Friday, September 30, 2011

Review: Angel Burn

Angel Burn (Angel, #1)

Author: L.A. Weatherly
Pages: 449
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Source: Library
Synopsis: Willow knows she’s different from other girls, and not just because she loves tinkering with cars. Willow has a gift. She can look into the future and know people’s dreams and hopes, their sorrows and regrets, just by touching them. She has no idea where this power comes from. But the assassin, Alex, does. Gorgeous, mysterious Alex knows more about Willow than Willow herself. He knows that her powers link to dark and dangerous forces, and that he’s one of the few humans left who can fight them. When Alex finds himself falling in love with his sworn enemy, he discovers that nothing is as it seems, least of all good and evil. In the first book in an action-packed, romantic trilogy, L..A. Weatherly sends readers on a thrill-ride of a road trip - and depicts the human race at the brink of a future as catastrophic as it is deceptively beautiful. 

They’re out for your soul . . . and they don’t have heaven in mind.

Buy the Book (Amazon, The Book Depository)

The premise of Angel Burn enticed me straight away. It was so cool- angels aren't the heroes. It was different from the other books of angels wherein it's all about the good angels vs. bad or fallen angels and I was happy about that.

*there are very small spoilers here that won't ruin the story but tell a bit more than the synopsis*

Angel Burn is written in alternating points of view. Sometimes we read of Alex, an Angel Killer. Other times of Willow, our lovely half-angel. There were smaller parts of others like Raziel from the Church of Angels. This led to a more complete story as we could see it from different angles. I developed a liking for Alex and Willow. They were both individuals with hard histories and I was rooting for them. I could feel their tension and Ms. Weatherly kept it going till about 300 pages in. When they finally get together (which isn't really much of a spoiler since it's kinda expected) they had an adorable honeymoon-ish period.

The issue I had was that while I thought everything happening was so sweet and adorable, I never clicked with the characters. I liked them enough but I didn't love any of them. I didn't cry when they were sad and when I read about their pasts while I thought "dang, that must have been awful" I didn't feel much. That may have just been me, not the book so another reader may feel differently.

The story could have been more action filled. A lot of it was driving around to places and waiting. There were many questions but not many answers. It was enjoyable to read but long so I wasn't as attentive as I could have been. I do think that the next book will have more action in it though, so I'm anticipating that.

The best thing about Angel Burn is definitely the world. Ms. Weatherly wrote about a very unique concept and totally made it her own. The Church of Angels was downright creepy and the method of angel hunting was cool. The setting was well thought out and there was lots of interesting back stories that helped the authenticity of the novel. I'm wondering what could happen next.

Overall, Angel Burn was a great book with action, suspense and romance. You'll be mesmerized by the incredible world and will keep flipping pages because of the romance. 3.5 stars,

*** & 1/2 *

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Review: My Soul to Steal

My Soul to Steal (Soul Screamers, #4)

Author: Rachel Vincent
Pages: 343
Publisher: Harlequin
Source: Library
Other Books in the Series: My Soul to Take  (Book 1) (AmazonThe Book Depository) My Soul to Save (Book 2) (Amazon, The Book Depository) My Soul to Keep (Book 3) (Amazon, The Book Depository)
Synopsis: Trying to work things out with Nash—her maybe boyfriend—is hard enough for Kaylee Cavanaugh. She can't just pretend nothing happened. But "complicated" doesn't even begin to describe their relationship when his ex-girlfriend transfers to their school, determined to take Nash back. 

See, Sabine isn't just an ordinary girl. She's a mara, the living personification of a nightmare. She can read people's fears—and craft them into nightmares while her victims sleep. Feeding from human fear is how she survives. 

And Sabine isn't above scaring Kaylee and the entire school to death to get whatever—and whoever—she wants.

Buy the Book (Amazon, The Book Depository)

My Soul to Steal is the fourth novel of the Soul Screamers series and honestly, I wish this series would never end.

Rachel Vincent had managed to change my mind. Again. At the end of the last book I had some unpleasant feelings about one character and though he wasn't redeemed, she made me pause and think about that character again. I can't hate a character in her series (except hellions... How about I can't hate a part-human character?)

Take Sabine for instant. On one hand I'm with Kaylee and I want Sabine gone. On the other, Sabine has her issues and there are some redeeming qualities. You just have to take the time to look for them. Despite this frustrating aspect, My Soul to Steal was pretty good.

Kaylee wasn't in a very good spot in MSTS. She was very jealous and insecure but I understood it. She was impulsive at times which was fun to read of but when she thought things through later on, I cringed with her. I learned a ton about Kaylee in this book. Mostly her fears and I'm just as torn as she is about some decisions she'll need to make.

