Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Stay Tuned by Lauren Clark GUEST POST!

As part of this special promotional extravaganza sponsored by Novel Publicity, the price of the Stay Tuned eBook edition has dropped to just 99 cents this week. What’s more, by purchasing this fantastic book at an incredibly low price, you can enter to win many awesome prizes, including lots of Amazon gift cards (up to $100 in amount) and 5 autographed copies of the book. Be sure to enter before the end of the day on Friday, December 2nd, so you don’t miss out.  

To Win the Prizes:

1. Purchase your copy of Stay Tuned for just 99 cents on Amazon or Barnes & Noble (You’ll need it for the big contest on Friday) 2. Fill-out the form on Novel Publicity to enter for the prizes 3. Visit today’s featured event; you may win an autographed copy of the book or a $50 gift card!  

...And I can win too!

Over 100 bloggers are participating in this gigantic event, and there are plenty of prizes for us too. The blogger who receives the most votes in the traffic-breaker poll will win a $100 gift card as well. So when you visit Novel Publicity’s site to fill-out the contest entry form, don’t forget to say that I referred you, so I can get a point in the poll.  

The Featured Events include:

Monday, Radio Interview with Novel Publicity! We’re kicking-off on the Novel Publicity Free Advice blog. We interviewed Lauren on our radio show Sunday night and have embedded the full podcast and blogged about its highlights. Give it a listen and then leave a comment on the blog post. This is a great chance to get to know more about this fun and bubbly author. One commenter will win an autographed copy of Stay Tuned. Don’t forget to enter for the other contest prizes while you’re over there! Tuesday, Twitter sharing contest! A tweet is tiny, only 140 characters. But on Tuesday, it could win you $50. Send the following tweet across the twittersphere, and you just may win a $50 Amazon gift card. An autographed copy of Stay Tuned is also up for grabs. The winners will be announced Wednesday morning. Here’s the tweet: Take a break from the holiday frenzy, and read Stay Tuned. It's fast, fun, and reduced to just 99 cents! #whirlwind Wednesday, Google+ sharing contest! Yup, there’s yet another awesome opportunity to win a $50 Amazon gift card, and this time it just takes a single click! Visit Google+ and share Emlyn Chand’s most recent post (you’ll see the Stay Tuned book cover included with it). On Thursday morning, one lucky sharer will be $50 richer. An autographed copy of Stay Tuned is also up for grabs. Two chances to win with just one click! How about that? Thursday, Facebook sharing contest! Stop by Novel Publicity’s Facebook page and share their latest post (you’ll see the Stay Tuned book cover included with it). It’s ridiculously easy to win! On Friday morning, one lucky sharer will be $50 richer. An autographed copy of Stay Tuned is also up for grabs. Friday, special contest on the author’s site! Are you ready for some more fun? Take a picture of yourself with your copy of Stay Tuned either in paperback or on an eReading device, tag Lauren Clark’s Facebook page, and you can enter to win one of three Amazon gift cards! A $100 prize will go to the most creative photo, $50 to the best BFF photo, and $50 to the photo with the most people in it. An autographed copy of Stay Tuned is also up for grabs. If you need help learning how to tag a photo, you can visit Lauren’s Facebook page for detailed instructions.  

Remember, it’s all about the books!

About Stay Tuned: What happens when a #1 news team becomes the top story instead of reporting it? For TV producer Melissa Moore, crisis management comes with the job. From employee disputes to her high-maintenance boss, there’s not much she hasn’t seen or can’t handle. But no one—including Melissa—expects a fistfight during the ten o’clock news. When sexy-but-crazy Alyssa Andrews lands a punch on her co-anchor’s face, Melissa jumps on set to help. She’s determined that WSGA’s reputation won’t be destroyed on her watch. Both anchors are fired and Melissa agrees to fill in—but not before polishing her look from haircut to heels. While the new Melissa wows WSGA viewers, her personal life starts fraying at the edges. Melissa’s husband is away more than he’s home, leaving cryptic Post-it notes in his wake. Her mother’s antics spiral out of control at the nursing home and a stalker decides Melissa is her next target. What happens next? Stay Tuned to find out…
Get it on Amazon or Barnes & Noble. About the Author: Lauren Clark has been a voracious reader since the age of four and would rather be stranded at the library than on a desert island. In her former life, she worked as an anchor and producer for CBS affiliates in Upstate New York and Alabama. Lauren adores her family, yoga, her new Electra bike, and flavored coffee. She lives near the Florida Gulf Coast. Visit her on her website, Twitter, Facebook, or GoodReads.  

Now please enjoy this guest post from the author....

  Nine Myths and a Truth: The Real Story Behind the Scenes at a Local Television Station**
10. Reporters are paid tons of money! FALSE—Reporters at small television stations are paid a little more than minimum wage. They are required to have a college degree and many just-out-of-school jobs are classified as a “One Man Band, ” which means that the reporter carries the camera, shoots the footage, does the interviews, then writes and edits the story.

9. Reporters get to meet famous people! SOMETIMES—I was fortunate enough to meet Vice Presidential Candidate Geraldine Ferraro and many local senators and congress members. However, I did interview Eliott Spitzer while he was New York State’s attorney general. Now that’s just creepy!

8. Reporters and anchors get lots of perks! SOMETIMES—Reporters do often get sideline tickets and backstage passes to events. However, it’s often a reporter attends only AFTER her or she covers the actual event, which means working for at least the first part of the concert, fundraiser, or dinner.

7. It’s always glamorous! NOT REALLY—Often, reporting took me to crime scenes, car crashes, bad neighborhoods, dairy farms, voting polls, and raging fires. My most unique assignments included reporting on a lost Emu and covering cattle judging at a local fair. In Alabama—try to stay cool and look pretty in 105-degree heat! In Upstate New York, this meant trudging through the deep snow to get a story.

6. If you’re an anchor, people do your makeup and choose your clothes! FALSE—In smaller markets, you do your own makeup (MAC is the best!) and bring your own clothes. Sometimes, the television station might give you a small clothing allowance, but a few hundred dollars doesn’t go far when you work 5 days a week.

