Apr 30, 2013

Tuesday Prelude

Tuesday Prelude is a meme inspired by Should Be Reading's Teaser Tuesday. Since I always had a problem sticking to just two lines, I decided to amp up the post a bit to give you more than just a teaser.

This week's Prelude is inspired by:

Anna James never planned on dying at age nineteen or ending up somewhere other than heaven. Five years later, her heart is still on Earth with her soulmate Grey, while the rest of her struggles to survive in Beyond. Not quite heaven and a lot like hell, Beyond is a proving ground where only the strongest souls are allowed to move on. With no way out, Anna keeps her head down and plays by the rules... Until she learns Grey is about to die.

Grey Wilson would give anything to go back and stop the accident that ripped Anna from his arms. But when Anna appears on Earth again, he quickly realizes things can never be as they were. Death and Beyond have changed her; brought out the dark side and dimmed her inner light. Before they can even revel in this semblance of a miracle, Grey and Anna find themselves in the middle of an angelic civil war where sabotage and danger lurk around every corner.

Anna's dark side is exactly what Azrael - the leader of the Angels of Punishment - craves. When Azrael lays out his demands, Anna will have to make the biggest decision of her life.

 Not all angels wear halos. Most have chips on their shoulders the size of Alaska. Some wear spikes and carry very large weapons. Those are the ones to avoid at all costs.

Except when the cost is way too high.
Anna James has got some guts. She breaks the most important rule, and would do it all over again, despite the agonizing punishment that's in store for her.
Fear had nothing on resentment, and Anna had that particularly jaded emotion in spades.
And even when she thinks the pain is over and she's paid for her "misbehavior," she's cast out, flightless and confused. If the pain of having her body torn to pieces wasn't enough, what exactly is she going to be facing?
"Your punishment is not over. Far from it. You'll have to earn your wings back, Dark One. And if you do...I'll be waiting."

Enjoy!! & Stop by May 6th for my review!


Happy Reading Everyone :)

Apr 29, 2013

Tour Stop: Review ~ Deeper We Fall by Chelsea Cameron

Two years after her best friend was involved in a car accident that caused a traumatic brain injury, Lottie Anders is ready to start her freshman year of college. Ready to move on. Ready to start forgetting the night that ripped her life apart.

Her plans come to a screeching halt when not one, but both brothers responsible for the accident end up back in her life again.

Zack is cruel, selfish and constantly rubbing what happened to her friend in Lottie's face.

Zan is different. He listens to her awkward ramblings. He loves "To Kill a Mockingbird" as much as she does, and his dark eyes are irresistible. His words are few and far between, but when he does speak, she can't help but listen.

The trouble is, Zan was the driver in the accident, and now Lottie's discovered he lied to her about what happened that night. Now she must decide if trusting him again will lead to real forgiveness, or deeper heartache.

Deeper We Fall is one of those "true to life" stories that consumes and replaces our reality with the lives of its characters.

Lottie has a history and a grudge that she's trying to escape, and she believes that college is going to be the fresh start she's been looking for. However, her past follows her in the for of two brothers, Zack and Zan, forcing her to face her pain and guilt head on.

Lottie is a strong character in the sense that she's not afraid to be who she is, to express her emotions and thoughts, and she never falls into the notion that she needs to act or dress a certain way in order to be liked. She has great friends, whose loyalty and love mirrors her own.
Charlotte loved fiercely, and those people loved her fiercely in return. You couldn't really love her any other way.
Her weakness is her determination to hold a grudge and deny any and all forgiveness, even for herself, and it's this flaw that begins to eat her up and grind her down. That is, until Zan proves he's not who she thought he was.

I loved Zan. He had his demons, and rightfully so, but he's kind, honest, and loves deeply, even in the face of some major anger issues ~ issues I couldn't blame him for. 
I could cut my hair and change my clothes, but nothing could change the thing that hovered over me. The thing that people saw when they looked at me, the thing that made them look away and cross to the other side of the street.
He's all about action, knowing they speak louder than words, and he hopes these actions will one day allow him to be on Charlotte's good side. 

What I loved most about this book is that no character was left behind; ever single one of them was well developed, standing their own ground and carving a noticeable and rememberable space for themselves in the story. Whether it was in regards to their relationship to the main characters or to their own individualism, you felt for them. 

The story itself was heartfelt and just a roller coaster ride of emotions. I couldn't put this book down! The conflict and the struggle to find forgiveness in the face of your mistakes is something I think all readers can relate to in one way or another. There are just so many unexpected turns this story takes, but everything rings as something that can or has truly happened.

Chelsea Cameron's writing style, in addition to her ability to create dynamic characters and a well-rounded storyline, really brings it all together. It's witty, fun, and flows, but it's also deep, getting below the surface of serious emotions and problems that countless people face everyday. It's a wonderful combination of light and dark, drawing you under but bringing you to the surface just in time to catch your breath. 

Highly recommend Deeper We Fall

Chelsea M. Cameron is a YA/NA New York Times and USA Today Best-Selling author from Maine. Lover of things random and ridiculous, Jane Austen/Charlotte and Emily Bronte Fangirl, red velvet cake enthusiast, obsessive tea drinker, vegetarian, former cheerleader and world's worst video gamer. When not writing, she enjoys watching infomercials, singing in the car and tweeting. She has a degree in journalism from the University of Maine, Orono that she promptly abandoned to write about the people in her own head. More often than not, these people turn out to be just as weird as she is.

Visit Chelsea via

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Happy Reading Everyone :)

Apr 26, 2013

Review: The Immortal Rules by Julie Kagawa

To survive in a ruined world, she must embrace the darkness…

Allison Sekemoto survives in the Fringe, the outermost circle of a walled-in city. By day, she and her crew scavenge for food. By night, any one of them could be eaten. Some days, all that drives Allie is her hatred of them—the vampires who keep humans as blood cattle. Until the night Allie herself dies and becomes one of the monsters.