What can else can you expect in MSTS? Well, there is Tod and Nash, one of the hottest bros ever. They were both here and there with scenes that'll make you sigh and others that'll have you raging. There isn't a love triangle yet but I feel there may be one in the future... And judging by how delicious both boys are, it will be good. Wow. I actually want a love triangle!

Lastly again there was a big mess caused by hellions and not everything was revealed till the end. Both sides are getting warmed up and I have a feeling there's going to be a huge showdown. I can't wait to read it but I'm scared too. These hellions aren't exactly sunshine and rainbows. Rachel Vincent is doing a fabulous job piling the suspense.

What does this mean? I again read Rachel's book in one sitting. I am addicted. I can't wait for the next book and this is a good addition to a great, unique series which has it all. 4 stars,


Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Review: Clarity

Clarity (Clarity, #1)

Author: Kim Harrington
Pages: 242
Publisher: Scholastic Point
Challenge: Debut Author Challenge
Source: Library
Synopsis: When you can see things others can't, where do you look for the truth? This paranormal murder mystery will have teens reading on the edge of their seats. 

Clarity "Clare" Fern sees things. Things no one else can see. Things like stolen kisses and long-buried secrets. All she has to do is touch a certain object, and the visions come to her. It's a gift. And a curse. 

When a teenage girl is found murdered, Clare's ex-boyfriend wants her to help solve the case - but Clare is still furious at the cheating jerk. Then Clare's brother - who has supernatural gifts of his own - becomes the prime suspect, and Clare can no longer look away. Teaming up with Gabriel, the smoldering son of the new detective, Clare must venture into the depths of fear, revenge, and lust in order to track the killer. But will her sight fail her just when she needs it most?

Buy the Book (Amazon, The Book Depository)

Clarity was an impressive debut. I love a good mystery and Clarity was just that, an interesting murder mystery with some psychics thrown in. Oh, and who can forget the kickass heroine? Yeah, Clarity was pretty good.

First thing I thought of: Clare is AWESOME. She's fierce and impulsive, rebellious but loyal too. She realizes she's no angel but she's a good person. She doesn't take crap from people. I felt awful for Clare for always being called a freak and I'm interested to learn more about her school life. She's cut out for the investigator biz. I was rooting for her all along.

The other characters in the story were cool too. I love how some of them had their own side stories. It helped make them real to me and overall enhanced the story's setting and believability. Some of them stole the scene. I enjoyed reading of Clare's mom particularly because she had a very fun and teasing personality. The boys for the mini love triangle thing were hot but I wasn't sure if the triangle was needed for the overall plot. Well, that's what I thought at least. I didn't pick a team- that'll come in the future right? Assuming the triangle continues.

I'd also like to mention the mystery. I applaud Kim Harrington for keeping me on my toes. I did guess the villain and at the end I was all "I knew who it was! I should be a detective!" but the truth is that I was sure the killer was at least 3 different people. You'll have a fun time trying to guess who's behind the murder- and yes, it makes sense!

Overall I want to see more of Clare and of Kim Harrington's books. Check out Clarity; you won't regret it! 4 stars,


Review: Shift

Shift (Shade, #2)

Author: Jeri Smith-Ready
Pages: 367
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Source: Library
Other Books in the Series: Shade (AmazonThe Book Depository)
Synopsis: Aura’s life is anything but easy. Her boyfriend, Logan, died, and his slides between ghost and shade have left her reeling. Aura knows he needs her now more than ever. She loves Logan, but she can’t deny her connection with the totally supportive, totally gorgeous Zachary. And she’s not sure that she wants to. 

Logan and Zachary will fight to be the one by her side, but Aura needs them both to uncover the mystery of her past—the mystery of the Shift. 

As Aura’s search uncovers new truths, she must decide whom to trust with her secrets…and her heart.

Buy the Book (Amazon, The Book Depository)

Awww, Shift was an amazing read, so sweet and unique. This book reminded me why I loved Shade so much. I think I enjoyed Shift even more, and I can't wait for Shine.

The story was again about Aura but this time we got some answers as to her heritage. And they were shocking. I love how clever authors are, giving readers clues but remaining mysterious enough that you never see the twist coming. As Zach and Aura explored the origins of the Shift they learned many new things and I'm excited to see what happens at the end of the trilogy, as well as sad because don't want the story to end.

You know how some books in series feel more like a continuation of a story arc than an actual individual story? Shift wasn't like that. The book addicted me so I couldn't stop reading it but it also had it's own story and there was a conclusion. I did have teary eyes while reading it and a bunch of times I just sighed.

