A Note:


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

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 :)


Saturday, December 31, 2011

Alice Review: Hallowed by Cynthia Hand

Paperback: 448 pages
Price: AUD$24.99
ISBN: 9780732292614
Released: 1st January 2011 (Aus)
Publisher: HarperCollins
Author's Website: http://cynthiahandbooks.com/
Buy it: Fishpond
Obtained: Bought
Genre: YA, Romance, Paranormal
Series: Unearthly
Book Order:
1. Unearthly (my review)
2. Hallowed
3. TBA
Summary: Clara Gardner knew that as a part angel she would one day have to fulfill her purpose, rescuing Christian from a forest fire...what she never considered was what might happen if she were to fail.

Now, torn between her increasingly complicated feelings for Christian and her love for her boyfriend Tucker, Clara must deal with the repercussions of what happened the day of the fire as the two boys vie for her heart. And, as she is drawn further into the world of angels and part angels and the growing conflict between White Wings and Black Wings, Clara learns of the terrifying new reality that she must face: someone close to her will die in a matter of months. With her future uncertain after a shocking revelation, the only thing Clara knows for sure is that the fire was just the beginning...  

My Rating:
My Opinion: God, where do I start? You know that whole thing where the sequels aren't really ever as good as the first book? I was so worried that this would apply to Hallowed and that I wouldn't like it, but that is so not true. This book blew me away.

Unearthly and Hallowed are in my top ten of 2011 list because they are both so good.

What saddens me is that I really can't go in too deep with this review because of spoilers! I would love to discuss so many awesome things with you guys but most of you haven't read this yet and won't for at least a month! I was lucky enough to spot this in Kmart early. :)

Cynthia Hand writes beautifully; she describes places, Clara's emotions, thoughts and the dialogue clearly and beautifully. Her writing is very pleasant to read and the imagery is vivid. That's what I enjoy about it-- you can almost see it like a movie in your head. 

For those of you who have read Unearthly, you'll know about the big plot twists and questions left behind in the first book; well, some of those questions (as in, What the hell was Jeffrey doing? and Christian or Tucker?!?!) are answered, some of them not (like, Who is Angela's secret Italian boyfriend!?). Oh, and there are a few big surprises in this book that completely knocked me off track, but I definitely liked one of them.

So the plot leaves off a few weeks after Unearthly ended and it's about Clara going back to school and having to deal with the big Christian or Tucker question. Tucker of course is not happy to learn that Christian believes that he and Clara are destined other and Clara feels guilty every time she hangs out with Christian, even though she and him are now friends.  She's also having these visions of a funeral and we find out whose it is towards the middle, which left me extremely sad.

I love it when I'm emotionally invested in a book because it makes the reading experience so much better, you know? Well wow, this book was one big emotional roller coaster. Some bits made me smile a lot, others had me clutching the book tightly and wondering if our brave protagonists would survive and others? A few tears may have slipped out during a few moments. This book isn't as funny as its predecessor but only because it's a lot more serious. This is about Clara growing up and deciding her future and coping with a huge loss as well as a gain. Clara really shows maturity here and it made me admire her more.

My verdict: The ending of this book had me in tears but also gave me hope. A definite page-turner, Hallowed is a must-read that needs to be at the top of everyone's TBR pile when it comes out in January!

Happy New Year's, guys! In my little corner of the world (aka Australia) it's New Year's Eve RIGHT NOW and we've only got five hours of 2011 left. I hope you guys are enjoying your holidays (skiing, snowboarding, swimming, surfing, eating huge amounts of food, etc) and that the new year will treat you all well. ~Alice xx

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Tori's Review: Aftertime by Sophie Littlefield

Released: February 15, 2011 
Paperback: 384 pages
Price: $14.95
Publisher: Harlequin
Source: Library
Genre: Adult Dystopian
Series: Aftertime #1
Buy: Amazon

Someone once said that all apocalypses are experienced locally. In the case of Cass Dollar, the nightmare occurred with the violent abduction of two-year-old Ruthie, which she vividly remembers. Only later is young Cass assaulted also by the vague, twisting memories of a much wider conflagration that she herself only narrowly survived. A government experiment had turned the entire California landscape into the hunting grounds of zombie Beaters, but Cass can only think of the helpless toddler she is missing.