Forced to flee her city, Allie must pass for human as she joins a ragged group of pilgrims seeking a legend—a place that might have a cure for the disease that killed off most of civilization and created the rabids, the bloodthirsty creatures who threaten human and vampire alike. And soon Allie will have to decide what and who is worth dying for… again.

Enter Julie Kagawa's dark and twisted world as an unforgettable journey begins.

Vampires today are romanticized to the point that they are no longer feared as monsters. In fact, they are admired, envied, and desired. Julie Kagawa's vampires aren't completely old-school, but their brutality hits closer to the lack of humanity in these ever-evolving monsters. 

Allison Sekemoto loathes vampires and the control they have over the city and every human in it. She doesn't much seem to like humans either, but she does what she must to survive. That's her entire life: survival

She's an intense character; honest and courageous, she faces life head on and accepts it for what it is: unfair and brutal. When she becomes one of the monsters she hates, she doesn't dwell on her decision, but adapts. 
You don't dwell on what you've lost, you just move on.
In fact, I think that becoming a vampire made her more human, if that makes sense. She works so hard to resist the urges that her "demon" forces upon her that her humanity seems to be pushed beyond any limits she had known before the change. 

I do have to mention Kanin, her creator. Talk about tortured. This guy literally carries the weight of the destroyed world on his shoulders. I sincerely hope he finds what he's looking for and can forgive himself. 

Allison's opposite in every way, Zeke still has faith that there can be good in the world. His optimism is almost naive, but deep down, he knows what he's facing, what dangers lie around every shadowed corner; he just chooses to hope. 
And sometimes, hope is the only thing that gets us through the day.
Their relationship is ... strained, each of them wanting something that should be impossible. It's a nice switch-up; it's typically the guy who's the badass, mysterious vampire and the innocent girl who needs to be saved. Refreshing to see this human/vampire dynamic from a different perspective.

Julie Kagawa's world building is amazing. We are led from a rotting vampire city filled with starving people to the outer world littered with vicious rabies to the ruins of Chicago to the safety of Eden. It's quite the journey, and Kagawa transitions from one world to the next with ease, enveloping us with her descriptive writing and the emotions that are transferred to us through the characters. (One element I do hope to learn more about in The Eternity Cure (Blood of Eden #2), is how the plague came about and destroyed the free world. Kagawa touches upon the subject, never going into it too deeply, but from what I can tell, there's an excellent setup to learn more.)

The story as a whole is simply amazing. Action packed, heart-breaking, hopeful, and brutally honest, I can say that The Immortal Rules is more than I expected. The concept of humanity shines through all the monstrosities, allowing us to remember that the human spirit is stronger than we give it credit for. Even as a "monster," Allison holds on desperately to her loyalty and the nature to protect those she cares for. 

With such well developed characters and a fast-paced, intense story-line, readers will carry around this story long after the last page is turned.

Highly recommend!

(Also, check out my "Questions for Discussion" post about The Immortal Rules via Hubpages!)

Happy Reading Everyone :)

Apr 25, 2013

Spotlight + Excerpt: Touched by A.J. Aalto

The media has a nickname for Marnie Baranuik, though she’d rather they didn’t; they call her the Great White Shark, a rare dual-talented forensic psychic. Twice-Touched by the Blue Sense--which gives her the ability to feel the emotions of others, and read impressions left behind on objects--Marnie also has a doctorate in preternatural biology and a working knowledge of the dark arts. She is considered without peer in the psychic community. 

Then her first big FBI case ended with a bullet in one shoulder and a chip on the other, a queasy heart and a serial killer in the wind, leaving her a public flop and a private wreck. When the FBI’s preternatural crimes unit tracks her down at a remote mountain lodge for her insight on a local case, her quiet retirement is promptly besieged by a stab-happy starlet, a rampaging ghoul, and a vampire-hunting jackass in tight Wranglers. Marnie figures the only real mystery is which one will kill her first. 

Too mean to die young, backed up by friends in cold places, and running with a mouth as demure as a cannon’s blast, Marnie Baranuik is about to discover that there’s no such thing as quitting time when you’re Touched.

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Wow. Sounds awesome, right? Lots of goodies here, so keep scrolling to read the excerpt, find out about the author, and enter the giveaway!


The sheriff of Lambert County had once been a Denver detective working homicide, and it showed in the shrewd tilt of his gaze. He moved like a blank-faced panther across the hospital room, sinuous and agile, oddly predatory for one of the good guys. If I hadn’t checked his pupils for a primal hint of flash I’d have thought him a lycanthrope in human form, but he was one hundred percent man; werekin can’t hide the gleam of lycanthropy.

The cop had perfect posture, loose at the joints, a confident bearing that warned other males his body was well-tuned, a trained weapon he knew how to use. I assumed he did a lot of martial arts in whatever spare time a small town sheriff might be afforded. He was young for his office, thirty-five at most, a true red-head, pale skinned with a smattering of freckles, narrow chin on a boy-next-door face, with swampy green eyes that were an interesting blend of sympathetic and skeptical: skeptithetic. If he smiled, I suspected he’d be handsome, though I was pretty sure I wasn’t on his Smile-At list just yet. Probably, he thought I was a troublemaker. Maybe he was right. I sipped ice water through a bendy straw and watched him pull up a stool beside the cranked-up hospital bed.

“Marnie Baranuik,” he began, rolling one shoulder. A shoulder holster creaked under the whisper of his heavy nylon jacket. The zipper was open in case he had to shoot me. Verrrry comforting. “I’m Sheriff Hood. Do you know why I’m here?”

“I’m assuming someone called you about my stabbing,” I said between sips. “Did you happen to see two miserable-looking FBI agents out in the hallway? One nerdy beanpole with classic male pattern baldness, the other with big shoulders and a real jerk face?”

