Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Guest Reviewer Brenda Margriet (@brendamargriet) reviews Defending Jacob by William Landay

Defending Jacob
by William Landay

Andy Barber has been an assistant district attorney in his suburban Massachusetts county for more than twenty years. He is respected in his community, tenacious in the courtroom, and happy at home with his wife, Laurie, and son, Jacob. But when a shocking crime shatters their New England town, Andy is blindsided by what happens next: His fourteen-year-old son is charged with the murder of a fellow student.

Every parental instinct Andy has rallies to protect his boy. Jacob insists that he is innocent, and Andy believes him. Andy must. He’s his father. But as damning facts and shocking revelations surface, as a marriage threatens to crumble and the trial intensifies, as the crisis reveals how little a father knows about his son, Andy will face a trial of his own—between loyalty and justice, between truth and allegation, between a past he’s tried to bury and a future he cannot conceive.

Award-winning author William Landay has written the consummate novel of an embattled family in crisis—a suspenseful, character-driven mystery that is also a spellbinding tale of guilt, betrayal, and the terrifying speed at which our lives can spin out of control.
(Goodreads description)

Andy Barber has done his best to keep his small town safe. When a boy in his son's school is killed, he automatically assumes leadership of  the case, until the evidence points at his son, Jacob.

I thought the anxiety and the tension around Andy's belief in his son was very well done. Jacob insists he is innocent, and Andy trusts him implicitly. Yet the reader is forced to keep see-sawing back and forth.  We want to believe in Jacob because Andy does. But the evidence, while circumstantial, is potent.

Laurie, Andy's wife and Jacob's mother, wants to believe in her son. But her conflict is much greater. She at least considers the notion he may be guilty, while Andy absolutely refuses to. She wants him to get help, if he needs it.

The author draws you into the agonizing days spent waiting for the trial, the strain of trying to keep things 'normal'. It is painful to read how this family tries to hold it all together, despite being deserted by people they thought were best friends. Even a trip to the grocery store becomes an ordeal. And because we live in Andy's head, we see how the facade of 'normal' develops cracks, and starts to crumble.

Much of the time, I wasn't sure I wanted to keep reading. Not because of any skill lacking by the author, but because of my own fear of how the book would end. You want Andy's faith in his son to be redeemed, but you are never sure it will be. It is a masterwork of suspense in that way.

This is the type of novel where nothing much happens "on stage".  Almost everything of moment happens off the page, and we find out about it from the narrator.  There are a couple of odd subplots.  One is about a "murder gene", because Andy's father and grandfather were both murderers. His estranged father does play into the plot,  but disappears about three quarters of the way through.  Also there is a psychiatrist's report that pretty much says Jacob 'could' have been the murderer, but nothing much is done with that.

All in all, a thought provoking book, and one I had to finish, despite everything.

Special offer from reviewer 
Brenda Margriet!!!!

Brenda Margriet's first novel, Mountain Fire is being offered FREE on Kindle, October 31 to November 3, 2012.  It will be released January 9, 2013 by The Wild Rose Press for other e-formats.  She lives in Northern British Columbia with her husband, three children (all of whom are taller than her) and various finny and furry pets. By day she is Creative Director at the local television station, and by night she pecks away at her works in progress.  Find out more at www.brendamargriet.com.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Kindle find! FOREVER GIRL by Rebecca Hamilton @InkMuse

I have been following Rebecca Hamilton (@InkMuse) on Twitter for a couple of years now.  In the last few months, I have been reading her blog -- http://www.beccahamiltonbooks.com/. Not only is it filled with reviews and giveaways, but her Books Against Bullying campaign is very inspiring.  So I decided it was time to seek out Rebecca’s book, Forever Girl, which is only $2.99 on Kindle right now.  With over 200 five-star reviews, I couldn't wait to get my hands on this book!

"Whatever you do, fight."

Sophia's family has skeletons, but they aren't in their graves.

At twenty-two, practicing Wiccan Sophia Parsons is scratching out a living waiting tables in her Rocky Mountain hometown, a pariah after a string of unsolved murders with only one thing in common: her.

Sophia can imagine lots of ways to improve her life, but she'd settle for just getting rid of the buzzing noise in her head. When the spell she casts goes wrong, the static turns into voices. Her personal demons get company, and the newcomers are dangerous.

One of them is a man named Charles, who Sophia falls for despite her better judgment. He has connections that might help her unveil the mystery surrounding her ancestor's hanging, but she gets more than she bargains for when she finally decides to trust him.

Survival in his world, she learns, means not asking questions and staying out of the immortal council's way. It's a line she crossed long ago. If Sophia wants to survive the council and save the people she loves, she must accept who she is, perform dark magic, and fight to the death for her freedom.

The Forever Girl is a full-length Paranormal Fantasy novel that will appeal to lovers of paranormal romance, urban fantasy, witches, vampire fiction, ghost stories, paranormal mystery, and paranormal horror.
(Amazon product description)

So have any of you read Forever Girl yet?  Tell me what you think!

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Review: ‘Cinder’ by Marissa Meyer @marissa_meyer

 Humans and androids crowd the raucous streets of New Beijing. A deadly plague ravages the population. From space, a ruthless lunar people watch, waiting to make their move. No one knows that Earth’s fate hinges on one girl.

Cinder, a gifted mechanic, is a cyborg. She’s a second-class citizen with a mysterious past, reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister’s illness. But when her life becomes intertwined with the handsome Prince Kai’s, she suddenly finds herself at the center of an intergalactic struggle, and a forbidden attraction. Caught between duty and freedom, loyalty and betrayal, she must uncover secrets about her past in order to protect her world’s future.
(Amazon product description)

I don’t read a lot of science fiction, so even though Cinder was getting good buzz, I wasn’t all that drawn to it.  Add to that the retelling of the classic fairy tale that I could recite in my sleep, and it just didn’t seem like it would hold my interest. 