5. Viewers call in and tell anchors how wonderful they are! SOMETIMES—I admit, I did get some fan mail and it was pretty fabulous. However, most often, people called in to complain about (1) an outfit someone was wearing (which a viewer didn’t like it), (2) a story reported on (which a viewer didn’t like it), or (3) a story that didn’t get coverage. There was one particular viewer who didn’t like the way I said “Iraq.” (It’s not Eye-rack. It’s Ir-aq)

4. The hardest part of the job is interviewing people! FALSE—I loved that part! I thought it was so amazing to talk to people from all walks of life and find out why they were a farmer, a policeman, or a teacher. I liked asking questions that made people think. Some of the most rewarding stories were health-related (recovery from an illness) or the features about children. The hardest part for me was the shift I worked: 2 am – 10 am. (This meant getting up at 1:15 am every morning!!)

3. You always have to dress up! FALSE—On the weekends, in smaller markets, it’s pretty common for anchors and reporters to wear a formal suit or top, but have jeans underneath and casual shoes (hidden under the desk). I’ve known some sports guys to wear tennis shoes or flip-flops on set!

2. The camera adds ten pounds! FALSE—It’s actually more like fifteen or twenty! People often commented on how short I was or how much thinner I was in person. (Sigh!)

1. I’ve heard that anchors use Preparation H under their eyes to reduce puffiness!? TRUE—I’ve done it, anyway. When you’re working 2 am – 10 am, there’s only so much coffee and sugar can do!

Overall, it was an amazing opportunity to work as an anchor, producer, and reporter at two CBS affiliates. I made some wonderful friends, worked with many talented people, and really enjoyed the experience.

**These comments are solely the views of the author and do not represent the actual experiences of every anchor or reporter who currently works in or has previously worked in television news.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Shadow Magic by Donna Grant

A historical fantasy novel, and I believe the first I have ever read. Over the past few months I have been trying to try all different types of the paranormal/fantasy genre, and I am very happy that I read this book. I have read historical books before, but never in the fantasy realm, and this was a pleasant surprise. There was just enough historical elements to make it interesting, but not so much that it pulled away from the plot or the characters.

The general plot of the book is that Serena (a witch who can glimpse into a personal future), sees tragedy on the horizon for a family who are dear friends of hers. Gerald and Drogan have a dark past that has come back to haunt them, and that past is seeking to destroy them and everything they hold dear. Serena works with them to help protect them and the people they care about, but will it be enough to save them all?

First of all I really enjoy the character Serena. I have noticed two overwhelming themes in books lately, the heroine is either very whiny and allows herself to be pulled along by others, or they are so strong it's hard to believe in them. Serena is the perfect mix of strength and weakness. Serena physically is not a strong woman, in that slightest touch bruises her skin, direct sunlight blisters her skin, hot water would burn her, etc. But she is powerful in her gifts as a witch to see into people's future. And not only that she is strong and independent as a person. She has learn to live with her weaknesses and never lets them stop her in helping her friends to the best of her ability. All of these elements make her more endearing to read, and made me want her to have the happy ending she deserves.

Drogan is one of the men who's past is following him. He, unlike his friend Gerald, has not been able to move past it and has resolved to spend his life alone. That is until he meet Serena and is captivated by her. To make matters worse all witches like Serena are under a curse making a happily ever after impossible. I did enjoy watching the two of them fight their attraction to each other. Drogan is an honorable man, and he is willing to accept that Serena is a witch and trust in her foresight, which is quite remarkable for the time (in my opinion). In addition to that, even though he has the standard man desire to keep her safe, he never patronizes her. He is never overbearing nor does he ever con her into doing things, they very much have an equal relationship made of respect and trust from both parties; I cannot explain how refreshing that is.

One thing I found especially impressive, and that is that Grant is able to keep the readers attention even though through most of the book the group is traveling from point A to point B with not a huge amount of action during it. This is impressive because the characters really carry the book, and not the action, you really get to know the characters. If they weren't interesting it would have been very boring to read about a long journey they were taking, but thankfully this is not the case for them.

I also want to mention that when the action picks up with some fight scenes, it is sword fighting (because it's historical). The reason I mention this is because Grant writes the fighting in a such a way that is both easy to follow as well as with great imagery that as a reader I was able to picture the fight in my head. Personally I attribute this to great research and writing skills.

Overall, I think this book is a good one. As this is book one of three, I am looking forward to reading the next two books (book two is being reviewed on December 7th). I think this book would be great for all paranormal romance readers. The book is not laden with paranormal elements, but rather character driven, so anyone who likes historical books may find this to be an entertaining read as well. After reading this book I am both excited about the next book and looking forward to interviewing Grant in a couple of days. I hope you all enjoy it as well.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Paranormal Turkey Tour! With Giveaway!

Ah yes, Thanksgiving. Nothing says the holidays like sitting around a fully decked out dining room table with mouthwatering temptations waiting to be gobbled up. Everyone waits anxiously for the big reveal… the turkey! Lovingly prepared since early that morning, the turkey is brought out in a covered, silver serving platter. Aunt Edith smacks little Tommy's hand as he attempts to steal a candied yam dripping with marshmallow. The collective breath is held as the silver cover is removed… revealing… a zombie turkey! What—what? That's right folks, this year, we are celebrating this American holiday paranormal style. And what says paranormal holiday better than a walking, talking zombie turkey? This zombie turkey brings you important tidings of great prizes that shall be for all people… who participate and win of course. November 25-27 you could win up to $200 in prizes!  

Three days. Four YA paranormal books. Five chances to win!

