Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Cover reveal and GIVEAWAY! Love at the End of Days by Tera Shanley

LOOK at the pretty!

Romance and zombies collide in the riveting sequel to Love in the Time of the Dead.

Year four into the Dead outbreak that ended the world and Vanessa Summers has been so burned by love, she swears she will never trust a man again. But Sean Daniels, guard leader of Dead Run River, isn’t just any man. When past lovers return to the colony, things get complicated. Desperate to rid herself of the heartache, Vanessa signs up for a supply run that will test her mettle as a guard in training. Sean volunteers to lead her team, and his hungry looks say it’s more personal than professional.

Danger comes from all sides as they scavenge Dead infested cities, and as her attraction for Sean deepens, Vanessa finds her head and heart at war with each other. He clouds her judgment, and any misstep could spell disaster outside of the safety of colony gates.

A race back to Dead Run River could save a team mate’s life, but trouble has been brewing back home. Laney Landry, the woman who broke Sean’s heart, is in trouble, and Vanessa must decide whether to take back the Denver colony beside the man she’s falling in love with, or bow out of an attraction that terrifies her.

Weathering Dead hybrids, betrayals, battles, jealousy, and soul consuming love, Vanessa must find her place in the team she’s found. And if she can, she might just master survival at the end of days. 


OH! If you'd like to enter to win a epub copy of the first installment, Love in the Time of the Dead, simply leave a comment on this blog post! A winner will be randomly selected. 

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Love in the Time of the Dead by Tera Shanley

Love in the Time of the DeadLove in the Time of the Dead by Tera Shanley

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


No spoilers and colorful language abound! I received this ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

OK you guys. Fair warning, this book includes a speshual snowflake, zombies, and a love triangle, but truth be told, I liked all of it.

I really dig this author, I've read a few of her shorts before and she has this really wonderful way of laying down the foundation of a story without making the reader feel bogged down in mundane details. I'm a chronic skimmer, I get really fucking bored when authors hammer out paragraph after paragraph of descriptions. Shanley is just vivid enough to make you feel like you are there, but holds back in the right places, it's an art form I wish more authors had, and she has it in spades. From the first page I was engrossed and I finished this book in one sitting, without skimming a single paragraph.

Monday, September 8, 2014

The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black Review and Giveaway!

The Darkest Part of the ForestThe Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black

a Rafflecopter giveaway

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


No spoilers and colorful language abound! I received this ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Normally I wouldn't review an ARC this early, but honestly, I cannot help myself.

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I stood in line at BEA a good 40 minutes before the drop time, anxiously counting all the people in front of me, clinging to a desperate hope that there would be enough copies. There was some shoving, some light elbow nudging, a glazed over fog in the faces of the fans, all uniting in a singular objective: getting an ARC of this book. It was all worth it.

Confession time you guys, I am a Holly Black newbie, and with that comes all the glorious musings of a blogger who just discovered their new favorite author. The Darkest Part of the Forest blew my mind. I am a fan for life.

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Ben and Hazel Evans live in the town of Fairfold, where the line between the human reality and the otherness of Faery blur, a town with a glass coffin housing a beautiful horned boy in eternal sleep. Mortals have long been enamored with the Fae, equal parts chanting and dangerous but the townsfolk have an odd symbiotic relationship with the them. Locals  stay out of the woods on a full moon, they turn their socks inside out and stuff their pockets with iron and oatmeal, and in return the Fae leave them be. The tourists on the other hand are free game, that is until an 11 year old girl who fancies herself a knight, starts to fight back.

Hazel and Ben were raised by artists, forgetful parents who valued all nighters with oil paints over dinner and a bath. They were wildly imaginative children, a knight and a balladeer, they were each others caretakers, they were each other's everything until one day too many secrets piled up between them. Their imagined prince, the horned boy wakes from his sleep, they must finally say all the things they have been hiding from each other in order to protect him.

That's about all I'm going to say on the plot, this is a very character driven novel and I won't spoil you!

Holly Black's writing is both profoundly understated and eloquent beyond measure. The way she can pack a single sentence with tremendous emotion left me speechless and craving more. The world building of Fairfold was perfectly executed, "info dumping" transformed into gorgeous prose, I was enraptured from the very first page.

