August 31, 2012

Gush and Gripe #8 + NetGalley Knockout


We just recently reached 1000 followers!

How awesome is this news?! We like to thank every one of you who followed and joined our discussions. All the authors, publishers and tour sites who've helped us reach this goal, you somehow made it easier for us and definitely more fun. You make us feel so special and very much loved. We do our best to return the favor because we know how challenging it is to gain followers and have them actually follow you, pay attention to your posts and exchange thoughts. So we pay it forward and it's very heartwarming that it paid off somehow. 

We promise to come up with more fun stuff and read-worthy articles for all of you. If we can only give each one of you a hug, we definitely will!


Maybe this is an uninformed rambling so feel free to comment so we can discuss it for the ultimate purpose of enlightenment. Help me understand why (1) some electronic books are the same prize as their paperback counterparts and (2) some are even more expensive than print versions!

A standard paperback is $7.99 while some digital print books are $9.99 and at times you can't even loan the ebook out, it's a little steep if you ask me. I would think these traditional publishers are saving money on raw materials like paper, ink, binding, surplus prints, etc. by going digital so shouldn't it follow that the prices of their ebooks be cheaper? Not only that, I've noticed that the expensive ones are usually the YA books. Your target market are average teens (unemployed) who rely on their allowance and baby-sitting money to buy ten-dollar books, that's a little steep if you ask me.

I love physical books, the feel of paper, the smell of a new book, cracking open that virgin book spine, for a bibliophile those sensations are incomparable.  But I'm also for technology and going Green. Digital books are saving trees and the environment and Amazon turned it into this gigantic global market, it's time someone regulates the pricing method IMHO. There's a lot of room for improvement here and I hope someone takes a look at it and make this market more efficient and consumer friendly.


My original goal was 19 books and though I didn't meet my goal nor kept to my original list of books, I still think I did pretty well. I did cheat with other books and if I count that, I'd meet my goal. In any case, it was fun and as far as I'm concerned, it gave me the extra push to read my galleys so mission accomplished Goldilox!

  1. Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas
  2. If I were You by Lisa Renee Jones
  3. Mockingbird by Chuck Wendig
  4. Lip Service by M.J. Rose
  5. A Lady Can Never Be Too Curious - DNF
  6. Fifty-One Shades of Blonde
  7. The Enchanted Truth
  8. The Kingdom - review pending
  9. The Sweetest Dark by Shana Abe
  10. Speechless by Hannah Harrington
  11. The Angel by Tiffany Reisz - review closer to date of release
  12. Blades of Winter by G.T. Almasi
  13. The Dark Unwinding by Sharon Cameron

Masked Blusher: Licked, Cuffed + Spanked by Erotica

Hi, I am the Masked Blusher, I am anonymous unless you figure out who I am, then maybe not so much. 

We never thought we'd ever tag a Guest Blog post with 18 and up... guess there's always a first time for everything. Proceed with caution. 

Review: The Dark Unwinding by Sharon Cameron

Format: ARC (NetGalley)
Release Date: September 1, 2012
Excerpt here
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository 

A spine-tingling tale of steampunk and spies, intrigue and heart-racing romance!
When Katharine Tulman's inheritance is called into question by the rumor that her eccentric uncle is squandering away the family fortune, she is sent to his estate to have him committed to an asylum. But instead of a lunatic, Katharine discovers a genius inventor with his own set of rules, who employs a village of nine hundred people rescued from the workhouses of London.

Katharine is now torn between protecting her own inheritance and preserving the peculiar community she grows to care for deeply. And her choices are made even more complicated by a handsome apprentice, a secretive student, and fears for her own sanity.

As the mysteries of the estate begin to unravel, it is clear that not only is her uncle's world at stake, but also the state of England as Katharine knows it. With twists and turns at every corner, this heart-racing adventure will captivate readers with its intrigue, thrills, and romance.
THE DARK UNWINDING is set in a beautiful estate with a community that is self sufficient led by an eccentric genius inventor. When Katherine set foot in Stranwyne Keep, she never expected a self-sufficient community where people were given decent employment to provide for themselves and their family all because of her Uncle's hobby. Katherine was set to believe that Fat Robert's inheritance, and consequently hers, is being squandered in useless gadgetry that his Uncle was fond of creating. This premise planted in her mind by her Aunt Alice can't be farther from the truth because her Uncle's madness has done nothing but improve people's lives and now it's up to Katherine to keep it that way. 
-- the villagers of Stranwyne do not deserve to be turned out of their homes. And neither does your unvle belong in a lunatic's cell, merely for the crime of being created differently from his fellows.
A very promising plot line that turned into a very laborious read! THE DARK UNWINDING was slow to unwind and get on with the story. The world that Sharon Cameron created is dark, gritty and exactly what the cover art implies. What killed it was the world building itself. She took her time in sowing the seeds she planted and the heart-racing romance promised faded in the background. Towards the end I couldn't care less about Katherine's love life or inheritance, I just want to get it over with. The slow pace doused the excitement I felt when I started reading the book. 

