A Note:

6/2/13

I once told myself: IF I am accepted into grad school, this blog would no longer be updated. As it turns out, in April, I received news of my acceptance for the Fall 2013 semester, where I will attain a Master's degree of Science in Nutrition.

Running a blog, as many of you may already know, is a demanding side job once the excitement wears off. And once I fell out of the blogging community's loop (have you SEEN how many blogs there are now? Wow!), it was like the kiss of death. Despite my best efforts, I couldn't get into a blogging routine once this happened due to the disconnect I felt from the community.

So I took a break. I struggled with the loss and with missing my blog. And then I realized I didn't have to run Book Faery to still be a book reviewer; I could read my books and post reviews online. I'm still a book review blogger, just not in the traditional sense.

I'll still be online. You can chat with me on Twitter, where I'll be posting links to my reviews and talking books. I'll also be posting links to nutrition articles.

https://twitter.com/Book_Faery

And if you'd like to connect with me where I guarantee I will post reviews, just add me as a friend on Goodreads.

http://www.goodreads.com/user/show/3322973-tori-book-faery

So that's all, folks! It's been a fun and amazing journey, and I thank you all for listening to my thoughts about books. I hope we all can keep in touch elsewhere :)

xoxo
Tori

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Win a copy of A Safe Harbor by Moira Rogers!


Win a copy of A Safe Harbor by Moira Rogers!
Check out my review here.


A Safe HarborFind out how it all began...
During the bite of the Great Depression, sole female dominant Joan Fuller struggles against the rise of cruelty among her alpha counterparts. The men tolerate her interference--until she breaks from the pack and allies with a witch and a vampire. Now the Boston alpha intends to bring them all forcibly back into the fold--and teach her a lesson she may not survive.
 

Seamus Whelan and his werewolf bootleggers intend to retire from smuggling and savor their fortune, but first they must do a favor for an old friend: escort some female wolves to safety. An easy job, if their leader wasn't a prim ex-debutante with enough power to challenge Seamus himself. Chance makes them allies; powerful need makes them lovers.
 

Together, they have the opportunity to build a sanctuary for their kind, but first they must free themselves from Joan's past, and the powerful man who would see her destroyed.

 

This contest is now CLOSED

This contest is a part of Moira Rogers' & Vivian Arend's Fall Frenzy Event. For your chance to win books, gift certificates, ereaders and more, visit http://www.moirarogers.com/contests/

Hush, Hush & Crescendo Giveaway Winners!

Photobucket


Sorry that this post is so delayed!  It's been one of those weeks with all the college work.  I won't keep you all long, though.

I've drawn our two winners who will receive a copy of both HUSH, HUSH and CRESCENDO by Becca Fitzpatrick.  There were a lot of comments and entries, and I'm so sorry that I couldn't pick more winners :(  At least you won't have a long wait for CRESCENDO.


For those of you who didn't win: I will be doing a giveaway of HALO next week-ish.  Stay tuned!




Winner 1:
Asenath (arallison@...)

Winner 2:
Jolene A & Family (june111@...)

Congratulations!!  Please email me within 72 hours with your name and shipping address.  If you don't contact me by then, you give up your prizes and I pick someone new.  I will send you an email in confirmation.  If you don't receive that email by the following afternoon, either send me another email, or leave a comment here.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Tori's Review: Afterlife by Merrie Destefano



Welcome to your next chance.
 

Chaz Dominguez is a professional Babysitter in New Orleans, helping to integrate the recently deceased into their new and improved lives. Though Fresh Start has always been the only game in town, resurrection isn't all it's cracked up to be. Nine lives are all a person can get—and a powerful group of desperate, high-level Nine-Timers will stop at nothing to possess the keys to true immortality.
 

Now the only hope for Chaz and his family—and the human race—lies in the secrets locked away in the mind of Angelique, the beautiful, mysterious Newbie he must protect . . .







Obtained: Author
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Series: The Resurrection Chronicles
1. Afterlife
My Rating:

My Opinion:
I've never read a book that's left me completely and utterly speechless by the time I finished it. Usually, I'll have something to say, even if it's a sentence as simple as 'I love it' or, 'I hate it'. A simple 'I love it,' however, won't cut it for AFTERLIFE. This novel is so rich with beautiful descriptions, reflections, and events that I fear I will be unable to give anything Merrie has incorporated justice.

AFTERLIFE is in this futuristic New Orleans setting, where everyone on earth can live more than once. In fact, you can live nine times. Basically you get this little chip inserted into your body, and when you die -- or "jump," as a lot of the characters refer to it -- your soul, whatever it is that makes you, you, transfers to a newly made clone.
Which brings us to the first few pages in the book. Chaz, one of the characters we follow along in this tale, is Babysitting a new clone, Angelique. The two are out drinking during Angelique's first day of rebirth. It is then that they stumble upon our third character, Neville. I won't give much away, especially since what happens in the beginning is especially important for what happens towards the middle and end. Besides, this story is fun to figure out on your own.

I thought that the POV swap was one of the most interesting aspects of this story. I mean, you witness events through Chaz, Angelique, Neville, Russell, and Omega the dog. (Yes, you get to witness the story from a dog's POV. And yes, it is so incredibly awesome.) What's even better is that the POV swap wasn't jarring. I had no problem discerning which scene was happening in which person's perspective. This switch truly was a genius way to get me to hate Russell and Neville on a completely new level. Chaz, at some point, actually grew on me because of witnessing so much through his eyes. Angelique was a bit weird -- I think because of the whole past life issue -- but she was also likable.  At least I was upset enough towards the end.

The speech of some of the characters was a bit strange. I wanted to smack these characters for sounding so moronic at times -- especially Neville. It's also a minor detail that one tends to overlook after reading it for so long. Consider this a warning for those of you who are easily annoyed with speech like that.  There are also a few words and phrases that might throw people off.  I didn't have a problem with them, but I know some will.

I had a hard time adjusting to some of the lingo at the start.  And when I say lingo, I'm specifically talking about all the street talk and drugs. They kind of confused me, just because I was unfamiliar with what each did. Due to my confusion, I found myself wishing that there was a bit more exploration with these sorts of facts earlier on.  As it is, readers are flung into AFTERLIFE's world with little more than a safety blanket to cling to. We see the good, we see the bad, and we definitely see the ugly. Rest assured, these things do get acknowledged later on in the story; Merrie doesn't leave her readers in the dark.

The format of this novel is extremely different from what I'm used to reading. Typically, the books I've grown accustomed to are in first person and travel from point A to point B. I discover what happens along with the characters. Yet in AFTERLIFE, it's completely different. I'm not entirely sure how to explain it. It's kind of like... Merrie teases you with something new that happens. The chapter ends. Then you witness the scenes leading up to that one event via each of the other characters.

AFTERLIFE is a unique debut with beautiful descriptions by an insanely talented author who is not afraid to try something new. This novel was refreshing and exciting, and I am eagerly anticipating Merrie's future releases. If you enjoy urban fantasy,and if you want to see a new take on what life would be like if humanity could be almost immortal, then you definitely need to check this book out.  You'll regret it if you don't!


Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Author Interview with Clare B Dunkle + Giveaway!


So if you saw my review a while back -- wait, you didn't read it yet?!  Well, go read it now!  I'll wait -- about HOUSE OF DEAD MAIDS by Clare B Dunkle, you know that this is truly a spooky book.  Which is why I'm so excited to have Clare stopping by today to discuss a few things about it!


Connect with Clare:
Website | Goodreads




Hi Clare!  It's so nice to have you stopping by Book Faery today.  If you could rewrite any scene--or perhaps the ending--of Wuthering Heights, would you?  If so, what would you change? Why?

Any changes I made to Wuthering Heights would damage it, so I wouldn’t change a thing.