My Rating:

My Opinion:
If I had to describe AFTERTIME in one word, it would be: meh.

I actually thought that this was going to be a YA initially. Not entirely sure why I got the YA-vibe from the cover, but you can imagine my shock when a sexytime scene came at about the 120 page mark (I think it was around there).

Let's start from the beginning, though. This was the first book I read following my month of not reading for pleasure by the end of the college semester. I was anticipating a great read, particularly because of all the praise Littlefield's new series has received thus far. Go figure I would be the one to disagree with the public, once again.

AFTERTIME starts off well enough. The back story and world building was excellent and the imagery made me nauseous because it was so descriptive and painted such a vivid picture in my mind. I was excited about this story and about this world because of the strong start. And while I was somewhat iffy about Cass' character--primarily who she was and why I should like her--I was willing to overlook the bad to continue reading about such a rich world.

...Then shit hit the fan and my enjoyment dissipated. When Cass meets some people who are holing out in a school, I began to notice that, while the descriptions and back story were great, the character interactions were not. They're a bit too wishy-washy for my tastes and never really give me a good sense of who these people are. Why should I care that they survived? Hell, why do I care that Cass survived?

A mother searching for her daughter after the apocalypse... great concept, and if it had been executed well, it would have probably been a great tearjerker too. Alas, there are more flashbacks and less Cass reflecting on finding her daughter. When Smoke suddenly becomes the focus of Cass' desires (and I still have no idea why), it seems as if Ruthie takes a backseat to Smoke. And of course our leading man was the typical broody, mysterious "hero." He seemed to be moodier than normal on the moody hero scale... which I wouldn't have minded, had he been a bit more three dimensional.

Even with all of these weaknesses popping up, I still intended on continuing AFTERTIME, but by Christmas, it was clear I did not want to read this story anymore. Unfortunately, Cass turned into a bipolar wuss. She went from being somewhat of a likeable character into a cry baby the second someone sent her the stink eye. Her reactions, her wanting to cry at every moment, her stupidity... all of this is what ultimately made me give up on the book.

So poor characterization, the hero is not well fleshed out, the romance is sudden and rushed (with no real reason showing why the two are attracted to each other), and Cass is borderline TSTL by the time I stopped reading. Maybe she progressed further, and if she did, then I am happy I stopped reading this novel. If she cleaned up her act, then my loss.

I hate to sound harsh, but there are plenty of other adult novels out there that explore the zombiepocalypse way better than AFTERTIME did. I would recommend checking those out before you do this one. If, however, Littlefield's novel has been on your radar like it was mine, it can't hurt to give it a shot, anyway. After all, it's just cynical old me going against the majority.

Series Order:
1. Aftertime
1.5 Survivors
2. Rebirth 
3. Horizon

Monday, December 26, 2011

Cover Wars: New Girl VS A Blue So Dark

Cover Wars
(inspired by Kate's Throwdown Thursday at The Neverending Shelf)

Cover Wars is a weekly post occurring every Monday at Book Faery.
Two covers will have a "face off," and it will be up to the readers to
decide who is the victor and who is the loser.  This is a great way for
readers to have their voice be heard, while also promoting new/old books
in the process.

Last week we had a showdown between Pure by Jennifer L. Armentrout and Pure by Julianna Baggot

The Winner:
Pure by Jennifer L. Armentrout!!

New Girl VS A Blue So Dark

Vote for your favorite underwater cover in the comments below!


Friday, December 23, 2011

Alice's Review: Unearthly by Cynthia Hand

Unearthly, Cynthia Hand

Paperback: 432 pages
Released: January 2011
Publisher: HarperCollins
Author's Website
Obtained: Bought
Genre: YA Romance, Paranormal Romance
Series: Unearthly Trilogy
Book Order:
1. Unearthly
2. Hallowed (1st January 2012)

Clara has known she was part-angel ever since she turned fourteen two years ago, but only now is her Purpose - the crucial rite of passage for every part-angel - becoming clear to her. Clara′s Purpose leads her family to Wyoming, where, amidst terrifying scenes of a bush inferno, she finds the boy of her visions, Christian. He is everything she could wish for - so why does she also have feelings for her enigmatic classmate Tucker? 

