Saturday, March 31, 2012

101 Fantasy Reading Challenge!!

This is a wonderful, perpetual reading challenge, hosted by Michelle at The True Book Addict, which is an amazing blog dedicated to historical fiction!  The challenge itself is located at the link shown in the button above:

Although I've had this button in my sidebar for quite some time now, I had neglected to actually sign up for this challenge, so I'm posting this in order to make it official -- I'm in!

This challenge originally ran from 10/10/09 to 10/10/10, but became a perpetual challenge on 10/3/10.  If you'd like to participate, you can find the original signup post HERE  It contains the rules for the original one-year challenge.  It's better, though, to sign up HERE, because you will find an updated list of participants.  You can link up your challenge reviews on THIS PAGE.

Don't worry -- you don't need to read 101 books in any particular length of time!  Just go to the original rules page, and you'll find out exactly what you have to do.  Yes, there's a list of books, but the total is not 101, but 813!  So there are plenty of titles to choose from!  You can find this list HERE.

Of course, this challenge can be combined with other reading challenges, which is a huge plus!  That way, I can read books for this challenge, as well as for the 2012 TBR Reading Challenge I'm already signed up for!  Any of you who decide to participate can also combine this challenge with others you're already signed up for.

These are some of the books I'd love to read:

C.S. Lewis

Cassandra Clare

Kristin Cashore

Madeline L'Engle

Christopher Paolini

Neil Gaiman

Robin McKinley

Libba Bray

(40th anniversary edition)
Peter S. Beagle

Ursula K. Le Guin

I'm really looking forward
to participating
in this awesome challenge!!
How about you?
I sure hope you decide
to join in the fun!!

Shelf Candy Saturday #13: The Swan Kingdom, by Zoe Marriott

This wonderful book meme/blog hop
is hosted by

Stephanie @

The purpose of this feature is to display
a beautiful book cover,
with information, if available,
about the cover illustrator,
photographer, and/or designer.

For all the participation rules,
just click

This week, I am again featuring
two different editions
of the same book.

Trade Paperback, 288 pages
March 5, 2007
Genre: YA Fantasy

This edition of the book was published in the UK.  Of course, I'm totally enchanted with this cover!!  Those gorgeous shades of blue in the lower half are magically enchanting!  The upper half of the cover, though, is just as magical.  The sky is full of lovely shades of pink (hot pink among them, which I love!), lilac, and some blue peeking out here and there.  Dawn seems to be breaking, or is it a glowing sunset? 

That mysterious island smack in the middle, between sky and sea, with those strange, Stonehenge-like pillars, makes me want to go there to discover the magical adventures that are surely hidden among those eerie stone sentinels. 

Tying the cover together is that glorious silver stream of what to me seems like fairy dust, circling down towards the sapphire-blue ocean, birthing flowers as it goes, amid little explosions of light... The circular, swirling movement is simply bursting with energy, and culminates in a lilac-colored blossom.

The gracefully-flowing script font used for the title perfectly matches the cover's beauty, as well.  Furthermore, it doesn't overpower the cover at all.  The capital "s" in the word "swan" is shaped like a swan, which is, I think, a nice little detail.

This is absolutely one of the most beautiful covers I have ever seen!  I could contemplate it for hours!  I would love to have it as a poster for my bedroom.  I'd hang it on a wall facing the bed, so I could stare at it for as long as I wanted.  I know I'd easily get lost in this image, and feel that I was inside it, floating in the breeze, right above that magically blue ocean, drifting along in the silver stream, headed for that island, perhaps right into the arms of the very handsome Swan King...

This masterpiece of book design is the work of
the very talented book illustrator,

I have fallen completely in love with
this man's work, especially
since he obviously loves the color blue
as much as I do!
Just take a look at this lovely illustration
of an angel (or fairy) with butterfly wings!!

