Ashes of a Black Frost (11/1) | The Shattered Vine (11/3)
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drey's Giveaway Policy

FTC Disclosure: I am an affiliate at IndieBound, The Book Depository, and Amazon, and any purchases made by clicking on covers or links here may result in monetary compensation.

Winner: 3rd giveaway for King Rolen's Kin!

February 28, 2011
Nope, I didn't forget y'all...

The winner of the third giveaway of a book from Rowena Cory Daniells' Chronicles of King Rolen's Kin is...


Email's on its way, please reply. And thank you for stopping in!

Valentine's Day giveaway winner!

'tis time to pick a winner for my Valentine's Day giveaway, and Randomizer has decreed that it is...

heatwave16, who picked Mind Games by Carolyn Crane!! This looks interesting, I might have to check it out for myself!

Email has gone out, please reply before the end of day Thursday! And thank you to everyone who entered!

mind games

Justine Jones has a secret. A hardcore hypochondriac, she’s convinced a blood vessel is about to burst in her brain. Then, out of the blue, a startlingly handsome man named Packard peers into Justine’s soul and invites her to join his private crime-fighting team. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime deal. With a little of Packard’s hands-on training, Justine can weaponize her neurosis, turning it outward on Midcity’s worst criminals, and finally get the freedom from fear she’s always craved. End of problem.

Or is it? In Midcity, a dashing police chief is fighting a unique breed of outlaw with more than human powers. And while Justine’s first missions, including one against a nymphomaniac husband-killer, are thrilling successes, there is more to Packard than meets the eye. Soon, while battling her attraction to two very different men, Justine is plunging deeper into a world of wizardry, eroticism, and cosmic secrets. With Packard’s help, Justine has freed herself from her madness—only to discover a reality more frightening than anyone’s worst fears.

Purchase at IndieBound, Amazon, The Book Depository

Special e-book pricing on two new releases!

Psssst!! Just got an email letting me know that e-book copy of Elizabeth Chadwick's To Defy a King and Sarah Bower's The Sins of the House of Borgia are both available for $2.99 until March 7th! I've found both books at Barnes & Noble, and Amazon (for $2.39!).

to defy a king
A majestic High Middle Ages series continues in Chadwick's latest (after For the King's Favor) as Mahelt "Matty" Marshal, the daughter of legendary British knight William Marshal, becomes a bride at 14.

Though the marriage, to Hugh Bigod, future earl of Norfolk, is arranged, Matty is open to it and embraces the passion that eventually comes. She bears Bigod four children and enjoys a peaceful life until tyrannical King John takes her paternal family hostage, first her brother Will, heir to the earldom of Pembroke, then her brother Richard, and finally her father, who has openly opposed the king's greed and land-grabbing.

Matty's determination to save her father and brothers while also standing by her husband and keeping her new family safe creates both conflict and, ultimately, joyous rewards in a well-told saga filled with just the right amount of exacting period detail. Both longtime fans and readers new to Chadwick's series will be thrilled.

Purchase at Amazon

the sins of the house of borgia
A young Jewish woman is drawn into the splendor and corruption surrounding the court of the Borgia pope, Alexander VI, in Bower's debut, a slick historical soap opera.

After Esther Sarfati is baptized and becomes a lady-in-waiting to the widowed Lucrezia Borgia, the pope's illegitimate daughter, she is attracted to Lucrezia's seductive and cruel brother, Cesare. Esther becomes ensnared in a web of deceit and betrayal as Lucrezia is sent in a political marriage to the powerful Alfonso d'Este, heir to the dukedom of Ferrara. Determined to pursue a romance with the elusive Cesare, Esther is increasingly drawn into the schemes and passions of the Ferrara and Borgia families.

While Esther's blind love for the careless and usually absent Cesare strains belief, the sheer grandeur of the papal and Ferrara courts, and the spectacle of the Borgia and Ferrara siblings' rivalries and revenges form a glittering take on one of the most notorious families of the Italian Renaissance.

Purchase at Amazon

Blog Tour: 31. Etched in Bone by Adrian Phoenix...

February 24, 2011
I really liked Adrian Phoenix's Black Dust Mambo, so when Pocket Books offered the opportunity to read Etched in Bone for this blog tour, I jumped! After all, I have to have more Adrian Phoenix while waiting for Black Heart Loa, right?

About the author:
Adrian Phoenix is the critically acclaimed author of The Maker's Song series: A Rush of Wings, In the Blood, and Beneath the Skin. She is also the author of Black Dust Mambo, the first book in a new series featuring a voodooienne from New Orleans. She has published stories in several magazines and anthologies. She currently lives in Oregon, but travels to New Orleans, the city of her heart, whenever possible.

About the book:


More beautiful and powerful than any creature the world has ever seen, Dante Baptiste has become the supreme target of the three worlds that spawned him. The mortal agents of the Shadow Branch have tried to control his mind through psychological torture. The vampire elders who guide nightkind society have plotted to use him in their bloodthirsty bid for power. And the Fallen have waited for millennia for Dante to claim his birthright as their Maker. But Dante belongs to no one—except the woman he loves...


Determined to face the Fallen and the world on his own terms, Dante hopes to piece together his shattered past and claim his future, with FBI agent Heather Wallace at his side. But in Heather's human family awaits an unexpected enemy. One who could rip Heather from Dante's heart and fill the holes with bullets. One who could force Dante to choose his darkest destiny—as the Great Destroyer...

etched in boneTitle: Etched in Bone (Maker's Song #4)
Author: Adrian Phoenix
ISBN-13: 9781439137307
Paperback: 382 pages
Publisher: Simon & Schuster, 2011
Purchase at IndieBound, Amazon, The Book Depository
Source: Simon & Schuster

drey's thoughts:
After cracking the pages of Etched in Bone, I realized I really should've read the first three books in the series. Not that this couldn't be read as a stand-alone--it can. But the previous books provide background to all of the events in this fourth book. And I like background...

Character: Fans of the series already know the hero and heroine, Dante and Heather. I, on the other hand, just met them, and was a bit confused as to the nature of their relationship, until about 2/3 of the way through when I got it. Call me slow... Dante is a tortured soul, for sure. And Heather is a stronger woman than I could ever be. The two of them share something strong though, and Adrian Phoenix's writing makes you feel as though you really know them.

Pace & Plot: Etched in Bone is gripping from beginning to end. The first few chapters left me a bit foggy, as it's like one of those TV episodes that start almost-at-the-end, then backtracks to the beginning, and finishes up at the end. With a cliffhanger, of course. Because where would the fun be if it wasn't one? But. Even through the fog and the confusion, I'm totally glad I read this, and I'll be reading books one through three as soon as I can get my hands on 'em!

drey's rating: Excellent: Fans of vampy paranormals with romantic leading characters should definitely pick this up (but start with book 1, A Rush of Wings...

Have you read Etched in Bone? What did you think?

Thanks to Pocket Books, I have two copies of Etched in Bone for you, if you live in the US. To enter, comment and tell me you want this. Remember to include your email address, and do it before 6pm CST March 9th. Good luck!!

February's Featured Author: Vivid Dreaming...

February 23, 2011
Today marks the last visit by February's Featured Author, Rowena Cory Daniells, and for that I am sad. She's been a total delight to have over, and her guest posts are fun and interesting. Here, she talks about vivid dreams and creativity. Read on & enjoy!

Turns out Vivid Dreamers are more Creative.

One of the most visited posts on my KRK blog is Do Creative Peoplehave more Vivid Dreams? And from the research I’ve done the answer would have to be yes.