Clara discovers that her Purpose is only a small part of a titanic struggle between angels and their destructive counterparts, the Black Wings. And when the fire of her visions erupts and both Christian and Tucker are in danger, who will she choose to save?

From debut novelist Cynthia Hand comes a riveting tale full of supernatural powers, forbidden romance, and the choice between fulfilling your destiny or following your heart.

I picked up this book with really high expectations-- and this author met them.

Clara is part angel and she receives her purpose-- to be a guardian, messenger, etc-- and it involves a boy standing in the woods in a fire. Clara thinks she's supposed to save him. When she finds out where he lives, she and her family move to Wyoming and here Clara starts her journey to fulfill her purpose as an angel. 

I rag on love triangles all the time and I didn't want to read yet another book with a love triangle, but Cynthia Hand pulls it off so well that it's a barely there thing-- because there really isn't much of a love triangle. Who Clara ended up with in the first book surprised me a lot and I'm really happy with her choice. Never before have I read a book that had such a twist. Hopefully there won't be too much trouble with love triangles in the sequel!

The angel mythology in this book is an important part of the story, with Clara finding another angel-blood friend and getting to know more about herself and her ancestors-- her mum keeps a tight lip about the history and information on angels. Clara finds out that not all angels are good and is rightfully mad at her mum for keeping this info locked up. It also leaves most of us wondering why he mum doesn't want to tell her anything.

The setting for this book is mainly in Jackson, Wyoming-- and I want to live there now! It's basically a ski resort in winter and in summer a holiday dream come true. I totally fell in love with this place. Its rugged beauty made me think of the country in Australia, which is just as beautiful. Hand describes the magnificence of the land so precisely and strikingly that I can almost imagine myself there.

This book is funny (it's one of the only few books I've ever read that really made me laugh) and witty and downright amazing. It kept me hooked and I could barely put it down. Cynthia Hand basically makes you so addicted to this story. It deserves every bit of praise it has gotten, really. I enjoyed the characters (Clara is witty and has a great personality, and Tucker is HOT), the settings and the story. As I have mentioned before: I love angels, and this is one of the best angel books that I've read. It's full of angel mythology (unlike a lot of angel books where the angel part is a minor thing) and loveable characters. I want Jeffrey as a brother. He's a pretty cool little brother to Clara and I think he'll grow up really well. 

The ending of this book left me with a gazillion questions that have yet to be answered. Oh Ms Hand, you just keep us on our toes!

My verdict: Read this book ASAP. The hype that comes with it is very well deserved and this will keep you up all hours of the night because you won't be able to put it down. It's rich in angel mythology and a great romance. I love it and you will too, I hope!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Cover Reveal: Chosen Ones by Tiffany Truitt

I am so excited to be revealing Entangled Publishing's newest YA dystopian cover to you all! I think that the art department really outdid themselves with this cover--it's gorgeous!

What if you were mankind’s last chance at survival?

Sixteen-year-old Tess lives in a compound in what was once the Western United States, now decimated after a devastating fourth World War. But long before that, life as we knew it had been irrevocably changed, as women mysteriously lost the ability to bring forth life. Faced with the extinction of the human race, the government began the Council of Creators, meant to search out alternative methods of creating life. The resulting artificial human beings, or Chosen Ones, were extraordinarily beautiful, unbelievably strong, and unabashedly deadly.

Life is bleak, but uncomplicated for Tess as she follows the rigid rules of her dystopian society, until the day she begins work at Templeton, the training facility for newly created Chosen Ones. There, she meets James, a Chosen One whose odd love of music and reading rivals only her own. The attraction between the two is immediate in its intensity—and overwhelming in its danger.

But there is more to the goings-on at Templeton than Tess ever knew, and as the veil is lifted from her eyes, she uncovers a dark underground movement bent not on taking down the Chosen Ones, but the Council itself. Will Tess be able to stand up to those who would oppress her, even if it means giving up the only happiness in her life?

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

2012 Classics Reading Challenge

Heads up! If you love to read books, then you'll love what I'm about to tell you.

But first, before I actually tell you about this book challenge, I just want to say that I am taking my last final today! I am so excited, because after 5:30pm EST, I will officially be a college graduate! :D  And now back to the challenge info...

For the year of 2012, Book Faery will be hosting its very first book challenge. It won't be anything too crazy, I don't want to drive anyone past their comfort levels, but I think this is a great opportunity for us to all read a few more... how shall I put it... "challenging" books.

That's right, we're going to be reading some classics in 2012! I think it's safe to say a lot of us have not read as many classics as we would have liked to. Most of us have good intentions, but when it comes to actually sitting down and spending the mental energy? Nope, not happening when there are so many delicious releases out there. I am totally guilty of this.

And while I love me some paranormal releases, I also want to expand my horizons. The classics are classics for a reason, and I think it's great to read a variety of genres and authors. Who knows? Maybe one of these titles will finally inspire you to write your dream novel :) Milton's Paradise Lost inspired me!

I challenge each and every one of you to try and do the same.

Here are the details:

* The first of each month will have a post announcing that month's book suggestions (ranging from 1-3 book choices). These are books that I will be trying to read, and that I encourage you all to read also.

* I will try to provide links to any free (read: legal) e-book versions of the classics that I find. You may have to go to the library, though, for some. Or ask a friend if you can borrow a copy :) Let's share the bookish love!

* My personal goal is to complete every classic book I decide to read. No DNFs here unless the piece is so painful it's making my eyes bleed. Some months I may take on all three books, while other months I will read one title only (like when I attempt to read the chunky monkey, Anna Karenina)

* Feel free to post links to any reviews you write in the comments section of that month's challenge. I will be posting my own challenge reviews throughout the month where I also encourage you to link to reviews :)

* You can either read the suggestions for that month, or you can read another title that you've been meaning to read and have not gotten to. This challenge isn't so much about following the reading list verbatim as it is about expanding your horizons and actually reading something a bit more challenging.

That's all I can think of for now. If you have any questions, or would like to suggest a title, please feel free to either leave a comment or email me at tori.book.faery[at]gmail[dot]com

I hope you're all as excited as I am! Please stay tuned for the January 1st book list :)

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Book Dragon's Review: The Magic of Recluce by L.E. Modesitt, Jr.

Paperback: 464 pages
Price: $15.99
ISBN: 978-0765331120
Released: June 21, 2011 (special anniversary edition)
Publisher: Tor Books
Author's Website: http://www.lemodesittjr.com/
Buy it: Amazon
Obtained: publisher review copy
Genre: epic fantasy
Series: Saga of Recluce
Book Order:
1. The Magic of Recluce
2. The Towers of the Sunset
3. The Magic Engineer
4. The Order War
5. The Death of Chaos
6. Fall of Angels
7. The Chaos Balance
8. The White Order
9. Colors of Chaos
10. Magi'i of Cyador
11. Scion of Cyador
12. Wellspring of Chaos
13. Ordermaster
14. Natural Ordermage
15. Mage-Guard of Hamor
16. Arms-Commander

An epic adventure world that has so far spanned fifteen novels and has run for twenty years was launched in The Magic of Recluce, a triumph of fantasy. Young Lerris is dissatisfied with his life and trade, and yearns to find a place in the world better suited to his skills and temperament. But in Recluce a change in circumstances means taking one of two options: permanent exile from Recluce or the dangergeld, a complex, rule-laden wanderjahr in the lands beyond Recluce, with the aim of learning how the world works and what his place in it might be. Many do not survive. Lerris chooses dangergeld.

When Lerris is sent into intensive training for his quest, it soon becomes clear that he has a natural talent for magic. And he will need magic in the lands beyond, where the power of the Chaos Wizards reigns unchecked. Though it goes against all of his instincts, Lerris must learn to use his powers in an orderly way before his wanderjahr, or fall prey to Chaos.

My Rating: 3 Dragons

My Opinion:

I’ll preface this review by saying this book was neither good nor bad.  It fell very firmly into the middle “meh” scale for Book Dragon. 
My issue with this is that I usually quite like stories that go into the mechanics of magic/world building and that put believable obstacles in the path of the hero(es).  Robert Jordan, Terry Goodkind, and George R.R. Martin (just to name a few) are some of the epic fantasy authors who do this very well.
The problem with The Magic of Recluce is that it dips too much into the significance of economics and the magic system.  While I do enjoy a little bit of the “whys and wherefores” of a world to be sprinkled into the narrative, I don’t enjoy an entire book dedicated to the subject.  You learn alongside the main character, Lerris, as he discovers why it is Recluce does not allow anyone who questions their ways too closely to remain, why the elders are secretive about just about everything, and the differences between Chaos and Order (magic).
Over time, Lerris grows as a person (which is good, because he’s not a particularly likeable fellow to start out with), so I can see why this might be considered a “coming of age” novel.  However, at over 400 pages in the trade paperback version, I believe the same story could have been told in half the word count and it would not have suffered from the trimming. 
My only other complaint was that the entire narrative felt distant.  It was described beautifully, but I never felt any sense of urgency for Lerris or anyone else, and I never felt emotionally engaged with any of the characters, except maybe for the girl he had to leave behind in Fenard.  I kept waiting for the action to start—and realized this was a problem that would be prevalent throughout the entire story once I hit the halfway point and was still feeling a bit like I was waiting for something important to happen.
Oddly enough, you could consider Lerris to have been on an epic journey.  His travels took him very far from his home, he learned quite a lot about the land, its peoples, and himself, and he defeated an evil Chaos wizard.
And yet… it was all so distant.
The emphasis on the details was all on the insignificant things that really didn’t need to be delved into so thoroughly.  Did we really need those passages out of the book for masters of Order?  Why did the author go into such detail about the debates held in the classrooms before Lerris and the other dangergelders left Recluce without actually teaching the reader anything, and even go into detail about what Lerris ate and fed his mountain pony over most of his trip across Gandar, yet was so skimpy on the details when it finally came to the wizard battles you could hardly tell what had happened?  I admit to being somewhat disgruntled about this as a reader.  If even a fraction of the attention given to the details of the world building had been given to the action scenes, this would have been a far more entertaining read.
As terrible as this review may make it sound, it is not a bad book. If you like ponderous epic fantasy, you may enjoy this story.  As it was, it reminded Book Dragon a little too much of the over-politicking in the later Wheel of Time books.  I will not be going out of my way to pick up any of the other books in the series, but might read them if I should come across them elsewhere (such as the library, or the $0.50 bargain bin at a used book store).

Monday, December 19, 2011

Cover Wars: Pure VS Pure

Cover Wars
(inspired by Kate's Throwdown Thursday at The Neverending Shelf)

Cover Wars is a weekly post occurring every Monday at Book Faery.
Two covers will have a "face off," and it will be up to the readers to
decide who is the victor and who is the loser.  This is a great way for
readers to have their voice be heard, while also promoting new/old books
in the process.

Last week we had a showdown between Silence by Michelle Sagara and Silence by Becca Fitzpatrick.
The Winner:
  Silence by Becca Fitzpatrick!

Pure by Jennifer L. Armentrout
Pure by Julianna Baggot

Vote for your favorite Pure cover in the comments below!


Sunday, December 18, 2011

Intro and Bookshelf Tour

Hi! I thought I should introduce myself a little more thoroughly and give you guys a tour of my bookshelf before I start reviewing.

I'm Alice, I live in Sydney and love to read. Sadly, school is interfering with any reading that I can do and I'm mostly stuck reading crime novels (for my English Extension 1 class) and books that focus on 'The Outsider' (the topic for my English class). Needless to say, both options are a little boring since I have to pick sophisticated texts, ie not the stuff I enjoy reading!

So a little bit about me: I really love the colour pink, my favourite singers/bands include BWO (a really awesome, quirky Swedish band), Miley Cyrus (yes, I admit it!), The Veronicas and Adam Lambert. I also love Adam Hills and Dave Thornton (both Aussie comedians who RULE) and am a Flash groupie (ie I love the Flash). :)

Enough about me and onto the tour of my bookshelf! Please note that I do own more books but they are floating around the house somewhere because I have amazing organisational skills. Not. The only organisation that I bother with is with my bookshelf-- books are organised by author A-Z and then author's series A-Z. It's a big bother actually when I buy new books and have to fit them in!

As you guys can see, I'm a bit of a Meg Cabot and PC Cast fan!
Richelle Mead and Gena Showalter are both goddesses! So is Maria V Snyder by the way! :)
More Maria V Snyder as well as Rachel Vincent, whose Shifters series is amazing.

So yep, that's me and my bookshelf. The bottom shelf is usually reserved for library books and my TBR pile but I've run out of room on the upper shelves. Whoops.

I'm going to be reviewing a couple of Aussie books that aren't available in the US but I will give links to where you CAN buy them online. I'm really enthusiastic about spreading the love for books written by Australians since I'm Aussie. 

So yeah, if you guys have any review requests, questions or just want to talk, you can give me a shout on Twitter or email me at pink.sponge.baby(at)gmail(dot)com.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Please Welcome Book Faery's New Reviewer!

I'm not sure if many of you remember, but I posted a reviewers wanted ad a few weeks ago. Well, the search is over!

Thank you SO much to everyone who took the time to apply for the reviewer position! I was floored by your the enthusiasm and flattered that people were interested in my blog :) 

I've gone through each application and have decided which blogger I feel would compliment Book Faery the most. Since I have a tendency to read a mix of YA and adult, and because I know many of you love your YAs, our newest reviewer will be focusing more on this genre. That means more popular and diverse titles for you all to hear about.

Please give a warm welcome to our newest YA reviewer, Alice! (you can follow her on twitter here)

Still stuck at school and not at all liking it, Alice reads and reviews books to get away from her boring reality. A not-so-typical Aussie girl, Alice doesn't enjoy the great outdoors very much and thus has far too much time on her hands. When not reading or working, she is scouting for great bargains on the Internet.

Welcome to the blog, my Aussie friend :D

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Promotion: Creative Spirit by Scott Nicholson

"Scott Nicholson explores the dark legends of the southern end of the Appalachian mountain chain, a nightmare country that ends in Stephen King's yard."-- Sharyn McCrumb, author of The Ballad novels

A paranormal thriller by Scott Nicholson

After parapsychologist Anna Galloway is diagnosed with metastatic cancer, she has a recurring dream in which she sees her own ghost at Korban Manor. She’s compelled to visit the historic estate to face her destiny and the fate of her soul.

Sculptor Mason Jackson has come to the manor to make a final, all-or-nothing attempt at success before giving up his dreams. When he becomes obsessed with carving Ephram Korban's form out of wood, he is swept into a destructive frenzy that even Anna can’t pull him from.

The manor itself has secrets, with fires that blaze constantly in the hearths, portraits of Korban in every room, and deceptive mirrors on the walls. With an October blue moon looming, both the living and the dead learn the true power of their dreams.

View or sample it at Amazon US, Amazon UK, Kobo, Smashwords, BN.com, or Goodreads. Look for Liquid Fear and Chronic Fear from Amazon’s Thomas & Mercer imprint.

CREATIVE SPIRIT is Scott Nicholson’s revised edition of the 2004 U.S. paperback THE MANOR. Scott is Kindle bestselling author of 12 novels, including THE RED CHURCH, DISINTEGRATION, LIQUID FEAR, and SPEED DATING WITH THE DEAD. Connect with Scott on Facebook, Goodreads, LibraryThing, Twitter, blogspot, website or Amazon page

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Guest Post & Giveaway with Piper Maitland

Piper Maitland lives on a Tennessee farm with her family. She is the author of the vampire thriller, Acquainted With the Night (Berkley/November 2011). She is currently working on the sequel, A Requiem for Daylight. Piper has also written novels under the name Michael Lee West.

“Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again…I stood by the iron gate leading to the drive.”

When people ask how I became a writer, I blame it on my sickly childhood, a book-lined room, and Daphne Du Maurier’s fondness for old mansions. It began when I was a young girl, my mother sent me to Girl Scout camp. After a day of caving, I spiked a high fever and couldn’t breathe. The doctors were puzzled. They took my mother aside and asked if I had been exposed to tuberculosis. X-rays and skin tests finally determined that I’d contracted histoplasmosis, a rather common malady in middle Tennessee. 

Fearing that my brother would catch the disease, my mother sent me to my grandmother’s house in the piney woods of Mississippi. My Mimi’s home didn’t have servants or sweeping views of the ocean, but its cozy warmth and smells of fresh baked bread were healing forces. I spent a rainy morning in Mimi’s book-lined study—a rare treat because my mother did not purchase books and borrowed them from her friends or the local library.  

On Mimi’s shelf, I found a tattered copy of Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier. I curled up in the window seat, and for the next few days, I entered the world of Manderley. I could see Jasper, the spotted Spaniel dog, as he followed the unnamed narrator around the stone mansion, the sinister housekeeper, Danvers, lurking in the shadows. I could feel the warm, sandy grass as I walked down the path to the sea. When the narrator walked down Manderley’s secluded driveway, I was right behind her. When she sat down at the dinner table, I lifted the linen napkin and ran my finger over the ornate, monogrammed R. 

In real life, apparently Daphne Du Maurier was a bit of a house stalker, one of my favorite vices. Her young mind was shaped by two English estates. The first, Milton Park, was located in Northamptonshire, and Daphne spent the summer in the lavish gardens. Later, Hitchcock would use Milton as the inspiration for Manderley’s interiors. 

The drive wound away in front of me, twisting and turning as it had always done….

But it was the second house, Menabilly, that shaped Manderley, along with other fictional mansions (My Cousin Rachel and The King’s General). Daphne would walk around the ruined house, and while she mentally refurbished the manse, her writer’s imagination was firmly engaged. Using words, she constructed a hybrid of Milton Park and Menabilly, and a house with another M-name was born: Manderley. Daphne constructed the grey stones, soaring ceilings, and windows with glimpses of the water. 

I recovered from my illness and returned to Tennessee, but part of me stayed in Manderley. I became a seasoned house stalker. I’d walk around the neighborhood, ringing doorbells, boldly asking owners if I could tour their homes. Oddly enough, these kind souls never refused. 

My mother forbade me to become a writer, and I ended up with a B.S. in nursing. I wrote in a stuffy closet under the staircase and papered the walls with rejection slips. During those long, unpublished years, Manderley was never far from my mind. When I began writing full time, I wasn’t sure how to build a fictional world, so I turned to Rebecca. Fictional houses became just as important as my characters—in fact, the houses became characters.

In Acquainted With the Night, I “designed” a farmhouse in rural Tennessee, a cliff-top monastery, a stone house in Oxford, an English country estate, and a London pharmaceutical building. My favorite house was an Italian vampire’s villa. I placed it on an island near Venice: 

The villa reminded Caro of a floating hotel. The four-story Italianate was the color of oyster shells. Stone gargoyles peered down from an upper balcony. The island wasn’t landscaped so much as sculpted. Stone nymphs danced around a fountain. Further out, boxwood hedges formed crosses. Next to the front steps, topiaries were carved into mythological beasts.

The mansion’s name is Villa Primaverina. Inside, it had been modernized: a mirrored weight room, lap pool, media center, game room, elevators, blood bank, and a virtual golf course. Naturally the manse has a windowless, book-jammed library or two. 

In real life, I will soon move to a farmhouse, mainly because I fell in love with the winding driveway. It’s far from the sea, but the setting has already sparked my imagination, because just last night, I dreamed of Manderley.


Acquainted with evil…
The pages of history are written in the blood of the undead…
A woman’s quest for the truth…
A medieval icon that holds the clues…
An ancient book with the power to shake Christianity—and humanity itself…

Caroline Clifford’s bland life as a London tour guide flips upside down when her beloved uncle is brutally murdered at a Bulgarian archeological site. While traveling to recover his remains, she meets a man who corresponded with her uncle. Jude Barrett is a biochemist on a mission—to eradicate the world of vampires… 

At first, Caro is dismissive of Jude’s beliefs, but she can’t ignore the signs around her—the human bites on her uncle, the strange men following her, the anguished cries after sundown. Strange anagrams on her uncle’s passport lead her and Jude to a cliff-top monastery in Greece, where a shattering revelation connects a relic Caro inherited from her parents to an age-old text on immortality—and an enigmatic prophecy that pits the forces of darkness and light in a showdown that could destroy them all…