Friday, August 29, 2014

Blog Tour Author Guest Post and Giveaway!

Mythologies Used in River
(or lack thereof)

I was graciously offered the opportunity to write a guest post for Books & Things during the River blog tour and given the topic of mythologies used in the novel. That’s easy-peasy, usually, because I’m Mythology Girl. I love falling down the rabbit hole of research and using existing myths in new ways, building a solid foundation for my paranormal work.

Except I didn’t with River.

Nothing in River is based on ancient mythology, faiths, or beliefs. I didn’t even glance at the werewolf Wikipedia page to see what ideas to draw on.

In River, humans aren’t turned into animals; animals are turned into humans. As far as the main character, teen werewolf River, knows, they can’t turn back into the beast—not on the full moon, not ever. Silver doesn’t factor in. They’re simply animals stuck in human bodies.

So with that in mind, the next logical step would’ve been research into wolves, right?

Yeah, I didn’t do that either, at least not when I was writing the book. All the research was done years—even a decade—earlier. 

I grew up loving wolves. As a small child, I would dream I turned into one. I’d glimpse them in the corner of my eye in places they couldn’t possibly be. (We’re just going to assume there’s a magical explanation behind this and not a brain tumour causing hallucinations, okay?) Few sounds are as calming to me as howling. And as with anything I had even the slightest interest in, I read up on them over the years and did every wildlife project on them, filing the information away so it was there while writing River later. 

These are not “savage” beasts from the movies and stories, stereotypes that have led to them being slaughtered for decades. These are gentle and caring creatures, extremely intelligent, and about as far from the monsters of legends as you can imagine. An excellent place to start when getting to know wolves better is with the work of the Dutchers, Living with Wolves (please pick up their documentaries and support their work).

The one research book I did have was Animal Speak by Ted Andrews.

Not specific to any particular belief-system (animal symbolism can vary from tribe to tribe among First Nations) but more the author’s personal take on animal shamanism, it’s a dictionary of animals and what they represent/can teach humanity. While writing River and its sequel Wolfe, I referred back to that book several times when building the other were characters. It was important to me that the character of River and the other werewolves not only reflect real wolves but that they displayed many of the spiritual aspects associated with them: loyalty, community, strength, compassion, teamwork, devotion. 

More than the legends of werewolves—uncontrollable beasts who slaughter livestock and can only be stopped by a silver bullet—it seemed critical to show what a gentle, intelligent creature like a wolf would really think of humans when forced to live among them. (Spoiler Alert: they are not impressed.) 

So that was my focus, not on the myths but on this highly misunderstood and misrepresented animal.

River
Defiant, nocturnal, moody–though River sounds like a typical teenager, she’s anything but. River’s a werewolf.

The life of an alpha female wolf was irrevocably changed the night she was attacked and bitten, and awoke confused, alone, and human. Three years later, thrust into a world where she doesn’t belong and living in foster care, River barely tolerates humanity and still doesn’t know who bit her or why.

But River isn’t as alone as she previously thought; someone’s been watching her, someone who holds the answers she’s been seeking. And though the human who changed her seems to be a step ahead of her at every turn, River is determined to beat his game and return to her pack and mate.

As if being stuck in a world she hates, with a life she never asked for, and faced with a destiny she doesn’t want wasn’t bad enough, River still must find a way to survive every human’s greatest challenge: high school.

eBook ISBN: 978-1-927966-02-0
Print ISBN: 978-1-927966-01-3

Release Date: August 25 (ebook), September 1 (print)

Nook and Kobo coming soon.

For a list of tour spots and to find out more about River—including the first seven chapters free—at http://skyladawncameron.com/river/

Author Bio
Award-winning author Skyla Dawn Cameron has been writing approximately forever.
Her early storytelling days were spent acting out strange horror/fairy tales with the help of her many dolls, and little has changed except that she now keeps those stories on paper. She signed her first book contract at age twenty-one for River, a unique werewolf tale, which was released to critical and reader praise alike and won her the 2007 EPPIE Award for Best Fantasy. She now has multiple series on the go to keep her busy, which is great for her short attention span. She is also a proud Writer of Unlikable Female Characters™.

