Monday, August 29, 2011

In My Mailbox #1

This is a book meme hosted by
Kristi at

Participating bloggers can
feature books they've recently acquired,
whether through purchasing, giveaways,
gifts, or borrowed from the library.

The books are usually featured on Sundays,
and bloggers can link up to
the hosting blog.

For further information, just click

I meant to post this yesterday, but didn't get a chance...

I wasn't expecting to be buying any books at a bookstore, since I order online most of the time.  However, things worked out so that I was able to visit not one, but two local bookstores -- Barnes & Noble, and Borders!  So I decided to go ahead and post my very first "In My Mailbox" post.

I couldn't help but feel sad, though, when I stepped into Borders and saw all the "Going Out of Business" signs, along with the "50% - 70% off" signs... The store was crowded, and I went around, looking at all the messed-up shelves, trying very hard not to cry...but my eyes were moist the entire time.  When I finally joined the long line, I had picked out five books.  (I had already bought one at B&N.)

These are the books I brought home:

Alberto Manguel
 Trade Paperback, Grove Press, 2007

Maria V. Snyder
Trade Paperback, Mira, 2008

Tera Lyn Childs
Hardcover, Katherine Tegen Books,

Jennifer Donnelly
Hardcover, Delacorte Press, 2010

Mary Balogh
Hardcover, Delacorte Press, 2011

(Marion Zimmer Bradley Avalon Series)
Diana L. Paxson
Hardcover, Viking, 2007

What did all of you get this week?

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Recent Blog Awards!!!

This award was given to me by
Deirdra at

Her blog is a place where authors, agents,
and other literary professionals
can share their experiences
in the publishing world.

She has created these awards
to give to bloggers for all their hard work,
so I'm very honored!

Be sure to visit her wonderful blog!

Thanks, Deirdra!!

This award was given to me by
Krishna at

She has a wonderful blog featuring
reviews, giveaways, and other goodies,
so be sure to visit it!

Thanks, Krishna!!

This award is for blogs with fewer than 200 followers,
in order to help them build readership.

It comes with the following rules:

1. Thank the person who gave you the award and link back to them.2. Give the Liebster Blog Award to five bloggers and let them know in a comment on their blog.
3. Copy and paste the award on your blog.

I would like to pass this award on to the following blogs:

Congrats to all of these deserving blogs!! 

Saturday, August 27, 2011

On My Wishlist #11

This is a fun weekly event hosted by
Carolyn at  Book Chick City,
 and runs every Saturday.
Each participating blogger features books 
s/he hasn't actually bought yet,
but desperately wants to read!!

These books can be either newly-published,
to be released in the near future,
or in print for several years.

If you'd like to know more, just click HERE.

In my particular case, any books I place
on my wish list are strictly the print versions,
since I do not read ebooks. 

Here are my choices for this week!

Hardcover, 497 pages
Published by Little, Brown & Company
January 30, 1942
(first published 1940)
Genres: Mythology, Fantasy

From the Goodreads Synopsis

For over fifty years readers have chosen this book above all others to discover the thrilling, enchanting, and fascinating world of Western mythology. From Odysseus's adventure-filled journey to the Norse god Odin's effort to postpone the final day of doom, Edith Hamilton's classic collection not only retells these stories with brilliant clarity but shows us how the ancients saw their own place in the world and how their themes echo in our consciousness today. An essential part of every home library, MYTHOLOGY is the definitive volume for anyone who wants to know the key dramas, the primary characters, the triumphs, failures, fears, and hopes first narrated thousands of years ago -- and still spellbinding to this day.

I've heard so much about this book!!
I featured it during the Midnight Summer Festival,
which I participated in from
July 10th to July 20th.

Greek mythology in particular
has always enchanted me,
and I am so looking forward to reading
Hamilton's classic retellings!

Hardcover, 384 pages
Published by Katherine Tegen Books
Expected Release Date: February 14, 2012
Genres: YA Paranormal Romance, Urban Fantasy

From the Goodreads Synopsis

Balancing real life with the responsibility of being Heaven’s warrior is a challenge for Ellie. Her relationship with Will has become all business, though they both long for each other. And now that the secret of who she really is has come out, so have Hell’s strongest reapers. Grown bold and more vicious, the demonic threaten her in the light of day and stalk her in the night.

Treachery comes even from those whom she loves, and Ellie is broken by the deaths of those who stood beside her in this Heavenly war. Still, she must find a way to save the world, herself, and her love for Will. If she fails, there will be hell to pay.

