My Bookish Ways

Blog Tour and Interview: Jennifer Armentrout, author of Obsidian!

Please welcome Jennifer Armentrout to the blog today! Jennifer is the author of the brand new paranormal Obsidian, as well as the Covenant series, and was kind enough to answer a few of my questions! Also up for grabs is an ecopy of Obsidian to one lucky winner, so please see the giveaway details at the end of the post!

Jennifer, you’re the author of the Covenant Series and your brand new book Obsidian, comes out in early December. Have you always wanted to be a writer? Can you tell about your journey?
I’ve always wanted to be a writer, as cliché as that sounds. I started writing when I was in middle school and probably younger. My journey is like a lot of other writers out there. It was a road paved with rejections, revise and resubmits, and a whole lot of frustration. They key thing was that writing is a passion, something I CAN’T quit doing. So I never gave up. Getting published was fairly different from others. I got two publishers before I got an agent. And I’m thrilled it worked that way. My agent rocks.

Can you tell us a bit about Obsidian?
Obsidian is very science fiction light, and a lot of people are saying it’s more character driven then plot, even though the plot is fairly fast paced and full of action. It centers around Katy, an ordinary teenage girl with an obsession for books—hey, she’s a book blogger—who moves to a small town in West Virginia. When she meets her new neighbors, she immediately senses something off about them and well, you can guess why. A lot of the characters start off one way and end another, and that’s what was so fun about writing Obsidian.

What’s one of your most unusual writing quirks?
I cannot write when someone is in the same room as me. True Story.

What are some of your biggest literary influences?
I grew up reading Ritchie Cusick, Christopher Pike, LJ Smith and RL Stine. So if I had to say I was influenced by anyone, it was them that fostered my interest in writing.

What’s on your nightstand right now?
Angelia’s Secret

When you’re not busy writing, how do you like to spend your free time?
Catching up on email, lol. Working out. Reading. Hanging out with family. Trying to garden, but I really suck at it.
If you could pack your bags and go anywhere in the world tomorrow, where would you go, and why?
Greece. The history there is just fascinating.

Name something that makes you laugh out loud!
Tosh.O I can’t even write when he’s on the TV. I’m laughing too hard.

Is there any news of upcoming projects or events that you’d like to share with us?
There are a few projects in the pipeline that may have news about them soon. One is a YA thriller/mystery that is contemporary and a paranormal centering around gargoyles. Right now, I am working on Aiden’s novella for the Covenant Series. Poor guy.

Keep up with Jennifer: Website | Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

**GIVEAWAY DETAILS**
1. You must leave a comment with your email address (if you type it into the space in the comment form, there’s no need to put it in the body of the comment)
2. Giveaway is for 1 ecopy of Obsidian by Jennifer Armentrout to 1 winner
3. Giveaway is open Internationally
4. Please include a valid email address
5. You must enter on or before Thursday, Dec. 16th, 2011
6. Please see my Giveaway Policy.
7. Giveaway book kindly provided by Entangled Publishing.

About Obsidian:
Starting over sucks.

When we moved to West Virginia right before my senior year, I’d pretty much resigned myself to thick accents, dodgy internet access, and a whole lot of boring…. until I spotted my hot neighbor, with his looming height and eerie green eyes. Things were looking up.

And then he opened his mouth.

Daemon is infuriating. Arrogant. Stab-worthy. We do not get along. At all. But when a stranger attacks me and Daemon literally freezes time with a wave of his hand, well, something…unexpected happens.

The hot alien living next door marks me.

You heard me. Alien. Turns out Daemon and his sister have a galaxy of enemies wanting to steal their abilities, and Daemon’s touch has me lit up like the Vegas Strip. The only way I’m getting out of this alive is by sticking close to Daemon until my alien mojo fades.

If I don’t kill him first, that is.

About Jennifer:
Jennifer lives in Martinsburg, West Virginia. All the rumors you’ve heard about her state aren’t true. When she’s not hard at work writing. she spends her time reading, working out, watching really bad zombie movies, pretending to write, and hanging out with her husband and her Jack Russel Loki.

Her dreams of becoming an author started in algebra class, where she spent most of her time writing short stories….which explains her dismal grades in math. Jennifer writes young adult paranormal, science fiction, fantasy, and contemporary romance. She also writes adult romance under the name J. Rogers.