Let's get to the good stuff: the boys. Logan or Zachary? Zach or Logan? I was always hesitant to pick a side because they were both so good in their own ways. I will say that I love the growth both boys go through and that the way things turned out is the way they were meant to be.

All in all, Shift was a beautiful sequel to Shade. It has a bit of everything readable: action, romance, mystery, etc. If you haven't read this series, I encourage you to do so. It's one of the most original ghost stories I've read of. 4 stars,


Monday, September 26, 2011

Review: Sean Griswold's Head

Sean Griswold's Head

Author: Lindsey Leavitt
Pages: 288
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Children's Books
Source: Library
Synopsis: According to her guidance counselor, fifteen-year-old Payton Gritas needs a focus object-an item to concentrate her emotions on. It's supposed to be something inanimate, but Payton decides to use the thing she stares at during class: Sean Griswold's head. They've been linked since third grade (Griswold-Gritas-it's an alphabetical order thing), but she's never really known him. 

The focus object is intended to help Payton deal with her father's newly diagnosed multiple sclerosis. And it's working. With the help of her boy-crazy best friend Jac, Payton starts stalking-er, focusing on-Sean Griswold . . . all of him! He's cute, he shares her Seinfeld obsession (nobody else gets it!) and he may have a secret or two of his own. 

In this sweet story of first love, Lindsey Leavitt seamlessly balances heartfelt family moments, spot-on sarcastic humor, and a budding young romance.

Buy the Book (The Book DepositoryAmazon)

I love Sean Griswold's Head. The book, I mean, though I'm sure his head is nice too.

I laughed so hard while reading this. Payton has a hilarious voice. She's a believable teenager with the slightly nerdy vocabulary, insecurities, blowing things out of proportion problems and doing stuff for the stupid reason that you're a teenager not an adult yet so you can excuse. I think we'd be BFFs if we met. We're around the same age too so I loved her view of high school. Her need for schedules was brilliant and the guidance counsellor meetings had me picturing my guidance counsellor whom I met for the first time on the last day of 9th grade. She was awesome (Payton, I mean. I don't know much about my guidance counselor yet.)

Not to say there weren't many scene-stealing moments. Jac is an impossible best friend who's amazing and sweet but also has her very annoying faults that besties have. Payton and Jac's friendship was a great part of the novel and I loved that Jac was a complicated, real person, not just the MC's best friend. Payton's bros did made me laugh a lot. Her mom made me think of my dad. Sean was sweet and awesome but in a real teenage boy way. Grady was cool. Every character had more to them and while there were a lot of laughs, there was an equal amount of Serious Stuff happening.

One of those serious things was MS. Like Payton at the beginning I heard about it but I never really knew what it was until I read Sean Griswold's Head. The fact that Payton's Dad has MS was shocking to her and I felt awful too. Her reaction wasn't mature but I also think it was real. When tragedy strikes, we're not all happy-go-lucky. We need time to deal and process and reading of Payton as she did that was important. It was done really well and I'm so glad I read this book.

This is the kind of book that reminds me why I love to read contemporary novels. It's real and funny but serious. It totally deserves 5 stars,


Sunday, September 25, 2011

Unofficial, Unscheduled "Review Week" at Tantalizing Illusions

Today I was looking at my ipod notes section and I realized, hey, there are over 70 notes in here. About 90% of them are reviews. If I want these posted before the end of 2011, I need to start posting them. Which is basically why this week is review week. I'll be posting a review every day, which means Cover Wars will be on hold. I'd love it if you left a comment or just read the reviews. Thanks, and happy reading!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Review: Divergent

Divergent (Divergent, #1)

Author: Veronica Roth
Pages: 489
Publisher: HarperCollins
Source: Library
Synopsis: Beatrice "Tris" Prior has reached the fateful age of sixteen, the stage at which teenagers in Veronica Roth's dystopian Chicago must select which of five factions to join for life. Each faction represents a virtue: Candor, Abnegation, Dauntless, Amity, and Erudite. To the surprise of herself and her selfless Abnegation family, she chooses Dauntless, the path of courage. Her choice exposes her to the demanding, violent initiation rites of this group, but it also threatens to expose a personal secret that could place in mortal danger. Veronica Roth's young adult Divergent trilogy launches with a captivating adventure about love and loyalty playing out under most extreme circumstances.

Buy the Book (Amazon, The Book Depository)

Divergent was AWESOME!!! I'm going to attempt a review, but forgive me if it comes out as a gush.

