Thursday, March 31, 2011

Book Review: Halo (second review for 'The Descent of the Angels Reading Challenge')

This is my second angel book review!
I had originally planned to post my review of Unearthly,
but things have turned out a bit differently...

Author: Alexandra Adornetto
Hardcover, 484 pages
Published by Feiwel & Friends (an imprint of McMillan),December, 2010
Genre: YA paranormal romance

This book's beautiful cover, as well as the subject matter, ensured that it would be featured on many YA blogs.  I couldn't wait to read it!  I have always found angels fascinating, but have not encountered them in fiction before (except for my unfinished reading of Unearthly.)   

This novel swept me away with its romantic enchantment, and also contained some very awe-inspiring glimpses into the angelic realm.  The story pulls the reader into its own unique world, and is a definite page-turner!

I love the characters, as well as the entire idea for the story, which features three angels who arrive, in human form, at the seaside town of Venus Cove.  They have a mission -- to watch over the town and its inhabitants, as they exert their heavenly influence over it.  The forces of darkness are looming on the horizon... 

The angels are Gabriel, the mighty Biblical Archangel, Ivy, an angel who possesses healing powers, and Bethany, the youngest of the three, who, like Ivy, is able to heal, although her main function in Heaven is to ease the transition of newly-arrived souls, especially those of children.  The angels are presented as siblings, which I think is a very nice touch -- the reader can immediately identify with and even empathize with them.

Bethany is the focus of the story.  As the youngest angel, she feels more of an attraction for human life, with all its emotions and beauty, than the other two.  She falls in love with the captain of the rugby team at Bryce Hamilton, the high school in which she enrolls as a student.  Her love for Xavier Woods ultimately becomes a possible obstacle to the angels' mission.  Although Gabriel and Ivy attempt to prevent Bethany from getting entangled in a romantic relationship, her attraction to Xavier is just too strong.  Eventually, Gabriel has no choice but to consult with the Covenant, a group of angels that form a 'high court' in heaven, rendering judgement when needed.  The verdict is favorable; the young couple are permitted to continue their relationship, for the time being.  Still, Bethany is aware that she may never see Xavier again once their mission ends....

The first 300 pages of the book serve to set up the story and develop the budding romance, which is very touching and poignant, if not entirely believable.  Bethany acts too much like an average human girl.  Her angelic powers are rarely in evidence, except for the scene in which she reveals her true nature to Xavier, her body glowing as she flies off the edge of a cliff.  The rest of the time, however, the reader would think this was a typical, non-paranormal YA romance. 

Bethany even craves Xavier's 'protection'!  But she' angel.  If anyone needed protection, it should be Xavier, not Bethany!  Why would a mere mortal presume to try to protect an angel?  I found this to be so ridiculous!  Had it not been for this, I would have given the book five stars.

I especially enjoyed the Christian underpinnings of the novel.  It only makes sense to mention God in a novel whose main characters are angels.  Adornetto never 'gets preachy', either.  She weaves the Christian elements very naturally into the story, just enough for readers to know what the background is.  The battle between good and evil in the novel is put into the context of the great rebellion of Lucifer and his angels -- this is all taken from the Bible, and Adornetto rightfully makes no apologies for that.

The forces of darkness make an appearance in the last 200 pages or so of the novel.  The action starts to build up slowly, almost imperceptibly, until things get very intense.  A demon is introduced into the story, although he is not initially identified as such.  Things start to get a little strange.  Suddenly, there are acts of vandalism and arson in this quiet town, and then, something really shocking takes place -- an apparently inexplicable suicide. 

Towards the very end of the novel, conflict fully erupts, and we see Gabriel in all his mighty glory, wielding his flaming sword.  I thought that surely, in this final confrontation with evil, Ivy and Bethany would come into their own, and the reader would see their powers fully revealed.  Incredibly, only Gabriel fights the demon.  However, it is the power of Xavier and Bethany's love that ultimately defeats him, and that is very satisfying!  Love always triumphs over hate.

Although Adornetto has obviously been influenced to some extent by The Twilight Saga and The Vampire Diaries, the story is still very unique and original.  The relationship between Xavier and Bethany is very sweet, as they are totally devoted to each other in a very spiritual way, in spite of the physical attraction they also feel.  The world-building is excellent, remaining true, for the most part, to what we know of angels through the Bible.  Written in a simple, direct, yet flowing style, Halo fully engages the reader throughout.