(from the artist's section at

Steve Rawlings has been working as an illustrator since the early '90's, evolving a style which merges traditional and digital photographic techniques with an expressionistic and painterly collage style first explored during his arts degree at the Kent Institure of Art.  Incorporating found and self-generated textures, elements and images, Steve layers these often 'flawed' elements to create striking, beautiful, and evocative work allowing the detail of defect to juxtapose with that of refined manipulation and so creating images with an inherent depth and tension.

Clients to date include: Honda, BP, Volkswagen, The Royal Opera House, Lucasfilms, Scholastic, Disney, Random House, Penguin, Harper Collins, The Royal Bank of Scotland, and many more.

Zoe Marriott
Hardcover, 272 pages
March 25, 2008
Genre: YA Fantasy

This is the U.S. edition of the novel.  The mood here is markedly different from the one of the cover above; it's brooding and oppressive.  Lightning forks down from a stormy, ominous-looking sky covered with black clouds illuminated wtih magical red light.  There are also patches of lilac, as well as some pink.  Three swans are flying, probably heading toward the island. 

In contrast to the previous cover, night rules here.  The sky and island in the background have a sinister, menacing look about them, and it's obvious that some dark power is at work on that island...  

Instead of the sea, there's a wide stretch of land carpeted by small plants, which also rather dark and menacing.  The strange, cloaked figure seems to be floating above the land, surrounded by a ghostly aura.  White, stylized flowers, entwined with leaves, bloom beneath this figure.  Looking more closely, I realized it was a young girl.  She seems rather lonely, lost in her own inner world.  Yet, power radiates from her.  The ethereal-looking flowers and leaves seem to be evidence of that power. 

This, too, is a magical cover, and I also love it!  It's full of a dark beauty.  Whereas the cover above gives me feelings of wonder and delight, this cover makes me feel as if I were being pulled into a world of dangerous mysteries and powerful, evil wizards.   It's a beautiful world, nevertheless. 

I love the simple, yet elegant, font used for the title.  Something about it reminds me of a font used for a paperback edition of The Lord of the Rings.

These are two very powerful covers!  Again, I love them both, although I must admit to a marked preference for the first one.  I do own both books, because I simply had to have both covers!!   

This cover is an amazing combination of
the work of several artists,
all blending harmoniously to create
this beautiful image!

The island with the stone pillars is the work of
Steve Rawlings, which is quite obvious.
The photograph of the young woman is by
and is archived at iStockphoto.
The photograph of the sky is by
and is archived at Taxi/Getty Images,
while the landscape is by
and is archived at Stone +/Getty Images.
The photographer for the swans is not
credited, but the image is from Plainpicture/Veer.
The flower pattern is also uncredited,
and is archived at iStockphoto.


So, what do you think?
Do you love both covers,
or do you prefer one
over the other?
What gorgeous covers
have you picked this Saturday?

Friday, March 30, 2012

MASQUERADE Book Giveaway!!

In honor of the Masquerade Read-Along (see my sidebar), Cambria Hebert is graciously giving away a signed paperback copy of her bestselling YA novel, Masquerade!  All you have to do is fill out the Rafflecopter form below to enter the contest!  This will be a U.S. giveaway only, and will run from March 30th through April 4th.  It will be officially over at 12:01 AM on April 5th.  (US Eastern Time)

The winner will be announced on April 5th, and will be contacted by email.    They will then have 72 hours to reply.  If the book is not claimed, then another winner will be chosen.  Good luck to everyone who participates!! 

Also, be sure to check out my very informative interview with Cambria, which is published in the post just below this one.  Cambria has greatly insightful things to say about her novel, as well as the writing process! 

From the Goodreads Synopsis
Before. Everything was so much better Before. I wasn’t haunted by nightmares, my place at school was secure and my face was flawless. Now, I’m a freak and everything has changed. The worst part is that I can’t remember the night I was sentenced to the shadows. The memory has been stolen from me and I just can’t shake the feeling that someone, something is out there -watching.