Tris is a character I love. In many book these days I get annoyed with characters' choices because I don't understand or believe in them which makes me think badly of the character. Not in Divergent. I understood Tris's choices and respect them. She's a brave, caring, determined character. Truly divergent from the mold of YA characters often seen.

The idea of the factions worked. It was kind of like Hogwarts and their house to the extreme and I absolutely loved learning about each faction. By the end you could see that the factions were not all good or not all bad. I had the funnest time trying to figure out in which fraction I'd belong (or not). The whole world was really well done with small details that made it real. Not somewhere I'm likely to forget... Ever.

The plot was intense. Fast paced, there was also something cool happening. Divergent was NEVER a dull read. The overall story was addicting to read about and I can't wait for the sequel. The writing pulled me in and I kept reading, enchanted, till the last past.

My point? Discover what readers everywhere have already discovered: an amazing dystopian that is simply a must read. Breathtaking with huge revelations, action, and sizzling romance Divergent is the best of dystopia. I recommend it to all, 5 stars,


Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Book Trailer: Thin Air

Okay, so I have this book and when I saw the trailer I just got 10x more excited and knew I had to share. It's a nice one- I love the creepy background music especially!

What do you think? Like it? Let me know!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Cover Wars: Above vs. Deadly Cool

Cover Wars is a fun little feature at Tantalizing Illusions all about voting for your favourite cover. Why? For fun! It's my way of promoting new titles with pretty covers. Every week there are two covers: the Challenger and the Defender. The Defender is the winner from the previous week. The Challenger is uh, challenging the Defender for its throne. Let the best cover win!

Above is the cover to beat. It has won for over a month and clearly the cover gods favour it. Will this unstoppable winning streak continue as Above faces Deadly Cool? Your votes will determine what happens next!

AbovevsDeadly Cool

Again, both beautiful in different ways. Blue and silver versus yellow and gold. Have fun voting on the poll to the right and feel free to leave a comment or suggestion!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

My first vlog: In My Mailbox (16)

In My Mailbox is a meme hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren all about the new books we'll be reading, whether they're for review or from the library. I did my first vlog today which I'm excited about. I'm short on time so I don't have time to put links or titles down yet. Next week I promise will be less hectic. For now, enjoy!

And don't forget to enter the giveaway for Far From the War by Jeffrey David Payne!!!!!

Thanks for visiting and please leave a link letting me know what's in your mailbox. ☻

Friday, September 16, 2011

Review: Bumped

Bumped (Bumped, #1)

Author: Megan McCafferty
Pages: 323
Publisher: Balzer and Bray
Source: Library
Synopsis: When a virus makes everyone over the age of eighteen infertile, would-be parents pay teen girls to conceive and give birth to their children, making teens the most prized members of society. Girls sport fake baby bumps and the school cafeteria stocks folic-acid-infused food. 

Sixteen-year-old identical twins Melody and Harmony were separated at birth and have never met until the day Harmony shows up on Melody’s doorstep. Up to now, the twins have followed completely opposite paths. Melody has scored an enviable conception contract with a couple called the Jaydens. While they are searching for the perfect partner for Melody to bump with, she is fighting her attraction to her best friend, Zen, who is way too short for the job. 

Harmony has spent her whole life in Goodside, a religious community, preparing to be a wife and mother. She believes her calling is to convince Melody that pregging for profit is a sin. But Harmony has secrets of her own that she is running from. 

When Melody is finally matched with the world-famous, genetically flawless Jondoe, both girls’ lives are changed forever. A case of mistaken identity takes them on a journey neither could have ever imagined, one that makes Melody and Harmony realize they have so much more than just DNA in common. 

From New York Times bestselling author Megan McCafferty comes a strikingly original look at friendship, love, and sisterhood—in a future that is eerily believable.

Buy the Book (The Book DepositoryAmazon)
Wow. Bumped was such a unique read. The whole idea was original and the way it was done... Well, I think it worked.

I've seen in countless other reviews people commenting on the slang. Like most people, at the beginning I found some words confusing but I quickly caught on. I thought it was super cool of Megan McCafferty to create a whole new way of talking, a whole new culture for her world. A culture that was strange, but believable. I was very impressed with that aspect.

The characters were also good, but they took a backseat to the world building. There were a variety of colorful characters. Melody and her twin Harmony were the protagonists and their voices were different enough, as twins. I had moments where I wanted to scream at each of them, and most of the time I was thinking "What do you think you're DOING?"

Other characters like Zen made me super happy. I loved Zen. He was smart, innovative, creative... I don't think I'd enjoy the story as much without him. I'm excited to see what happens to his character. As for the other male lead, I'm on the fence. I'd like to see their character develop more.