And who are these crazy paranormal authors? Check them out. It's like the Nightmare Before Christmas, Thanksgiving style!
  Emlyn Chand, author of Farsighted "Psychic or not, you'll never see the end for this one coming! Emlyn Chand is pioneering 'the next big thing' for YA." ~ Emily Reese, author of Second Death Alex Kosmitoras may be blind, but he can still “see” things others can’t. When his unwanted visions of the future begin to suggest that the girl he likes could be in danger, he has no choice but to take on destiny and demand it reconsider. Monster Mash: Emlyn says… I. AM. WEREWOLF! And why's that you ask? First off, my name (Chand) literally means moon in Sanskrit. Next, werewolves are super cool--we can blend in with common folk, and then out of nowhere, kapow! I'm a werewolf, and I sure am hungry. Lastly, Team Jacob 100%. Now excuse me while I cock back my head and howl at my namesake.
Patti Larsen, author of Family Magic "Patti Larsen is truly gifted because I read Family Magic cover to cover and I'm on the edge of my seat waiting for the next installment!" ~ from Goodreads review Sixteen-year-old Sydlynn Hayle is the daughter of a powerful witch and a demon lord, but she just wants to be ordinary. When her coven comes under attack, Syd must face the fact only her power can save her family's magic. Monster Mash: Patti says… I am a witch. Naturally. I weave spells with my words, cast incantations from my keyboard, mix up the very best potions in my cauldron of documents. You want to stay on my good side. Trust me. Unless you enjoy waking up as something... unnatural.
  Kimberly Kinrade, author of Forbidden Mind "Forbidden Mind is a thrilling, dark and deeply romantic read that had me sitting on the edge of my seat and eagerly awaiting the next installment." ~Refracted Light Young Adult Book Reviews Paranormal teens with unimaginable powers. An evil organization with deep secrets. When Sam, a girl who reads minds, meets a boy who controls minds, she discovers her future isn't what she thought. Together they must escape and free the others… or risk losing everything—and everyone—they love. Monster Mash: Kimberly says… I may look like a demon, but I'm actually a succubus. Enchanting and seductive, I weave stories that will fuel your passions and make you fall in love. But be warned… once you fall under the spell of my words, your world will never be the same.   John Corwin, author of The Next Thing I Knew Corwin does a phenomenal job of including humor throughout this novel. This book was like . . . Ghost (the movie) meets The Host (by Stephanie Meyer) meets MIB (Men In Black the movie). ~Maryann, Chapter by Chapter The afterlife is the last thing on Lucy’s mind until she and every other human on the planet drop dead and find themselves in the hereafter. Lucy drags her social life back from the grave and enlists her friends to figure out the rules of the afterlife and, more importantly, to discover who or what killed everyone and why anyone would do such a mean thing. Monster Mash: John says… I am a ninja. After all, vampires are simply ninjas with fangs. They can hide in plain sight, right in your living room. Jump out and scare the wits out of you. Drop a smoke bomb and poof! All you’re left with is stinky smoke in your house and soiled underclothes.

The Prizes

Four $25 Book Entries: For each of the four books in the contest, you can enter to win $25 (up to $100 in giveaways!) Simply buy a copy of the book (each is priced at just 99 cents for this special promotion) and email the proof of purchase for that book OR submit the first sentence of the fifth chapter for that book to Winners will be chosen randomly. Each person can submit one entry per book. Here are the links for each book:
And... if you buy all FOUR books, you are entered to win the Grand Prize!  

The Grand Prize

One randomly selected reader who enters to win all four book prizes (Family Magic, Farsighted, Forbidden Mind and The Next Thing I Knew) will win the grand prize of $100. So go on now and pick up a copy of these fantastic paranormal reads before the zombie turkey eats you! What? Still around? Then enjoy these fun book trailers and Paranormal Turkey Tour trailer. (Then go buy the books.) Also, leave a comment and help your favorite blog host win a $50 prize!   Notes:
  • All winners will be chosen randomly using
  • Amazon links are provided, but books purchased through any online vendor will qualify with proof of purchase.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Beasts- King of Vengeance by Leanore Elliot

***Spoilers Within***

Back to beasts! It's been a while since I have read a book that focuses more on "beasts" and the first time I have reviewed something about gargoyles. This is a paranormal romance (heavy on the romance), featuring two cops who turn out to be more than they seem, and are teamed up with each other to find a serial killer. You can find out more about the author by checking out my interview with her on the previous post!

The first half of the book was pretty good, moved quickly, had a lot of action (both in plot and in the romance category), but then I got to the second half. The second half felt like I was reading the first half of the book all over again with some minor changes. There is a reason in the plot why this happens, which I understand, but for me it was entirely to repetitive. I think maybe the book would have done better as a novella, or finding a way to continue to story line without reusing so much of the first half. I will say in the second half it was kind of fun to see Valentine act like Payne.

Valentine is a straight laced cop who has been investigating a serial killer but has been getting no where, and Payne a cop who has a reputation for getting things done and catching the bad guy (although it seems the bad guy is seldom in one piece when caught). The two of them are matched to find the killer, and they realize quickly that it looks like Valentine is the killer, someone is trying to frame Valentine. But along the way, they don't really get along at first, and then come together rather passionately. It is revealed that Payne is King of the Beasts, and while Valentine didn't know it she too is also a chimera.

The sex scenes were well written (not cheesy), although there were points where they moved so quickly that I found myself having to re-read to figure out what was going on. While I understand this is a paranormal romance, there were some sex scenes that didn't seem to propel the plot and were just included to make the book steamier (which it did).

The first half of the book moved really quickly, which made it easy to read, but didn't have a lot of development within it, I think if more time had been spent on developing the characters and the world maybe the last half wouldn't have felt as so repetitive. But at the same time the action is good, and keeps you involved. You really want to find out who is behind everything, and who is setting up Valentine.

If I was rating just the first half of the book I would give it a "good" rating, but with the second half feeling so much like the first, I'm going to give it a "so-so" rating. I think if you are looking for a steamy paranormal romance you will probably enjoy this book. It's not a terribly long book, so it would make for a good read while everyone is on Thanksgiving vacation, you can even get it in the Kindle store for .99!

Leanore Elliot Interview

 I finished reading and review book three of the Beasts book by Leanore Elliot before we finished with our interview. And I must say after reading some of her answers to my questions, I found myself liking the characters in the books a little more now that I understood a little of the roots behind them. I must say I did enjoy reading the book, and I hope that you do as well, and that you enjoy the chat that Leanore Elliot and I had. 

1. If you had to pick a theme song for this book, what would it be?
Need You Tonight by INXS
{All you got is this moment…Twenty-first century's yesterday…You can care all you want…Everybody does, yeah that's okay
So, slide over here and give me a moment… Your needs are so raw, I've got to let you know…You’re one of my kind…}
So sexy that song is.

