Wednesday, May 27, 2015

BEA 2015!


Hey Everyone!

Today I'm headed to NYC for my 5th BookExpo America. WOO HOO!!! I can't believe it's been 5 years since I've started this blog, time has definitely flown by. I'm not going to put up any posts this week since I won't be around to return comments and generally be social, but I'll be back on Sunday and will have all sorts of fun things to share next week!

Talk to all of you soon:)

- Jenny

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Giveaway: Charley Davidson Series


To help celebrate the 8th book in the hugely entertaining Charley Davidson series, I have a very special giveaway (prizing and samples courtesy of St. Martin's Press) to share with you all today! I've only read the first book in this series (SHAME ON ME!), but if you have yet to meet Charley (and Reyes!), then you're going to want to make time for them immediately. So. Good.

Before we get to the giveaway though, here's a brief introduction for those of you who are new to this series:


First Grave on the Right is the smashing, award-winning debut novel that introduces Charley Davidson: part-time private investigator and full-time Grim Reaper..

Charley sees dead people. That's right, she sees dead people. And it's her job to convince them to "go into the light." But when these very dead people have died under less than ideal circumstances (i.e., murder), sometimes they want Charley to bring the bad guys to justice. Complicating matters are the intensely hot dreams she's been having about an Entity who has been following her all her life...and it turns out he might not be dead after all. In fact, he might be something else entirely.

While 8 books is an intimidating number, I have little doubt they'll all fly by, so I can't wait to get caught up! Eighth Grave After Dark is out now, so here I come with the binge-reading Charley and Reyes!


Sometimes I wonder if the purpose of my life
is to serve as a cautionary tale to others.
--T-shirt

Charley Davidson has enough going on without having to worry about twelve hellhounds hot on her trail. She is, after all, incredibly pregnant and feeling like she could pop at any moment. But, just her luck, twelve deadly beasts from hell have chosen this time to escape onto our plane, and they've made Charley their target. And so she takes refuge at the only place she thinks they can't get to her: the grounds of an abandoned convent. Of course, if hellhounds aren't enough, Charley also has a new case to hold her attention: the decades-old murder of a newly-vowed nun she keeps seeing in the shadows of the convent.

Add to that the still unsolved murder of her father, the strange behavior of her husband, and Charley's tendency to attract the, shall we say, undead, and she has her hands full…but also tied. While the angry hellhounds can't traverse the consecrated soil, they can lurk just beyond its borders like evil sentries, so Charley has been forbidden from leaving the sacred grounds. Luckily, she has her loyal team with her, and they're a scrappy bunch who won't let a few thirsty hellhounds deter them.


While the team scours the prophesies, searching for clues on the Twelve, for a way to kill them or at least send them back to hell, Charley just wants answers and is powerless to get them. But the mass of friends they've accrued helps. They convince her even more that everyone in her recent life has somehow been drawn to her, as though they were a part of a bigger picture all along. Their presence is comforting. But the good feelings don't last for long because Charley is about to get the surprise of her crazy, mixed-up, supernatural life….


• • • • • • • • • • •

DARYNDA JONES

Photo: Donita Massey Privett

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author DARYNDA JONES won a RITA Award for best first novel for First Grave On The Right. As a born storyteller, she grew up spinning tales of dashing damsels and heroes in distress for any unfortunate soul who happened by, annoying man and beast alike. Jones lives in the Land of Enchantment, also known as Albuquerque, New Mexico, with her husband and two beautiful sons, the Mighty, Mighty Jones Boys.


• • • • • • • • • • •

GIVEAWAY


Thanks to the generosity of St. Martin's Press I have a No Rest For the Dead prize pack to give away today! One lucky winner will receive:

  • Branded coffee mug and Grim Reaper nail decals
  • The complete Charley Davidson series!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, May 22, 2015

Illusionarium Blog Tour: Interview + Giveaway

http://www.rockstarbooktours.com/2015/05/tour-schedule-illusionarium-by-heather.html

I'm crazy excited today to welcome author Heather Dixon to the blog as part of the promotional tour for her latest release, Illusionarium. I've always been fascinated by the idea of parallel worlds, so as soon as I read the synopsis for this book I knew I needed it in my life immediately. Given my obsession with the multiverse concept, I couldn't pass up the opportunity to ask Heather all sorts of parallel world-based questions, so I hope you all enjoy the interview and add Illusionarium to your lists if it's not already there. Welcome to Supernatural Snark Heather!

If Jonathan were asked to introduce himself to all the readers out there about to share in his story, what’s one fun personal fact he would toss out to help break the ice?