Even though the world is so original, the overall plot of Bumped isn't as different. If you take away the pregnancy and sex, it's a story of two sisters from different worlds who believe their world is the right one. They then learn the error of their ways. It was done in a different way though. Bumped will probably be enjoyed by those who like those kind of stories.

My issue with Bumped was that I wasn't hooked. I didn't fly through the pages and no character deeply resonated through me. I was more annoyed with the main characters than happy with them. That's probably a personality trait of mine, so I wouldn't discourage readers from trying Bumped. 3.5 stars,

*** & 1/2 *

Thursday, September 15, 2011

What are Flames in FLAME OF SURRENDER?: A Guest Post by Rhi Paille

Today I have the awesomely spectacular author Rhiannon Paille here for a special guest post on Flames to promote her new book, Flame of Surrender releasing November 1st 2011.  

What are Flames in FLAME OF SURRENDER?

The flames are pure energy. They were forged from the original dust of the lands and are therefore some of the most complex organisms in the known lands.

My ideas for the flames derived from Eastern Mythology and the Violet Flame of transmutation and karma. In mythology, the Violet Flame is an energy that can erase karma and help a person live a better life. It was considered a thing that was carried with Saint Germaine, and then associated with both Archangel Zadkiel and the goddess Kwan Yin.

The Violet Flame has always been a thing, like a talisman or an amulet.

And I thought, what if the Violet Flame was an entity? What if it was alive inside the lantern Saint Germaine carried it around in? What if it had a voice but it couldn’t speak? What if it was really like a genie trapped in a lamp? What if the Violet Flame was a possession, a slave, one that was bound to its master?

What if there were others? Other flames? Maybe not Violet in color, but Orange, Red, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo, Pink, and Black? What if each of them were individuals with their own abilities, but what if they all originated from that same idea that they were a possessions?

And then what if they could be used as weapons?

I’ve always been a big believer in “absolute power can corrupt absolutely” and if the flames were anything like The Violet Flame which can basically erase karma and heal any ailment, well that’s pretty powerful. What happens when someone reaches absolute power? They become corrupted. So the flames became these all powerful possessions that could both heal and destroy on a monumental scale.

I began to think about what scale that would be and all I kept thinking was it would have to be nuclear. You know you can’t do anything half assed right? If a character is going to be lethal it’s going to build and build and it’s going to become like a nuclear bomb.

I decided to stay away from colors because of the obvious awkward looks I might get from the spiritual community to be writing a story about the Violet Flame as a dangerous thing. The people who believe in the Violet Flame and do the mantras aren’t interested in my creativity I’m sure, it’ll probably just rub them wrong. Instead I decided to go with crystals, and I stuck to colored crystals like the Indigo Flame became the Iolite Flame, and the abilities that the Iolite Flame has, have nothing to do with what Iolite represents metaphysically. (Still with me? Because people do crystal therapy and different crystals do different things, FYI)

Similarly, the Violet Flame became the Amethyst Flame, and the others fell in line, Ruby, Emerald, Carnelian, Azurite, Obsidian, Quartz, Citrine and Iolite.

And from there the personalities and the abilities grew on their own, each of them being as different as I could make them, though believe me, while traipsing the Metaphysical world there are things that are considered impossible that are not considered impossible in the Fictional world. I have to say that put a damper on things for me, because someone being telekinetic in the Metaphysical community is actually monumental where as telekinesis in the Fictional community is overused. So I’ve had to get more creative with it.

What the Flames have in common:

          They are individuals.

          They are thought of as a thing, not as a person.

          They are able to destroy or repair.

          They are conscious with or without a body.

          They can possess a body.

          They can be merged together to create the ultimate weapon.

To go into further details on the last two points, when Krishani finds Tiki in FLAME OF JUSTICE (the second book in the series) she’s in a lantern and he can talk to her telepathically. The Flames still retain consciousness even when they are separated from the body. They can also be fitted into any inanimate object, an orb, a crystal, a talisman, a pocket watch, a latern, a rock, whatever really, but whatever they are trapped in, they are still alive. Imagine being paralyzed inside your own body and being able to feel, see and hear, but not be able to move or control the things you do. THAT is what it’s like to be a flame inside an inanimate object. All a flame can hope for is that their captor is a good person.

In some instances, Flames can possess a body. If someone is still alive, the flame can enter the body and go into dormant state. This means that they are present, but the original host still has control of the body. If the original host ever dies, the flame would awaken and take over. In some cases the Flame awakens and subconsciously influences the host, which allows the host to then use the Flame’s natural abilities, though free will is still in the hands of the host. So the host can use the flames abilities for good as well as evil. If a body is born without a soul, such as a stillborn, or a sudden death, the flame can enter and take control before rigor mortis sets in. The flame then becomes the host of the body.