Review: The Traitor’s Daughter (Veiled Isles #1) by Paula Brandon

The Traitor’s Daughter (Veiled Isles #1) by Paula Brandon
Publisher:
Random House (Spectra/Oct. 2011)
Fantasy
Veiled Isles Series
4.5/5

On the Veiled Isles, ominous signs are apparent to those with the talent to read them. The polarity of magic is wavering at its source, heralding a vast upheaval poised to alter the very balance of nature. Blissfully unaware of the cataclysmic events to come, Jianna Belandor, the beautiful, privileged daughter of a powerful Faerlonnish overlord, has only one concern: the journey to meet her prospective husband. But revolution is stirring as her own conquered people rise up against their oppressors, and Jianna is kidnapped and held captive at a rebel stronghold, insurance against what are perceived as her father’s crimes.

The resistance movement opens Jianna’s eyes―and her heart. Despite her belief in her father’s innocence, she is fascinated by the bold and charming nomadic physician and rebel sympathizer, Falaste Rione—who offers Jianna her only sanctuary in a cold and calculating web of intrigue. As plague and chaos grip the land, Jianna is pushed to the limits of her courage and resourcefulness, while virulent enemies discover that alliance is their only hope to save the human race.

REVIEW
When I started The Traitor’s Daughter, I immediately knew that I was in for something a little bit different. The book begins with an inventor, Grix Orlazzu, that is confronted by his own creation, an automaton that decides to take on his creater’s identity. However, his creator has discovered a disruption in the Source, a mysterious underground power from which magic originates. He leaves his home, and his automaton, determined to make his way to the Wraithlands to hopefully find out what’s happening with the Source. We don’t meet Grix again until the end, and you may be wondering about just what’s going on, but I promise, it gets much clearer throughout the story. We then meet Magnifico Aureste Belandor and his beautiful 18 year old daughter Jianna, who will soon make the journey to meet her betrothed. This journey will prove to change her and her father’s lives forever.

As Jianna travels to meet her new fiancé, her party is attacked by rebel forces and she is taken to a rebel stronghold, where she meets the formidable Yvenza Belandor, and her less-than-charming sons. Yvenza tells an outrageous story that puts Jianna’s father in the role of traitor, but it may not be quite as outrageous as she thinks. To add insult to injury, Yvenza plans to make Jianna her daughter-in-law by marrying her to her oldest son, Onartino. Let’s talk about Yvenza and Onartino for a moment. If Yvenza’s claims are true, you can understand her motivations, if not her methods. Onartino on the other hand, is a true sociopath. He’s no stranger to rape and murder, and his plans for Jianna are anything but romantic. I hated Onartino with a vengeance and had to keep myself from skipping ahead to find out Jianna’s fate. Luckily, there is a light at the end (maybe) in the form of a young doctor, Falaste Rione, who arrives at the stronghouse to administer to the rebel wounded. Kind and a little charmed by Jianna, he may be her only hope for escape, but his loyalties also lie with Yvenza, so convincing him to help will take all of Jianna’s wits. With Jianna, the author did a really, really good job of painting a portrait of a girl that has been raised very sheltered and pampered, but has hidden reserves, which she discovers slowly but surely, especially while helping Falaste administer to the wounded rebels. I loved the idea of the Source, a mysterious underground font of magic that may be ready to shift, and not necessarily for the better, and the author did a wonderful job of creating an atmosphere of magic and intrigue. Oh, and did I mention there are zombies? Or rather, the constant threat of zombies, for there is a plague loose in the Veiled Isles, but there may be more to the walking dead than meets the eye, and I’m hoping we’ll find out more about this in the next book. The Traitor’s Daughter shifts back and forth from Jianna’s plight to the goings on in her father’s world, and I’ll admit, while those passages were certainly entertaining, I found myself wanting to get back to Jianna’s story. I was riveted with The Traitor’s Daughter and can’t wait for The Ruined City, the next book in the series. If you like fantasy full of intrigue, drama, and magic, with a fascinating and unique setting, you’ll love The Traitor’s Daughter!

Purchase The Traitor’s Daughter:Amazon | Barnes and Noble
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Giveaway Winners: Dark Future by KC Klein and One Salt Sea by Seanan McGuire

I’ve got two giveaway winners to announce today! Thanks to everyone that entered!

Congrats to Lora1967!

Congrats to Lexi!

*All winners were chosen using Random.org, have been notified, and will have 48 hours to respond with their info.

