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Monday, November 28, 2011

REVIEW: Darker Still by Leanna Renee Hieber

The Picture of Dorian Gray meets Pride and Prejudice, with a dash of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.
New York City, 1882. Seventeen-year-old Natalie Stewart's latest obsession is a painting of the handsome British Lord Denbury. Something in his striking blue eyes calls to her. As his incredibly life-like gaze seems to follow her, Natalie gets the uneasy feeling that details of the painting keep changing . . .
Jonathan Denbury's soul is trapped in the gilded painting by dark magic while his possessed body commits unspeakable crimes in the city slums. He must lure Natalie into the painting, for only together can they reverse the curse and free his damaged soul.

Book: Darker Still by Leanna Renee Hieber
Release Date: November 8, 2011
Format: eARC
Genre: Paranormal Romance/Young Adult
Series: Magic Most Foul, #1
Obtained: As part of a book tour
Rating:PhotobucketPhotobucketPhotobucketPhotobucket (4 Zombies)

I loved how Hieber mixed the classic stories of Dorian Grey and Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde--both of which I love, and am fascinated by--to create Darker Still, a historical YA novel that would make a pretty good classic itself.

Natalie was an awesome, strong main character, and by far my favorite character in the entire book, which is pretty rare if you know me. I usually like some quirky side character, but Natalie was just so darned cool, I couldn't help but love her. Jonathan, the love interest, was also a lot of fun to read about, but no one could compare to Natalie, and how she overcame everything that was against her and didn't give up.

The plot was also amazing, and when combined with Natalie and the rest of the characters, made one of the best YA books I've read lately. You should definitely give this one a try!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

GUEST POST: Piper Maitland

The History of Vampirism
in Acquainted With the Night

Back in 2008, when I started working on a vampire novel, I began paying attention to the hours between dusk and dawn.  I tried to look at the world through the eyes of an immortal. Would I miss daylight? Would I try to adapt? Would I plant night-blooming flowers in my garden? Perhaps I’d buy a telescope and study the constellations.
Early in the process, I knew the book would center around Historia Immortalis, an ancient manuscript that details the immortals’ history, along with their secret society, traditions, covenants, and ethics.
Historia Immortalis
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia                                                  
Historia Immortalis, sometimes known as the Book of the Night, is one of the lost Christianities. Written before 200 A.D., the manuscript was considered heretical due to its subject matter: death and resurrection. The book is distinguished by graphic accounts of people rising from the dead.
Although the author is unknown, some theologians believe Historia Immortalis was written by monks known as νυχτοπερπατητής, the Greek phrase for “night walkers”—early astronomers who’d mapped the evening sky. They were been dogged by rumors of blood sacrifice and longevity. Other scholars claim the book was forged by the notorious Carpocratians. However, the majority believed that Lazareth of Bethany penned the manuscript.
In the 4th century, leather-bound papyrus scrolls were discovered in the Gilf Kebir region in southern Egypt. While being transported to a monastery, the scrolls vanished. Many scholars scoffed at their existence. Critics were mystified when a Coptic version of the book appeared in the Alexandria library, however this copy went missing before the great fire.
Interest in the manuscript piqued again when codices were discovered at Nag Hammadi. After the 12th volume was burned by a Bedouin woman, fragments were examined. Some scholars believed they were pages from Historia Immortalis.
During the 8th century, the papyrus scrolls surfaced long enough for Charlemagne’s monks to translated the text into Medieval Latin. All five hundred vellum pages were lavishly embellished (see illustration) with  vibrant, sometimes disturbing illustrations. The scrolls were allegedly burned during a fire at the scriptorium in Marmoutier, France. Illustrated copies of the manuscript were adopted by certain sects (see Catharism) in Southern France. These copies were ruthlessly hunted during the Albigensian Crusade and ignited the Inquisition.
In 1982, ten pages of the Latin translation were auctioned at Sotheby’s for 1.5 million pounds. Weeks later, the pages vanished.