He looked at me thoughtfully for a beat before shaking his head.

“No, ma’am, I didn’t. And yes, I’m here about the incident at the Ten Springs Motor Inn.”

“Incident?” I asked, hearing blame.

“Rodney, the night clerk at the Inn, told me it was a homicide. Bit of a miscommunication.” A brief apologetic smile flickered across his mouth. I was right: Hubba hubba ooh-lala. “I’ve since learned that you have a pulse.”

He scooted the rubber-footed stool closer and propped his boots on the low rungs, letting his knees fall slightly apart. One of those knees started bouncing. He sucked on something minty, which clicked against the inside of his teeth, and I thought, nicotine fit. I’ve seen my share of them. The left cuff of his pants didn’t sit exactly right: ankle holster for a back up gun. I’ve seen my share of those, too.

“You work for Gold-Drake & Cross out of Portland,” he began. “How come you’re living in my corner of Colorado?”

“I quit. I didn’t want to work with a bunch of weirdoes who actually believe in the supernatural.” Who, plain ole Mundane Me? I tried my winning-est smile. “I’m just a regular gal.”

Hood gave me his cop face, shuttered. The knee-bouncing stilled. “In 2006, you wrote your dissertation on the comparison of black plague and crypt plague in Venice, 1630-1631, the rise of Yersinia sanguinaria at the lazarettos, and true and false accusations of vampirism. In 2008 you did a series of training seminars for the FBI and various state law enforcement agencies on preternatural crime prevention and revenant mental health crisis management.” His lips hinted at a smile again. “Revenant?”

My shoulders crept up a notch. “It’s the term they prefer.”

“You mean vampires,” he clarified. “What sort of doctorate do you hold, exactly?”

I gave my best scowl. “Don’t profile me, sheriff. It’s rude, and I’m sure your mother raised you better.”

“She did,” he said pleasantly, like he had all the time in the world to play games with me. I certainly wasn’t going anywhere, connected to tubes and beeping machinery, and unable to stand up on my own.

“I know damn well what I wrote my dissertation on. How much of my life did you research?”

“Got a hefty file. Looks like I’m in for a night of heavy reading. How about you save me some time, tell me what’s not in there?”

“You’re not going to write anything down?” I asked. “For your incident report?”

“You haven’t really told me anything yet.” The smile reappeared and I was rewarded this time with a hint of straight white teeth. My brain melted like butter left on a hot stovetop.

“Well, I will. I intend to. Tell you, I mean. Every thing of the truth.” What the hell am I even talking about? “You’re going to want this on paper.”

“Maybe so,” he mused, scratching the back of his neck. “Since you’re about to tell me ‘every thing of the truth’.”

He fished around for a notebook in his pocket that looked like it had never been used, clicked a brand new pen. Not a lot of serious crime in Lambert County.

I shifted in the pillows propping me slightly upright, and tried not to think of staples clawing flesh together and sutures keeping skin in a taut line. Post-surgery painkillers kept the pain at a safe distance, but I could almost hear it pacing like an impatient Attila the Hun considering the distant walls of Constantinople.

“One huge waste of your time, coming right up,” I warned him, taking a deep cleansing breath. “My name is Marnie-Jean because my mother likes hyphenated names and the old cologne Jean Nate. I enjoy setting fires in a woodstove. Conversely, I’m afraid of BBQ grills; I’m sure the propane tank is going to explode and take my face right off. I’m also afraid of home invasions, clowns, Santa Claus, and the tooth fairy. I mean, what does she use those teeth for, anyway? It’s disturbing, when you think about it.”

Hood made no notes. I guess I hadn’t said anything good yet. When I launched into the layman’s explanation of my psychic Talents and my former position at GD&C, Hood’s pen moved but his eyes never left my face. Neat trick. He searched my eyes, his own face revealing nothing, and then surprised me with a thoughtful question.

“If you know stuff just by touching things, doesn’t that get a little…busy in your head?”

Relief—validation perhaps—flooded me; for a second I thought I might embarrass myself by welling-up. I showed him my bare hands. “Usually I wear gloves all day, inside and out, to block influxes of information. Leather works best.”

“We didn’t find any gloves at the scene.” So he’d been to the scene, check. I wondered if Harry’s motorcycle was in evidence also. Boy, would he be ticked.

“Maybe she took them?” Like she took my hair. And very nearly my life. “I took them off. They were on the floor beside the bed last I saw.” Or did Harry take them? I had a vague feeling he might have, but it all seemed foggy.

“Can’t you “tell” where they are?” He wiggled his fingers mysteriously.

I shrugged. “I might be able to link to and trace my own possessions. I’ve never tried it. What I can’t do is pull visions out of thin air. That’s a clairvoyant. I have to touch something, or feel someone’s changes in emotions. I can tell when I’m being lied-to, ninety-nine percent of the time. She fooled me. No, that’s not entirely true: I knew she was pissed off. I misread the depth of her hatred, and I believed she had information, and that she was truly in trouble. Being fooled by a successful liar bothers me like I can’t even describe. No one should be able to fool me.”

Hood’s lips twitched. “Ever thought of becoming a cop?”

“Criminals give me the wobbly-knees.” I shook my head. “I do like the law. The law is one of the few things that make me feel stable. Boundaries are good when the rest of you feels ready to fly apart.”

Hood gave another unexpectedly understanding nod, and I tried to probe at his aura and see if he was faking the sympathy. I couldn’t feel him. Lord and Lady, what the hell had I done to myself? Meanwhile he was watching expectantly, pen poised.

“Thanks to my partner, I’ve developed a strong sense of smell. I bet you didn’t know that tulips have what revenants call an under-scent. It’s mild, kind of citrusy. I also like over-cooked roast beef, sun-warmed Key limes and Canadians.”

“Canadians in general, or just the way they smell?”