When I was a child, I invariably reworked the stories of the books I read. I moved into them with my own set of characters and made myself at home. But I found out very early that this didn’t work with Wuthering Heights. If I tinkered with it, the whole thing came apart.

This happened because of Wuthering Heights’ structure, for one thing. Unlike some stories that seem to unfold before our eyes, Wuthering Heights comes to us out of order, through a succession of narrators, its texts locked together (as one critic puts it) like the pieces of a Chinese puzzle box. Any change to its action would affect its narration, and that’s tricky to manage.

Also, Wuthering Heights gets a lot of its power from its unpleasant moments. The scenes we remember tend to be brutal or shocking: Lockwood rubbing the ghostly hand against the broken window, for instance. What I learned about this as a child is that any attempt to lessen the violence or unhappiness of Wuthering Heights tends to make the story uninteresting. It just isn’t worth visiting the old farmhouse if people are going to be civil to one another!

You briefly touch upon Heathcliff's name, stating that Mrs. Earnshaw doesn't like him. It would be interesting to hear more about your thoughts in regards to both his name, and why you think Mrs. Earnshaw puts up with him being named that.

The only explanation that makes sense to me is that Heathcliff’s name predates his arrival at Wuthering Heights. If he is already Heathcliff before he meets the Earnshaws, then Mrs. Earnshaw can’t take his name away from him.

Do you believe that Cathy was a drama queen when she suffers her two breakdowns (after Heathcliff leaves)?

No, I don’t. I believe that Cathy is being haunted and that this haunting causes her delirium, just as the haunting at the end of the book causes Heathcliff’s strange behavior, fasting, and death. Whether ghosts occur in the real world is beside the point; I believe that they do occur in the Wuthering Heights world.

But even if Cathy is not being haunted, I still don’t see her as a drama queen. She grows up in a chaotic and deeply unhappy family. When she is gathering her nerve to rebel against her brother’s cruel treatment, she meets the materialistic Lintons. They teach her how to win attention through the right clothes and manners: how to become a living doll.

Cathy is intelligent and has a sensitive, proud nature. She wants to succeed at life. If she were a man, I think she would push herself into an ambitious career, but as it is, Cathy has no career to aspire to. She won’t even be allowed keep a house, as Nelly Dean can. She is a gentleman’s daughter, so she must be a gentleman’s wife, with servants to do her work for her.

Cathy expects that Heathcliff at least will understand her and value her for who she is. But he goes away for three years and makes a gentleman of himself, so he ends up with more opportunities than she has. He envisions a future in which he can inherit Thrushcross Grange, and he refuses to obey Cathy when she tells him to drop the plan. Then Edgar and Heathcliff quarrel. They are so caught up in their own rivalry that neither bothers to think about what this will mean to Cathy.

Drama queens expend excessive energy over a minor event. But this quarrel is not a minor matter. Before this, Cathy has had no career, but she has at least had power over Edgar and Heathcliff. Now she realizes that her power is gone: she’s nothing but an ornament in Edgar’s house, and Heathcliff doesn’t need her. Any person with pride, intelligence, and spirit would find this a devastating blow.





And now, for the moment you've all been waiting for.... The Special Brontë-themed giveaway!


One Grand Prize winner will receive The House of Dead Maids, a gorgeous Brontë sisters pocket mirror, and the HarperTeen edition of Wuthering Heights! Two lucky runners-up will receive the two books. To enter, send an email to:

DeadMaidsBook @ gmail . com
(remove the spaces when composing your email)

with your name, email address, and shipping address (if you're under 13, submit a parent's name and email address). One entry per person and prizes will only be shipped to US or Canadian addresses. Entries must be received by midnight (PDT) on October 31. Winners will be selected in a random drawing on November 1 and notified via email.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Tori's Review: An Artificial Night by Seanan McGuire



Everyone in the Bay Area knows about Blind Michael, the unseen, dangerous figure whose Hunt sweeps the Berkeley hills on full moon nights. He's a familiar hazard of life in the Kingdom of the Mists, and most people don't waste time worrying about him. October "Toby" Daye certainly doesn't. She has better things to worry about, like paying the electrical bill on time. So it's understandable that she'd be upset when Blind Michael suddenly starts taking an interest in people that matter to her, like the youngest children of Mitch and Stacy Brown.
 

Tasked to find the missing children, and with the stakes growing higher by the minute, Toby has few choices and fewer allies to help her through the dangers yet to come. With the Luidaeg's help and a candle to light her way home, there's a chance that she'll come through this latest danger...but the sudden appearance of her Fetch doesn't give Toby all that much in the way of hope...



Obtained:
Author
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Series: October Daye
1. Rosemary and Rue (book review)
2. A Local Habitation (book review)
3. An Artificial Night 
My Rating:

My Opinion:
AN ARTIFICIAL NIGHT has the most interesting storyline so far in the October Daye series.  Instead of playing the role of a failed detective, we watch Toby's attempts at being a hero.  And let me just say that I enjoyed this approach much more than the detective route, simply because there was more action and adventure as opposed to idly standing around, clueless.

I thought that this book had a lot more humor in it, much to my delight.  I also found that I was unable to willingly set the book down at any point--something that I was able to do with books 1 and 2.

There's no cheerful Toby this time around.  She's pessimistic and sarcastic, much like the Toby I have come to know and accept.  Said pessimism grated on my nerves at some points, but I think it's more because she attempted to justify her actions a bit too much instead of just sucking it up and moving on.  This does not happen often, just once or twice.

In regards to Toby/Tybalt: well, their interactions were limited this time around.  Instead of having our darling King of Cats playing a key role in the story, Tybalt steps back to let a few other characters shine.  Though that's not to say he doesn't stop by.  He does, quite a few times.  And he's a bit more affectionate to boot.

When I first initially heard that Tybalt wasn't around as much, I was distraught.  Aside from the interesting world building (which I wasn't really feeling in A LOCAL HABITATION), Tybalt is the main reason I adore this series so much.  Surprisingly enough, I did enjoy the book, even with the lack of Tybalt. 

I found that Toby's obliviousness to Tybalt's feelings wasn't driving me insane this time around.  I mean, she's still oblivious at times, and it made me want to scream, but then at other times, she hinted that she knew how he felt about her.  For instance, during one scene towards the end with her, Connor, and Tybalt.  I almost gasped when she acknowledged there might have been something there.  Maybe she's finally been slapped around often enough that common sense is overpowering her lack of understanding when that cat flirts with her.

I had a few complaints about Toby's Fetch, May.  First of all, what purpose did she serve in the story except to make Connor want to cry, be slightly annoying, and drive like a madwoman?  (I'll admit the second scene when she drives over the bridge had me laughing hysterically, but that's more because of the children than anything else.)  Second, for someone who's so closely associated with death and whatnot, a lot of the characters acted nonchalant around May.  They had an initial reaction of regarding her with distaste, but then they just... shrugged her off and moved on.

I enjoyed May's character towards the end, but I'm not too fond of her at the same time.  I don't like that she's squirmed her way into Toby's life.  I don't like that she's just there with no true purpose.  There was such a fuss about her at the start, and I feel kind of let down now. I would have awarded this AN ARTIFICIAL NIGHT 5 stars if May had been explored--or even if there was a hint about her serving a purpose in the next story.

Likewise, the final showdown didn't entirely feel final.  I would have preferred it if there was a huge fight between everyone in the scene right before.  That screamed finality to me more than the last scene, but hey, I like my drama, and I like chaos.

Complaints aside, I enjoyed AN ARTIFICIAL NIGHT moreso than A LOCAL HABITATION.  Despite the fact that Tybalt played less of a role in this story, I think I prefer the adventure over mystery.  Toby's a bad detective because she's so oblivious to the things that matter.  But a hero?  A bit dorky, but a huge improvement.  I'm eagerly anticipating book 4, LATE ECLIPSES, in March.  Something tells me Tybalt will be playing a larger role this time around.