Something else really struck a chord with me and should be praised, in this story we have a young male gay character who is out, and not a single aspect of this is trivialized by some ignorant stereo type. Ben speaks of love and insecurity, he speaks of family and self evaluates, he is a wonderfully realized character with a rich sense of humanity. All too often "the gay guy" is coined as some cartoony mishmash of the exaggerated, a trite plot point rather than a complex and compelling character. Holly Black masterfully normalized his sexuality in a way I feel should be embraced by all.

The Deepest Part of the Forest is dazzlingly good with fanciful highs and dark lows, at the heart remains the love of a brother and sister united once more as a knight and balladeer. Nothing short of spectacular it transcends it's genre and hold it's rightful place with the best of the best

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Chat with Eddie Han and a Giveaway!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

I had the pleasure of reading and reviewing Parabolis recently, my love for this book is a bit overwhelming, I need to spread it around. I would like to welcome Eddie Han, author of Parabolis:

Tell us a little bit about yourself and your journey in becoming a writer:
As a teenager, I had fantasies of living out my twenties like a Kevin Smith film: creating an indie comic book with a cult following, falling in love with a lesbian, and engaging in pretentious conversations with a bunch of asshole friends. I went to UCI instead. I studied art and graduated with a subpar GPA. Then I got an internship at a comic book company where I discovered the disenchanting power of being a production assistant. I no longer wanted to make comic books… or fall in love with a lesbian. In 2004, I moved to Tokyo to teach English with a missionary organization for 2 years. That's where/when I discovered writing. It started with personal journal entries--a form of catharsis while dealing with the amplified loneliness of culture shock and dense urban living. Then the newsletters I'd send home to my friends, family, and donors. Then essays and short stories about romantic encounters and regret. Then a long story inspired by movies, video games, music and melancholy. It was more of an exercise to hone my craft, to try and capture the scenes in my head and string them together into a coherent narrative. That eventually became Parabolis.

Parabolis is a pioneer in cultivating a new reading experience, what was the inspiration for bridging the world of fantasy novel and comic-zine:
I suppose the most potent inspiration was my own insecurity. It was my first crack at novel-writing so I had concerns about whether or not the narrative could stand on its own merit. I decided then that I'd augment it to be something more than a novel. I wanted it to be a work of art (if not literary, then at least aesthetically). The two conventional platforms that immediately came to mind when considering merging art with books were illustrated novels and graphic novels. But in both cases, the art often serves either as a redundancy or a substitute for the prose. So I looked to magazines and newspapers instead where the prose and visual elements (usually in the form of layout design, photographs and/or editorial illustrations) compliment each other. It made me wonder if it was possible to make an entire novel like that. That's when I called Curt.

Give us some insight into what it looks to take the plunge into self publishing an actual book, not just the digital format we see so often these days:
I read somewhere a few years back that self-publishing was career suicide. Although that seems to be changing, it does have a certain stigma attached to it, even if you're successful--sort of like being a Youtube celebrity. Initially, it was enough to give me pause until I questioned my motives. Was I trying to become the next great American novelist or simply writing for the sheer pleasure of it? Once I had settled on the latter, I saw no harm in trying to make something awesome with or without the validation of industry elites. The only thing I knew about publishing was that making a physical book costs money, especially if you want the quality to be comparable to traditionally published products. So we turned to Kickstarter. After a successful campaign, David David Katzman, the self-published author of A Greater Monster, held our hand and walked us through the process. He first recommended creating an indie publishing house to release the title under. Then we had to sort through the complexities of typesetting, layout, paper weight, grain, and texture before finally bidding on a printer. Once a printer was selected and the finalized files uploaded, we waited for the shipment to arrive.

What does your writing process look like while working so closely with an artist?
Curt and I were already close friends and shared similar artistic sensibilities so working with him was a pleasure. He's a brilliant artist and he's very intentional with his work. When he took on the project, he was adamant about the form having a function--that adding art shouldn't be just a gimmick. Every week, he would first read the post-edit chapters and ask himself, "What can I say with my art that wasn't already said in the text?" As a result, he was able to create an impression of culture and history that wasn't explicit in the narrative. For example, the process of transferring his illustrations using acetone left imperfections and distortions that simulated the effects of the print press. He was conscious of how a 2-column format affected the reading rate, how to proportion just the right amount of negative space and margins to give the eyes rest, which fonts to use and how to alert the reader of a change in POV using visual cues. He's a true craftsman. And he has excellent hair.