I will definitely keep a look out for the next book in this new series, Hades, which is scheduled for release on August 30, 2011.  The title refers to the name used by the ancient Greeks for the underworld, which is known today as Hell....  It sure promises to be a fabulous read!!


Saturday, March 26, 2011

Fan Fiction: "It Happened That Night", part 2

Disclaimer: The following is a fan fiction story, based on the Twilight series.  The characters belong entirely to Stephenie Meyer, and I have taken some liberties with them.  No copyright infringement is intended, either at present, or ever.

Note:  The beautiful banner for this story was created by Annamorphos, a member.  Thanks & kudos, Anna!!

I turned away again, and began walking through the crowd, looking for my friends Angela and Jessica. I saw that they weren't sitting at our table. Well, we had come in the same car.  I knew they wouldn't leave me stranded here. It was a long drive back to Forks. I hadn't really wanted to come with them, but Jessica had said that all the good clubs were in Port Angeles. Amazingly, Charlie had insisted that I go.

"You really should get out more, Bells," he had urged. I knew he meant well. He didn't like to see me moping around the house, thinking about Bill, the scumbag who had broken my heart just a year after I had moved to Forks. My only consolation was that he hadn't gotten any 'souvenir' from me to brag about with his male buddies.

At first, I had firmly told him that I was not at all interested.  Typically, Charlie wouldn't let the matter rest.  So I finally gave in, shrugged, and told him I would go. The joyful expression on his face had been gratifying. Dialing Jessica's number, I told her I had finally decided to brave the Port Angeles night life. Her squeal of delight nearly pierced my ear drums.

Now I looked around again, wondering where my friends were. What the heck was I thinking? I'd never find them in this mass of people. I went straight toward the table, slinging my purse around my shoulder again.

I sat down to wait, no longer in any mood to dance, or do anything else but leave. I couldn't believe the night was turning out to be a total waste of time, and it was my fault, too. I never should have done that to poor Tom.

Tapping one foot impatiently, I glanced around at the dancing crowd, hoping fruitlessly that I would see one of my friends as the dancers looped and looped around each other. I didn't   After a few minutes, I couldn't take it any longer. I had to go get some air, at least.  I rose unsteadily to my feet, dreading the need to weave through the crowd again. I never should have let Charlie convince me to go to a club. That whole scene had never been my style. As if to prove that to myself, I had botched the entire evening.

Taking a deep breath, I plunged into the crowd, determined to escape. The pressing bodies suddenly made me nauseous. The air was stifling. My urgent desire to get outside became even more urgent, as my claustrophobia kicked in. What had I been thinking? I had never liked crowds to begin with.
The music seemed to become even louder, the dancing wilder, and my claustrophobia was getting worse by the second. I wound my slow way through the dance floor, saying "excuse me" over and over again, as I stepped on too many feet.

Finally, I saw the heavy, double wooden doors in front of me. They opened as I approached, admitting a small group of people who had already been carded. I slipped through them, past the bouncers, one of whom glanced at me appreciatively. Then, I was outside.

I kept on walking until I had rounded the front corner of the building. There were some low bushes nearby, bordering the parking lot. A full moon intermittently lit up the sky with its pale gaze, as it drifted in and out of cloud banks. The night air was cool, and a refreshing contrast to the heavy, sweat-drenched atmosphere inside the club.  I walked a bit further away from the entrance, heading for a pool of shadow on the wall. I leaned against it gratefully, wondering if I should take off my heels, which were beginning to hurt my feet. Sighing, I closed my eyes.

"Hey," a soft, melodious voice whispered near me. Of course I jumped, and my heart did a little somersault.

Opening my eyes, I glanced toward my right, but for a moment saw nothing in the thick darkness. Then a tall male figure walked into a beam of moonlight, and I recognized the pale, strange man who had ordered me away. Instinct told me to bolt. My hormones perversely told me to stay.  He smiled, and my heart skittered. My breathing stopped momentarily, and then jerkily started up again. I felt the impulse to run once more, but found that I couldn't. His gorgeous face held me there, against the wall.