The first book in this series
was a very exciting read that I simply
couldn't put down!
I love books in which the heroine
is gutsy, and doesn't need to be
rescued by a guy
in order to have a romantic relationship!

I'm really looking forward to the further adventures
of Ellie as she battles the reapers
aided by the very sexy Will!!

Hardcover, 352 pages
Published by Walker Books for Young Readers
May 10, 2011
(first published April 29, 2011)
Genres: YA Paranormal Romance, Urban Fantasy

From the Goodreads Synopsis

Tempest Maguire wants nothing more than to surf the killer waves near her California home; continue her steady relationship with her boyfriend, Mark; and take care of her brothers and surfer dad. But Tempest is half mermaid, and as her seventeenth birthday approaches, she will have to decide whether to remain on land or give herself to the ocean like her mother. The pull of the water becomes as insistent as her attraction to Kai, a gorgeous surfer whose uncanny abilities hint at an otherworldly identity as well. And when Tempest does finally give in to the water's temptation and enters a fantastical underwater world, she finds that a larger destiny awaits her-and that the entire ocean's future hangs in the balance.

Ever since I read Hans Christian Andersen's
"The Little Mermaid", I've loved
mermaid (and merman!) stories!
Besides, I've lived near the sea all my life,
although I'm not a sailor by any means.
No, instead, I prefer to sit by the shore and
about fantastical sea creatures
who ride the rhythmically incoming waves...

Last but definitely not least,
these three books have beautiful covers!!

So, what wonderful books are you all wishing for this week?

Friday, August 26, 2011

Book Review: Vampire Mine, by Kerrelynn Sparks

This review is for two different reading challenges.

The first one is
'The Descent of the Angels Reading Challenge'
hosted by Momo at Books Over Boys.
It began in January of this year,
and will end in December.

The second one is the
'Speculative Fiction Challenge, 2011'
hosted by Magemanda at 
This one also runs
from January to December, 2011.
I found out about it way after
I had started the first one,
so it's great that I can use books for both!

Title: Vampire Mine
Author: Kerrelyn Sparks
Format: Mass Market Paperback, 369 pages
Publisher: Avon Books
Release Date: April 1, 2011
(first published March, 2011)
Genre: Paranormal Romance, Urban Fantasy, Vampire Romance

This novel is the latest installment in Sparks's "Love at Stake" series, so it follows the further adventures and romantic mishaps of the Vamps (these are the good vampires in the books), whose leader is Roman Draganesti, formerly a medieval monk, and inventor of synthetic blood, which is what the Vamps drink, instead of human blood. 

Since this is only my second novel in the series, and I'm a Sparks fan, I really need to go back and catch up by reading the rest of them.  Besides, I don't have the background story for this group of zany vampires...

Like Lynsay Sands, Sparks specializes in funny vampire romances.  While it might be objected that there's nothing at all funny about vampires, you wouldn't know it from these novels!  When I read my first one in this series, All I Want for Christmas is a Vampire, I laughed practically all the way through.  This one follows the tradition set by the author.

Sparks introduces a new element in this particular book -- the Vamps encounter Marielle, an angel banished from heaven due to disobedience.  Even her wings have been taken from her, and she's been left alone, injured, near the top of Mount Rushmore.  She is found by Connor Buchanan, a Scottish Vamp who brings her back to Romatech, the Vamp headquarters as well as the home of Roman, his mortal wife, Shanna, and their two children.

It turns out that Marielle is an angel of Death -- in angelic parlance, a Deliverer.  She escorts souls to heaven.  

The Vamps are engaged in a never-ending fight against the Malcontents.  These are the evil vampires in the series, who scoff at drinking synthetic blood, and have absolutely no qualms about killing humans for the real thing.  Their leader, Casimir, is gathering an army with which to defeat and eliminate the Vamps, which would give the Malcontents total freedom to go on their killing sprees.

The angel and the Vamp feel an immediate attraction for each other, and this develops quickly into love over the course of a single week. Marielle's situation is at once comical and sad, because she has to learn so many new things about the human world, including 'the birds and the bees', for instance. As an angel, she had never experienced any feelings for a specific human being -- her love for humans was all-inclusive.  Nor had she ever experienced anything like sexual attraction. 

As for Connor, he has been harboring a dark secret for centuries (he's approaching his 500th birthday), and feels unworthy of Marielle's love.  He's also sure he's heading straight for hell.   

While my initial impressions of this novel were very favorable, there were some things that disappointed me.  Thus, I felt I couldn't give it the five stars I was sure it deserved, as I was starting the book.  