When did you first create Dale and what was the inspiration behind his story?
After I returned from Tokyo, I worked as the General Manager of my dad's recycling business. It wasn't a terrible experience but I knew it wasn't what I wanted to be doing. I used Dale as a vehicle to transplant that nagging sense of discontentment into Parabolis--where I could both escape it and address it.

Who has more of you, Dale or Sparrow? Or are they two sides to the same coin?
I was the source material in shaping Dale's behavior (although, that presented its own challenges because I couldn't always distinguish between what I'd like to think I'd do and what I'd actually do). Sparrow on the other hand, is an idealized version of the character I'd want to be if I were represented in a fantasy novel: fearless, pragmatic, cold and calculating. There's a moment toward the end when they switch roles--when one loses their humanity and the other finds his. I suppose in that sense, they could be two sides of the same coin. Sparrow is, after all, a shadow of Dale.

What are you working on now?
Life... you know, in general. And when time permits, a follow-up to Parabolis.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Parabolis by Eddie Han

☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

No spoilers and colorful language abound! I received this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

There were times when I was reading this book when I got so lost in the moment that I would clutch it to my chest and give a happy sigh. I was experiencing that moment, you know the one when you get hit with all the good feels at once.

  1. dative plural of parabola
  2. ablative plural of parabola

parabola f (genitive parabolae); first declension
  1. comparisonillustration.
  2. (Ecclesiastical Latin) An allegorical relationparableproverbtaunting speech or any speech.

Parabolis is a glorious odyssey that will burst into your mind and take up permanent real-estate in your soul. It is an intriguing mix of an ambiguous place in an uncertain time, composed with a corrupt political regime, and an unmerciful equalizer. This dizzyingly good fantasy debut is an astute and imaginative commentary on the human condition.

The first thing to note about this book is just how beautiful it is. The cover is something I would spot in any bookstore and be compelled to pick up. In a strictly tactile sense, the paperback is a joy to hold with it's smooth texture and substantially firm cover. The card stock quality is a testament to how much the author and artist value attention to detail, an indication of how much love and effort went into self publishing this gorgeous novel.

We are introduced to Dale Sunday as a young boy being raised by his father in the shadow of his older brother, Darius. His best friend, Sparrow is a small boy with tenacious convictions and wisdom far beyond his years, the kind gained only by great pain and great loss. The dynamic between these two unlikely friends is luminous and haunting, forged by young boys but cherished through to manhood remains the beating heart of this narrative.  We follow Dale's evolution from wide-eyed boy to disillusioned adult, only to find him back in his childhood home, in his fathers own footsteps. The time comes where he must choose his path, where he must define what it means to be a man in his own right.

Han's characters are complex, flawed and beautifully realized. This eloquent fantasy novelzine is grounded with a sense of reality and relatability in the dialogue but manages to be exquisitely quotable. It feels familiar with a veiled sense of the past and a touch of otherworldly elements that leave the reader captivated. If all of this wasn't enough, Han collaborated with a brilliant artist, Curt Merlo to bring his story to another level.

Full disclosure, this book took me forever and a year to finish, but in the spirit of honesty, it's in no way a negative reflection of its quality, in fact it's directly the opposite. It was so enjoyable that I relished in the tremendous writing and intelligent composition while my children weren't around to interrupt  me. Apparently, this is an extremely rare scenario. Despite long bouts without reading, Parabolis always called to me; each time I started again all the background of life would melt away so I could seamlessly fuse back into the story.

All in all, I cannot speak highly enough about everything that is happening here. I just, GAH!

Parabolis is now available in digital format, check it out on Amazon for $2.99! I will be interviewing the author and hosting a signed giveaway on my blog, so more to come. 

He Ain't Lion (Ridgeville, #1) by Celia Kyle

He Ain't Lion (Ridgeville, #1)He Ain't Lion by Celia Kyle

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Actual 3.5

No spoilers and colorful language abound!

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The Accidental Alchemist by Gigi Pandian

The Accidental AlchemistThe Accidental Alchemist by Gigi Pandian

My rating: 2 of 5 stars


No spoilers and colorful language abound! I received this ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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My dislike for this book is palpable. DNF at 55%. I don't always rate books I don't finish, however I made it more than halfway through and it never got better.