“Canadians smell fantastic,” I deadpanned. Hood half-smiled; I don’t think he wanted to like me but I was winning him over. “I drink more espresso than is healthy and will undoubtedly die, Balzac-like, of caffeine poisoning. I cannot say no to a cookie. Sometimes when I’m alone I sing old Monty Python songs in the bath. And at the moment, I have titanium staples where my belly button used to be.” I shook my head. “But you don’t need to know any of this. You don’t need to know about my irregular periods or my crush on Wil Wheaton. So why don’t you tell me what you’re looking for?”

“You were injured in Buffalo on your first official FBI case.” He watched me without blinking. “Gun shot wounds. The reports said you were shot by a vampire serial killer named Jeremiah Prost while you were working as a “preternatural forensic consultant” for the PCU. How did he escape?”

“Everyone’s got theories on my failure. Why ask me?”

“Maybe I like the sound of your voice. Besides, I didn’t say it was your failure; you were one of many on that team, correct?”

My shoulders fell. I told him a concise version of what happened, in Buffalo and at the Ten Springs Motor Inn, including the FBI but leaving out the sex and the vomit. Then I added the vomit, because I was pretty sure he’d seen that at the scene. I left Batten’s name out of it, and implied that Danika was resentful of me but left it at professional jealousy. I hoped he bought it.

He didn’t appear to buy a single word of it.

“Let’s see if I wrote this down correctly,” Hood said. The smile was gone and I didn’t like his tone anymore, but I guess that was fair; probably he didn’t like my story much. “You’re a witch. And a psychic.”

“Specifically, an ex-forensic psychometrist with secondary clairempathy who used to work for Gold-Drake & Cross. Third Floor, retrocognition.”

He clarified: “And you live with a vampire.”

“A revenant. There’s no such thing as a human psychic who isn’t DaySitting an immortal. The source of the Blue Sense is the revenant. You wield psi through the revenant. That’s the only way it works. Where have you been living?”

“In my own quiet corner of this great state,” he replied, and I picked up the undertone: where there are no monsters. I got a brief flash of understanding; Hood had left Denver for some small town serenity, and he wasn’t too impressed that I was slamming it from wall to wall. “So this, uh, revenant buddy of yours, he’s four hundred-years-old?”

“Approximately. You don’t ask an immortal how old he is. It’s bad form, and could get you backhanded through a wall.”

He exhaled slowly through his nostrils, and I thought ginger dragon. I bet he wished he’d sent a deputy to answer this call. “At one thirty P.M. you were called by another psychic named Danika Sherlock.” He tapped his pen. “As in Sherlock Holmes?”

“I didn’t pick the crazy twat’s name.” I sighed. “And coming from a man named Robin Hood, I should think you’d understand: sometimes bad names just fucking happen.”

A flinch around his eyes told me that even if I was wrong, his parents had done him no favors; he’d heard it ten thousand times. “I didn’t tell you my first name,” he said. “And Rob’s short for Robert.”

I offered him my open hand, as though for a handshake. He hesitated only for a second before laying his own huge paw in my small one. The skin between our palms crawled instantaneously as the spark of psi awoke to my command.

“Which is a partial lie,” I announced flatly. “Your name was Robin. Your father had a closeted homoerotic crush on Errol Flynn, though it was no secret to your immediate family. It made you feel squinky, so you legally changed your name to Robert in 1997. April.” I smiled at him. “A Tuesday. It was raining. And while I just made you feel violated right down to your toenails, you will successfully not show it on your face.”

A thoroughbred version of spooked excitement thundered through him. I broke contact, laid my hands in my lap, and continued, “Look, I’m the stab-ee here, not the stabber. Why are you giving me a hard time?”

“I’m not trying to give you a hard time, Mrs.—”

“Miss.” Why make that correction?

“You arrived at the Ten Springs Motor Inn at,” he consulted his notes, unnecessarily, possibly to humour me. “Approximately 2 pm. At which point she invited you into Room 4 and stabbed you in the back, causing you to drop your coffee.”

“And now she owes me two bucks.”

“You were both helping the FBI work on a murder case in Lower Downtown? Why are the FBI involved?”

“It’s a suspected preternatural crime, and the PCU was called in from Quantico. I only looked at a few pictures. She was assisting SSA Gary Chapel and Special Agent Mark Batten, who may or may not show up here any minute.”

I didn’t know whether they would or not. Last time I’d been injured, Chapel came every other day until my release; Batten hadn’t shown. Considering this time it was his fiancĂ©e who stabbed me, and she was pissed because of his cock’s activities, I thought the least he could do is put in a few minutes at my bedside. Did Hallmark make a “sorry my Love Muffin stabbed you repeatedly until she thought you were dead” card? On second thought, maybe I didn’t want to see him.

I realized that Sheriff Hood was reading the whole story as it crossed my face.

“Ok, fine! I nailed her man, OK?” I threw my hands up. “I’m a disgrace to society! Are you writing this down, word for word? Bowlegged slut can’t keep her knees together. Go ahead. Write it!”

He leaned back slightly, letting surprise flood his face. Big shoulders shook under taupe nylon; I realized he was trying not to laugh. He didn’t write a word. He just bounced his knee some more and gave me space to ramble.

“So she found out, and decided I was the worst person on Earth. I get that, I do. Hate my guts, fine, but don’t stab them.”

He waited, face gone cop-blank again.

“In my defense, I had no idea that Agent Jerkface was engaged,” I pointed out. “He never bothered to tell me, and I can’t read him psychically. So how is that my fault?”

