Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Waiting On Wednesday #102: Victories, by Mercedes Lackey & Edghill

This is a weekly event hosted by
It showcases future releases which
we book bloggers
are eagerly anticipating!!

Here's my choice for this week!

 (Shadow Grail #4)
Hardcover, 256 pages
April 22, 2014
Fantasy, Mythology, Young Adult Fiction

Book Synopsis

The fourth and final book in the Shadow Grail series by the "New York Times "and "USA Today "bestselling authors Mercedes Lackey and Rosemary Edghill

Spirit White and her friends Burke, Loch, and Addie have escaped from Oakhurst Academy. But their freedom has come at a terrible cost--a dear friend sacrificed her own life to save theirs. In the wake of Muirin's death, they are also forced to deal with the terrifying truth behind the facade of Oakhurst Academy: all of the legends are true.

Queen Guinevere, King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table really had existed. With the magic of Merlin, they were able to imprison their greatest foe, Mordred, before he could plunge the world back into the Dark Ages. But Mordred is now free, in charge of Oakhurst Academy, and determined to finish what he started so long ago.

Pursued by Shadow Knights, the reincarnated remnants of Mordred's original army, Spirit's small band undertakes a quest to recover the Four Hallows, objects of immeasurable power. Memories of a past life have begun to surface, one in which Spirit wields a legendary sword. She comes to realize that these memories are the true key to Mordred's defeat. Can Spirit and her friends manage to recapture the magic of Camelot in time to save their fellow students and prevent the end of the world?

Why am I waiting on this book?

I love novels with strong, yet feminine,
female protagonists, and this one
sure seemS to fit the bill!
I know this book was released on Tuesday,
but I'm still waiting on it,  
because I can't buy it right now....
I've just been spending too much money
on books for a
This series is entirely new to me, 
but it definitely looks exciting!
Besides, anything related to the world
of King Arthur will definitely 
grab my attention!! !

Previous Books
(Click on each cover for Goodreads page)

Book #1

Book #2

Book #3

What do you think of my choice?
What exciting book(s) are
you waiting on this week? 

Of Beast and Beauty Read-Along: Week 3 Discussion Questions

Welcome to Week 3 of 
the Read-Along for the bestselling
YA novel, Of Beast and Beauty,
brought to you by
A Night's Dream of Books and
The Read-Along will run from 
April 1st to April 30th, 2014!!

Of Beast and Beauty
Hardcover, 400 pages
Delacorte Press, 
July 23, 2013
Dystopian Fiction, Fairy Tale Retellings, 
Fantasy, Romance, Science Fiction, 
Young Adult Fiction

Week 3 Discussion Questions
Chapters 14 - 20
A Night's Dream of Books
April 23rd

1.) Gem's people believe that dreams are messages from their ancestors.  What do you believe about dreams? 

I've done some reading on dreams, and I firmly believe they are the product of the unconscious mind, which simply reworks events from the dreamer's daily life.  However, the reworked events are presented in metaphors that need to be decoded.  A good psychologist can do this.  Dream interpretation books can be helpful, to some extent, but I do think that dream symbols are very personal, so looking up a symbol in a book might or might not do much good.

Then there are prophetic dreams.  I don't know how to explain those, except that they do happen.  They're even mentioned in the Bible.  I've never had one, though. 

2.) What do you think about Bo's accusations toward Isra, when she returns to the tower?

I think they are totally despicable, and show what a big jerk he is!  How could he possibly have accused her of sneaking out of the tower to "spread her legs" for other men?  After all, he knew very well that she had been confined to the tower all her life.  Why would she suddenly do such a thing?  But then, Bo is a product of his society, which obviously doesn't think much of its women.  Men are the ones in control, while women are relegated to either being political pawns, or nothing more than servants, or worse.

3.) How would you contrast the Smooth Skins' attitude toward their women, with the attitude of the Monstrous toward theirs?

Bo's accusations of Isra are typical of a society in which women are considered inferior to men.  In the city of Yuan, men have all the power.  Even the queens are nothing more than sacrificial material, instead of being true rulers.  Women in general don't have many choices open to them; they're married off against their will, for instance.  

The Monstrous society is totally different, which makes the name "Monstrous" completely ironic!  The leader of Gem's tribe is a woman.  Also, they have "trial marriages", in which a couple live together, to see how well they can get along before they actually get married.  While, as a Christian, I  disagree with this, I do like the fact that it's the woman who decides how long this trial is to go on.

