Thursday, March 31, 2011

To Be Read Pile (1)

Here's a (very) little look at my TBR pile. These are the books that I hope to read soon.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Author Interview : C.C. Hunter, author of Born at Midnight

Yesterday, a spectacular new addition to the paranormal YA genre was released: Born at Midnight by C.C. Hunter I had the awesome opportunity to interview C.C., and she also offered a giveaway copy! (Giveaway is INTERNATIONAL! See below the interview for more details.)






Buy Born at Midnight on Amazon

One night Kylie Galen finds herself at the wrong party, with the wrong people, and it changes her life forever.  Her mother ships her off to Shadow Falls—a camp for troubled teens, and within hours of arriving, it becomes painfully clear that her fellow campers aren’t just “troubled.”  Here at Shadow Falls, vampires, werewolves, shapshifters, witches and fairies train side by side—learning to harness their powers, control their magic and live in the normal world.

Kylie’s never felt normal, but surely she doesn’t belong here with a bunch of paranormal freaks either.  Or does she?  They insist Kylie is one of them, and that she was brought here for a reason.  As if life wasn’t complicated enough, enter Derek and Lucas.  Derek’s a half-fae who’s determined to be her boyfriend, and Lucas is a smokin’ hot werewolf with whom Kylie shares a secret past.  Both Derek and Lucas couldn’t be more different, but they both have a powerful hold on her heart. 

Even though Kylie feels deeply uncertain about everything, one thing is becoming painfully clear—Shadow Falls is exactly where she belongs…

1.     1. In Born at Midnight, you create this intricate world where supernaturals exist within human society, and try to do so peacefully, hence the camp. There was quite the cast of creatures. What was your inspiration for the story?

Hi, Ashley.  Thank you so much for having me at your blog today.  As for how I got the inspiration for Born at Midnight, well, it’s a funny story.  I was actually approached by St. Martin’s Press and asked if I would like to try my hand at writing a YA.  They had the spark of an idea and wanted to see if I could run with it.  And when I say “spark,” I mean just a spark.  Two words, that’s all I was given.  Paranormal camp. 

I have always been known for writing a rather large ensemble of characters.  And I knew right away that this book would need several.  I’m also known for creating life-like, believable characters.  And considering that these characters are supernaturals, I knew I’d really have to find a way to humanize my nonhuman characters.  So I came up with a list of personality traits for my supernaturals that mirrored the personality traits of people.  For example, people who are the quiet, standoffish types are often called lone wolves. Or the person who blends in so easily with their environment often appears to shift their personalities depending on who they’re with at the time.  Basically, I took human traits to create sort of an outline for my different paranormals.  I’ve actually posted my supernatural personality traits on my website,.   So I guess my inspiration for creating my characters came from all the lovable and sometimes crazy characters in my life.      

2.      Kylie is the quiet loner type, but has a spunky side that really shines as the book progresses. Is she based off of you?

I’m a firm believer in making sure that every character I write is, in some way, based on myself.  I may not be as moody, or quick to anger as my character Della, who is Kylie’s vampire roommate, but for sure, I’ve had days and even weeks like that.  Poor Miranda, who is Kylie’s other roommate, is a dyslexic witch and can’t cast her spells right, and that came right out of my life.  Well, not the casting spells part, but the dyslexic part.  So, I guess you could say I borrow from my own life experiences to create all my characters.  But to get back to your question:  Is Kylie based off of me?  There is probably more of Kylie in me that any of the other characters.  Like Kylie, as a teen I felt invisible.   I was the quiet type.  I hung to myself a lot, and was what I call an over-thinker.  I analyzed everything in my head.  I also gave Kylie some of the same issues I dealt with when I was a teenager.  My parents got a divorce when I was sixteen.  I was dumped by a boy who wanted things I wasn’t willing to give.  I think the biggest differences, though, between Kylie and me are that, first, I’m not supernatural and second, it took me a lot longer to get in touch with my spunky side.  I wasn’t a pushover; I stood up for myself when I was really confronted, but on a daily basis, I mostly avoided conflict by becoming invisible.  It took me well into my twenties before I really found my backbone and started speaking my mind.   Thank goodness, Kylie learned that lesson a lot earlier than I did.

3.      You’ve written adult and nonfiction novels, but this is your first venture into YA. How was the experience different? Which genre do you prefer?

First and foremost, any time you move into a different genre, you have to understand the makeup of that genre.  Writing romance is different from writing YA, just as writing nonfiction is different from writing fiction.  So, when I started plotting Born at Midnight, I went on a reading jag of every YA I could get my hands on.  I had read a few, but I hadn’t studied them.  And by studied, I mean analyzed them and figured out the different components that makes a book a great read.  Not that all books have the same components; some books are great because they are character-driven, others are must reads because of the plot, and for some, it’s the author’s writing, the mood that the writer creates on the page that leaves her readers breathless.  Some books are popular for the dark drama occurring on the pages, and others are light, fun reads.  Some are a mix.  I needed to know what components built the books that I enjoyed the most.   Then I had to figure out how to use my own writing strengths to build a wining YA novel. 