The first thing that bothered me was the callous way in which Marielle was banished and stripped of her wings.  Zackriel, her supervisor, whom she calls 'Zack', actually cut them off, leaving her bleeding and in great pain.  This doesn't sound like very angelic behavior. 

Furthermore, she is completely isolated on earth, no longer able to hear the singing and praises of the Heavenly Host.  Even her prayers are not heard or answered.  Of course, this is a work of fiction. Only mystics and visionaries can have any knowledge of how the angelic realm really operates, I would think.  However, I had to ask myself if a loving Creator would have allowed one of His angels to treat another angel this way.  I would have to go off on a theological tangent in order to deal with this issue, which, of course, I won't do, since it's beyond the scope of this review.  Suffice it to say that I felt pretty uncomfortable when I read this part of the book.

Another negative point was the way the plot developed.  More than half of the book is mostly taken up with the romance between Connor and Marielle, which I didn't mind at all, actually.  However, I felt it was too unrealistic for an angel to consent to have a sexual relationship within such a short period of time.  Although she became more and more human the longer she stayed on earth, this aspect of Connor and Marielle's relationship should have developed more gradually, so as to be more believable, more in keeping with her nature as an angel. 

The ending of the book is rather anti-climactic, too.  There should have been more difficulties for the good guys, more drama, in spite of the fact that there was so much humor in the book.  In short, the novel fell flat as it neared the end.  What started out as a highly enjoyable read, full of comical situations and jokes, ended up as a bit of a disappointment. 

The ending itself was not only not believable, but contrived, and very cheesy, even for a romance novel.  Besides, the whole banishment situation was given an entirely different spin that was totally at odds with its earlier presentation.

In spite of all the negative things I have mentioned, I will not stop reading this series.  As I stated above, I am a Kerrelyn Sparks fan.  Her take on the vampire world is original and comical, and she develops her characters very well.

In fact, I have mixed feelings about this novel.  I really liked Connor and Marielle, and did enjoy their love story.  I just didn't think that Sparks handled this unusual romance with the necessary restraint, especially given the very obvious religious elements in the story.

One thing I absolutely love about this book is the breathtakingly beautiful cover!  it's really too bad that the story that goes along with it doesn't quite do it justice.  (And, needless to say, there's an obvious contradiction here, too, since Marielle only had her wings before she met Connor.)


Sunday, August 21, 2011

Book Review: Abandon, by Meg Cabot (Fourth Book in the 2011 Speculative Fiction Challenge)

ThIs is my fourth review for the
'Speculative Fiction Challenge, 2011'
hosted by Magemanda at Floor to Ceiling Books.
It started in January, and runs through December.

Title: Abandon
Author: Meg Cabot
Format: Hardcover, 304 pages
Publisher: Point
Publication Date: April 26, 2011
Genre: YA Paranormal Romance, Mythology, Urban Fantasy

I've loved Greek mythology ever since I began to read its most famous legends, back in high school.  I so enjoyed getting lost in a world that was far removed from my daily, boring reality! 

When I first heard about this book, I was thrilled, because it's a modern retelling of one of my favorite myths -- that of Persephone and Hades.  This myth was actually how the ancient Greeks explained the changing of the seasons, for Persephone would spend six months out of the year in the Underworld, with her husband, Hades (also known as Pluto), who was the ruler of that mysterious place.  While she was there, it was autumn and winter in the world above, because Persephone's mother, the harvest goddess Demeter, would feel desolate without her daughter.  When Persephone finally emerged, to spend the following six months with her mother, the earth blossomed, and it was springtime once more, with summer just around the corner. 

In Cabot's version of the ancient myth, a young girl named Pierce Oliviera has a near-death experience, and enters the Underworld, unaware that she's dead.  While there, she encounters a very handsome, but somewhat unsettling young man named, simply at first, "John".  (Later in the book, the author reveals his last name, Hayden, which is close enough to Hades.)  Terrified at the prospect of spending all of eternity with him, as well as of how her mother will be affected, Pierce manages to escape, returning to the world of the living. 

Things are not quite the same when she comes back...

Having been expelled from her exclusive school because of her now strange behavior, she leaves for Isla Huesos, Florida, with her mother, in order to start a new life.  This island is based on the actual island of Key West, which was named "Cayo Hueso" by Ponce de Leon when he first saw it.  The reason was a rather macabre one -- the island was littered with human bones, swept out of the earth by hurricanes over the years.  "Isla Huesos" means "Island of Bones" in Spanish.  (The word "cayo" means "small island", while "isla" means "island".)