2. What is Payne's favorite movie? Is he true to his character with the "bad ass" movies like his personality, or would we be surprised?
 No, he is a true Dirty Harry type of cop…. Die Hard, absolutely.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Shaedes of Gray by Amanda Bonilla

I can't even begin to explain how excited I have been about this book coming out. The cover blub was super intriguing and it made me want to read the book, but for me it was more than that. Amanda is, in my opinion, an author who is truly awesome at using social networking. She has a twitter, facebook, and blog, and why this is important is because she feels accessible. Over the past few months, every time I left a comment on her facebook, or tweeted her something, I ALWAYS got a response. So while I was excited to read her book without her being awesome, the fact that she is awesome as so nice just made me all the more excited to read the book.

I have this before about some other books, that one of the best ways to world build is to have to character discover the world along side of the reader. You get to not only know the character but also the world at the same time, and I think it creates a bond between reader and in this case Darian. The that made that unique was Darian already knew she wasn't human, she already had all these preconceived notions about who and what she was, and then all of a sudden she find out she is wrong about everything. Bonilla is able to introduce you to Darian and you believing everything Darian believes, so that when the truth of the world is actually revealed it takes you on this great ride with Darian of trying to figure out what is really the truth of who she is.

Darian, to me, is a great character. She has a lot of depth to her to start out with and Bonilla is able to build on that and grow her as a character so much over the period of just one book. And by the end of this book, you can already tell that it's only the beginning. The reason I like Darian so much at the beginning is because she is so different than everyone else. You find out right off the bat that she has been around a hell of a lot longer than the average human. Even if I hadn't know that I would say she has an old soul. Darian feels like she has cut herself off from the world, just doing enough to survive, but she really seems to have kept herself from getting into any meaningful relationships or even friendships after a terrible ending with the man who made her immortal, Azriel. It's really great to see not only the supernatural world open up to her, but seeing her open up to the people in it.

Darian is an assassin, and she pretty much believes herself to be well a bad ass in the beginning. And when she gets a job to assassinate a certain man named Xander, she finds out she is not the only Shaede of her kind and that she isn't as bad ass as she thought. I like the Shaedes because I find them to be really unique, or rather that they are a part of the "mainstream" of UF. I think what's great about that is that there is a lot more room for the author to use their imaginations and really create a unique world. Amanda really shows her writing and imagination chops throughout this book, it truly was unique.

I really like the side characters too. Tyler is guy every girl wishes they had, he's clearly a bad ass in his own right, but when he is with Darian he is so good to her. As the book progresses you find out he is so much more than you thought he was, which just makes him all the better. I also love that Amanda uses the phrase "Tyler never disappoints" throughout the course of the book, after the few couple of times every time it shows up it made me smile. Raif was my second favorite, in that I think he was the most truthful to Darian of anyone throughout the book. He ends up being, at least for me, one part good friend and one part father figure. Xander is the King of the Shaedes and is interested in Darian just like Tyler is. However, while I did like him within his role in the story, I feel like there a lot I don't know about him, and I can only hope more and more is revealed about him as the story continues on. He has his good points and his bad points, but I will say I believe he does everything he does for the good of his kingdom which is admirable.

In conclusion, I was right to be excited about this book, it was awesome. I'm really excited to see where the series goes, Amanda did the perfect balance of world building and open endings, I have a feeling there is a lot more to come for Darian. And the ending was perfect, no unsatisfying cliff hangers in sight. It's a great urban fantasy, I can totally see readers of the genre enjoying it. It also has a little thrown in there for the paranormal romance readers as well. I think this book would be a great Christmas gift for anyone who loves to read.

Check out her website! 

****Amanda Bonilla is going to be features in UFR's December Newsletter sign up to receive it today!****

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Rush of Darkness by Rhyannon Byrd

My first book with vamps in quite some time, and I must say I'm excited. To be fair I have to mention this is book 7 in this series, and I have not read any of the other books. I normally do not like jumping into a series (or in the case towards the end of a series), but I decided to give it a go. If this book is captivating and I enjoy it, I'll go back and buy the six books preceding it, and it will be a tribute to the authors ability to bring in new readers. Of course there is always the possibility that I would be wildly confused, but now it's time for the actual review!

I would like to start off saying how impressed I was that I was able to enter into a book so far along in a series and catch on so quickly. In the first few chapters there were little snippets of background information. It wasn't gushed out all at once, but rather a slow build up revealing the events that had transpired in the previous books in the series. And while I think I did miss out on the dynamics of all the characters (because I hadn't had the six previous books of build up to fall back on), by about midway through the books I liked the characters enough to really identify with them.

For a paranormal romance series, I can certainly understand why this series has lasted as long as it has. It reminded me a little bit of the Keri Arthur Riley books. The sex scenes were not cheesy (huge plus), although I got the distinct feeling there was entirely to much talking. The two characters of Raine and Seth would be literally in the throws and then there would be two pages of dialogue, and it was always heavy dialogue, and the suddenly after two pages of talking, Byrd made it seem like they were still going at it during this intense conversation, which didn't really fit.

Seth and Raine were definitely at odds with each other throughout the book, and it took a lot for them to even find a way to work together. Most of the time them being at odds just made their chemistry all the more better, and made me more interested in the characters. But towards the end of the book, when they were having the same argument for the 30th time with the same exact language I kinda wanted to knock the two of them upside the head with a heavy book.

Because I went into this book not knowing the back story about the bad guys I don't think I would have the same reactions as people who have been following the series. Westerman seems to be a formidable bad guy, although I can tell from recall within this book, that if I had read the previous books, this guy would have evoked a serious hatred from me. Since there wasn't a lot of information on the him in this book, just really the continued hunt for him, I rooted for Raine and Seth but didn't have the same kind of hatred for him I would have had if I knew had actually read the books where Raine was captured.

Overall I think this is a good book, I think the reader of paranormal romance are going to enjoy it and this series. If you don't like a book with a lot of sex in it though then this is not your book. I have to say that after reading this book, the first six books are going on my to buy list, and I am very curious to see what happens next as this series comes to an end.

Check out the authors website!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Hell to Pay by William Brian Johnson

This book reads like a gritty cop novel, only it has a paranormal twist to it. The content itself is not exactly rainbows and sunshine, it definitely has a seriously dark tone throughout the novel. The characters within the book are rather tortured, and really it's quite easy to feel bad for them. They all seem to have gone through some hard time, and are struggling just to get by.

The main character is Bailey, he's a homicide detective, although its clear from the very beginning he is a broken man. While working a case a few years back, Bailey failed to save two young twin girls, and their murders weighed on him so heavily he lost a bit of his sanity, along with his marriage, and delved into serious alcohol use. While Bailey is sober when this story starts, it's clear that the rest of the force believes he is a joke or is trying to get him fired. It's really not hard to want to pull for Bailey to get a couple of successes.

The other character is George, and he is just a regular guy who owns an antique shop. Well that is until a box shows up with a scalp in it, and everything for George changes. He is suddenly a suspect in a homicide, his body is changing over night, and quite honestly when the novel is being told in his point of view, it reads like he is having some kind of psychotic break. The reader is aware from pretty early on that something supernatural is happening to George, something he doesn't understand. I think this is why it doesn't bother me that sometimes when I was reading from George's POV and I felt confused, it was okay and authentic because George was pretty confused about what the heck was happening to him.

So I'll start with the things I liked about the book. The writing in the book is pretty good. There are few typos or grammatical errors if any, and generally speaking the flow of the words is pretty good. It doesn't jump around unnecessarily, the characters are genuine to themselves, and the plot progresses at a good rate. The tone is like a said, like a gritty cop drama, it literally almost reads exactly the way you would expect a dark cop movie or tv show's tone to be.

The paranormal elements in this book is kind of a heaven and hell, good versus evil theme. There are most ghosts or apparitions, I'm not really sure what to call them, but they keep popping up around the two main characters. It's very clear from early on in the book that's it's a heaven and hell type situation, and that stays pretty consistent until suddenly almost out of no where there is a mention to ancient mythology. For me that felt unnecessary and kind of almost made me question all the build up through most of the story.

The was one scene in the book I felt was both unnecessary, strange, and gratuitous. This scene I refer to is a sex scene, and a rather violent one at that. I don't feel it did anything for the story line, or rather that it could have been accomplished some other way. The scene just felt out of place, like the author thought to himself, there should be sex in this book, and through this one in.

Overall the book was pretty good, I'm not entirely sure how I feel about the ending, but that's something that is up to reader to decide. I think this is a book more for people who like books about cops and murder investigation, and have an interest in the paranormal. There is no romance, so if you are looking for romance this isn't your book. This is also not the run of the mill urban fantasy either, like a said before, it really is a cop book first with a paranormal element in it. It's also a book that's fairly long, so this is probably not a book that is going to be read in one sitting, but it is good enough to keep your attention and want to know what happens, which is a good thing.

Check out the authors blog

Saturday, November 19, 2011

The Shadow Reader by Sandy Williams

There are a lot of books I have been excited about reading, and this was one of them. I found Sandy Williams when I stumbled upon her Magic and Mayhem blog (a blog with her and a couple of other authors whose books I'm also looking forward to reading). I must say that this book did not disappoint.

Part of the reason I was excited about this book is because it involves the Fae. A lot of the urban fantasy books seem to be focused primarily on vamps or werewolves, and I personally believe the Fae are hugely underutilized. Williams did not disappoint, her portrayal of the Fae was quite interesting to say the least, and pulled me in by the time chapter one was finished. I do have to point out that the Fae in Williams' book almost remind me a little of the epic fantasy races that are common to that genre. That similarity, I think for me, made them all the more intriguing.

The book doesn't have a lot of build up to the action, right from chapter one you are thrown into the thick of it, with the book's main character McKenzie being captured right off the bat. Normally I would say this is hard way to get to know the main character, but Williams' manages to not only get the reader to know McKenzie, but also to pull for her. I was right there with McKenzie the entire time, every time she was confused about how she was feeling, I was confused about how I wanted her to feel. Every time she was scared, I was scared for her. I was surprisingly, and refreshingly easy to identify with McKenzie. When I start a new book in a series, sometimes it can take two or three books for me to feel attached to a character, I can tell right now I am already attached to McKenzie, and I want to know what is going to happen next to her.

The book also has a romantic element to it, and it all flows really well throughout the book. It never feels forced on the part of the author, it always feels organic to the character. Not only that but any scenes involving romantic elements were written really well, there was no cheesy descriptions or euphemisms, which only helped to make the actions more organic and truly helped the plot along.

Another thing that I want to point out is that this book takes place in the middle of war. And war is a tricky thing to write. Fighting scenes can often become to chaotic and make it for the reader to follow, but this was never a problem for me. I think this was due to the fact it was all from McKenzie's point of view, so it really helped keep things in perspective. I'm also really impressed with the way Williams' portrayed both sides, like she says in the book, every war has two sides. Trying to determine the truth out of those two sides was hard for McKenzie and for me.

I even like the other characters besides McKenzie. Kyol was hard and distant, but when he softened up around McKenzie I can totally understand what his appeal was. Aren was easy to like, and then in certain moments I had the urge the punch him in the face, I think he's a rather complex character and its going to be interesting to follow him. Lena is very much the mean girl, but I could almost understand her point of view being that she's in a hard situation. Kelia was easy to like, she super sweet, but hard when she needs to be. She's fierce about the people she cares about, and how can you not like someone who is willing to do anything to protect the people she loves. Overall the characters were really well fleshed out and enjoyable to follow along with. Williams' brings the characters to life in such a way that it made it almost impossible for me to put the book down. 

Overall, I'm pretty sure I really love this book. I think it has a lot of appeal to a lot of different people. I could easily see paranormal romance people loving this book. I could the average urban fantasy lover loving this book. And truth be told I also think if there are fans of epic fantasy who want to give urban fantasy a try, this would be the book I recommend; it shares a lot of the elements that are popular in epic fantasy but with a fantastic urban fantasy flare. So without question this book deserves a "Great" rating, and I have to say I think this book should be added onto a lot of Christmas wish lists.

Check out Sandy Williams website She even has a newsletter! 
And be sure to check out to see Sandy's posts and posts from other authors!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Two and Half Dead Men by Jason Krumbine

This a book about two father dysfunctional brothers who are grim reapers. I was actually pretty intrigued by the concept of this book because I was a huge fan of the show Dead Like Me back in the day which was also about grim reapers, and also had a kind of dry humor through it.

This book for me was kind of a mixed bag, some of the elements were good and some felt like they needed more work. There were several grammatical errors along the way, especially with misspelling words or putting "is" instead of "it". I think most of these problems could have been fixed by having someone who had never read the story before go through and circle the mistakes. Normally I do overlook grammar mistakes, because frankly I make them too (and I have probably made my fair share of them on this very blog), but I found one or two per chapter, and it got kind of annoying.

The author also appears to be a big fan of rather simple sentences. On the plus side since the vast majority of the sentences are simple, there are no punctuation problems. The problem with that, especially when we get to dialogue is that it doesn't feel natural. People speak in complex sentences, sometimes people speak in crazy run on sentences. So the words on the page didn't always feel organic.

On the plus side I have no problem seeing the two main characters as brothers. Thane and Mort have the kind of banter you would expect from brothers, and even when they resort to conversations about who was dad's favorite, it is very believable that they are brothers. And while they may be brothers, they are very opposite of each other. Thane is put together and professional, and Mort well he is messy, not exactly professional, and has serious accountability issues (particularly with a certain bookie).

Another thing I like about the book is the humor. The book definitely has a dry humor about it. I don't always agree with what the subject of the humor is (the author tends to quite a few shots at gay people), but the humor is consistent throughout the story, and doesn't drop off. In fact of all the elements of this story, I think the humor is the thing that is going to make people identify with it and want to read it.

Overall, I think the book is okay. It wasn't a bad book, it didn't make me want to stop reading it. But at the same time it didn't compel me to keep reading either. I think this book is more for those who are looking for a book with snarky dry humor with a urban fantasy element.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Sins of the Angels by Linda Poitevin

Everything you could every want in a book about angels. I have been looking forward to this book for quite some time now. The author, Linda Poitevin, did a guest post on a blog I follow, Magic and Mayhem, and the minute I saw she wrote a book about angels I knew I wanted to read this book. Angels have always been an intriguing subject matter to me, and I have been wanting to find a book that brings angels into the urban fantasy realm successfully. For me this is that book.

There is a lot to say about this book, but I think first a foremost you have to mention the amount of research and thought that was put into the book. It is beyond clear from chapter one that Poitevin did her research and really thought about how she was going to build this world. Personally I'm awed that she was able to build such a complex world that did not come off as overwhelming or confusing for the reader. A lot of times if you put to much information into one book it can end up doing more harm than good, by making the story to hard to follow. This was so not the case for this book. The world building is amazing. One of my favorite authors is Rachel Vincent, and it mostly stems from the fact I think Vincent is a fantastic world builder. In my opinion Poitevin is just as good if not better as Vincent is in creating a world that is both intriguing, informative, and truly propels the story and doesn't hinder it.

I already mentioned that I was excited about this book because it centered on angels. I want to explain why I think that fact alone makes this book stand out. While this book certainly with out a doubt falls into the category of urban fantasy, I think angels are a seriously under utilized element. What this amounts to is that the book is unique. Frankly in this day and age it's refreshing to see a really unique work be released.

And now onto the specifics of the book itself, the book centers around Alex, a homicide cop in the middle of what can only be described as a horrific serial killer investigation. Aramael is the other character, and he is a hunter of fallen angels. His work gets complicated when the fallen angel he hunts is his brother, and he is further limited by the fact he has to hunt him as a human would, in fact he hunts him along side Alex, pretending to be a homicide detective.

The relationship between Alex and Aramael is complex to say the least. Not only is their situation complex, but their reactions to one another border on the extreme. But regardless of the fact that two of them seem to want to throw things at each other, they are pulled together. The chemistry these two have, whether it be positive or negative is powerful and compelling for the reader to follow along. In the end the reader can really identify with both of them, and ultimately pulls for them in the end.

The subject matter can be considered dark, or at the very least intense; after all it begins with a grizzly serial killer investigation. But even so it's not depressing for the reader, in fact I had the opposite reaction, I couldn't wait to find out what happened next (in fact I finished the book at 4:30am, I literally couldn't put it down after I intended to only start the book last night and finish it today). I love any book that makes me not want to move for hours and shut myself off from the world, and this book did all that and more.

I love this book. I would recommend it to anyone who likes Urban Fantasy. Hell I would encourage anyone who like anything supernatural or fantasy related to give it a shot. If you are looking for a light hearted UF book though I might suggest waiting to read this book until you aren't in that kind of mood, but I still recommend you read it, cause it's amazing. I can't wait to read the sequel, and if I wasn't dying of sleep deprivation and participating in NaNo I would seriously consider reading the book again. GO BUY THIS BOOK!

You should also check out the author's website, she has a lot of background information on the subject matter,

I never do this but I like this book so much I am going to buy this book for one lucky reader of this post. To enter this giveaway you need to follow me on twitter (UFantasyReviews) and send me a DM with the word "Caim" as the message. All entries must be received by midnight (central time) and I will choose a random winner using I only ship within the US. 

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The Witching Pen by Dianna

A novella full of witchcraft, demons, and love. I was excited to read this novella mostly because I have really enjoyed the witchcraft aspect of urban fantasy lately, although I would say that this novella fits more into the paranormal romance side of things.

A problem I always seem to have with most novellas is that there has to be enough action in them to keep the reader interested, but they have to achieve that action in a substantially smaller amount of time than a full length novel. I have always said writing a compelling short story is harder than writing a compelling novel. I think this novella suffers from this problem, so much action had to take place in such a short period of time and words that it starts to feel rushed in the end.

That being said, the entire novella did not feel rushed. The first half or possibly even the first two thirds of the book flowed pretty well and did not feel rushed.

Elena and Karl are this stories main characters, and like I said earlier I think this novella fits into the paranormal romance category because from start to finish the novella is about these two characters and their love for each other. The novella starts off with the two of them as friends who are roommates, but even in their everyday lives as friends the reader can sense that something more is on the horizon for these two. There chemistry is certainly clear from very early on in the novella. While the two of them feel organic for most of the story, towards the end they start to lose some of that organic feeling which is certainly a loss for the reader.