Boy was I wrong!  Now, I have to admit, most “modern day” rehashing of fairy tales end up being cheesy and simplistic.  Okay for a Disney after school special, but not something I seek out.  Cinder is completely different!  While the plot is enough like Cinderella that it was recognizable, Marissa Meyer made it seem completely fresh and new.  Setting the story in a futuristic world with cyborgs, androids and magic was brilliant!  Additional plot lines including a mystery about a lost Lunar princess, a killer plague and political intrigue in the Princes kingdom centered in New Beijing add an unexpected depth to the story.

Cinder as a character was modern and intelligent, nothing like a Disney princess.  I loved that she meets Prince Kai through her mechanic shop.  That he seeks her out for her talent and skills is so much more interesting than him just thinking she’s hot.  Kai was a little bit bland for me.  Oh, I liked him enough, but he wasn’t overly memorable.  You won’t see tween girls walking around the mall with “Team Kai” t-shirts anyway.  I would have liked him to be just a bit more colorful in personality. 

The book did have some great supporting characters.  The Luna Queen was fabulous!  Not only was she evil and bat-shit crazy, but her power was so unique and scary.  I also loved Peony, Cinder’s step-sister, and Iko, her slightly dysfunctional android.  Both added heart to the story. 

While I liked this book much more than I thought I would, it does have some large flaws.  I had a hard time with the romance between Cinder and Prince Kai.  It was too insta-love for my tastes.  I would have liked to have seen some chemistry build between the characters.  My other issue was the predictability in the Princess Selene story line.  Way too obvious! 

Overall, I give Cinder...

Plot - 4 bookmarks
Character development - 4 1/2 bookmarks
Love story - 3 bookmarks
Setting - 5 bookmarks
Dream cast (otherwise known as who I pictured while reading) - Shailene Woodley (Cinder), Luke Bilyk (Prince Kai), Ashley Greene (Luna Queen).  Yes, I know the story is set in China, but I don’t know a lot of asian actors and I can’t help who I see when I read.


While I hate photos of myself, I thought I would post this one for you.  It’s me with Cinder author Marissa Meyer, taken a few weeks ago at a book signing.  She really was a fascinating person.  I’m very excited for the sequel Scarlet to release on February 5, 2013!  

(I'm the short one who didn't bother to brush her hair.)

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Guest reviewer @Aprilelayne1 reviews Hollowland by Amanda Hocking

by Amanda Hocking

"This is the way the world ends - not with a bang or a whimper, but with zombies breaking down the back door."

Nineteen-year-old Remy King is on a mission to get across the wasteland left of America, and nothing will stand in her way - not violent marauders, a spoiled rock star, or an army of flesh-eating zombies
(Goodreads summary)

Before starting this review, I wanted to make sure I understood what I got myself into.  Hollowland is a self-published book and was a freebie on Amazon, but the online reviews typically gave it 4/5 stars.   I am trying to broaden my reading likes and am taking some books on as challenges to find something bold and new.  So I will make this short and sweet, but I will try my best to share my experience fairly while I hear my grandmother’s motto pounding in my head of ‘if you can’t say anything nice…..’

Remy is the ‘bad-ass’ heroine out to find her brother in this zombie filled world, who ends up being the leader of a small group of fellow survivors in her quest.  The story starts with action from the get-go and keeps up the pace throughout, so I had to look the other way regarding the lack of character development.  The main character herself, I really didn’t learn much about other than she’s a determined young lady who knows how to shoot and fight zombies. 

If I were to summarize the book even more than the synopsis, it would read:

Zombieland meets Resident Evil…with a pet lion. 

I honestly struggled in finishing this book, I haven’t been tempted to stop mid-book in a very long time.  To avoid being harsh and possibly overly negative, I will summarize the review in technical terms:

Technical review

Characters:  The main character, Remy (who I can summarize as a young Alice from Resident Evil) as well as everyone else is very flat without any depth and development.  Other than their names and a title, we never learn more of any of them. ‘Blue,’ a fellow survivor who appears throughout the book is a complete blank slate.  “My name is Blue, I’m a doctor.”

Dialogue: While the characters are young adults, the dialogue and attitudes is a high school level.  This helps if I am to suggest this read to very young readers of middle school age.*

Grammatically: Several editing errors with sentence length and flow.  I went back to the beginning to review the POV as I got confused at one point or another with it. 

It was a quick read, but it felt that suddenly the length requirements were met and then the final chapter was swift and abrupt to ‘turn it in.’

**This is a young adult book that does have one sex scene within one paragraph.  I actually missed it as it literally was three sentences of physical intimacy.  If this scene and its one reference were excluded, this book with its technical reading level would be appropriate for 10-12 year olds.

I know that if my grandmother knew of this less than favorable review, she would shake her head at me for not just smiling and saying ‘well bless their heart, they tried.’

About the Reviewer

Aprilelayne, yes all one word, touts herself as a 'Jane of all trades.' An Army brat who ended up in Austin, Texas, she has two full-time jobs --motherhood and work-work (aka: the paying gig). She spends her time trying to master any one of her many hobbies, but really loves to read anything off the beaten path--especially the dark and twisty ones.  On any given day you'll likely find her in the kitchen with a toddler hanging onto a leg sneaking peeks at a book while stirring something on the stove. You can currently find Aprilelayne on GoodReads and Twitter @Aprilelayne1.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Guest Reviewer Week! @Aprilelayne1 reviews Hold Me Closer, Necromancer

Hold Me Closer, Necromancer
By Lish McBride
4.5/5.0 stars

Sam leads a pretty normal life. He may not have the most exciting job in the world, but he’s doing all right—until a fast food prank brings him to the attention of Douglas, a creepy guy with an intense violent streak.