“Agent Jerkface is …”

“Ah, fuck,” I straw-stirred the ice in angry circles in my big plastic cup. “Agent Batten. I know it’s wrong. We worked together. Briefly. We don’t even like each other. I’m not his type. Hel-lo! Do I look like a Barbie doll?” I sulked, stabbed at the ice chips with my bendy straw. He was staring curiously at my forehead. I wondered what the hell he was looking at. “I don’t even know why it happened. We were under a lot of stress, and he didn’t like needing to use my Talents and I didn’t like his attitude—which, by the way, is as close to asshole as you can get without actually being a sphincter—and we were stuck in a car on stake-outs for hours, then stuck in a cramped motel room in bloody Cheektowaga for days, overtired, keyed up, always fighting …” I drifted off helplessly.

I looked up to see if he got what I meant. The keen glint in his eyes said he knew exactly how it must have happened; he nodded almost imperceptibly.

“So anyways, about Room 4: I faked dead with a mimicry spell called necromimesis. When psychobeast left, I called 911. Harry showed first, and drove me to the hospital. We should have stayed, but I was afraid of the cops getting the wrong idea about the revenant and the blood if I passed out unable to explain. Besides, Harry drives much faster than an ambulance.”

“Go back to the faking dead part?”

“Bit of witchcraft involved. I’m not really sure how I pulled it off. Necromimesis is sort of out of my league.”

He looked at me doubtfully. “Could you do it right now, show me?”

“No,” I said truthfully. “I couldn’t. I don’t have any of the stuff …”

Hood took a clear plastic evidence baggy out of his inside jacket pocket, dangling it. In it was my onyx. “This yours, then?”

“Yes. Still, even with that, the bark and herbs are just symbolic objects for focus. The kind of energy output required for that level of spell is only drummed up by someone like me during periods of extreme stress. Energy, focus, belief, will, those are the real ingredients. This level of magic leaves a taint on your aura. I wouldn’t attempt it again, it’s not exactly clean.”

Hardly a proud moment for a white witch, but death wasn’t all black. It was the very definition of middle ground, the grey area, limbo, death being neither good nor evil. I’d only interrupted my own life, and I didn’t think one emergency spell was crossing over to “official dabbling”.

There was a soft knock at the door and we both turned our attention to Agent Chapel’s long-jawed Great Dane face peering in.

“Pardon me, sheriff. We’ll just wait in the hall until you’re done.”

We? My waffling heart flowed from boiling to frigid, flailed about like it was attempting a drunken River Dance under my ribcage, and then flushed back to hot, unable to decide between avid and avoidant. Probably my heart had finally lost its frigging mind. I no longer wanted to see Mark Batten walk through that door. There was a distinct chance that I was going to get blamed for this whole mess. It wasn’t my fault, but since when did that matter?

“I’m about finished here.” Hood stood, pushing the stool away with the back of his thick legs.

When Chapel disappeared, Hood scratched at the back of his neck with the end of his pen, his eyes playing down the length of the sheet over my legs. I picked up subtle flickers of his curiosity. It was wildly inappropriate, but he didn’t seem aware he was doing it so I let it go.

He said, “Have you ever taken any self-defense classes?”

“No, but I should,” I acknowledged. “Why do you ask?”

“Top of mind when I see an attack like this. Everyone should have at least some idea of how to fend an attacker off. I’m sort of biased,” he said, nodding. “I teach police defensive tactics.”

“Hence the hot bod,” came out of my mouth before I even knew I was going to say it. Horrified, I stuck my straw in my mouth and pretended great interest in my ice water so I didn’t have to meet his eyes.

He was quiet for a moment, assessing. “So when you played dead on the floor, you’re saying you somehow slowed your heartbeat and held your breath? Autogenic training, some Zen thing?”

“That’s not at all what I said,” I looked up into his perfectly human eyes. We stared each other down for a minute, the witch and the skeptic.

“Just clarifying,” he said amiably. The smile made another appearance, at which point I could have sworn I melted and slid into a puddle of mush beside the bed; it lingered lightly on his lips, like he wasn’t sure whether to call a shrink for me, or himself. He made to leave.

“And …” His boots scuffed the floor as he stopped suddenly. “When you called your revenant, did you do it with …” He made a wand-motion in the air that he must have seen Mickey Mouse make in the Sorcerer’s Apprentice. “Mystical abilities?”

“No,” I said sourly. “I called his cell phone.”

“Right. Blackberry?”

“iPhone,” I sighed.

He nodded as though this made perfect sense, stroked his chin. “I’d like to speak to this Lord Dreppenstedt. Have him come into my little station in Ten Springs and make a statement. Or I could drop by your place?”

“Number one, on Shaw’s Fist. It’s the last cabin in the row, or the first, if you’re one of those annoying glass-half-full types. It would be better to come after dark.”

“After dark,” he repeated. “Because your buddy’s a real live vampire, right?”

“Revenant,” I reminded. “And I wouldn’t call him live, exactly.”

Hood paused in the doorway, tucking his notebook away inside his jacket. “Are you actually bowlegged?”

“No, but it sounded good at the time,” I said miserably, sinking back into my pillows.

“Well, for what it’s worth,” he started, and then apparently thought better of it. He had that charming redhead habit of turning helplessly pink when he was embarrassed and a blush crept up his throat. He smiled it away, full-beam this time; it was dizzying how gorgeous it made him. “I’ll check back with you if I have any further questions.”

I found my voice by some miracle. “You do that, sheriff.”

AJ Aalto is the author of Touched, first in the paranormal mystery series The Marnie Baranuik Files. Aalto is an unrepentant liar and a writer of blathering nonsense offset by factual gore. When not working on her novels, you can find her singing old Monty Python songs in the shower, eavesdropping on perfect strangers, stalking her eye doctor, or failing at one of her many fruitless hobbies. Generally a fan of anyone with a passion for the ridiculous, she has a particular weak spot for smug pseudo-intellectuals and narcissistic jerks; readers will find her work littered with dark, imperfect creatures, flawed monsters and oodles of snark. AJ cannot say no to a Snickers bar, and has been known to swallow her gum.