"Look, I'm really sorry," he said, slowly, smiling a crooked smile. He sounded so sincere. I was still wary, though.

"I know I acted like a real jerk," he continued, "but there's a very good reason for that. If we could take a little walk together, I could explain it to you. That is, if you'll let me. I really mean you no harm. Honestly."

An inner voice instantly warned me that this would not be a good idea. Besides, I had not yet recovered from his weird, rude behavior.

"I don't think I want to go anywhere with you," I retorted, surprising myself with my hostile tone.  How had I managed to talk this way to him, when it was all I could do to stop ogling him?

He ducked his head, and that mesmerizing, crooked smile of his became wider.

"I won't complain, because I know I deserve that," he chuckled.

I simply stood there, doing my best to glare at him. But I just couldn't stay mad at a living Greek god who would be willing to apologize to a mere mortal. I groaned as I realized what I was thinking. Good going, Bella! Putting a guy up on a pedestal again. But then, this guy was way more appealing than Bill ever had been. Heck, Bill who?

He turned serious. "What's the matter? Why did you groan like that? Would you like me to leave? I really, really should, you know. I've been a total idiot."

He waited for my answer as he stared anxiously at me.

I smiled. "Oh, no," I found myself whispering, "please don't leave. But I have to tell you that there's never a good reason to act like a jerk. Your story had better be good."

He smiled in return, and I had to stifle a nearly irresistible urge to stroke a lock of bronze hair that had fallen across his forehead. Down, Bella!

"Interesting...' he drawled appealingly. I loved the sound of his voice. "Then I suppose I should apologize all over again, because I really don't want you to be mad at me. That would totally ruin this moment - indeed, the whole evening."

I am very chagrined to admit that I totally melted when he said that.

"All right, you're forgiven." I sighed. It was no use fighting this… No, I was not going to bat my eyes at him.

"Then you'll take a walk with me?" His dazzling smile made me blink. Was he now trying to hypnotize me?

I nodded, and I could see him relaxing. "Sure, I'll go with you, if we don't go too far, that is. I'm with a couple of friends, and we have to get back home in one piece."

He laughed at that. "Are you one of those girls whose dad hides a shotgun behind the front door?"

I laughed in return. "Something like that."

"Well, that does complicate things, you know. I need some time to get to know you. A five-minute walk just won't do it."

I sighed nervously, although this remark sent my heart into its fluttering little dance again.

"Well," I countered, "it would be nice if I got to know you, too."

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

And the winner is...ME!!!!!

Lisa Bergren

Last night I received an email
from Katy, at Legacy of A Writer,
informing me that I had won this beautiful book!!!!

I am so excited and happy!!!!

The giveaway was posted on March 8th,
and included an interview with the author,
Lisa Bergren.
I found out about this through a new
blog I've discovered -- Christian Book Giveaways.
(Please see the button in the sidebar.)

I loved the interview with Lisa, and immediately
became a follower of Katy's blog,
after which I entered the giveaway.

The giveaway/interview page is HERE.

The winner was announced on this page.

I had not heard of this author before,
so it was the book's cover
that first caught -- and held -- my attention.
Then I read the interview,
and found my interest piqued by
Bergren's description of the sources of her inspiration,
and what she hopes to accomplish in
this new River of Time series, the first book of which is

The next step was to find out more about the story.
When I did, I was immediately hooked!
This is a young adult, time-travel fantasy,
which is something that's definitely right up my alley!

The story is about two twin sisters, Gabi and Lia Bentarrini.
They spend every summer in Italy,
along with their parents,
who are well-known Etruscan scholars.
One hot, dusty, afternoon, at an archaeological site,
Gabi happens to place her hand
right on top of a handprint carved into an ancient tomb...
Suddenly, she finds herself in 14th-century Italy,
landing smack in the middle of a battle
between two rival families, the Castello Forelli
and the Paratore.
(Mama mia, those wonderful Italian names!)
Of course, there is a "knight in shining armor" involved....
His name is Marcello Forelli, and he takes Gabi back to his
father's castle.

Lia, who had also put her hand over a handprint,
has somehow become separated from her sister,
although she, too, ends up in medieval Italy.
It later turns out that she is being held by 
the cruel Lord Paratore.