Turns out Douglas is a necromancer who raises the dead for cash and sees potential in Sam. Then Sam discovers he’s a necromancer too, but with strangely latent powers. And his worst nightmare wants to join forces . . . or else.

With only a week to figure things out, Sam needs all the help he can get. Luckily he lives in Seattle, which has nearly as many paranormal types as it does coffee places. But even with newfound friends, will Sam be able to save his skin?
(Goodreads description)

STOP!! Please ignore the title of the book…for all that is awesomely wicked and evil in this and all other worlds, black out the title in this post and ignore the title of this book!!

I had read the synopsis of this book and was tempted several times but something always held me back from getting it.  It was the title.  Luckily one night I was desperate to start something new.  I wasn’t into a book of “loving” a necromancer, I wanted action and supernatural plotlines, but I was desperate.  After purchase I then noticed the chapter titles and thought ‘what the hell have I gotten myself into?’

Chap 6 – “Sweet Dreams are Made of This”
Chap 9 – “The Future’s So Bright, I Gotta Wear Shades”
Chap 12 – “Sweet Child o’ Mine”
Chap 26 – “Everybody was Kung-Fu Fighting”

While I was happy that I was the right age group to appreciate the references, I was initially thinking ‘oh dear lord, the book is from Cheese Factory, USA”

So before proceeding to the actual review:

1.       Ignore title of book – check!

2.       Ignore the chapter titles – check!

Now you have my permission to join the journey of Sam LaCroix and his dramatic change in life and emergence into the world of witchcraft, necromancy, zombies, shifters, weres, and whatever else McBride might throw at Sam in the next installments.  Sam is your everyday college dropout who hangs out with his buddies.  Friendships typically aren’t a focal point for many, but McBride brings the friendships full circle and they establish their roles in this new world of Sam’s.  I can easily see a book later on from one of the friend’s perspective.

We are introduced to the shifters and while McBride went out on a limb giving her female a higher ranking in the pack than her older brothers, she built enough brief background for it to work.  And ultimately we get the two worlds colliding between Sam’s naïve suburban world that is quickly fading away and the shifters.  Now the fun can begin!

Lish McBride must be a kindred soul to me, her dialogue and characterization for Sam and his friends is spot on to how I speak and think.  The dry humor, one-liners, and perfect retorts are exactly what I want to hear and read as it seems natural.  This book, despite being about necromancy and unsavory souls (or lack of), is humorous.  I found myself chuckling along with how Sam speaks and reacts to the chaos that has suddenly become his life.  Kudos to McBride on capturing so much personality simply in the dialogue, Sam could be anyone of my friends.

As the book neared the end, I grew more anxious for the next installment.  Hold Me Closer, Necromancer is Sam’s transition into the paranormal world, and McBride leaves the reader the perfect tease into next book. 

Now that I’ve overcome the two hurdles listed above, and getting to know Sam LaCroix?  The chapter titles are PERFECT.  The book title? I’m still not fond of, but it goes along with Sam’s personality.  For perspective, I’m confident that if it were re-released with a new title, the response would be significantly better and more sales.

I looked past both the title and the cheesy chapter titles and truly was surprised at how much I enjoyed this book.  I’ve recommended it to several friends, but the scene always ends up like this:

“Oh you have to read it!!! It is called Hold Me Closer, Necromancer, …don’t look at me like that! I’m serious! You will like it, I promise."

About the Reviewer

Aprilelayne, yes all one word, touts herself as a 'Jane of all trades.' An Army brat who ended up in Austin, Texas, she has two full-time jobs --motherhood and work-work (aka: the paying gig). She spends her time trying to master any one of her many hobbies, but really loves to read anything off the beaten path--especially the dark and twisty ones.  On any given day you'll likely find her in the kitchen with a toddler hanging onto a leg sneaking peeks at a book while stirring something on the stove. You can currently find Aprilelayne on GoodReads and Twitter @Aprilelayne1.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Guest Reviewer Brenda Margriet (@brendamargriet) reviews This Heart of Mine by Susan Elizabeth Phillips

This Heart of Mine 
by Susan Elizabeth Phillips

Molly Somerville knows she has a reputation for trouble. She did give away her fifteen-million-dollar inheritance, but, hey, nobody's perfect. Still, if anyone has an almost perfect life, it's Molly. While her Daphne the Bunny children's books could be selling better, she loves her cramped loft, her French poodle, and her career creating the fictional animals who live in Nightingale Woods.She even loves her sister, Phoebe. True, it was a little tough growing up in her shadow. Phoebe is beautiful, blissfully married, and the owner of the most successful professional football team in America. But who other than your sister knows you're about to do something drastic every time you change your hair? Yes, Molly's happy about almost everything ... except her long-term crush on the daredevil quarterback for the Chicago Stars, that awful, gorgeous Kevin Tucker, a man who can't even remember her name! 

One night Molly's penchant for running into trouble runs right into Kevin himself, turning her world upside down. Heartbreak follows, and just when she's certain things can't get worse, Kevin forces his way back into her life. If only the overpaid, Ferrari-driving, poodle-hating jock was as shallow as she wants him to be, she could get on with her almost perfect life. But Kevin's hidden depths and iron will propel Molly out of her comfortable existence into an unforgettable summer at a place called Wind Lake. Surrounded by paintbox cottages and a charming old bed-and-breakfast, she and Kevin battle their attraction while trying to cope with an aging sexpot actress, a cranky world-famous artist, and a pair of teenage newlyweds.

Their careers and lives are in crisis ... yet they can't seem to stay away from each other. Before the summer is over, will they be able to learn one of life's most important lessons? Sometimes falling in love hurts, sometimes it makes you mad as hell, and sometimes if you're very lucky it can heal in the most special and unexpected way.
(Goodreads description)

I have read more than 125 books this year (I just checked Goodreads).  I think I might be addicted. Oh, well, it could be worse.