Another aspect of Gem's society is that girls who reach the age of 17 have already had some sexual experience, and this is not frowned upon.  In fact, it's taken for granted that they will, which is why Gem is really surprised at Isra's own lack of such experience.  Again, this is against my Christian moral standards.  However, if women and girls are to be judged for not being virgins before marriage, then SO SHOULD MEN.  It takes two to tango, as the saying goes.  Bo has the FREAKING nerve to judge Isra on having supposedly "slept around", while HE has had many female lovers in Yuan.  Of course, men in this city take it for granted that they have every right to engage in such activities, while women do not.  If women dare to do the same things, then they are harshly judged.  

I find Gem to be so wonderful because he doesn't judge Isra, either way.  He's a total sweetheart!  In fact, although he is very protective of her, he never tries to control or dominate her.  He's comfortable with her taking the lead on more than one occasion.  Furthermore, on the way to falling in love with her, he comes to feel admiration for her, as both queen and person. 

It's very clear that the so-called "Monstrous" society is far superior to the Smooth Skin society of the city of Yuan!    

4.) What do you think about Isra's relationship with her nursemaid, Needle?

I think it's very sweet and poignant.  Needle has been everything to Isra -- substitute mother, sister, friend, and staunch ally.  What I really like about their relationship is that Isra never treats her like a servant.  She never talks down to her, nor does she think herself superior to Needle in any way, shape, or form.  On one occasion that Isra does lose her temper, and snaps at Needle, she immediately regrets it, and wastes no time apologizing to her.  I think this is so beautiful and touching!  This is something that real historical kings and queens have never done, to my knowledge.  Instead, they have treated servants as if they were trash.  Maybe I'm overgeneralizing here; there might have been some that haven't done this, but I've never heard of any. 

The whole concept of servant and master is entirely distasteful to me.  If I had a maid, for instance, I would treat her  like an equal, as Isra treats Needle.  Human beings are human beings.  This whole "blue blood" mentality is totally ridiculous!

5.) Were you surprised when Isra's sight suddenly returned?  Why or why not?

Well, I already knew, from reading the book synopsis, that it was coming back.  If that hadn't been the case, I would have never bothered with this novel; I don't like to read about blind characters.  It's just too sad..... I was surprised, though, at the rather dramatic way Isra's sight returned.  I was not expecting it to do so at that precise moment.  So it was a very pleasant surprise!

Monday, April 21, 2014

Spotlight/Giveaway!!  Firebolt, by Adriene Woods (Bewitching Book Tours)

Welcome to this stop in
the Firebolt tour,
sponsored by
Bewitching Book Tours!!

About the Book

(The Dragonian Series, #1)
Adrienne Woods
Trade Paperback, 304 pages
CreateSpace, November 19, 2013
Fantasy, Paranormal Romance, Young Adult Fiction

Book Synopsis:  For the love of blueberries, Elena Watkins was destined for greatness, even though she didn’t know it. Before entering Paegeia Elena was not special, she wasn’t even average until the night her father was killed by a creature she thought only existed in fairy tales – a dragon. With her father’s death leaving her orphaned, Elena is whisked away to her true birthplace, Paegeia. Arriving at Dragonia Academy, the premier school for young Dragonians; a school she was never meant to attend because her father was a dragon. Unbeknownst to Elena danger is lurking behind the enchanted vines concealing the once thriving capital of Paegeia – Etan. Goran, the darkest sorcerer in the realm, has lain dormant for over a century behind the crumbling city. There, in the shadowy ruins he plots his revenge to destroy the only weapon that can kill him – the King of Lion Sword. When the sword is stolen without a trace Elena doesn’t think twice about seeking it; knowing deep down that it is her destiny to save her new home.