I’ve always had vivid dreams, in full colour complete with back-story. If I’ve been reading graphic novels the dreams will be stylized and, on occasion, they’ve been set to music with people speaking in rhyme. I’ve used the feeling that resonates with me after dreams as the basis for stories and even a book series.

This painting by Maxfield Parrish is called Daybreak. It’s his most famous piece. My grandparents had a print hanging on the wall in their living room. I distinctly remember looking up and seeing it for the first time. I must have been five or six because it was very high on the wall and I couldn’t get close enough to it. I love the dreamlike quality of this painting.

Here is a list of dreams some of which prompted people to create a book or song, others led to scientific break throughs. My son, who is studying computer programming dreams about logic sequences. I dream up solutions to plot problems.

In his article ‘The Dream Canvas’ Tori DeAngelis quotes Stickgold. ‘There may be a good metaphorical reason that artists are so attached to their dreams. In the broadest sense, dreams mimic a critical stage of creativity: brainstorming the range of possibilities, or what psychoanalysts call free association.’ Apparently, when dreaming the ‘ … brain areas responsible for executive control, logical decision-making and focused attention shut down … while sensory and emotional areas come alive. In addition, short-term memory functions are deactivated, so that the emotional content of images remains, but the waking context does not.’

Recent research has shown that there are people who are prone to lucid dreaming. ‘Watson … says that he was surprised by the finding. "I actually thought dream recall was going to be related to stress and anxiety, because the literature indicates that the things that disturb sleep tend to promote dream recall," … Instead, his data support the idea that there's a type of person more likely to tune into their dreams than others.’ And that was the creative person.

Do you experience Lucid Dreaming? This is a form of dreaming where you know you are dreaming, and you can exercise control over the dream. This may sound impossible, but it is believed computer game players have control over their dreams.

In their study of creativity and dreaming, Pagel and Kwiatkowski found that ‘dreaming is likely to have a functional role in the creative process’. And now scientific studies have found that if you nap after studying and dream about what you were studying you are likely to retain more. So the tip is to study, then sleep on it before an exam. Maybe you find it hard to sleep before and exam. If you’re like my cat you can sleep anywhere, any time.

For me, dreams are very real. I’ve had conversations with people, only to realize by their blank expression that the discussion I remember occurred in a dream. No wonder they looked confused. (Now I’m starting to sound really weird. LOL).

Do you have vivid dreams? Do you draw from them to inspire your writing, music or art? Do dreams help you sort through problems in your waking life? Do you dream more vividly after starting a new job and learning new skills?

To bring fabulous February to a close, Rowena is giving away a set of her King Rolen’s King trilogy and a set of her Last T’En trilogy to two winners (one winner for each set). This one's open INTERNATIONALLY!

To enter, comment below and answer the following question: Are there any artists who have inspired you and why?

Remember to include your email address, and do this before 6pm CST March 2nd!

My answer: I'm assuming "artist" as in "art", so I'm answering accordingly. I don't know that there are any specifically, but then again I'm about as creative as a rock... I do like Kandinsky's work, just for the colors. But when it comes to art, I'm an ignorant noob. :P

Winner! A Brush of Darkness!

February 22, 2011
I'm a few days late! But Randomizer went to work lickety-split, and the lucky duck picked to receive a copy of Allison Pang's A Brush of Darkness is...


debbie pits Phineas against her cat, and she's sure her cat'll win. *grin*

Email's on its way, please reply with your mailing information before the end of day Friday.


Review: 30. The Werewolf Upstairs by Ashlyn Chase...

The Werewolf Upstairs is my first Ashlyn Chase, and I hate to say I didn't love it.

the werewolf upstairs
Title: The Werewolf Upstairs
Author: Ashlyn Chase
ISBN-13: 9781402236624
ARC: 344 pages
Publisher: Sourcebooks, Inc., 2011
Purchase at IndieBound, Amazon, The Book Depository
Source: Sourcebooks

drey's thoughts:
I'm pretty sure the biggest reason I didn't love The Werewolf Upstairs is because the ARC copy I received had typos and grammatical errors in it, which really really bugs me. Blame it on my English-teacher mom. Heh.

Character: Roz is an attorney who moves into her BFF's Boston apartment after said BFF got herself married off, because she's worried about her BFF's spouse. But as soon as she gets into the apartment, she meets the sexy dude from upstairs, and before you can whistle in appreciation, he's gotten arrested, she's his public defender, he posts bail, and the two are doing the horizontal tango. All by Chapter 3. I'm like, huh? Really? I mean, I know he's all sexy and stuff, but...

And Konrad. What kind of Alpha is he to let someone else take his pack? I mean, maybe I've been reading "harder" paranormals, but can you imagine Mercy's Adam letting someone waltz in and stealing his pack? Hmm... Not on your life, baby! In his defense, he is a nice guy. Er, werewolf.

The other neighbors are a quirky lot, with two witches, a private investigator, a resident ghost, a vampire in the basement, and a cantankerous building manager... All in all, a fun group to read about.

Pace & Plot: The Werewolf Upstairs is a quick read, and the plot is pretty simple--boy & girl meets, fall in love, run into trouble, fix it all, and find their happily-ever-after. It's almost too bad I am as bothered as I am about grammar and spelling.

drey's rating: 2/5 Ok: I finished it, and maybe my complaints have to do with the ARC copy. Give it a try if you'd like to, B&N currently has the NOOKbook version on sale for $2.99.

TLC Book Tours (with a giveaway!!): 29. Shadowfever by Karen Marie Moning...

February 21, 2011
I have to admit, the first Fever book I picked up didn't thrill me--I thought Mac was a brat. Then I read the next. And the next. And couldn't believe that #4 left me on such a cliffhanger! Thanks to TLC Book Tours, I have my hands on the fifth and final, Shadowfever... And yeah, this one got inhaled.

TLC Tours

About Karen Marie Moning:
Karen Marie Moning is the internationally bestselling author of the Highlander and Fever novels. Her books have appeared on the New York Times, USA Today,and Publishers Weekly bestseller lists, and have one numerous awards, including the prestigious Rita. She lives in Georgia and Florida with her husband Neil and the world-traveling cat, Moonshadow.

Connect with Karen on her website, on Twitter, and on Facebook.

About Shadowfever:
“Evil is a completely different creature, Mac. Evil is bad that believes it’s good.”

MacKayla Lane was just a child when she and her sister, Alina, were given up for adoption and banished from Ireland forever.

Twenty years later, Alina is dead and Mac has returned to the country that expelled them to hunt her sister’s murderer. But after discovering that she descends from a bloodline both gifted and cursed, Mac is plunged into a secret history: an ancient conflict between humans and immortals who have lived concealed among us for thousands of years.

What follows is a shocking chain of events with devastating consequences, and now Mac struggles to cope with grief while continuing her mission to acquire and control the Sinsar Dubh—a book of dark, forbidden magic scribed by the mythical Unseelie King, containing the power to create and destroy worlds.

In an epic battle between humans and Fae, the hunter becomes the hunted when the Sinsar Dubh turns on Mac and begins mowing a deadly path through those she loves.

Who can she turn to? Who can she trust? Who is the woman haunting her dreams? More important, who is Mac herself and what is the destiny she glimpses in the black and crimson designs of an ancient tarot card?

From the luxury of the Lord Master’s penthouse to the sordid depths of an Unseelie nightclub, from the erotic bed of her lover to the terrifying bed of the Unseelie King, Mac’s journey will force her to face the truth of her exile, and to make a choice that will either save the world... or destroy it.