In all that reading, the book that stands out most for me is “This Heart of Mine” by Susan Elizabeth Phillips.  I can't believe I've only recently discovered this amazing author.  She can touch your heart as easily as your funny bone, and she writes divinely.  It so much fun meeting all her wonderful characters.

Molly Somerville's life isn't perfect, but it's pretty darn good.  She has a great career as a children's book author, lots of nieces and nephews, and she loves where she lives. If only she could get over her crush on Kevin Tucker, the quarterback of the Chicago Stars. 

In a scene that should have been farce but instead is emotionally taut, Molly makes love to a sleeping Kevin, who is furious and horrified when he realizes what has happened.  Inevitably, Molly discover she is pregnant, and is fiercely overjoyed. But she knows Kevin will not feel the same, so she decides not to tell him. Her interfering brother-in-law does, with the result that Kevin insists they get married.

Bare hours after they are married, Molly suffers a miscarriage.  I have never suffered such a tragedy.  But when Molly loses her baby, I could barely read the scene.  It was gut-wrenching and heartbreaking, and  I can only imagine how it would have affected a reader who had gone through the experience herself.

I don't generally cry over the characters I read about. But I couldn't help it during my favourite scene in the whole novel.  Kevin and Molly finally talk about the baby they lost.  It's not a long scene, but it seems to encapsulate everything in prose that is sparse and yet uplifting.

Now, if you're thinking I should have warned you about spoilers, don't worry.  Everything I've mentioned happens in the first third of the book.  There is so much more, as Molly and Kevin learn first to be friends, then lovers, then partners.  Molly has to deal with a potential career disaster, and Kevin has to come to terms with his past.  There are great supporting characters, such as Kevin's estranged mother, Lilly.  But it is the two scenes above that made it so memorable to me.

About the Reviewer

Brenda Margriet is very excited about the release of her first novel, "Mountain Fire."  It is currently available on KDP Select for all you Kindle owners, and will be released in January 2013 by The Wild Rose Press for all other e-readers.  She lives in Northern British Columbia with her husband, three children (all of whom are taller than her) and various finny and furry pets. By day she is Creative Director at the local television station, and by night she pecks away at her works in progress.  Find out more at www.brendamargriet.com.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Ash by Malinda Lo

Cinderella retold

In the wake of her father's death, Ash is left at the mercy of her cruel stepmother. Consumed with grief, her only joy comes by the light of the dying hearth fire, rereading the fairy tales her mother once told her. In her dreams, someday the fairies will steal her away, as they are said to do. When she meets the dark and dangerous fairy Sidhean, she believes that her wish may be granted.

The day that Ash meets Kaisa, the King's Huntress, her heart begins to change. Instead of chasing fairies, Ash learns to hunt with Kaisa. Though their friendship is as delicate as a new bloom, it reawakens Ash's capacity for love-and her desire to live. But Sidhean has already claimed Ash for his own, and she must make a choice between fairy tale dreams and true love.

Entrancing, empowering, and romantic, Ash is about the connection between life and love, and solitude and death, where transformation can come from even the deepest grief.
(Amazon description)

I really loved Ash for a variety of reasons. I’m always a fan of fairy tale retellings, and this is one of the better ones. It retains many of the hallmarks of the original tale, yet flouts some of the more annoying tropes, particularly the Prince Charming aspect. While there is a Prince character, he is peripheral to the story at best. The true love in the story is Kaisa, the Huntress, and she is so much more satisfying than the powerful Prince would have been in that role. It is exceptionally rare for fairy tales to center around non-heterosexual relationships, so I hope this is a trend that continues in this type of literature. This story’s Prince is present, but distant and far more unreachable, whereas Kaisa is very present in Ash’s life. She teaches Ash many things, but also allows her to make her own choices and plans without attempting to jump in and ‘rescue’ her.

I particularly love the characters. They are interesting, realistic, and full of surprises, even the secondary ones. Ash’s grief and despair as an orphan is compelling, as is her rebellious impetuosity. She grows and changes, learning to cope outwardly with her situation, whatever her inner turmoil may be. Lo also manages to avoid the usual broad-strokes, cookie-cutter evil in the step-mother and step-sisters. Each is an individual, and each has a different relationship with Ash, depending on her personality. I always appreciate well-rounded villains, even if that just makes me hate them more.

But my favorite part was the ending, both because I wanted Ash to be happy, and for the ways she changes and grows in order to achieve that happiness. Ash’s character is darkened by the death of her parents and she starts to walk dangerous paths (sometimes literally). But as she grows up, she begins to try and change her circumstances. She is ultimately her own heroine, and one of the most independent and self-sufficient female protagonists I’ve ever read.

The style is somewhat literary, which isn’t usually my cup of tea, but Malinda Lo makes it work for Ash. Perhaps my biggest complaint about this book was that it was a little slow. This is definitely a book to be savored over the course of days, rather than devoured in a single sitting. Despite this, it retains the feeling of a timeless fairy tale, the sort told in sections at bed-time and returned to night after night. That is exactly how I read it, every evening just before bed, a few chapters at a time. It is, ultimately, a bed-time story.

I highly recommend Ash, particularly for those looking for a story with a compelling queer main character.

About the Reviewer

Lia Wolff is a writer and stay-at-home-mom currently exiled to the backwoods of Florida. She achieved a Master's degree in Classics from Durham University in England, which she finds comes in handy for getting out the tough stains of Motherhood, and also in her Historical Fiction writing. She writes Egyptian Historicals and Steampunk Fantasy, and is currently unpublished, though ever hopeful of finding a good home for her stories, long and short. She has been an avid reader since age 3, and recently discovered the exciting new world of reading while nursing a baby. She will read anything once, but prefers Sci-Fi, Fantasy, Historical Novels and Cozy Murder Mysteries. Lia currently blogs erratically at http://bookewyrme.straydreamers.com/, Tumbles at http://thebookewyrme.tumblr.com/, and Tweets @LiaWolff. Stop on by and say 'Hi', the comments are always open to her fellow readers.