Countless copies of the book were destroyed, but a few managed to elude the crusaders. “There’s just something odd about Historia Immortalis,” a collector said. “It won’t stay put. It possesses a type of kinetic energy.”
The book has a disturbing history of its own. During World War II, ten vellum leaves were found in the basement of the Louvre and were taken back to Berlin. A Munich collector bought them. Not long afterward, his only son  hanged himself. The pages were sold to an Austrian violinist. Days before her murder, she sold the pages to a South American dictator who couldn’t get rid of them quickly enough. Before he could find a buyer, the pages were stolen. Decades later, they ended up at a Sotheby’s auction.
Most importantly, for mortals, the book serves as an introduction and a guide to the secret world of vampirism. Several chapters describe how immortals are irresistible to humans. They’re rather like cone shells, with brown-and-white patterns that are intricate and beautiful as a mosaic. Conidae are toothed shells. They are hungers, built for survival. They impale their prey and inject it with venom.

“I know what is written in Historia Immortalis,” Father Aeneas said. “It is forbidden for a vampire to love a human. Yet they do, of course, because an immortal’s libido is as powerful as their craving for blood. They freely mate with humans, but it is nearly impossible for them to reproduce. A mortal woman can conceive a child by a vampire, but the pregnancy usually ends in a miscarriage.”
 In less than half a percent of cases, a half-vampire baby is carried full term. These rare offspring are called hybrids, and they possess unique traits. They don’t consume blood. They have unusual speed and strength, coupled with an ability to heal rapidly. They have strong immune systems. And they exude a type of olfactory chemical that attracts, then repels. Hybrids cannot form lasting relationships with any human. Most possess a hyperawareness of danger. Some an even read minds. Others can sense when immortals are near—that’s why hybrids often make successful vampire slayers.
Of course, just as in today’s world, the ancient vampires didn’t keep their own rules. Exceptions were made when an immortal fell in love with a well-connected human, and vice versa. If you were in the peerage, if you possessed land or influence, the vamps looked the other way. Greed is a human response to an inhuman dilemma. However, when a high-born vampire romanced a lowly human, the rules were enforced, and the unfortunate lovebirds were ostracized.
Some scholars believe that Historia Immortalis was forged by the notorious Carpocratians, a heretical Gnostic sect. But many others believe the text was written by second-century monks. The language is typical of the era and reads like a Gnostic Gospel.
A Coptic version was translated during Charlemagne’s era. Each vellum page was covered with illustrations and lavish black script, and the script was unique, with upper and lowercase letters. The words were also spaced. This is why the book was called a Carolingian minuscule. It was an illustrated manuscript, a picture book for the illiterate.

Caro saw ten vellum sheets, each one lavishly illustrated. Magenta knights held shields, each one woven with infinity symbols, and below the knights, a dead stag lay with its neck ripped open. Many pages showed graphic, alluring illustrations of sex and vampirism.
She lifted a page, and the dazzling colors seemed to vibrate, washing over the back of her hand. Obsidian, lapis, topaz, amethyst, shot through with gilt. Each page curled at the edges like dried tobacco leaves.

Part of this tome is a treatise about the night—nocturnal animals, moon phases, constellations, and botany. It also contains the vampires’ moral codes. The book’s theme is resurrection. The first line says, “This is the secret Gospel of the night. Whoever finds the correct interpretation of the text will find eternal life.”
In the 8th century, a copy of Historia Immortalis found its way to the Vatican. The Church had always fretted endlessly about heresy, but it also had a means to eliminate it. The Pope objected to the book because it was a chronicle of people who’d achieved eternal life. And God did not intend for man to live eternally without His judgment.
The Albigensian Crusade was launched, and copies of Historia Immortalis were ruthlessly ferreted out and burned—along with their owners.  The book was a threat—it had the power to shake Christianity, and humanity itself. Historia Immortalis would eventually ignite the Inquisition.
Centuries later, the book was still causing problems. Collectors longed to own a copy. The Church wanted to burn it. The owner of a London pharmaceutical company hoped to exploit it:
The book was much more than the history of vampirism: It held secrets to longevity and, interestingly enough, methods of destroying the immortals. Mortals were no match for the vampires’ superior physical abilities, not to mention their otherworldly skills such as telepathy and telekinesis. The lot were canny survivalists. For thousands of years,, they’d endured in a symbiotic relationship with humankind. They’d restrained themselves. If they got the upper-hand, humans would be openly slaughtered, and as the earth was depopulated, wide-spread panic would erupt. A polarized society is a weak society. Civilization would disintegrate. The immortals would roost in Buckingham Palace, feeding on animal blood, and humans would go the way of the Neanderthal.
If the tome fell into the wrong hands, it would pit science against religion. Men would lash out against vampires, depriving them of rights, but the battle would inevitably disintegrate into a predictable man-against-man conflict. Some humans would oppose the immortals, and some would offer support—or even breed with them.
Initially the outing of vampirism would cause a social upheaval. The affluent, centuries-old clans would be ostracized. After all, the royals were a bit finicky about bloodlines. However, that would be the least of the vampires’ problems. The wealthy and common alike would go into hiding. While they reorganized, they’d be sought by fringe groups and bounty hunters. Enthusiasts might hunt them for sport.
As Caro’s uncle Nigel once said:
“If you didn’t wish to grow old, if you preferred a short but interesting life, get yourself mixed up with Historia Immortalis. Each cursed page attracted death—ironic for a tomb that celebrated immortality.”
Acquainted With the Night will be published November 29th (Berkley). Piper Maitland is currently working on the sequel, A Requiem for Daylight.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