Which is disappointing because Katherine is a likable heroine. She's sharp, objective, carefree and empathetic towards the people her Uncle employed. The setting is equally fascinating with all those clockwork gadgets and her Uncle Tully's genius, even the secondary characters were entertaining enough. It's the way these strong points were strung together that affected an otherwise engaging story. With all the mysteries and possible conflicts the plot implies, SCameron could've jumped in the thick of things right away instead of distracting us with too much scenery.

August 30, 2012

Feature and Follow #14: Best Cover Bad Story

Feature & Follow is a weekly meme hosted by, Parajunkee and Alison Can Read. Each week, each host will have their own Feature Blog which allows them to show off more new blogs! It is a fun way to keep in touch with fellow bloggers, meet new bloggers and gain new followers. 
This Week's Question

What is the best cover of a book that you’ve read and didn’t like?

Answer: Lauren Kate's Fallen is one of the first book that started the trend of girls wearing ball gowns but with a Gothic feel to it. I LOVED this trend, I found it very attractive and like most of you, I was weak and picked up the series because of the catchy title and cover. 
Unfortunately the story wasn't up to my liking, I didn't find Luce a strong heroine and the love triangle was weak and truly annoying.

Feel free to follow Talk Supe via GFC, NetworkedBlogs, Linky or Email subscription. If you're new to our site, please leave a comment below and we will make sure to visit & follow your blog. You may also follow Talk Supe on Twitter and Facebook.

Happy Feature & Follow!

August 28, 2012

Writer Wrangler: G.T. Almasi on Blades of Winter + Alix Nico

So if you've dropped by our blog last week, you might have seen this review I did where I dropped a couple of French words. In case you missed it, it's for Blades of Winter, penned by this guy who graciously stopped by our blog today to talk more about Alix Nico and his debut novel.

Talk Supe: Hi G.T.! Thanks for for indulging our interview request. 
G.T. Almasi: Glad to be here.

Talk Supe: Like I mentioned in my review, I had a hard time classifying Blades Of Winter in terms of genre. It has a sci-fi feel to it but its so much more than that. I know Blades Of Winter falls under several but if one is to box it, in what genre would it fall under? I think you're the best person to consult with.
G.T.: I saw an interview with Maurice Sendak where he indicated that he did not consider himself a writer of children’s books. That categorization came from everyone who read his classic book, Where The Wild Things Are. 
My book mashes-up several genres, so I also have a hard time classifying it. I didn’t set out to write in a genre, I just wrote whatever I wanted. I guess the fact that Blades of Winter is being published by Random House’s science fiction imprint Del Rey means it’s Science Fiction.

Talk Supe: There are a lot of teen heroines running around the book world, makes Alix different from the rest?
G.T.: I think all the teen heroines running around are pretty different from each other. Lisbeth Salander, Bella Swan, Katniss Everdeen, Hannah Heller, Hermione Granger and the other female action leads are unique characters, each in their own worlds and situations. 

What makes Alix unique is that violence is her chosen profession. She carries out her missions with a fevered zeal that reveals a certain lack of empathy, which I believe all killers carry, whether they’re government-sponsored or not.

Alix’s story is not intended for young readers. The language is strong, the violence is graphic, and her attitude is not always that exemplary. In this way she’s similar to Lisbeth and Hannah, but unlike these two characters Alix intentionally immerses herself in the sort of hair-raising situations most people, even these other characters, would run away from if they could. To paraphrase Bud from Repo Man, the life of Alix Nico is always intense.

Talk Supe: Was it hard for you to write about a story with a female lead and a teenager at that?
G.T.: The female part was not too difficult, but the teenage part was tricky. In my early drafts Alix was barely past puberty, yet her behavior was more like what you’d see from a late-teenager or early twenty-something. I based her advanced maturity on the poise I see from teenaged Olympic athletes. 

However, no American publisher would touch a story about such a young hit man, so I made her nineteen instead of fourteen. A concession I wrangled from my editor was that although we meet Alix when she’s nineteen, she’s been in the field since she was fifteen. We just haven’t gotten those stories from her... yet ;)

Talk Supe: How long did it take for you to conceptualize Shadowstorm and write the first book, Blades of Winter?
G.T.: I have notes from more than ten years ago. As more ideas came to me I’d add them to my journal, (note to all aspiring novelists: keep an Idea Journal!). Eventually I had so much material that I said, “Wow, I could write a whole book about this.” Then I said, “Well, why not?”

The original draft for Blades of Winter took me about a year to write. I’ll never forget the thrill of typing “The End.” Wow! I’d done it! 

Then the real work began. Five years and nineteen drafts later, hardly any of that original version remains, but I’m really happy with how it came out, especially since it’s the first book I’ve ever written.

Talk Supe: Which part of the book was the most challenging for you to write?
G.T.: The detective story part. Spy stories have a strong detective-story element, but when I read or watch a detective story I always think the butler did it.

Talk Supe: How many Shadowstorm books are you planning to write?
G.T.: Three for now; Blades of Winter, Hammer of Angels, and an as-yet-untitled third book. But I’ve left hooks all up and down my alt-history timeline for lots of other stories.

Talk Supe: What should we expect from Alix in Hammer of Angels? (I really love the book titles.)
G.T.: More ass-kicking craziness, with a greater sense of the impact her missions are having on history. She also grows up a bit from the experiences she has in both the first and second books. And her supporting cast receives some fun additions, not all of them entirely fictional.

Talk Supe: What would Alix say to convince the readers to buy her book?
G.T.: Oh man, nothing I could repeat in polite company. It would be really persuasive, that’s for sure.  ;)
Talk Supe: I think it'll be somewhere along the lines of Get it! Blades is Fuckin A!

Day jobGraphic designer / web developer.

Favorite band/song/albumMy favorite album is London Calling by the Clash, although my favorite song is White Riot, which is on their eponymous debut album. My favorite active band is Anti-Flag.

If you're to keep only one book from your library, what would it be? Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter S. Thompson.

Living person you're dying to meet: Elie Wiesel, author of Night.

Favorite / least favorite classes in high school: My favorite classes were art and computers. I aced all my art classes, and my teacher was the one who suggested that I apply to RISD. I was “that drawing kid,” and classmates used to bring their notebooks to me so I could draw elaborate illustrations of Conan (or whatever) on them. One kid had me paint an Iron Maiden album cover onto the back of his denim jacket. It came out really well and he paid me with a case of vodka. 

I also had a leg up in computer class. My father had already helped me learn how to program my own video games in BASIC, so I knew more than the teacher did. I used to write these short malware apps, label them something irresistible like “Space Invaders,” and give them to the asshole jocks who used to whip me with wet towels in the locker room. When they ran the program their computer would lock up and wail like the siren on a police car, which attracted a lot of negative attention from the teacher.

My least favorite classes were everything else (I hated high school). One possible exception was French class because my friends and I had so much fun pronouncing everything phonetically, (“je suis ici” became “jay swiss eye-kie”). Of course our teacher rewarded us with, “F-moins. Cherchez-moi.” (F-minus, see me.)

Blades of Winter, the first book of G.T. Almasi's Shadowstorm Series is out today. Trust me, it's worth adding to your collection.

The Teens Who Would Be King by G.T. Almasi

The Teens Who Would Be King
“Hey, let’s take over the world and — ooh! Shiny!”

If Olympic athletes trained to be Ninjas instead of athletes, we couch potatoes wouldn’t stand a chance. Fortunately, the kind of person who spends their entire life training their bodies to perform super-human feats is also the kind of person who’s easily distracted by glittery trinkets. When we tell Olympic athletes to “Go for the gold!” we’re really telling them, “Don’t rise up against us and become our genetically superior overlords!”

Every time I watch the Olympics I think, “If we made those kids into spies they’d kick butt!” All we’d have to do is channel their mental focus and physical discipline into their youthful patriotism and stuff them full of biotic enhancements and implanted communication gear. Then we’d have a cadre of unstoppable super-spies. And the kids would love it! What teenager doesn’t wish they had a cell phone installed in their head?

Olympians and spies hold a powerful fascination for us: a super-human combination of discipline and danger. I’ve been a James Bond fan my whole life. I also really enjoyed the adventures of Indiana Jones, Rambo, and Jason Bourne. I loved watching the female leads in La Femme Nikita and the Tomb Raider properties. But none of these action heroes were teenagers, and female characters still represented a tiny minority of action leads. 

Then Harry Potter happened, and young characters -- male and female -- suddenly became viable action leads for grown-up audiences. Now, with Hunger Games, Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, Twilight and others, we’re seeing more and more young would-be Olympians doing very adult things. 

I’ve been asked if Blades of Winter is similar to these other titles. It’s a tricky question, because I don’t consider those other titles similar even to each other. While the fundamental idea -- a teenage female character in an extremely violent story -- is the same, each of these stories fly off in their own direction once they’re past this initial similarity. Even so, it’s interesting to be swept up in this trend, especially since it didn’t really exist when I started writing Blades of Winter six years ago. 

I do, however, worry that these books and movies will give the Olympians ideas. Instead of entertaining us with their athletic gifts, they could enslave us with their superior genes instead. Then they would establish a new world order that — ooh, look! Shiny!
Gold medals continue to be our best defense against the Olympians. The current literary trend of young heroes to give them dangerous ideas means that maintaining this defense is more important than ever. Happily, it seems that London’s recent pile of fresh hardware has effectively squashed the Neo-Sapiens’ hunger for global domination. 

For now. 

August, 2012

Blades of Winter, the first book of G.T. Almasi's Shadowstorm Series, is out today. 
Purchase Links

August 27, 2012

Girl Crush Mondays: Pink

Alecia Beth Moore
I have always been a fan of Pink and I was actually on her team when Brit-Brit and Xtina were battling for the pop princess title. Next to Kelly Clarkson and Alanis Morissette, she's my next go-to girl when I'm in need of some PMS/guy hating songs plus her beats are really fun to work-out to.

Stupid Girls was the song that probably catapulted her to mainstream pop due to it's controversial message and music video which satirize certain pop princesses and celebutantes during the time of its release. It was so good that she even landed a guest spot in Oprah!

After an onstage concert accident, reconciling with her motocross motorbike racer hubby, Carey Hart, and a  baby, she's now back with a brand new song and an upcoming album, The Truth About Love. I for one can't get enough of the debut single, Blow Me (One Last Kiss).

August 25, 2012

Early Review: Blades of Winter by G.T. Almasi

Series: Shadowstorm 1
Format: ARC (NetGalley)
Excerpt here
Release Date: August 28, 2012
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository 

Nineteen-year-old Alix Nico, a self-described “million-dollar murder machine,” is a rising star in ExOps, a covert-action agency that aggressively shields the United States from its three great enemies: the Soviet Union, Greater Germany, and the Nationalist Republic of China. Rather than risk another all-out war, the four superpowers have poured their resources into creating superspies known as Levels.

Alix is one of the hottest young American Levels. That’s no surprise: Her dad was America’s top Level before he was captured and killed eight years ago. But when an impulsive decision explodes—literally—in her face, Alix uncovers a conspiracy that pushes her to her limits and could upset the global balance of power forever.


Pardon my French but that was my overall reaction to G.T. Almasi's debut novel, BLADES OF WINTER. I have never read anything like this! I don't even know how I'll classify it, all I know is that if Almasi intends to pay homage to John le CarrĂ© and Stan Lee, he did a stellar job of doing so, both the British author and Marvel Godfather will be proud of his first endeavor to continue the legacy of ass-kicking, super human heroes with heart pounding, science fiction stories glazed with espionage and lots and lots of big guns and heavy ammunition.

Almasi didn't specify the exact setting for BLADES OF WINTER but from several bullet points, I assume that the story is set in an alternative present. In Alix's world, the Germans essentially won WWII and now rules most of Europe. Together with the US, China and Russia, they complete The Four. Four superpowers who rule and control the world in a political and military game similar to Risk. Aside from military and munition advancements, The Four managed to develop super humans or bionics. I love Almasi's depiction of bionics and how they came to be, he made it special but not too technical and highfalutin that it would turn off readers who are not into science fiction such as myself. Alix's world was futuristic but not to the extent that it became a boring scientific drone of bio-technology warfare similar to Terminator or Total Recall. My favorite parts were the history lessons doled out in flashforward style to reinforce the political climate Almasi painted.
I don't know, Raj. It seems like you could eat me for dinner and still have plenty of room for dessert.
Yeah, Scarlet, I could, but all your metal and plastic wouldn't be so good for my digestion.
Alixandra Janina Nico, codename Scarlet, is everything you want your heroine to be. This 19yo redheaded bionic, yes BIONIC, teen was a former world class gymnast before she got recruited by ExOps. Receiving a bunch of mechanical and biological modifications and enhancements making her almost invincible. Alix is a natural spy taking after her father, legendary Philip Nico, is THE best agent ExOps ever had and Alix is closely following in his footsteps. She's a sarcastic, daring and beautiful super spy who is very skilled in combat, a machine and a lethal one at that. Taking out enemies without remorse, Alix won't have second thoughts ripping your spine out with a forceful yank or castrate you mid conversation just to prove she can.

I was conflicted reading BLADES OF WINTER, I don't if I should slow down or match the jolting pace that G.T. Almasi set. From page 1 we have people and places exploding and it only intensifies with every chapter, culminating into a clusterfuck of situations that had Alix chasing after spies from all points of the world. With her partner and part-time lover, Trick, they uncover treasonous conspiracies along the way that had Alix going in and out of the hospital. But more importantly, Alix discovers that Big Bertha, the most infamous agent the world has known, aka Philip Nico, her father is still alive and Alix made it her mission to find and save her Dad.
O my God, I am heartily sorry for having overdone it last night, and I detest all the booze I drank because I dread the loss of my lunch and the pain of puking my guts out. I firmly resolve with the help of Thy Grace to avoid the cheap stuff, to never again mix grain and grape, and to make sure I eat something beforehand. Amen.
- Alix's Act of Contrition
But before Alix is reunited with her father, she must run other missions and tie loose ends that will eventually lead her to her father. For now she has to take care of Winter, the man who runs the Blades of Persia, a group rumored to be working to reclaim the Middle East from the Germans. This was Big Bertha's last case and information about Philip's last mission is crucial if helping Alix discover what happened to her father and where his current location is.

I never thought I'd enjoy, much less fawn over, a book like this. BLADES OF WINTER gave me such a rush that the adrenaline high lasted long after I finished the darn book. It also didn't help that Almasi ended the in one of those WTH?! moments that if it were a real book, I'd be shaking it silly in case there's a missing page hidden somewhere. If you're into high action/adventure books with a witty, cunning and deadly heroines, BLADES OF WINTER is THE book for you. G.T. Almasi can't write a stronger book than this, it's sharper and more lethal than Adamantium claws. Read the excerpt if you need more convincing.

Writer Wrangler: MJ Rose Talks Erotica

Today we are lucky to have the author of
read review here
and one of the country's premier erotica writers.
Welcome to Talk Supe, M.J. Rose!

Talk Supe: I know you've published several books but have you always written erotica or have you penned other stories that are not of the genre?
M.J. Rose: All of my books have sensual elements but only Lip Service and Lying in Bed are really what I'd call "erotic". That said there  are erotic scenes in every book.  It might be my favorite part of writing... when i get to the sex scenes the writing flows in a way that it doesn't in the rest of the book.

Talk Supe: Erotica has been around for a long time but the popularity of 50 Shades has put this genre back to the forefront, what are your thoughts about mainstream erotica books that have been recently released? Do you feel these newly published books are really erotica or just a bastardization of the genre to keep up with the trend?
M.J. Rose: I think the internet and ebooks made it less embarrassing for people to buy erotic books. When Lip Service came out we sold more than a thousand times as many books via online sales or direct mail sales. As for the current crop of books -  - I actually don't read a enough current erotica to judge what's being written now. I love writing it - and I love wonderful books that have erotic elements but I don't search out erotic to read.

Talk Supe: People usually mistake erotica as porn but what is erotica and how is it different from romantica or it's illegitimate cousin, porn?
M.J. Rose: I don't like labels and don't use them.  One person's erotica is another person's (fill in the blank.) I believe in freedom of expression and I think that fantasies are wonderful and that nothing that happens consensually is wrong as long as no one is hurt.  But to define it - I don't think I can.

Talk Supe: Which novel of yours is your favorite or the most special and why?
M.J. Rose: It's like asking a mother which child she  likes the best. Usually its the most recent novel. Though I guess Lip Service is special in its own way since it was the first and the one that got me so much attention.

Talk Supe: Aside from yourself, which other erotica writer do you recommend and what book of theirs should we check out?
M.J. Rose: I loved Anne Rice writing as A.S Roquelare in the Sleeping Beauty Trilogy.


I am currently reading C.W. Gortner's The Queen's Vow.
My guilty pleasure is watching romantic comedies on tv.
At least five great perfumers is something every woman should have.
I can't resist a man who can laugh at himself.
Picasso is someone I'm dying to meet and chat with.

Check out these books from MJ Rose

M.J. Rose is a founding member and board member of International Thriller Writers and the founder of the first marketing company for authors: She runs two popular blogs; Buzz, Balls & Hype and Backstory.

For more info on M.J. Rose and her books please visit her website at
you can also follow her on Twitter @MJRose

August 23, 2012

Early Buddy Review: Mockingbird by Chuck Wendig

Series: Miriam Black 2
Format: ACR (NetGalley)
Release Date: August 28, 2012

Excerpt here
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository 

Miriam is trying. Really, she is.

But this whole "settling down thing" that Louis has going for her just isn't working out. She lives on Long Beach Island all year around. Her home is a run-down double-wide trailer. She works at a grocery store as a check-out girl. And her relationship with Louis--who's on the road half the time in his truck--is subject to the piss and vinegar Miriam brings to everything she does.

It just isn't going well. Still, she's keeping her psychic ability--to see when and how someone is going to die just by touching them--in check. But even that feels wrong somehow. Like she's keeping a tornado stoppered up in a tiny bottle.

Then comes one bad day that turns it all on her ear.
This review is very special because (1) this is my first buddy review and (2) I get to do it with one of my best blogger buddy, Melissa of Lily Element. We are both gaga over this series and to switch it up a bit, we decided to gush about the return of our favorite anti-hero, Miriam Black, and her own flock of black birds.

We are legion. The demons in your head.
Braine: I love how right off the gate Miriam is pissed and people started dying. I know it sounds morbid but that sets the theme of the book if not the series. Here I thought we're going to see Miriam living a quiet domestic life with Louis. So I was pretty surprised to read that their life is far from happy and in fact it has deteriorated since the events in Blackbird.

Melissa: Call me a glutton for punishment, but I can't get enough of Miriam's in your face attitude and brutal honesty. The story quickly morphs from the day-to-day life of Miriam and lack of Louis, to the odd job that Louis finds her. He quickly dumps her at a school to go hang out with a woman he kind of knows. Was it just me, or was The Caldecott School an interesting choice of places to stick Miriam in? The purpose of the school is to reform bad girls, which describes Miriam perfectly.

Braine: I know, I feel like maybe Louis set her up or something sending her to that reform school. But Miriam has no rhyme or reason so of course she just goes along with it and find herself in another jam. I never expected a reform school to join the mix, this series is so morbid and such a horror story you know nothing good will come out of it when he adds teenagers to the cast of characters.

If you knew me, you wouldn't think that locking me away in a trailer for a year would be a super idea.
Melissa: Miriam is still the crazy lady that I grew to love. She still cusses like a sailor and goes looking for trouble. 

Braine: Still a chain-smoker and still drinks on an empty stomach! LOL

Melissa: But there are minor changes that I noticed. She actually tries to change for Louis by wearing gloves so she doesn't see how people die. There is also the fact that she lies to a woman about how she dies because she doesn't want to upset her.

Braine: I never saw those gloves coming and I never expected her to be the "considerate" type. I know she still has a conscience somewhere. Remember how self-absorbed she was in Blackbirds? Maybe Louis softened her a bit.

Melissa: I agree, I think Louis is probably the reason why her personality changed and she actually cares about a few people. Dare I say it, but there was even a slightly sweet side that was exposed.

Braine: My uh-oh moment was when she touched and saw Lauren Martin's death. I knew she'll  be Miriam's obsession and her quest to stop that vision from happening will set off a series of events that will turn this thriller into a horror story! But this only proves that Miriam's anti-hero complex is superficial, it's her inherent goodness that makes her go into superhero mode and tries to change people's fates. It might anger "the powers that be" but probably it's her way of giving the finger to this force that gave her this "gift". Plus seeing all those deaths is enough to drive anybody insane. No wonder Miriam is always teetering on the edge of insanity.

It's not my fault I'm surrounded by idiots and lunatics half the time.
Melissa: Wendig really stepped up the villain(s) in Mockingbird. The bad guy had no qualms on targeting teenage girls, which I think is why this book kind of shook me.

Braine: True, when the identities and back stories of the villains were revealed, I was so revolted by them. It reminded me of the movies Psycho and Wrong Turn. A family of (SPOILER) murderers  targeting helpless women, running a very twisted morality campaign! How can you reason with crazy?! Until now I still don't know how Miriam managed to get away from those people. That was a too tight of a situation and to say that she had another close call is an understatement.

Melissa: Miriam seems to triumph in impossible situations, but even I doubted she would get away from the villains this time. They were really creepy and on more than one occasion I wanted to throw my nook in the freezer (like Joey from Friends) so the scariness wouldn’t get me.

Braine: One wonders when her 9 lives is going to run out

--you have a job to do and we won't let you walk away until it's done.
Braine: Aside from fantasy books, I've never really encountered birds, supercharged birds, to be part of the character list much less a major one at that. I would sometimes see crows and ravens outside and while reading MOCKINGBIRD, I developed minor phobia about it. I'm a little superstitious and I have heard that a black bird's call heralds bad mojo but Chuck Wendig took it to another level!

Melissa: I haven’t seen birds like this in anything before, so it really freaked me out when they talked. I’m not even going to think about the scene with Louis and the birds, that is the stuff of nightmares.

Braine: After that video you showed me, the only black talking bird I know are mynah birds, I didn't know ravens/crows can too. In any case, I will never look at a black bird the same way again.

Is a blog by the gorgeous accountant Melissa. She's super and super funny and if you're nice enough, she'll even give you a recipe or two of some yummy spring rolls. 

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Feature and Follow #13

Feature & Follow is a weekly meme hosted by, Parajunkee and Alison Can Read. Each week, each host will have their own Feature Blog which allows them to show off more new blogs! It is a fun way to keep in touch with fellow bloggers, meet new bloggers and gain new followers. 
This Week's Question
What is the worst cover of a book that you’ve read and loved?
Answer:  I hope Cheree won't kill me for this but when I first saw the cover for Shadows, her book which she requested that we review, I was so tempted to say NO. Good thing I got over that because I totally ended up enjoying this fantasy fairy-tale book and I am excited for book 2 to come out. 
Now I did tell Cheree that the original cover doesn't do justice to her story, not that it was bad but the one below looks like a dreamscape kind of art that might not get the response she wants for her book. Happy to report that the cover art has now been updated and this has been archived.

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Happy Feature & Follow!

August 22, 2012

Early Review: Speechless by Hannah Harrington

Format: ARC (NetGalley)
Release Date: August 28, 2012
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository 
Everyone knows that Chelsea Knot can't keep a secret

Until now. Because the last secret she shared turned her into a social outcast—and nearly got someone killed.

Now Chelsea has taken a vow of silence—to learn to keep her mouth shut, and to stop hurting anyone else. And if she thinks keeping secrets is hard, not speaking up when she's ignored, ridiculed and even attacked is worse.