Friday, October 5, 2012

#FridayReads Guest Reviewer Emily Bedwell (@emilyrbedwell) reviews Rift by Andrea Cremer (@andreacremer)

Rift by Andrea Cremer

Chronicling the rise of the Keepers, this is the stunning prequel to Andrea Cremer's internationally bestselling Nightshade trilogy!

Sixteen-year-old Ember Morrow is promised to a group called Conatus after one of their healers saves her mother's life. Once she arrives, Ember finds joy in wielding swords, learning magic, and fighting the encroaching darkness loose in the world. She also finds herself falling in love with her mentor, the dashing, brooding, and powerful Barrow Hess. When the knights realize Eira, one of their leaders, is dabbling in dark magic, Ember and Barrow must choose whether to follow Eira into the nether realm or to pledge their lives to destroying her and her kind.

With action, adventure, magic, and tantalizing sensuality, this book is as fast-paced and breathtaking as the Nightshade novels.
(Amazon description)

If I'm completely honest, I didn't love the first book of the Nightshade series. I think I had been reading too many books about werewolves, vampires, paranormal, and all that. I was a little burned about and a lot uninterested. Plus, I really liked Ren as a character and was tired of the strong and steady guy always getting left behind for the "new and dangerous and mysterious" guy. I read the first book over a year ago, and didn't bother with either of the sequels until recently.

However, when I started hearing about Rift, I thought it was worth reading. It sounded like an interesting prequel to the story, and I love finding out what happens before a book is set, if that makes sense. So, I picked up Rift at the library and dug in. (I'll also freely admit that I totally judge books by their covers and I loved the cover of this book. Dark-haired, kick-butt heroine? Yes, please!) What interested me most about this book was that it was about magic and mystery, not about werewolves! Set in the past, full of castles and knights and promises and covenants, Rift is nothing like the Nightshade series to me. Ember, the heroine of the story, is strong and powerful and the kind of girl I used to pretend to be in my backyard. She doesn't want the safe, normal life. She wants to be a warrior, fight for good and make a difference in the world. I immediately felt a kinship with her.

Ember is a fully-realized character. She has flaws and is a little too headstrong. She doesn't realize exactly how unique she is and she falls in love with the "wrong" guy. But, through all that, she has a sense of what is right and what is wrong. And, despite her fears, she wants to fight for the right. I loved that Rift talks about the magic in the world that the average person may not see. Rift is about the unseen forces at work all around us, and those forces are dark and light fighting constantly. Rift creates a world where those forces are real and believable. The setting is authentic, fitting in with any other book set in the time period. The rustic setting, void of technology, forces characters to interact in a way that is more and more unfamiliar to us these days. Sometimes I would much rather live in the past, without the constant ding of cell phones and email!

As good-hearted and passionate as Ember is, her counterpart, the dark Eira, is equally well-written. Eira doesn't start out seeking Bosque Mar or the darkness he brings; she just wants to make something more of her life. She is dissatisfied, impressionable, and a little angry. She wants to be part of something, but that something that is so tempting ultimately becomes her downfall. I think we all know people like that or people who are on the verge; the choice is hers, and Eira chooses, but she chooses what ultimately leads to destruction of the world she loved.

Rift is different enough from the Nightshade series that I would recommend it, even if, like me, you weren't a huge Nightshade fan. Author Andrea Cremer writes fully-realized worlds, from the grass on the ground to the thin veil between the worlds of good and evil. I would recommend this one for anyone who enjoys fantasy, paranormal and romance.

About the Reviewer

About Emily: Emily Bedwell is a lover of all things written. She can quote Shakespeare and Maureen Johnson in the same sentence and not think a thing about it. All her earliest memories involve reading books, writing stories and sharing those stories with others. That first story involved a very large bubble and a strong wind. It was the first time she remembers making her mom smile with something she wrote, and it solidified a dream for her. When she was a teenager, all she wanted to do was read "grown up" books. Now that she's an adult, she loves nothing more than sitting down with a YA book and getting lost in another time, another place or another world.

Hometown: Bloomington, Indiana

"Real" Job: Business & Communications Manager

Dream Job: Children's/YA Librarian & Author

Books Always on Her Nightstand: The Giver by Lois Lowry. This is one of my favorite books. I read it at least once a year. There is something so powerful about Jonas, the Giver and the world in which they live. This is the first true dystopian I remember reading, and it still haunts me to this day. I can't help but compare every book I read to The Giver On Writing by Stephen King. King's memoir on how he became a writer is so simple and so profound at the same time. It's not a traditional writing book, but it reminds me that there is a reason why I love good books, and why I want to write good books. There is a point where he talks about life supporting art that changed the way I viewed so much of what I do in my life.

Favorite Authors: The list is too long to write, but I love Kiersten White, Maureen Johnson, Stephanie Perkins, Andrea Cremer, Beth Revis, Maggie Stiefvater, Aprillyne Pike, Stephen King, Jonathan Irving, Cervantes and so many more!

Why YA? There is something about YA literature that speaks to me. These are quality books that tell real stories, and they tell them in unique ways. There is drama, and there is darkness, but there is also laughter and light. I think there is something redeeming about YA literature -- for the characters, the authors and the readers. I'm really way more interested in a quality story than the "suggested" readers.

