Thursday, May 30, 2013

The Madness Underneath by Maureen Johnson

Genre:  YA Urban Fantasy
Shades of London Series, Book 2

Note:  Please, please, please read the first book before you read my review here.  It's a really good book, and I don't want to ruin the plot for you (but I will if you keep reading).

Description (taken from Goodreads):
When madness stalks the streets of London, no one is safe…

There's a creepy new terror haunting modern-day London. Fresh from defeating a Jack the Ripper killer, Rory must put her new-found hunting skills to the test before all hell breaks loose…

But enemies are not always who you expect them to be and crazy times call for crazy solutions. A thrilling teen mystery.

So, the description above really doesn't give you a good idea of what this 'second-in-a-series' is about.  So, I'll give you a few details without ruining it.

Rory is in Bristol still recovering from the Ripper attack.  And she's also sort of coming to terms with what's happened to her, paranormally that is.  But all of the action happens in London, so she returns back to Wexford, her school.  Everyone kind of walks on eggshells around her while she readjusts.  The only problem is, she's not adjusting well and everything's falling apart at the seams.

After a random death, Rory sees some ghostly connections and asks Stephen to help her investigate.  And this is sort of the beginning of Rory merging herself into the ghost fighting team.  Some paranormal happenings and some drama, and we've got a story.

You know, I did not have a problem with this book at all until the last twenty or so pages.  It was slower, yes, but the recovering parts felt valid.  And Rory trying to find herself amongst the chaos was alright.  But then the book took a turn in left field and then another one.  And I realized, I missed the twist because I wasn't invested enough.  And this book just didn't have the big overall plot it should have had.  It's like if I were to take the main ingredients from cake, spaghetti, steak, lasagna, and throw it all together and call it a masterpiece, no one would agree with me.  And that's what this book did, twenty different small plots that didn't really make up a big enough plot.

Agh, I'm mad with the ending.  This book would have been okay without that ending.  And thanks to the ending, I don't think I'll continue.

Challenges:  Paranormal Reading Challenge

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly post hosted by Breaking the Spine, and it spotlights upcoming books that we as readers are anxiously awaiting...

Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo
Genre:  YA Fantasy
The Grisha Series, Book 2
Leigh Bardugo's website
Expected publication date:  June 4, 2013
Amazon | Book Depository | Goodreads

Description (taken from Goodreads):
Darkness never dies.

Hunted across the True Sea, haunted by the lives she took on the Fold, Alina must try to make a life with Mal in an unfamiliar land, all while keeping her identity as the Sun Summoner a secret. But she can’t outrun her past or her destiny for long.

The Darkling has emerged from the Shadow Fold with a terrifying new power and a dangerous plan that will test the very boundaries of the natural world. With the help of a notorious privateer, Alina returns to the country she abandoned, determined to fight the forces gathering against Ravka. But as her power grows, Alina slips deeper into the Darkling’s game of forbidden magic, and farther away from Mal. Somehow, she will have to choose between her country, her power, and the love she always thought would guide her–or risk losing everything to the oncoming storm.

Reading the first one last year was epic.  My favorite of the year and probably one of my favorite fantasy-reads of all time.  I'm excited for this one.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Author Interview: Yellow Socks and Blood Spots by Bailey J Thompson

Yellow Socks and Blood Spots by Bailey J Thompson
Genre: YA Contemporary

Description (taken from blog tour):
Two lines means pregnant, and pregnant is the very last thing seventeen-year-old Isabelle wanted to be. She’s just beginning her senior year, she’s rekindling the respectable relationship she once had with her family and she has finally fallen in love.

Her boyfriend, Jason wants an abortion, while Isabelle wants to give her baby a chance at life, whether that means adoption or raising her baby herself. Her situation raises a question of values, beliefs, rights, societal expectations and personal opinions, and as Isabelle’s friends and family discover the news, they seem to think they know what’s best for her and her baby. Within two weeks of finding out about their beautiful disaster, Isabelle and Jason have to come to a mutual agreement and make a life and death decision.