Just when I think I have my life handled, Sam, with his intimidating golden stare and shiver inducing voice, makes me realize that I don’t know anything. He makes me see that my scars don’t matter. That they never mattered. I can’t help but fall for him...

Author Interview: Cambria Hebert

Today I'd like to welcome Cambria Hebert, author of the bestselling YA novel, Masquerade, to A Night's Dream of Books.  Since I will soon be participating in a read-along of the book, I thought I'd take the opportunity to get to know the author, as well as let my readers get to know her right along with me!  By the way, this is my very first author interview, so I'm very happy and honored to have Ms. Hebert start what I hope will become a tradition on this blog!

Thank you for having me here! This is the first interview I have done for a while and I am excited and happy to be here!

Well, let's begin with a couple of the usual queestions... Could you tell us something about yourself?

Sure! I love coffee, particularly lattes from Starbucks, I drink hot tea by the bucket full (nothing fancy just black Lipton tea with sweetener) and I have an irrational fear of chickens. Why chickens? I haven’t the slightest of clues. But my question to you is why not chickens???  I know I am a deep woman.   I also happen to be obsessed with werewolves. I am married to a Marine and have some kids and some animals. My favorite colors include pumpkin orange (love me some pumpkin bread), purple and apple green. I wish I could eat donuts everyday (I don’t because I like my jeans to fit me) and I exercise at least 5 days a week.

How did you get started as a writer?

Well, I’ve been writing a long time. When I was like 14 or 15 I wrote a book. It wasn’t very good and it’s still sitting at the bottom of my closet but I had such a great time writing it and that feeling stuck with me. Then in my later teen years I moved on to poetry and then life happened. I got busy with friends and boys (and NO I don’t mean that kind of busy with the boys, lol) and writing kind of stopped. Then I had some kids and became a stay at home mom and one day I saw one of those magazine ads for writing for kids and it reminded me how much I loved writing. So I started writing again. About 3 years ago I got really serious about it and knew that this was what I wanted to do with my life.

Well, we readers are certainly happy you decided to do that! What author(s) most influenced your own development as a writer?

I don't really know the answer to this question. Lol. I admire many authors. But I really think that one author gave me a love of reading and of storytelling from a very early age: R.L. Stine. I loved his Goosebumps and Fear Street series, and I used to read and read and I loved the fantasy kind of creepy worlds he created. When I wrote my very first book (not published yet), he was who I thought about. I thought, 'I want this book to give readers the same feeling that I got when I read R.L. Stine.' (That first book of mine is a young readers' book.)

What influenced your decision to write for the young adult market?

Hmmmmm.  This is a new question.  Very good.  I think I decided to write YA because that is what I love to read, and I think that YA is a very diverse world, and so are the readers.  I know SO many people who read YA that are not young adults (even though I totally am!) and my stories just seem to fit in that genre better than the rest.

Oh, I love YA myself!!  Even though I do review adult genres on my blog, I've gotten pretty obsessed with YA.  Well, here's another question you might not have been asked before.   How can an author relate to a character's traumatic experience, if the author has not had a similar experience him/herself?

Through the character. I think that a character can be empathized with, and rooted for, without really understanding her situation. Specifically for me, with Heven (who is disfigured), she herself told me. She is a real person to me, with thoughts and feelings, and she told me her experiences. I also think that while am not disfigured (and haven't been), I relate to Heven, and I think most women (and maybe even men) can relate to some part of her. I mean, who hasn't looked in the mirror and not liked what they saw? Everyone has inner turmoil just like Heven, and that is very relatable.

Would you say that the "Beauty and the Beast" fairy tale was the inspiration behind Masquerade, but in reverse, since it's usually the male character who is horribly disfigured, or is in some way 'monstrous'?