When I'm Not Reading, Working or Studying: I like to spend time with my husband, Tim, and our chihuahua, Madi. I love to laugh with my friends, go for long walks around Bloomington and travel. No matter what I'm doing, though, there is always a book within my reach!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Guest Reviewer Week! @Aprilelayne1 reviews Shadow's Edge by @JTGeissinger

Shadow’s Edge (A Night Prowler Novel #1) 
by J.T. Geissinger
4/5 Stars

Deep within the primeval forests of southern England, a race of beautiful, savage shape-shifters lives hidden from the everyday world. Bound together by ancient bloodlines and a ruthless code of secrecy that punishes traitors with death, the Ikati send their leader Leander on a mission to capture one raised outside the tribe before she can expose their secret. When Leander tracks the unsuspecting outsider to Southern California, the hardened warrior is prepared for a fight—but not for the effect the sensual young beauty has on his heart.

Jenna spent her childhood in hiding, on the run from someone—or something—her parents refused to discuss. She trusts no one, not since her father’s mysterious disappearance, not since her mother’s sudden death, and definitely not since she began exhibiting strange, superhuman abilities. When handsome, enigmatic Leander appears, promising answers to the mysteries that shroud her past, she knows she shouldn’t trust him either. But their connection is undeniable, and as powerful as the enemy hell-bent on destroying every one of their kind…
(Amazon description)

I’ll be honest, finding Shadow’s Edge was a random find, a needle-in-a-haystack kind of find.  I had just finished my favorite author and was craving the same genre but new and fresh, so off to search.  You know, the wannabe traveler who ultimately just closes their eyes and points to a map to decide their next destination? That is exactly what I did.

I loaded up the store on my Kindle, selected 'thrillers' for my genre and randomly pressed ‘next page’ several times before looking at the page.  The first book listed on the page was Shadow’s Edge (A Night Prowler Novel #1). I read the synopsis to find that it met my loose criteria I had set for myself: a level of supernatural, NOT young adult, but NOT smut either.  Bonus was that it was just recently published within the last month (June 2012). Luckily I was in a generous mood and grabbed it at its online price of $3.99 rather than skimming around for something cheaper. (Not discrediting my typical authors, but I purposely set out to find a new author and discover something….newer or fledgling authors tend to have the cheaper price points to lure us in.)

Published by Montlake Romance, the book is rather hard to define.  In all fairness, I hadn’t paid attention to the publisher, if I had, I likely would not have purchased the book.  I wasn’t looking for smut that I typically assume with Romance publishers.  So I’m grateful that I didn’t judge the book on its publisher. There is a new cliché…may have to remember that one!

Some have considered urban fantasy, while others call it young adult, but all agree that the romance is minimal. It is in there, but it is not a focus of this specific installment.  What romance is in there I definitely do not consider young adult.

J.T. Geissinger has some work to do on the characters themselves, but has an amazing way to describe the scene and environment.  There are hints of so much character and depth to the players, and perhaps she intended to leave it dry. Almost like an introduction but not sharing too much since we barely know each other.  I have faith that the next installment will let me in more to see more depth. 

I first expected the novel to focus on the Ikati and Leander as that was what drew me into the story, so I was caught off guard that we are introduced to Jenna.  The beginning was bland and slightly choppy with transition between the world of the Ikati and Jenna, but Geissinger quickly finds her groove when she gets into the details she loves about Jenna’s character and the environment.  The first third of the book was a struggle to keep my interest, but there was a switch or a moment that I found and could not put the book down.  The later two-thirds of the book raced by and I was suddenly down to the last two percent of the book.  The final pages were predictable in regards to the smidge of romance that is in there, but it did leave me interested in what is coming next in the world Geissinger has created for Jenna and the Itaki.

Who would join me in this new world and author? Anyone who’s interested in adult type fantasy with vividly detailed environments but characters slightly short on depth…it works.  I think the first installment is a great start, and hopefully more depth can be exposed in the next chapter of the Itaki world.  But if you are looking for adult romance, I think it can be found elsewhere in a normal world.

I think the Itaki world has the ambition to be a lush forest ripe with multiple stories and characters, but right now I have to hack my way in past the first set of trees to see there is another layer or if it is just a picture of a forest. 

About the Reviewer

Aprilelayne, yes all one word, touts herself as a 'Jane of all trades.' An Army brat who ended up in Austin, Texas, she has two full-time jobs --motherhood and work-work (aka: the paying gig). She spends her time trying to master any one of her many hobbies, but really loves to read anything off the beaten path--especially the dark and twisty ones.  On any given day you'll likely find her in the kitchen with a toddler hanging onto a leg  sneaking peeks at a book while stirring something on the stove. You can currently find Aprilelayne on GoodReads and twitter @Aprilelayne1. 

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Guest Reviewer Week! Shari Broyer (@shariannegaylee) reviews Mending Fences by Lucy Francis

Mending Fences by Lucy Francis
Reviewed by Shari

4.5 stars

She was the first woman to turn him down.
CEO-turned-rancher Curran Shaw is no stranger to hard work, but women have never required much effort. When a mysterious brunette at a resort-town Halloween party sparks his interest and then vanishes, he vows to finish what she started. It's finding her that's going to be the hard part.

He was her fantasy, and that's all he could ever be.
Victoria Linden has reconstructed her life and soul from the devastation wrought by an abusive ex and her own failures. She desperately wants to be loved, but what man will agree to the control and limitations she needs in order to hold herself together? Especially a man like Curran, who's used to getting whatever he wants. Walking away from him after a searing kiss is her only option.

When serendipity brings them together in the snowy mountains of Utah, will Victoria and Curran be able to mend the fences in their hearts, or will discovery and heartbreak tear them apart?

Mending Fences is approx. 70,000 words long.
(Amazon Product Description)

Lucy Francis demonstrates that she has the multiple gifts required of a first-rate writer: masterful mechanics; skillful scene-setting, captivating characterization (she is equally adept at getting inside a man’s head and revealing him as she is able to show us the secret heart of a woman); and powerful plotting.