Elena is being stalked essentially by a demon who is after her power. As the story progresses you find out more and more about not only Elena's power but also about her family and how unaware Elena really is about who she is. And of course not knowing these things about herself end up creating problems for her as the story progresses. There are a lot of family elements within this story which I think really helps the story, especially in the parts where it feels rushed.

Another element of this story that I think works in its favor is the secondary character of Amy. Hardy seems to have made a point to introduce her to the reader, give her a pretty decent background, and really make the reader like Amy. The story does not really have an ending for Amy, so I can see how maybe the next novella in this series would be more about Amy, and if it is then I am looking forward to finding out how Amy's story ends.

Overall, I would say this is a good novella. I would recommend it to anyone who likes paranormal romance AND novellas (I know a lot of people don't particularly care for novellas). This is certainly a romance based book so if you are person who only wants a little romance in a book, this is probably not the book for you. But overall I think paranormal romance lovers will enjoy this book as a quick weekend escape read.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Chaos Tryst by Shirin Dubbin

A magical retelling of Goldilocks and the three bears. This is a novella, which for me I enjoy as short reads, but don't read them all that often because I like to really dive into a book and get lost in it for hours. But novellas also have their place, they are quicker reads, I think for those of us who don't have the time to immerse ourselves for hours in a longer book.

I would like to mention that the concept for this book is unique. The imagination alone required to take a simple fairytale and create a complex world to retell this story is quite remarkable. I would like to take time to acknowledge that.

Ari and Maks are the two main characters of this story. Ari is the modern representation of Goldilocks and Maks is one of the three bears. Ari is a retriever, who essentially just retrievers stolen property to their rightful owner and she is bound by a magical code. Ari meets Maks when she goes to retrieve something from Maks' home that she believes to be stolen, and that her magic shows to be stolen. However, the item in question has been in Maks' family since it's creation, which mean the two of them need to iron out who the rightful owner really is, which is how this story start off.

While this book is generally speaking a cute story, and truly unique it does have it's flaws. The story moves quickly (always a good thing), but at some point it starts to become confusing, and not in a good way.

In a lot of ways the story starts to begin feeling forced about half way through. As if the first half was a steady build up of events, and then the author realized it was a novella and not a book and just started through events together that would allow for the completion of the story.

The romance itself, that is a huge primary part of the novella, feel forced. The characters do not feel organic together, and they do not really feel like they have a lot of chemistry. I'm not really sure what element is missing between the two characters or how to go about fixing this issue, but it just doesn't feel right and feels forced.

Overall, the book is so-so. If you are looking for a quick read this might be a book for you, or if you are a person who likes the retelling of the stories you heard of as a child then maybe this is for you. Other than that I don't know of many people who are going to think this novella is a favorite.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Echo Falls by Jaime McDougall

Echo Falls was a quick and enjoyable read. The book centers on two main characters, Phoebe and Aidan. This book is a book that focuses on werewolves, there are no other supernatural elements within this book. That being sad this a face paced, mystery, love story, and over all small town adventure.

The book starts out with Phoebe arriving in Echo Falls, and it's quite clear from the beginning that Phoebe is on the run from something. Not only is she afraid and on the run to begin with but when she makes it to Echo Falls she is attacked, and not by any random person, but by a werewolf. Clearly this has not been the best couple of days of Phoebe. A man named Aidan rescues her, and as the story progresses we find out that Echo Falls has been falling victim to the work of a serial killer, and Aidan (werewolf cop extraordinaire) is trying to find the culprit.

I think this book falls under the paranormal romance category because the really the chemistry between Phoebe and Aidan is palpable from the very beginning of the book. I do appreciate that the romantic elements did not just exploded at the beginning of the book, but rather McDougall allowed the chemistry to build and the two people to really get to know each other. The romance was more organic than just completely lust based.

One of the characters I would like to mention right of the bat is Mia, she is the mean girl all of us new in high school. I don't think there is a girl who hasn't experienced a mean girls wrath at some point or another, and a werewolf mean girl brings being a mean girl to a whole new level. Mia I think is one of the more well developed characters in the book, she was the easiest character for me to paint a picture off in my head.

I appreciate that the book was very fast paced, and it did a great job of keeping my attention throughout the book. Although there were several occasions where the book moved so quickly it almost felt a little disjointed. Also in some scenes where both Aidan and Phoebe were in it, it felt as if McDougall switched point of view every couple of paragraphs, which sometimes made it hard for me to follow.

Another point to bring up is that the action moves very quickly within the book and because of the characters don't really have a chance to evolve or for the reader to get to know them fully. If the author decides to do a sequel there is certainly enough character knowledge in this book to build on down the line. But if this is a stand alone only book then I wish I had gotten to know the characters a little bit better.

I think this is a good book for anyone looking for an urban fantasy book that is both action packed with a romantic element. I know a lot of us book readers out there love books that focus on werewolves only, and if you are one of those people then this is certainly a book you will enjoy. If you are looking for a book that contains a lot of world/character building this may not be the book for you, this is more of an enjoyable weekend escape kind of book. Overall, this is a good solid book.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Claimed by Shadow by Karen Chance

This is the second book in the Cassie Palmer series, I reviewed the first book a couple of months ago. I like this book more than I did the first. Part of the reason I like this book more than the first one is because a significant amount of the world building had been done in the first book. Sometimes, world building can be fun and exciting to read, but for the me, the first book felt at often times confusing for me to really sink my teeth into. Because of that I spent a lot of time being confused by what was going on within the first book. But in this second book, I had enough of a foundation to really get into the book. Not to mention the characters in this book had already been established and I already had a vested interest in them.

One of the things about this series of books is that they take place over a very short period of time. Because of this there is seldom a time where there isn't any action in the book. This is a good thing because it keep the reader really involved in the writing. However if you are going to be reading this book in more than one sitting, I might suggest reading a few of the pages you have already read before delving into new material, the action happens so quickly you may need a bit of a refresher.

One thing I would have liked to have seen more of in this book is Mircea, he is by far one of my favorite characters within this series. Although I understand that this book is primarily about the journey Cassie takes, I still wish there had been more of Mircea in the book itself.

As I just mentioned this book is really about Cassie coming into her power. In the previous book Cassie had received the power of the Pythia, but she did not complete the rituals (she needed to no longer be a virgin). I am not going to say who she slept with but I will say by the end of the book Cassie becomes a full blown Pythia.

