, Latin, and the “Crude Sciences.”

It’s there that she meets Dante Berlin, a handsome and elusive boy to whom she feels inexplicably drawn. As they grow closer, unexplainable things begin to happen, but Renée can’t stop herself from falling in love. It’s only when she discovers a dark tragedy in Gottfried’s past that she begins to wonder if the Academy is everything it seems.

Little does she know, Dante is the one hiding a dangerous secret, one that has him fearing for her life.

Dead Beautiful is both a compelling romance and thought-provoking read, bringing shocking new meaning to life, death, love, and the nature of the soul.


Review: Another YA novel with an average girl, a beautiful, extremely attractive, and extremely smart guy, boarding school, rich relatives, specialness, and true wuv.

I am getting so sick of author insertion. I know that some people would love to have a drop dead gorgeous man or woman, who is also sweet, kind, caring, and extremely intelligent, to fall for them. That is all well and good and while that is a staple of romance, I am getting so sick of it in ya books. I want the characters to have some faults, some flaws, and actually seem human. You never get an idea of the personalities beyond the looks and the true wuv.

I was getting ready to give this a one star. I didn't like how quickly Renee fall for Dante. As a side note, just because you are named after a famous author or philosopher, doesn't mean that that person has to be your favorite. Although it felt a bit contrived, I did like the mythology behind the undead and the souls of children. What saved the book from one star is how Renee reacts when she finds out about Dante. While I felt it should have taken her longer, if it all, to come to turns with what he is, I am glad that she actually was freaked out and stayed away from him for the moment.

Rating:






Recommendation: I would recommend this book to those that enjoy young adult supernatural fiction or young adult fiction about the undead (not quite traditional vampires or zombies though).

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Dark Waltz Tour: Review and Giveaway (Adult Content)

Warning: Adult Content!


DARK WALTZ, A Praestani Novel by A.M. Hargrove

Series: The Praestani Series

Genre: Adult Romance (a blend of paranormal and sci-fi)

Heat: Hot

Summary: Dark Waltz--A sizzling legend of loss, lust and love.

It’s the year 2030 and the human population has been annihilated by a virulent form of small pox. Liasare Davidson is desperately searching for her brother, who has been missing for three months. It’s been eighteen years since she was evacuated from Earth and she is horrified to see it’s become a cesspool of unimaginable things.

In her quest to find her brother, she meets Jurek, a powerful and enigmatic being that frightens her, yet she is unable to resist. When things begin to unfold between them, they both discover a paralyzing truth that puts Liasare at grave risk. She must make a choice to join Jurek and find her brother or fulfill a role she believes she is ill equipped to undertake.

Now, please enjoy an excerpt from A.M. Hargrove’s latest book, Dark Waltz, a Praestani Novel, to be released November 2012.

Excerpt: “Going somewhere?” that husky voice asked.

Crapitty crap!

She sucked in her breath and dropped her annihilator, as his voice startled her. Before her brain could comprehend what was happening, she felt her body swirling through a vortex. She finally came to rest in another place.

Disoriented and dizzy, she tried to focus on her surroundings, but everything seemed to tilt sideways. She reached out her hand to stop herself from falling, but only succeeded in grabbing a fistful of air. Not knowing which way was up or down, she tried, unsuccessfully, to break her fall. Instead, she felt her breath leave her body in a whoosh as she slammed into the ground.

Fighting for oxygen, her diaphragm wouldn’t cooperate with her brain’s commands. Worse yet, she felt a pair of hands latch onto her waist, drag her to her feet and ram her back into a wall. Her head hung down as she fought to draw in precious oxygen, yet found she was still unable to do so. Then the asshole had the nerve to jam his arm straight into her diaphragm and start demanding things of her.

“Who do you work for?”

Her mouth opened and closed repeatedly, like a poor fish that had been hauled out of the water, desperate to be thrown back in.

“I’ll ask again, who do you work for?” he bit out each word with precision.

Things began to turn grey and hazy as the lack of air finally took its toll on her brain. She knew she was going to pass out.

Double crapitty crap!

Her head lolled to the side and...blink, lights out.

Jurek looked at her and cursed, “What the fuck?”

He hadn’t realized she was so close to losing it. He laid her out on the floor and looked at her for a moment. She wasn’t beautiful in that traditional, cookie-cutter sense, but there was something about her that enticed him. Her chestnut mane for one, and Jurek had always been a sucker for women with beautiful hair, but those hazel eyes of hers were something else. Her full lips were kissably soft, he thought, as he ran his thumb along her mouth. He finally placed his hand on her forehead and in seconds, she came to, moaning.