Jonathan would emphasize that he’s no one important; in fact, he might not even introduce himself at all. In the book, he insists that he’s a sort of person. Sort of tall. Sort of smart, but sort of not. Sort of curly hair, sort of thin, just…sort of. He’s a behind-the-scenes character who’s thrown into an adventure and has to rise up to meet it.

One thing that Jonathan does love: helping others. It’s manifested in his goal of becoming a surgeon, but throughout the story he gets kicked in the teeth time & time again, just so he can save his family. He’s selfless, and that isn’t sort of at all.

If you could step into the world of Illusionarium and bring with you one small thing from our modern world, what do you think would fascinate Jonathan most?

Ooo, good question. Jonathan would probably be fascinated with any kind of medical technology—x-rays and MRI’s and such. Super exciting, I know. I’m pretty sure he’d be fascinated with a moon rock. Heck, I’d be fascinated with a moon rock. That generation went to the moon with technology less powerful than a cell phone. Insane. I really respect that.

Let’s say parallel worlds truly do exist and you manage to find your way into one only to come face to face with another version of yourself. What would you most want to know about the life she’s lived?

I’d hope my alternate-world version is super exciting; maybe I’ve done adventurous things like, you know, eaten llama meat or something. Since real life is a lot more boring than fiction, I’d bet my alternate-version self isn’t much different than my real self. 

In fact, the encounter would probably just be me getting mad at myself for being such a loafer.  Like Calvin here, when he meets himself.


click to enlarge


Go figure.

A deadly plague is always more terrifying to me in a piece of fiction than any villain or monster could ever hope to be since it feels much closer to our reality. Which is more likely to send you into a state of panic: The threat of a plague or the zombie apocalypse? *shudders*

Zombie apocalypse, for sure. With plagues, you just need to remember to wash your hands. But avoiding zombies—while they are crawling through your windows, scratching at your doors, clawing through your flowerbeds, waiting in the plumbing for you to go to the bathroom—that takes a lot more work. I’ve been building up my food storage and practicing with a machete, of course, but could you really machete a family member if they wanted your brains? I couldn’t. Thankfully, I don’t have any brains…so this will never be a problem.

If the worlds of every piece of fiction were in fact parallel worlds that we all could travel between, what one character would you most like to meet in person and what villain would you hope never crosses your path?

THEY ARE THE SAME CHARACTER.


The Child Catcher, from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. So amazingly awesome, so absolutely terrifying…kids had to live in the sewers to avoid him. In a lot of ways, the Child Catcher is symbolic our own vices, dressed in candy and roses to lure us from safety and entrap us in our own misdeeds…yeah.  Best Villain Ever.

*Jenny falls down dead* This guy haunted my dreams for YEARS. YEARS HEATHER! *takes deep breaths*

Thanks so much for taking the time to answer my questions!

• • • • • • • • • • • • 

ILLUSIONARIUM


What if the world holds more dangers—and more wonders—than we have ever known? And what if there is more than one world? From Heather Dixon, author of the acclaimed Entwined, comes a brilliantly conceived adventure that sweeps us from the inner workings of our souls to the far reaches of our imaginations.

Jonathan is perfectly ordinary. But then—as every good adventure begins—the king swoops into port, and Jonathan and his father are enlisted to find the cure to a deadly plague. Jonathan discovers that he's a prodigy at working with a new chemical called fantillium, which creates shared hallucinations—or illusions. And just like that, Jonathan is knocked off his path. Through richly developed parallel worlds, vivid action, a healthy dose of humor, and gorgeous writing, Heather Dixon spins a story that calls to mind The Night Circus and Pixar movies, but is wholly its own.

AmazonB&NiBooksGoodreads




• • • • • • • • • • • 

HEATHER DIXON


Heather Dixon grew up in a large family with four brothers and six sisters. She is a storyboard artist as well as a writer, and lives in Salt Lake City, Utah. The Viennese waltz is her dance of choice. She is the author of the novel Entwined.


• • • • • • • • • • • •

GIVEAWAY

One lucky winner will receive a finished copy of ILLUSIONARIUM, plus an ARC of THE UNQUIET by Mikaela Everett! Please enter via the Rafflecopter form below. Giveaway is open to US addresses only.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

WEEK ONE
5/11/2015- Chapter by Chapter- Interview  
5/12/2015- Bumbles and Fairy-TalesReview  
5/13/2015- FiktshunGuest Post  
5/14/2015- A Dream Within A DreamReview  
5/15/2015- Two Chicks on BooksGuest Post
WEEK TWO
5/18/2015- Mundie MomsGuest Post  
5/19/2015- Falling For YAReview  
5/20/2015- Fire and IceInterview  
5/21/2015- Reading with ABCReview  
5/22/2015- Supernatural SnarkInterview

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Review: Shards of Hope

SHARDS OF HOPE
Psy-Changeling #14
Nalini Singh
Paranormal Romance
496 pages
Berkley
Available June 2nd
Source: ARC from publisher for review

THE STORY (from Goodreads)
Awakening wounded in a darkened cell, their psychic abilities blocked, Aden and Zaira know they must escape. But when the lethal soldiers break free from their mysterious prison, they find themselves in a harsh, inhospitable landscape far from civilization. Their only hope for survival is to make it to the hidden home of a predatory changeling pack that doesn’t welcome outsiders.