Friday, September 24, 2010

Winner!

Hey everyone, hope you're having a good Friday so far!  I've drawn the winner from the Shelley Munro giveaway earlier this week.  (Check it out here)

The winner of a digital copy of THE SPURNED VISCOUNTESS is:

FairyWhispers
(maidenhealer@...)


Winner, I've forwarded your email address on to Shelley.  You should be getting your digital copy soon :)

Thanks everyone for entering!  Will be drawing the winners for the SPEAK giveaway and HUSH, HUSH/CRESCENDO next week.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Tori's Review: A Local Habitation by Seanan McGuire



After spending fourteen years lost to both the fae and mortal worlds, only to be dragged back into Faerie by the murder of someone close to her, October "Toby" Daye really just wants to spend a little time getting her footing. She's putting her life back together. Unfortunately, this means going back to work for Duke Sylvester Torquill of Shadowed Hills, doing her duty as a knight errant. That isn't the sort of thing that exactly lends itself to a quiet existence, and before she knows it, Toby's back on the road, heading for the County of Tamed Lightning in Fremont, California to check on Sylvester's niece, January.
 

Things in Tamed Lightning turn out to be a lot stranger than they seemed at first glance, and Toby's talent for finding trouble isn't doing her any favors. With Quentin—a young foster from Sylvester's Court—in tow, and the stakes getting higher all the time, it's up to Toby to solve the mystery of Tamed Lightning, or face a failure whose cost will be too high for anyone to pay.


Obtained:
Bought
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Series:
October Daye
1. Rosemary & Rue (book review)
2. A Local Habitation
3. An Artificial Night (book review)
My Rating:

My Opinion:
A LOCAL HABITATION is an improvement in comparison to its predecessor, ROSEMARY AND RUE, because Tybalt shows up a lot more. In fact, he's in the very first chapter, and is so incredibly kind to Toby I wanted to jump into the book and give him a huge hug. That, in itself, was a huge improvement for me; I'm quite partial to the cat. But aside from Tybalt? I had mixed feelings about this story. However, first, I'm going to talk about Tybalt/Toby and their "relationship."

The beauty with urban fantasy is that sometimes, one doesn't want any romance. Sometimes, it's better to be teased and left guessing who the possible love interest will be instead of being guaranteed a happily ever after. And then you have other times where you wish the heroine--or hero--would stop being so dense and realize that they might have a willing lover sitting right under their noses.

Toby falls into the latter category for me.

A LOCAL HABITATION's love interests are almost like a game. Will Toby and Tybalt hook up? What about Toby and Alex? Or maybe it'll be Toby and Connor? Oh the possibilities!

I will admit that this floundering about frustrated me, despite the obvious relief I felt from not being guaranteed a HEA. Tybalt gave Toby his jacket, and Toby wore it throughout the entire novel. She commented on his comforting scent multiple times. Hell, Tybalt dropped everything to come make sure Toby was okay numerous times.

Toby seems to be attracted to Tybalt too, and the two acted like a couple on more than one occasion. She's leaned against him for support, turns to him for help, and trusts him. How the hell she's oblivious to his obvious signs of jealousy (which made me cackle with glee) during the confrontation with Alex is beyond me. She's ignoring the fact that the damn King of Cats touches her at almost every opportunity and follows her silly commands. And he doesn't get mad at said commands either--he teases her. I'm pretty sure if Tybalt hated Toby, he wouldn't have followed her around like a lovesick puppy dog.

Yet still, despite all of that, she's convincing herself that the two are enemies--EVEN THOUGH the vision she had of Tybalt in the first book and him taking care of her more than once in A LOCAL HABITATION says otherwise. *head desk*

That's my complaint about the love interest. I think this book would have been more interesting if the duo followed through on their obvious attraction. It would have definitely made me more excited for book 3.

In regards to Alex, I thought that was a creative approach to introducing a new species of the fey, while also making me so incredibly wary at the same time. I had my suspicions about the culprit, and was ultimately right in the end, but I still wondered if there was a possible second villain. At one point, halfway through the book, I was convinced Alex was guilty. But then things weren't making sense; why would he be guilty instead of the other person I suspected?

So the mystery in this was good, but I think it was also a bit obvious after a while. That didn't bother me like it clearly has some other people. I was still interested to see what Seanan would have happen next.

Thankfully, Toby doesn't get her ass kicked as much in A LOCAL HABITATION. Instead, I feel like there are a lot more of the mental mind games, which is good enough for me. It's nice to have someone else--even if they are a fictional character--who's ready to rip their hair out because of the stress (instead of it being me). I also felt emotionally connected at the end--though not so much in the beginning or middle. Toby's not a very good... umm... detective. The ending at the funeral pyre actually made me tear up.

I love how all the relationships were strengthened in this book, though I will admit that it was a bit strange to see Toby so happy at the start. I'd grown accustomed to her angst--and of her being convinced she could do everything alone--that it came off as strange and almost out of character. How bad am I for saying that? I don't want Toby miserable, but I truly couldn't see her being that cheerful.

Unique story, cool characters, and a hot King of Cats; what more could you look for in a book? A LOCAL HABITATION is a must read if you're salivating for an urban fantasy read.


Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Guest Post with Shelley Munro + Giveaway!

Smugglers by Shelley Munro

If you wake at midnight, and hear a horse's feet,
Don't go drawing back the blind, or looking in the street,
Them that asks no questions isn't told a lie.
Watch the wall, my darling, while the Gentlemen go by!

Five and twenty ponies trotting through the dark,
Brandy for the Parson,
Baccy for the Clerk,
Laces for a Lady,
Letters for a Spy,
And watch the wall my darling
While the gentlemen go by

From The Smugglers' Song, Rudyard Kipling.


Taxes are never popular and, if you're like me, you probably mutter and grumble a bit come the time to prepare taxes each year. Our dislike of taxes isn't a new thing. People have tried to avoid taxes or circumvent them since the Romans first introduced the idea.

Let's travel back to England in the 1700s. If you wanted a bottle of good brandy, some quality tobacco or your wife demanded tea or a length of French silk, chances are you'd turn to smugglers to provide the goods.

Smuggling was big business during this era. The Custom officers were few in number and poorly armed. This, along with the possible profits, led to a surge in smuggling. The smugglers were highly organized, often with entire families or villages helping to unload goods off ships under the cover of darkness. They'd blacken their faces and muffle their shoes with worsted stockings, carrying the goods themselves or on ponies. The locals who weren't involved knew to keep to their beds and ignore any sounds they heard during the middle of the night.

The smugglers would make more money in one night than they could earn in a week fishing or farming while the local gentry would receive the goods they coveted.

In the world of historical romance, we tend to think of smugglers as potential heroes, but smuggling was a dangerous business. Some of the smuggling gangs consisted of 20 - 40 men, all armed, which made the job of the Custom officer very dangerous indeed. The gangs in the south-east of England were prone to violence. It wasn't safe for locals to go out at night. Far better, I think, to pull the curtains against the night and enjoy the spoils the next day!

When I first decided to write a historical romance, I picked all my favorite elements and played with them to see if they'd fit my plot. Smugglers were the one element I managed to keep and I had fun writing them into my story.

Here's the blurb and a short smuggler excerpt from The Spurned Viscountess:


She must marry him.

Cursed with the sight and rumors of witchcraft, Rosalind's only chance at an ordinary life is marriage to Lucien, Viscount Hastings. She doesn't expect love, only security and children of her own. Determined to go through with the wedding, she allows nothing she encounters at the gloomy Castle St. Clare to dissuade her.

He wants nothing to do with her.