Little does Mrs. Oliviera know what's really going on, for John Hayden reappears, intent on protecting Pierce from the Furies, who are the restless spirits of those unhappy with their lot in the next world...

While this novel has been labelled as Young Adult, I had the feeling, while reading it, that there was a deeper, more adult level involved.  Yes, there is a high school setting, but underneath the story is the rich substratum of the Greek myths with all their profound symbolism.  Here, we have the subject of Death, one that is feared and loathed by all of humanity, and yet, one that pulls at the human psyche.  We have always wanted to create Death in our own image, to humanize it, so as to attempt to understand that which is really beyond understanding...

John loves Pierce, while she feels attracted to him at the same time that she feels repelled, for he is a force unto himself.  She believes in his goodness, yet knows that he has a dark side.  This is symbolic of death's double aspect; it can be a welcome release from suffering, and yet, a fearful abyss, beyond which lies the unknown.  

Pierce's relationship with John is thus full of contradictions, all played out in this island setting, where, every year, a high school ritual known as "Coffin Night" takes place. 

Cabot has wonderfully developed her characters.  Pierce is innocent and passionately idealistic; this becomes very apparent in the several flashbacks interspersed throughout the book.  She has inherited this last quality from her mother, who is involved in the fight to save the spoonbills, an endangered bird species on the island.  Her father, in contrast, is portrayed as cynically materialistic, only interested in company profits, although he does care for Pierce, in his own way. 

Pierce's uncle, Chris, who has served time, is a rather quirky character.  He seems to be in his own little world, while his son, Alex, Pierce's cousin, has a heritage of bitter resentment against the mother who abandoned him when his father went to prison.

John is appropriately enigmatic, relentless in his pursuit of Pierce, although at one point, he adamantly demands that she leave him alone.  He doesn't really mean it, naturally.  Life and Death are engaged in an endless dance, and one is somehow deeply attracted to the other, even while they seem to repel each other.  Thus it is with Pierce and John. 

The setting of the story is perfect for its development.  Pierce moves from Westport, Connecticut, with its predictable seasons, to the constantly hot, humid, and unpredictable Isla Huesos.  One never knows when a storm might be brewing, just as she never knows when John will show up, unsettling her with his piercing gaze (which is why, I suppose, she's named "Pierce").  Strange things happen when a storm is brewing, and they're all connected to John...  As events come to a climax, a hurricane potentially threatens the island.

The title of the book is a fitting one -- the word "abandon" can be understood in several ways.  As a noun, it refers to the attitude of throwing all caution to the winds, and letting the chips fall where they may.  As a verb, it can refer to the process of leaving someone or something behind, without a care as to the consequences.  Throughout the novel, Pierce feels the constant temptation to abandon her life on earth, and go with John to the Underworld.  She also feels distraught at the prospect of abandoning her mother, who is her primary caretaker.  At some deep level, she feels abandoned by her father, as well.  Furthermore, in her characteristically empathetic way, she can also feel John's own abandonment. 

To say that I was enthralled with this novel would be a gross understatement.  I was mesmerized.  This is what happens when fiction reaches into archetypal realities, which dwell in the unconscious mind.  I was even reminded of Ingmar Bergman's "The Seventh Seal", although the stories are completely different.  In that film, Death is personified as well, however.   

This was my very first Meg Cabot novel, and it was a very pleasant surprise.  it's not just another teen paranormal read, although, on that level, it succeeds exceedingly well.  It's also a book that delves into the mysteries of Life and Death, and succeeds marvelously in pulling the reader headlong into a fascinating journey.

Needless to say, I am breathlessly awaiting the sequel, which is titled Underworld, aptly enough!


Saturday, August 20, 2011

On My Wishlist #10

This is a fun weekly event hosted by
Carolyn at  Book Chick City,
 and runs every Saturday.
Each participating blogger features books 
s/he hasn't actually bought yet,
but desperately wants to read!!

These books can be either newly-published,
to be released in the near future,
or in print for several years.

If you'd like to know more, just click HERE.

In my particular case, any books I place
on my wish list are strictly the print versions,
since I do not read ebooks. 

Here are my choices for this week!

Mass Market Paperback, 356 pages
Published by Pocket Books
June 26, 2007
Genres: Fantasy, Historical Fiction,
Paranormal Romance

From the Goodreads Synopsis

SCOTLAND, 1272. Connor MacKiernan, a descendant of the Fae Prince, is a warrior who lives only for honor and duty. Though he's vowed never to marry, that's exactly what he must do to save his sister. Enter a little Faerie magic, and the search for a bride is on.