From page one, there is mystery. Both hero and heroine have secrets to keep, secrets the reader wants to know, so we keep reading. The sizzling sexual chemistry that ignites between the masked Shaw and the mysterious lady in black as the story progresses also kept me in thrall. I liked the fact that both hero and heroine are flawed and that the taboo subject of spousal abuse is explored within the confines of this romance. I loved the portrayal of Victoria as freelance writer, realistically dressed in her pajamas in midday, poor enough to have to house sit, etcetera. Francis has a unique turn of phrase that either made me chuckle— “Her stomach flip-flopped when he licked the residue from his lips. She could have done that for him. Really.”—or brought me deeper into the scene—“Yeah, and if anyone tried that now I’d give them explicit directions to Hell.” Lucy also very skillfully kept the suspense level high, and there’s a twist to the climactic scene that readers won’t want to miss.

However, I was disappointed with two things in this story:

1) After maintaining sexual tension so well throughout the book, keeping the couple at an impasse, when they finally do “connect” the scene is definitely anti-“climactic”; it’s too commonplace. I expected more of the high combustibility that was there at the novel’s beginning.

2) There is a point in the novel when Curran is given notice of a charitable event at the children’s hospital. I fully expected this to be used as a device to bring Victoria and her past “failure” face-to-face, and possibly deepen the rift between her and Curran, and it didn’t happen. I think Lucy missed a great opportunity to bring more angst to the story as well as to create an even more satisfying reconciliation at the conclusion.

Still, it was a great read. I very much enjoyed this first novel in her Heart’s Redemption series. The second, Finding Refuge, is upcoming, and I want to read it, too!

I give Mending Fences 4. 5 stars for plot, 5 stars for character development—including that of Peg-leg and Sassy, secondary animals—and 4 stars for the love story for an average of 4.5 stars. Francis is an author to watch.

Shari Broyer aka @shariannegaylee
Author/Ms. Editor for Hire

Shari Broyer is a writer, manuscript editor for hire, facilitator of her own writers’ group, mother of two and grandmother of two (yes, she’s old enough!). She was born on the shore of Lake Erie, Ohio and now resides in Mesa, Arizona. She loves to read and will read anything as long as it captivates her. Shari is the author of Ether Man, and the short mystery, Petty Theft, (both in Kindle format on Amazon.com). Ether Man (“Not your normal paranormal!”) is her first novel, but some of her poems and short stories have been traditionally published, and she has won several awards for her writing. She is readying a family Halloween story, entitled The Cat Who Would be Black, for release on Kindle Select this week. You can read more about her at sharibroyerbooks.weebly.com.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Guest Reviewer Week! Brianna Soloski (@girlseeksplace) reviews Running of the Bride by @RachelEddey

Running of the Bride by Rachel Eddey
239 pages * 4/5 stars

When Rachel’s handsome studio exec boyfriend proposes on the Sex and the City movie set, she can’t fathom the dizzying adventure ahead. Accepting a once-in-a-lifetime venue deal helps their budget but puts them on a crash course to get married in just four months—and time isn’t their only challenge. They battle a wacky host of vendors, including a hair stylist who fakes a car accident and a makeup artist channeling Marilyn Manson, all while testing their love amid tastings and tulle.

Using her nervous energy productively, Rachel enters every contest she can find, winning diamond earrings, a honeymoon, a photographer, and two wedding gowns. Her pop culture obsession lands the wedding party on two hit reality TV shows. There’s just one problem as the clock ticks down: Her staunch perfectionism and fear of dancing threaten to derail everything. She has to redefine perfect and embrace the mistakes—or risk losing it all.

Please take your seats. The wedding is about to begin.
(Amazon description)

I am still on my funny girl memoir kick. Actually, just a memoir kick in general. They are quick reads, which is perfect for summer and my busy schedule. (And yes, I’m super busy – I work three jobs and am trying to cultivate a steady freelance business. You can be busy without a husband and kids, for all the naysayers who can’t fathom how I could possibly be so busy).

Anyway, Running of the Bride is the perfect beach book. It tells the story of Rachel and John who, upon their engagement, decide to get married with only four months of planning time. One look at the calendar sends Rachel into a frenzy of countdowns and color-coded spreadsheets. I totally get how she feels and would definitely do the same thing.

Rachel and John end up on two reality shows: TLC’s Rock the Reception and Say Yes to the Dress. I’ve never seen the former, but the latter is a guilty pleasure of mine. What follows is a whirlwind of dance lessons, dress fittings, and a concentrated effort on Rachel’s part at becoming a more relaxed person. Of course, the couple also wins a wedding dress, a honeymoon, and snags a venue simply because of who they know.

Overall, I liked Running of the Bride. It had all the romance and fun of a wedding memoir and was a great read to start off my summer with. I am still hopelessly behind on the books I am supposed to be reading and reviewing, but I keep getting sucked into other books. I’ll get to them all. Eventually. I promise. 

***** Check out my interview with the author, Rachel Eddey, at 

About the Reviewer

Brianna Soloski is an avid reader and writer. She received a Bachelor of Arts in Humanities from Sierra Nevada College. She also obtained her teaching credential from the college. Although she’s not currently teaching, she enjoys spending time with her friends’ kids. In her spare time, she loves to travel and would love to book a world cruise – imagine the memoir that could come from an adventure like that! Girl Seeks Place is her first full length novel and will be released October 26, 2012. She can be found blogging at www.girlseeksplace.wordpress.com. She can also be found on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/pages/Brianna-Soloski-Writer, and @girlseeksplace on Twitter.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Guest Reviewer Charlene Wilson (@AuthorCAWilson) reviews Underworld Lover by @sharonlhamilton. GIVEAWAY for comments!