Title: Shadowfever (Fever #5)
Author: Karen Marie Moning
ISBN-13: 9780385341677
Hardcover: 608 pages
Publisher: Random House Publishing, 2011
Purchase at IndieBound, Amazon, The Book Depository
Source: Random House Publishing

drey's thoughts:
Well. I just got back from vacation, picked up the book, and didn't stop reading till almost 2am in the morning... Part of it was because I've been antsily waiting for Shadowfever, part of it was because I hardly got any reading done while I was away (hence, you're probably not going to see a lot of reviews here in the next week or so...). BUT. We're not here to chat about my vacation. So.

CharacterShadowfever starts up with a Mac I didn't like, at first. She's lost in grief, sure, and trying to make the best of her circumstances, but does she really have to collude with the bad guy? Seriously? And talking about the bad guy, he kinda lames out at the end. That was just way too easy! I am a full member of the bad-guys-should-expire-worthy-of-their-bad-assedness club, i.e. he should've had to suffer first. So yeah, lame-o. Even if he did truly love Alina.

Anyway. Back to Mac. She's sure done a lot of growing since Darkfever, where she was a pretty-in-pink Rainbow Girl (as Barrons liked to call her). She's stronger, more aware, and has been through hell in a handbasket. I honestly don't know how she's intact. But she's got a job to do, and come hell or high water, she's going to take care of Dublin. Partly because she's one of the few who can, partly because she feels responsible for some of the mess. There are a lot of if-onlys here, but we all know hindsight is 20/20...

Some of the supporting cast haven't changed their spots at all: Rowena's still a bees-wax, Dani's still a trouble-maker (love The Dani Daily she publishes and posts all over Dublin!), V'Lane's still a shiny-show-off, and the Sinsar-Dubh is still causing chaos all over. And there are others too, others I so want to talk about, but I'm writing a spoiler-free review here, so there. Oh, the price of principles... *sigh*

Pace & Plot: I have absolutely no complaints about the pace of Shadowfever - it moves! The plot, however, can get convoluted. But, this being the last in the series, there are lots of threads to wrap up. Like, do they get a hold of the Sinsar-Dubh? And who "gets" it once they do? After all, everyone has their reasons for going after it, right? 

In addition to the chasing-down-of-the-book, there's also a who-is-Mac,-exactly? plotline that gets page time in Shadowfever, and I'll admit to being a bit confused on the way to the big reveal... But oh what a reveal it is! I'm sorry to see this series end, and I'm already hoping to re-read 'em. 

drey's rating: 4/5 Excellent: Some of the stuff isn't quite what I'd expected, but this was a very good wrap-up to a must-read series for urban fantasy fans.

Have you read Shadowfever? What did you think?

This is soooo cool!!! Thanks to Random House Publishing and TLC Book Tours, I have one copy of Shadowfever for you, if you live in the US or Canada. To enter, comment below and tell us who your favorite Fever character(s) is (are), and why. Please remember to include your email address, and do it before 6pm CST March 6th! Good luck!

Winner, Winner, Chicken Dinner!

February 19, 2011
Ok. I'm home now, no more excuses for not picking winners! Here they are:

For Allison Brennan's Love Me to Death, Randomizer picked comment #19, babytrees!!

For the ARC of Sarah Bower's The Sins of the House of Borgia, the lucky duck is comment #6, Benita!!

For the 2nd winner of Rowena Cory Daniells' Chronicles of King Rolen's Kin, the winner is comment #15, Tore!!

Congratulations, you guys! Emails have gone out, please reply. And thanks for popping in!

There's still a few hours to enter for Allison Pang's A Brush of Darkness, so check out the giveaway links at the top of the page!

Review: 28. Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld...

February 18, 2011
I really enjoyed Scott Westerfeld's Uglies series, and love the cover of Leviathan. So. What else was there to do but pick it up and read it?

Title: Leviathan (Leviathan #1)
Author: Scott Westerfeld
ISBN-13: 9781416971740
Publisher: Simon & Schuster, 2010
Purchase at IndieBound, Amazon, The Book Depository
Source: Purchased

drey's thoughts:
Scott Westerfeld's world in Leviathan is something like Star Wars vs. Darwin experimentalism, set during the beginning of World War I. The Archduke Ferdinand and his wife are assassinated, and his heir Aleksandar is whisked off into a machine that brings to mind the AT-AT (but with only two legs), hopefully towards safety.

At the same time Deryn Sharp is masquerading as a boy, so she can train to be a airman with the British Air Service. Only thing is, she's not quite going to be in an airplane... Instead she's on a huge floating whale that's kinda like a blimp that's alive (or is it a blimp that's a whale?).

The Darwinists use animals and biology and the ecosystem, and the Clankers use machines. And it looks like they're headed towards a showdown as countries draw sides in the aftermath of the assassination. So what happens when Aleks and Deryn meet in the remote mountains in Switzerland?

Character: Deryn and Aleks are two very different teens. One's fighting convention so she can do what she loves, and the other has his entire world turned upside down when his parents are killed. But both are likable teens. They're smart and sassy and funny and honest, and handle adversity pretty darn unbelievably well for teenagers... I think I like 'em! *grin*

Pace & Plot: Leviathan starts on a good pace, and moves at a good clip. There's a lot of ground to cover, after all, and with two storylines to boot. The plot doesn't veer too far from history, even if WWI never saw flying whales or giant two-legged machines. And there's lots to keep you interested as you turn the pages to see how Aleks and Deryn fare.

drey's rating: 4/5 Excellent: This is my first steampunk novel, and I loved it! I can't wait to pick up Behemoth!

Have you read Leviathan? What did you think?

2011 challenge: Steampunk

Review & Giveaway (!): 27. Skipping a Beat by Sarah Pekkanen...

February 17, 2011
Sarah Pekkanen is going to be my Featured Author next month, but her book comes out in a week. I've been staring at the cover for a while now, finally picked it up, and wow did I get my socks blown off!

skipping a beat
Title: Skipping a Beat
Author: Sarah Pekkanen
ISBN-13: 9781451609820
Paperback: 323 pages
Publisher: Simon & Schuster, 2011
Purchase at IndieBound, Amazon, The Book Depository
Source: Sarah Pekkanen

drey's thoughts:
I am in awe. Sarah Pekkanen's Skipping a Beat is masterfully written, and I couldn't help but be touched, moved, engrossed... Julia and Michael are teenagers when they first meet and fall in love with each other. Both have baggage. Both are trying to escape their realities. Both find someone who understands where they're coming from, and why they want to go where they want to go...

Fast forward to the present day. Julia and Michael have left their childhood behind, gotten married, and built successful careers. Both have also let that success pull them apart. But then both get a second chance. Will they take it?

Character: I wasn't sure I liked Julia at first. Other than the flashback scene in Chapter Two, she was just another rich woman more involved in her own life, than someone who really cared what happened to her husband. It was all "what about me?"... Blaming her insecurities on her husband and her suspicions that he'd had an affair--it was too easy to do, you know what I mean? Where's your own culpability? But then as she and Michael finally start talking to each other again, I realized that Julia is just like any other woman out there. She's smart and strong, but her weak point is Michael, and she'd turned the other way instead of facing their issues head on, because she's afraid that confrontation would lead to his leaving her. Oh, the things we'd re-do if we had only known, huh?

Pace & Plot: Skipping a Beat isn't too slow- or too fast-paced, it moves at just the right speed for you to get into the story and feel like you know Julia and Michael. The story starts off kind of harsh (only a teensy bit), and mellows as you get further along. Warning--you should be ready with a tissue or two by the time you get to the end...

drey's rating: 4/5 Excellent: Pick this up if you're looking for a poignant read on what really matters...