In a lot of ways this book feels a lot more like a set up for the future of this series. It give Cassie the power of the office of Pythia, with no more chance that it goes to someone else. It also sets up several other scenerios/problems that are going to need to be resolved, and sooner rather than later. Dracula makes an appearance, and it is clear that the vampire community does not want him alive. Dracula is clearly going to play a role in the books to come. Cassie has still not been accepted by the Circle, so there is that to be resolved, or at least hope they stop trying to kill her with every chance they get. A deal was made with the a King that Cassie needs to complete. And of course the geis that caused Cassie so much trouble throughout this book needs to be removed, not just for Cassie's sake but also for the sake of Mircea, if not dealt with it is completely possible that both Cassie and Mircea will be driven crazy.

Overall this book was a much more enjoyable book to read than the first. On top of that it left me wanting to read the third book in order to continue on with Cassie's journey. That is a huge skill for an author, the ability to get the reader to want more. I would most definitely recommend this book to anyone who likes Urban Fantasy. I would recommend reading the first before though, the background information contained in the first is invaluable. I hope all of you enjoy this series as much I as did.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Rise of the Fallen by Ivory Autumn

This book is a fun read to say the least. The book is one part a journey with a quest, an unlikely group of people get together in a hopes of completing a quest together that will save the world from The Fallen. The Fallen is the evil guy who is essentially taking over the world and hopes to one day take over the universe. The book is also one part coming of age story. The story follows young Andrew, a boy who is only sixteen and finds out rather abruptly that his life is not what it seems to be, and suddenly he is required to grow up in order to prevent The Fallen from completing his plan.

True to form, I'm going to go over the things I liked about this book first, and there were a bunch of them. The characters are really vivid, especially Andrew. He really grows throughout the story, which is always a good thing, he isn't static and it keeps the reader involved and invested in his progress. He starts off in the book as a boy who really hasn't had it easy. The people where he live don't like him, the kids pick on him, if he didn't have his parents or these two other boys as friends, he would have a pretty miserable existence. Even in the face of all that he is still a sweet boy. And when the people of his town are threatening, even though Andrew has been hurt and presecuted by most of those people, Andrew is willing to sacrifice himself for them, and that shows a lot about his character. These traits only grow as the book continues.

The other characters that travel with Andrew are also vibrant characters, but Ivory and Rhapsody stand out the most. Ivory can be a little annoying at times, mainly because she seems to get herself into a lot of trouble by just being her. She constantly wonders off, often times causing the other characters have to come to her rescue by putting themselves on the line, which takes away from the mission they have at hand.

Another thing that Ivory's wondering off leads to is several little subplots. This is a good thing in some respects and a bad thing in other ways. The way it is good is because it gives the characters more life, it lets them grow, and reveal parts of themselves to the reader. This is especially good for Andrew because he has such limited knowledge of his abilities and these little side stories give him the chance to really test them out and see what he is made of. It's a bad thing though because I often found myself wondering when they were going to get to the part of finding the Fallen and actually get to the saving.

The story does move really quickly, which is something I appreciate. I always hate when I get into a book and then suddenly everything just slows down, it makes me want to stop reading. This book did not have that problem. The events happen quickly enough that you stay interested, but not to quickly as to be confusing.

Overall, I would recommend this book to the mid to upper YA readers, or to adult readers who enjoy YA (I know there are a lot of us out there who are just looking for a good youthful fun read). This book is an entertaining read, and I'm interested to see how the series progresses.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Kitty and the Midnight Hour by Carrie Vaughn

This is one of the series I have enjoyed reading over the past couple of years. I have always enjoyed this series because Kitty is the unlikely hero. It makes Kitty an appealing character and really easy to identify with as she progress through the series. Another reason why I really like this series is that it's just simply put, an enjoyable read. The writing is really witty and Kitty's personality in general makes me giggle. It makes this series the perfect books to pick up when you just want to sit down, relax, have a good laugh, and enjoy a good story. This is one of those books where it is really easy to just sit down for a few hours and read it from cover to cover.

But enough about the series and on to the specifics of this particular book. You're introduced to Kitty, who is a werewolf and a werewolf at the bottom of pack ranks. She has a job on a local radio station and accidentally finds herself with her own radio show after being bored one night and hosting an impromptu late night talk show about the supernatural.

This radio show really brings Kitty into her own, as a reader you can track Kitty growing into her own in both her professional life as well as within the pack. As a fairly new werewolf, Kitty has not really been involved in the inner workings of the pack, and throughout this book she finds that everything she thought about the pack was not necessarily true, and that she might really need to be watching her back more.

There are a lot of elements about the book I really like. Like I mentioned before the book is really witty and funny in parts. Early on in the book an assassin (Cormac) who was hired to kill Kitty, calls into the show to announce this. Instead of doing what every sane person would do and run, Kitty carries on a conversation with this would be killer for several minutes, creating a very sarcastic and amusing bit of dialogue. This type of dialogue is spread out throughout the book, and offers a nice release of tension in moments of high suspense.

I also like the other characters within the book. None of them play huge roles in this particular book (for me this book is really about establishing Kitty and revealing the world through her eyes). Even though no one side character stands out throughout the entire book, they all play important roles and together all play a big role in Kitty coming into her own. Cormac, the werewolf killer is brash in his actions and speech, but throughout the book he proves himself to be a genuinely good guy who is there for Kitty when she needs him to be. Hardin, the police detective, is both diligent in her job and willing to accept and learn about the things that go bump in the night.

The pack dynamic is well, interesting to say the most. There seem to be a lot of crazy people in the pack, and Kitty's reaction to this is what you would expect, "how did I miss this before". I can't really talk to much about the pack in detail without giving a lot away about the book. I will say that T.J. is really a true friend to Kitty, and there relationship reminds me of older brother to younger sister, and really its quite sweet even when T.J. is upset with her.

Vaughn really sets up the book for the sequels by exposing the reader to little bits and pieces of the supernatural, like the church cult and local vampire Family. Overall, I really like this book, it's one of those comfort books you pick up to read when you just need to escape. I would recommend it to just about anyone who enjoys Urban Fantasy.