Sounds just wonderful to me!   
This novel is also classified as
a Christian fantasy/romance, 
so this means
I'm in for a great,clean, fun read! 

Naturally, I will be getting the rest of the books
in this series!
The Amazon reviews are unanimously enthusiastic,
and I just can't wait for the book to arrive
so I can start getting swept away...
Of course, I do plan to finish Halo first!
(I'm really enjoying that book, by the way.)

For more information regarding Lisa and her books,
visit her website:

For more information specifically about Waterfall,
visit the Amazon page,


Monday, March 21, 2011

Book Review: Wuthering Heights

Wuthering Heights
Author: Emily Bronte
Trade paperback
448 pages
Published by Harper Teen (Reprint edition), October 6, 2009
Genre: Classic, Gothic fiction

Reviewer's Notes:  This review was originally posted on Amazon, on February 19, 2010.  I've decided to post it here as well, with some slight modifications, which I made for the purpose of clarifying and highlighting some points.  

This is yet another book I both like and dislike.  I don't think I will ever be able to love it!  The most I can say in favor of it is that I love the cover of this particular edition, which is the Twilight edition, since this is one of the books mentioned by Bella in The Twilight Saga.  In fact, Stephenie Meyer even points out that Bella's copy is dog-eared.  Well, I can't for the life of me imagine why it would be...

When it was first published, Wuthering Heights elicited strong criticism. Although Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre also received its share of negative criticism, it was not as markedly disliked as her sister's book. As time went by, the pendulum swung in the opposite direction, and it was Emily's book that eventually came to be hailed as superior to Charlotte's, particularly as the 20th century got under way.

I have read the book three times. It was part of a high school English Lit assignment. To be quite honest, I could barely stomach the book back then. It was too strange, wild, and terrifying to me. The second time I read it, several years ago, I was much older. Thus, I was able to appreciate its masterful prose style and brilliant characterizations. In fact, it was these two factors that kept me reading until the very end. The same thing happened a few months ago. Once more I was hypnotized by this horrible tale of people whose lives went so very wrong. It was one character in particular who exerted a rather puzzling pull on me - Heathcliff. I read almost against my will, hoping against hope that I would be able to find some good quality in him. Of course, I vaguely remembered the plot from the second reading, so I knew that I would not find any such thing.

This book, in its entirety, is really about Heathclif. It's about how the abuse he suffered at the hands of his benefactor's son, Hindley Earnshaw, twisted him into a demonic caricature of a human being. As such , it is definitely not a pleasant read. However, it does serve as a testament to Emily Bronte's genius. That such a hideous creature sprang from this young woman's imagination is nearly unbelievable, considering her background. Something dark and cruel stirred in the nether recesses of her mind. M. L. Von Franz, a Jungian analyst writing in Man and His Symbols, edited by Carl Jung, mentions Heathcliff, describing him as Emily Bronte's animus; this is the masculine part of a woman's psyche, according to Jung. The animus can be evil or good. Heathcliff is demonic indeed. Bronte brings him to life with great vividness, and this undeniably displays her great talent for making a character truly live in a reader's mind.

Therein lies the rub. Heathcliff is so repulsive, so utterly demonic, and so overpowering, that he makes the book sheer torture to read. His influence is seen on every page. The one redeeming quality he might have possessed, his love for Cathy, turns into a monstrous, sick obsession toward the end of the book.

While I can admire the powerful way the author delineates character, as well as her obvious command of writing style, I simply cannot say that this book is one of my favorites. I find it especially strange to see it referred to as a love story, and tagged as "romance" on Amazon. There is little to none of that in this novel. The supposed love story between Heathcliff and Catherine Earnshaw is sketchy at best. They are separated for three years, due to her stubbornness, as well as his pride. When he suddenly reappears, determined to see her, she is already married to another man, one whom Heathcliff despises as a weakling, due to his passionless nature. Yet it is that very man who treats Catherine with kindness, catering to her every whim. Had she, instead, chosen Heathcliff, things might have been very different. Such a tumultuous relationship could very well have ended in tragedy. Had Bronte taken the story in this direction, the book could, indeed, be classified as "a dark romance". As it stands, however, it certainly cannot, nor should it be.