Skyla is a fifth generation crazy cat lady who lives in southern Ontario, where she writes full time, works as a freelance designer, stabs people with double pointed knitting needles, is an avid gamer, and watches Buffy reruns. If she ever becomes a grownup, she wants to run her own Irish pub, as well as become world dictator.
Visit Skyla’s site at www.skyladawncameron.com

Giveaway!
US/Can only

- DVD/Blu-Ray combo of Ginger Snaps
- River poster print
- River tote bag
- wolf charm bookmark
- River postcard
- wolf charm necklace
- Animal Speak pocket guide version by Ted Andrews

Just fill out the rafflecopter form below to enter:


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Thursday, August 28, 2014

Blog Tour: The Girl from the Well by Rin Chupeco


Standalone
272p.
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Published: 8/5/14
Source: NetGalley and Publisher for review
You may think me biased, being murdered myself. But my state of being has nothing to do with the curiosity toward my own species, if we can be called such. We do not go gentle, as your poet encourages, into that good night.

A dead girl walks the streets. 
She hunts murderers. Child killers, much like the man who threw her body down a well three hundred years ago. 
And when a strange boy bearing stranger tattoos moves into the neighborhood so, she discovers, does something else. And soon both will be drawn into the world of eerie doll rituals and dark Shinto exorcisms that will take them from American suburbia to the remote valleys and shrines of Aomori, Japan.
Because the boy has a terrifying secret - one that would just kill to get out.
My thoughts:
Total confession here: I really like dark books, but I'm a total wimp when it comes to horror. For some reason I can handle it better in books, but this one was very creepy and even made me want to read this book in the light.

I really enjoyed the different culture and mythology in this one. The ghosts in this story are like humans in terms of good and evil. They choose their nature as we do when we are alive. For the ghosts, however, their horror they extend toward others is shown on how they look to the outer world. Humans are able to hide their evil much better.

We get an unusual narrative within these pages. We follow Okiku the ghost from the well. The narrative can be odd at times since she is interested in the living but totally detached. In this way we also become interested in the characters of the book but do not become attached to them. This is deliberate and I liked how different it felt. Usually I have to have some sort of attachment to characters but because this was purposeful, I didn't have problems with it at all.

I give this horror book 4 stars. If you want something unusual and different do try this book. If you are a fan of horror movies like The Ring, then I think this book is for you.



Author Bio: Despite uncanny resemblances to Japanese revenants, Rin Chupeco has always maintained her sense of humor. Raised in Manila, Philippines, she keeps four pets: a dog, two birds, and a husband. She’s been a technical writer and travel blogger, but now makes things up for a living. The Girl from the Well is her debut novel. Connect with Rin atwww.rinchupeco.com.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Book Excerpt, Review and Giveaway: The Beautiful Ashes by Jeaniene Frost

the beautiful ashes
Title: The Beautiful Ashes
Author: Jeaniene Frost
Expected Publication: August 26th, 2014
   About The Beautiful Ashes  In a world of shadows, anything is possible. Except escaping your fate.  Ever since she was a child, Ivy has been gripped by visions of strange realms just beyond her own. But when her sister goes missing, Ivy discovers the truth is far worse—her hallucinations are real, and her sister is trapped in a parallel realm. And the one person who believes her is the dangerously attractive guy who's bound by an ancient legacy to betray her.  Adrian might have turned his back on those who raised him, but that doesn't mean he can change his fate…no matter how strong a pull he feels toward Ivy. Together they search for the powerful relic that can save her sister, but Adrian knows what Ivy doesn't: that every step brings Ivy closer to the truth about her own destiny, and a war that could doom the world. Sooner or later, it will be Ivy on one side and Adrian on the other. And nothing but ashes in between…
Buy Links Amazon | BN
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        About Jeaniene Frost: 
Jeaniene Frost is the New York Times, USA Today, and international
bestselling author of the Night Huntress series, the Night Prince series, and the upcoming Broken Destiny series. To date, foreign rights for her novels have sold to twenty different countries. Jeaniene lives in North Carolina with her husband Matthew, who long ago accepted that she rarely cooks and always sleeps in on the weekends. Aside from writing, Jeaniene enjoys reading, poetry, watching movies with her husband, exploring old cemeteries, spelunking and traveling – by car. Airplanes, children, and cook books frighten her.  For information on Jeaniene's books, reading the first 20% of each book free, book trailers, deleted scenes, creature mythology, and more, please visit: www.jeanienefrost.com
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Excerpt:   

A familiar song was playing, but I couldn’t remember the name. That bugged me enough to open my eyes. A wall of black met my gaze, slick and smooth like glass. I reached up to see what it was, and that’s when I realized my hands were tied.

