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.

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

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

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:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Blog Tour: The Girl from the Well by Rin Chupeco

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

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
        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:

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?”

“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.”

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. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, August 25, 2014

I Want it That Way by Ann Aguirre

Series: 2B Trilogy #1
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.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Audiobook Review: Alias Hook by Lisa Jensen

Standalone/ Unabridged
Narrator: Ralph Lister
13 hrs. 43min.
Publisher: Blackstone Audio
Available Now (2014)
Source: Audiobook Jukebox for review
Every child knows how the story ends. The wicked pirate captain is flung overboard, caught in the jaws of the monster crocodile who drags him down to a watery grave. But it was not yet my time to die. It s my fate to be trapped here forever, in a nightmare of childhood fancy, with that infernal, eternal boy. 
Meet Captain James Benjamin Hook, a witty, educated Restoration-era privateer cursed to play villain to a pack of malicious little boys in a pointless war that never ends. But everything changes when Stella Parrish, a forbidden grown woman, dreams her way to the Neverland in defiance of Pan s rules. From the glamour of the Fairy Revels to the secret ceremonies of the First Tribes to the mysterious underwater temple beneath the Mermaid Lagoon, the magical forces of the Neverland open up for Stella as they never have for Hook. And in the pirate captain himself, she begins to see someone far more complex than the storybook villain. 
With Stella s knowledge of folk and fairy tales, she might be Hook s last chance for redemption and release if they can break his curse before Pan and his warrior boys hunt her down and drag Hook back to their never-ending game.
My thoughts:
I love retellings and I've been enjoying the Peter Pan retellings I have come across. So when I saw Alias Hook, I knew I needed to get this book. When it was available on audio, I jumped at the chance to review it.

Ralph Lister is the narrator of this tale. I really enjoyed his English accent which was perfect for hook. I always have problems with men voicing women or even children in an audiobook. I did here at first as well, but by the middle of the book I had no problems at all. This book was mainly about Hook so most of the thoughts and dialog was his. The only problem I had was when he voiced the Native Americans in the story. It was like those parodies in old movies and in the Disney version of Pan with the halting speech. I don't fault Mr. Lister for this problem because I do think it was written this way. It may not bother other people as it does me, however.

At the beginning of the story we would move a bit in the "present" and then have reminisces of Hook's early years when he was a boy and a young man. I did like this and I didn't. I liked to know more about this character but I knew the meat of the story lie with Stella who has just appeared in the Never. I so wanted to get on with that part of the story but I also knew that his early years sets our character up for his ultimate adventure. The adventure is about growth and Hook finds that just being an adult doesn't make him grown up. Being an adult is much more than age.

Stella, Hooks counterpoint, was also a great character. She was intelligent and brave. She, in fact, seemed miles ahead of Hook in terms of being grown up. It is her guidance that allows Hook to finally have an honest look at himself and how he, in fact, keeps playing victim to Pan's game.

I give this book 3 1/2 stars. I really enjoyed this book on audio and would love to listen to more by this narrator and read/listen to more by this author. I recommend the book to those that like a bit of historical fiction, retelling of Peter Pan, and growing up without losing your silliness.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Bound by Night by Larissa Ione

Series: MoonBound Clan Vampire #1
Publisher: Pocket Books
Available Now
Source: Publisher for review
Nicole Martin was only eight years old when the vampire slaves rose up in rebellion and killed her family. Now she devotes her life to finding a vaccine against vampirism, hoping to wipe out her memories—along with every bloodsucker on the planet. But there’s one thing she cannot destroy: her searing, undeniable attraction for the one man she should hate and fear the most... 
A member of the renegade vampire MoonBound Clan, Riker is haunted by demons of his own. When he recognizes Nicole and remembers how her family enslaved his loved ones, his heart burns for vengeance. But when he kidnaps Nicole and holds her in a secret lair, his mortal enemy becomes his soul obsession, his greatest temptation, and, perhaps, his only salvation—a hot-blooded lover who could heal him with her touch... or bury him forever.
My thoughts:
If you have been burnt out by vampire PNR but still want to see if there is something good out there, then I suggest trying this book. I haven't been too burnt out, but still haven't gravitated toward these kinds of stories lately. Still, I wanted to try this one since I was thinking about reading a PNR.