One of the biggest differences between romance and YA is that the plot is about more than just about the romance.  Every YA I read, I got the feeling that the story had an element of “Coming of Age,” of characters discovering who they are, what they like and how romance, newfound independence and inner strength fit into their world and helped them discover who they really were.  

As for which genre I prefer.  I really don’t know.  I mean, I’m having a blast writing the YA with the paranormal elements.  It’s so much fun to be able to write about ghosts and have people who can fly.  But I haven’t and won’t stop writing my romances either.  I think what I love about writing isn’t so much a genre, it really is about the storytelling I love.   

4.      Describe Born at Midnight in 5 words. 

Five words?  Seriously?  LOL.  Okay, I’ll try.  How about . . . Self discovery, friendship and romance?  That’s actually from a tagline at my website . . . “Welcome to my world of self discovery, friendship and romance.”

5.      After reading this book, I know that fans of the book will be divided into two factions: Team Lucas, and Team Derek. (Personally, I’m Team Lucas. Love me some bad boy.) Which team are you more partial to?

Just the other day my husband, who is straight up Team Derek, was asking me about a scene with Lucas.  He got upset and told me that I was giving Lucas too much page time.   “Derek is the real hero.  You have to make sure he wins the race at the end.”

I looked at my hubby and frowned.  “I can’t force the book to end the way I want it to, the book has to write itself.   Something may happen in the next few scenes that changes how Kylie feels about things.” 

 He was surprised at my answer and said, “Wow, I never realized that you really don’t dictate what happens in your books.” 

I know it sounds crazy, but the book really does write itself.  I don’t plot out my stories down to the last details.  I set up a series of events and the story evolves as I write it.  I don’t know who Kylie will end up with.  As I’m writing a scene with her and Derek, I think… “Oh, yeah, he’s the one.”  But then Lucas will show up on the next page, and my heart breaks, because he’s the one, too.  Kylie will have to make that call when the time comes.  I don’t envy her the decision either.  Both Derek and Lucas offer something to Kylie that helps complete who she is.  And both bring with them some flaws that Kylie will have to accept. With each book, Kylie grows; and what she wants, needs, and is willing to accept will change.   I don’t think even Kylie knows who she wants to end up with in the end.   So stayed tuned as we discover this together.  Meanwhile, can I say I’m on the fence about what team I’m on?  Then again, right now both Kylie and I are mad at Derek.  So he’d better watch his back.  LOL.

6.      Is there anything you'd like to say about your book?

I had a blast writing it.  Right now, I’m working on Book 3 of the series, Taken at Dusk. I’m learning more about Kylie and her world, more about her friends at Shadow Falls, too.  Oh.  Speaking of Kylie’s friends, I wrote a short story called Turned at Dark about Della Tsang and how she became a vampire. It will be available at the Born at Midnight page at my publisher on March 15th.  (You can also read an excerpt from Born at Midnight there, too.) Then, on March 29, the same day Born at Midnight releases, my short story Turned At Dark will be available as a free eBook download on all online retail sites, such as BN, Borders, Sony, Googlebooks, and IBookstore. How cool is that?


Thanks again, Ashley, for having me visit your What’s Your Story? YA Book Review blog.  I had a blast!

~C.C.

Thank YOU so much, C.C., for answering my questions! 


C.C. Hunter grew up in Alabama, where she caught lightning bugs, ran barefoot, and regularly rescued potential princes, in the form of Alabama bullfrogs, from her brothers. Today, she's still fascinated with lightning bugs, mostly wears shoes, but has turned her focus to rescuing mammals. She now lives in Texas with her four rescued cats, one dog, and a prince of a husband, who for the record, is so not a frog. When she's not writing, she's reading, spending time with her family, or is shooting things-with a camera, not a gun.

C.C. Hunter is a pseudonym. Her real name is Christie Craig and she also writes humorous romantic suspense romance novels for Grand Central. www.christie-craig.com
Giveaway is now over. Thank you to everyone who entered. :)

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Out Today: Born at Midnight by C.C. Hunter

Today, March 29th, Born at Midnight by C.C. Hunter is available for purchase. This is a 2011 debut novel.


Buy Born at Midnight from Amazon
Read my review
View on Goodreads

One night Kylie Galen finds herself at the wrong party, with the wrong people, and it changes her life forever.  Her mother ships her off to Shadow Falls—a camp for troubled teens, and within hours of arriving, it becomes painfully clear that her fellow campers aren’t just “troubled.”  Here at Shadow Falls, vampires, werewolves, shapshifters, witches and fairies train side by side—learning to harness their powers, control their magic and live in the normal world.

Kylie’s never felt normal, but surely she doesn’t belong here with a bunch of paranormal freaks either.  Or does she?  They insist Kylie is one of them, and that she was brought here for a reason.  As if life wasn’t complicated enough, enter Derek and Lucas.  Derek’s a half-fae who’s determined to be her boyfriend, and Lucas is a smokin’ hot werewolf with whom Kylie shares a secret past.  Both Derek and Lucas couldn’t be more different, but they both have a powerful hold on her heart. 