“Silent Lucidity” by Queensryche, my mind supplied, followed immediately by, I’m in the backseat of a car. One that was well taken care of, going by that flawless, shiny roof. With those details filled in, I also remembered what had happened right before I’d passed out. And who I was with.

“Why are my hands tied?” I said, heaving myself into an upright position.

For some reason Adrian didn’t have a rear view mirror, which was why he had to glance over his shoulder to look at me.

“Does anything make you panic?” he asked, sounding amused. “You’re tied up in the backseat of a cop-killer’s car, but I’ve seen people get more upset when Starbucks runs out of pumpkin spice flavor.”
Anyone normal would panic, not that it would do any good. Besides, I ran out of “normal” a long time ago, when I realized I saw things no one else did.
Speaking of which, why wasn’t I in pain? The lump where Mrs. Paulson had whacked me was gone, and my shirt was red from blood, but aside from a mild kink in my neck, I felt fine. When I pushed my shirt up, somehow, I wasn’t surprised to see smooth, unbroken skin on my abdomen. Well, that and a bunch of crumbs, like I’d eaten a dessert too messily.

“Why does it look like I have angel food cake on my stomach?” I wondered aloud.
Adrian snorted. “Close. It’s medicine. You were injured.”

“You can tell me how I’m not anymore,” I said, holding out my bound hands, “after you untie me.”
Another backwards glance, this one challenging.

“You may be the calmest person I’ve ever been sent to retrieve, but if I tell you now what you want to know, that will change. So pick—the  truth, or being untied?”

“Truth,” I said instantly.

He let out a laugh. “Another first. You’re full of surprises.”

So was he. He’d just admitted that he regularly kidnapped people—which was how I translated “retrieve”—so I should be trying my damnedest to get free. But more than anything, I needed answers. Besides, I still wasn’t afraid of him, and somehow, that had nothing to do with him magically healing me.

“Truth, Adrian,” I repeated.

He turned once again and his gaze locked with mine, those odd blue eyes startling me with their intensity. For a moment, I could only stare, all thought frozen in my mind. I don’t know why I reached out, awkwardly touching his arm to feel the hard muscles beneath that bulky jacket. If I’d thought about it, I wouldn’t have done it. Yet I couldn’t make myself pull away.

Then I gasped when his hand covered mine. At some point, he’d taken off his gloves, and the feel of his warm, bare skin sent a shock wave through me. The touch seemed to affect Adrian, too. His lips parted and he edged over the back of the seats—

He yanked on the steering wheel, narrowly avoiding another car. A horn blared, and when the driver passed us, an extended middle finger shook angrily in our direction. I leaned back, my heart pounding from the near collision. At least, that’s what I told myself it was from.

Dyate,” Adrian muttered.

I didn’t recognize the word, and I was at a loss to place his accent. It had a musical cadence like Italian, but beneath that was a harsher, darker edge.

“What’s that language?” I asked, trying to mask the sudden shakiness in my voice.
This time, he didn’t take his eyes off the road. “Nothing you’ve heard of.”

“I picked truth, remember?” I said, holding up my bound hands for emphasis.

That earned me a quick glance. “That is the truth, but you don’t get more until you meet Zach. Then we can skip all the ‘this isn’t possible’ arguments.”

I let out a short laugh. “After what I saw on Detective Kroger’s face, my definition of ‘impossible’ has changed.”

Adrian swerved again, but this time, no other car was near.

“What did you see?”

I tensed. How did I explain without sounding insane? No way to, so I chose to go on the attack instead.
“Why were you in my hotel room? And how did you heal me? There isn’t even a mark—”
“What did you see on his face, Ivy?”

Despite his hard tone, when my name crossed his lips, something thrummed inside me, like he’d yanked on a tie I hadn’t known was there. Feeling it was as disturbing as my inexplicable reaction to his clasping my hands.

“Shadows,” I said quickly, to distract from that. “He had snakelike shadows all over his face.”
I expected Adrian to tell me I’d imagined it, a response I was used to hearing. Instead, he pulled over, putting the car in park but keeping the engine running. Then he turned to stare at me.

“Was that the only strange thing you saw?”

I swallowed. I knew better than to talk about these things. Still, I’d demanded the truth from Adrian. It didn’t seem fair to lie in return.

“I saw two versions of the same B and B earlier. One was pretty, but the other was old and rotted, and my sister was trapped inside it.”