Early Review: Cinder (Lunar Chronicles #1) by Marissa Meyer

Cinder (Lunar Chronicles #1 by Marissa Meyer
Publisher:
Macmillan/Feiwel and Friends (Jan 3rd, 2011)
YA/Steampunk/Fantasy
Lunar Chronicles
5/5

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

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

REVIEW
Cinderella is, by far, one of my all-time favorite fairy tales. Add sci-fi/futuristic elements, and I’m totally there. Cinder is a teenaged cyborg, orphaned at 11, then taken in by her stepmother and 2 stepsisters after the man that adopted her was killed. Adri, her stepmother, is cruel and bitter, and the oldest sister, Pearl, isn’t much better. However, Cinder has a friend in Peony, the youngest sibling, and loves her like she would a real sister. Four years later, we find Cinder in New Beijing, carving out a meager existence as the town’s best android mechanic, and turning all of her earnings over to Adri. One day, at her booth in the town market, Prince Kai pays her a visit. His favorite android is on the fritz, and he heard Cinder was the best. For years Cinder has done her very best to hide her “dirty” secret (that she’s a cyborg), and she has no intention of letting handsome Prince Kai find out otherwise. However, bringing that android to Cinder is the start of something big, and will reveal secrets about Cinder’s past, and alter her future, forever.

Cinder retains just enough of the original story to make it a joy to pick out certain parallels, but the author has set her story in the rich environment of New Beijing, years after a devastating 4th World War. There is a terrible plague on the loose, and Cinder will experience the fallout of this plague first hand and become an unwitting pawn in the search for a cure. Her charming android companion, Iko, is endearing and sweet, and steals nearly every scene she’s in, also adding levity when needed. When the hated and feared Lunar Queen pays a visit to Earth, hoping to forge an alliance with New Beijing through marriage, all hell breaks loose, and she brings with her a terrible power and secrets that only Cinder can unlock. Prince Kai is charming, and I fell in love with Cinder from page one. You’ll root for them to fall in love, but the author doesn’t hand you that on a silver platter, not by a longshot, and the ending is wide open for another installment in this series. Nothing is wrapped in a pretty bow in this one. The pacing is rapid and tense, and builds to an exciting last page that will leave you anxious for the next installment. It’s going to be a hard wait for me! I’d recommend Cinder to any fan of sci-fi and fairy tales, and it’s a story that can be enjoyed by teens and adults alike! This one’s a keeper.

Read the short story Glitches, an introduction to Cinder!
Pre-Order Cinder: Amazon | Barnes and Noble
Add to Goodreads

Interview: Juliet Blackwell, author of Dead Bolt!

I’m so excited to have the wonderful Juliet Blackwell on the blog today! Juliet is the author of the Haunted Home Renovation Mystery series (including Dead Bolt, just out yesterday!), the Witchcraft Mystery series, and much more. She was kind enough to answer a few of my questions, so please welcome her to the blog!

Juliet, you pursued degrees in both Anthropology and Social work, taught anthropology and worked as a social worker! Whew! What finally made you decide to pursue a writing career?
It wasn’t so much a “decision” as something I backed into…though that sounds bad, doesn’t it? It’s true that I’ve tried my hand at many vocations over the years, and I’ve enjoyed all of them. But after I established my own specialty painting and design company in the San Francisco Bay Area –doing a lot of historic restoration work– I found myself on construction sites at all hours of the night. I read a lot of mystery novels, and of course my imagination ran wild from time to time. I started thinking of possible story ideas, and one day I just started writing down some of my ideas. Of course, it took a loooong time before I managed to write anything anyone would have wanted to read…! But I think that ultimately, my love of storytelling and reading led me to writing. Also I’m very, very stubborn, so once I started my first book I was determined to finish!

You’ve written the Art Lover’s Mystery series with your sister, Carolyn, the Witchcraft Mystery series, and the brand new Haunted Home Renovation series! What made you decide that mystery was your genre, and do you have a character that you love to write the most?
At first I assumed mystery was a natural genre for me because I read so many mysteries. But after I began writing full-time and teaching writing workshops, I realized there was more to it than that. Mysteries offer the author a natural “skeleton” on which to hang one’s story: there’s a crime, the pursuit of suspects and the unraveling of the mystery, and finally the unmasking of the party or parties responsible. Weaving those elements together in new and exciting ways, and coming up with intriguing characters and plot elements, is where the real fun begins. Another attractive aspect of writing mysteries is the chance to set the world right again, to seek and find justice. In the real world, we rarely get such satisfying endings!

My first character, Annie Kincaid –an ex-art forger– holds a special place in my heart because she was the protagonist of my first series…besides, she had my day job as a faux finisher. But I love writing about witchcraft as well, since it has been a lifelong interest for me. And Mel Turner, the reluctant boss of a construction crew in the San Francisco Bay Area (in the Haunted Home Renovation series), is my current favorite because she’s so snarky and funny, and is determined to find ways to get past her insecurities and unhappiness while working hard and helping others. Now that I think about it…I guess the character I most love to write depends on the book I’m writing at the time!