All of the above happens a lot in The Ferryman and The Flame series.

And then there’s that ultimate weapon bit. If a master or a captor were to collect ALL of the flames, they would be able to fit them together like puzzle pieces so that they would merge and become one. This is why the Valtanyana are trying to acquire the flames; they want to merge them so that they can control the known lands, and destroy anything that stands in their way. Nothing would be able to stop them if they had the flames.

With the flames being so dangerous on their own, you can only imagine what would happen if they were merged. Total apocalypse, basically, take the universe as a whole and implode it, end of life altogether, billions of years to recreate, etc. etc. It would be the ultimate end of all things.

And that’s what makes the Flames interesting and different. They’re nothing like vampires, werewolves, faeries, mediums, healers, psychics, shapeshifters, or witches. They’re a completely different species that aren’t like anything else in the universe.

About the Author

Rhi was never a normal girl. She tried, but she couldn’t get rid of the visions, the voices in her head, and the hallucinations. When she was on the edge of crazy someone pulled her back and explained it all. She wasn’t insane. She was psychic, really psychic, too psychic. Her life was an urban fantasy wrapped in a paranormal romance and served with a side of horror. To escape her everyday weirdness she began writing fantasy. She frequents twitter and facebook, but if you really want to get to know her you should visit her site:

Her book FLAME OF SURRENDER (The Ferryman and The Flame #1) Comes out November 1st, 2011. Check it out on Goodreads and be sure to add it to your TBR!

The Book

The boy who follows death meets the girl who could cause the apocalypse.

Krishani thinks he’s doomed until he meets Kaliel, the one girl on the island of Avristar who isn’t afraid of him. She’s unlike the other girls, she swims with merfolk, talks to trees and blooms flowers with her touch. What he doesn’t know is that she’s a flame, one of nine individually hand crafted weapons, hidden in the body of a seemingly harmless girl.

Nobody has fallen in love with a flame until now. She becomes Krishani’s refuge from the dreams of death and the weather abilities he can’t control. Striking down thousand year old trees with lightning isn’t something he tries to do, it just happens. When the Ferryman dies, Krishani knows that he’s the next and that a lifetime of following death is his destiny.

And Kaliel can’t come with him. The Valtanyana are hunting the flames, the safest place for her is Avristar. Krishani can’t bear to leave her, and one innocent mistake grants the Valtanyana access to their mystical island. They’re coming for Kaliel, and they won’t stop until every last living creature on Avristar is dead. She has to choose, hide, face them, or awaken the flame and potentially destroy herself.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Review: Desires of the Dead

Desires of the Dead (The Body Finder, #2)

Author: Kimbery Derting
Pages: 368
Publisher: HarperTeen
Previous book in the series: The Body Finder (Book DepositoryAmazon)
Synopsis: Violet can sense the echoes of those who've been murdered—and the matching imprint that clings to their killers. Only those closest to her know what she is capable of, but when she discovers the body of a young boy she also draws the attention of the FBI, threatening her entire way of life. As Violet works to keep her morbid ability a secret, she unwittingly becomes the object of a dangerous obsession. Normally she'd turn to her best friend, Jay, except now that they are officially a couple, the rules of their relationship seem to have changed. And with Jay spending more and more time with his new friend Mike, Violet is left with too much time on her hands as she wonders where things went wrong. But when she fills the void by digging into Mike's tragic family history, she stumbles upon a dark truth that could put everyone in danger.
Buy the Book: (The Book DepositoryAmazon)

Desires of the Dead was another good mystery with some romance by the awesome Kimberly Derting. It was also the sequel to The Body Finder, the first book about Violet's adventures. While I liked the first book a bit more, the sequel was still worth reading.

*warning, spoilers for The Body Finder*

The story ended off with Violet and Jay in their relationship. Now that they're a couple, they (Violet) are unsure of what being a couple means for their friendship. Obviously they have some issues and work them out, etc. I did want to kind of yell at them to just start trusting each other more sometimes but their fights made them a stronger couple. I will say that Jay is the perfect boyfriend. *swoons*

There was obviously death in Desires of the Dead. Again, someone wanted to hurt Violet. I had a good idea of who the person responsible may be, and it was kind of stupid for me not to consider anyone else because there was (of course) a huge twist that made me question my suspicions. That being said, once you think about it enough (and you're far enough into the novel) the villain/culprit is easy to guess. It's safe to say though that this wasn't the story I thought it was going to be.