Even though Kylie feels deeply uncertain about everything, one thing is becoming painfully clear—Shadow Falls is exactly where she belongs…

Monday, March 28, 2011

Review: Wither by Lauren DeStefano

Author: Lauren DeStfano
Pages: 356
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Children’s
Series or Standalone: 1st in trilogy
Genre: YA Dystopian
Reading Level: 16 yrs old+
Dominant Themes: Polygamy, Scientific experimentation, Death, Sex

What if you knew exactly when you would die?

Thanks to modern science, every human being has become a ticking genetic time bomb—males only live to age twenty-five, and females only live to age twenty. In this bleak landscape, young girls are kidnapped and forced into polygamous marriages to keep the population from dying out.

When sixteen-year-old Rhine Ellery is taken by the Gatherers to become a bride, she enters a world of wealth and privilege. Despite her husband Linden's genuine love for her, and a tenuous trust among her sister wives, Rhine has one purpose: to escape—to find her twin brother and go home.

But Rhine has more to contend with than losing her freedom. Linden's eccentric father is bent on finding an antidote to the genetic virus that is getting closer to taking his son, even if it means collecting corpses in order to test his experiments. With the help of Gabriel, a servant Rhine is growing dangerously attracted to, Rhine attempts to break free, in the limted time she has left.

Rhine Ellery’s world is one of danger and caution, where the only thing that is certain is that when she turns 20, she will die. She lives alone with her brother in what is left of the great city of Manhattan, barely getting by. Then, she’s stolen away and sold off to be one of three wives to the rich Linden Ashby. At 16 years old, Rhine only has 4 years left to live and she’s expected to spend them doting over her husband in this sham of a marriage. But soon she finds herself falling for a servant, Gabriel, and he makes her time there more bearable, as well as her budding friendships with her two sister wives.

Wither is a gritty and eye-opening novel that is intense from start to finish, and the emotional upheaval never stops. It paints a surprisingly realistic picture of a dying society’s fight to stay alive. Things that are considered taboo in our world today are commonplace in Wither: kid-napping, human trafficking, polygamy, sex with vastly underage girls, those same vastly underage girls getting pregnant, experimentation on corpses… It goes on. Even I, an older teenager, found myself cringing at times. But don’t let that put you off from this remarkable novel!

Written in a lyrical combination of contemporary fiction and dazzling, almost poetic prose, Wither captured me from the first page. Lauren DeStefano was obviously looking to play with emotions with the way she wrote, and all I have to say is mission accomplished. Not only did I enjoy this novel beyond my own comprehension, I felt it. Rhine’s desperation, her sadness, her resolve, her love, her hatred, her fear, the feeling of entrapment, the feeling of freedom, the sense of sisterhood. Everything. I felt it. This, for me, is rare, and when a novel comes along that can manipulate my emotions in such a way… Well, it’s an instant favorite.

Normally, there is at least one or two characters in a novel that fall a flat and fail to come alive in my mind. But, in case you haven’t noticed, Wither isn’t necessarily a ‘normal’ novel. Each character shone in their own particular way. Rhine for hear braveness and resolve, even when her world is dwindling down to the four walls around her and she has virtually no way out. Linden for his shy, naïve, and adorably clueless manner. Gabriel for his sweet and caring personality, and a cute boyish handsomeness. Cecily for her youthful spunk, although at times she could get a little grating on the nerves. Jenna was Cecily’s foil, and therefore more mature and stoic. Vaughn… well, he was one of the more unsettling parts of the novel. Even though he didn’t make many appearances, each time he did, the creep-o-meter went berserk. But my favorite character of this novel was Linden, which will most likely be contrary to most other people’s opinions. Yes, in all technicality, he forcibly married Rhine, and yes, he’s not without blame for some of the terrible things that happen in this novel. And, yes, he obviously didn’t have consideration for some things. But, he is also very innocent, almost like a little boy. His father, Vaughn, is mostly the mastermind behind many of the things that the reader originally wants to pin on Linden.

The world of Wither frightened me in a deliciously terrifying way. With all the scientific experimentation that happens in today’s day and age, it’s no doubt possible that something similar to this could happen in our world. Scientists tried to create the perfect human race, and while they succeeded in making the "first generations" sturdier and longer-living, every generation of offspring thereafter had one deadly flaw: girls died at 20, boys at 25. Most of the world has been obliterated by this genetic virus that is seemingly incurable, and what's left of America is fragmented and dangerous to live in. Lauren DeStefano has definitely succeeded in creating a completely unique and scary new world that I would dread living in, but love to read about. 

The cover for Wither is really just the icing on top of the superbly made delicious cake. Not only is it gorgeous, but it captures the essence of the novel.

I give this novel 5 out of 5 stars.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

In My Mailbox (23)

IMM was started by Kristi at thestorysiren.com.

Just one book this week! But it's a great one!



For Review:
Possession by Elana Johnson

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Out Today: Wither by Lauren DeStefano

In stores today, March 22, is Wither by Lauren DeStefano. You can read my review HERE.






What if you knew exactly when you would die?


Thanks to modern science, every human being has become a ticking genetic time bomb—males only live to age twenty-five, and females only live to age twenty. In this bleak landscape, young girls are kidnapped and forced into polygamous marriages to keep the population from dying out.


When sixteen-year-old Rhine Ellery is taken by the Gatherers to become a bride, she enters a world of wealth and privilege. Despite her husband Linden's genuine love for her, and a tenuous trust among her sister wives, Rhine has one purpose: to escape—to find her twin brother and go home.