Adrian said nothing, though he continued to pin me with that hard stare. When he finally spoke, his question was so bizarre I thought I’d misheard him.

“What do I look like to you?”
“Huh?”

“My appearance.” He drew out the words like I was slow. “Describe me.”

All of a sudden, he wanted compliments? I might have finally met someone crazier than me.

“This is ridiculous,” I muttered, but started with the obvious. “Six-six, early twenties, built like Thor, golden brown hair with blond highlights, silvery blue eyes…you want me to go on?”

He began to laugh, a deep, rich baritone that would’ve been sensual except for how angry it made me.
“Now I know why they came after you,” he said, still chuckling. “They must’ve realized you were different, but if they’d known what you could see, you never would’ve made it out of that B and B.”
“You can stop laughing,” I said sharply. “I get that it’s crazy to see the things I do.”

Lots of kids had imaginary friends growing up. I had imaginary places, though at first, I didn’t know I was the only one who could see them. Once my parents had realized that what I kept describing went far beyond childhood fancifulness, the endless doctor visits and tests began. One by one, diseases and psychoses had been crossed off until I was diagnosed with a non-monoamine-cholinergic imbalance in my temporal cortex.

In other words, I saw shit that wasn’t there for reasons no one could figure out. The pills I took helped a little, though I lied and said they got rid of all my hallucinations. I was sick of doctors poking at me. So whenever I saw something that no one else did, I forced myself to ignore it—until Mrs. Paulson and Detective Kroger had tried to kill me, of course.

Adrian did stop laughing, and that unblinking intensity was back in his gaze.

“Well, Ivy, I’ve got good news and bad news. The good news is, you’re not crazy. The bad news is, everything you’ve seen is real, and now, it’ll be coming for you.”

Review:
My thoughts:
I know that a lot of readers have mixed feelings about angel books, but if that is what is keeping you away from reading this book, then I think you will miss some fun. While there are angels and demons, Jeaniene Frost creates her world based on the Judeo-Christian mythology but at the same time makes this world her own. I love it when authors do that because I like the creativity involved.

While I really enjoyed this tale, I did have some minor problems with how the main characters interacted. In one way I felt that Ivy was way too trusting to Adrian and by the time I felt he earned her trust, she denied it to him. That was quite frustrating to say the lest but yet it was a minor quibble in the book as a whole. Otherwise I did enjoy that both could kick arse (Ivy better later in the book which makes sense) and that both were smart characters. I also enjoyed the secondary characters they meet up with later. Gave some comic relief which was needed in the dark story.

I don't want to give away too much about the story, but I did enjoy this new adult novel. I give it 4 stars and recommend it to those that enjoy UF/PNR. 

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Monday, August 25, 2014

I Want it That Way by Ann Aguirre

Series: 2B Trilogy #1
352p.
Publisher: Harlequin
Published: 8/26/14
Source: From NetGalley and Publisher for review
Nadia Conrad has big dreams, and she's determined to make them come true—for her parents' sake as well as her own. But between maintaining her college scholarship and working at the local day care to support herself, she barely has time to think, let alone date. Then she moves into a new apartment and meets the taciturn yet irresistible guy in 1B….

Daniel Tyler has grown up too fast. Becoming a single dad at twenty turned his life upside down—and brought him heartache he can't risk again. Now, as he raises his four-year-old son while balancing a full-time construction management job and night classes, a social life is out of the question. The last thing he wants is for four noisy students to move into the apartment upstairs. But one night, Nadia's and Ty's paths cross, and soon they can't stay away from each other.

The timing is all wrong—but love happens when it happens. And you can't know what you truly need until you stand to lose it.
My thoughts:
 I did like the set up for the romance in this book. It starts when Nadia moves into the same complex as Daniel (Ty). The tension and mystery of Ty make for a good start but I had problems with Ty as the story moved forward. However, before you think it is a complaint... I feel that the problems I had with him were intentional so that you are set up for feeling that the ending was more poignant.

My problems with the couple stem from Ty wanting to do what is right for his son in a self-less way but his good intentions lead to him acting completely selfishly. That actually ticked me off for most of the book but I wanted to see how things worked out. Nadia also upset me my accepting something less than she should. I knew that both were heading for some personal growth so I had to know how it would turn out. It was worth the wait. :)

I give this book 3 1/2 stars. I really enjoyed the ending and how everything and everyone came together. I am looking forward to seeing which couple we get next in the trilogy.

Sunday, August 24, 2014