There was a bit of development that I take is for future novels, such as adding Sara and Rafe, two new characters that believe in strange gifts. Rafe is described as your average dark mysterious guy with some romantic tension with Violet. I really don't want that to happen. Violet+Jay=truelove4ever and all that. ;)

Overall a nice good read with plenty of suspense, and mystery, Desires of the Dead is part of a great series you should read. 4 stars,


Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Giveaway and Interview- Far From the War by Jeffrey David Payne

Today I have author of Far From the War, Jeffrey David Payne here to answer some questions plus a giveaway.

Hi, welcome to Tantalizing Illusions! It's great to have you. To start off, there will be four fun, random-ish questions. Then there will be some questions about the book itself. 

1. You can't live without... 

Music. I prepare special playlists for each project to help me tap into the mood of the book when I sit down to write. And I'm a big music lover in general, from classical to reggae to bluegrass to techno.

2. What are your top five books?

This is a tough one. I tried to use the criteria of books you continue to think about long after you've read them. The Jungle, Upton Sinclair The Master and Commander Series, Patrick O'Brian The Guns of August, Barbara Tuchman Blood Meridian, Cormac McCarthyCharlie and the Chocolate Factory, Roald Dahl

3. The world's best food is...

Clam Chowder from Duke's. Sourdough bread is a close second.

4. What was on your playlist for Far From the War?

Here's the list...

Girl In The War - Josh Ritter  (One of my favorite versions of this one is here:
Bells For Her - Tori Amos
Dazzle - Siouxsie and the Banshees
Time to Pretend - MGMT
Lucretia My Reflection - Sisters of Mercy
The Fallen - Franz Ferdinand
Masters of War - Bob Dylan
The Funeral - Band Of Horses
Lorelei - Cocteau Twins
Heartbeats - Jose Gonzalez
Resistance - Muse
Teardrop - Massive Attack
The Joke Isn't Funny Anymore - The Smiths
Homeward - The Sundays
Apres Moi - Regina Spektor
Yes, Anastasia - Tori Amos
Running to a Stand Still - U2
Universal Soldier - Donovan

Where did the idea for Far From the War come from?

It started with a fascination with the San Juan Islands.  I've been all over the Carribbean, but I've never seen anything there half as beautiful as the view from Mount Constitution on Orcas Island.  My wife and I rented a waterfront cottage there one weekend to celebrate the completion of my first novel (not Far From The War, this one hasn't been published yet).  I fell love with the isolation and started to wonder what it would be like to be totally cut off from the mainland.  The idea for a book started cooking there in that cottage and as we toured the island I talked with locals about life on the island, how they'd handle it if the ferry stopped coming, if communications and power were cut off, etc.  I knew there would have to be some big calamity on the mainland to explain that loss contact.  This was around the time of the mid term congressional elections in the United States and some of the candidates were hinting about using violence if Republicans didn't retake the house.  One candidate in particular started talking about "second amendment remedies".  This sparked the idea of a modern day civil war and my original idea was to alternate between the POV of the island and some family member off on the mainland caught up in the war.  I quickly realized this would make for a long book (and I think forcing readers to read long books is kind of impolite), so I broke the alternating storylines into separate books.  The choice of Esther as a protagonist came through a process of elimination.  We're used to seeing war stories told from the perspective of a spy, of soldiers, of politicians.  I wanted a unique point of view for the story and one that wouldn't put the reader in a position of taking sides, because in this case who wins the war is beside the point.  I thought a seventeen year girl was an unusual perspective for a war story, but then the problem became how to explain why a seventeen year old girl would be so far from home and in a position to see some of the inside baseball before the war.  When a friend reminded me about the page program, I had my answer.

Esther is a clever, capable woman. How did you think of her?

I have a theater background and wrote a lot of plays before I switched to novels.  My friends in that world (most of whom were women) often complained about a lack of good roles for women.  This put me in a mindset of trying to depict women as something other than the protagonist's companion whenever possible.  For Esther in particular, I tried to draw on my memories of high school debate.  Debaters are a different breed and when you're on the debate team you spend a lot of time in cafeterias and libraries talking about things most high school kids never talk about.  I remember a host of quirky, smart, funny, ambitious, and often tough girls from those days.  I'd say Esther is an amalgam of those girls with a little of my wife's hipness and my mother's stoicism thrown in.

Esther's journey was long and full of hardship. Was it based on a real story?

Not really.  I think it was influenced by some real war atrocities throughout history, but I did so much reading and research that I'm not sure if I can connect the specifics of my book to any real historical events.  A little unintended similarity may have crept in by osmosis, though.