2011 Challenge: New Author

Have you read Skipping a Beat? What did you think? And if you haven't, here's a chance to win your own copy...

I have one very-gently-read copy of Skipping a Beat for you. This one's for US residents only, and runs through 6pm CST March 2nd. To enter, comment below and tell us: What would you do with a second chance? Don't forget to include your email address.

February's Featured Author: Rowena's favorite reads!!

February 16, 2011
Today, Rowena tells us what some of her favorite books are, and why. I heart her more every week! Come check out what she says!

Books and Me …

I have a confession to make. I used to own a secondhand book shop. I’d read a book in the morning, a book in the afternoon and a book after dinner. If I found an author I liked, I’d read everything of theirs that I could lay my hands on. This was in the days before the internet, so it was hard to track down authors.

Now, if I find an author who can make me forget I’m reading a book, I’ll buy all their books and read them in chronological order to see how they develop as a writer.

I think part of the joy of reading is discovering certain authors at certain times in your life. Among the many authors I read my early twenties, I discovered Fritz Leiber. I loved his Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser books. Lean times in Lankhmar. Around this time I also discovered Joanna Russ. (Picnic on Paradise, Alyx and the Machine).

And I found Georgette Heyer. I’ve read every one of her Regency romances at least three times.

That’s the other thing I do if I like a book. I read it once for the pure joy of the story. Then I read it to find what really works, then I read it a third time to look for any like thing that could be improved.

Fritz Leiber, Joanna Russ and Georgette Heyer might sound like an odd combination, sword and sorcery with two very male characters, a very feminist writer and a brilliant light-hearted comedy of manners writer, but what all of these writers had in common was well realised worlds, powerful gripping characters and a strong sense of story.

Then I had a baby every two years for ten years, so I was bit busy and didn’t read much until my mid thirties.

Around this time I got back into writing. (I’d written about ten books before I was 25). I sent one of these to the Harper Collins $10,000 fiction prize and it made the long short list, which made me think I wasn’t a hopeless writer.

best served coldIn my mid thirties I discovered an obscure author who wrote about a vampire executioner. The first five Anita Blake books blew me away. The mystery thread was well constructed and the duality of Anita’s character made for compelling reading. Laurell K Hamilton delivered a ripping read. (I have to say I haven’t been able to read her recent books).

In the last year I’ve read all of Joe Abercrombie’s books and Nalini Singh’s Psy Changeling series. Once again, this may sound like an odd combination. Joe Abercrombie’s books deliver fascinating characters struggling in a bleak more realistic style of fantasy. Nalini Singh’s books are consistently well constructed love stories set in the near future. What they share is compelling characters and narrative drive.

blaze of memory
I don’t know when it happened but some time before of just after I opened my bookshop, I stopped reading purely for enjoyment and began analysing story. Now it is very rare for me to find a story that sweeps me away. It has to tick so many boxes, the characters must be idiosyncratic and interesting, the world building must be consistent, the plotting must tight and there must be that extra dash of creativity that surprises me.

But when I do discover a writer like that they make my day. Where would we be without the writers who shape our reading tastes? Which writers sweep you away?

Rowena is giving away one book from her King Rolen’s Kin trilogy (eg. If you haven’t read any of her books, she’ll send book one. If have book one, she’ll send you book two). This one's open INTERNATIONALLY!

To enter, comment below and answer the following question: Do you like plot driven books or character driven books and why?

Do I really have to pick?? *groan*

Remember to include your email address, and do it all before 6pm CST February 23rd!

Review: 26. The Lincoln Lawyer by Michael Connelly...

February 15, 2011
My copy of The Lincoln Lawyer has Matthew McConaughey on the cover... *drool* But, I did manage to tear myself away from the cover and crack open the pages. *grin*

the lincoln lawyerTitle: The Lincoln Lawyer (Mickey Haller #1)
Author: Michael Connelly
ISBN-13: 9781455500246
Paperback: 404 pages
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing, 2011
Purchase at IndieBound, Amazon, The Book Depository
Source: Hachette Book Group

drey's thoughts:
Ok, so not only does The Lincoln Lawyer look good, it reads good, too. Mickey Haller is a criminal defense attorney, which doesn't quite put him on people's favorite-person-on-earth (or even in LA) list. But he's nice enough to still be on speaking terms with both his ex-wives, which should count for something, right?

Anyway. Mickey is looking for his next franchise client, which means the $ comes in regularly, which boosts his ability to pay his employees and his mortgage. Whoever said law was lucrative has obviously never done it in Mickey's shoes... When Beverly Hills rich-boy Louis Roulet picks Mickey to represent him in an aggravated-assault case, Mickey thinks this is his franchise client, and goes gang-busters to defend him. Until his digging starts leaving bodies in the dust. What do you do when you think your client isn't just guilty of the crime, but he's guilty of more?

Character: Maybe having yummilicious Matthew on the cover tipped the scales for me, but I really liked Mickey Haller. Yeah, he's a lawyer, and we've all heard the bottom-feeding-scum jokes, but he's nice. And conscientious. His gut-instincts take a while to convince his brain about his client, but watching the realization dawn and his resulting actions unfolding makes for a gripping, can't-put-it-down read.

The bad guy doesn't come across bad for most of the book, in fact he barely appears except when necessary. And you never see him as bad, you only see him as Mickey relates to his feelings towards him. Until he decides it's time to gloat, because they all have to gloat...

Pace & Plot: The Lincoln Lawyer is a pretty quick read, even at 404 pages. The story sometimes goes off on tangents, but they're there to show that Mickey isn't just dependent on one case, and some of his cases have an impact on others, while at least one shows his humanity. Because yes, lawyers can be nice people too. I've already mentioned that, haven't I? In any case (ha ha), you won't put this down until you've finished reading the last page.

drey's rating: 4/5 Excellent: Awesome beach read if you're lucky enough to not be in freezing-cold weather.

Have you read The Lincoln Lawyer? What did you think?

Happy Valentine's Day!

February 14, 2011
Happy Monday, y'all! And Happy Valentine's Day too! I am hopefully sitting on a beach, drinking a daiquiri or margarita or ... *grin* BUT I still wanted to celebrate with you, so I'm here to offer you a book.

What book? Well, it's your choice. Pick a bodice-ripper, contemporary romance, historical fiction, epic fantasy, urban fantasy, etc. etc. etc. There are a ton to pick from, so go for whatever trips your trigger!

Unfortunately, I haven't won the lottery yet, so there's a $10 price limit on your book choice. BUT I will open this one to wherever The Book Depository ships, so (a) please check that they will ship to you, and (b) pick your book!

To enter this contest, comment here and tell me what book you'd like. Don't forget your email address, and do it all before 6pm CST February 27th.

Forever Romance's Valentine's Day twitter party!

February 12, 2011

Forever Romance, an imprint of Hachette Book Group, is having a twitter party to celebrate Valentine's Day. So, from 9am to 5pm (EST) on February 14th, join @ForeverRomance at #4evrloveday to participate in the fun!

Giveaway: The Sins of the House of Borgia by Sarah Bower!

February 11, 2011
Here's a quickie giveaway for y'all, if you're fans of historical fiction! Sarah Bower's The Sins of the House of Borgia comes out March 8th, but you can get your hands on an ARC, like, NOW-ish! *grin*

sins of the house of borgia

About the book:
Violante isn’t supposed to be here, in one of the grandest courts of Renaissance Italy. She isn’t supposed to be a lady-in-waiting to the beautiful Lucrezia Borgia. But the same secretive politics that pushed Lucrezia’s father to the Vatican have landed Violante deep in a lavish landscape of passion and ambition.

Violante discovers a Lucrezia unknown to those who see only a scheming harlot, and all the whispers about her brother, Cesare Borgia, never revealed the soul of the man who dances close with Violante.

But those who enter the House of Borgia are never quite the same when they leave—if they leave at all. Violante’s place in history will test her heart and leave her the guardian of dangerous secrets she must carry to the grave.

Thanks to Sourcebooks, I have one ARC for you. This one's for US or Canada residents only, no PO Boxes, please. To enter, comment and tell us who your favorite historical fiction author is, and why. Don't forget your email address!

Do it all before 6pm CST February 18th. Good luck!

Don't want to chance it? Purchase at IndieBound, Amazon, The Book Depository

Review: 25. Daughter of the Flames by Zoe Marriott...

February 10, 2011
I picked this one up because I noticed the cover. The flames really stood out against that dark background...

daughter of the flames
Title: Daughter of the Flames
Author: Zoe Marriott
ISBN-13: 9780763637491
Hardcover: 342 pages
Publisher: Candlewick Press, 2009
Purchase at IndieBound, Amazon, The Book Depository
Source: Waukesha Public Library

drey's thoughts:
Daughter of the Flames started off roaring, literally... The scene is set at the Temple grounds, where refugees are streaming in looking for shelter from an attack by the Sedorne against the Ruan.

This is where we meet Zahira, and the start of her journey from orphaned princess to novice to warrior.

Character: I was a bit disappointed in Zahira. Yes, she's a warrior--and well-trained at that. Yes, she is humble, and smart, and all things you would want in a heroine. But I didn't connect with her. And I'm pretty sure that the cover may have something to do with that--she does not look like a fifteen-year-old trying to keep herself together while getting her friends and followers to safety. In addition to the cover's impact on my perception, I didn't quite get how she could go from a Temple novitiate to being willing to marry the "enemy" to save her people. Too large of a leap there for me to follow...

Pace & Plot: The story is pretty basic. Orphan girl grows up to find all she loves destroyed, then realizes it's not the first time that's happened. Finds out she's royalty, the last of her line. And the one responsible for all the destruction is now looking for her. To find refuge from the evil warlord, she takes her ragtag band of followers on the road to the nearby city where she is owed a favor by the local lord. The action moves along--not quite quickly, but it doesn't drag either. Some parts invite a leap of faith, but none of this is boring, which is good!

drey's rating: 2/5 OK: Not my favorite read this year, but alright enough that I did finish...

Have you read Daughter of the Flames? What did you think?

Winner: First King Rolen's Kin giveaway!

Well, time sure flies when you're having fun. Or when you're not looking. I almost forgot I meant to do this tonight, but here we go. One lucky duck has won a copy of one of the books from Rowena Cory Daniells' Chronicles of King Rolen's Kin, and according to Randomizer, that lucky duck is...


Congratulations, and thanks for swinging by! An email has been sent to the address provided, please reply as requested.

February's Featured Author: Rowena's books!

February 9, 2011
Today, our Featured Author Rowena Cory Daniells stops by to tell us about her books. Read on!

The T’En Trilogy (1999-2003)

This trilogy grew out of my feeling that most books ended when the real story began. Many years ago I read Machiavelli’s The Prince. I was fascinated by the idea that once you had conquered a country, the real test was holding onto it.

So I opened the book after General Tulkhan has conquered Fair Isle and beaten the legendary T’En. The real challenge is for him to hold the island. And how does he do that?

By marrying the last surviving royal, Imoshen, a throwback to the pure T’En race of mystics who settled Fair Isle 600 years ago. But Tulkhan’s soldiers are afraid of magic. The general’s society is dominated by men. Back home, a man may take several wives. Things are very different in Fair Isle, which was ruled by an Empress until the general invaded. Imoshen considers herself Tulkhan’s equal in every way and she has no intention of letting him use her as a figure head.

Meanwhile, Imoshen’s betrothed, Reothe, is determined to undermine Tulkhan’s rule and will stop at nothing.

Can Tulkhan keep the island kingdom he has claimed? Can Imoshen save her people from years of warfare? Can she civilise this barbarian general? More importantly, can she turn her back on her first love, her betrothed? What price duty?

~~ ♥ ~~ ♥ ~~ ♥ ~~ ♥ ~~ ♥ ~~ ♥ ~~ ♥ ~~ ♥ ~~ ♥ ~~

The King Rolen’s Kin trilogy (2010)

With this trilogy I set out to write a story that you can curl up with on a rainy Saturday afternoon, the kind of book that I used to love finding in my bookshop. With this book I wanted to explore how characters grow (or fail to grow) to meet the challenges life throws at them.

As they celebrate 30 years of peace, King Rolen prepares for his jubilee. Little does he realise that he will soon be dead leaving his four children to fend for themselves. Lence the heir, his twin Byren the spare heir, Fyn the son sent to the church and thirteen year old Piro are tested when their kingdom is invaded.

Fyn hates to see anyone hurt, even animals and because of this he believes he was a coward. Yet, when his family’s kingdom is invaded, he risks his life to warn his father. Piro doesn’t want a safe life, married off to consolidate her brother’s throne, but she discovers the reality of escaping invaders is much more frightening than exciting. And sometimes, no matter how hard we try to do the right, as Byren does, everything goes wrong.

There has been a bit of controversy with this series because one of the supporting characters is gay. I really did not expect this. The fact that Orrade is gay, tests Byren’s strength of character. But this is only a very small thread in the larger narrative which is a rollicking adventure.

~~ ♥ ~~ ♥ ~~ ♥ ~~ ♥ ~~ ♥ ~~ ♥ ~~ ♥ ~~ ♥ ~~ ♥ ~~

Giveaway!! (yes, another one!)
Rowena is giving away one book from her King Rolen’s King trilogy (eg. If you haven’t read any of her books, she’ll send book one. If have book one, she’ll send you book two). This one's open INTERNATIONALLY!

To enter, comment and answer this question:
Take a look at your bookshelf and tell me which ones are keepers and why.

Oh boy, that would be a page-long answer for me... Maybe it'll have to be a whole blog post... *grin* What about you? Don't forget to include your email address in your comment, and do it before 6pm CST February 16th!

Can't wait? Pick up Rowena's books from Amazon!

Review: 24. The Spirit Lens by Carol Berg...

February 8, 2011
I'd read Carol Berg's Bridge of D'Arnath series a while back and liked it, and so when I saw this one, I had to give it a try...

the spirit lensTitle: The Spirit Lens (Collegia Magica #1)
Author: Carol Berg
ISBN-13: 9780451463111
Paperback: 480 pages
Publisher: Penguin, 2010
Purchase at IndieBound, Amazon, The Book Depository
Source: Waukesha Public Library

drey's thoughts:
In Carol Berg's latest fantasy, it's magic vs. science, with the latter coming into popularity in the kingdom of Sabria. When this results in magicians' attempt to assassinate Sabria's King Philippe, he enlists the help of his very-distant cousin to uncover the traitors, and to determine if his wife is somehow behind the attempt.

Portier de Savin-Duplais agrees to help the King, and hits the ground running. The stuff he uncovers places his own life at risk, and he finds himself looking for plots within plots as he tries to unravel the tangled web of treachery. But can he do it before the kingdom unravels right in front of his eyes?