Book Excerpt

     "Dad, dragons...."  I took a deep breath.  Dragons didn't exist, but then the image of the huge thing that had flown past me a couple of seconds ago sprang into my head.  "You mean that thing was a dragon?"
     He nodded, and looked over his shoulder.
     A figure with huge paws and talons flew in front of the truck.  Tires screeched at the same time I shrieked.  The truck spun around on the turf a couple of times and came to a standstill on the dark stretch of road.  My heart jumped at a great speed inside my chest.  My throat and lips became dry.
     Pushing my face against the cool glass of the passenger window, I searched the horizon for any sign of life.  Apart from the pickup's headlights, there wasn't a single light peeking through the blanketed darkness, and the rain crushing down made me see figures I didn't know were real or imagined.  Dragons don't exist.
     "You okay?" my father yelled.
     "I'm fine, " I tore my eyes away from the window.
     "Elena, I need to get out --"
     "No, no, please don't leave me here!"  I could feel the fear beginning to rise up again and my vision became blurry.  Why am I afraid?  Dragons aren't real.
    He cupped my face and made me look at him, his hands trembling.  "Listen to me, Elena.  Listen!"
    I tried to swallow my tears, but it was no use.  They were caught in the back of my throat, silencing me as he said his goodbye.
    He hugged me tight and kissed me on my forehead.  I could feel the love he had for me behind that kiss.
    "You drive like hell, you hear me?  Don't slow down for anybody.  There's a motel on Interstate 40.  Just stay on this road, you can't miss it.  Someone named Malt will meet you there."
     For the love of blueberries, Dad, it's pouring dogs and horses outside.  I can't leave you here with whatever...."  We can rationally sort this out.
     Dad cringed and looked down for a minute.  When he looked at me again, that set to his jaw was back.  I knew my words hadn't made an impact on him whatsoever.  He had already made up his mind for the both of us.
     My strength returned as I slowly came to terms with what I had to do.
     A man appeared in the middle of the road.  The rain made it hard for me to see him, but the headlights of the truck outlined his figure.  I squinted to see him clearer.  He was tall with long, black hair; wet strands clung to his face.  He wore a pair of pants, no T-shirt, and it looked like no shoes, either.  He stared at the pickup for a couple of minutes, and it made my heart pound faster.   He began to walk slowly toward us.
     "Daaaad?"  I slapped his shoulder, trying to expel the fear from my body.
     "Elena." He grabbed my wrist.  "I'll be fine.  You need to go.  Now.  And, Bear, I'm so sorry.  Whatever happens, don't stop for anything."
     "Dad?"  My lower lip quivered like mad.  He kissed me one more time on my forehead and wiped away my tears gently with his thumbs.
     "I'll meet you there."  He climbed out of the truck and slammed the door in my face.  My gaze switched back at the macho loon making his way toward Dad, who stood right next to the pickup.  I quickly moved into the driver's seat, took a deep breath, and buckled up.
     With my hands trembling on the steering wheel, I took another deep breath.
     You can do this, the voice in my head rambled a couple of times.  The key sat lazily in the ignition, and I jerked it to the right.  The pickup sputtered and died.  The guy disappeared into the darkness, and a new set of fear pumped through my veins.
     "No, no, no, no!  Please don't die on me now," I mumbled as I tried to restart the engine.  The man appeared again by the faint glow of the headlights.  He was getting closer.
    "Start, you stupid piece of crap!"  I yelled over the roar of the blood pumping in my ears.
     The engine came to life, and I screamed as the man's figure leaped toward the pickup.  Dad jumped from the asphalt and tackled the man in mid-air.  "Go, Elena!" he shouted over the pounding rain.
     I floored the gas pedal and the pickup's tires screeched as I drove past Dad, who'd wrestled the guy onto the road.  Tears blurred my sight.
     I can't just leave him back there.  I struggled to come to terms with what the hell was going on.
     My father and the other man quickly disappeared into the horizon of my rear view mirror.  I wiped away my tears with the back of my hand and lowered the mirror so that I could see Dad, but they vanished into the night.
     Don't stop for anything.  Dad's voice replayed inside my head.
     My hands trembled on the shift as I found the third gear.  A strong force hit the pickup on the passenger's side.  The impact of the blow jolted through my body as the truck rolled a couple of times, and came to a halt on its roof, leaving me suspended in the air.  My head and body throbbed with pain, and warm blood ran down my skull.  I began to slip into darkness.
     Lightning struck, and the road was instantly engulfed in flames, leaving me wide awake.  Something to the left grabbed my attention as the fire slowly began to creep toward the overturned truck.  The aching inside my head blurred my vision and I couldn't see the figure properly, but when it lifted up the truck, righting it on the asphalt once again, a shrill sound left my lips.