Recently returned from the Continent, Lucien has no time for the English mouse his family has arranged for him to marry, not when he's plotting to avenge the murder of his beloved Francesca. He has no intention of bedding Rosalind, not even to sire an heir.


Dark secrets will bind them.


Though spurned by her bridegroom, Rosalind turns to him for protection when she is plagued by a series of mysterious accidents and haunted by terrifying visions. Forced to keep Rosalind close, and tempted into passionate kisses, Lucien soon finds himself in grave danger of falling in love with his own wife…

“Stop right there, you thieving bastards! In the name of the king! Stop!”


Harry ignored the bellowed order and kept running. A gunshot rang out. Frank faltered beside him. The cask of brandy Frank carried smashed on the rocky ground. Harry turned, but blank eyes stared back. Frank was dead.


“Run, lad. Frank's done for. Save yer own skin.”
 

More gunshots. It was dark, so dark Harry couldn't see the path, but he kept running, his lungs wheezing like the blacksmith's bellows. Another shot. Pungent gunpowder. Wind whistled past his ear. Something hit a rock right by his leg. Then his leg collapsed under him. He staggered, the bundle of silk toppled, but he grabbed it before it rolled away.

“Don't stop, lad. You're almost safe.”


Pain. God, his leg hurt so bad.
 

“Lad, let me help you.” The man appeared in the mouth of the cave. A black cloak billowed in the breeze.

“I got my load,” Harry muttered. “Hawk will pay me.”


“Yes, lad. You'll get your portion.” The man helped Harry stagger to his feet.
 

“Hawk,” he gasped, seeing the black mask that went with the cloak.
 

“Let's get you to safety and we'll see about digging that bullet out. We need you better so you can watch Hastings and the castle. You! Fire at the excise men if they come too close to the cave. Give the rest a chance to get to safety through the labyrinth. Half an hour should do it.”

“You'll pay?” Harry demanded.
 

Hawk chuckled and ruffled his hair. “Yes, lad. You do a good job. You'll get the money you deserve.”



Purchase link for The Spurned Viscountess.



Thanks to Book Faery for having me here to visit today.


Source: The History of Customs & Excise, National Museums Guide, Merseyside. 



CONTEST:  I'm giving away a download of The Spurned Viscountess to one reader. Do you like smugglers or highwaymen in your historical romances? Do you prefer them to be the hero or the villain? Do you have any favorite smuggler stories? 




Shelley Munro lives in New Zealand and enjoys both writing and reading historical romance. She's always on the lookout for a good gothic historical and when she can't find any, she writes her own. Plans are underway for her next…. You can visit Shelley and learn more about her books at http://www.shelleymunro.com


Sunday, September 19, 2010

SPEAK up, because if you don't, what makes you think anyone else will?

I get it.  Sometimes, people say stupid things to provoke a response out of others.  You see it with ignorant people who troll certain forums around all day long and make asses out of themselves.  You see it with politicians all the time (though they probably don't think what they're saying is stupid). 

You also see it with "Christians" who are more concerned about controlling others than they are about the well-being of our nation's youth.  See the ignorant article that sparked such outrage here.


I first read SPEAK in 10th grade.  I cried long and hard.

I was not raped, but I did have family problems in 10th grade.  They were problems that ripped everything I knew about life to shreds.  I questioned myself, my friends, my family, the adults in my life.  I questioned God  when I never attained the answers I so desperately yearned for (I went to Catholic school from Pre-K to 8th grade and have always considered myself agnostic).  Why was all of this happening to my family?  Why me?  Why now?  Why why why?

My friends cut.  Some did it for the attention.  Others did it because they hurt too much and needed to ease the pain in some way.  I will never forget one particular night when my best friend at the time wandered off while our group was hanging out.  She called me on the phone twenty minutes later, a sobbing mess.  I sprinted as fast as I could to the brook, where she'd wandered off to...

Her forearm was covered in blood. 

It looked like she'd squirted ketchup over the entire surface, nice and thick.  Streaks of it streamed down to the palm of her hand, dripping tiny droplets off onto the grass below.

She'd found a piece of dirty glass.  Was hurting so badly she jammed it into her arm and sliced the skin, over and over.  The pain refreshed her.  Revitalized her.  It was like she'd been possessed at the time it happened and didn't realize what she was doing until she'd finished.  And then, seeing her arm a bloody mess, she freaked out.

Some of my friends were anorexic.  Some were bulimic.  A few of my friends had parents who relentlessly harassed them about their weight.  Their looks.  Forced them to go on diets--bribed them to go on diets.

One was deemed suicidal because of the poetry she wrote for an English class.  She cut.  She dressed in black.  She kept to herself.  She wasn't suicidal, though.  She was just trying to express herself because writing was a mode of therapy for her--for all of us.

Which is how we were all introduced to our school's social worker.  She became like a second mother to all of us.  She cared about us when we thought nobody else would.  She recommended SPEAK to all of us in 10th grade.

Every. single. girl. cried.

None of us were ever raped, thank goodness.  But we had issues with our families.  Issues with ourselves.  Guy issues.  Everything a high school student suffers, and then some.  And we were silent about it.  We thought we had to keep it to ourselves; we thought nobody would care about what we had to say.

SPEAK helped us realize that someone out there, in the world, gave a shit about us.

So we cried, and cried, and cried.


I have an Italian quiz tomorrow.  I need to learn over 200 nouns and phrases this afternoon.  And yet, instead of studying for this college class, I've been sitting in front of my laptop all day long, completely speechless because of the article I linked to up above.

For starters, how could one ever compare rape to soft porn?  How?  Why?  Where's the logic behind such a comparison?  Unless, of course, said person is a bit wonky in the head.  In which case, it would be best for a person to keep one's mouth shut.

Scroggins believes that SPEAK is inappropriate for young adults and children.  Enough to make such a comparison on the internet.

I am always shocked and appalled when people make such brash statements.  They worry more about control than about the actual issues at hand.  What would be better to speak out against?  A book that's therapeutic, or the issues that book attempts to confront?  Why waste one's energy bashing a book meant to help people, when one could spend that same amount of energy fighting against rape and keeping silent?

Why are people still trying to keep sex taboo?  Why are we letting our youth live in ignorance when it comes to sex?  Why the fuck can't kids learn about sex in schools without one stupid ass parent ruining it for everyone?  You don't want your kid to learn about sex?  Fine.  But don't ruin it for the rest of us.

You don't want YOUR CHILD reading SPEAK?  Fine, but shut the fuck up and let everyone else make that decision for themselves.  I'm talking to you, Mr. Scroggins.  Shut the fuck up and let people live their lives.  Stop trying to dictate what teenagers can and can't do.  They have a right to have access to these sorts of books.  They have a right to have access to a quality sexual education so that they can make educated decisions when it comes to having sex.

People like Scroggins sicken me.

That's all I'll say about this.  Other people have talked about this issue more eloquently than I can right about now.  I highly suggest checking out Anderson's response.  The video at the end, the poem in response to her book, was beautiful.


This giveaway is now closed.  I have contacted the winners via email.

Tori's Review: Being Jamie Baker by Kelly Oram


Obtained: ARC Tour
Genre: YA
Series:
1. Being Jamie Baker

Jamies's Website
Buy via Amazon

Paperback - 360 pages
Price: $10.99
ISBN-10: 0615377548
ISBN-13: 978-0615377544
Released: June 14, 2010










An accident that should end in tragedy instead gives seventeen-year-old Jamie Baker a slew of uncontrollable superhuman abilities.

To keep her secret safe Jamie socially exiles herself, earning the title of Rocklin High’s resident ice queen. But during a supercharged encounter with star quarterback Ryan Miller she literally kisses anonymity goodbye. Now the annoyingly irresistible Ryan will stop at nothing to melt the heart of the ice queen and find out what makes her so special.