Character: Portier is a typical hero in this type of story. He's not very good at what he does, and fumbles his way through the hurdles that are thrown in his path. He's just nice enough, just personable enough, just smart enough, to try to put the pieces of the puzzle together. His companions are a foppish dandy and an irascible magician. Between the three of them, it's almost like watching The Three Stooges.

Pace & Plot: The Spirit Lens moves along quickly, and at times your head spins with the reveals. The plot is twisty, too, which doesn't help with the head-spin. But it does keep you turning the pages!

drey's rating: 3/5 Good: I can't wait to pick up book #2, The Soul Mirror.

Have you read The Spirit Lens? What did you think?


Alright. T'was time to pick winners for some giveaways... First contest: Cynthia Eden's Deadly Heat and Deadly Lies! I have three winners to pick, and put Randomizer to work. The lucky three are:

Cathy M!!



Next contest is for Michael Connelly's The Lincoln Lawyer paperback & movie poster! There are five winners, and Randomizer says they are:






Emails have gone out to all winners, please reply with your mailing information before the end of day Friday! Congratulations, y'all!!!

Review: 23. Everyone Loves a Hero by Marie Force...

February 7, 2011
I've read Marie Force's Love at First Flight and Fatal Affair, so when this one came up, how could I not give it a whirl?

everybody loves a hero
Title: Everyone Loves a Hero ...and that's the problem
Author: Marie Force
ISBN-13: 9781402245749
ARC: 379 pages
Publisher: Sourcebooks, Inc., 2011
Purchase at IndieBound, Amazon, The Book Depository
Source: Sourcebooks

drey's thoughts:
Cole is your typical flyboy--that is, he's cocky and full of himself. Doesn't hurt that he's also gorgeous. And then he goes and lands a plane in a blizzard, and saves his co-pilot's life. Talk about a hero complex, huh?

Olivia works at one of the concession stands at the airport, to make money so she can go to school. Then she meets Cole, and her heart and head go to war over whether she should go out with him or not...

Character: I like Cole, but how could I not? He's a flyboy! Ok, ok, so he's totally cool and up front and honest and good and all things nice (to Olivia, at least!). What's not to like? Olivia is hardworking and introverted, a Cinderella type who can't believe that Prince Charming's asking her to dance... She takes the chance, hoping that he doesn't break her heart, but runs when one of his nutty exes shows up claiming that Olivia's a "last fling" before she and Cole get married... Will they get their happily-ever-after?

Pace & Plot: Everyone Loves a Hero is a typical girl-meets-boy-etc. story that flows so beautifully that you won't be able to put it down until you get to the end. And that's only because you run out of words to read.

drey's rating: 4/5 Excellent: Heartwarming contemporary romance for a cold winter night.

Have you read Everyone Loves a Hero? What did you think?

Blog Tour: 22. Allison Pang and A Brush of Darkness!

February 6, 2011
Goooooood morning, y’all! Today we’re lucky enough to have a visitor. Allison Pang is touring for her debut novel, A Brush of Darkness, and has very kindly agreed to indulge my curiosity with this short and sweet Q&A...

allison pang
About the author:
A marine biologist in a former life, Allison Pang spends her days in Northern Virginia working as a cube grunt and her nights waiting on her kids and cats, punctuated by the occasional husbandly serenade. Sometimes she even manages to write. Mostly she just makes it up as she goes. She also loves Hello Kitty, sparkly shoes, and gorgeous violinists.

drey: Hello, Allison! Welcome to drey’s library, and thank you for taking the time to stop by. I, and my readers, appreciate it.

Could you start us off with a short introduction? Who is Allison Pang, and when did she know she wanted to be a writer?

Allison: Nothing like starting with the small questions. LOL.

drey: Well... Where would the fun be in that?? *wink*

Allison: I don’t know if I ever knew I wanted to be a writer, honestly. I told stories to myself a lot when I was growing up and sometimes I’d write them down, but I was always first and foremost a reader. I read all the time. (I was one of those lonely, bullied kids, hence a lot of alone time. *shrugs*). I think the idea of writing a book always lurked in the back of my head, but I had no real way of knowing how to do it. It wasn’t really anything they taught at school and even when I took writing classes in college, it wasn’t the sort of thing I was looking for. So, I pretty much put the getting published idea on the backburner for over 12 years. Didn’t write a thing until I got involved in some play-by-post games a few years ago and A Brush of Darkness was my experimental “let’s see if I can really do this” book.

drey: Share a bit about A Brush of Darkness with us. How did this story first make itself known to you? How long did it take to tell it?

Allison: It happened in pieces. A few of the secondary characters actually showed up in a short story I wrote back in college (that subsequently got eaten when the floppy got corrupted). Over the years after that, I had an itch to go back to that particular little town I’d started writing in, but it wasn’t until I had a dream (such a cliché, I know, right?) where I was wandering through this abandoned house looking for someone (*cough* yes, that’s where one of those last scenes in the book comes from), that I became intrigued enough to really start scratching out some notes. Eventually I decided to try writing for “Real” and I went back and started putting it all together. However, I am not really much of a plotter, so I just started writing the first chapter initially with no idea of where it was going.

At the same time I was taking a lot of online workshops and I often used the writing exercises to write small 500 to 1000 word scenes, most of which I fit into the book in some fashion. In fact, BoD was written in mismatched chunks like that for the first few months, but I think I was procrastinating a lot because I was terrified of failing (and success, I guess.) After about six months, I had maybe 30k written and then I went and signed up for RT 2009 convention.

Snoopy Peanuts Dark Stormy NightEssentially I told myself that if I was going to spend that kind of money to go, I’d be damned if I didn’t have something to pitch. So in four months I wrote the additional 70k and pitched it. (And was rejected. LOL)

drey: Wow. I am in awe that you managed to write 70% in four months! You go, girl!

Were there any editing casualties? Will he/she/they appear in a sequel?

Allison: Yes – there were a few editing casualties. I originally wrote BoD as a paranormal romance, so there was at least one sex scene that was cut and one that was shortened considerably when I was asked to rewrite the book as an Urban Fantasy. I suspect one of those scenes will show up in a sequel, yes. :) (Or maybe I’ll just do a “director’s cut” of the scene for free on my website.)

drey: I like "director's cuts"... I like free, too. But that's probably a symptom of this reading (i.e. book-hoarding) problem I have, so ignore that, will you?

Where did you find Phineas? I mean, how many pervy unicorns have you come across in your underwear drawer? *grin*

Allison: No unicorns – but my cats? Oy. Growing up, I had one cat who always slept in my dresser drawers. And I currently have one who’s a total pervert. Runs around dragging my bathrobe around the house and humping it. And there’s Phin for you. LOL.

drey: Oy. Thanks for that image in my head... But I guess I asked for it, eh?

Time for some fun(ny?) stuff:
drey: Smackdown: Phineas vs. Hello Kitty in the UFC ring. Who wins? What about Minnie Mouse vs. Hello Kitty?

Allison: Heh. Phineas would probably just try to sleep with her. Not sure who would win in that situation. *cough* And Hello Kitty would totally have it all over Minnie Mouse. After all, just look at all the awesome Hello Kitty stuff out there!

drey: Oh wow... I'm, um, speechless?

Ok... Next!! Violinist beauty pageant: Who takes the crown, and who’s Miss (Mr?) Congeniality?

Allison: Is this a trick question? You *do* know I have a David Garrett fetish, right? (Don’t believe me? Just check out the blog I run:

drey: Hahahahahahahaha! Nope, no doubts at all... Talented fella, there... *grin*

If A Brush of Darkness started with “It was a dark and stormy night”, what are the next few sentences?