Catherine Earnshaw herself is not a wholly pleasant character, either, although she never descends to the depths of depravity Heathcliff does. She is, however, a very self-centered creature; her sole reason for marrying Linton is so that she won't be brought below her station by marrying Heathcliff. She attempts to rationalize her decision by claiming that she can use Linton's money to "help" Heathcliff, but this is a rather flimsy excuse.

Through Heathcliff, this also becomes a tale of family dysfunction, and of how that dysfunction poisons anyone who comes into contact with that family, whose most disturbed representative, Heathcliff, engages in a very elaborate plan of revenge throughout the latter part of the book.

Allthough, again, the writing is brilliant, the book does have one major creative flaw, and that is the plotting. Characters are killed off when they are no longer necessary. Now, I do agree that a writer has to include sad and unhappy events in a novel, even if he or she is writing within the parameters of the modern romance genre. However, having characters die every few pages or so is just too contrived. Even Cathy's death is contrived. It's designed to make Heathcliff even more of a monster than he already is. Besides, there is no clear explanation for her death. True, she had gotten herself into a state of near hysteria due to auto-suggestion, but this is hardly enough to cause anyone's death; at least, not as suddenly as hers comes about. It's just not believable. Furthermore, the reader finds out, after her demise, that she was pregnant! She very conveniently gives birth, too, before she inexplicably departs from this world. This seems to be a rather forced way of increasing the pathos.

Other reviewers have objected to the narration-within-a-narration technique Bronte uses. Actually, I found this quite intriguing. This is one of the elements about the book that actually maintained my interest. Nelly Dean turns out to be a very shrewd, highly perceptive observer, with an especially keen eye for nuanced detail.

I was glad that poor Hareton got a chance at love with Catherine Linton. That was another element about the book that I liked. Still, their union is also a bit too contrived, since they happen to be cousins.

All in all, although I do recognize the greatness of Emily Bronte as a writer, I have to say that I consider her sister's novel, Jane Eyre, far superior, with a more polished plot structure.  Furthermore, Charlotte Bronte's story is, indeed, a love story.  Although the relationship between Jane and Rochester is just as tumultuous as that between Heathcliff and Cathy, it is satisfactorily resolved as a tale of romance, instead of degenerating into one of twisted, perverted evil. 


Saturday, March 19, 2011


I know, me lads and lassies,
St. Paddy's Day is over, and all the pots o'gold
have been hidden away again,
until next year rolls around.
Well, not quite!

I have just discovered this fabulous blog giveaway hop!!
It's hosted by Books Complete Me,
and I Am A Reader,Not A Writer, but I first found out about it

The main prize is a signed copy of The Thief,
by Megan Whelan Turner.

To find out more, just go to the home page,
which has the giveaway hop post.
(I have already provided the link, above.)

You can go straight to the entry form
by clicking HERE


Thursday, March 17, 2011


To all of you hopeless romantics out there,
may the pot at the end of the rainbow
be full of your most wonderfully
romantic dreams of love!!

And, with a wee bit o'luck,
ye might be finding a shy leprechaun
guarding his hoarded gold, as well!

Here is some information on some of the traditions
of this day,
taken from a Compuserve article:

Here are the four reasons green is equated with St. Patrick's Day:

·  Green is one of the three colors in the Irish flag.
·  With its lush, green landscape, Ireland is known as the "Emerald Isle."
·  Green is the color of spring.
·  Green is the color of the shamrock.

Originally a Roman Catholic feast day for Ireland's patron saint, St. Patrick's Day was only celebrated in Ireland before the 1600s. By the 1700s, it had evolved into a secular holiday as Irish immigrants to the United States began holding the first St.Patrick's Day parades. These festivities were a chance to not only show off their patriotism for Ireland, but also make a political statement about their discontent with their low social status in America.

You can find the complete article HERE.

In honor of the day, I'd like to recommend
this collection of Irish myths
and tales.
The title of the book is:
Some of the contributors include
The cover is quite beautiful, too!

This is part of the Goodreads synopsis:

Ireland is a nation that holds fast to its history and heritage, and nowhere is that more true than in its folktales and legends. From the great Celtic myths featuring the bard Taliesin, the terrible Morrigan, the heroic Cuchulain, or the noble and cunning Sidhe to strange and mysterious tales of today, the stories and traditions of the Emerald Isle hold a strong attraction for many.