I tend to like my PNR mixed with UF. This one has lots of action and more importantly, especially for a PNR, has lots of great character development. This does have somewhat insta-attraction between our 2 lead characters, but not insta-love. The attraction made them stop and question things that they had always believed, but the work toward love lay ahead of them both. Nicole and Riker had to change before they could truly come together. There is frustration and lots of romantic tension, but it doesn't overwhelm the storyline as sometimes happens. So I have to say I did enjoy the romance in this story. I also like that it took us time to really get to know these characters. Also, there are some great side characters. I can't wait to read all their stories.

I give this book 4 1/2 stars. I enjoyed not only the characters but the worldbuilding within this storyline. I recommend it to those that enjoy PNR and those wanting to try vampires once again.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Blog Tour: The Ultra Thin Man by Patrick Swenson

The Secrets of The Ultra Thin Man
by Patrick Swenson

Plot spoilers? Nope. When I talk about secrets in this case, I’m talking about references within the book that have no bearing on the plot. Mini allusions, if you will. I love allusions. Readers bring a certain amount of knowledge with them when they read. I liken it to being equipped with a little satellite dish on the top of your head. If you’re knowledgeable enough, you catch the allusion with your dish and you smile appreciatively, your reading experience cranked up a notch. If you aren’t knowledgeable about a certain topic, the allusion goes right over your head. No harm, no foul. 

The references in The Ultra Thin Man are fun, and often specific to me and mine. They’ll go unnoticed to 98% of readers. Fans of Books and Things will have the scoop on some of my favorites in the book. 

Technology. In the first chapter I describe the “electromagnetic niche-holo tracker,” a device that allows its owner to track down someone in the immediate vicinity and project a message directly into the visual cortex. It’s called an ENT for short. The Lord of the Rings, right? A friend of mine believed all her friends needed to have Ent names, with some tree element being a part of a first name. So mine is Patree. Patrick. Tree. Get it? Actually, it’s not often the word tree that gets added; it’s usually something associated with one. Can you guess the real names of these two Ent names? Leafsha. Toemoss. My friend’s Ent name is buried in the text on that first page, and that’s all I can say about that one. 

Talebones. In 1995, I started publishing and editing a science fiction and fantasy magazine called Talebones. In 2009, I closed it down to spend more time writing. While a specific nod to the magazine doesn’t appear in The Ultra Thin Man, some other creative endeavor of a periodic nature relates to it, and before the novel ends, you’ll know how many issues my magazine ran before folding. Besides the parallel periodical, the structure of the novel itself will give you that number. (Why else would I add an Epilogue instead of a last chapter?)

Dadisms. One year for my dad’s birthday, my siblings and I got together and came up with every “dad-ism” we could think of and made a T-shirt full of them. My dad had all these sayings about life, food, money—you name it. “You don’t plant corn and get potatoes.” “Daylight in the swamp!” “Here’s your hat, what’s your hurry?” “Take all you want but eat all you take.” His most famous one ended up on the back of the T-shirt by itself, and it’s in the novel. Will you be able to spot it? (Hint: try the Epilogue.)

Names. Writers do this all the time, burying names of friends and family into their fiction. When you put a full name (sometimes you’ve been asked to do this, or you’ve run a contest), it’s called a “Tuckerization.” The name comes from science fiction writer Wilson Tucker, who loved to put his friends’ names for minor characters in his stories. Some friends ask to have their character appear in a book so that they can be killed by the author in some way! The Ultra Thin Man has no full names, but lots of last names. Some first names too. I’ve been a teacher for almost thirty years, and let me tell you, I’ve seen a lot of students. It’s a huge resource for character names. I do put names from good friends in there too. In the first chapter, three such names appear. My son’s name is in the novel, but it’s not a name of a person. You’ll get that one by simply looking at the book’s dedication, and then you’ll spot it in the actual novel soon enough. 