     The belly of a huge blue beast on four legs the size of tree stumps stood in front of the pickup.  The sight left me breathless, and my entire body froze.  Dragons don't exist.
     A part of his head popped in front of me.  Huge horns on the top of his nose lingered inches from the windshield, leaving a foggy condensation on the glass as he breathed.  On of his frilly ears lay flat against his head, like a cat's when sensing danger.
     He climbed on top of the hood with one of his front legs, and my body trembled as the truck started to crumble.  A part of his wing came into sight.  It appeared to be shredded, with a sharp talon located at the end.  Oval-shaped blue scales fanned over its entire body and glistened in the flames on the side of the road.  Maybe it only looked that way through the tears blinding my sight.  Beady eyes, sunken deeply into its skull, locked with mine.  The picture in front of me just became my number-one worst nightmare.  I shrieked as the dragon's weight shifted, forcing the pickup to crumble even more.
     Another dragon sank his jaws into the one in front of me.  Two huge copper horns lay flat on top of its copper head.  The blue dragon growled, and snapped with gaping jaws at the copper one attacking him.  With powerful force the dragon was dragged off the pickup's hood and thankfully away from me.  The truck shook slightly and groaned as if a huge weight had been dispelled; my heart pounded as if I'd just run a hundred meters.
     A bolt of fire came from the sky and lit up the entire scene in front of me.
     More dragons landed with a thud in the middle of the road.  One seemed to be green with a long neck and a fin-like mane running from the top of its head to its tail.  A cloud of dark emerged slightly from its nostrils.  The other dragon was red and oddly beautiful, but something evil derived from its aura.  They attacked the copper dragon with startling savagery.
     Get the hell away from here, my voice shrilled in my head.  Quickly, I tried to unbuckle my seat belt, but the clip wouldn't release.  For the next couple of minutes the earth shook with bolts of fire, and lightning flew through the air, while I tried to free myself.
     My father wouldn't just leave me here!  As each second ticked off my watch, I became more worried about Dad.
     The dragons came close to the truck a couple of times, but the copper dragon kept driving them back, as if he was trying to protect me.  I shook my head, trying to expel that thought.  Dragons don't existWake up.  The tips of my fingers felt raw as I hammered endlessly on the buckle of the safety belt.  My face was soaked with tears and blood, but I knew that I had to get out of the truck, and quickly, too.  With trembling hands, I pounded on the buckle with my fist until it unlocked.  Throwing the vicious restraint from around me, I saw the copper dragon bite fiercely into the blue dragon's neck.  I watched as blood squirted everywhere and pooled in thick puddles on the road.  It staggered and dropped down to the ground.  Electricity still sparkled off its body, but it soon died away.  The green and red dragons jumped on top of the copper dragon.  It knocked the red dragon hard onto the ground and crushed the green dragon with its huge front legs.  The sound of flesh ripping made me feel sick, and I had to lean over as tremors wracked my stomach.  The picture of the copper dragon shredding off the green dragon's left wing sent a stab of new fear deep into my core.
     Dad, where the hell are you?  I pleaded into the darkness.
     The red dragon got back up and flew away just as the copper dragon ripped the green dragon's neck apart.  Then the copper dragon turned its gaze to me.  For the love of blueberries!  I forced myself to look away from the humungous beast, and I started to kick at the windshield with my newly freed legs.  A new series of urgency punctuated every kick.
     C'mon!  I kicked three, four times, but it only left long cracks in the glass.  Watching the copper dragon trudge toward the pickup through the jagged cracks made the scene before me look even more terrifying.  The copper dragon stopped right in front of the pickup.  Our eyes locked, and I could see the vertical pupil inside a pair of dark, rich brown irises.  My heart thumped wildly inside my chest as it hooked on of its talons gently into the windshield and ripped it off.
     It paused, stared at me for what seemed like an eternity, took a few steps back, and nodded in my direction.
     It wants me to get out?  You're imagining things, Elena.  Dragons aren't real. 
     I didn't act.  I couldn't.  The dragon started to shrink its wings, and its legs dwindled into a smaller size until they disappeared.  Its big head and horns shrunk into nothing.  I watched as the dragon's huge figure melted away.  The heap transformed into the figure of a human crouching low to the ground.  The figure lifted up its face, and huge cuts with blood seeping from them ran down his face.  It felt as if somebody had squeezed all the air out of my lungs.  I'd finally found my father -- without a shred of clothing.

Sunday, April 20, 2014


This beautiful painting is part of
the Isenheim altarpiece,
which is now on display at
 the Unterlinden Museum at Colmar,
in Alsace, France.
The artist is Matthias Grunewald,
and he painted it around 1506 to 1515.

May His Divine blessings
fill your life with joy and peace!!

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Stacking The Shelves #34: Dark Lycan, Vampire Academy, Falling, Coping, Landing, Change Your Brain Change Your Life, The Unmistakable Touch of Grace

Welcome to
Stacking The Shelves!!

This is a weekly event hosted by Jennifer, Lili,
Stephanie, Helen, and Tynga @ Tynga's Reviews!

As the title implies, this is all about
sharing the books you're adding
to your shelves, be they physical or virtual.
For the complete rules, and to sign up,
just click on the link above.

Here's this week's haul!!  
(Yet another very eclectic one!)

Books Purchased

Click on each cover picture for the 
Goodreads or Amazon page about each book.

This is the book that precedes the one
I featured in my previous STS post:
Dark Wolf.  I love Feehan's
Carpathian series!!  Well, they do call
her "The Queen of Paranormal Romance"!

I think I might have a paperback copy of
this novel somewhere, but I just
couldn't resist getting the hardcover...
I'm a HUGE fan of hardcovers!!

This looks absolutely fascinating!!
I love to read psychology and self-help books,
and this one attracted me because
I do need some help with stress.
Heck, who doesn't?

I had heard of this author before, but
had never read any of her books.
This one grabbed my attention right away!

Books For Review

These books were sent to me by the author, 
J. Bennett, for a tour being sponsored
This is an exciting, very well-written, 
dystopian/science fiction series!
I've already reviewed the first one, which
is titled Falling, and it was awesome!!

What do you think of my haul?
What wonderful books have you
stacked on your shelves
this week?

Shelf Candy Saturday #113: The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood, by Howard Pyle 

Welcome to Shelf Candy Saturday!!

This weekly feature
showcases beautiful book covers,
and provides information,
if available, on their very talented creators!

For more information
about Shelf Candy Saturday,
just click HERE.

Here's my choice for this week!!

 The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood
  Howard Pyle
Trade Paperback, 320 pages
Capricorn House Publishers
January 1,1931
(first published 1883)
Fantasy, Historical Fiction

Why do I love this cover?

When I first came across this cover, I thought it was for one of those collector's leatherbound editions.  Imagine my surprise when I discovered that this was a paperback!  I believe it's a reprint, though, because I've seen the hardcover edition on Abebooks. 

The cover design is made up of elaborate patterns, on a brown background, which immediately suggests the forests in which Robin and his gang used to hide.  There’s a heraldic drawing at the top of the cover, which depicts two fierce, battling creatures -- a griffin, and a lion, with a flaming torch between them.  At the bottom of the cover, there’s another heraldic design, which incorporates a pair of wings, a shield engraved with a monogram, and, above that, a disembodied hand carrying a red heart. 

The rest of the cover is filled with very intricate line drawings suggesting foliage.

This masterpiece of a cover was created, I’m happy to report, by the great American illustrator and author, Howard Pyle.  Of course, his name appears right on the cover, but I had no idea, until I did a Google search, that he was also responsible for the book’s cover and interior illustrations!  I suppose he must have done the font used for the title and his own name, as well.  This font has the appropriate medieval look, and the letters even appear to be embossed in gold. 

Here are some samples of Pyle’s beautiful style, which does remind me somewhat of the work of Albrecht Durer, whose style I adore.  These are interior illustrations for The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood and a book about King Arthur.  (These images are from Wikimedia Commons.)

 "Sir Kay breaketh his sword at ye Tournament"
(An Arthurian illustration)

Frontispiece Illustration
The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood

About the Artist/Author

Howard Pyle
(March 5, 1853 - November 9, 1911)

He was an American illustrator and author, born in Wilmington, Delaware, although he spent the last year of his life in Florence, Italy.
He was interested in drawing and writing since childhood, and his mother encouraged him to study art.  He was a student of F.A. Van der Weilen in Philadelphia for three years, and also took some lessons at the Art Students League of New York.
Sometime after the year 1900, he founded his own school of illustration, after having taught at the Drexel Institute of Art, Science, and Industry (now Drexel University) for about six years.
His students included many notable artists, such as N. C. Wyeth, Frank Schoonover, and Elenore Abbott.  He worked for many magazines, but is primarily known as illustrator and author of books for children and young adults.

Online Links
Delaware Art Museum
One Hundred Years of Illustration 

What do you think of my choice
this week?
Leave me a comment and 
let me know!