What is your most unusual writing quirk?
I never know what the ending is going to be. In the case of the last book I turned in, In a Witch’s Wardrobe (fourth in my Witchcraft mystery series) I was so proud of myself for figuring out the ending long before finishing the book. But then upon revision, I wound up completely re-writing the final scenes! I used to panic about it, but now that I’ve got ten books under my belt I’m learning to roll with the punches. I guess I just need to write the entire book before I can figure out where my story naturally ends.

Name 5 of your favorite books.
Oooh, this is a tough one and I think it changes with each interview I do! Richard Russo’s Empire Falls, Elizabeth Peter’s Borrower of the Night, Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal Dreams, Sherman Alexie’s Indian Killer, and Dennis Lehane’s Mystic River. They’re all great books, but more importantly they’re books I read at crucial moments in my life, so they inspired/altered me in profound ways. But as I say…the list changes depending on when I’m asked!

What’s on your nightstand right now?
Right now I’m reading Rochelle Staab’s debut novel, Who Do, Voodoo?. Also, I’m reading Sophie Littlefield’s latest apocalyptic thriller, Rebirth, and Purgatory Chasm by Steve Ufelder. I’m also reading a non-fiction book on California architectural styles, and an anthology of Grimm’s Fairy Tales. I always read several books at once!

Your love of home renovation shines on the pages of If Walls Could Talk, and it’s obvious you know your stuff! It says you enjoy renovating your own haunted house as well. Could you tell us more about that?
I live in a house built by John Hudson Thomas, an architect who worked with people like Bernard Maybeck and Julia Morgan in the Arts and Crafts movement. The house is far too big for me, so I share it with a couple of housemates, and until recently my teenage son (now off to college) and a big brown mutt named Sam (recently departed—she was the inspiration for Dog in the books).

The house has incredible wooden Moroccan arches, intricate old windows –almost every one distinct from the others– with original wavy glass, and a grand stairway. It’s very hard to describe, except to say that it’s gorgeous. The original owners were clearly well off; they lived here for more than forty years, with a live-in maid and full-time gardener. Afterwards, the neighborhood went downhill, and the home was bought by neighbors who were Polish immigrants, Victoria and Ziggy, who lived here for more than forty years as well, until they both passed away. So I’m only the third owner. Victoria and Ziggy weren’t able to keep the place up, which was both bad and good for the house: it had been neglected and needed a lot of repair, but many of the original features were intact. The only places they had “remodeled” were the kitchen and bathrooms, which were done with cheap 1970s materials such as Harvest Gold linoleum squares…ew! But the gorgeous woodwork was untouched, the lamps were original, and we found priceless French doors in the basement.

When I bought the house it had no source of heat, and the water heater was a fascinating cast-iron contraption from 1922 that took a very long time to heat water. I called in favors from people I worked with to renovate it, step by step, re-doing plaster and paint and foundation. It’s still a work in progress!

As to the “haunting”…everyone who sees the place has a strong (positive!) reaction to it. It truly has character, and it sparkles especially during our annual Halloween party because of all its shadowy nooks and crannies. In addition, it has a number of interesting quirks: doors that open and close of their own accord, lights that go on and off, items that disappear and show up elsewhere, and the distinct sounds of footsteps overhead when no one is upstairs. The basement always seems…”active”. The sensations are decidedly benevolent, though, so we’re fine with sharing the house with our ghosts.

In your bio, it says that Halloween is by far your favorite holiday. What do you love most about it?
Well as I mentioned, since we have ghosts in the house it seems only right to let them have their day! But seriously, Halloween combines many of the things I most love: dressing in costume (amazing how differently people act when they’re dressed up); decorating with a macabre sense (have I mentioned how great this house looks bedecked in haunted house decorations?); and the history of Samhain and Day of the Dead and the harvest festivals…just everything about it is great! Plus, I love the color orange. Oh, and black. After all, I write about ghosts and witches!

You’re also an accomplished artist, in several mediums. Which is your favorite to work in?
I paint in oils, and my favorite subject is the human form, and portraits. You can see some examples at here. I am largely self-taught, though one of the best decisions of my life was to spend a summer in Florence studying at the Florence Academy of Art, where I learned Renaissance skills like grinding my own paints. I get lost in the techniques, the history, even the smells of the paint. To me, painting is a lot like architecture, and witchcraft for that matter: they all link us to history, and to those who’ve gone before us. I just love it!