There were some disturbing, terrifying scenes in Far From the War. Did you have a hard time 
writing them?

Yes.  I once saw an interview with Salmon Rushdie where he said "if you don't cry writing it, they won't cry reading it."  Perhaps the image of a grown man crying in front of his iMac might strike your readers as creepy, but the honest answer is I did get a little swept up at certain points, particularly the Chicago sequence, the road agent sequence and the end of the book.  The Chicago sequence was tough because Esther was just beginning to let go of enough ambition to have some real friendships, the road agent scene for obvious reasons and the finale at the ferry landing because I'm a father now and I tried to imagine how I'd react if I were in the same position as Esther's father.

Is there a message you want your readers to take from Far From the War?

I think there are two messages, one as a corollary to the other.  The first is that family has to come first.  The only lasting happiness in this life comes from loving and being loved.  Unfortunately the family you're born into can't always provide this happiness, this sense of safety.  Only a family that provides real love is worthy of your loyalty.  If you're not born into it, you have to go out there and find the right partner that can provide it. I think all the misery in this world comes from people who don't understand that.  They were born into predatory and unloving families and have rejected the notion of emotional attachments to others or they've given up completely.  For that reason, I feel sorry for them, but we also have to be on our guard, because those people run the world and they'll march a whole generation to their deaths or take the whole world back to feudalism if we're not vigilant.

So the corollary message is that some level of political awareness, if not activism, is necessary to provide a safe environment for your family once you've found it.  Shelby Foote once said that what really caused the first civil war in America was a failure to compromise.  Our sense of political identity needs to morph into something less divisive and more cooperative.  Whatever your political stripe, you can't honestly expect your side to win all the time, but you can work with your opposition to prevent a problem or crisis from festering into something that can only be settled with violence.  The people of the world have walked off the field and left politics to the bitter and unloved, people who don't really have anything to loose.  This does not bode well for the future of the world, much less America.

What can you say about your next book, The Mail Still Runs?

The Mail Still Runs is told from the perspective of Esther's younger sister Charlotte.  Through her eyes we see how the war impacts life back home and how Esther's absence impacts the family.  We also see what happens after Esther gets home and follow the reunited family through later stages of the war.  I'd also add that Chad's father, who's briefly mentioned in Far From The War, is a major figure in The Mail Still Runs and if you remember what Esther's family tells her about Matthew, it would follow that he makes an appearance in the second book.  Since you're Canadian, I'll also mention that much of the second book takes place on Vancouver Island: Port Hardy, Tofino, etc.  I'll be exploring what happens in Canada when millions of American war refugees start pouring over the border.

The final book in the series, The Flag We Sleep Under, is told from Matthew's perspective.  It will give us a soldier's perspective on the war, his take on meeting Esther and eventually his attempt to find her and resume the relationship that started on the battlefields of Kansas.

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Those were some great answers. I have some new titles to add to my TBR for one. I can't wait for The Mail Still Runs! Till then, you can all read Far From the War. 

Giveaway Rules and Policy:  
- 13 and older, and please have your parent's permission
- international
- to enter, just fill out the form below
- ends on October 31st 2011 at 11:59 PM EST 
- if there are 100+ entries, I'll also be giving away my personal copy of Far From the War so there will be two winners (so spread the word!)

Monday, September 12, 2011

Cover Wars: Above vs. Between the Sea and Sky

Cover Wars is a fun little feature at Tantalizing Illusions all about voting for your favourite cover. Why? For fun! It's my way of promoting new titles with pretty covers. Every week there are two covers: the Challenger and the Defender. The Defender is the winner from the previous week. The Challenger is uh, challenging the Defender for its throne. Let the best cover win!

Last week was so very close again. Frost lost by one vote to Above! Above is on a streak! Can it manage to hold it's title against our new challenger, Between the Sea and the Sky by Jaclyn Dolamore? Only your votes hold the answer.

AbovevsBetween the Sea and Sky

Aren't they gorgeous? Again, in different ways. One is golden, the other blue. I frankly can't wait to read both of them. It will be a hard decision. Vote on the right! Thank you!

Friday, September 9, 2011

Book Art

I always try to keep things interesting at Tantalizing Illusions (am I successful? Let me know!) so I was looking for something cool, interesting, and book related when I found this book art. I first thought of book art when I saw the Pottermore video (you know, the pages of the book began moving into designs) and was instantly fascinated. Here's some beautiful examples of book art. None of the images are done by me so I hope the creators are offended by my sharing them.

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