Allison: It was a dark and stormy night. Of course, my impression of the weather was a bit dampened by the fact that it was pretty dark and stormy in my bedroom too. Or at least wet. And smelly. Stupid unicorn.

drey: OMG, I just snorted water out my nose. Thanks a lot! :P

Thank you so much for playing along, Allison! Come back and visit again!

Y’all, find Allison online at her website, Heart of the Dreaming.

a brush of darkness
About the book:
Title: A Brush of Darkness
Author: Allison Pang
ISBN-13: 9781439198322
ARC: 343 pages
Publisher: Simon & Schuster, 2011
Purchase at IndieBound, Amazon, The Book Depository
Source: FinePrint Literary Management

Six months ago, twenty-six-year-old Abby Sinclair was struggling to pick up the pieces of her shattered life. Now, she has an enchanted iPod and a miniature unicorn living in her underwear drawer. With her lack of OtherWorldly knowledge, Abby needs all the help she can get. So when her Faery employer and some of her friends go missing, she must team up with the sexy and mysterious incubus who’s been haunting her dreams. As Abby’s sucked deeper and deeper into this dangerous world she barely knows—filled with daemons, angels, and faeries—she finds herself trapped at the center of it all. And she might not be able to escape…

drey's thoughts:
I have to admit, I picked up A Brush of Darkness multiple times, and never quite got past the first 15 pages. When I finally did get past that "hump," I couldn't understand why I'd gotten stuck. I mean, I've just barely met Abby at that point... AND the book's really really good. I'm not just saying that, either.

This urban fantasy is more fae-focused than were or vamp or other-types-of-paranormal. And it rocks.

Character: The characters are interesting, and not just Abby and Brystion either. Abby's friends are cool, her pet unicorn is hilariously perverted, her boss' bodyguard is a sanctimonious angel, and the big bad dude's big. And bad. Abby is perfect as the unsure-of-herself but tries-to-do-right heroine, and she uses her smarts, even if she doesn't really know enough of the big picture to be, well, smart... I loved the WoW reference, too. Guildies! *grin*

Pace & Plot: The storyline looks pretty simple at first. Abby's boss disappears, but she's not sure if she should panic. After all, she's still pretty new at this... Then Brystion shows up, and life as she knows it goes to hell in a hand basket... Or maybe it was already there, and she just didn't know enough to know that? In any case, Abby's dragged into a web of lies, confusion, and danger, as she tries to find out what's happened to her boss.

Allison doesn't give much away as she unravels the storyline for you, rather she feeds you just enough bits and pieces to keep reeling you in... And every so many turns 'round the square, you get another piece of the puzzle. Some of 'em open your eyes, and some of 'em confuse you a bit more. On purpose, I bet. *grin* Before you know it, though, all the pieces come together, and you're done with the book! Phew!

drey's rating: 3/5 Good: Awesome addition to the urban fantasy genre! With a sense of humor to boot!

Have you read A Brush of Darkness? What did you think?

2011 Challenge: New Author

Thanks to FinePrint Literary Management, I have one copy of Allison's A Brush of Darkness for you! This one's for those of you who live in the US only, and the one-book-per-household rule applies.

To enter, comment below and either ask Allison a question, or share your Smackdown! match-ups against either Phineas or Hello Kitty (along with who wins, of course!). Remember to include your email address. And do it all before 6pm CST February 19th. Good luck!

B&N's February eBook spotlight: Laura Lippman's Baltimore Blues--$0.99!

February 5, 2011
B&N's February spotlight is on Laura Lippman's Baltimore Blues, the first book of her Tess Monaghan series.

Click on the image to head on over to B&n to pick up your copy for only $0.99!

Review: 21. The King's Bastard by Rowena Cory Daniells....

February 4, 2011
I love the cover of Rowena Cory Daniells' The King's Bastard! There's just something a bit, um, sinister about it, isn't there?

the king's bastard
Title: The King's Bastard (Chronicles of King Rolen's Kin #1)
Author: Rowena Cory Daniells
ISBN-13: 9781907519017
Paperback: 640 pages
Publisher: Simon & Schuster, 2010
Purchase at IndieBound, Amazon, The Book Depository
Source: Rowena Cory Daniells

drey's thoughts:
The King's Bastard is an epic fantasy offering from Rowena Cory Daniells, the first of 3 books. In this one, we are introduced to Byren, the King's second son. His twin brother Lence is the heir, his younger brother Fyn is promised to the abbey, and his sister Piro is, well, the King's daughter.

There is magic here, dubbed Affinity, and it seems to mess with you enough that if you show any signs of it, you're shipped off to the Abbey to learn how to control it. Rogue users do so on penalty of death. So when the King's progeny start displaying signs of Affinity, what is there to do? Well, try to hide it, of course. Until you can't anymore, because the consequences are less threatening than the alternative.

Character: Byren Kingsson is a good man. He is loyal to his family, his country, and his friends. That loyalty gets him in trouble, when he tries to protect his BFF from being outed, and is himself "outed" instead. Not that he's gay, but who cares about the details? His twin, Lence, is not as likable. He's malleable, and is more glass-half-empty than glass-half-full. Being the heir, it's not difficult to get him all paranoid that Byren's up to something, especially when you have advisers who're pretty good at working the spin machine...But you'd think you'd give your own twin the benefit of the doubt, right? I mean, where's all the twin-power at?

Pace & Plot: The story takes a little while to get going, and there is so much happening--with four children, plus the King and his Queen, and some of the other characters--that I needed to go back and re-read some chapters to get my story straight. But once stuff starts, it doesn't stop, and keeps building until something has to combust. And combust it does.

I found some of the story to be very simplistic, where I was all "duh!" and some of it to be truly engrossing. But all in all, a pretty good yarn, and I'll be looking for the next book to find out what happens to Byren next.

drey's rating: 3/5 Good

2011 Challenge: New Author

Have you read The King's Bastard? What did you think?

Review: 20. Ghost Town by Rachel Caine...

February 3, 2011
Rachel Caine's Morganville Vampires series is addicting... And so I found myself picking up #9 to find out what's happening in this little town in Texas...

ghost town
Title: Ghost Town (Morganville Vampires #9)
Author: Rachel Caine
ISBN-13: 9780451231611
Hardcover: 338 pages
Publisher: Penguin Group, 2010
Purchase at IndieBound, Amazon, The Book Depository
Source: Waukesha Public Library

drey's thoughts:
So, things have settled down in Morganville--as much as things ever "settle"... But the vampires need to replace Ada, and be able to enforce the no-leaving rule, so Amelie has Claire working with Myrnin to figure out a solution. Which they do, but then Myrnin adds his special touch and things start going haywire again.

Character: I heart Claire. And I am so sorry that she has to deal with all the crazies in Morganville. How unlucky can one girl get? Don't ask... Anyway. Claire has her hands full in this installment, as she figures out that the new "Ada" isn't working quite right. And she thinks Myrnin has something to do with it, but how do you prove that the crazy vamp is really crazy? Especially when he could crunch you like a bug, and just about as quickly, too. To add to her stress level Amelie and Oliver are fighting, and nothing's looking like roses anywhere. The gang's all here, but this one's heavy on Claire and Myrnin, with doses of Shane's father Frank.

Pace & Plot: The plot is pretty straightforward: fix the machine, so that Morganville can be contained and controlled again. All the (main) stuff in between the covers is from the machine going haywire, finding out why, and attempting to fix it. I really enjoyed reading about Claire's frustration (& gross-out) with Myrnin's additions to "her" creation. Pretty descriptive, and just a bit eeeew-y. And the ending? Creeped me out!

drey's rating: 3/5 Good: Add this teen read to your vampy bookshelf... I will be picking up #10 when it comes out. I have to know what happens next. Sigh. *shudder*

Have you read Ghost Town? What did you think?