Life. I’ve lived one. I have a past. Like most writers, at times, I do write about what I know. So as you go through the novel, remember: I grew up in Montana. I lived on a lake during the summers. I was an avid skier. I live in the Seattle area. I used to work at a hotel in the summers as a bell boy and shuttle driver.  I teach Advanced Placement British Literature. I teach Journalism. 

I’m betting I’ve hidden other secrets in the pages of The Ultra Thin Man. I’ve just forgotten where I put them. Maybe I need to read the book yet again. I’ve got my satellite dish ready. 

Publisher: Tor Books
Published 8/12/14
In the twenty-second century, a future in which mortaline wire controls the weather on the settled planets and entire refugee camps drowse in drug-induced slumber, no one—alive or dead, human or alien—is quite what they seem. When terrorists manage to crash Coral, the moon, into its home planet of Ribon, forcing evacuation, it’s up to Dave Crowell and Alan Brindos, contract detectives for the Network Intelligence Organization, to solve a case of interplanetary consequences. Crowell’s and Brindos’s investigation plunges them neck-deep into a conspiracy much more dangerous than anything they could have imagined. 
The two detectives soon find themselves separated, chasing opposite leads: Brindos has to hunt down the massive Helk alien Terl Plenko, shadow leader of the terrorist Movement of Worlds. Crowell, meanwhile, runs into something far more sinister—an elaborate frame job that puts our heroes on the hook for treason. 
Crowell and Brindos are forced to fight through the intrigue to discover the depths of an interstellar conspiracy. And to answer the all-important question: Who, and what, is the Ultra Thin Man?
Author Bio (from Patrick Swenson's website):
Patrick Swenson’s first novel The Ultra Thin Man is forthcoming from Tor in 2014. He edited the small press magazine Talebones magazine for 14 years, and still runs Fairwood Press, a book line, which began in 2000. A graduate of Clarion West, he has sold stories to the anthology Like Water for Quarks, and magazines such as Marion Zimmer Bradley’s Fantasy Magazine, Figment, and others. He runs the Rainforest Writers Village retreat every spring at Lake Quinault, Washington. Patrick, a high school teacher for 28 years, has a Masters Degree in Education, teaches in Auburn, Washington, and lives in Bonney Lake, Washington with his twelve-year-old son Orion.

Bloggy Note:
Thanks for coming on the blog, Patrick! I love getting the scoop on things! :)

I'm still running the giveaway for this book, The Ultra Thin Man, and Echopraxia for a couple of more days. Either go HERE to go to the post or fill out the rafflecopter form below: US/Can only

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Product Review: Influenster Vitality VoxBox

I thought I'd try the Influenster program. I got my first box and this is what came in it:
What was in it?

While this may not have been the best choice for me to get, you are not given a list of what is in the box until you get picked. Otherwise I would have probably not chosen most of the box. I have a lot of allergies and the Elizabeth Arden product immediately gave me a headache. I have never understood why products like that have fragrance. If you can do fragrance, doesn't it interfere with a perfume you chose to wear? I don't recommend this product to those that are sensitive to fragrances. I cannot tell you if the product worked for what it was intended because unfortunately I couldn't get near it.

I gave the Pure Leaf tea to my dad who loves the stuff and he really enjoyed it. To quote him he said: "It's pretty good." I guess you don't need to know much else. He is a tea drinker and doesn't always like the sweetened tea, so this is high praise.

The Bikini Ready gummies didn't seem like a bad product. I'm not a fan of fad diets and for the most part the ingredients didn't seem too bad. It had B12, black carrot, citric acid, and coconut oil. It did have sugar in it and caffeine. So, this was probably more for energy and exercise. I caution people to not eat too many of these because of the caffeine ingredient. You could end up with some of the same problems that other energy drinks are having.

The First Degree burn cream looks promising but no one I know was having a burn at the moment. It looks like a good product for minor burns. My mom stole the Softlips cube and thought it really helped her lips feel refreshed and smooth. She really liked the product.