Bailey J Thompson Interview

Q:  Vanilla or Chocolate? 
A:  Vanilla

Q:  Summer or Winter? 
A:  Summer

Q:  Driving or flying? 
A:  Driving

Q:  Early bird or night owl? 
A:  Night owl that loves mornings. How did that happen?

Q:  Batman or Superman? 

Q:  Truth or dare? 
A:  Truth

Q:  Computer games or board games? 
A:  Board games

Q:  Photographer or photographee?
A:   Photographer

Q:  Age you received your first kiss? 
A:  Thirteen

Q:  Favorite sport to watch? 
A:  I LOVE to watch runners... I tried to be one at one point too... didn't go over so well.

Q:  Favorite quote? 
A:  “We're in a giant car heading towards a brick wall and everyones arguing over where they're going to sit” - David Suzuki

Q: What are you afraid of? 
A:  Spiders. Small spaces. Clothes that are too tight.

Q: Favorite book? 
A:  Lightning - Dean Koontz

Q:  Describe your book in two sentences. 
A:  Abortion is the clashing of rights; human rights and women's rights, but ultimately nobody will ever be right. Yellow Socks and Blood Spots was written to create perspective and start a conversation. 

Q:  Who is your book meant to be read by? 
A:  Young Adults

Saturday, May 25, 2013

manda-rae's Haul

Stacking the Shelves consists of books we received in the last week, hosted by Tynga's reviews.

It's been a while since I've done one of these posts.  And unfortunately, I've only got one book to report.  We're currently painting my house this weekend.  So I might have pictures next weekend.  And it also means my book-in-a-nose will be a rare sight to see now.  Hope everyone's having a good weekend (and a good holiday one if you're in the US).


  • The Program by Suzanne Young (signed)
    • Amazon | Book Depository | Goodreads
      • So I really like Suzanne Young's A Need So Beautiful, so I thought I'd try her new book.  I've heard mixed reviews on it.  So we'll see how it goes.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Guest Post and Giveaway: In Darkness We Must Abide by Rhiannon Frater

In Darkness We Must Abide: The Complete Frist Season by Rhiannon Frater
Genre:  Adult Modern Gothic Horror

Description (taken from Xpresso Book Tours):
In Darkness We Must Abide is the epic saga of one young woman caught in the dangerous world of the creatures of the night.

Already living in the shadows due to her albinism, Vanora is just a little girl when her older brother inadvertently unleashes a terrible evil from the family crypt that changes their lives forever.

As she grows up in a world where beautiful deadly beings hunt by night, one captures her eye and her heart. Yet, can she trust the mysterious Armando? For there is a powerful entity plotting to claim her when she reaches adulthood in order to fulfill an ancient prophecy, and her enemy has enveloped her in a web of deceit, casting doubt on all she believes to be true. Soon, she will have to fight not only to save those she loves, but also for her very soul.

Rhiannon Frater delivers a chilling adventure once again with this multi-part epic serial with a dynamic cast, old school vampires, bloody action, a smoldering forbidden love, and a terrifying villain set against the backdrop of a modern day vampire war.

This paperback includes all five episodes of the first season of the serial.

The Origin of a Supernatural Serial
Guest Post by Rhiannon Frater

At the end of last year, I stumbled across an old manuscript lurking in the badlands of my hard drive. I was shocked to unearth the story, having forgotten I had it converted to Word years ago from my old word processing format. For years I had considered it trunked and lost somewhere in the storage in the garage. Opening the file, I rediscovered a story I had sank most of my heart and soul into a very long time ago when I was just starting to write horror novels.

In Darkness We Must Abide was my first full-length original work. I spent hours at my old typewriter creating the first draft of the manuscript. Later, I bought a word processor and retyped the entire manuscript, saving it onto floppy discs. Yes, this was a long time ago!

As I read over my old work, I realized several things. One, I still absolutely loved the two primary leads, Armando and Vanora; and two, the story was solid, but needed some revision. I was very young when I wrote the story, inexperienced in life, love, and long lasting relationships, and this clearly showed. Also, I was under immense pressure from people in my life to write something “nice and normal,” so I struggled quite a bit with certain themes in the story. Reading over the manuscript, I saw exactly the changes I needed to implement to make it a stronger, vibrant read. I set it aside, considering reworking it into a trilogy at a later date.

At the beginning of this year, I began toying with the idea of doing a serial. As The World Dies was originally written as an online serial, and I’d missed the immediate feedback that came with the release of each new part. I had an idea for a whole new fresh work, but was intimidating by having to fit it into my already overloaded writing schedule. Then I saw an article about taking an old manuscript and converting it into a serial. Instantaneously, I knew that In Darkness We Must Abide was the perfect story to be converted into a serial. It was already divided into three distinct parts and it was huge! In fact, one of the reasons I couldn’t sell the book in its old form was that it was one massive book that far exceeded the word count limits of most publishers.

I instantly divided the first third of the story into the five episodes that make up season one. Extremely nervous, I started the revision process with the intention of each part reading like a television show in the reader’s mind. I was shocked at how easily the story fell into an episodic format, but was thrilled at the same time. Also, the voices of the characters readily reawakened in my mind, much to my relief.

In my youth, I had made several big mistakes. When a test reader had an adverse reaction to my lead character being an albino, I altered her appearance. I even changed her name to something I thought sounded fancier. When I started revising, the first thing I did was give Vanora her name back and restore her albinism. I had robbed my lead character of an important part of not only her physical appearance, but her life experience as an albino. I also embraced all the themes I had skirted around in the earlier drafts, out of fear of criticism.

Side note: Humorously, I spent a lot of time trying to avoid overt sexual themes out of fear of offending my mother. This is the same woman who would later call me up to tell me how much she loved the sex scenes in Pretty When She Dies because they were “hot.”

When I finally sent the first episode off to my beta readers, I was terrified. How would they react to a gothic horror novel I had conceived so long ago? When the rave reviews started flowing in, I was so relieved. My story had officially risen from the grave.

Since the release of the first episode of In Darkness We Must Abide, I’ve been having a great time discussing the story with readers. A serial feels much different from a trilogy or series because the installments come out much quicker and there is less waiting for the readers. As a writer, it’s a challenge to give the readers something they can enjoy in small increments, but also instills in them the desire to read the next episode. The immediate feedback is also a great way for me to gage what is working, and what’s not. Though the fan reaction will not affect the overall story arc, to some degree it does affect the presentation of it. Because of the mad love for Armando, I have expanded his role significantly in the first season.

I have enjoyed my serial experience so much. I’m already anticipating doing one next year! This time it will be a whole new writing project, but it was definitely worthwhile digging up In Darkness We Must Abide and sharing it with my readership.

Author Bio: Rhiannon Frater
Rhiannon Frater is the award-winning author of over a dozen books, including the As the World Dies zombie trilogy (Tor) , as well as independent works such as The Last Bastion of the Living (declared the #1 Zombie Release of 2012 by Explorations Fantasy Blog and the #1 Zombie Novel of the Decade by B&N Book Blog), and other horror novels. Her next novel for Tor, Dead Spots, will be published in 2014. She was born and raised a Texan and presently lives in Austin, Texas with her husband and furry children (a.k.a pets). She loves scary movies, sci-fi and horror shows, playing video games, cooking, dying her hair weird colors, and shopping for Betsey Johnson purses and shoes.

This giveaway is open to US/CAN residents only.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Fragments by Dan Wells

Genre:  YA Dystopian
Partials Sequence Series, Book 2

Description (taken from Dan Wells' website):
Kira Walker has found the cure for RM, but the battle for the survival of humans and Partials is just beginning. Kira has left East Meadow in a desperate search for clues to who she is. That the Partials themselves hold the cure for RM in their blood cannot be a coincidence—it must be part of a larger plan, a plan that involves Kira, a plan that could save both races. Her companions are Afa Demoux, an unhinged drifter and former employee of ParaGen, and Samm and Heron, the Partials who betrayed her and saved her life, the only ones who know her secret. But can she trust them?

Meanwhile, back on Long Island, what's left of humanity is gearing up for war with the Partials, and Marcus knows his only hope is to delay them until Kira returns. But Kira's journey will take her deep into the overgrown wasteland of postapocalyptic America, and Kira and Marcus both will discover that their greatest enemy may be one they didn't even know existed.

Do you guys know how long this book is?  It's the longest book I've read so far this year.  And truly, that's my major complaint with this one.  It all came down to the length.  If were shorter and more succinct, I probably would have liked it more.

This book pretty much picks up where the first one left off.  Who is Kira?  Why is RM associated with the partials?  Lots of good questions in this post-apocalyptic world.  Only problem was, the first one hundred pages were spent with Kira being lost and finding nothing.  I think we got the point of how desperate she was with the first 25 pages.  But never fear, the plot picked up the more I read.

We've got Samm and Heron helping Kira find these important answers.  And we're still getting comfortable with the fact that partials are just like humans, except that they are genetically superior and have a link that can control them.  There's a new guy, Afa, and the destruction of the human race has kind of left a mark on him.  However, he tries to help Kira find those answers.  Back in the human world, all hell is breaking loose.  Humans and Partials are further divided and completely afraid of the other side (okay, partials aren't really afraid of us - sorry they're too superior).  And in this whole book, you realize there are a lot of moral questions that arise.

All in all, I really enjoyed this book.  The science is still there.  However, the moral soapbox does creep up quite a bit in this book because we're forcing people to make impossible decisions in desperate situations.  So, for me, this book would have been perfect if it were 200 pages shorter and had more science, less morals.  Still planning to read the next one.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

The Essence by Kimberly Derting

Genre:  YA Dystopian Fantasy
The Pledge Series, Book 2

Description (taken from Kimberly Derting's website):
Though it has been months since Charlaina—Charlie—defeated the tyrant Sabara and took control of the Ludanian crown, Sabara has not disappeared. The old queen's Essence has fused itself to Charlie's psyche and is viciously fighting to overpower Charlie.

Balancing her new duties as Queen and battling both Sabara's voice and a growing resistance to her rule push Charlie to the brink of exhaustion. She wants to be the same old Charlie she has ever been but now she is Your Majesty.

As Charlie journeys to an annual summit to meet with the leaders of nearby Queendoms—an event where her ability to understand all languages is the utmost asset—she is faced with the ultimate betrayal. And the only person she can turn to for help is the evil soul residing within.

I'm trying to figure out why I've been striking out on so many 'second' books.  Maybe it's because all the enthusiasm I had for the first books didn't hold for the whole year I had to wait for the next book.  Or I've forgotten too much of the plot to continue with satisfaction.  Maybe I need to quit reading debut novels until after the whole trilogy is out, so I don't lose the story while waiting.

Ugh, so I felt like this book just kind of made me question the whole world that Charlie lives in.  I questioned the fantasy part, what actually happened in the first book, Charlie herself, her friends, and the plot.  The first book seemed a little more clear cut: there's an evil queen, destroy her and let good triumph.  And then the second comes along, and we find out it's a lot harder to keep the good triumphing.  It's also hard to try to make the good look bad and give a reason for rioters.

Reading this book, we start to lose ourselves a little with who the evil threats really are.  Who we thought were good and evil in the first book suddenly begin to loosen and move towards the other end in this book.  And I don't think it set well for me.  And I feel like the characters were flat here; they didn't continue to develop.

Agh, I don't think I'll continue this series.  I wanted it to be something great for me, but it feels like time away from this series was not a good thing for me.

Challenges:  Dystopia Reading Challenge

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly post hosted by Breaking the Spine, and it spotlights upcoming books that we as readers are anxiously awaiting...

Goddess by Josephine Angelini
Genre:  YA Mythology
Starcrossed Series, Book 3
Josephine Angelini's website
Expected publication date:  May 28, 2013
Amazon | Book Depository | Goodreads

Description (taken from Goodreads):
After accidentally unleashing the gods from their captivity on Olympus, Helen must find a way to re-imprison them without starting a devastating war. But the gods are angry, and their thirst for blood already has a body count.

To make matters worse, the Oracle reveals that a diabolical Tyrant is lurking among them, which drives a wedge between the once-solid group of friends. As the gods use the Scions against one another, Lucas’s life hangs in the balance. Still unsure whether she loves him or Orion, Helen is forced to make a terrifying decision, for war is coming to her shores.

In Josephine Angelini’s compelling conclusion to the masterfully woven Starcrossed trilogy, a goddess must rise above it all to change a destiny that’s been written in the stars. With worlds built just as fast as they crumble, love and war collide in an all-out battle that will leave no question unanswered and no heart untouched.

So I really enjoyed the second book even though they added a stupid love triangle.  And I want to read this conclusion.  One of my favorite reads in 2010.  I'm so excited that the ending is near, haha...

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Frost Burned by Patricia Briggs

Genre:  Adult Urban Fantasy
Mercy Thompson Series, Book 7

Note:  This is the seventh book in the series.  Obviously there are some spoiler alerts if you're not caught up yet.  (But if you're like me, you'll keep reading because a description plus review usually pushes you to read the series faster --or you just don't like surprises.)

Description (taken from Goodreads):
Mercy Thompson’s life has undergone a seismic change. Becoming the mate of Adam Hauptman—the charismatic Alpha of the local werewolf pack—has made her a stepmother to his daughter Jesse, a relationship that brings moments of blissful normalcy to Mercy’s life. But on the edges of humanity, what passes for a minor mishap on an ordinary day can turn into so much more…

After an accident in bumper-to-bumper traffic, Mercy and Jesse can’t reach Adam—or anyone else in the pack for that matter. They’ve all been abducted.

Through their mating bond, all Mercy knows is that Adam is angry and in pain. With the werewolves fighting a political battle to gain acceptance from the public, Mercy fears Adam’s disappearance may be related—and that he and the pack are in serious danger. Outclassed and on her own, Mercy may be forced to seek assistance from any ally she can get, no matter how unlikely.

Patricia Briggs has made a comeback with this novel for me.  With the last book, I was kind of left unimpressed and felt the series might begin to lag for me.  But this book has turned me around.  Because of this series, I can truly say I like werewolves (best viewed from afar).

As the description states, Mercy can't get ahold of Adam and his pack.  This book lets us see what happens when the werewolves become the prey.  And it's a mystery that Mercy must work to solve quickly if she hopes to save those she holds dear.  In fact, it's the kind of mystery that I didn't figure out all the way on my own.  I was too busy enjoying the story of course.

Fans of adult paranormal stories need to give this series a try.  I've officially thrown my shoes at urban fantasy lovers who haven't read this series yet...

Challenges:  Paranormal Reading Challenge

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Gameboard of the Gods by Richelle Mead

Genre:  Adult Mythology (but set in the future)
Age of X Series, Book 1
Expected publication date:  June 4, 2013

Description (taken from Richelle Mead's website):
In a futuristic world nearly destroyed by religious extremists, Justin March lives in exile after failing in his job as an investigator of religious groups and supernatural claims. But Justin is given a second chance when Mae Koskinen comes to bring him back to the Republic of United North America (RUNA). Raised in an aristocratic caste, Mae is now a member of the military’s most elite and terrifying tier, a soldier with enhanced reflexes and skills.

When Justin and Mae are assigned to work together to solve a string of ritualistic murders, they soon realize that their discoveries have exposed them to terrible danger. As their investigation races forward, unknown enemies and powers greater than they can imagine are gathering in the shadows, ready to reclaim the world in which humans are merely game pieces on their board.

Wow, what a bizarre world.  I'm still undecided as to whether or not I absolutely loved it or not.  So, let me give the basics using the language I know and not the futuristic terms given in the book.  To start, this book is told from three people's point of views: Justin, Mae, and Tessa.  It's set sometime in the future where a disease has destroyed most of the population.  And to avoid conflict and prevent more diseases, religion has kind of been monitored and slightly stripped from the world.  But when humans deny the Gods, they do tend to come back with a vengeance.  (Okay, so that last sentence came from my grasp of the theme of this series, not what happens in this book.)

Justin, a guy who's probably in his early thirties (or late twenties) returns to the RUNA to investigate a murder mystery.  He's kind of like a detective who helps regulate religious activity.  Oh, and there's a God keeping his eye on him.

Mae, a 28-year-old girl who has enlisted in the military and is one of the most lethal kind of soldiers in the RUNA.  She basically has an implant that gives her body a boost in adrenaline when needed.  Basically, don't bet against her when trying to determine who will win in a fight.

Tessa, a 16-year-old immigrant who has been given the chance to make something of herself in the RUNA.  Trying to mesh where she was raised and where she is now into who she will become is interesting to see.

I enjoyed this book.  Richelle Mead is very good at asking all of the right questions and giving you just enough answers to want to keep going.  I did have a big "aha" moment in the middle of the book and figured out the plot.  But the bigger plot (what the series is about) was only beginning to form.  And we do get one major question answered, but you want to keep going at that point.

Overall, this was a really good introduction to a new series.  It is definitely not a standalone novel, and I wouldn't recommend people expect it to be.  This book introduces its readers to a new world, new characters, and a new kind of mythology.  All I can say is: it's going to get addictive...

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Lust for Life by Jeri Smith-Ready

Genre:  Adult Urban Fantasy
WVMP Series, Book 4

Note:  I highly recommend reading the other books before reading the description and review here since it does contain spoilers for the overall story as one would expect with later books continuing with the plot.

Description (taken from Goodreads):
Everyone's out for blood-hers

Ciara’s con-artist parents taught her three keys to survival: keep low, keep quiet, and most of all, keep moving. But managing WVMP, the Lifeblood of Rock ’n’ Roll—not to mention becoming a vampire herself—has kept her in one place long enough to fall madly in love, adopt an undead dog . . .

. . . and make more enemies than she can shake a stake at.

A psychotic DJ, a wanna-be necromancer, and a posse of vengeful hippies would all love to see Ciara get her day in the sun—literally. To protect Ciara, her fiancĂ©, Shane, has traded his flannel shirt and guitar for a flak jacket and crossbow. If she survives to walk down the aisle, will she recognize the man waiting at the altar?

In this final chapter of the award-winning WVMP RADIO series, Ciara must decide who to trust, whom to love—and whom to kill.

This final book of the series was a perfect ending to the series.  I think I'm going to keep this review fairly short to avoid spoilers.  As I've mentioned before, I was never really a fan of Ciara from the very beginning.  I didn't like her personality.  She kind of made me think of sewage water honestly.  But I don't have that feeling with the last book.  In fact, I'm rooting for her.  So I guess that goes to show you how much she grew throughout the series and how much of my prejudices I was able to let slide.

So Shane and Ciara, two vampires in love preparing to spend the rest of their lives together.  They're getting married!  Only problem is there's other vampires out there looking to destroy them first.  And we get to watch then take a whirlwind of a ride throughout the novel.  What we'd think as far-fetched and impossible suddenly becomes possible and probable when it involves Ciara Griffin.  And of course, we get to hear her inner-cynicism and snarky humor throughout it all.

Perfect ending to the series.  It gave me a warm feeling at the end even though I've been tainted by Ciara's cynicism.  My only regrets is some of the main side characters from previous books kind of took a backseat role in this book.  I wish I'd seen more of them.

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