And they must survive. A shadowy enemy has put a target on the back of the Arrow squad, an enemy that cannot be permitted to succeed in its deadly campaign. Aden will cross any line to keep his people safe for this new future, where even an assassin might have hope of a life beyond blood and death and pain. Zaira has no such hope. She knows she’s too damaged to return from the abyss. Her driving goal is to protect Aden, protect the only person who has ever come back for her no matter what.

This time, even Aden’s passionate determination may not be enough—because the emotionless chill of Silence existed for a reason. For the violent, and the insane, and the irreparably broken…like Zaira.


MY THOUGHTS
Shards of Hope delves us deeper once again into the cool and calculating minds of the Psy race, and as always, it’s an absolute treat to watch our lead couple pull themselves out of the darkness that was Silence and into the light. Aden and Zaira, as damaged by the brutal way the Psy race disciplines their young as Vasic, Kaleb and Sahara before them, are unique as a couple in that they’ve had a lifetime together prior to us meeting them, their shared past making their eventual romance all the more satisfying.

Aden, perhaps the least Silent of the Psy protagonists immediately preceding him, makes it easy to fall in love with him quickly, shedding his Silent skin with far greater speed than Zaira, though the development of their romance is anything but fast. He’s more than aware of Zaira’s absolute need for a rigid structure to her life, the strength of her rage as a result of all that was done to her when she was young something that cannot go unchecked, and so the two of them take beautiful baby steps forward in changing the nature of their relationship. Each small step feels like a massive accomplishment however, Ms. Singh giving us glimpses now and then of everything the two of them faced in Arrow training as children to help us understand the emotional challenges they face, and we can do nothing but smile as the two of them fight their pasts to have a chance at their future.

While the Psy-Changeling series has always included time with characters other than our main couple – small snippets of characters whose stories have happened or will happen – Shards of Hope feels as though it bounces around a touch more than previous installments as Aden and Zaira uncover a massive chess game that aims to create a war between Psy, Changelings and humans. The middle in particular meanders a touch as our time with Aden and Zaira exclusively is limited, but as always, Ms. Singh introduces new characters who immediately grab our attention and touches base with beloved ones, so it’s hard to work up any kind of frustration at being denied additional time with our primary romantic pairing.

Overall, Shards of Hope uncovers a complicated plot that will undoubtedly have far-reaching effects in future books, but it anchors us with Aden and Zaira’s relationship, ensuring that we don’t get so overwhelmed with all the political maneuvering that we lose our emotional connection to their story. Here’s hoping a Changeling romance is up next though, as it’s been a while since we’ve gotten to take a walk on the wild side.

Rating: 4/5

Find Nalini:


This book was sent to me by the publisher free of charge for the purpose of a review
I received no other compensation and the above is my honest opinion.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Review: Lion Heart

LION HEART
Scarlet #3
A.C. Gaughen
Young Adult/Historical
348 pages
Bloomsbury
Available Now
Source: ARC from publisher for review

THE STORY (from Goodreads)
Scarlet has captured the hearts of readers as well as the heart of Robin Hood, and after ceaseless obstacles and countless threats, readers will finally find out the fate of the Lady Thief.

Imprisoned by Prince John for months, Scarlet finds herself a long way from Nottinghamshire. After a daring escape from the Prince's clutches, she learns that King Richard’s life is in jeopardy, and Eleanor of Aquitaine demands a service Scarlet can’t refuse: spy for her and help bring Richard home safe. But fate—and her heart—won’t allow her to stay away from Nottinghamshire for long, and together, Scarlet and Rob must stop Prince John from going through with his dark plans for England. They can not rest until he’s stopped, but will their love be enough to save them once and for all?


MY THOUGHTS
Lion Heart, like Lady Thief before it, is not always an easy read, a villain drunk on power with the might of a royal name behind him causing every muscle in our bodies to seize up as we flip the pages, trying valiantly to keep from throwing the book across the room in the hopes that mighty Prince John will feel it. While we have faith that Ms. Gaughen will usher Rob and Scarlet to a happy end by the time we close the back cover, that faith doesn’t lessen the intensity of their story, and we start each chapter with excitement and dread battling for supremacy as we wait to see what’s in store for our epic couple.