If you could pack your bags and go anywhere in the world tomorrow, where would you go?
Probably back to Firenze! I adore Italy, and all of Europe. I’ve traveled around much of the world, and I hold a special place in my heart for Mexico and Latin America…in fact, Mexico would probably be my second choice. But Europe keeps pulling me back, time and time again. I find the pace of life, and the beauty, so relaxing and inspirational. And then there’s the food…

Quick! Name something that makes you laugh out loud.
Anything written by David Sedaris, or Anne Lamott – oh, add their names to my list of favorite authors! If you don’t know their work (they’re both primarily essayists) you should check them out for super-smart, astute, biting, caustic, and hilarious views of the modern world. They crack me up!
And my friends – I have some truly, wicked-funny friends. They never cease to amaze me and make me laugh, sometimes to the point of tears. That’s why I keep them around!

Is there any other news of upcoming projects or events that you’d like to share with us?
Dead Bolt comes out December 6 – the second in the Haunted Home Renovation series. In it, Mel Turner is renovating a historic Queen Anne Victorian and comes upon some nasty ghosts trapped in the attic…Publishers Weekly called it “smooth and seductive” – by which I was hoping they were calling *me* smooth and seductive! And in the fourth Witchcraft Novel, In a Witch’s Wardrobe, (July 3, 2012) Lily goes to the Art Deco ball and finds more than she bargained for at the theater. And I’m writing the third Haunted Home Renovation book now, which we just entitled: Murder on the House. Catchy, huh?

Keep up with Juliet: Website | Twitter | Blog
Read my review of If Walls Could Talk (A Haunted Home Renovation Mystery #1)

Blogoversary Giveaway #6: Retribution (Dark Hunter Series) by Sherrilyn Kenyon

For my 6th Blogoversary giveaway I’ve got 2 copies of Retribution (Dark Hunter Series) by Sherrilyn Kenyon up for grabs! Check out the description and giveaway rules below, and good luck!

About Retribution:
The vampires call it the Cross of Ardaich: a relic thought to have been destroyed in the war between the Federation and the rebels. But it has been found, and its incredible powers could signal the end of civilization…

Harm no human…

A hired gunslinger, William Jessup Brady lived his life with one foot in the grave. He believed that every life had a price. Until the day when he finally found a reason to live. In one single act of brutal betrayal, he lost everything, including his life. Brought back by a Greek goddess to be one of her Dark-Hunters, he gave his immortal soul for vengeance and swore he’d spend eternity protecting the humans he’d once considered prey.

Orphaned as a toddler, Abigail Yager was taken in by a family of vampires and raised on one belief—Dark-Hunters are the evil who prey on both their people and mankind, and they must all be destroyed. While protecting her adoptive race, she has spent her life eliminating the Dark-Hunters and training for the day when she meeting the man who killed her family: Jess Brady.

A gun in the hand is worth two in the holster…

Jess has been charged with finding and terminating the creature who’s assassinating Dark-Hunters. The last thing he expects to find is a human face behind the killings, but when that face bears a striking resemblance to the one who murdered him centuries ago, he knows something evil is going on. He also knows he’s not the one who killed her parents. But Abigail refuses to believe the truth and is determined to see him dead once and for all.

< Brought together by an angry god and chased by ancient enemies out to kill them both, they must find a way to overcome their mutual hatred or watch as one of the darkest of powers rises and kills both the races they’ve sworn to protect.

**GIVEAWAY DETAILS**
1. Fill out the Rafflecopter form below.
2. You must leave a comment with your email address (if you type your email address into the comment form, there’s no need to include it in the body of your comment)
3. Giveaway is for 2 copies of Retribution by Sherrilyn Kenyon to 2 winners.
4. Giveaway is open to US addresses only
5. Please include a valid email address
6. You must enter before or on Wednesday, Dec. 14th, 2011
7. I am not responsible for books lost or damaged in the mail. Please see my Giveaway Policy.
8. Giveaway books were kindly provided by Macmillan.

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Interview (& Giveaway): Amanda Bonilla, author of Shaedes of Gray!

I’m so excited to have Amanda Bonilla on the blog today as part of her tour for her brand new book, Shaedes of Gray! Amanda was kind enough to answer a few of my questions, and there’s also a copy of Shaedes of Gray up for grabs, so be sure to check out the giveaway details at the bottom of the post.

Please welcome Amanda to the blog!

Hi Kristin! Thanks so much for hosting me on my blog tour today which is also the official release day for SHAEDES OF GRAY! I’m so excited to be here!

Amanda, your brand new urban fantasy, Shaedes of Gray, is out today! Have you always wanted to be a writer? Can you tell us a bit about your journey?
I’ve wanted to be a writer since I was about 18. I’ve written on and off for years, but started writing with a goal of publication about three years ago. SHAEDES OF GRAY was the third book I’d even written. My first book crashed and burned in the query stage and the second book, which was a sequel, turned out to be more of a writing exercise. When I started writing SOG, Darian’s voice popped into my head loud and clear and I wrote the first draft in just under three months. I queried the novel for seven months and went through one major revision before I signed with my agent, Natanya Wheeler at the Nancy Yost Literary Agency, and then revised the novel twice more before putting it out on submission to editors.