It was a great box, but I'm thinking that Influenster products are generally not for me. I was thinking I was going to be given more of the pet products so I didn't think about having a lot of products that I couldn't personally use. This program is great, however, to those that don't have the sensitivities and allergies that I have.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Mini Review: In Still Darkness by Dianne Duvall

Series: Immortal Guardians #3.5
Available Now
Source: NetGalley for review
Originally published in "Predatory" 
"In Dianne Duvall s world of Immortal Guardians, the stakes for mortals are high, but the cost especially to the heart might be higher " 
It s not the first time Immortal Guardian Richart d Alencon has saved a human life from eternal damnation. Usually, he moves on, a nameless savior like a ghost in the night. But this time he can t seem to forget the woman who rewarded him with a sensuous kiss after he rescued her from a trio of vampires. While Richart knows that loving a human can only bring trouble, the taste of forbidden lust is too great to resist 
Jenna never imagined she d end up a single mom working overtime to put her son through school. But she might have daydreamed once that a devastatingly gorgeous Frenchman would sweep her off her feet. Now that a package of tall, dark, and handsome seems intent on doing just that, doctors are telling her she may not have long to live. But Richart is telling her just the opposite. All she has to do is abandon her humanity
My thoughts:
I reviewed this one already when I reviewed Predatory so I thought I'd do a short review.

If you love the Immortal Guardian's series, this is a novella you shouldn't miss. You can also read it if you haven't read the others. It is the sweet story of Richart and Jenna. It is short and sweet and you immediately root for both characters. I love how much she packed into one little novella. I give it 4 stars and I recommend it to anyone looking for a good PNR.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

The House of the Four Winds by Mercedes Lackey and James Mallory

Series: One Dozen Daughters #1
Publisher: Tor Books
Published: 8/5/14
Source: From publisher for review
The rulers of tiny, impoverished Swansgaard have twelve daughters and one son. While the prince’s future is assured, his twelve sisters must find their own fortunes. 
Disguising herself as Clarence, a sailor, Princess Clarice intends to work her way to the New World. When the crew rebels, Clarice/Clarence, an expert with rapier and dagger, sides with the handsome navigator, Dominick, and kills the cruel captain. 
Dominick leads the now-outlawed crew in search of treasure in the secret pirate haven known as The House of Four Winds. They encounter the sorceress Shamal, who claims Dominick for her own—but Clarice has fallen hard for Dominick and won’t give him up without a fight.

Full of swashbuckling adventure, buoyant magic, and irrepressible charm,The House of the Four Winds is a lighthearted fantasy romp by a pair of bestselling writers.
My thoughts:
 The book starts out where I think they all will, at Swansgaard. A king has too many daughters and not enough in the coffers for dowries. However, they are a progressive household and teach their daughters as if they were men. Knowledge in what they might need to rule one day and the ability to go into a chosen trade. This is the first story of the oldest who sets out to make her mark as a swordsmaster (or mistress) but needs adventure and worldly experience to make her true mark on the world.

I loved the way this started out. I enjoyed seeing women being able to be the equal of men and an ability to pursue it. Clarice isn't a fool either and I enjoyed seeing a woman able to take care of herself and not be cheated along the way. She did disguise herself as a man to gain passage and safety since even in this world men respected men more than women. There is magic for those that can afford spells and Clarice is apt at identifying spelled objects. This serves her well in the coming voyage.

My biggest complaints about the story is that the romance isn't fully fleshed out. In fact it happens rather quickly and as a side note. Granted you see Clarice fall in increments for Dominick, but for his part he falls for her as soon as he knows that she really isn't a Clarence. It just didn't feel romantic. I also feel that Clarice seemed to be a bit demoted in her abilities once her gender is revealed. I expected it from the crew, but she also seemed to personify someone a bit more meek in the end. It isn't obvious, so it may not bug others as it did me. Still, it really ended being a small niggle since it happened at the very end.