But there's strength in silence, and in the new friends who are, shockingly, coming her way—people she never noticed before; a boy she might even fall for. If only her new friends can forgive what she's done. If only she can forgive herself.
I know SPEECHLESS by Hannah Harrington isn't one of those love-ridden, fantasy YA books  I am fond of reading. Going into this book, I know that Chelsea Knot's story is going to be a well-rounded emotional tale about bullying, peer pressure, bigotry and a bunch of kids who should know and act better. I wasn't disappointed, I was sad, horrified, annoyed, empathetic, sympathetic and a slew of other emotions washed over me throughout the 288 paged story. I ended up interrogating my son if he's being bullied, is he's a bully and preaching about the perils of being one.
Keeping secrets isn't my specialty.
In a nutshell, Chelsea is THE lady-in-waiting to Queen Bee, Kristen Courteau, and keeping that position wasn't an easy task much less a harmless one. Throughout Chelsea's reign as Kristen's BFF, she's slandered countless people in exchange for friendship and popularity. Until one party changed everything and Chelsea's social status crumbled to dust. Under the influence of alcohol, Chelsea walked in on two of her classmates, Noah and Andy, making out and outed them for their sexual preference by accident... or habit. This little harmless info turned into a hateful episode that sent Noah to the hospital after two jocks beat him up to a pulp. Chelsea, with her parent's help, called the police and reported the crime which sent two of Chelsea's friends to jail and instantly made her the most hated person in their school. Filled with remorse, Chelsea took a vow of silence and for the next thirty days we witness her attempt to make amends and repent for her past mistakes. But can Chelsea prove that action does speak louder than words?
I keep wondering how far this will go. Messing with my locker, messing with my car, verbal intimidation--what's next? Cutting my brakes? Roughing me up in the parking lot?
A vow of silence is a very principled sacrifice and anybody who goes into this willingly and manage to pull it off is someone worthy of admiration. There are retreats that does this in real life and I think I will lose my mind if someone asks me to surrender my voice especially when I'm under close scrutiny and in a defensive position. Though this is a work of fiction, HHarrington didn't go off the rails to prove her point, she didn't turn it into a moral issue nor did she preach about the perils of gossiping and sexual discrimination. The situations she presented were realistic and I am saddened that at this day and age, things like this still happens in the real world. People are judged for what they are instead of who they are inside and it's really shocking that this violence is coming for young people who are supposed to be more educated on the evolution of people and society. I guess we are still cavemen at heart and that savage DNA still manages to dominate us once in a while.
--but when I said I have something to prove, I didn't mean only to the kids at school. I have something to prove to myself. That I'm not who everyone thinks I am.
What shocked me were the examples of bullying Chelsea's peers are doing to her to push her out of their circle, punishing her for doing the right thing. Hating her because she sent two popular boys to jail for beating up a defenseless person all because he's gay. This is my greatest fear as a parent, bullying is not a myth and for it to happen to a teenager is more than a nightmare. I remember when I was Chelsea's age, I was in the process of discovering myself, eager to stand out and finding my own unique identity on top of school, family and peer pressure. To cap it off with this constant harassment is sure to provoke any person, young or old, to fight back and retaliate. Not that Chelsea hasn't been tempted to get revenge, she did get it in the end but she did it the smart way.
Hate is too easy. Love takes courage.
SPEECHLESS is a book EVERY school and public library should have, every parent and child should read this together. English teachers SHOULD require their students to read Chelsea's story. The events that HHarrington shared isn't fantasy, these kinds of bullying does happen and every person should be educated about the wrongfulness of such an act. If discrimination is inevitable then let's discriminate on issues like this, preying and exploiting the weak, and not about someone's religion, race, color and sexual preference. Respect should be universal and I think SPEECHLESS is a very good example of this.

August 21, 2012

Very Early Review: The Sweetest Dark by Shana Abe

Format: ARC (Edelweiss)
Release Date: April 2, 2013
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository 

England, 1915. Raised in an orphanage in a rough corner of London, Lora quickly learns to hide her unique abilities and avoid attention. Then, much to her surprise, she is selected as the new charity student at Iverson, an elite boarding school on England’s southern coast. Iverson’s eerie, gothic castle is like nothing Lora has ever seen. And the two boys she meets there will open her eyes and forever change her destiny.

Jesse is the school’s groundskeeper—a beautiful boy who recognizes Lora for who and what she truly is. Armand is a darkly handsome and arrogant aristocrat who harbors a few closely guarded secrets of his own. Both hold the answers to her past. One is the key to her future. And both will aim to win her heart. As danger descends upon Iverson, Lora must harness the powers she’s only just begun to understand, or else lose everything she dearly loves.