Her eyes fluttered open and when the recognition in them flickered, those hazel eyes shot sparks of gold. Hovering before her was the dark haired man from the bar. She wouldn’t have had to open her eyes to know it was him since every cell in her body was on fire with his power.

Soft black hair hung close to his shoulders and he wore it brushed back off his face. Liasare briefly wondered if it would feel as soft as it looked. He had a bit of scruff on his face; he obviously hadn’t bothered to shave in the last couple of days. His lips were full and sensuous and definitely made for kissing. In fact, Liasare could imagine running her tongue along that lower lip of his, tugging on it and gently sucking it. What made her nearly lose it were his eyes. They were extraordinary. Lavender, rimmed in indigo with flecks of silver swirling within their depths, Liasare had never seen anything so stunning in her life.

Regaining her senses, Liasare flew to her feet and threw a right uppercut that connected beneath Jurek’s jaw. Had he been a lesser man, it would have laid him out. Then she spun on her heel and began the motion for an intended groin kick, but his quick reflexes caught her leg before it connected and he flicked it off with his hand.

“You flaming asshole. Who do you think you are? You fucking knock the wind out of me and then you do it again for shits and giggles? Who the hell do you think you are?”

“Watch your language and I’m asking the questions here.”

“Not anymore,” Liasare hissed as she turned to head out of the building.

Before she could take another step, an arm snaked out and grabbed her around the waist. He pulled her tightly against his chest and whispered huskily into her ear, “I asked you a question. I want to know who you’re working for and I don’t intend to let you go until I get an answer.”

His voice washed over her with that electrifying intense heat. She felt her skin erupt in a million goose bumps as every hair on her body stood at attention.

Damn him, she thought. How can he have this kind of power over me? Fuck!

“You have no idea Brownie.”

“Brownie?

“Mmm. Brownie. For that glorious mane of hair you have.” His hand spanned across her stomach and she felt a million butterflies suddenly erupt as he hugged her tightly against him.

“I’ll bet you taste better than one too.” If she could have turned around she would have seen the corners of his mouth turn up as he baited her.

Review: Disclaimer: I received this book from the author in exchange for a review.

An erotic romance with a jerky man and a weak woman with elements of science fiction and supernatural.

I will have to admit that I really did not like the two main characters. I felt that Jurek was an abusive, controlling, jealous, and arrogant asshole. He is constantly yelling and screaming at Liasare and also telling what she can and cannot do. Jurek can't even stand Liasare's friend touching her because he is so jealous. Liasare is spineless and gets upset so easily. She gets legitimately annoyed and angered at Jurek, but quickly capitulates when he provides some bullshit excuse. And of course she is all super special!

I liked the mixture of science fiction, supernatural, and religious mythology. I found the Praestani a bit too overpowered with too many convenient powers. I would have liked to see more of Earth and the other planets. It is always interesting to see a prophecy in a science fiction story and it does manage to fit in pretty well, especially with the religious mythology, God, and Satan. The intersection of magic and technology occurs a lot in this book and I am reminded of the saying that advanced enough technology is indistinguishable from magic.

Rating:






Recommendation: I would recommend this to those that enjoy romances with a lot of sexual tension and supernatural or science fiction elements.

About the Author: One day, on her way home from work as a sales manager, A. M. Hargrove, realized her life was on fast forward and if she didn't do something soon, it would quickly be too late to write that work of fiction she had been dreaming of her whole life. So, she rolled down the passenger window of her fabulous (not) company car and tossed out her leather briefcase. Luckily, the pedestrian in the direct line of fire was a dodgeball pro and had über quick reflexes enabling him to avoid getting bashed in the head. Feeling a tad guilty about the near miss, A. M. made a speedy turn down a deserted side street before tossing her crummy, outdated piece-of-you-know-what lap top out the window. She breathed a liberating sigh of relief, picked up her cell phone and hit #4 on her speed dial.

A.M.’s Boss: Hello.

A.M: Hey Boss, I'm calling to let you know you can pick up my luxury Ford Focus at Starbucks near the interstate.

A.M.’s Boss: Why ever would I want to do that?

A.M.: Because I quit!

A.M. hit the end button and speed dialed her husband.

A.M.: Hey hubs, can you pick me up at Starbucks?