GUEST POST: Nova Sparks

Hello Guys!
My name is Nova Sparks and I'm the author of the sci-fi urban fantasy romance series, the DOME trilogy. The first installment of the trilogy is called the DOME and is available now on Amazon, BN, and Smashwords. The second installment of the trilogy is called the DOME revelation and will be made available on November 30th!
Being an author, I find myself reading a lot. Even before I started writing, I would read a whole bunch. Even though the DOME trilogy is an adult series, I also enjoy reading a lot of Young Adult books, my secret love. When a book is SOOO good, I get caught up in the story. I love character driven stories, Darwin's Children/Unnatural Law by Natasha Larry and Caleo by James Crawford are AWESOME because of the amazing story they tell and the amazing characters.
But being caught up in a story that is so good causes you to glance over certain things. Now before I mention these things, many people may decide that these things aren't important details, and in fact, a story can survive without them. And they will be right, a story can survive without these "unmentioned details". In fact, I know of tons of stories that have done ridiculously well, selling millions of copies, without never once mentioning these details. So, what are these details? If we are writing about fiction human characters, these charcters still have to be really human. And being really human, even in a fiction would, means doing things that real humans do in real life. So, why is that many books have characters that never eat, never use the bathroom, and never take showers?
Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know what you guys are saying...that these things are not important and don't contribute to the fabric of a good story. And again, I will say you're sorta right. I just find it quite odd that many authors, including myself, choose to ignore human habit and behavior. In the Dome trilogy, I had to literally remind myself every time I wrote a new day, to feed my characters and make sure they took showers. It just didn't seem right not adding that in there. Does this make me crazy? Am I obsessing about meaningless details? I hope not, because if I am, many of you may find it quite odd that I made my teenage character, Emma, go through her menstrual cycle. Hey, she's a young girl and months go by. Don't females have the rag every month? lol

Nova Sparks Author of the DOME (the DOME trilogy #1)

Sample or purchase the DOME (the DOME trilogy #1):

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

REVIEW: The Hunter by Theresa Meyers

They're the Chosen—Winchester, Remington and Colt—brothers trained to hunt down supernatural beings using the latest steam-powered gadgetry. It's a hard legacy to shoulder, and it's about to get a lot more dangerous. . .

A Devil Of A Job

Colt Jackson has gotten his name on many a wanted poster with success in the family business: hunting supernaturals across the frontier. Lately, though, there's a sulfur stink in the wind and the Darkin population is exploding. A rift in the worlds is appearing. To close it, Colt will have to do the unthinkable and work with a demon to pass arcane boundaries no human alone can cross.

Except when he summons his demon, he doesn't get some horned monstrosity: he gets a curvy redheaded succubus named Lilly, who's willing to make a bargain to become human again. He also gets Lilly's secret expertise on the machinations on the dark side of the rift. And her charm and cleverness help to get them out of what his silver-loaded pistol and mechanical horse can't. Of course, when all hell breaks loose, he might have to sacrifice his soul. But what's adventure without a little risk?