DENVER, 2007. Caitlyn Coryell is having a really bad day -- she just discovered her fiancee with another woman! Imagine her surprise when Connor appears in her bedroom, begging for her help. He offers a simple yet outrageous adventure: travel to his time, marry him, and return home.

Hardcover, 367 pages
Published by Thomas Nelson
September 7, 2010
Genres: Christianl Fiction, Paranormal Romance,
Historical Fiction

From the Goodreads Synopsis

It is a dangerous tale of times past. A torrid love story full of deep seduction. A story of terrible longing and bold sacrifice.

Then as now, evil begins its courtship cloaked in light. And the heart embraces what it should flee. Forgetting it once had a truer lover.

With a kiss, evil will ravage body, soul, and mind. Yet there remains hope, because the heart knows no bounds.

Love will prove greater than lust. Sacrifice will overcome seduction. And blood will flow.

Trade Paperback, 304 pages
Published by Kensington
September 1, 2006
Genres: Fantasy, Historical Fiction,
Paranormal Romance

From the Goodreads Synopsis

As identical twins, Bothan and Calum MacNachton share a bond stronger than most brothers, one forged by a terrible secret. Rumours and dark tales have been whispered about their clan for centuries. For they roam the Highlands at night, driven by a savage hunger that can never be sated. Their only hope lies in marriage to Outsiders, mortal women whose pure blood will weaken the hold of their eternal curse. Now, alone and on the hunt for their brides, Bothan and Calum are at the mercy of both the Outsiders and whatever new dangers love brings...

These all sound like truly fabulous reads!!

I have read other books
by Hannah Howell and Lynsay Sands,
and love them both!

I have never heard of Melissa Mayhue before,
but saw this book on another blog,
and immediately became enchanted with the story...

As for Ted Dekker, I have indeed heard of him,
but have never read any of his books.
He's supposed to be awesome, althouth
I must confess I don't think all of his novels
would appeal to me.
He does seem to write on the very edge of horror...

This particular novel, though, sounds like an
incredibly romantic read, and is
full of action and suspense, as well!
So I'm definitely going to for it!!

And....of course I love all three covers!!!

So, what books are all of you
wishing for this week?

Friday, August 19, 2011

Follow My Book Blog Friday Hop #7

Happy Follow Friday!!

This weekly feature is hosted by
Rachel at Parajunkee's View 
Alison at Alison Can Read,
 which you really must go and check out!!

Rachel not only has fabulous features,
but is a web designer
'par excellence'!!
Alison has a beautiful and very
interesting blog!

You can find the rules at the links above.
Join in the fun and make new blogging friends!!

This week's featured blog is:

Here's this week's question:

If you could write yourself a part in a book, what book would it be and what role would you play in that book?

Fascinating question!  The one big problem I see with it is picking a book, since there are several that I love to the point that I wish I could live in them...

Those who have been reading my blog on a regular basis know how much I love The Twilight Saga and Jane Eyre, as well as the Harry Potter series and The Lord of the Rings trilogy.  Since I have emphasized the first two in previous posts, I'll pick one of the other two.  Okay...I'm still undecided... Well, what the heck!  I'm going to pick both series -- HP and LOTR!!!

I'll start with the Harry Potter series.  Since my high school years weren't very memorable, I was totally enchanted when I first encountered Hogwarts!  How I wish I could go to such a school!  If I were to write myself into the series, I would definitely be a friend of Hermione's, or perhaps a cousin of hers.  I would be her age, too, so we could discuss boys together, and engage in other  "girl talk", although of course we would also cover more intellectual topics; after all, Hermione is the star pupil of her class! 

I think I would be the daughter of a Muggle couple, too, so that I would be on an equal footing with Hermione.  We would do research projects together, bouncing ideas off each other.  We could even plan spells together.  I would join in all of her adventures with Harry and Ron, too, naturally! 

One more thing -- I would be the one to snag Harry in the end!! 

As for LOTR, I think I would love to be an elf, like Legolas, except that I would be an unusual type of elf -- one sharing a special bond with horses.  I would be a skilled equestrian.  However, since I've always been awed by wizards, I would apprentice myself to Gandalf, who would teach me the magic of the forests and the rivers.  Thus, I would be part of the Fellowship of the Ring, riding my magnificent, snow-white stallion along with Frodo, Merry, Pippin, Aragorn, and Boromir. 

Normally, a female elf would never be allowed to go into battle with the men.  But then, I would not be a 'typical' female elf.  The thing is, my talent with horses would enable me to 'charm' the enemies' horses right from under them...a very convenient skill indeed, in the heat of battle!