Unfortunately, Ryan is not the only person on to her secret. Will Jamie learn to contain her unstable powers before being discovered by the media or turned into a government lab rat?

More importantly, can she throw Ryan Miller off her trail before falling in love with him?



My Rating:

My Opinion:

I was eagerly anticipating BEING JAMIE BAKER when I saw it pop up on Around the World ARC Tours.  In fact, saying that the back cover blurb intrigued me would probably be a huge understatement.  For some reason, I was craving for a high school read with a cute boy interested in a potentially kick ass heroine.

I loved how Ryan acted with Jamie.  I loved their interactions in general.  The two were beyond adorable.  I actually found myself sighing in jealousy quite a few times.  Imagine having the popular boy in high school taking a keen interest in you.  And then discovering that he's a sweetheart to boot?  Oh boy.

The kiss scene between the two made me crack up into hysterical laughter.  It was just so... unexpected.  And then, of course, Ryan acted the way he did after said scene which of course, brings me back to a full circle gushing about the kid.

Then something happened.  About halfway through the book, the reading went from fun and enjoyable to dragging on and on and on.  I was so tempted to close the book at one point, despite my curiosity about the outcome of this tale.  As it was, I did end up skipping quite a few pages.  They simply became repetitive and slightly boring for me.

But let me tell you, I did not regret finishing the book.  While the ending was slightly weird--especially with who the villain was--I kind of enjoyed it.  I think that BEING JAMIE BAKER is the type of read that is truly enjoyable when you're craving for a book like the back cover's blurb.  But if you're looking for a YA read that will keep you hanging from the edge of your seat?  This wasn't the one for me.

    Saturday, September 18, 2010

    Tori's Review: The Spurned Viscountess by Shelley Munro


    Obtained: NetGalley
    Genre: Historical Fiction
    Series:
    1. The Spurned Viscountess

    Shelley's Website
    Buy it via the Publisher
    Buy via Amazon

    E-book
    Price: $5.99
    E-ISBN: 978-1426890581
    Released: September 20, 2010










    Cursed with the sight and rumors of witchcraft, Rosalind's only chance at an ordinary life is marriage to Lucien, Viscount Hastings. She doesn't expect love, only security and children of her own. Determined to go through with the wedding, she allows nothing she encounters at the gloomy Castle St. Clare to dissuade her.
     
    Recently returned from the Continent, Lucien has no time for the English mouse his family has arranged for him to marry—not when he's plotting to avenge the murder of his beloved Francesca. He has no intention of bedding Rosalind, not even to sire an heir.
     
    Though spurned by her bridegroom, Rosalind turns to him for protection when she is plagued by a series of mysterious accidents and haunted by terrifying visions. Forced to keep Rosalind close—and tempted into passionate kisses—Lucien soon finds himself in grave danger of falling in love with his own wife...
     
    Refreshed version of SECOND SEDUCTION, newly revised by author.



    My Rating:

    My Opinion:

    I've been on a historical fiction spree as of late. Actually, ever since I've read THE MASTER AND THE MUSES, I've been salivating for more books to read of that nature. So when I discovered THE SPURNED VISCOUNTESS, a historical fiction with paranormal elements, I was more than excited to dive straight into this tale.

    Before I begin, it is important to note that the paranormal aspects do not play a huge role in this tale. I was warned of this before I read the novel, so I didn't have any expectations about that part.

    Overall, this is an enjoyable read. The storyline kept me intrigued from the first page all the way to the last. I kept wondering how Rosalind was going to win Lucien's favor. I wanted to know what would happen between the two, and whether or not Hawk, our bad guy, was going to get caught earlier rather than later. I wanted to know what was going to happen to Mary, despite how annoying she was.

    The twist at the end--Hawk's identity--caught me by surprise. I definitely did not expect that person to be Hawk. Though now that I look back, it does make more sense.

    I had a few problems with the tale. For starters, I found myself craving for more showing over telling. We have all of these events transpiring, and yet, I didn't always feel emotionally invested with what happened to Rosalind and Lucien. At these points, I felt more like an impassive bystander looking through binoculars.

    Rosalind had a tendency to lift her chin up a lot. I would have enjoyed a few other actions used to explain her defiance or stubbornness; perhaps clenching her fists, placing her hands on her hips and narrowing her eyes, pursing her lips... there's so many. After a while, I began to roll my eyes whenever there was something about her chin. Then I began to wonder if Rosalind had a weird chin. Was it big? It always seemed to grab Lucien's attention first.

    I thought Lucien's appearance towards the end was way too convenient. I also thought Rosalind should have used her powers before she wandered off with the two men she left with, especially when she began to catch glimpses of some weird thoughts. I don't know, that's what I would have done the second I felt something was off, despite any reservations about my mind reading abilities.

    A word of warning for those of you using NetGalley: Formatting, I've noticed, is very wonky when it comes to NetGalley titles on a Kindle. This story is no exception, and I struggled with POV swaps because of said format. So if you decide to get this title via NetGalley, please keep that in mind.

    Despite a few bumps in the reading experience, THE SPURNED VISCOUNTESS was, nevertheless, a fun read. When I reached the final page, I gave a sigh in relief, now that I knew Lucien and Rosalind finally had their happily ever after.

      Thursday, September 16, 2010

      BBAW Interview

      I'm over at Raquel's blog today for BBAW!  Check out what my current top five books are, what I think about ebooks vs print books, and why I decided to blog in the first place!

      Wednesday, September 15, 2010

      Tori's Review: Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick


      Romance was not part of Nora Grey's plan. She's never been particularly attracted to the boys at her school, no matter how hard her best friend, Vee, pushes them at her. Not until Patch comes along. With his easy smile and eyes that seem to see inside her, Patch draws Nora to him against her better judgment.

      But after a series of terrifying encounters, Nora's not sure whom to trust. Patch seems to be everywhere she is and seems to know more about her than her closest friends. She can't decide whether she should fall into his arms or run and hide. And when she tries to seek some answers, she finds herself near a truth that is way more unsettling than anything Patch makes her feel.

      For she is right in the middle of an ancient battle between the immortal and those who have fallen -- and, when it comes to choosing sides, the wrong choice will cost Nora her life.


      Obtained: Simon & Schuster / Big Honcho Media
      Genre: Young Adult
      Series: 

      1. Hush, Hush
      2. Crescendo (book review)
      3. Temptest (book review)
      My Rating:

      This book has received The Faerie of Honor rating.  (What is this?)

      My Opinion:
      For the longest time, I have avoided reading HUSH, HUSH. I've heard everything about it from how I'd either love it, hate it, how it was too similar to TWILIGHT, how it wasn't anything like TWILIGHT, how Patch was a psycho.... you name it, and I've read the review and/or commentary. So it was with great reluctance that I began reading this book. Ironically, I had no expectations for the book because of all the mixed opinions out there.  I truly did not know how I would feel about it, and I think that's what made me love it even more.

      But if you don't believe me, I started this book at 11PM 9/14/10... and am up writing this review at 3:30AM 9/15/10. With my college class waiting for me bright and early in a few hours.

      The sleep deprivation will be so worth it.

      I adored Nora from the start. She wasn't like your typical YA heroine who becomes a puddle of moronic hormones the second a hot guy or two saunters onto her radar. She's spunky and suspicious of Patch during their first encounter. And their next. And the next. This girl has a level head (though there were some moments where she succumbed to the hotness that is Patch, and I don't blame her in the slightest), which is a respectable and rare quality in most YAs I've read as of late.

      Which is why, while I appreciated the friendship betwixt Nora and Vee, I also didn't like it. I felt like Nora could do a lot better, and sometimes wished she would give Vee a good shake or two. If insanity and absentmindedness ever hooked up, Vee would be their miracle baby.