"Meyers puts the steam in steampunk." —Cherry Adair

Book: The Hunter by Theresa Meyers
Release Date: November 1, 2011
Format: ARC
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Series: The Legend Chronicles, #1
Obtained: As part of a book tour
Rating:PhotobucketPhotobucketPhotobucketPhotobucket (4 Zombies)

I really liked the adventure/mystery aspect of The Hunter, but I was kind of distracted by both Colt's and Lilly's pretty much single-minded focus on sex. They were sex crazy whack jobs for the majority of the book, but the rest of the story was so good that I only took off one zombie for that.

Marley was my favorite character, hands down, because I just can't resist a mad scientist, especially a steampunk mad scientist. He was soooo much more awesome than either of the main characters, and he really made the book for me.

In The Hunter, the two main storylines are the romance between Colt and Lilly and the adventure of searching for the missing Book of Legend. The adventure was, by far, the better of the two, and it kept me reading long past when I should have gone to sleep, eager to find out what would happen next.

One odd thing about The Hunter was that, as you read it, you can tell that the events of the next two books are happening at the same time as the one you're reading, which is something I've never seen before. It was kind of disconcerting at first, but also kind of cool.

If you're into adventure and westerns, and don't mind a little (a lot) romance, then I definitely recommend The Hunter. I'm looking forward to reading the second book as soon as I can get my hands on it!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

REVIEW: Devil Unknown by Steena Holmes

“Each generation, evil takes form and steals the soul of the most devout.”

A long forgotten myth holds the key to the evil descending upon Bandit Creek. When the town turns to their beloved former pastor for answers, little do they realize he may be the evil they fear.

Nathan Hanlin is at a crossroads. His soul is in jeopardy, and he doesn’t know it. Yet. He thought leaving the church would be easy, but when demonic crows start talking and demons reveal a secret about his past -- he realizes turning his back on God might have been a mistake. A ripped page from a journal holds the key to discovering why the supernatural are appearing in Bandit Creek but it’s too late. The myth is real and the only person who knows the answer is missing.  Can Nathan save the woman he loves...or is he the reason her life is in danger?

Book: Devil Unknown by Steena Holmes
Release Date: October 16, 2011
Format: eBook
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Series: Bandit Creek Books
Obtained: As part of a book tour
Rating:PhotobucketPhotobucketPhotobucketPhotobucket (4 Zombies)

This is a really fast-paced, mysterious, awesome novella, which is really saying something for me because, as a general rule, I don't like novellas very much. I loved reading about the mysteries of Bandit Creek and finding out what was going on along with Nathan.

Due to the length of the book, I don't really have too much to say in my review, but if you're a fan of the paranormal, mystery, and a good romance, then this is definitely something you should add to your TBR list!

Friday, November 4, 2011

REVIEW: Bridger by Megan Curd

Ashlyn McVean doesn't believe in fairy tales. That is, until Ashlyn is thrown into the crosshairs of grudges her grandmother created long ago. After finding out she is one of two people able to cross between faerie realms, Ashlyn is faced with trying to understand her abilities, along with navigating a new relationship with her boyfriend, Liam. As if being on a centuries old hit list and dealing with crazed pixies isn't enough, her new abilities mean trouble for Liam. Knowing her new life puts everyone she loves in danger, Ashlyn must decide what's most important in her life between friends, family, love, and ultimately, realms.

Book: Bridger by Megan Curd
Release Date: June 4, 2011
Format: eBook
Genre: Fantasy/Young Adult
Series: Bridger, #1
Obtained: As part of a book tour
Rating:PhotobucketPhotobucketPhotobucketPhotobucket (4 Zombies)

I loved loved loved reading about Ashlyn's adventures over the course of Bridger! It reminded me somewhat of Julie Kagawa's Iron Fey series, but not in a copycat way, more of just the general feel of the book. Any fans of the Iron Fey should definitely give Bridger a try.

Ashlyn was one of my favorite MCs in a while because, no matter how much she got thrown at her, she never gave up or whined about it, she just kept going. Anyone who knows me knows that one of the tings I hate most about YA main characters is that so many of them think of themselves as victims and wait for everyone else (generally their boyfriends) to save them. Ashlyn was amazingly different from the norm in that sense.

If you love fantasy and faeries, then Bridger is a great -- not to mention inexpensive -- book that I would recommend to anyone!