Scarlet has been easy to root for from the beginning, an innate need to protect those she loves driving her to step into the line of fire repeatedly, and through it all she holds herself together with a strength and grace we’re sure we wouldn’t be able to muster were we faced with the same circumstances. While she does have a brief moment where she seriously considers the tried and true romantic gesture of pushing Rob away for his own protection, her senses quickly return to her and she fully embraces the fact that she and Rob will forever be stronger together than apart.

After a lengthy build up with Prince John and his Machiavellian scheming to permanently remove his brother from the throne, the final showdown does happen fairly quickly and leaves us with almost no follow up as to what happens to our beloved cast of characters in the aftermath. That being said though, Ms. Gaughen does include an author’s note in the end that details a bit more of the history on which the story is based as well as where she took a few creative liberties, and those few pages provide quite a bit of closure. Overall, Lion Heart and the entirety of the Scarlet series is outstanding, both heart-wrenching and heartwarming in equal measure, and satisfying on every possible level.

Rating: 4/5

Find A.C.:

This book was sent to me by the author  free of charge for the purpose of a review
I received no other compensation and the above is my honest opinion.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Cover Evolution: City of Fae


I'm hugely excited and honored today to be a part of the blog tour for Pippa DaCosta's paranormal new adult novel, City of Fae. As many of you already know, I had the pleasure of working with both Pippa and Meredith of Bloomsbury Spark on this cover, so I thought it might be fun to do a little something different for my tour stop and give you guys a behind-the-scenes look at how this cover evolved over the course of the design process.


This was the original raw image. What first struck me about it was the old-world feel to the background city and pavement, and the very eerie quality to the mist as it swirled around the bold girl in red. I instantly pictured this image with London behind her as she stood strong against whatever paranormal creepiness might be hiding in the fog.

The initial critique of this image, while positive overall, raised questions about the model's facial expression. Her downcast eyes seemed too passive for Alina, so my first order of business involved finding a fiercer face for our heroine. Luckily for me, there were a series of shots of this same model available, so with a few small tweaks to color, I was able to give her a new look with relative ease.

After adding London to the background and making some color adjustments to help the cover pop, I ended up with this:


As you can see, I also made a small tweak to the garment wrapping around her shoulders, bringing the fabric in a little closer to her body on the left so as to add a special effect with a spiderweb later. The concept for this cover involved a disintegration effect, with Alina's body gradually dissolving into spiderwebs (to find out why that fits this story so well, you'll just have to read! ;-). I knew in order to achieve this effect, I had to build Alina's dress up and out, adding volume first so I could then subtract in places once I had more material to work with:


This is a very rough approximation of the final gown, you can see the new sections of fabric aren't quite blended into the original dress as of yet. In addition to building the bottom of her gown, I also had to create a large chunk of pavement to cover Alina's feet, otherwise the bottom hem of her original skirt would have been visible through the web.

The dress/web disintegration effect was done with a series of masks in Photoshop, adding pieces of the web in some areas and essentially deleting sections of web from the dress in others. This was a tedious process with a great deal of trial and error, and though I emerged from this round of proofs temporarily blinded from staring at my screen for so long, I think the final effect was worth it!


At this point the design was nearly finished, with only a few small tweaks remaining. I added some colored smoke and a slight purple glow around her body to give the cover a more ominous and paranormal feel:


The final steps included adding the small web detail on her shoulder where I'd removed the fabric before and incorporating the type. I knew I wanted a typeface that was elegant and sophisticated, befitting the regal quality of her dress, but I also knew the tunnels underneath the city played a role in the story, so I wanted to make sure the type had a grittiness to it as well. I made a few small adjustments to the letter shapes themselves and worked in a subtle texture, and then with the addition of the Bloomsbury Spark logo, a few extra smoke trails weaving around the title, and Pippa's name, we had our final cover!



CITY OF FAE
From the moment Alina touches London's hottest fae superstar, breaking one of the laws founded to protect all of her kind, her fate – and the fae – close in.

Below ground, the fae High Queen plots to claim the city as her own and places her pawns, ready for the battle to come. A battle she cannot lose, but for one small problem – Alina. There are four ancient keepers powerful enough to keep the queen in her prison. Three are dead. One remains … And to fight back, Alina risks sacrificing everything she has come to love.

This New Adult urban fantasy is packed with action and suspense and will have you yearning for more forbidden fae romance.

Find Pippa:

Be sure and check out the previous stops on the tour for more interviews, guest posts and City of Fae awesomeness!