      And Patch... Oh Patch, he has just secured a special place in my heart. I thought I was going to hate him. I thought he was some psycho and that all the reviews calling him such cruel names were spot on. I had my suspicions about him; wondered to myself how Becca was going to redeem him in my eyes after all this talk with murder and whatnot.

      I loved the connection between Nora and Patch. I was giggling like a buffoon after reading a few of the scenes where the two get up close and personal. I was convinced of the attraction between the two, which is so important to me when I read a PNR. This, like a few other YAs I've read, redeemed the genre for me. I need more Nora and Patch pronto.

      The ending was my favorite part. I didn't see it coming, and it was perfect. Perfect. Even now, an hour later, I've got a huge smile on my face.

      Aside from a few parts that confused me, and Vee being silly, I had no complaints about this book.  The confusing parts seemed a little vague, yet were explained a few pages later.  And Vee?  Well, I'll just think of her as the special sidekick for now.

      HUSH, HUSH is one of the few books that I think the masses were spot on about. This book was amazing, and I am SO incredibly happy that I'll be able to read CRESCENDO soon enough. I think this novel is one of my favorite fallen angel stories out there. Highly suggest checking this one out!



      Tuesday, September 14, 2010

      Giveaway: Hush, Hush & Crescendo!

      A big thank you to Simon & Schuster for not only granting me the opportunity to read Hush, Hush and Crescendo, but for also allowing me to host a giveaway for both books. 

      As most of you probably already know, Crescendo, by Becca Fitzpatrick, is being released on Oct 19th.  To celebrate its release, TWO WINNERS will receive a catch-up copy of Hush, Hush, along with a copy of Crescendo!





      Hush, Hush – In paperback September 21

      A sacred oath, a fallen angel, a forbidden love.

      Nora Grey has had a rough year. Her father was murdered and as a result, her mother had thrown herself into work, leaving Nora alone most of the time in their secluded farmhouse. Despite this, she manages to be a very good girl, never missing school, never even driving without permission.

      But when the transfer student, Patch, gets assigned as her lab partner in biology, from the moment the two are together, there's an inescapable magnetism that draws Nora deeper and deeper into his dark world. When she discovers the enormous V-shaped scars on his back, she discovers that there is a battle going on between the fallen and the immortal. And she's the object.

      The magnetism she feels is now more inescapable than ever.





      Crescendo – Available October 19

      The sequel to the New York Times Best selling phenomenon, Hush, Hush!


      Nora should have know her life was far from perfect. Despite starting a relationship with her guardian angel, Patch (who, title aside, can be described anything but angelic), and surviving an attempt on her life, things are not looking up. Patch is starting to pull away and Nora can't figure out if it's for her best interest or if his interest has shifted to her arch-enemy Marcie Millar. Not to mention that Nora is haunted by images of her father and she becomes obsessed with finding out what really happened to him that night he left for Portland and never came home.

      The farther Nora delves into the mystery of her father's death, the more she comes to question if her Nephilim blood line has something to do with it as well as why she seems to be in danger more than the average girl. Since Patch isn't answering her questions and seems to be standing in her way, she has to start finding the answers on her own. Relying too heavily on the fact that she has a guardian angel puts Nora at risk again and again. But can she really count on Patch or is he hiding secrets darker than she can even imagine?







      To be entered in this giveaway, answer the question:

      If you could be any kind of paranormal creature, what would you be, and why?


      Giveaway Guidelines:

      • Open to US & Canada only.
      • Answer the question above.
      • Include your email address in your comment.
      • Giveaway ends 9/28.  Winners will have 48 hours to respond to my email before a new winner is chosen.
      Extra Entries:
      • [+1] Tweeting about this giveaway
      Being a blog follower is not required, yet is extremely appreciated!

      Monday, September 13, 2010

      Tori's Review: Personal Demons by Lisa Desrochers


      Obtained: ARC Tour
      Genre: Young Adult
      Series: 

      1. Personal Demons
      2. Original Sin
      3. Hellbent

      Lisa's Website
      Buy it via the Publisher
      Buy it via Amazon

      Hardcover - 368 pages
      Price: $9.99
      ISBN 10: 0765328089
      ISBN 13: 978-0765328083
      Released: September 14, 2010








      Frannie Cavanaugh is a good Catholic girl with a bit of a wicked streak. She's spent years keeping everyone at a distance—even her closest friends—and it seems her senior year will be more of the same...until Luc Cain enrolls in her class. No one knows where he came from, but Frannie can't seem to stay away from him. What she doesn't know is that Luc works in Acquisitions—for Hell—and she possesses a unique skill set that has the King of Hell tingling with anticipation. All Luc has to do is get her to sin, and he’s as tempting as they come. Frannie doesn’t stand a chance.

      Unfortunately for Luc, Heaven has other plans, and the angel, Gabe, is going to do whatever it takes to make sure that Luc doesn’t get what he came for. And it isn't long before they find themselves fighting for more than just her soul.

      But if Luc fails, there will be Hell to pay…for all of them.



      My Rating:

      My Opinion:
      Ahh, the all-too-familiar love triangle. Do you side with heaven's representative, or hell's? Do you go for the bad boy, or stick with the safe route and fall for the good guy?

      Like Frannie, our heroine, I was torn between both men. Gabe was a sweetheart, though he didn't play that huge a role in the first part of the book. Luc was the resident bad boy-gone-good. The girl in me, the part of me that daydreams about helping the sexy hero overcome some obstacle from his past, gobbled Luc up. Jerk tendencies aside (only one scene with him being a true jerk, my sweets. You'll forgive him soon enough), he captured my affections much more successfully than Gabe did.

      I thought angels and demons, alive for about 5,000ish+ years, would have a bit more sophisticated language despite trying to fit into the teenage scene. Or maybe I expected that archaic language to slip past their defenses maybe once or twice. This is something I'm struggling with in my own WIP, so I'm not entirely sure how I feel about the modern day ancient's speech patterns.

      Frannie's parents bugged me. Likewise, the conversations with people saying "if you hurt her, I'll kick your ass" grew tiresome.... As were the phrases "whatever" and "as you wish". "Whatever" made Frannie come off as more a brat than a heroine I would like. "As you wish" made Luc sound like a genie, which made me chuckle. Not sure if the latter two phrases were toned down a bit in the final print version (I read an ARC), or if they stayed.

      Talking about Frannie and Luc, I don't think having both sides written in first person worked. They spoke similarly, and more often than not, the scene switch would confuse me. I ended up flipping back pages to double check and see which POV we were in next after a change. And both say "mmm" way too much, which furthered my confusion during POV swaps.

      As tragic as Frannie's brother's death was, I couldn't help but roll my eyes and wish that they would just get on with it towards the end. It always came back to that, and after a while, the pity party got old.

      I hope I don't come off as bashing this book. Despite the aforementioned complaints, I gobbled this story up between last night (stayed up til 4AM) and this afternoon. I adored Luc. The interactions and struggles between the trio were mentally exhausting after a while, but they were also funny at the start. So funny, that I woke my mom up the other night because I was laughing so hard/loud.

      There's been a bit of buzz about this story. I think a lot of people will enjoy it, despite my complaints. As for me? I'm still looking forward to book 2 in this trilogy.

        Sunday, September 12, 2010

        Tori's Review: The House of Dead Maids by Clare B Dunkle



        Young Tabby Aykroyd has been brought to the dusty mansion of Seldom House to be nursemaid to a foundling boy. He is a savage little creature, but the Yorkshire moors harbor far worse, as Tabby soon discovers. Why do scores of dead maids and masters haunt Seldom House with a jealous devotion that extends beyond the grave?