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Happy Reading Everyone :)

Apr 24, 2013

Review: Midnight Bayou by Nora Roberts

The phenomenal #1 New York Times-bestselling author presents a novel set deep in the bayou of Louisiana-where the only witness to a long-ago tragedy is a once-grand house.

Declan Fitzgerald had always been the family maverick, but even he couldn't understand his impulse to buy a dilapidated mansion on the outskirts of New Orleans. All he knew was that ever since he first saw Manet Hall, he'd been enchanted-and obsessed-with it. So when the opportunity to buy the house comes up, Declan jumps at the chance to live out a dream.

Determined to restore Manet Hall to its former splendor, Declan begins the daunting renovation room by room, relying on his own labor and skills. But the days spent in total isolation in the empty house take a toll. He is seeing visions of days from a century past, and experiencing sensations of terror and nearly unbearable grief-sensations not his own, but those of a stranger. Local legend has it that the house is haunted, and with every passing day Declan's belief in the ghostly presence grows.

Only the companionship of alluring Angelina Simone can distract him from the mysterious happenings in the house, but Angelina too has her own surprising connection to Manet Hall-a connection that will help Declan uncover a secret that's been buried for a hundred years.

The thing about Nora Roberts is that once you're a fan, you're a fan forever. She has this incredible ability to draw you into a character's life, from their quirks and personality traits to their passions and professions to their fears and flaws. I remember every single character from every single Nora Roberts' novel I've ever read; they've stayed me through all these years, and I'm never hesitant to read and reread their stories over and over again.

Nora Roberts' books are little worlds wrapped up in pretty paper and catching titles. Her writing style envelops you, and you're literally sucked into whichever environment she's set up for you. One quality I've always noticed about these novels is that I always find myself wanting to go wherever the story takes place or to learn more about the ambitions of the characters.

I've been through Louisiana, seen the draping moss and experienced the oppressive humidity. It intrigued me, but never to the point that I'd want to stay for a while. However, after Midnight Bayou, I found myself dreaming about settling down in my own plantation house overlooking the bayou on the horizon, sipping iced tea on my own little shaded porch, enjoying the beauty of the mossed trees and the vibrant colors of the bright flowers that thrive in the South. Needless to say, the world building is incredible.

Nora gives us glimpses of the past, flashing back on the history of Declan's newly acquired Manet Hall. As a result, we get a feel of the pain of the house, the unresolved tragedies, and the truth of what drew Declan there in the first place. We get to know not only the history of the people who used to live in Manet Hall, but how they relate and affect the events of the present.

Like I said, Nora's characters, from villains to heroes and heroines, are always well developed, never leaving anything to be desired for readers. Declan is immediately the sexy, determined guy that all us females can't help but zone-in on. He's got baggage that he's not exactly proud of, but he's one of those guys that can't be anything but generous, caring, and down-to-earth, despite his rather prominent upbringing. He's adorable in his persistence and his straight-forward manner when it comes to Lina, and he really makes you wish that all guys were as honest with themselves.

Lina's quite the opposite. She's wary of anything that might be too good to be true, and she's very careful of who she trusts. She's fiercely independent, even more stubborn than Declan, and she's determined not to end up as a sobbing, heartbroken woman. But Declan surprises her at ever turn, matching her denial with brutal honesty that catches her off guard. 

Their relationship... well, the physical aspect of it didn't delay, but the emotional side was a little rocky. Lina's wary, like I said, and while she's all about having a good time, she's definitely not for attachments. It had a quick/slow/quick feeling to it, taking three steps forward and two steps back, developing against all odds. 

The core of the storyline itself... Wow. I love Nora's ability to weave history, murder, and ghosts into what could be considered a normal life. She makes it seem like any of her stories could happen to any of us. The murder, the tragedy, the lost love and how it all boils down to Declan and Lina is not what I expected when diving into Midnight Bayou

I did feel that the resolution seemed... well, almost too easy compared to the obstacles that both of the main characters faced throughout the rest of the story, but it makes sense and brings the story to relieving and, as with all of Nora Roberts' books, happy ending. 

Totally recommend :).

Happy Reading Everyone :)

Apr 23, 2013

Tuesday Prelude

Tuesday Prelude is inspired by Should Be Reading's Teaser Tuesday. Since I could never stick to just two lines, I amped up the post a bit, giving you a little bit more than an itty bitty teaser.

This week's prelude is inspired by:

Two years after her best friend was involved in a car accident that caused a traumatic brain injury, Lottie Anders is ready to start her freshman year of college. Ready to move on. Ready to start forgetting the night that ripped her life apart.

Her plans come to a screeching halt when not one, but both brothers responsible for the accident end up back in her life again.

Zack is cruel, selfish and constantly rubbing what happened to her friend in Lottie's face. 

Zan is different. He listens to her awkward ramblings. He loves "To Kill a Mockingbird" as much as she does, and his dark eyes are irresistible. His words are few and far between, but when he does speak, she can't help but listen. 

The trouble is, Zan was the driver in the accident, and now Lottie's discovered he lied to her about what happened that night. Now she must decide if trusting him again will lead to real forgiveness, or deeper heartache.

Zan is the character that piques my interest the most. He's the dark, quiet, broody type and he has a tendency to lash out, releasing the guilt and pain that are his constant companions.

He gets in to college, to the surprise of his parents, and he does his best to pretend this is going to be the fresh start he needs, but...
I could cut my hair and change my clothes, but nothing could change the thing that hovered over me. The thing that people saw when they looked at me, the thing that made them look away and cross to the other side of the street.
Then he runs into Charlotte, Lottie as her friends call her, but he never thought that name suited her. She wants less than nothing to do with him, but that doesn't change anything.
Once again, she was the eclipse, drawing me in. It sounds intense and it is, being drawn to look at someone like that. 
He didn't expect to see her after the years had put some distance between them, even though that distance did nothing to change the feelings he'd developed for her.
Charlotte didn't just shake my world. She created an earthquake that irrevocably changed the landscape of my life.
*sigh* Oh Zan, I really do hope things work out for you. I'm on your side all the way, man.

What you got for me this week lovelies?

Happy Reading Everyone :)


Apr 20, 2013

Stacking the Shelves

Finally! Getting back to my favorite memes. Been a little MIA lately, and I can't wait to get back into the swing of things.

Pretty exciting week for me in regards to my haul ~ finally got my hands on some that I've been highly anticipating :).

Additions this week:

Imagine a place where the dead rest on shelves like books.

Each body has a story to tell, a life seen in pictures that only Librarians can read. The dead are called Histories, and the vast realm in which they rest is the Archive.

Da first brought Mackenzie Bishop here four years ago, when she was twelve years old, frightened but determined to prove herself. Now Da is dead, and Mac has grown into what he once was, a ruthless Keeper, tasked with stopping often—violent Histories from waking up and getting out. Because of her job, she lies to the people she loves, and she knows fear for what it is: a useful tool for staying alive.

Being a Keeper isn’t just dangerous—it’s a constant reminder of those Mac has lost. Da’s death was hard enough, but now her little brother is gone too. Mac starts to wonder about the boundary between living and dying, sleeping and waking. In the Archive, the dead must never be disturbed. And yet, someone is deliberately altering Histories, erasing essential chapters. Unless Mac can piece together what remains, the Archive itself might crumble and fall.

In this haunting, richly imagined novel, Victoria Schwab reveals the thin lines between past and present, love and pain, trust and deceit, unbearable loss and hard-won redemption.

What do the Greek gods do when they're bored? Because they're always bored, so humans are the perfect players in their games.

Aphrodite owns love; she hasn't lost a competition on her turf in over three millennia. Apollo is on a mission to win. He's counting on it to finally get the one woman he's never been able to have. The two gods will choose their human players, and if Aphrodite can't get them together before the clock runs out, Apollo will get his way. And Aphrodite couldn't have that.

Lex and Dean are perfect for each other, they just don't know it yet. Dean is a perpetual bachelor, and a brooding, beautiful rock star. Lex is always with a man, but she'll never fully give herself up. Aphrodite has her work cut out for her, but if she can't make it work, no one can.

The gods have their own drama. Apollo killed Aprhodite's mortal love - they've got beef that's been dragging on for thousands of years. Ares, the douchebag, is forever trying to pick a fight, and trying to get Aphrodite into bed. And Persephone, Aphrodite's best friend, is the one person who Aphrodite shares everything with.

Follow the gods as they fight, laugh, cry, lose love, gain power, and make a mess with humans.

What'd you luck out with this week?
Happy Reading Everyone :)

Apr 19, 2013

Review: The Soother by Elle J. Rossi


Calliope the Soother is a witch devoting her life to easing the pain and misery of others, drawing out the darkness and replacing it with light.


A powerful wizard by birthright, Krystoff Dubhar’s tainted blood carries shadows destined to possess his mind and soul. Only with outlawed, dangerous blood magick can he hold the shadows at bay.


In the shadowed realm of Mistropa, Krystoff falls to overwhelming odds. Just as the Queen of Shadows is about to claim his power—and his life, Calliope hears the foreboding cry of the banshee, and the Soother becomes the wizard’s savior. As Calliope heals her mysterious fanged enemy, her heart is sent into overdrive. Is her accelerated pulse prompted by fear or desire? Either way, Krystoff's shadowed presence proves dangerous. His sensual words ignite a fire long held dormant. His kiss reveals a forbidden passion.


Seeking vengeance, the Queen’s dark army turns the Soother’s village into a battleground rife with death and destruction. Calliope fights to save her coven. Krystoff fights to save the Soother who has captured his heart. One bite changes everything. Can love survive the never-ending battle between light and dark?

:my thoughts:

Having not read the first book in this installment, I was a little nervous about jumping right into the second. However, this book stood well on its own and I had no problem sinking right into The Soother.

I love the author’s writing style and the depth she goes into with detail. Whichever world I was consumed by, dark or light, I always felt affected by it whether it was the chill of the shadows or the whimsy of Calliope’s home.

Calliope is a soother, a witch very much in tune to the emotions and intentions around her. You can't help but admire her compassion and strength. Darkness drains her while beauty and happiness fill her.  She's one of the good girls, determined to stay on the side of the light. Temptation, however, is a powerful force, and her resistance is futile against Krystoff, our sexy little love interest.

I'm usually not a huge fan of instant butterflies in the stomach, which is what happens between Krystoff and Calliope, but hey, I knew I was getting into a romance novel, so I did my best to just go with the flow. The electricity and attraction between them definitely keeps your attention, and those two absolutely had me rooting for them, I'm just one of those readers that likes a little build up before characters go gooey for each other. 

The side characters were awesome too! Sometimes I feel like they get left behind, but I felt that they were very well developed. Bevva is one especially that I'm a fan of.

The action in this book hits the ground running and doesn't stop. Between Krystoff's and Calliope's interesting combination and the determination of the evil, nasty, horrible Riona, this book is difficult to put down. 

Recommend! Especially for those who are into romance novels with that paranormal twist.

Elle J Rossi grew up in rural Indiana surrounded by great people, a huge family and more animals than she could count. But the sites and sounds of the world beckoned, so she left her small town to escape into a creative world full of music. As a full time singer she was able to lose herself in a thousand different songs in a hundred different places. After meeting the love of her life and settling down, she yearned to find a new and fulfilling creative outlet. Overly fond of the happily ever after, she wondered what it would be like to have her own characters lead her down dark and twisted paths. The very first word on the very first page sealed her fate. She’d found a new love. She’d found her escape. Now along with weaving haunting tales about the journey to love, she’s creating cover art for authors around the world and loving every second of it. For fun, she cranks country music to take her back to her roots, and sings karaoke anytime she gets a chance. Her husband, two children, and a cat that rules the roost keep her company along the way and guarantee she doesn’t get lost in the enchanted forest. She wouldn’t have it any other way.

:book one:

When Meera Brennan learns she’s a Luminary, one of the most powerful witches in existence, it rocks her already fragile world. The revelation explains the disturbing episodes that made her question her sanity, but does little to soothe the sting of discovering her life is now at risk. To save herself and keep peace within the veiled community, Meera will have to hone her powers and brave an ancient realm to destroy the slayer’s magickal source. She alone must dispel chaos and ensure the balance of good and evil for all mankind.

Banished and stripped of his guardian powers because of a witch, Ghanem Adamo, former prince of the Saharren realm, receives a chance at redemption when his estranged father reveals an immortal battle destined to alter all realms. In order to protect the innocent, regain his title and reunite with his family, Ghanem must destroy the slayers’ source of power and bring down their terrorizing leader.

Her life . . .

Or his throne . . .

When the war against the slayers force Meera and Ghanem to work together, more than magickal sparks fly. Challenged by fate, can love survive a nefarious battle that can result in only one prize?


Happy Reading Everyone :)

Apr 18, 2013


Hey guys,

I've been a little MIA from the book blogosphere recently, and it's killing me. I set all these goals for myself this year, and I've yet to be able to keep my word on any of them. Truth is, March-April have been the months for big news in my personal life, and I'm just trying to keep up. Between starting a new job, among many other things, my time has been completely drained. That and my health hasn't exactly been it's perky, energetic self.

Hopefully May will bring some calm to my world so I can get back to doing the things I love. I'm still kickin' around, just not as much as I'd like :-/.

Happy Reading Everyone :)

Apr 17, 2013

Review: Breathe by Sarah Crossan

Inhale. Exhale. Breathe. Breathe. Breathe . . .The world is dead. The survivors live under the protection of Breathe, the corporation that found a way to manufacture oxygen-rich air.

Alinahas been stealing for a long time. She's a little jittery, but not terrified. All she knows is that she's never been caught before. If she's careful, it'll be easy. If she's careful.

Quinnshould be worried about Alina and a bit afraid for himself, too, but even though this is dangerous, it's also the most interesting thing to happen to him in ages. It isn't every day that the girl of your dreams asks you to rescue her.

Beawants to tell him that none of this is fair; they'd planned a trip together, the two of them, and she'd hoped he'd discover her out here, not another girl.

And as they walk into the Outlands with two days' worth of oxygen in their tanks, everything they believe will be shattered. Will they be able to make it back? Will they want to?

**There might be minor spoilers, so consider yourself warned :)**

I really had high hopes for Breathe, what with the concept of air being a rare commodity ~ it just sounds like the basis for an amazing story, right?... Unfortunately, although it hit the high notes in the beginning, the excitement and adrenaline fizzled out as we progressed through the story.

Crossan has the potential for a great story here. It's typical dystopian with an oppressive government and a group of rebels that defies it at every turn, but what fascinated me was the idea that oxygen was a privilege, not a right. If you can't afford the amount of air it would require to run a mile or dance or even walk at a brisk pace, then you simply remained stagnant.

However, even with this promising premise, there was really no world-building to speak of. What caused all the trees and plants to wither and die? Crossan dubs this event "The Switch," but while we see the results, we never have the opportunity to discover what caused this horrific event.

The characters really grabbed me at first, especially with all the differences and dynamics between them, but some of them had a hard time living up to the personalities that were laid out for them.
  • Bea is lower class, wicked intelligent, and in love with her best friend, Quinn. She's more than a little insecure and is completely illogical, despite her supposed super-smarts, when it comes to making tough decisions. I didn't really understand her whole obsession with Maude, especially because the old bag tried to kill them all, and while Maude and Alina came to respect Bea as a courageous asset to the rebels, I couldn't see the change in her that caused this shift in perspective from her peers. 

  • Quinn is the rich, privileged kid who doesn't take danger seriously. He goes all googly-eyed when he first sees Alina, and follows her around like a lost puppy dog. He's completely oblivious to Bea's feelings for him and has a naivetĂ© that I was surprised didn't get him killed. However, he was the one character I could believe, and I did have to respect the change that occurred in Quinn. The truth slams into him with such a force that there was no way he wouldn't come out on the other side a different person, and it turns out, I ended up liking him in the end. 

  • Alina is the rebel, the beautiful girl that Quinn goes ga-ga over and follows into the disaster of the world outside the pod. She's cold and guarded, and rightly so after losing so many people close to her heart. While I could understand her grief, she didn't make me believe that's what she was feeling behind her stony exterior. Then suddenly she flips a switch and turns from this "do-what-needs-to-be-done" kind of girl to being completely afraid and questioning herself at every turn. When did this happen? Why? I'm all about characters changing and growing, but it was like she was two characters under one name and there was no indication as to what caused such a drastic change.

  • Petra is someone I have to mention since I am talking about inconsistencies. She's supposed to be this badass rebel leader, fearless and determined to fight until the end. I'll just say, she might as well have been completely deleted from the book for all the difference she made.
Most of the characters experienced inconsistencies such as Quinn's dad and Jazz, Petra's little pet. The characters' actions just didn't add up to who the author created them to be.

*On a side note ~ what about Abel? His tragedy is supposed to be this huge deal that could possibly lead to a mind-blowing revelation and then *pffff*.... nothing. 

I will say that the author's writing style is fluid, descriptive, and easy to follow. There's definite potential and the ideas are good, but there just really needs to be more world building, character development, and consistency. 

I'm not a fan of giving negative ratings but... here it is:

But, according to some of the reviews I read, a lot of people really liked Breathe. As with any book, you really just have to read it for yourself. This one wasn't my cup of tea, personally, but check out GoodReads and see what others had to say.

Happy Reading Everyone :)