What are some of your biggest literary influences?
There are so many! I love Anne Rice, and Bernard Cornwell. They write such dynamic protagonists. I’m in awe of J.R. Ward. She’s an amazing story-crafter. The way she interconnects plots and story-lines and weaves them through her books is so impressive. I’m also a huge fan of Jeaniene Frost, Ilona Andrews, and Darynda Jones. I love books with strong female leads.

What do you like best about writing urban fantasy?
One of my favorite aspects of urban fantasy is that everything doesn’t have to be tied up in a pretty bow. I love HEAs, but I really like to write happily for nows. The HEA doesn’t have to come right away in an urban fantasy. I love stories with a lot of action, and urban fantasy allows me to write intense fight scenes. Sword play and hand-to-hand are my favorites to write. I like to pretend that I’ve got mad skills, but really, I’m just good at visualizing. Most importantly, though, is the fantasy. I have a very over-active imagination and I finally get to put it to good use!

What’s your most unusual writing quirk?
I’m so boring! I don’t have any quirks. I work best in a quiet setting with no distractions. Sometimes when I’m writing, I get this crazy urge to snack, though. And I usually have a Coke Zero close by.

What’s on your nightstand right now?
Two bottles of lotion, sticky notes and colored pencils, the case for my glasses, a partial print out of a Shaedes manuscript, and Grave Dance by Kalayna Price.

What book do you wish you could read again for the first time?
THE WINTER KING by Bernard Cornwell. I was so blown away by that book. I actually own two copies: a reading copy and a shelf copy.

Have you ever “faked” reading a book? If so, which one?
In high school, I faked reading THE TAMING OF THE SHREW. My English teacher totally called me out on it. I did read it, eventually, and it’s one of my favorite plays.

It says in your bio that you love to sit by the lake in the summer and soak up the sun. How else do you like to spend your free time?
I’m a really laid-back person. In the winter, I’ll go skiing once or twice, and if the hubs is extra sweet, I’ll go out and keep him company while he ice fishes. I pretty much hate the cold, though, so I’m only good for a couple of hours. We have a huge garden and greenhouse, so in the spring and summer I’m working on that and we love to hike up in the woods behind our house. We pick mushrooms and berries depending on the season. But in the summer, I’m at the lake as much as I can manage. Our cabin doesn’t have phone or internet service and it’s the perfect place to relax and write.

What’s one of the most daring things you’ve ever done (that you’re willing to admit to?)
When I was younger, I used to go skinny dipping. My family’s cabin is pretty tucked away, and our neighbors aren’t around much. I love to swim.

Quick! Name something that makes you laugh out loud.
I absolutely love the “head” scene from So I Married an Ax Murderer. Just thinking about it makes me giggle. But you have to picture Mike Meyers speaking in a Scottish accent: “I’m not kidding, that boy’s head is like Sputnik; spherical but quite pointy at parts! Now that was offside, wasn’t it? He’ll be crying himself to sleep tonight, on his huge pillow.”

Is there any advice that you would give struggling writers?
Don’t give up; luck follows the persistent. You have to write and write and write some more. Read in your genre as much as you can. Keep querying agents, editors, whatever. Don’t be afraid to let your personality leak onto the pages, and remember that this is a business. No matter what stage you’re at, treat writing like a career.

Is there any other news of upcoming events or projects that you’d like to share with us?
A novella in the Shaede Assassin series, WHEN SHADOWS CALL, will be released in June as an e-book. It’s a prequel to SHAEDES OF GRAY and readers will get to see how Darian’s journey began. Book 2 in the Shaede Assassin series, BLOOD BEFORE SUNRISE, will be released on July 3rd, and I’m currently working on Book 3 which is as of yet untitled.

Thanks again so much for having me as a guest today!!
Keep up with Amanda: Website | Twitter
Click here for all tour stops!
Read my review of Shaedes of Gray!

**GIVEAWAY DETAILS**
1. Fill out the Rafflecopter form below.
2. You must leave a comment with your email address
3. Giveaway is for 1 copy of Shaedes of Gray by Amanda Bonilla to 1 winner
4. Giveaway is open to US addresses only
5. Please include a valid email address
6. You must enter before or on Tuesaday, Dec. 13th, 2011
7. I am not responsible for books lost or damaged in the mail. Please see my Giveaway Policy.
8. Giveaway book kindly provided by the author.