A.M.’s Hubs: Sure...having some car trouble?

A.M.: Not at all. I don't have a car to have trouble with because I just quit my job.

A.M.’s Hubs: WHAT?!

A.M.: It's time for a new career and I am going to be a very famous novelist.

So began A. M. Hargrove's career as a young adult paranormal romance author of self-published ebooks. Her series, The Guardians of Vesturon, centers around a family of six siblings and is a mix of humor, mystery, suspense and of course, love. Survival, Resurrection and Determinant are her full length novels, and Beginnings is her prequel novella to the series. Dark Waltz, an adult romance and the first in the Praestani Series, will be released 11/12.

(It didn’t really happen like that, but you get the idea!)

Buy the Book:

The Guardians of Vesturon is available from the following retailers:

Amazon

Amazon UK

Barnes and Noble

iTunes

Smashwords

Where You Can Find A. M. Hargrove

Blog

Website

Facebook (Author)

Facebook (Book)

Twitter

Goodreads

Goodreads Fan Club

Giveaway:
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Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Black Sun Reich Tour: Review


The Spear of Destiny: Part One – Black Sun Reich byTrey Garrison

Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher in exchange for a review. 

Summary: Black Sun Reich: Part One of three in The Spear of Destiny, the first novel in a new steampunk, horror, alternate history, action-adventure series set in a 1920s where the Nazi’s have begun their subjugation of the world using the occult, advanced science, and a holy relic with awesome powers.



And don’t miss the other parts of this serialized novel - Part Two: Death’s Head Legion and Part Three: Shadows Will Fall.



Trey Garrison recaptures the unapologetic adventure, wonder and excitement of the classic pulp fiction of the 1930s and 1940s, blending elements of steampunk with deeply-researched historical fiction and a good dose of humor. The novel also explores major philosophical and moral issues relevant to our contemporary world: the trade-off between security and liberty, the morality of pre-emptive war, and what fundamentally separates good from evil.



The North American continent is made up of several rival nations, and a Cold War is building between them. The Nazis rose to power a decade earlier. People travel by airship and powerful organizations calculate with Babbage’s Difference Engine. The Nazis have hatched a plot to raise a legion of undead soldiers.



Enter Sean Fox Rucker, Jesus D’Anconia Lago, two Great War veterans and freelance pilots who are pulled into the quest. They are joined by a brash Greek merchant, a brilliant Jewish cowboy, and the woman who once broke Rucker’s heart. This ragtag band of reluctant, bickering, swashbuckling heroes soon is locked in a globe-spanning race against Nazi occultists, clockwork assassins, and a darkly charismatic commando. In a world where science and the supernatural co-exist, and the monsters of legend are as real necromancers who summon them from dark realms, our heroes alone stand before the rising darkness. But all their efforts may not be enough.

Review: An intriguing mixing of alternate history with Nazis, mythology, holy relics, and supernatural powers. 

This book was certainly an interesting read. I do not know how plausible the alternate history was, but it was certainly entertaining to read about Tesla and his crazy inventions, all the different countries in the United States, and the Spear of Destiny. There wasn't much steampunk in this book (it was alternate history mixed with paranormal elements), which was disappointing, but I enjoyed the setting and the characters. The addition of religious mythology adds another level. This is a grab bag of genres, but Garrison makes it work. 

I found it a little annoying that this book was broken up into three parts. The first part was about 140 pages so if the second two parts are of a similar length, this will be an average length book. I wish the whole thing had been published at once. To be honest, part of that is due to me being eager to read the next two parts. Everything was just getting good too. I am very interested to learn more about the world the book takes place in, including why the US got split into so many different countries. 

Rating:






Recommendation: I would recommend this book to those that enjoy alternate history, supernatural fiction, or stories dealing with religious myths and objects.

Social Media:

@HarperVoyagerUS
@TreyGarrison

Monday, December 17, 2012

You Break Far Too Often

Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi

Summary: Juliette hasn’t touched anyone in exactly 264 days.

The last time she did, it was an accident, but The Reestablishment locked her up for murder. No one knows why Juliette’s touch is fatal. As long as she doesn’t hurt anyone else, no one really cares. The world is too busy crumbling to pieces to pay attention to a 17-year-old girl. Diseases are destroying the population, food is hard to find, birds don’t fly anymore, and the clouds are the wrong color.