Emerald Magic brings together today's best fantasy authors to explore the myths of the Irish, telling their own versions of these ancient tales of luck, love, and honor, or drawing upon centuries of Irish myths and folktales and updating them into brand-new stories. Edited and with an introduction by bestselling author Father Andrew M. Greeley, Emerald Magic contains fourteen wonderful stories of legend and lore.


Actor Kellan Lutz, who portrays Emmett Cullen
in The Twilight Saga movies,
celebrated his birthday on March 15th,
at Pure Nightclub in Las Vegas.

How could I have missed the date?

Well, Emmett, I hope Edward didn't beat you
at arm wrestling!

I don't have to hope you had a blast,
because I know you did!!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Book Review: A Darker Dream, by Amanda Ashley

A Darker Dream
Author: Amanda Ashley
Mass Market Paperback
400 pages
Published by Love Spell, (Dorchester Publishing Co.), July 28th, 1997
Genre: Vampire Romance, Paranormal Romance, Urban Fantasy

This author's books were my first introduction to the vampire romance genre.  She has remained one of my favorites ever since, although Stephenie Meyer will always be my top favorite.  In fact, I consider Meyer to be the undisputed queen of the vampire romance, although I will also say that Amanda Ashley is a very close second.  This is in spite of the fact that Meyer writes primarily for young adults, while Ashley's books target the adult market exclusively.

This novel begins with a scene that immediately elicits outrage in the modern reader.  A desperately poor farmer, Vincent McLeod, is actually selling his fifteen-year-old daughter to the highest bidder.   Such things were still taking place in 1843 England, which is the setting of the story.  Slavery, of course, was still a viable institution across the Atlantic, in the United States.  Considering the status of women at the time, also, it is not too surprising that McLeod was selling his own daughter.

The dark hero, Rayven, begins to feel quite disturbed as he watches this auction.  All around him in the dimly lit tavern where the poor girl, Rhianna, is being exhibited like a fine piece of horseflesh, are men who are leering and wondering what she looks like underneath her shapeless gown.  Unable to tolerate it anymore, Rayven decides to buy her himself, on the spot.  So it is that Rhianna McLeod is taken to Castle Rayven, a desolate place indeed, for the nearby villagers are afraid of the castle and its solitary, antisocial owner.

As time passes, Rayven and Rhianna fall in love, which is, of course, a foregone conclusion.  In spite of the predictability of this event, their relationship doesn't immediately begin, since Rayven is loath to have her fall in love with a vampire.  After Rhianna has done some growing-up, she insists that she wants Rayven, no matter what he is, so their relationship begins...

The love story of Rayven and Rhianna blossoms into an eternal union of soul, mind, and body, leaving this reader satisfied and content.  

Ashley portrays Rayven in a very realistic manner, and it’s fascinating to see how his inner torment plays out in his relationship with Rhianna..  Although he is a vampire, he does not delight in killing.  He is tortured by his terrible compulsion to survive on blood.  Frequently, he kills sheep from his own herd, instead of slaking his thirst on humans.  He ruthlessly isolates himself in his castle, unwilling to put the villagers nearby in danger.  Nevertheless, he sees himself as a monster, someone totally unworthy of love.

As for Rhianna herself, she is the epitome of feminine compassion, innocence, and kindness.  She, too, is tortured, for she does fear for her life at Rayven’s side.  It is the true self she perceives in him, however, that gives her the strength to override that fear.  She knows he longs for the light, and she attempts to bring as much of that into his life as she can.  Instead of despairing, she touches his soul with her unconditional love.  Her selfless devotion enchants him, and is the beginning of his long journey toward personal redemption. 

This novel is an enchantingly beautiful, wonderfully romantic tale of how a man who has carried a burden of loneliness, darkness, and self-loathing for centuries, at last finds love and light with a woman who accepts and loves him with her whole being.  

There is a brief sex scene in the book, but it's tastefully done.  There are no extremely graphic details.  The emphasis is on tenderness and sweet passion.  Ashley apparently stands alone among vampire romance authors in this regard.  She is also unique because of the absence of profanity in her novels. 