But Rhine has more to contend with than losing her freedom. Linden's eccentric father is bent on finding an antidote to the genetic virus that is getting closer to taking his son, even if it means collecting corpses in order to test his experiments. With the help of Gabriel, a servant Rhine is growing dangerously attracted to, Rhine attempts to break free, in the limted time she has left.

Monday, March 21, 2011

KINDLE ALERT!: Hex, a Witch and Angel Tale by Ramona Wray

KINDLE ALERT! KINDLE ALERT! KINDLE ALERT!

Hex, a Witch and Angel Tale by Ramona Wray

Hex, a Witch and Angel Tale by Ramona Wray, one of my favorite books of all time is now available for Kindle users! And it's only $4.33!!

If you have a Kindle and are looking for a fantastic read, I highly suggest that you buy it. I loved this novel, and I honestly think that you will too.  And not only is the novel itself absolutely spellbinding, but so is its author. Ramona is just a doll to work with, and I am honored to do so.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Review: To Catch a Pirate by Jade Parker


Author: Jade Parker
Pages: 226
Publisher: Point
Series or Standalone: Standalone
Genre: YA Historical Romance
Dominant Themes: Pirates


Once caught, it’s harder still to let a pirate go. When Annalisa Townsend’s ship is set upon by pirates in search of her father’s treasure, one of the crew, James Sterling, discovers her in the hold. When he moves to take her necklace, she begs him not to, as it is all she has left of her mother. He accepts a kiss in exchange for the necklace. “A fair trade, m’lady,” he tells her afterward, before disappearing. 

A year later, with a forged letter of marque, Annalisa is intent on hunting down the wretched James sterling and reclaiming her father’s treasure from him. But now she’s in danger of him stealing far more valuable this time: her heart.

Annalisa is sailing the seas with her father, heading to an island called Mourning where her father is to be governor. But along the way, things run amuck when a crew of pirates ransacks their ship and steals her father’s treasure. Now Annalisa is sailing the seas alone, determined to get the treasure back from James Sterling, and save her father. Unfortunately for Annalisa, James is just as charming as he is devilish, and the more time they spend together, the more she falls for him. But can a pirate be trusted?

To Catch a Pirate was a very short book, but very enjoyable nonetheless. Jade Parker, which is a pseudonym for Rachel Hawthorne, was able to create an entertaining and immersing historical romance that drew me in from the beginning. I was lucky enough to have this novel in my bag one especially boring day when my dad was renovating the new house that we would soon move into, and none of my things were there. So I picked it up and started reading, and by the time the paint had dried, I was done.

Characters like Annalisa, who was very brave and headstrong, and James, the roguishly handsome pirate, added life to this novel. In the short confines of the 226 pages of this book, I was able to be pulled into the characters’ thoughts and emotions, and actually care.

This novel is a fun, light read for fans of historical romance, but also for anyone else interested in a good book. Since it’s quite short, it’ll take no time at all to read.

Plot: 3/5
Characters: 4/5
Uniqueness\Creativity: 3/5
Writing: 4/5
Cover: 4/5
Overall: 3.5/5

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Review: The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins


Author: Suzanne Collins
Pages: 374
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Series or Standalone: 1st in Trilogy
Genre: Dystopian YA/Science Fiction
Dominant Themes: Killing


Could you survive on your own, in the wild, with everyone out to make sure you don’t live to see the morning?

In the ruins of a place one known as North America lies the nation of Panem, a shining Capitol surrounded by twelve districts. The Capitol is harsh and cruel and keeps the districts in line by forcing them all to send one boy and one girl between the ages of twelve and eighteen to participate in the annual Hunger Games, a fight to the death on live TV.

Sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen, who lives alone with her mother and younger sister, regards it as a death sentence when she steps forward to take her sister’s place in the Games. But Katniss has been close to death before—and survival, for her, is second nature. Without really meaning to, she becomes a contender. But if she is to win, she will have to start making choices that weigh survival against humanity and life against love.

The Hunger Games is already a very well known name in the YA world, and for very good reason. It is a fantastic novel that, from the first page, draws you in. Each page holds its own adventure. The entire novel is suspense: what’s going to happen? Who will die? Even in the last few pages, I was still so caught up in what was going on.

My favorite part about this book wasn’t necessarily the characters or the plot (although I LOVED both of those). It was actually the fact that, while reading it, I felt so many different emotions that it was overwhelming. When a book can actually make me feel the same way that the characters feel, that’s when I know it’s a fantastic novel.

Suzanne Collins gives us no mercy with The Hunger Games. There are fights to the death, and they are gory. But that’s just yet another fantastic aspect of this book. It’s real and gritty.

And Katniss. Holy crap. I bow down to her.

She. Is. Badass.

That’s honestly all I have to say about her. Her sheer awesomeness can only be experienced through reading The Hunger Games. I couldn’t possibly begin to explain why I loved her as our main character. She is one of the toughest, most badass chicks in YA.

An absolute must read for anyone. Young, old, boy, girl, whatever and whoever you are. Pick up The Hunger Games!

Plot: 5/5
Characters: 4.5/5
Uniqueness\Creativity: 5/5
Writing: 5/5
Cover: 5/5
Overall: 5/5

The Hunger Games on Goodreads, Shelfari, and LibraryThing



Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Review: Jessica's Guide to Dating on the Dark Side by Beth Fantaskey


Author: Beth Fantaskey
Pages: 351
Publisher: Harcourt Children's Books
Series or Standalone: Has a sequel, which is coming soon
Genre: Paranormal YA
Reading Level: 13 yrs old+
Dominant Themes: Vampires


Marrying a vampire definitely doesn’t fit into Jessica’s senior year “Get-A-Life” plan.

Enter a bizarre new exchange student named Lucius Vladescu who claims Jessica is a Romanian vampire princess by birth and he’s her long-lost fiancé. He’s arrogant, officious, embarrassingly overprotective, and, well, incredibly hot.

Armed with a copy of Growing Up Undead: A Teen Vampire’s Guide to Dating, Health, and Emotions, Jessica tried to imagine the transition from an average American teenager to a glam European vampire princess. But just when things start to heat up with Lucius, a devious cheerleader soon sets her sights on him.

Soon Jess finds herself fighting to win back her wayward prince, stop a global vampire war—and save Lucius’s soul from eternal damnation. All of which leaves her to wonder: Wouldn’t life be easier if she could just fall for a nice mortal boy?

Beth Fantaskey has created a thrill ride full of action, teen angst and unrequited love (is there any better love?). The writing style was phenomenal, as was the plot overall. The entire time I was biting my nails and flipping the pages to see what happened next. This novel was both dark and heavy, yet at the same time light and at times a very fun read.

Characters are my focal point for me when I read, and can make or break a book for me. The characters in this novel were spectacular, so realistic and decidedly their own. Jessica reminded me a lot of myself, so I related to her easily. She was methodical and logical, but still very emotional and heart-driven. She also wasn’t boy-crazy. Well, she was, but she wasn’t throwing herself all over Lucius. In fact, she was pushing him away most of the time. At the end, she steps into shoes that she never knew she had to fill, and takes on a duty completely foreign to her. Jessica is definitely a top-notch heroine.

And of course, this novel wouldn’t be what it was without the devilishly handsome vampire prince—Lucius. He was everything a girl could love, and more: charming, thoughtful, flattering, and an all around gentleman. But he was far from perfect. He fought with his own inner-demons as well as with abuse and trauma from his own family and upbringing. This all affected him when it came to being with Jessica. They are bitter sweet together, but definitely meant to be.

The writing was very well done. I LOVED how we got to read Lucius’s letters to his uncle. This gave me a much deeper insight into Luc as a character, and helped me decipher him a little bit easier. It added a good respite from the action, while keeping us entertained.

Jessica’s Guide to Dating on the Dark Side is a definite must read! It also was only supposed to be a standalone, but I guess there was such a big clamor for a sequel, that now there will be one! Woo! I’m excited!

I interviewed Beth Fantaskey about Jessica's Guide to Dating on the Dark Side. You can read it HERE!

Plot: 4/5
Characters: 5/5
Uniqueness\Creativity: 3.5/5
Writing: 4/5
Cover: 3/5
Overall: 5/5

Jessica’s Guide to Dating on the Dark Side on Goodreads, Shelfari, and LibraryThing


Monday, March 14, 2011

Review: Evernight by Claudia Gray


Author: Claudia Gray
Pages: 327
Publisher: Harper Teen
Series or Standalone: 1st in series
Genre: Paranormal YA
Reading Level: 13 yrs old+
Dominant Themes: Vampires

Bianca wants to escape.

She's been uprooted from her small hometown and enrolled at Evernight Academy, an eerie Gothic boarding school where the students are somehow too perfect: smart, sleek, and almost predatory. Bianca knows she doesn't fit in.

Then she meets Lucas. He's not the "Evernight type" either, and he likes it that way. Lucas ignores the rules, stands up to the snobs, and warns Bianca to be careful--even when it comes to caring about him.

"I couldn't stand it if they took it out on you," he tells Bianca, "and eventually they would."

But the connection between Bianca and Lucas can't be denied. Bianca will risk anything to be with Lucas, but dark secrets are fated to tear them apart . . . and to make Bianca question everything she's ever believed.
High school sucks… or is it just the students?
For Bianca Olivier, it’s both. She’s been enrolled in Evernight Academy, the eerie, castle-like school her parents teach in. Evernight was not only an elite boarding school for the rich humans, but a safe haven for vampires that have lost touch with the modern world—unbeknownst to the humans. I loved this idea, and even though this isn’t the newest idea on the block, Claudia’s spin on it¾making it a sanctuary for the vampires­¾ added edge and suspense to the story. The school itself is creepy, and I would love to learn more about its history.
Unhappy with the fact that she had to leave everything behind, Bianca attempts to make a break for her old home on the morning of her first school day. She makes it to the woods before she is tackled—literally—by the handsome, mysterious Lucas… and her destiny.
From that day on, Bianca and Lucas’s relationship deepens, until it surpasses friendship and delves into the unknown abyss that is love. But they soon find that their relationship is built on lies and false pretenses, and are catapulted into a battle for life and death…
… and love.
Evernight was a book that surpassed my expectations. I’ve learned to go into YA vampires books with absolutely no expectations, so that way I won’t be let down. But Evernight most certainly did not let me down.
Bianca was a strong-willed female protagonist, which I liked. For some reason, most authors feel the need to make their protagonist the “damsel in distress” who always need a knight in shining armor to come and save them. But not Bianca. She handled herself well, and thought her decisions through, while still following her heart. The amazing part is that the entire is told from her perspective, but there is a massive twist in the middle that completely caught me from surprise, and I remember just sitting there, blinking, and thinking “How did I miss that?” Even though that particular information basically blind sided us, it just made me want to finish the novel that much quicker!
Every good romance deserves it’s mysterious, rebel bad boy. Lucas was seductive and alluring, yet wasn’t pushy or needy and conveyed a sense of sweetness to him. Of course, he was protective of Bianca, but he didn’t know that HE was the one that needed protection. Still, most teenage girls will find themselves infatuated with him. I want to see how Bianca and him progress with their relationship, and how they can overcome the difficult obstacles ahead of them.

Claudia has a fabulous writing style, which flowed and was quick. The story never lagged, built up in the right places, and gave us a sigh of relief at others. I give this novel 5 out of 5 stars.

Evernight on Goodreads, Shelfari and LibraryThing

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Review: Blue Bloods by Melissa de la Cruz

Author: Melissa de la Cruz
Pages: 302
Publisher: Hyperion
Series or Standalone: 1st in Blue Bloods series
Genre: Paranormal
Reading Level: 13 yrs old+
Dominant Themes: Vampires, Snotty rich kids

When the Mayflower set sail in 1620, it carried on board the men and women who would shape America: Miles Standish; John Alden; Constance Hopkins. But some among the Pilgrims were not pure of heart; they were not escaping religious persecution. Indeed, they were not even human. They were vampires.The vampires assimilated quickly into the New World. Rising to levels of enormous power, wealth, and influence, they were the celebrated blue bloods of American society.

The Blue Bloods vowed that their immortal status would remain a closely guarded secret. And they kept that secret for centuries. But now, in New York City, the secret is seeping out. Schuyler Van Alen is a sophomore at a prestigious private school. She prefers baggy, vintage clothes instead of the Prada and pearls worn by her classmates, and she lives with her reclusive grandmother in a dilapated mansion. Schuyler is a loner... and happy that way. Suddenly, when she turns fifteen, there is a visible mosaic of blue veins on her arm. She starts to crave raw food and she is having flashbacks to ancient times. Then a popular girl from her school is found dead... drained of all her blood. Schuyler doesn't know what to think, but she wants to find out the secrets the Blue Bloods are keeping. But is she herself in danger?

Schuyler Van Alen is an outcast in her school, Duchesne, along with her two best friends, Oliver and Dylan. They had never fit in, and were content with the way things were. But now things have changed. Jack Force, the heart-throb of the school, is suddenly paying attention to Schuyler. People are not who-- or what-- they seem. Schuyler undergoes a life changing transformation that will mark her as special for the rest of her life. Can she juggle this all, and the realization that she, or anyone she knows, is no longer safe?

With the massive amounts of vampire books on the market today, one might be inclined to just stop reading them. “All vampires are the same, right?” Wrong. There is a very unique mythology to de la Cruz’ vamps that makes this book, and the rest of the series thereafter, stand out. (Aside from those gorgeous covers, of course.)

A “blue blood”, by definition, is an aristocrat, or a member of the aristocracy. Melissa uses a delightfully darker play on these words when the elite of her society, the top of the social and wealth ladders, are actual Blue Bloods-- vampires. These vampires do live forever, but not in the conventional way. Their blood is the key to their ongoing lives. The idea for this was fascinating to me.

I never really got too attached to any of the characters, but I did like all of them, even Mimi. They all had a certain personality and characteristics that made them unique and interesting. Schuyler is reserved and a little naïve, yet confident in herself and who she is, which is refreshing. Oliver is obviously in love with her, and I liked him, although I definitely prefer Jack as a love interest.

Melissa de la Cruz has a way of writing that flows well and gives us a vivid image of the scene. Lots of fashion is involved, and even though I couldn’t dream of owning some of the clothes described, I could still picture them clearly in my mind.

Blue Bloods, for me, was an good experience and a book worth reading. I was instantly captivated by Melissa De La Cruz’s realistic characters and unique plot-line. Jack and Dylan were by far my favorite characters, and I’d really like to see the relationship between Schuyler and Jack progress. I give this novel 4 out of 5 stars.

Born at Midnight Bookmark Giveaway WINNER!

I hosted a giveaway for a Born at Midnight by C.C. Hunter bookmark last week. And the winner is...



Congrats Laura, and thanks to everyone that entered the giveaway!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Out Today: The Vespertine by Sandra Mitchell

Today, March 7th, The Vespertine by Sandra Mitchell is available for purchase. 



Buy The Vespertine on Amazon
Read my review
View on Goodreads



It’s the summer of 1889, and Amelia van den Broek is new to Baltimore and eager to take in all the pleasures the city has to offer. But her gaiety is interrupted by disturbing, dreamlike visions she has only at sunset—visions that offer glimpses of the future.

Soon, friends and strangers alike call on Amelia to hear her prophecies. However, a forbidden romance with Nathaniel, an artist, threatens the new life Amelia is building in Baltimore. This enigmatic young man is keeping secrets of his own—still, Amelia finds herself irrepressibly drawn to him.
When one of her darkest visions comes to pass, Amelia’s world is thrown into chaos. And those around her begin to wonder if she’s not the seer of dark portents, but the cause.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

GIVEAWAY: Hex, A Witch and Angel Tale by Ramona Wray

I'm giving away a copy of Hex, A Witch and Angel Tale by Ramona Wray!


This giveaway will last until 11:59 PM on Thursday March 10th. The next day, March 11th, I'll pick the winner and email you to tell you that you won.


OPEN TO US RESIDENTS ONLY! (Sorry international readers, you'll be getting love very soon!)

Enter below for a chance to win!

Extra Entries:
- Comment on my review of Hex
- Comment on my interview with Ramona
- Tweet about this giveaway
- Post about this giveaway on your blog

GIVEAWAY CLOSED!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Author Interview: Ramona Wray, author of Hex

Yesterday I reviewed a book called Hex, A Witch and Angel Tale by Ramona Wray. I had the wonderful opportunity to interview Ramona about her book, and find out a little bit more about the fantastic characters and story she created.


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1. What was your inspiration to write Hex? 

Believe it or not, it was while watching that old TV series, "Bewitched", that it first occurred to me I could write a really funny story about a witch. It wasn't uncharted territory for me because, growing up in Romania, I listened to hundreds of stories about witches. Of course, the trick was to find a kind of middle ground - write my witch based on the mythology I was so familiar with but, at the same time, make her likable to my target audience. 

2. Lucian seems like the one character that we never fully got to understand. He was mysterious and extremely multi-faceted. Can you tell us a little bit more about him, take us deeper into his mind?

I agonized over writing him because I'm the kind of person who doesn't like gray areas - things are either black or white; likewise, heroes and villains are easily recognized by the color hat they wear which, again, is either black or white. But Lucian - he was something else altogether. Apparently, he had it all: the good looks, the smarts, the power to bend the world to his will. BUT ... I don't believe in free rides, hence the limitations on what he could and couldn't do, on what he could and couldn't have. His fixation on Lily didn't start as real affection; it was, simply put, the fascination developed by someone with a god-complex when faced with the only living being who could affect his condition by reducing him to a shadow. Lily could send him back home, to where he was no longer a god, but a slave to his half-breed lineage. So, like a moth to the flame, he was drawn to the person who could destroy him. His arrogance was what turned his unhealthy interest in her into genuine feelings. It was the fact that, no matter how hard he tried, no matter what tricks he pulled out of his hat, he couldn't get this seemingly ordinary girl to love him. Even though she was kept in the dark most of the time about her own history, Lucian could never persuade her to choose him over a simple human, Ryder. Over the centuries, this mushroomed to the point where he was no longer able to enjoy the human realm - the object of his greatest desire shifted from it (the human world) to Lily. And once he understood he really couldn't have her, he didn't see the point in hanging around. It would have been too painful, and absolutely useless, as far as he was concerned.

3. Ryder Kingscott is just about the coolest name I've ever heard of! How did you come up it, as well as with the rest of the names? Is someone in the novel named after someone in real life? 

Thank you. As you know, the story began in 1657 England, so I did some research and learned that Kingscott was quite a popular surname back then. But, since I set my novel in present-day America, I wanted to give the name an American flavor. Ryder seemed to fit the bill. Besides, in some ways, Ryder was a "rider", tragically riding the hex (try saying that 10 times, fast :-), through century after century. And let's not forget his bike :-) Lily always made me think or water lilies - vulnerable, delicate, apparently unapproachable because of all the surrounding water. And Lucian was named after someone I used to know. It's a widespread name in Romania. 

4. Are there any interesting little scenes or story lines that were originally meant to be in the novel, but were edited out? If so, could you share a tidbit with us? 

Yes, I wrote a few extra scenes that happened in the past, one of which featured a fox hunt. It was where Ryder (William back then) first saw Lily. But I took these scenes out in the end because worked fine without them. 

5. Lily was brave, strong, and very quick-witted. Was she based on you, or someone you know? 

I guess there's a bit of me in each character, but in Lily's case, I wrote her in a way which, I hope, might get people to think twice about attaching labels to those who are quiet, slightly odd, or unpopular. Just because some people keep to themselves doesn't necessarily mean they've got nothing to say. 

6. Lastly, do you have anything to say about your book to future readers? 

Thank you for buying it and, especially, for reading it. Hope you'll be smiling by the end of it. Happy reading! :-)  

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Thank you SO MUCH to Ramona for being the all kinds of amazing that she is. She typed up this entire interview on her BLACKBERRY and had it back to me within a day. I hope you enjoyed the interview!



Where to find her:

About Ramona Wray
I was brought up in Romania by my grandparents, a couple of fantastic storytellers who filled my childhood with magic and stories about witches (vrajitoare), vampires (vampiri), fairies (iele or zane) and so much more. I grew up with a strong sense of the supernatural and from that to sitting down at a desk and crafting my own fantastic tales was only a small step, which I took early. I wrote poetry, even a few novels, short stories and essays, some of which occasionally appeared in the local newspapers. 



The fall of the Communist bloc in 1989 brought about a great deal of change in Romania. To this day, the younger generations have welcomed and continue to welcome the opportunity to work and live abroad. It was what I chose for myself as well. 


Ten years later, I'm married, mother to one little boy and currently living in Plymouth. For the past decade I lived in a few places, traveled to a few others, and learned, and adapted, all the while searching for a place to fit in. There has been a lot of change, but the important things stayed the same. They usually do...I never stopped writing, no matter where I went or what I did. Switching from Romanian to English has taken some time, but today I couldn't even imagine going back. It's important to chase our dreams, no matter what stands in the way, and the only way to do it is by moving forward. Always forward. 



I read, write (and sometimes even breathe) YA fiction and my own contribution to the genre comes in a blend of romance, paranormal, and thriller. My first published novel, Hex, a witch & angel tale, is both a supernatural romance and a mystery. 


What I love: books (I read at least one every week), languages (I speak a few), ballet (and ballroom dancing, and any other kind of dancing with the exception of Russian Kazachok which, as it turns out, can result in serious injuries), vampires (as any other respectable Romanian) and pie (to make, eat and share). 
What I'm grateful for: my soft-spoken husband, my beautiful son, my loving family, my wonderful friends from all over the world and for being alive.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Review: Hex, A Witch and Angel Tale by Ramona Wray


Author: Ramona Wray
Pages: 254
Publisher: Amazon CreateSpace
Series or Standalone: Standalone
Genre: YA Paranormal Romance
Reading Level: 13 years old+
Dominant Themes: Witches, Angels, Halflings


Like most girls at Rosemound High School, seventeen-year-old Lily Crane is acutely aware of Ryder Kingscott. Hands down the cutest guy in school, Ryder is cool, mysterious, and utterly untouchable…especially for Lily. For when she touches someone, Lily instantly learns all about their lives. And while such a skill might seem nifty, in truth it is wrecking Lily’s life. So she is shocked when Ryder asks her out — and even more shocked to discover he has a rival. Lucian Bell is the gorgeous new kid who can’t take his eyes off of Lily. Being pursued by two hotties should make a girl happy, but Lily is skeptical. The boys act as if they’ve met before, hating each other with a passion that could only be rooted in a dark, dangerous past. A past full of terrible secrets. The kind of secrets that could get a girl killed.
Don’t judge a book by its cover. More importantly, don’t judge this book by its cover. The first thing that anyone says when they first look at Hex’s cover, including me, is, “OMGOBLINS THAT’S SO CUUUTE!” Admit it, you just had a little gush session over the pinkness. But this book is so much more than just a pink cover. It’s deep and superbly written, with a twisting and winding plot line that spans several centuries. Hex is a romance and a mystery all in one, with illicit love affairs, vengeful sisters, half-angel hit men, and a love that is doomed to die just as it's starting.

From the very first pages, I was hooked. Ramona has a way of writing that takes a short while to get into, but eventually, I fell into the rhythm of the book and I couldn’t stop reading. There is a constancy to the plot that kept it going steadily, without a dull moment or a lag.

Lily, our main character, has this tiny problem… every time she touches someone for longer than a few seconds, she passes out. This of course makes her the freak at her school. Growing up with this problem (she can’t even touch her own parents) she’s learned to be very independent. She was logical for the most part, although there were some parts in the end where I wanted to jump into the book and smack a little sense into her. She has a best friend J, who is eccentric and totally loveable, and their relationship added depth to Lily. Every girl needs that one best friend that she can confide everything with. Lily’s parents were also great characters, even if we didn’t see too much of her dad. What surprised me was that Lily already knew she was a witch, or at least understood that she had magical capabilities, and was very level-headed with them.

And now we come to my favorite part: Ryder and Lucian. Okay, I’ll admit for the millionth time that I’m a sucker for the bad boy… but how do you choose when both of them fit the bill? Ryder wasn’t necessarily a ‘bad boy’ per se, but he rode a motorcycle, and he was pretty damn sexy, so in my head it counts. Lucian… well, he was my favorite character. I was never able to figure him out completely, and that’s what I liked best. He acted a little… forward in ways that made me want to slap him senseless, but he was still my favorite. But Lily, Ryder, and Lucian are all entwined somehow, Lily just has to figure out how.

The only thing I have as ‘critique’ is that I wished Lily and Ryder’s relationship had built up more. I understand that they were soul mates, and they were meant to be together, but the earlier tension of Lily’s hesitation and inner-conflict over what she should do, as well as the tense chemistry between them, were some of the best parts.

Overall, I loved Hex. I loved it all the more because it was nothing how I thought it would be, yet it still blew me away, greatly surpassing any preconceived notions I had of it. A DEFINITE must read!

Plot: 4/5
Characters: 5/5
Uniqueness\Creativity: 5/5
Writing: 4/5
Cover: 5/5
Overall: 5/5

Hex, A Witch and Angel Tale on Goodreads, Shelfari, and LibraryThing

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