To be honest this book wasn’t inspired by "Beauty and the Beast". I never even thought of that until I read a review that said it was like the book Beastly (but for girls) and also like "Beauty and the Beast". I was stunned because it kind of is like that but I hadn’t set out for it to be. My inspiration for this book was literally me walking through Barnes and Noble one day and thinking “I want to write about a girl who is disfigured and thinks she’s ugly.” I want to tell her story because I think people would relate to that. Then I started to wonder how she got disfigured and the story grew from there. And you are right, I guess it is the guy who is always disfigured and he gets the beautiful girl. I liked the idea of a flawed female lead. One who had to battle her own inner demons. Sure there is a hot guy but he is far from perfect too, and I think that’s why they are great together.  Although, I am flattered that anyone would draw any kind of parallel between Masquerade and "Beauty and the Beast". J

Well, I do think that the parallels are there, and you have every right to feel flattered! Now, is Heven's plight a metaphor for our society's entrenched belief that a woman's worth is directly related to how beautiful she is?

Ummm, I wish I could say I was that deep but I am not. LOL. I never once thought of a metaphor about this book or for it. All I did was tell a story I wanted to tell. I did hope and think that Heven might make other girls who are insecure about themselves watch her come out of her shell, and maybe be inspired to do the same. I wanted people (girls, generally) to see that being strong inside and letting that show through makes you beautiful. That confidence isn’t in the mirror but behind how you look.

Very well said!   In your opinion, is it harder for men to accept disfigurement in women, than it is for women to accept it in men?  Why or why not?

This is a hard question. I think that really it can go both ways. I think that if love is present, then accepting someone and all their flaws is easy. But I also think that a man who can’t accept a disfigurement in a woman wouldn’t accept it in another man, either (like a friend or family member). The same could be said for women. Really accepting a disfigurement in another person comes down to (once again) what’s inside someone.  

Is the character of Sam a reflection of what your ideal man would be like?

Ahhh, Sam...Lol.  Did I mention that I was married??  But IF I wasn't, sure I'd go for Sam!  I really like Sam, and my feelings toward him grow every day.  I think he is strong and accepting.  Accepting of others, but more importantly, of himself.  He doesn't care who he is.  He doesn't fight himself.  I can't say that he always likes the situations he is in, and he does fight against those sometimes, but deep down, I think he knows he is a good person.  Some might see him as arrogant or even bossy, but I don't see him that way.  I see him as a guy who loves someone, and that person has been hurt again and again, in unimaginable ways.  He only wants to prevent that from happeining again.  He only wants to help bring Heven out of her shell so she can be the girl he sees when he looks at her.  Oh, and did I mention that Sam is HOT???  'Cause he really is!  However, if I am being truthful, there is another male lead I have written that really would be my ideal man.....(See the next question for more of that answer.)  

Is the Masquerade series your favorite work thus far?

When you sent me this question, you hadn't realized that this is my first series, so you sent me a revision to the question, but I would like to answer this one, because while this is the first serries I have written that is PUBLISHED, I have written another series.  It's a wereworl series (Surprise!  Lol.)  There are four books in that one.   Its isn't published yet, but someday I hope it will be.  I have also written a Young Readers/Middle Grade book titled The Secret Ingredient, about a boy who discovers that the lunch lady is drugging the baseball team.  I would like to see that one published, because I think it would be appealing to boys and girls.  I also have Whiteout, which is a novella that was published in November, 2011 (it is an adult PNR), and also an anthology of short stories by various authors on Goodreads that I have two stories in.  It's titled Christmas Lights.  (All proceeds from that book go to the NCADV.)

Now, is Masquerade my favorite book, I have written, so far?? I can’t really choose. That’s like choosing between my children. I will say that Masquerade will always have a VERY special and large place in my heart because it IS officially the first novel I have had published. (And Heven and Sam are so awesome, lol). I will also say that my main character in my werewolf series (it's a guy and the series is written in his POV), Thadd, is probably the character who literally stole my heart and holds it still. My husband calls him “my other husband”.

At this point, do you see the Masquerade series becoming a trilogy, or do you think you might be writing more than 3 books?