        As Tabby struggles to escape the evil forces rising out of the land, she watches her young charge choose a different path. Long before he reaches the old farmhouse of Wuthering Heights, the boy who will become Heathcliff has doomed himself and any who try to befriend him.









        Obtained: Publicist
        Genre: Young Adult
        Series: 

        1. The House of Dead Maids
        2. Wuthering Heights
        My Rating:

        My Opinion:
        When I first heard about THE HOUSE OF DEAD MAIDS, the English major in me squealed with joy. Holy sweet baby Jesus! she said, I love WUTHERING HEIGHTS. THE HOUSE OF DEAD MAIDS is going to be awesome!

        And awesome it was.

        First of all, this story is not the sort of tale you should read at night. A wonderful woman named Barbara, who coordinated the tour I participated in, warned me not to do it. She said: "A word of advice: don't start reading it too late at night."

        I wasn't sure what to make of her warning because I don't get spooked by books. I'll cry because of a book; I'll fling a book against a wall because something about it's agitated me; I'll even squeal with joy... but I don't get truly scared. Nevertheless, I listened to her advice. Kind of. The first time I sat down to read this novel, it was during the light of day.

        The illustrations for each chapter made me wary enough to be gnawing on my bottom lip as I read on. I loved them, and I think they added an exciting aspect to the reading experience.

        But then, stupid me decided that night to continue reading at about 1AM. Do you know how bad of an idea that was? It was an extremely bad idea. Why? Because the book--which I thought was not going to freak me out--freaked me out. I'm still not entirely sure which part got to me. It could have been the one little maid trying to sleep with Tabby. It could have been the gathering. I swear, when I was reading it, I thought I was seeing things from the corners of my eyes in my bedroom. So for the rest of the night, I locked myself in my bedroom and refused to go downstairs, even when I was dying of thirst. (Isn't it funny I'm recalling all of this at 3AM?)

        My story aside, I truly enjoyed THE HOUSE OF DEAD MAIDS. Heathcliff was not only the brat one comes to know and love, but he was also young enough to still retain some sort of child-like innocence. It was at these moments, when said innocence--which was really more of him not being annoying around Tabby--shone through, that I adored him. I felt miserable for his fate. But then he'd act like a heathen again and I would forget my regret.

        One particular description of the house stuck with me, even now, a few weeks later. I felt like the house truly was another character in the story. It added more excitement, me thinking it was alive.

        I never once thought that there were ghosts when I read WUTHERING HEIGHTS. After reading this novel, however, it will be interesting to see if I still feel that way.

        THE HOUSE OF DEAD MAIDS is short and definitely worthy of being labeled as the prequel to WUTHERING HEIGHTS. Heathcliff is such a rich and intriguing character in Bronte's novel... which I suggest you read if you still have yet to do so. To learn more about his possible origins in Clare's take of the book definitely broadened my understanding of the tale and of his position. I think that, whenever I decide to reread WUTHERING HEIGHTS, I will definitely read it with new, open mind.

        A highly suggested, spooky read for the fall. Just make sure, if you want to get freaked out, you read it late (like 2AM) at night. But don't say I didn't warn you ;)



        Battle of the Sexies: Winners Round 3

        I really wasn't expecting a third drawing.  If you're the SHADOW OF A VAMPIRE winner, please contact me ASAP.  Sooner you get in touch with me, the sooner I can run to the post office with all the prizes.


        08/02
        Beth (xmaybetomorrow@...)
        When you contact me, please include which book you want


        08/25



        Winners, you know the drill: please EMAIL ME by Midnight MONDAY, Sept 13th with the following:
        • In the subject line: The DAY and BOOK PRIZE (with the author's name)
        • Mailing address (if you're receiving a print copy of a book)
        • Your preferred email (if you're receiving a gift card and/or ebook) 
        • and your BOOK CHOICE if you won a book giveaway with multiple choices for the prize
        Failure to contact me with all the necessary information by Monday night means you give up your prize to another participant.  

        Saturday, September 11, 2010

        Nocturnal - Anthology


        Surrendering to otherworldly desire has never been so dangerous-and deliciously satisfying.
         
        The Phoenix Project- by Jacquelyn Frank

        Held captive, Amara is subjected to bizarre experiments that test the limits of her sanity. But nothing prepares her for being locked away-naked-with a sexy ex-cop-after they-ve been pumped full of drugs that increase their sexual appetites to animalistic intensity.

        Crystal Dreams- by Kate Douglas

        When Lemurian Guard Darius chases a demon spirit to Earth, he faces a lethal battle between good and evil. His ally is Mari, a breathtakingly beautiful human who unknowingly holds the key to victory. But before the war is over, Darius-s desire for his mortal companion threatens to erupt-and could cost Mari her life.

        Spark of Temptation- by Jess Haines

        Blackmailed into taking a treacherous case, P.I. Sara Halloway is thrust into a demon war. Sara seeks guidance from a charismatic mage, but their hunger for one another soon becomes a deadly distraction-and the danger surrounding them only makes their urges more powerful. 
         

        My Soul to Take- by Clare Willis
        New Orleans native Dr. Maggie Dillon thought she left her past behind her-until she-s enraptured by a handsome patient who has been possessed by a malevolent spirit. To find a cure, Colby revisits her magical roots-and unleashes a primal lust too vital to ignore.



        Obtained: Jess Haines
        Genre: Paranormal Romance
        Series: 

        1. Nocturnal
        My Rating:

        My Opinion:
        I opened this book with the sole intention of only reading Jess Haines's story.  But then I was convinced by a certain someone to read the other stories, which is why I have decided to review all four pieces below.

         
        The Phoenix Project by Jacquelyn Frank - 2/5

        Like many other reviewers have said previously, this book was the most sexual out of all four.  And you know, if it weren't for a few factors, I think I would have truly enjoyed the story.  The premise was interesting, it really was, and I absolutely loved the animalistic/human interactions.  But then, I guess a lot of you already knew I did, since I'm a huge werewolf fan.  Regardless, I genuinely was interested in that particular part, and kept reading because of it.  So, let it be known that, despite my rating, Jacquelyn Frank can write.  So well, that I think I might explore another book of hers at a later date.  And she can write some steamy sex scenes.  However, I remained unconvinced of the "love" between hero and heroine.

        So let's focus on the rape.  Is it considered rape if both parties are attracted to each other, and both parties are being forced to fuck each other?  In my mind, yes, it is.  Will everyone be bothered by this when they read it?  No, they won't.  Some will be able to overlook it (which is what I think was intended when the story was written), and others, like me, will grit their teeth and roll their eyes and shake their heads when any word of "love" is uttered in this tale.

        Maybe I have issues with love in these sorts of stories because I don't buy into the whole: "oh hey, we're both being forced to have sex with each other... and now, suddenly, after having sex with you about five times and killing some crazy bitch, I love you!"  No.  Not happening.  I'm sorry, some people might buy it, some people might be able to overlook it, but I don't, and I can't.

        I grew tired of the heroine in the beginning stating how scared she was.  First time?  Okay.  Second, third, fourth, etc, times?  Shut up already, please.  How does Amara go from someone so quiet, internal woman who's grown apathetic about her captivity to suddenly telling a complete stranger that she's scared?  Kind of nit-picky on my part, but it bugged me.  I didn't think it was necessary to have her keep repeating it.

        Finally there's the whole... back out in human civilization, and we're the only ones who can save all these other people because the police force is busy with their thumbs up their asses.  I'll admit it, I didn't care.  I skimmed.  I don't even remember what happened because I was comatose at this point after only sleeping for 2 hours the night before.

        Sexytime Heat Level: 4/5 - If one can overlook the rape, the sex is sizzling.
        Sexual Tension:  0.5/5 - There's a teensy bit, but that was it.
        Interest Level: 5/5 - for the start/middle; 0/5 for the end.