There are many lyrical passages in the book, especially when Rayven and Rhianna meet in his garden maze at night.  I could picture these scenes in my mind as if they had been put on film.  Indeed, I wonder why this story has not been made into a movie.  It certainly is a grand romantic tale!  Moreover, the ending is nothing short of miraculous.  As a hopeless romantic, I couldn’t help basking in it all!  

This is the second time I have read the book.  The first time was several years ago, and I know I will read it again!

Ashley's novels usually delight and enchant.  This one is no exception, although she has really outdone herself here!  The story really sweeps one away, and cannot be put down until the very last word is read.  If that should happen at three o'clock in the morning, then so be it!


Saturday, March 12, 2011

Fan Fiction: "It Happened That Night" (One-Shot), part 1

Disclaimer: The following is a fan fiction story, based on the Twilight series.  The characters belong entirely to Stephenie Meyer, and I have taken some liberties with them.  No copyright infringement is intended, either at present, or ever.

Note:  The beautiful banner for this story was created by Annamorphos, a member.  Thanks & kudos, Anna!!

The club was really hopping that Saturday night. The crowd was rowdier than usual, so the bouncers had their hands more than full. Lights skittered across jaded, drunken faces, in time to the wild gyrations of countless bodies. Darkness pounded with blaring sound. It felt like the guitar riffs began and ended in my stomach, along with the relentless, savage drums.

He was sitting at the bar, an untouched drink in front of him. I caught a glimpse of his face, intermittently lit by the pink and purple lights, as I tried to dance with Tom. 

I couldn't believe I had actually been asked to dance. I never engaged in any activity that would put anybody in danger of being injured. Nor did I enjoy being made fun of. Yet here I was, moving around on this packed dance floor, in Tom's capable hands. i had to admire the guy's patience. He didn't even complain once.  As he whirled me around, I caught another glimpse of that face at the bar. He was gazing indolently at the dancing crowd, but his eyes suddenly zeroed in on me. They stayed there briefly, then flitted away, and he turned his back on the dance floor. I sucked in my breath, stunned, and completely lost my concentration. I collided, hard, with Tom's chest.

"Hey, you all right?" he peered down at me, a worried look on his face, and steadied me with his big hands. I guess I must have given him the impression that I had seen a ghost. I looked up at him for a moment, embarrassed, then looked away, shaking my head slightly.

"I think I need to sit this one out. My head feels funny. Sorry, and thanks for the dance." I smiled weakly up at him. He was nice, really. He had even put up with my clumsy dance moves. But then I had seen him, and his eyes had connected with mine. Any interest I might have had in my dancing partner had abruptly evaporated.

"Sure, no problem." He shrugged, smiling. "Want me to get you a glass of water or something?"

I looked down. My cheeks were on fire. I felt sorry for the poor guy.

"No, thanks. I just need to sit down for a the bar." Involuntarily, I looked in his direction, as my face continued to flame. Blushing so easily, as well as so fiercely, was the bane of my existence, along with my klutziness.
Tom glanced over at the bar, and, of course, saw him sitting there. Then he looked back at me, and frowned.

"You know that guy?" His voice had suddenly taken on an unmistakable note of hostility.

I couldn't bring my eyes up to his face. "Well, no, not really..." I stammered. Too late, I realized I should have lied about my reason for wanting to sit at the bar, instead of being taken back to my table, escorted, of course, by Tom.

"Oh, I see," he said, "you would like to get to know him, then."

I opened my mouth to say something, as I looked up at his face. It was set in stone, and he was glaring at me.

"Later, then," he said, as he took his hand off my arm. With that, he turned around, and promptly disappeared into the crowd.  Well, I couldn't blame him. Nothing could hurt a guy's ego more than having a girl he was getting to know show interest in another guy.  I bit my lower lip. Now I was feeling very guilty. Tom wasn't bad-looking, I scolded myself. And he was a nice guy, too. But...then I had seen that other guy, and, as they used to say - and maybe still do - in romance novels, time froze. That sounds very dorky, I know. And yet, that's what happened to me. Everything and everyone seemed to freeze. Even the stale, liquor-laden air froze. He became the only thing that I could see clearly, that seemed to pulse with vibrant life.

I walked slowly over to him.