I am planning four books in this series. The first three are written and I have started the final book. I do plan on some other novellas for back story on some characters and I am not sure how many of those there will be.

Oh, that's terrific!!  I'll certainly be looking forward to everything related to this series!

Thank you! 

How do you deal with having to write an emotionally-wrenching scene?

I get in there and write it. Sometimes I get teary eyed, sometimes I get a stomachache but mostly I write furiously until the scene is done.

What advice would you give to aspiring writers who find it hard to 'get started' because of the fear of failure?

Just start writing. You can’t fail at something you never even try to do. And that’s the beauty of writing; you can delete the parts that didn’t come out right and try again. I think the main thing is practice and feeling out the way you write, your own style. Will you like the first thing you write? Maybe not. That doesn’t mean that the next thing you write won’t be better. I wrote for years and wouldn’t let one person read any of it. I wrote and didn’t tell people I was writing. I was afraid it wouldn’t be any good.  I was afraid people would roll their eyes when I said “I’m writing a book”. (And they DO roll their eyes. Except now when they do it, I don't care.  This is something that you are doing for YOU. Then one day someone asked, "Can I read what you wrote?",  and I said "Yes", because I had gotten to the point that I liked it. Sure, I was scared they wouldn’t like it, but in the end, not showing my writing to anyone EVER was scarier than hearing it wasn’t any good.

Do you think a first-time novelist should go the indie route, as you did, or try to get published by one of the big publishing houses?

You know, I'm not really an Indie. A lot of people think I am. I am published through a publishing house, so you could say I went traditional. Do I have a deal with one of the big 6? Nope. Did I try to get one. Yup. For years. I couldn’t even get an agent to read anything I sent them. I have about 100 rejections sitting in my office. So I bypassed the agent and started submitting to small publishing houses. I got a "Yes". I DID think of going the Indie route and I’m not ruling that out in the future. I think that which route to go is a personal decision and its different for everyone. It depends on what you want out of your career. If you want a big deal and to see your book on Barnes and Nobles shelves then get an agent and a big name publisher. If you want to write and share your stories, Inide might be the way to go. I can say that NO matter which way an author goes it is work. A lot of work. But it’s worth it. J

In conclusion, I'd like to thank you, Cambria, for taking the time to visit A Night's Dream of Books!  I hope you've enjoyed this interview as much as I have!  I know that my readers have certainly enjoyed getting to know you and your work better!

Thank you so much for having me! It was fun!

For more information on Cambria Hebert, Masquerade, and her other novels, as well as novellas, please visit her amazing blog, at

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Waiting On Wednesday #34: Dark Kiss, by Michelle Rowen

This is a weekly book meme, hosted by
which features future releases that we book bloggers
are eagerly anticipating!

Here's my pick for
this week!!

(Nightwatchers #1)
Mass Market Paperback, 304 pages
Expected Publication Date:
May 22nd, 2012
Genres: Paranormal Romance, Urban Fantasy

From the Goodreads Synopsis

Smart, über-careful, ordinary Samantha—that’s me. But I just couldn’t pass up a surprise kiss from my number-one unattainable crush. A kiss that did something to me...something strange. Now I feel hungry all the time, but not for food. It’s like part of me is missing—and I don’t know if I can get it back.

Then there’s Bishop. At first I thought he was just a street kid, but the secrets he’s keeping are as intense as his unearthly blue eyes...

This book's cover definitely caught my eye!
First of all, the color blue on
a book cover is an instant guarantte
that I will at least pick up the book
to investigate further.
I love the shade of blue on this cover!
(And I want to know more about
the 'unearthly blue eyes'!)
I also love the black wings,
and the great-looking dude reminds me
of Robert Pattinson!
Then there's the title itself...
At last, I got to the plot, and I liked
what I read!
So this is totally a must-have/must-read
for me!!

What books are you all
eagerly anticipating
this week?