The Reestablishment said their way was the only way to fix things, so they threw Juliette in a cell. Now so many people are dead that the survivors are whispering war– and The Reestablishment has changed its mind. Maybe Juliette is more than a tortured soul stuffed into a poisonous body. Maybe she’s exactly what they need right now.

Juliette has to make a choice: Be a weapon. Or be a warrior.


Review: A traumatized girl, the obligatory extremely attractive boy, true wuv, and special powers. 

I am getting sick of true wuv between the girl who doesn't find herself attractive and the super attractive boy. It's lust, pure and simple. The girl always manages to convince herself she loves the boy even though they know barely anything about each other. It always manages to be about looks. Two people tell Juliette how beautiful she is. As another person has mentioned, considered her level of malnutrition and inability to take more than short two minutes showers, logically, she would have to look very unpleasant with pale skin, sunken in features, and lank hair. But no! She's beautiful. 

Juliette annoyed me. I know she had been traumatized, but either you survive or you thrive. Juliette is even worse than a mere survivor. She has no spine and is always so quick to collapse, either emotionally or physically. I feel that if it wasn't for Adam, she would have never tried anything damn thing and would have stayed right where she was. The times she did try to stand up for herself or fight back felt false and unbelievable. The setting was a pathetic excuse for a dystopian setting. I don't mind the X-Men like feel, but I worry that it will borrow too heavily from the universe in future books. 

Rating:






Recommendation: I would recommend this book to those that enjoy young adult romance with a dystopian setting. 

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?


It's Monday! What Are You Reading? is a meme hosted by Book Journey. This meme lets you show fellow readers what you have read, what you are reading, and what you will be reading.

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Saturday, December 15, 2012

Interview with Jeffrey Bolden, Author of Book of Soul

Today I will be interviewing Jeffrey Bolden, author of Book of Soul.

What are your favorite book(s)? 
I don't really have favorite books. I used to view other authors as competition. I guess that's the rapper in me, and the competitive nature in which I started out, battling other freestyle artists to become the best to a crowd that could not do what we do. But now as I find myself reading other artists who are not mainstream and I find myself reading the way they tell their tales only wanting to get better. The latest books I've been reading is the Autobiography Of A Werewolf Hunter by Brian Easton, Cassidy Jones and The Secret Formula by Elise Stokes, and Vaempires and honestly even the young adult book is gripping me. These authors are making me a better author whether they know it or not.

Who is your favorite author? 
I don't have a favorite author neither besides myself but I do love indie authors and authors with a voice different from me so I can learn from them.

Where do you get your inspiration from?
Music and dreams. Every book I've written aside from my first one was named after either a song or an album or a mixtape. Music is an irreplaceable part of me that inspires everything that I do. Dreams, well that's self-explanatory. It's gotten to the point where I can literally write in my sleep wake up and record my subconscious. I also begin my REM sleep period a lot sooner than most do. Where it takes ordinary people up to four hours of simply black, I start having dreams probably twenty minutes of falling asleep, and I've trained my brain to remember most of it, all of the random occurrences. I think this making me an insomniac honestly but also making me more in touch with my subconscious, thus building my imagination even more. Expect even more from me in the future.

Where is your favorite place to do your writing?
I love to write outside whenever I can. I just like I don't know being able to be in my own world within the context of reality.

What made you decide to become a writer?
When did I decide to become a writer or when did I realize I was one? It was really a decision to become a writer, just something I grew into going through the natural evolution that is getting older, but I realized I was one when I realized I became physically ill when I didn't write. That's when I knew I was a writer.

What is the hardest part of writing for you?
Writing blurbs and summaries about books I write. And of course biographies. It's the Scorpio in me I guess to keep a lot of myself beneath the surface.

Tell us about your newest book.
Book Of Soul is a book of short stories, poems, and prose, but it's so much more than that. More then an autobiography ranging from the years 2009 - 2012. Imagine the words Basquit had in his mind to describe his abstract paintings, representing the ails of the ghetto. Think on the stories behind Salvador Dali's Melting Clock. What do you think they would be? What about Mona Lisa? What story comes to mind when you stare into those sad eyes? I used those analogies because that's exactly what I did in this book. I took abstract thoughts from those four years and put them on to paper. There's one short story called "Heaven" that I would compare to a surrealistic view on life. It involves me and the question what happens when you die. Basically I go into shock and take a trip to Heaven where I meet dead relatives and friends and venture through Heaven. I won't divulge what all happened during the story but I learned a lesson while writing this story and wanted to pass on the same lesson through this story. Speaking more abstractly, I have a poem called Boy Meets Girl II X Our Name that intricately weaves a story in a poem about the wrongs I've committed toward this girl and the forgiveness in which this Angel showed to me. Do you get the concept now? Please expect more then just those. With Book Of Soul, you will find four years of my life embedded within around 55,000.