Hello everyone, my name is Charlene A. Wilson.  I’d like to thank Jesi Lea for having me as a guest reviewer today on Diary Of A Bibliophile.  It’s not often that I get the chance to share what I think of some of my favorite books.  As I’m an author of Paranormal Romance, I love that genre.  So, you can guess what I'll be reviewing today.  This piece is a Paranormal Erotic Romance by Sharon Hamilton titled Underworld Lover.  Thanks again, and enjoy.

Underworld Lover
by Sharon Hamilton

  • Genre—Paranormal Erotic Romance
  • Heat Level—On Fire
  • File Size: 843 KB
  • Print Length: 274 pages
  • ASIN: B006ML4GGU


Joshua Brandon, a legendary and powerful rogue dark angel, meets a human woman whose soul he cannot take, and finds something he has not experienced before: love. At the same time, a new director comes to power in the Underworld, who asks for a test of Josh's loyalty by delivering this very woman to him.

Melanie Worthington is back among the living, after reeling from the suicide of a close friend. She has no idea she is to become the pawn between two powerful dark angels, one who would command her as his personal concubine, and the other who would set her free.

Will their love survive the battle between the two dark angels, or will Joshua risk his own immortal life to protect the woman he loves?

Charlene’s Review

When I read a book, if I can connect with the characters, the biggest part of winning me over is done. I knew I'd love Joshua by the time I was finished with page one. And his story didn't let me down. Ms. Hamilton used beautiful prose and rich description of the settings and put them right there with the characters.

Joshua's job as a Dark Angel is to comb the Earth for people who are sad and want their struggles to end. He offers them a chance to leave it all behind and bask in unlimited pleasures in a guilt-free world. Sound good to you? Willing to trade humanity for a life in the Underworld? He says it's the perfect choice. After all, he's enjoyed the dark freedom for several hundred years and he doesn't plan on changing his mind about it one bit. That is until he meets Melanie. Something hits him when he runs into her in her flower shop, and it's not just the bundle of roses in her arms. It's love. How disconcerting! Suddenly, trying to claim such a beautiful pure-hearted woman and damning her to eternal darkness isn't such a grand idea. And to complicate things, the new Director of the Underworld has his eye on her.

Will a devout Dark Angel find a way to deal with these new feelings and be strong enough to save her from being the personal concubine to the most powerful person in the Underworld? For that matter, can he save himself?

There were some times where actions didn’t quite line up logically for me—Melonie’s actually—but nothing that hindered my enjoyment of this book.  Ms. Hamilton’s original views of the Under World and Heaven held my interest and Joshua definitely kept my attention.  In fact, all the characters had strong individual personalities, from egotistical to insecure, from gruff to sweet, and from hot to hotter.  Lol *wink*  And like I said, she won me with her characters.

Underworld Lover is the follow-up to Ms. Hamilton's Heavenly Lover. If you love down to earth writing with rich romance, then you'll love Underworld Lover. It's got grit and silk woven together with a great story line. Bring on book 3.

Five Stars *****

Author did not request review.

About the reviewer

Charlene is an author of paranormal suspenseful tales that sweep you away to other dimensions. She weaves magic, lasting love, and intrigue into multi-layered story lines to immerse you into the lives of her characters.
She began writing in her early teens when her vivid dreams stayed with her long after she had them. The characters and worlds were so amazing, she brought them to life through her books. You can meet them now in her series, Chronicles of Shilo Manor, and soon in her series, Aumelan.

She resides in a small community in Arkansas, USA, with her two beautiful daughters, a gray cat, Chester, and a fluffy black dog, KooJo.

Author Links

About Charlene's books:

It's their nature - long lives and rebirth. They're from another dimension, one gifted with advance abilities, but they serve in Cornerstone Deep. They're the Wizards of Shilo Manor.
~ * ~
"We are of another plane. Only by ancient covenant do few know our true natures. We walk this world among you, beside you, loving you."

Cornerstone Deep (book one)

They outlive the mortals of this realm by thousands of years, and when it comes to love the cruel fact is reinforced. Reincarnation doesn't exist on this plane. They lose their wives to death with no hope of reuniting. Yet they continue to accept others for whatever time they have together. Save for Cole. His love for his last wife still burns in his soul four centuries after her death.
When the service they render to the noblemen of Cornerstone Deep brings him face to face with Anna, something unexpected happens.  In a realm of silent souls, hers calls to him.  He responds with a kiss—one that joined with the spell of servitude she inhaled, binds her soul. 
Breaking ancient covenants, angering the lords, and bringing the gods' wrath upon him, Cole tries desperately to undo his wrong and free his love—despite the determination of the nobleman to keep her.
~ * ~
“My life is a mirage of endless time. But you in this moment engulf me, rivet my mind, encompass my soul.”

Mianna’s return heals Cole’s soul and he promises to follow her for the rest of his existence.  But the past isn’t what he believes.  The fight for her has only begun.
Lord Dressen’s obsession grows as unexpected knowledge is revealed.  His search for Mianna has spanned six life times and he won’t give up now.  The courts stand behind him.  Power pulses through his veins.  Determination peaks and not even Cole Shilo can stop him.  He will win his prize.
Struggling to stay ahead, Cole’s anger explodes.  Nothing is sacred when it comes to keeping his love—not even covenants made with gods.  But, through all his efforts, lofty or damned, the truth remains.  Will echoes of another life cause him to fail?
~ * ~
“Every breath you take is a song to my soul.”

Buy Links All Books:
Class Act Books: http://bit.ly/cabWilson
Smashwords (Cornerstones) http://bit.ly/cornerstonesfree  (free sampler)

Freebie for Commenters!!!!!

Cornerstones (extra)

Cornerstones: The First Ten Chapters From Cornerstone Deep is a promotional sample that contains only the first ten chapters from the book Cornerstone Deep by Charlene A. Wilson along with fun facts about the Chronicles of Shilo Manor series and its worlds. 

*****  Just leave a comment & include your email address to get the first ten chapters of Cornerstones FREE!!!!