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Blogoversary Giveaway #5: The Cross (2 copies) by Sean McCabe!

For my 5th Blogoversary giveaway I’ve got 2 copies of The Cross (Vampire Federation #2) by Sean McCabe up for grabs! Today is its release day as well, so I thought it appropriate:) Check out the description and giveaway rules below, and good luck!

About The Cross:
The vampires call it the Cross of Ardaich: a relic thought to have been destroyed in the war between the Federation and the rebels. But it has been found, and its incredible powers could signal the end of civilization…

A cannibalistic serial killer becomes the perfect tool for the race of the Ubervampyr. His mission: find the cross. His reward: join the ranks of the undead. On his trail are Detective Joel Solomon and Vampire Federation agent Alex Bishop. Once lovers and now enemies, they must work together to prevent the ultimate disaster. Unless they can foil the vampyrs’ plans, salvation for the race will be just a dream gone bad.

**GIVEAWAY DETAILS**
1. Fill out the Rafflecopter form below.
2. You must leave a comment with your email address
3. Giveaway is for 2 copies of The Cross by Sean McCabe to 2 winners.
4. Giveaway is open to US/Canadian addresses only
5. Please include a valid email address
6. You must enter before or on Tuesday, Dec. 13th, 2011
7. I am not responsible for books lost or damaged in the mail. Please see my Giveaway Policy.
8. Giveaway books were kindly provided by Penguin Books.

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Release Day Review: Shaedes of Gray (Shaede Assassin #1) by Amanda Bonilla

Shaedes of Gray (Shaede Assassin #1) by Amanda Bonilla
Publisher:
 Penguin Group/Signet (Dec. ’11)
Urban Fantasy Romance
Shaede Assassin Series
4/5 
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In the shadows of the night, Darian has lived alone for almost a century. Made and abandoned by her former love, Darian is the last of her kind-an immortal Shaede who can slip into darkness as easily as breathing. With no one else to rely on, she has taught herself how to survive, using her unique skills to become a deadly assassin.

When Darian’s next mark turns out to be Xander Peck, King of the Shaede Nation, her whole worldview is thrown into question. Darian begins to wonder if she’s taken on more than her conscience will allow. But a good assassin never leaves a job unfinished..

REVIEW 
Shaedes of Gray was such a pleasant surprise! Everything about this book looked great, but you never know what to expect when trying out a new author. Turns out I had nothing to fear. Darian is a Shaede, able to shift into shadow and has spent her life working as an assassin, until her maker, Azriel, leaves her with no hint at whether he is dead or alive. She has continued her work as an assassin (it’s all she knows), and when she is hired by the King of the Shaede Nation (who she’s first hired to assassinate), Alexander, to take out an unknown victim, the you-know-what really hits the fan. Darian didn’t even know there was a King of Shaedes, much less anyone else like her, so the forthcoming events prove to be extremely eye opening for our heroine.

Speaking of our heroine, Darian isn’t your typical kick-ass, leather clad¸ urban fantasy star. Yes, she does kick-ass, but only up to a point. Her only training is as an assassin, and what does an assassin do? Preferably, they sneak up on their mark and kill them quietly, without ever engaging them in battle. Until about halfway through the book, Darian really isn’t up to any serious fighting, but that’s ok, because training from Raif (a fellow Shaede) takes care of that neatly. She begins to learn that not only is she not the only Shaede in existence, but there are all kinds of “others” running around, and her employer, Tyler, who she’s known for 5 years and wants her as more than a friend, may also be more than he seems. The sparks are undeniable between Darian and Tyler, but she’s very reluctant to draw anyone close that can be hurt because of her. It doesn’t help that Alexander is sniffing around too. Shaedes of Gray is told from Darian’s point of view, and I had great fun following her as she discovers her origins and as a whole new world opens in front of her. There’s also a diabolical evil at work that thinks Darian might be even more than she thinks she is, and is willing to do anything for that power. There’s lots of twists and turns in this one and while there is much emotional push and pull between Darian and Tyler, it’s not too heavy on the romance. For me, it was just right. Darian’s story is fascinating and I like her matter-of-fact attitude, although she does eventually soften just a smidge. But just. My only complaint (and it’s not really a complaint), is that I would have loved to explore Darian’s past just a bit more (she’s over 100 years old, after all), but a little birdy told me there’s a novella coming up that will do just that, so I’m looking forward to it. Shaedes of Gray is chock full of supernatural goodness and I love the unique world the author has created! Urban fantasy fans will love this one, and I’ll be anxiously awaiting the next book in the series!