I give this book 3 1/2 stars. While not without it's flaws I still had a fun time on the adventure with Clarice. I love the cover and I really want to read about all 12 daughters. I recommend this book to those that enjoy fantasy, swashbuckling with a bit of magic thrown in. :)

Bloggy note:
I'm also over at Melissa My World in Words and Pages for her blogoversary celebration. Check out my post HERE about some of my fave UF books I've read in the past year and also check out the various posts and prizes!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Giveaway of 2 Sci-fi Books: The Ultra Thin Man and Echopraxia

Tor has allowed me to giveaway 2 books! Anyone wanting to try Scifi or loves it needs to enter this giveaway!
The first book will be reviewed later by AimeeKay. So don't forget to check back when that goes live. :)

Here are the books:
The Ultra Thin Man
by Patrick Swenson
336 p.
In the twenty-second century, a future in which mortaline wire controls the weather on the settled planets and entire refugee camps drowse in drug-induced slumber, no one—alive or dead, human or alien—is quite what they seem. When terrorists manage to crash Coral, the moon, into its home planet of Ribon, forcing evacuation, it’s up to Dave Crowell and Alan Brindos, contract detectives for the Network Intelligence Organization, to solve a case of interplanetary consequences. Crowell’s and Brindos’s investigation plunges them neck-deep into a conspiracy much more dangerous than anything they could have imagined. 
The two detectives soon find themselves separated, chasing opposite leads: Brindos has to hunt down the massive Helk alien Terl Plenko, shadow leader of the terrorist Movement of Worlds. Crowell, meanwhile, runs into something far more sinister—an elaborate frame job that puts our heroes on the hook for treason. 
Crowell and Brindos are forced to fight through the intrigue to discover the depths of an interstellar conspiracy. And to answer the all-important question: Who, and what, is the Ultra Thin Man?

by Peter Watts
Series: Blindsight
384 p.
Prepare for a different kind of singularity in this follow-up to the Hugo-nominated novel Blindsight

It's the eve of the twenty-second century: a world where the dearly departed send postcards back from Heaven and evangelicals make scientific breakthroughs by speaking in tongues; where genetically engineered vampires solve problems intractable to baseline humans and soldiers come with zombie switches that shut off self-awareness during combat. And it’s all under surveillance by an alien presence that refuses to show itself.
Daniel Bruks is a living fossil: a field biologist in a world where biology has turned computational, a cat's-paw used by terrorists to kill thousands. Taking refuge in the Oregon desert, he’s turned his back on a humanity that shatters into strange new subspecies with every heartbeat. But he awakens one night to find himself at the center of a storm that will turn all of history inside-out.

Now he’s trapped on a ship bound for the center of the solar system. To his left is a grief-stricken soldier, obsessed by whispered messages from a dead son. To his right is a pilot who hasn’t yet found the man she's sworn to kill on sight. A vampire and its entourage of zombie bodyguards lurk in the shadows behind. And dead ahead, a handful of rapture-stricken monks takes them all to a meeting with something they will only call “The Angels of the Asteroids.”

Their pilgrimage brings Dan Bruks, the fossil man, face-to-face with the biggest evolutionary breakpoint since the origin of thought itself.
To enter just fill out the rafflecopter form below. The giveaway is open to US and Canada snail mail addys. Good luck!

Monday, August 11, 2014

Dark Skye by Kresley Cole

Series: Immortals After Dark #14
Publisher: Gallery Books
Available Now
Source: From publisher for review
Eternal Obsession...

As a boy, Thronos, Lord of Skye Hall, loved Lanthe, a mischievous Sorceri girl who made him question everything about his Vrekener clan. But when the two got caught in the middle of their families’ war, tragedy struck, leaving Thronos and Lanthe bitter enemies. Though centuries have passed, nothing can cool his seething need for the beautiful enchantress who scarred his body - and left an even deeper impression on his soul. 
Endless Yearning...