Filled with lush atmosphere, thrilling romance, and ancient magic, The Sweetest Dark brilliantly captures a rich historical era while unfolding an enchanting love story that defies time.
So the publisher pushed back the release date of this book, originally it was set for release tomorrow, August 21, 2012, and to my surprise they moved it to next year. Hence the VERY early review for this book, but I can't wait til 2013 so here are my thoughts about THE SWEETEST DARK by Shana Abe.
You're not human, Eleanore Jones. I think that somewhere inside you, you must know that. You must always have known. You're not made of ordinary bone or blood but of something else completely.
I picked this up because I'm in a trippy mood with YA lately, I steer clear of vampires and/or werewolves in boarding schools, whiny teens who string boys along for some convoluted reason, gag-worthy love geometries, basically the usual formula that YA books seem to have in common. THE SWEETEST DARK sort of fits the bill, no vampires but there is a dragon, she's in a boarding school but she didn't get sucked into the cliques and the pressure of fitting in the popular crowd. The heroine, Lora Jones, is far from whiny and instead she's a 16yo orphan who toughened up and doesn't let anybody walk all over her. Like a dragon, she's feisty, quick-witted and doesn't stand down to insults her aristocratic classmates led by Queen Bee, Lady Chloe Pemington, throws her way. I was gleeful on those moments when Lora burn Chloe and beat her in her own mean-girl game.

Lora connected with two boys, Jesse Holmes, who is like Iverson's groundskeeper, and the Duke's son, Armand Louis. True to paranormal stories, these boys are far from human but their connection to Lora goes deeper than the usual physical attraction. It's more of they recognize their true selves in each other as if they're made from the same fabric if that makes sense. Not to give any spoilers, but these three were drawn together and their paths are meant to cross like destiny or something to that effect. I love how SAbe didn't highlight the romance part of the book too much nor made Lora into a flirtatious and deceitful girl however no matter how steadfast Lora is about her choices, things ended tragically for the three of them but it's far from over which should make book 2 a juicy read instead of a filler volume.
I'm saying that the true nature of our world is for matters to arrange themselves along the simplest of paths.
THE SWEETEST DARK is a fresh story that is rich in fantasy and lyrical emotions from the characters. It's not overly emotional but some of the conversations that Jesse and Lora shared was wax-poetic and a little spiritual. And SAbe's drakon isn't your customary shapeshifters who magically or painfully morph into a different creature, Lora's change is beautiful, sensory and magical in every sense. Overall the story has depth and combined with the turn of the century setting, scathing exchanges between the characters and a crisp take on fate and destiny, I'm sure a lot of readers will find this enjoyable.

Review: Lip Service by MJ Rose

Series: Butterfield Institute 0.5
Format: ARC (NetGalley)
Release Date: first published January 1, 1999
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository 

On the surface, Julia Sterling's life seems blessed. Married to a renowned psychiatrist, living on Manhattan's tony Upper East Side, Julia deeply loves her stepson, and is forging a career as a journalist.

When a writing job at The Butterfield Institute - a sex therapy clinic - exposes her to the world of phone sex, Julia glimpses a world that stirs her erotic fantasies but threatens her
carefully constructed reality. As she explores her emotional and sexual connections to the men she knows and several she will never meet, she confronts evil, perversity, and her own passions.

Tracing the currents of desire, illusion, and psychological manipulation,Lip Service is an astonishingly vivid glimpse into one woman's inner life. At the same time, this electrifying thriller grips the reader as it builds toward a battering climax.

Recommended for readers 18 and up

August 20, 2012

Girl Crush Mondays: Summer Olympics 2012 Edition

Like most of you, I've been missing the daily coverage and excitement of the Summer Olympics. I really felt like these athletes are demigods, sons and daughters of Zeus and Co. because they are superhuman, watching them compete is breathtaking. My favorite moments are the awarding ceremonies, I get teary-eyed watching the winners honored at the podium knowing how much they worked hard for it and all the sacrifices they made with their friends and families to get them minted.  

But more importantly, the US team dominated the numbers and majority of the medals, especially the coveted gold, were won by women! We all have our favorites and mine are the women's Track team and women's Beach Volleyball, so psyched that the Traenor-Jennings duo did it again! 

What's even more moving are some of these women's personal stories.
Judo gold medalist Kayla Harrison was sexually abused by her former coach, I love how she managed that anger.
Tennis superstar Serena Williams is the first player in history, male or female, to win the Golden Grand Slam in both singles and doubles (with sister Venus Williams).
Boxer Claressa Shields is the FIRST woman and the only American boxer to win a gold medal.
Women's Football team snagged their 3rd gold medal in a row.
These women are so phenomenal as are the rest of the winners.

Plus honorary mentions to: all the competitors for rhythmic gymnastics, watching them is like watching art in motion especially those Russian delegates, they own this event; Women's Eight Rowing Silver medalist Lesley Thompson-Willie from Canada who at 52yo shows us that it can be done regardless of age; Heptathlon Gold Medalist, Jessica Ennis of Great Britain and; Jamaican track superstar and fastest woman in the world, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce.

So who's the weaker sex?