You can buy Book of Soul on Amazon.

About the Author
Jeffrey Bolden, is a walking contradiction. A young man with an old wisdom. A fiery spirit with a cool demeanor. Anything that is set in opposition can be used to describe him. Imagine a vampire's seduction blended with a werewolf's desire for the hunt for that is Jeffrey Bolden. He is seduction embodied, an irrestible character with an unspeakable evil in his dark eyes, yet walks through life as a lone wolf, growling in the face of death as he has done many times. A romantic with a cold heart. A happy depression. In essence, Jeffrey Bolden is conflict, the vessel for the war between good and evil and you know often times which side is winning simply by looking into his dark eyes.

Friday, December 14, 2012

A Hard Act to Follow BookBlast


A Hard Act to Follow by Henry Bushkin

"A Hard Act to Follow," is a non-fiction literary account of Henry Bushkin's tenure as Johnny Carson's lawyer, business partner, and friend.  The book gives genuine insight into the 'Carson behind Johnny' with candid personal vignettes about the two, during the rollicking years when Johnny was the undisputed king of television.  This is an engaging, eye-opening, anecdote-packed story about a young lawyer and his client, one of the biggest celebrities in the country.  This funny, unfiltered account gives readers a look at the Johnny Carson that none but a select few really knew.

“A Hard Act to Follow” by Henry Bushkin provides a stirring account into Johnny Carson’s world—as told by Carson’s closest confidant.
The New Yorker article by Kenneth Tynan from 1978, included the following question and answer:
Tynan: When you’re at home, whom do you entertain?
Carson: My lawyer, Henry Bushkin, who’s probably my best friend.


Praise for the Book

"I loved the book." ~Wayne Newton

"Henry was Johnny's closest friend for many years which becomes clear through many of the wonderful chapters of the book." ~Bob Trapenberg

"The book is full of tough love, humor, cultural history, sadness, humor, love, loss, well I guess I am saying it is full of life." ~Rupert Garcia

" Henry's portrayal of Johnny was spot on. I highly recommend this book which is the closest the reader will ever get to know the real Carson." ~ Ed Weinberger, former Tonight Show writer and Producer for Carson Productions

"A beautifully easy read that pulls you in to an effortless journey through Johnny Carson’s effortful life. The glamour  the fellow celebrities behind the curtain, the loyalties, and the betrayals. It certainly provides new insight on decisions and the lives that are behind the scenes." ~Kathy Davis, Kathy Takes on Books

""I have read this book and it is FAB! If you love reading about celebrities, this is awesome. It is also a great memoir as well. I am a huge memoir fan so this one was a real treat and one of the best I have read in this genre in a long time" ~Mary,  Bookhounds Blog

"Bushkin's easy, unpretentious style allows the reader to be a fly on the wall as this inside story plays out in the rarified air on which Johnny thrived. "A HARD ACT TO FOLLOW" is a must read whether you grew up on Johnny or never heard of him. And then there are the supporting characters -- from the Rat Pack to Johnny's Ice Queen mother ranging around the pages disturbing the peace. I read it straight through in 90 minutes and was left wanting more."  ~Sandy Ignon, Screenwriter (RANSOM).

"The tales are epic in nature and stretch from the first page to the last. “A Hard Act to Follow” is an honest appraisal of Carson and shows his dark side. In this, Bushkin strikes the right blend of salacious detail with an appropriate dose of discretion. Sure, you’ll learn more detail about Carson’s marriages-- in a tasteful way.  Bushkin will leave you wanting more. Great books will do that." ~Barry Mordis, Senior VP at Merryl-Lynch

"No one would describe Johnny as easy going-there was an edge to him that Bushkin always managed to soften. He continues to do that in this book. There was that challenging side of Johnny which is also captured in the book. Henry was Johnny's closest friend for many years which becomes clear through many of the wonderful chapters of the book. All in all a great book to read." ~Bob Trapenberg, Johnny's former Tennis Pro.


Author Henry Bushkin

Henry Bushkin is an experienced lawyer who practices in both California and New York. He currently lives in Los Angeles where his children also reside.







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