Lanthe, a once-formidable sorceress struggling to reclaim her gifts, searches for love and acceptance with all the wrong immortal suitors. But she’s never forgotten Thronos, the magnificent silver-eyed boy who protected her until she was ripped from the shelter of his arms. One harrowing night changed everything between them. Now he’s a notorious warlord with a blood vendetta against Lanthe, hunting her relentlessly. 
Can the heat of desire burn brighter than vengeance?

With their families locked in conflict and battles raging all around them, will Thronos and Lanthe succumb to the brutal chaos that threatens everything they cherish? Or will the fragile bond they formed so long ago spark a passion strong enough to withstand even the darkest doubts?
My thoughts:
I have read a few in this series and I have enjoyed those that I read. You can read them as a standalone as the main couple take the lead in the story. There is a story arc running through the series but you don't feel like you have no clue as to what is going on. The information is laid out so you don't feel lost. So if you want to try a book in the series, jump in. Don't be afraid. :)

I have to admit at the beginning I wasn't sure if I would end up liking Thronos. He was self-righteous and misogynistic. His world was black and white and he wanted Lanthe to change her ways to fit in this world. That alone would have made me go running but tragedies on both sides also added to their list of wrongdoings which led them to believe the other was enemy.

While both go through transformations the biggest was Thronos. I have no doubt you will feel as I did that he transforms himself into a swoon-worthy male. Lanthe is no slouch in the characterization area as I really did like her character. She knew when to compromise and more importantly, in this case, when not to compromise. She refused to be slut-shamed and gave as good as she got. She also was intelligent and brave. She learns to have more faith in herself. She also learned to trust.

I give this book 4 1/2 stars. I really enjoyed my time with this couple and actually wished the book was much longer. If you enjoy PNR I do suggest this series and especially this book. I do plan on going back to the first book and enjoy them all.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Cancel the Wedding: A Novel by Carolyn Dingman

Publisher: Harper Paperbacks
Published: 8/5/14
Source: From publisher for review
On the surface, Olivia has it all: a high-powered career, a loving family, and a handsome fiancé. She even seems to be coming to terms with her mother Jane’s premature death from cancer. But when Jane’s final wish is revealed, Olivia and her elder sister Georgia are mystified. Their mother rarely spoke of her rural Southern hometown, and never went back to visit—so why does she want them to return to Huntley, Georgia, to scatter her ashes? 
Jane’s request offers Olivia a temporary escape from the reality she’s long been denying: she hates her “dream” job, and she’s not really sure she wants to marry her groom-to-be. With her 14-year-old niece, Logan, riding shotgun, she heads South on a summer road trip looking for answers about her mother. 
As Olivia gets to know the town’s inhabitants, she begins to peel back the secrets of her mother’s early life—truths that force her to finally question her own future. But when Olivia is confronted with a tragedy and finds an opportunity to right a terrible wrong, will it give her the courage to accept her mother’s past—and say yes to her own desire to start over?
My thoughts:
This is a mystery book that does not solve a murder but solves the questions they always had of their mother's childhood and life before she met their father. When upon her death she asks them to scatter her ashes on a lake near her hometown and on a burial plot of an unknown person questions of Jane's life (the mother) arise. Olivia is escaping her life of marrying a person she is no longer in love and decides on the spot to investigate her mother's life. Her onery but lovable niece decides to also go along for a ride. While there she discovers more about her mother than she thought possible and also starts to find herself.

I don't want to give too much away but there is also romance within the pages. One that seems to be quick, but also makes sense. The mystery is engaging and you want to know as much as all the players. You enjoy peeling back layers of this woman's life.