        Crystal Dreams by Kate Douglas - DNF
         
        Mari was a bit too weird for my tastes, both with the way she talked to herself, and the way she acted around Darius.  Plus, having an ex-boyfriend stealing funds from your bank account?  I would have imagined she would take legal action, if possible.  Or at least talk to the bank.  And why would you let someone you're dating have access to your credit cards in the first place?  Maybe if you're married, definitely not when you're dating.

        I was also not interested in this new world with some different race with demon killing crystal swords... 40 pages in, and the plot/characters still left me uninterested.  This story was not for me, though I'm sure other people might enjoy it.

        Sexytime Heat Level: N/A
        Sexual Tension:  N/A
        Interest Level: N/A


        Spark of Temptation by Jess Haines - 4.5/5 
        Finally, the main reason I read this anthology!  Much like Hunted by the Others, Jess did not disappoint me with this story.  It was interesting reading about this universe in another character's point of view.

        This, by far, has been one of the most amusing reads in a long, long time for me; a breath of fresh air.  I was blinded by tears on multiple occasions at the start (with Sara and Arnold's interactions).  When things grew serious in the story, the laughter fizzled away... but then came back towards the end.  It was the perfect amount of suspense--both with the couple and the bad guys--and lightheartedness for me.

        The one thing I would have liked to see explained a teensy bit further was the part where Joe goes to Sara's house.  I understand why was he there, but when he grabs her shoulders, what on earth was he going to say?  Was he going to warn her of something else?  Was he going to try and give her an address or a name?  Something very minor, and it does not affect the plot, but nevertheless, I am still curious.

        I have heard a few people give SOT a lower rating because of the lack of sex, but not every single paranormal romance needs to have sex in it.  Is it better to have sex and risk making the characters out of character?  Or is it better to let them behave as they normally would and have a believable HEA?  I believe the latter applies, and if it is done elegantly enough--with lots of sexual tension--then I don't see why people should complain.  Hell, it just gives the author an excuse to write another story with sex next time ;) 

        Enough of my rant, though.  Once again, Jess has written an engaging story that furthered my understanding and connection with the characters in her world.  It has also increased my excitement for Taken by the Others.

        Sexytime Heat Level: 0/5 - There is no sex in this story.
        Sexual Tension:  3.5/5 - There was enough to make me antsy for their HEA, but I wasn't dying for them to jump in bed together.  Yet.
        Interest Level: 5/5 - I thought I wouldn't care about Sara/Arnold; I was wrong.  Give me more!


        My Soul to Take- by Clare Willis - 2/5
        I really wanted to like this story.  The beginning successfully pulled me in, intriguing me with thoughts of spirituality versus modern medicine.  Not my typical sort of read, but the attraction, and then our little spirit rearing his head early on, encouraged me to keep going.

        I loved the way Clare effortlessly transported me back in time in the beginning.  I felt like I was zoning out with Maggie, only to be jerked back into the present.  It was both fun and exciting and reveals a skill at writing to be able to pull something like that off.

        I'm not entirely sure what happened after that, though, since for me, the romance was rushed.  I was turned off from this completely when they started saying I love you; it was too soon for me and didn't feel natural.  They knew each other for about a week-ish, and while, yes, they had to deal with a possession, I didn't feel any urgency or mutually life threatening experience that would speed up the process and intensify their feelings.  There's a ghost, he possessed a guy, guy wants to kill ghost, ghost threatening heroine.  All of this was stated, but it was stated in a way that had me thinking "so what?" 

        When they finally had sex?  It was lessened because of Maggie's fears of our ghostly friend.  Don't expect sex scenes either, it's a fade to black sexytime.  Not necessarily bad, but a few readers might be disappointed with the lack of sexual tension and then sex.  Personally?  I was a bit disappointed.  Some sexual tension would have been nice, instead.

        The exorcism was also a bit weird.  I got confused when Maggie kinda-sorta got possessed.  Still not sure what happened there.

        I think I might check out some of Clare's other works before I dismiss her due to one novella.  It would be interesting to see what she comes up with in a complete novel, where there aren't as many constraints with length.

        Sexytime Heat Level: 1/5 - The sex was skipped over in this story.
        Sexual Tension:  2/5 - The beginning had most of this.
        Interest Level: 5/5 - the beginning; 2/5 -middle to the end.



        • Paperback - 532 pages
        • Price: $6.99
        • ISBN 10: 1420109871
        • ISBN 13: 978-1420109870
        • Released: September 7, 2010
        • Buy it via Amazon

        Friday, September 10, 2010

        Recipe: Caramel Apple Upside-Down Cake

        So I had a request earlier this week.  I made a caramel apple upside-down cake for my mom in celebration of her new job.  She's been working at a doctor's office for 10 hours/day, and I figured she deserved the cake she requested I make.

        Lo and behold, I mention the simple name of it on twitter, and a bunch of people started drooling and asking me to send them a piece.  Then later people started asking for the recipe to make.  Since a lot were interested, and since I figured more people would want to get their hands on it, I've decided to post about it.  (I love to bake, so if you want a recipe for something, chances are, I've got a good one).

        Unfortunately, the cake was gone before I could take a picture of it.  Anyway yeah, I've included extra instructions for the caramel (for those of you who have not made it before, like me) because it's umm... an interesting concoction at the start.




        Caramel Apple Upside-Down Cake


        Cake (serves 6)

        Oil or melted butter, for greasing
        1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
        1 tblsp baking powder
        3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
        generous 3/4 cup superfine sugar (I used regular)
        3 eggs, beaten
        1 tsp vanilla extract
        lemon zest of one lemon

        Caramel Apple Topping
        1/2 cup sugar (they say superfine, but I used regular)
        1 tblsp water
        4 tblsp unsalted butter
        4 applies
        2tblsp lemon juice


        Making the Caramel

        • Combine the sugar, water, and butter into a saucepan over medium (or low, up to you) heat.  Occasionally stir until melted.
        • Contents should start bubbling (if you have on med heat).  When this happens, continually stir until most of the sugar has melted.
        • Bring up to med-high, high heat and boil.
        • Drop down to medium heat and let cook.  Keep stirring.
          Note: mixture will be bubbly and... frothy-looking.  Just keep stirring it.
        • Eventually the mixture will start to darken in color.  Keep stirring...
        • At some point, the butter will begin to separate from the sugary mixture (which should be grainy).  That was normal for me.  Stir stir stir...
        • The sugar grains will melt soon after that and you'll get a smooth mixture.  Some of the butter might not have completely re-combined.  Keep stirring until it has.
        The second I took it off the heat, it started to harden.  If you're making the caramel for the cake, you'll want to quickly pour it into a   You can make caramel apples with this!  Or... I guess maybe pour it into molds and let harden?  Up to you!


        1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Grease a 9-inch round cake pan with a solid bottom.

        2. When caramel has been made, pour quickly into the cake pan, tilting to cover the bottom evenly.

        3. Peel, core, and thickly slice the applies, toss in the lemon juice, and spread evenly over the bottom of the cake pan (I suggest cutting the apples and tossing before the caramel is finished.). 


        4. Sift the flour and baking powder into a large bowl and  add the butter, sugar, eggs, and vanilla extract.  Beat well until the batter is smooth, then stir in the lemon zest.  Note: I did not use the lemon zest and it was still delicious.  The cake has a cornbread texture.

        5. Spoon the batter over the apples and smooth the surface with a spatula.  Bake in the preheated oven for 40-50 minutes, or until golden brown.  Note: 30 minutes was more than enough time for me.

        6. Let cool in the pan for 2-3 minutes, then turn out carefully onto a warmed serving plate.


        And that's it!  I suggest you cover this once it's cooled.  We left it uncovered for most of the day and the cake was a bit dried out the following day.