Links:
Amanda Bonilla’s Website
Amanda’s Blog

New Releases: Week of Dec. 6th, 2011

Check out the new releases this week!  Most release Dec. 6th.  Also, there are some great Kindle steals, so be sure to check those out too! Enjoy!

Urban Fantasy/Paranormal/Fantasy/Sci-fi/Horror:
Eden by Tony Monchinski
The Necessary Hunger (reprint) by Nina Revoyr
Alien Proliferation by Gini Koch
Shaedes of Gray: A Shaede Assassin Novel by Amanda Bonilla
Bound by Darknes (Guardians of Eternity) by Alexandra Ivy
Cat Tales: Jane Yellowrock Stories by Faith Hunter | Only $2.99 (ebook special)
Angel of Darkness (The Fallen) by Cynthia Eden
The Cross: Vampire Federation by Sean McCabe
Daybreak (Dark Age Dawning #3) by Ellen Connor
That Old Black Magic (Living in Eden) by Michelle Rowan
Hellsbane by Paige Cucarro
Miss Minnie and the Brass Pluggit by Sahara Kelly
Obsidian (A Lux Novel) by Jennifer Armentrout
Left Hand Magic (Golgotham) by Nancy Collins
Human for a Day ed. by Martin H. Greenburg
Thirteen Hallows by Michael Scott and Colette Freedman
Reprisal (Repairman Jack) by F. Paul Wilson
Head Rush (Disillusionists #3) by Carolyn Crane

Mystery/Suspense/Thriller/Historical:
Murder Season (Lena Gamble) by Robert Ellis
Storm Damage by Ed Kovacs
The Last World (A Books by the Bay Mystery) by Ellery Adams
Dead Bolt (Haunted Home Renovation) by Juliet Blackwell
A Spirited Gift (Missing Pieces Mystery) by Jim and Joyce Lavene
Red Mist (A Scarpetta Novel) by Patricia Cornwell

Young Adult:
The Clockwork Prince by Cassandra Clare
Planesrunner (Everness Book One) by Ian McDonald
Melody Burning by Whitley Streiber
Shattered Souls by Mary Lindsey
Larkstorm by Dawn Rae Miller

Kindle Steals and Deals!
Urban Fantasy/Fantasy/Paranormal/Horror/Sci-fi/Steampunk:
The Hunter (The Legend Chronicles) by Theresa Meyers: $4.61
Silver Shark (Kinsmen Series) by Ilona Andrews: $2.99
Goddess With a Blade by Lauren Dane: $3.82
Dead, Undead, or Somewhere in Between (Rhiannon’s Law) by J.A. Saare: $4.99
The Renfield Syndrome by J.A. Saare: $4.39
Under Attack (Underworld Detective Agency) by Hannah Jayne: $5.38
Under Wraps (The Underworld Detection Agency Chronicles) by Hannah Jayne: $4.49
Dying Bites: The Bloodhound Files by D.D. Barant: $2.99
Blood Bound (Unbound Novel) by Rachel Vincent: $5.59
Stray (The Shifters) by Rachel Vincent: $5.40 (The entire series is the same price!)
Dark Kiss Of The Reaper by Kristen Painter: $3.99
Miss Bramble and the Leviathan by Kristen Painter: $2.66
The Evil that Befell Sampson (Tale from the Archives) by Pip Ballantine: $.99
Collision Course by Zoe Archer: $3.03
The Blades of the Rose Bundle: Warrior, Scoundrel, Rebel, & Stranger by Zoe Archer: $8.84
Gena Showalter’s Atlantis Series Bundle by Gena Showalter (5 Stories!); $8.84
Lord of the Abyss (Harlequin Nocturne) by Nalini Singh: $3.99
Once Bitten by Stephen Leather: $1.99
For I Have Sinned (A Charley Davidson Story) by Darynda Jones: $.99
Tooth And Nail by Craig DiLouie: $4.79

Young Adult:
The Dark Divine by Bree Despain: $3.99
Pirates! by Celia Rees: $1.99
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins: $4.69
The Declaration by Gemma Malley: $2.99
Birthmarked (Birthmarked Trilogy) by Caragh M. O’Brian: $2.99
Unwind by Neal Shusterman: $5.99
Everfound (The Skinjacker Trilogy) by Neal Shusterman: $5.99
Everlost (The Skinjacker Trilogy) by Neal Shusterman: $4.99
Everwild (Skinjacker Trilogy) by Neal Shusterman: $5.99
Wither (The Chemical Garden Trilogy) by Lauren DeStefano: $5.99
Blood Red Road by Moira Young: $5.99
Possession by Elana Johnson: $5.99
Half-Blood (Covenant) by Jennifer L. Armintrout: $3.99
Poison Study by Maria V. Snyder: $6.66

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