I give this book 4 stars. It is a book of self-discovery through another woman's past. It is a great summer read and I recommend it to those that enjoy a different kind of mystery (with no murder), romance, and personal growth.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Audio Review:Sixth Grave on the Edge by Darynda Jones

Series: Charley Davidson #6
Narrator: Lorelei King
9 hrs. 46 min
Publisher: Macmillan Audio
Source: tbr pile
Sometimes I wrestle my demons. Sometimes we just snuggle. (Bumper Sticker) 
Most girls might think twice before getting engaged to someone like Reyes Farrow - but Charley Davidson is not most girls. She's a paranormal private eye and grim-reaper-in-training who's known to be a bit of a hell-raiser, especially after a few shots of caffeine. Her beloved Reyes may be the only begotten son of evil, but he's dark and sultry and deeply sexy and everything Charley could hope for. Really. But when the FBI file on Reyes' childhood happens to land into her lap, she can't help herself: She opens it...and then the real fun begins. First, Charley finds a naked corpse riding shotgun in her car. Then, a man loses his soul in a card game. Throw in a deaf boy who sees dead people, a woman running from mobsters, and a very suspicious Reyes, and things can't get any worse for Charley. Unless, of course, the 12 Beasts of Hell are unleashed...
My thoughts:
Okay this is the 6th book and I've listened to all of them on audio. I love this series and hope to continue all of them in the same manner. Oh who am I kidding? I will do them all on audio as long as Lorelei King does the narration. :)

In this book we are presented with several different small mysteries. Some of them are finished by the time the story ends and some of them are just sort of left hanging. Some are part of the secondary story arcs now presenting its way into the series. Sometimes you wonder if the author is biting off more than the story can reasonably hold, but at the same time I enjoy myself in one of these stories I don't really care. Plus I love the humor and all the characters. I'm curious as to where the new bad/good guy fits into all of this.

Since I'm a bit late to the party (couldn't get to the book until now) the one thing I kept hearing about was "OMG! The ending!" I admit I was nearing the ending and wondering what everyone was talking about. Seemed like a normal ending to me. Nothing unusual here. Until...

OMG! The Ending! O.o

Okay, someone get me that next book (on audio... Ms. King... get on that will ya?). I gotta know more!

I give this story 4 stars. It is a bit looser than the other books in the series but loses none of the humor or entertainment value. Plus, as I've said repeatedly in my other reviews of this series you need to try it on audio. You won't regret it. Oh and the only spoiler I'll give you: spork. Seriously I would be a spork why would anyone ask why? The answer is so obvious! ;)

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Book Trailer Reveal: The Girl from the Well

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.

I will have a review and giveaway of this book later in the month. In the meantime enjoy the new book trailer!

Monday, August 4, 2014

Mortal Danger by Ann Aguirre

Series: Immortal Game #1
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Published: 8/5/14
Source: NetGalley and publisher for review
Revenge is a dish best served cold. 
Edie Kramer has a score to settle with the beautiful people at Blackbriar Academy. Their cruelty drove her to the brink of despair, and four months ago, she couldn't imagine being strong enough to face her senior year. But thanks to a Faustian compact with the enigmatic Kian, she has the power to make the bullies pay. She's not supposed to think about Kian once the deal is done, but devastating pain burns behind his unearthly beauty, and he's impossible to forget. 
In one short summer, her entire life changes, and she sweeps through Blackbriar, prepped to take the beautiful people down from the inside. A whisper here, a look there, and suddenly... bad things are happening. It's a heady rush, seeing her tormentors get what they deserve, but things that seem too good to be true usually are, and soon, the pranks and payback turns from delicious to deadly. Edie is alone in a world teeming with secrets and fiends lurking in the shadows. In this murky morass of devil's bargains, she isn't sure who—or what--she can trust. Not even her own mind...
My thoughts:
The story starts off with a girl thinking about suicide. In fact she is just about to do it when Kian comes into her life and gives her the opportunity to change things. While I like the opening concept, I did have some problems with the beginning of the story. Although I did like Edie her main goal is to make the mean kids at school pay. Now this is perhaps just me, but I detest mean girl (or guy) stories. I hate it when the victim becomes the perpetrator. What saved this part for me is that Edie couldn't truly commit to the mean girl part and found herself having sympathy for her tormentors. Still, it isn't a story I would have wanted to read.

So then the second half of the book happened...

Wow. This part was creepy and read like a horror story. I became more invested into the story and wanted desperately for Edie to find the perfect solution out of her mess. Not sure who we are dealing with so not sure how it could have played out differently. I really enjoyed Edie in this part of the story even though I thought she was still too liberal with her wishes. I think she should have searched for more information on who is playing this "game" and what that "game" entails. She may not have gotten her answers, but I would have liked a bit more of a quest for those specific answers. She does seem like a smart girl, so I have no doubt she will gain those answers eventually.

I give this book 3 1/2 stars. While I was not a fan of the first half of the book, I still found myself engaged. I was a fan of the second half of the book. The twisty world these people inhabit make for one wild ride. I do need that next book to see how or if Edie can beat the game.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Blog Tour Review and Giveaway: Pieces of Love by P.J. Sharon


Pieces of Love by PJ Sharon

Release Date: June 21, 2014
Page Count: 289
Age Recommendation: 13+

 Sixteen year-old Alexis Hartman wants nothing more than to play her guitar and get high, hoping to escape the pain of losing her sister. But when her second arrest for pot possession leads to her mother’s breakdown, Lexi is sent to stay with her grandmother for the summer. While embarking on a Mediterranean cruise hardly sounds like punishment, being forced to face her demons and falling for a guy she may never see again gives Lexi a chance to discover what it means to love someone—even when you have to let them go.

2013 RWA conference pic  Author Bio: PJ Sharon is the award winning author of contemporary young adult novels, including PIECES of LOVE, HEAVEN IS FOR HEROES, ON THIN ICE, and SAVAGE CINDERELLA, winner of the 2013 HOLT Medallion Award and the 2013 National Excellence in Romance Fiction Award. She is excitedly working on The Chronicles of Lily Carmichael, a YA Dystopian trilogy. WANING MOON, Book One in the trilogy, was a finalist in both the 2013 National Excellence in Romance Fiction Award, Colorado Romance Writers Award of Excellence, and a HOLT Medallion Award of Merit recipient. Book Two, Western Desert released in June of 2013. Watch for Book Three in the fall of 2014. Writing young adult fiction since 2007 and following her destiny to write romantic and hopeful stories for teens, PJ is a member of Romance Writers of America, CTRWA, and YARWA. She is mother to two grown sons and lives with her husband in the Berkshire Hills of Western MA.

AimeeKay Review:

I have to say that I'm not a fan of contemporary YA, especially with romance thrown in. But I fell in love with Pieces of Love. Probably because it's about love, but not just romantic love. The story doesn't just revolve around Lexi and Ethan. Yes, their romance is an important part of the story, but so is the love that Lexi has for her family, as well as the love she learns to have for life and for herself. Don't get me wrong, there is definitely some insta-love going on between them, but it's not that love at first sight that has no explanation. The author really gets it right, the way teenagers can fall hard and fast for each other, I know I've been there. She also uses Lexis grandma to call her characters out on it. I do, however, think she gives Lexi and Ethan a lot more self control than normal teenagers. Again, I was a teenager once too! LOL

I also really got attached to the characters. Lexi is heartbreaking at the beginning of the story, but she really grows up as the story progresses. She's not perfect and even by the end she still isn't, but the author wrote her in such a way that I just wanted to take her out of the book and hold her and tell her it's ok to be human. Ethan is almost too good to be true. He has way more self control than most young men his age, but he's also very sweet, so I can't hold it against him. He's just the perfect guy for Lexi. I also love Maddie. She gives Lexi just the right kind of tough love that she needs, while at the same time showing her the perspective on life that age brings.

This is a great book for teens and adults. Teens can relate to Lexi and the struggles she is going through. While adults can appreciate the wisdom that Maddie has to share. I wasn't expecting the ending, but I will say that it was nice to have a book with a solid ending that while it didn't make everything perfect it made it happy and real. If you're looking for a great feel good beach read definitely pick this one up. If you have someone you know who could benefit from some positive reading this will work too. While there are some hot and heavy parts, and some adult storylines, there isn't anything overly graphic. I'd definitely encourage my teens to read it. Maybe it could get across some life lessons I've been trying to share with them. This book definitely gets 5 out of 5 stars from me.


Beach Bag & Swag (US)