As I approached, I saw him come out of his apparent reverie, and turn to watch me coming closer. His eyes were a peculiar shade of gold – warm butterscotch was the color that came to mind. They were pointedly staring at mine. I could not look away, but I did manage to take in the rest of his face. It was the most beautiful male face I had ever seen, with its strong jaw, sculpted nose, and dark, brooding eyebrows. Then I noticed how pale he looked, even in the club's semi-darkness. Shadows framed his eyes, giving him a very gloomy, even frightening air that should have repelled me immediately, but didn't.  His hair, gleaming bronze in the pulsating lights, contrasted sharply with his face. The hair was tousled, in an endearing sort of way. It invited me to comb my hands through it, in an attempt to straighten out its enchanting disarray.

Then I felt it- an unmistakable flow of blazing electricity in my gut. I had never felt such a thing before, but knew what it was. My body was automatically reacting to this living, beautiful sculpture before me.

I flowed into the seat next to him. That was incredible in itself. I never "flowed". Instead, I was always bumping into things. I did not take my eyes off his face as I crossed my legs, taking my little purse off my shoulder and laying it on the counter.

We said nothing for a few minutes, simply staring at each other. I suppose he was as surprised by my approach and helpless scrutiny as I was.

Then he spoke.

"You should get up just as quietly and quickly as you can, and leave." His voice was as beautiful as the rest of him. It held no hint of menace, and yet, I shivered.

"What...did you just say?" I laughed nervously. I couldn't possibly have heard right.

He closed his eyes, as if he were in pain, and brought one of his hands to his head, leaning on the counter. Again I noticed that he had not touched his drink. It appeared to be a Bloody Mary.

"Please!" This time it was unmistakable; he was hissing through his teeth. "You must leave, now! Don't ask any questions. Just go!"

"But why?" I was so shocked, I didn't know whether to take his blasted drink and throw it in his face, or just stomp away angrily.  Then he opened his eyes, and glared at me. A thrill of fear swept through my body, bringing me to my feet. I suddenly wanted to put as much distance between us as I could.

"All right, I'll go," I snapped, trying to hold on to some remnants of dignity. I grabbed my purse off the counter, and walked away, with the intention of not looking back.  Against my will, I did turn to look back at this strange man who had seemed so irresistible, and yet, had so rudely ordered me to leave.  He was still sitting at the bar, but now his face was in his hands, and he had completely turned away from the crowd. The bartender came by and asked him something. He shook his head vehemently.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Philomel Books Changes Wolfsbane Cover?!

Here's the cover originally planned for the hardback edition of
Wolfsbane, by Andrea Cremer,
which is scheduled for release on
July 26, 2011:

Here's the new cover for the hardback edition, according to
several blogs I have browsed this evening:

As you can see, there is quite a stylistic difference between the two!
Some fans are so upset about this, they have even
started a Twitter petition to get
Philomel Books to go back to the originally planned cover.
If any of you are interested, you can sign up

There's also a new cover for the upcoming paperback edition
of the first novel, Nightshade
Now, this cover is the perfect match for the new Wolfsbane
cover for the hardback edition!
This doesn't make any sense at all!  It's a matter of
aesthetic appeal and common (design) sense.
The style of each pair of covers -- the two original ones,
as well as the two new ones -- point to the very obvious fact
that each pair was created by the same artist.
Therefore, each pair should be matched accordingly.

This is precisely what I suggested to the publisher
in a very recent email I sent them.

So, this is my suggested pairing for the hardback editions of Books 1 and 2:

And this is my suggested pairing for the paperback editions:

You don't have to be an artist, whether self-taught or trained,
to see the visual logic of these pairings.
The original covers match because of the similarity
of style they share.
The new ones also match, for the very same reason.

I sure do hope that the publisher's creative
and marketing staff will realize
what a huge mistake they would be making
by using the wrong pairings
for these covers!

Many readers do, indeed, judge a book by its cover,
although they might not be consciously
aware of this.
In this particular case, however, it's a matter of
not breaking aesthetic continuity.
I love both the original and the new covers,
but they have to be correctly paired.
In fact, being the obsessed book lover that I am,
I could see myself buying both the hardbacks and
the paperbacks, just so I could have each pair!

Yes, I am that much of a book addict.

I'm hoping that this publisher will listen to the people
who buy the books they publish!!

Here's the email address for Philomel Books,
for anyone who wishes to
contact them directly: