Monday, October 31, 2016

Book Review: Awake At Dawn, by C.C. Hunter


Awake At Dawn
(Shadow Falls,  Book 2)
Trade Paperback, 383 pages
St. Martin's Griffin
Oct. 11, 2011
Fantasy, Paranormal Romance, Young Adult Fiction
Source: Barnes & Noble bookstore

Book Synopsis: Step into the world of Shadow Falls, a camp that helps teens tap into their special... talents. Once you visit, you’ll never forget it—and you’ll never, ever be the same.

From the moment Kylie Galen arrived at Shadow Falls Camp, she’s had one burning question: What am I? Surrounded by vampires, werewolves, shape-shifters, fairies and witches, Kylie longs to figure out her own supernatural identity…and what her burgeoning powers mean. And now she’ll need them more than ever, because she’s being haunted by a new spirit who insists that someone Kylie knows—and loves—will die before the end of the summer. If only she only knew who she was supposed to save. And how...

But giving Kylie the most trouble is her aching heart. Gorgeous werewolf Lucas left camp with another girl, but he’s still visiting Kylie in her dreams. And Derek, a sexy half Fae who’s always been there for her when she needed him, is pushing to get more serious—and growing impatient, especially when Lucas returns. Kylie knows she needs to decide between the boys, and it’s tearing her up inside.

Yet romance will have to wait, because something from the dark side of the supernatural world is hiding in Shadow Falls. It’s about to threaten everything she holds dear... and bring her closer to her destiny.



https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/10800916-awake-at-dawn







This highly-addictive series has grabbed me and just won't let go! Once again, I was unable to put down this book until I had finished it.

As in the first novel, Kylie's life is complicated, and getting more so. She is discovering new supernatural abilities in this second novel in the series. Furthermore, she actually has an unexpected experience -- a mysterious, and rather embarrassing, growth spurt. And, of course, there's the whole situation with Derek and Lucas. Plus, she has to deal with a dangerously jealous she-wolf -- Fredericka, the girl who considers Lucas her property, and not Kylie's. I LOVED it when Fredericka got sprayed by Socks, Kylie's kitten that Miranda accidentally turned into a skunk, and whom she can't turn back into a kitten. Fredericka SURE deserved this!

As mentioned in the synopsis, there's a new ghost that Kylie has to deal with, too. This one is a woman, and she keeps telling Kylie that someone she (Kylie) loves will die unless Kylie does something. The poor girl is getting anxious and very frustrated at the ghost's inability to tell her who exactly is going to die. Time is running out....

The same old question is also still plaguing Kylie; she still has no idea just what sort of supernatural creature she is. At least she's finally accepted the fact that she's not entirely human. Her new talents lead her to suspect, first, that she might be a vampire, then, a werewolf. But nothing is clear. I must admit to a bit of impatience regarding this issue, which was still not resolved by the end of the book. However, since I love this series so much, I decided to, er....cheat! So I visited a Shadow Falls fan site, and now I know just exactly what kind of supernatural Kylie is. So, now that this burning issue is resolved, I can get back to enjoying the rest of the books! Lol. Of course, I'm not spilling the beans!

I was glad to see that Kylie's relationship with her mom had improved tremendously, ever since Kylie found out the truth about her dad. And now that they're getting along so well, it's rather ironic and poignant that Kylie wants to go to the new Shadow Falls boarding school (the camp is being turned into one). Her mom doesn't want to let her go, which is quite understandable, considering that their relationship is now what a mother-daughter relationship should be.

All of the other great characters are back, of course, including Holiday, whom I like so much, since she's like a big sister to Kylie. Holiday even helps out Kylie regarding the dreaded falls, where death angels are supposed to lurk. 

In this second installment, the tension between Burnett, the vampire, and Holiday, who is a fae, gets even worse. He has finally come clean and confessed that he feels a HUGE attraction for Holiday. She, however, is loath to admit the same, so the game is on! To make matters worse, a new character, Selynn, who is a werewolf, is introduced, and there are hints that she and Burnett may have been previously involved. Holiday won't admit to being jealous, but she definitely is.

There was more action in this novel, especially toward the end. It seems that Kylie has unwittingly drawn some VERY unwanted attention to herself, and there's a bizarre plot to kidnap her and....well, you'll just have to read the book!

I also liked how Hunter brought out more insights into Della and Miranda's families. These are Kylie's best friends at Shadow Falls. While they empathize with Kylie's own troubles, they also have their own problems to deal with. Della still has her family's suspicions to handle, as well as nostalgic memories of an  old boyfriend, while Miranda is trying to pretend that she's completely over Perry, the shapeshifter.

One of the characteristics of Hunter's narrative is that she smoothly flows from one plot point to another, and each main character's conflicts are somehow tied in with those of other main characters. This gives a lot of coherence to the whole story. 

This is yet another wonderful novel in this wonderful series, and I've already started the third one, Taken At Dusk! I'm looking forward to the rest of the books!

Needless to say, I highly recommend this entire series to all paranormal fans, especially those who also love the YA genre!

 MY RATING:  






C.C. Hunter grew up in Alabama, where she caught lightning bugs, ran barefoot, and regularly rescued potential princes, in the form of Alabama bullfrogs, from her brothers. Today, she's still fascinated with lightning bugs, mostly wears shoes, but has turned her focus to rescuing mammals. She now lives in Texas with her four rescued cats, one dog, and a prince of a husband, who for the record, is so not a frog. When she's not writing, she's reading, spending time with her family, or is shooting things-with a camera, not a gun.

C.C. Hunter is a pseudonym. Her real name is Christie Craig and she also writes humorous romantic suspense romance novels for Grand Central.
www.christie-craig.com

C.C. would love to hear from you. Because of deadlines, it may take her a day or so to get back with you, but she will reply. cc@cchunterbooks.com


  

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Shelf Candy Saturday No. 187: Moonlight, by Ann Hunter



Welcome to Shelf Candy Saturday!


***LATE EDITION***

Due to some unforeseen circumstances, 
this post is late again....
I guess I'll have to play things by ear.
Although this meme is titled 
"Shelf Candy Saturday", some weeks
 it will seem to be 
"Shelf Candy Sunday". Lol.

This is my weekly feature
showcasing beautiful covers!
It also provides information, 
if available, on their 
very talented creators!


Here's my choice for this week!



Moonlight
 Ann Hunter
Trade Paperback , 276 pages
 Afterglow Productions, First Edition
March 3, 2014
Fairy Tale Retellings, Fantasy, Romance,
 Young Adult Fiction

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/32808796-moonlight




My Thoughts About This Cover

This is a totally exquisite, elegant, refined cover.... It is breathtakingly beautiful! The juxtaposition of the huge, gorgeous moon with the still waters of the lake, and dark silhouettes of the graceful swans....is just lovely.

The first thing that came to mind when I first saw this cover was Tchaikovsky's "Swan Lake". I'm not sure, but I think that the plot of this novel might be related to that ballet. Whether it is or not, this cover brings to mind all things romantic, not only in the sense of love, but of the 19th-century Romantic Movement, which was most prevalent in music and literature. 

I am also reminded of Beethoven's "Moonlight" Sonata. The first movement of this beautiful, soulful sonata is especially appropriate for the mood of this cover, which certainly has some very beautiful classical music associations! There's definitely something very musical about this image. In fact , I'm listening to Daniel Baremboim,'s rendition of the "Moonlight" while I'm writing this. Of course, Debussy's "Claire de Lune" also comes to mind. Perhaps I'll listen to that next.

While I believe this image is a composite photograph, it's very seamlessly put together, and appears to be one image. Or perhaps I'm wrong, and it IS one image. If so, the photographer was able to capture just the right, purely magical moment! On the other hand, as Brian Joseph points out in his comment below, the moon appears much too big for this to be a photograph snapped right on the spot. So I'm back to thinking that this is a composite image.

As for the font used for the title, it's a classical one, but it has been slightly elongated, which I think is a very nice touch. And I LOVE the decorative flourishes added to the letter "M" of the title!

When I opened the Amazon preview for this book, I found the name "Andrew A. Gerschler" on the copyright page. He's listed as the cover designer. However, I have been unable to find anything else about him through Google, except his LinkedIn page, which would be inaccessible to anyone who wasn't a LinkedIn member. 

I'm sure someone else must have taken that exquisite photo, and then Gerschler did the overall cover design. Perhaps this is  a stock photo. I just don't know..... If I find anything further, I'll come back and add it to the post.

  


What do you think of this 
week's cover?
Please leave a comment
and let me know!








Book Review: Wicked Wisteria, by Angela Pepper


Wicked Wisteria
(Wisteria Witches, Book 2)
Angela Pepper
Kindle Edition, 231 pages
September 10, 2016
Cozy Mysteries, Paranormal Romance, Urban Fantasy
Source: Amazon Kindle Store

Book Synopsis: Strange things are happening to the books in Wisteria. Words keep disappearing from the pages. Who would do such a thing?

Zara Riddle is on the case! As both a witch and a librarian, she takes a special interest in finding out who or what is stealing the town of Wisteria's printed words.

With the help of her mentor witch aunt and a few unauthorized spells, soon Zara is deep into mystical trouble way over her head. Now her hunky shifter would-be boyfriend Chet is charging in with his macho guys to save the day. But when the trap is sprung, who's going to save Chet?



https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/31939179-wicked-wisteria?ac=1&from_search=true





The cover of this book pulled me in right away!  It just looks so cute, even funny, so I was expecting to get a lot of humor with this story. I was also expecting to be involved in a cozy mystery with the added ingredient of 'witchy' shenanigans. Well, I got the first one, all right, but sadly, not quite the second one....

As I began to read this novel, I was immediately captivated by the story. Zara Riddle, the female protagonist, is a very likable character. She's not only a witch, but one of the librarians in the town of Wisteria, and has a great talent for witty, as well as outright funny comments at every turn. She kept me laughing most of the way through the book. She's the narrator, too, and her take on the novel's events is frequently very entertaining.

I also liked Zara's daughter, Zoe, whom Zara is raising on her own. Furthermore, I loved Zara's parenting style. She's not one of these super strict, authoritarian parents. Instead, she relates to her daughter more like a big sister. There's plenty of joking around between the two. Zara can  be firm when she has to be, but she tempers that firmness with a reasonable attitude. In other words, she never assumes that Zoe is 'guilty until proven innocent', as many parents unfortunately tend to do.

Zoe enjoys the benefits of an easygoing relationship with her mom, and therefore, strikes me as a very well-adjusted, mature teen. Unlike her mother, however, she has no magical skills, and this is a source of frustration and stress for the poor girl. Zara tries to help her make light of this situation, assuring her that her powers might very well appear when she (Zoe) least expects them to.

Zara's quirky witch aunt, Zinnia (what's with all the "z" names, I wonder?), is another great character. As her niece becomes involved in some sleuthing, she gets in on the action, and the two of them start acting like a real detective team. I thought she was a bit too stern with Zara at one point, though; after all, the latter is in her early thirties. She hardly needed to be 'magically grounded' for an unwitting mistake. Still, I did enjoy Zinnia's personality and actions in the story. She's really a very resourceful, imaginative witch. She's also Zara's mentor and teacher in the ways of magic. Zara is coming along very well, too, thanks to her aunt.

Now for some use of the letter "z" myself.... I would apply the word "zany" to the antics of Frank Wonder, Zara's fellow librarian. From his pink hair to his jokes, he's one FUNNY guy! And he genuinely likes Zara, only not THAT way, unfortunately... Poor Frank gets into some trouble later on in the story, and has to be rescued by Zara and her aunt. As the book ends, he's just gotten himself into a very comical predicament.

The one character I totally disliked was Chet, Zara's 'sort-of would-be boyfriend'. Now this was bad, as he was supposed to be one of the good guys. He acted like a total jerk most of the time. His attitude toward Zara was frequently pretty rude, and he was not averse to subtly putting her down, and even, at times, scolding her like a child. Had I experienced the type of first date Zara painfully went through with him, he would have been history before you could even say, "Sayonara"! In short, this guy is a totally arrogant, macho (insert your favorite curse word here). Donald Trump, anyone?

What also bothered me to NO end -- and this went all the way from annoyance to outright anger -- was the silly, simpering way Zara kept trying to get and maintain his interest. Instead of metaphorically giving Chet the swift kick in the rear he very obviously deserved, she was tireless in trying to kindle (no pun intended) a relationship that anyone except Zara herself could see was NOT going anywhere.

In short, there was NO romance in this alleged 'paranormal romance'. Chet is a werewolf, so that's the only reason I can think of for the listing of this book as a 'paranormal romance'.

Aside from Chet, a couple of other things really bothered me about this novel. This was rather unfortunate, since I have thus ended up with very mixed feelings about this book.

The first thing was how Zara interacted with ghosts. Okay, I get that this is a paranormal novel, but I didn't like it when one of these ghosts just zipped right up Zara's left nostril, taking up residence in her brain. Yes, this is exactly what happened. And Zara actually became possessed by these 'visiting' ghosts; at times they entirely took over her body; afterward, she could not remember things she had done and said, which were actually the work of the resident ghost. I have no objection to paranormal characters interacting with ghosts, but I firmly draw the line at outright possession. It just gives me the creeps!! This also took away from the general comical tone of this novel. 

Another reason I didn't like this novel as much as I was expecting to was the plot itself. The book started out with an intriguing book mystery -- library books were being mysteriously erased. So that caught my interest, because of course I love reading books about books! I therefore figured that the plot would go on along those lines, with some fascinating, book-related mystery being eventually solved. But no, that was not to be. Instead, this initially light-hearted read suddenly morphed into this ridiculous horror-cum-science-fiction mashup that instantly reminded me of 1950s B-grade horror movies. From the books being erased, the author suddenly shifted to a nefarious, 'evil scientist' type plot full of the usual tropes and stupid plot twists. Everything went downhill fast from there.

In short, this novel has left me with a HUGE feeling of disappointment. I made myself finish it, because, having read as far as I had, I just wanted to see how the darned thing would end. Speaking of the ending, that was just as unsatisfying as the morphing from one genre to the other toward the end of the book. In addition to that, it was rather ambiguous.

I really couldn't believe the author's inexplicable, and very sudden,  genre  change, toward the end of the book. I totally thought I was reading a cozy mystery, with added paranormal elements, for most of the book. So it felt as if the author had pulled the rug out from under my feet when she suddenly decided that she would take inspiration from "Bride of Frankenstein" and "Invasion of the Body Snatchers". Not that I have ever watched these films in their entirety, but I have seen certain scenes. (Not being a lover of the horror genre, I was never interested in watching these painfully tacky movies in full.)

I really wanted to like this book, but novels that perform a genre switch after most of the plot has been consumed by the reader just aren't my cup of tea at all. Besides, they don't speak very highly of the author's writing skills. This novel made me feel as if the author had pulled a 'bait and switch' on me.

Other readers might enjoy this sort of mixed-up plot, but I certainly didn't. I cannot recommend this novel as a 'light, fun, paranormal romance', because it fails to deliver on most counts. The only reason I'm giving it three stars is that the humor is really great, and the character of Zara is what carries the novel all the way through. Had it not been for these elements, I would probably have given the book only one star.

I might try the first book in the series, Wisteria Witches, to see how I like it. I'm hoping that, being the first book, it will be more enjoyable to read, and will also have a more coherent plot.

MY RATING:





I'm new to the mystery genre, but not new to writing. My romance books can be found under my other pen name, Mimi Strong.

My home is not far from Misty Falls, in the Pacific Northwest. My cozy writing room has a peek-a-boo view of the mountains. I live with my husband, and an orange tabby who has many more years of experience than Jeffrey Blue, but still remembers how to do Kitty Playtime Hour.

When I'm not writing books, I'm thinking about writing books. Don't worry; I do take breaks to eat, and enjoy the sunshine when the clouds allow!

I'm passionate about my crafts, ranging from pottery (wheel-thrown and handbuilt), to sewing (when I can remember how to thread the Serger), and painting in any medium, as long as the colors are bright and cheerful.






 

Friday, October 28, 2016

Book Blogger Hop No. 72: Classic Literary Character Costumes for Halloween





Welcome to the Book Blogger Hop, 
Halloween Edition,
hosted by Billy @


For more information, and 
to find out the topic of next week's question, click HERE.


This Week's Question

 You've been invited to a costume
party, and the theme is
classic literature characters.
Who would you go as?

(submitted by Billy @ Ramblings of a



My Answer

What a GREAT question! The one classic literary character I can relate to the most, as well as the one I admire the most, is, hands down, Jane Eyre. She's the protagonist of a novel by the same name, penned by the 19th-century English writer -- and one of my literary idols -- Charlotte Brontë. 

Aside from the fact that Jane is my favorite character, I would never pick anyone scary or creepy to portray on Halloween, since I can't stand the horror genre. So I think that Jane would be just perfect for me! 

The following is a picture from Wikimedia Commons. While it depicts the author herself, and not her immortal character, I feel this is exactly how Jane would have looked in the real world. I LOVE this image! According to the Wikipedia attribution, this is "an idealized posthumous portrait by Duyckinick, 1873, based on a drawing by George Richmond". It's SO well done! 

Anyway, this image gives some idea of how the women of the author's time dressed, and, since Jane has so much in common with her brilliant creator, then, to me, this image represents Jane Eyre, as well as the woman who so masterfully brought her to life -- Charlotte Brontë.

A couple of people (see the comments below) have raised the question of how my character could be identified, since it wouldn't be immediately obvious who I was portraying. My solution to that would be to carry the novel Jane Eyre with me to the party. Then, when asked who I was supposed to be, I would hold up the novel and say something like, "You can read all about me in this book." I'm pretty sure that would take care of this issue. Lol. 

I got this idea from the picture below. The author is holding a book in her left hand. So I immediately thought of doing the same! And of course it would be the great literary masterpiece she herself wrote. 

I would be honored and PROUD to wear such a costume to a Halloween party, or any other type of costume party!



Portrait of Charlotte Brontë



What are your thoughts on
this topic?
Please leave a comment!
If you're participating in this meme,
I'll go comment on your 
own BBH post.
If not, I will then comment on one 
of your blog posts!
Thanks for visiting!!! 





SIXTH BLOGOVERSARY GIVEAWAY WINNER!!!




We have a winner for the Sixth 
Blogoversary Giveaway Celebration
for
A Night's Dream of Books!!!


And the winner is......

Irena @ Book Dust Magic!!!!


a Rafflecopter giveaway

CONGRATS, IRENA!!!!  

She has already claimed her 
prize, which is the following book!
It looks SO good, 
I want to buy my own copy!!



Just For Christmas
Scarlett Bailey
Trade Paperback, 464 pages
Ebury Publishing
November 7, 2013
Christmas Romance, 
Contemporary Romance, 
Women's Fiction




HUGE thanks to everyone who entered this giveaway, especially to 
those who left comments!! I greatly 
appreciated reading them!

Please visit this blog on a regular 
basis, as I have giveaways 
going on ALL the time!
Some are hosted by yours truly, 
while others are part 
of blog hops or blog tours.
Whichever one it is, there's ALWAYS
the chance to win free books,
or other AWESOME prizes, 
such as Amazon Gift Cards!!!
So don't miss out!!