February's Featured Author: Say hello to Rowena Cory Daniells!

February 2, 2011
Oh, yikes! Can you guys believe it's February already? Like, where did January go?? BUT, since it is February, I get to introduce another author to you. Please welcome the lovely fantasy author Rowena Cory Daniells, all the way from Down Under. Yes, I now have that song stuck in my head, and yes, I'm sharing the link so you can get it stuck in your head, too...

We'll start off with the Q&A, and you'll want to read to the end to get in on the lovely contest she's hosting! Are you ready to meet Rowena? Buckle up, here we go!

drey: Hello and welcome to drey’s library, Rowena! Your name is just lovely--I once had a neighbor with your name, and I was jealous that she had such a beautiful and graceful name. Ok, so maybe the fact that she was beautiful AND graceful had something to do with that, too... ;)

rowena cory daniells
Rowena: Thanks, Drey. I love the name Audrey, always reminds me of Audrey Hepburn, now that’s one elegant lady!

drey: Awwwwww, shucks, thank you! *blush* My mom named me after the lovely Audrey, but unfortunately I only bear her name... *grin*

BUT, we’re not here to talk about me, we’re here to talk about YOU! So shall we get started?

Please introduce yourself to us, preferably in more than one sentence.

Rowena: Wow, that is a really hard one to answer. How about this? I get up every morning and try to give the best of myself to everything I do and to my family and friends. By the time I fall into bed at night I’m exhausted. But I wouldn’t have it any other way.

drey: See, that wasn't really that hard, was it? *grin*

Have you always wanted to write? Why fantasy as opposed to other genres?

Rowena: You mean there are other genres? No, seriously, isn’t everything fantasy in one way or another? James Bond, now that’s a fantasy …

drey: True, true... goes off daydreaming of Daniel Craig...

Rowena: I’ve always told myself stories. When I see a movie and the character does something, I think - that’s just how I would have written it, or - what was the writer thinking, he/she’d never do that! If I see a movie or read a book that surprises me, the characters stay with me and I carry on their stories in my head because I want to know what happens to them after the book/movie ends. If I come across a book or movie with an ending that disappoints me, I’ll mentally rewrite the ending. I thought everybody did this.

drey: I'm so not that creative... Which is why I read, and leave the writing to others!

How do your stories make their way from your imagination to paper?

Rowena: When it’s going well, it doesn’t feel like I’m writing a story, it feels like the story is writing itself. Characters do things and I’m just scrambling to keep up, connecting the dots. Other times, I have to push through patches where things aren’t going well. If the story doesn’t flow it means that something isn’t working and the block is my subconscious telling me this.

That’s when mowing the yard it really useful. Unlike house work, a mowed yard stays mowed for a couple of weeks and the repetitive physical exercise lets my subconscious get to work on the story. There’s this little story-telling part of my brain that never really switches off. I’ll often wake in the middle of the night with the solution to a plot problem.

cat with The King's Bastard
drey: What do you do to recharge your batteries?

Rowena: Input has to exceed output. The brain needs to be challenged. I’m always learning, always watching trying to make sense of the world. About once a year my writing group ROR goes away to spend a weekend critiquing our WIPs (work-in-progress). This is really good for me. It sets a deadline and it gets me out the treadmill of work and family. Sometimes you just need to get away, to appreciate what you have when you come back.

drey: Screen version of King Rolen’s Kin: Who would you have on your dream team?

Rowena: Oh, wow, let me be totally self indulgent with this. KRK is a rollicking tale, meant to sweep you away. I’d like to see Zhang Yimou direct because he knows how to tell a good story and his art direction is absolutely beautiful! (Hero, House of Flying Daggers, Curse of the Golden Flower). As for actors, I’d like to give a cast of unknowns a break. I wouldn’t want people watching the movie to be thinking Brad Pitt’s doing a good job - I’d like them to be totally immersed.

King Rolen's Kin books

drey: ♥ You are so on my favorites list now, those are some of my favorite epic movies ever! My gamertag on XBOX Live is theGoldenFlower. Muahahahahahaha! *grin*

Smackdown: Your favorite characters face off in the ring. Who are they, who wins, and why?

Rowena: I’m probably over thinking this, do you mean my characters as in characters that I’ve written, or other writers’ characters, or do you mean my characters against other writers’ characters? (I used to drive my teachers crazy).

drey: Yes... lol!

Rowena: I’m going to be really wicked and say I’d like to see Sherlock Holmes in a mental battle with Spock. I think Holmes would win because he’d fight dirty.

drey: eReaders are popping up all over the place... And along with it, controversy over the pricing of eBooks vs print copies. What’re your thoughts?

Rowena: Over here in Australia we are only just seeing eReaders cropping up in the wild. People on trains reading them, someone at work in the lunch room, that sort of thing. They are still enough of an oddity for me to strike up a conversation with the person and ask them how they find using the eReader. The person usually says something like, I read a mountain of books, this way I can carry them all around with me. Reader Heaven!

drey: Um, yeah, TOTALLY!

What’s up next for you?

Rowena: I’m currently working on book three of The Outcast Chronicles, which I have to hand in to my publisher, Solaris, in May. Think sensual and violent with lashings of political intrigue as one woman tries to save her people from persecution!

drey: Ooooh, sounds awesome!

And, last but not least, the quickie 5:
  1. Who would you rather have show up at your doorstep: Hugh Jackman or Eric Bana?
  2. Neither. I already have my real life hero! (awwwwwww!)
  3. Wine: Red or white?
  4. White, but only once a year on our anniversary.
  5. Dessert: Cheesecake or ice cream?
  6. Definitely cheesecake. I have two daughters (and four sons – my house is testosterone city!). So it is really nice to get out with my daughters to have cheesecake and coffee and put the world to rights. If we get one piece of cheesecake between the three of us it is 66% fat free!
  7. Pet: Dogs or cats?
  8. Cats and this is why:
    cats and dogs
  9. Chocolate: Solo or paired (& if paired, with what)?
  10. Dark Chocolate paired with my DH, so we can cuddle on the couch and watch a good movie!

drey: Thank you so much for visiting us this month, Rowena! I hope you enjoy your stay. Everyone, find Rowena online at her website,, and the website for King Rolen's Kin.

And come back on Wednesdays this month for her awesome giveaways, which we're starting off right now!!

Rowena is giving away one book from her King Rolen’s Kin trilogy (eg. If you haven’t read any of her books, she’ll send book one. If have book one, she’ll send you book two). This one's open INTERNATIONALLY!

To enter, comment below and answer Rowena's question:
Did you see the new Sherlock Holmes set in contemporary London? Did you see the latest Sherlock Holmes movie with Robert Downey Jr.? Who is your favorite incarnation of Sherlock Holmes and why?

Hmm... I want to see that latest Holmes movie, I heart Robert Downey Jr... It's actually on my Netflix list, it just hasn't made its way here yet... I'm off to go remedy that now!

Oh, and don't forget to include your email address in your comment. Enter before 6pm CST February 9th. Good luck!!

Fire & Ash winner!

February 1, 2011
Well, January's over (*sniff* *cry*)... Yes, already. Is it just me, or does time fly by faster the older I get?? o.O

Anyway. donnas, you've won a copy of Anne Patrick's Fire & Ash! Congratulations!! I've sent an email out, please confirm that it's correct (or email me if you don't see that one!), and I'll get it over to Anne right away. Thank you so much for swinging by!
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