Thursday, May 31, 2012

Book Review: Until I Die, by Amy Plum (tenth review for The 2012 TBR Pile Reading Challenge)

Here's my tenth review for this
wonderful challenge!!

For the rules and a list of hosting blogs,
just click on the challenge button in my sidebar.

There are great prizes involved,
so be sure to check out the rules
and consider joining in!

Title: Until I Die
Author: Amy Plum
Format: Hardcover, 357 pages
Publisher: HarperCollins
Published: May 8, 2012
Genres: YA Paranormal Romance,
Urban Fantasy

Goodreads Synopsis

Kate and Vincent have overcome the odds and at last they are together in Paris, the city of lights and love.

As their romance deepens there’s one question they can’t ignore: How are they supposed to be together if Vincent can’t resist sacrificing himself to save others? Although Vincent promises that he’ll do whatever it takes to lead a normal life with Kate, will that mean letting innocent people die? When a new and surprising enemy reveals itself, Kate realizes that even more may be at stake—and that Vincent’s immortality is in jeopardy.

In Die for Me, Amy Plum created a captivating paranormal mythology with immortal revenants and a lush Paris setting. Until I Die is poised to thrill readers with more heart-pounding suspense, spellbinding romance
, and a cliff-hanger ending that will leave them desperate for the third and final novel in the series.


In celebration of the release
of Charade,
the second book in the
Heven and Hell Series, YA author
Cambria Hebert and friends
are hosting a party!!!

Here are all the details:

The party is being hosted by Cambria and 5 of her friends, on Cambria's Facebook fan page.  Over 48 prizes will be given away, with chances to win every hour while the party lasts!  Some of the prizes include T-shirts, buttons, magnets, bookmarks, signed paperbacks, and more!

WHEN: Friday, June 1st, 3:00 to 9:00 PM, EST
WHERE: At Cambria's FB fan page.  Here's the link:

HOSTED BY:  The folks shown above!!

Hope to see you all there!!
And please spread the word!!! 

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Waiting On Wednesday #41: Through To You by Emily Hainswerth

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!!

Through To You
Emily Hainsworth
Hardcover, 272 pages
Balzer & Bray
Expected Publication:
October 2, 2012
Genres: Romance, Science Fiction

From the Goodreads Synopsis

Camden Pike has been grief-stricken since his girlfriend, Viv, died. Viv was the last good thing in his life: helping him rebuild his identity after a career-ending football injury, picking up the pieces when his home life shattered, and healing his pain long after the meds wore off. And now, he’d give anything for one more glimpse of her. But when Cam makes a visit to the site of Viv’s deadly car accident, he sees some kind of apparition.
And it isn’t Viv.The apparition’s name is Nina, and she’s not a ghost. She’s a girl from a parallel world, and in this world, Viv is still alive...

Aside from the gorgeous cover,
the plot of this novel sounds
absolutely enthralling!
I've always wondered if such things
as parallel worlds exist.
According to some scientists, they
definitely do.
Now how fascinating is that?
Imagine discovering your alter ego
living in another universe!
Actually, that's pretty mind-blowing...
not to mention seriously freaky!
I've just got to get this book!!

What mind-blowing books
are you all eagerly anticipating
this week?
And what do you think
of my choice?

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Book Review: The Swan Kingdom, by Zoe Marriott (ninth review for The 2012 TBR Pile Reading Challnge)

Here's my ninth review for this
wonderful challenge!!

For the rules and a list of hosting blogs,
just click on the challenge button in my sidebar.

There are great prizes involved,
so be sure to check out
the rules and consider joining in!

Title: The Swan Kingdom
Author: Zoe Marriott
Format: Trade Paperback, 263 pages
Publisher: Walker Books
Published: March 5, 2007
Genre: YA Fantasy
Literary Awards: Cybils Award (2008), YALSA Popular Paperbacks (2010)

Goodreads Synopsis

When Alexandra’s mother is slain by an unnatural beast, shadows fall on the once-lush kingdom. Too soon the widowed king is entranced by a cunning stranger — and in one chilling moment Alexandra’s beloved brothers disappear, and she is banished to a barren land. Rich in visual detail, sparked by a formidable evil, and sweetened with familial and romantic love, here is the tale of a girl who discovers powerful healing gifts — and the courage to use them to save her ailing kingdom.

One look at this gorgeous cover was enough to get me interested in this book!  That interest increased when I read the above synopsis on Goodreads.  When I received the book in the mail and looked it over, I realized that this novel is a retelling of a Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale, titled "The Wild Swans".  The retellings I'm most familiar with are those of The Phantom of the Opera, which is not a fairy tale, but a 19th-century novel written by the French author, Gaston Leroux.  In the case of that particular book, I found the retellings to be much more engaging than the original novel.  In the case of Andersen's fairy tale, the retelling is, I think, just as wonderful as the original, although it departs markedly from the story as presented by Andersen.  It also contains some deeper elements not included in the original version.

Princess Alexandra has three brothers, instead of the original eleven of the fairy tale.  The evil stepmother is very much present, but in Marriott's hands, the story has become so much more -- it is a tale of female power, earth power, as the fertility of the lands of two neighboring kingdoms is linked to this power.

Alexandra's mother is 'a cunning woman', which is the term used in the novel for a healer and practitioner of folk magic.  This term, according to Wikipedia, was common mostly in southern England, the Midlands, and Wales, in the 15th and 16th centuries.  These people were also called 'wise women'.  According to the same source, there were also 'cunning men', but in The Swan Kingdom, it is the women who hold the greater power.  

Alexandra loves and admires her mother, who is able to heal those who are ill, and perform what are known as 'Great workings'.  Lady Branwen is widely sought for her expertise in healing, especially when nothing else has worked.  She draws her power from the currents of life -- 'the enaid' -- that ebb and flow across the land.  She also teaches her daughter to perform 'small workings', as well as herb and plant lore. 

Early in the novel, Marriott contrasts gentle Lady Branwen with her somewhat distant, harsh husband, a man who is blind to the beauty of his wife's powers, a man who thinks of the land as something he owns.  There are hints that their marriage is not a happy one.

Everything changes shortly after Lady Branwen's death, when Alexandra's father finds an enchanting young woman in the forest, during one of his hunts for the strange beast that had killed his wife.  Alexandra and her brothers watch in horror as this woman twists everyone to her will, making a puppet of their father, whom she soon marries.

Soon thereafter, the whole tale begins to unfold as Alexandra's quest is revealed.  She must somehow destroy this woman who is not only bent on destroying her family, but her beloved kingdom, as well....

Marriott transports us to the lands of her tale with a prose style that is lyrical, mesmerizing.  Here's an enthralling sample:  "The claustrophobic darkness of the forest, the looming shadows and the creature that moved among them disappeared; a screaming, flailing wind seemed to tear them away, and thrust another landscape into their place."  This style harks back to the classics, to the times when the sounds and rhythms of language were as important as the story and the characters.  Marriott weaves a spell of her own with her beautiful, descriptive sentences, and therein lies much of the charm of this novel.

As the tale unfolds, we discover a rich panorama of magic, as Alexandra becomes acquainted with the Circle of Ancestors, on a lonely faraway island.  Her powers grow as she becomes more and more attuned to the land, as she also strives to become her own person.  She will never bow to Zella's will, as her father and most of his subjects have.  Neither will her brothers, whom she must save, while she ironically waits and hopes for their return from a strange exile. 

This is a coming of age story, as well as a tale of rivalry for magical power.  Alexandra, having taken her mother's place, must battle against the evil Zella, against the slow death she has brought upon the land and its people.  Instead of bloody battles fought with sword and lance, this novel details a battle of wills.  One must emerge as victor, totally vanquishing the other. 

I see an elemental conflict here, as well, one dear to any feminist's heart.  It is the conflict between a woman who believes in using her magic and feminine wiles to manipulate men, and another who refuses to do so, preferring instead to use her powers to work along with men towards a common good.  As such, Alexandra and Zella are archetypes, or symbols, of concepts that are an intrinsic part of the human race.  As Carl Jung would say, they are part of humanity's collective unconscious. 

Gabriel, the young prince who falls in love with Alexandra, possesses some magical power, although not at the level of Alexandra.  He does not begrudge her this, however.  His love for her is pure and true, as hers is for him.  Neither one seeks to bend the beloved to his/her will. 

I find it fascinating, as well as very appealing, that Marriott would introduce such modern , although paradoxically ancient, psychological concepts into a fairy tale world.  This, for me, is also a great part of the novel's appeal.  Alexandra is not a typical fairy tale "damsel in distress', but neither is she bent on ensuring that others conform to her will.   Circumstances force her to grow as a person throughout the story, and she never shrinks from the challenges presented to her.  She is an admirable character, and indeed, the novel revolves entirely around her.  

If I had to find fault with anything about this wonderful book, I would have to say it's the ending, which I found to be anti-climactic.  I was expecting something much more dramatic, something more on a grand scale.  

Still, I greatly enjoyed this novel, which kept me turning pages, at times until the wee hours, one particular Saturday.  It's an excellent debut novel, and I will certainly be on the lookout for more of Marriott's work!   I also highly recommend it for adults as well as young adults, not only for the fascinating storytelling, but for its elegantly-written prose. 


Where To Buy:  Amazon, The Book Depository, Barnes & Noble

Zoe Marriott

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Shelf Candy Saturday #21: Twisted, by Gena Showalter

This 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

Here's my choice for this week!

(Intertwined #3)
Gena Showalter
Hardcover, 564 pages
Harlequin Teen
August 30, 2011
Genre: YA Paranormal Romance

Why do I love this cover?

I love the realistic way this young couple has been depicted (this is most likely a photograph), even if I'm not too happy about the fact that the girl is desperately clinging to the young man.  (I guess we females lose some of our much-defended independence when we fall in love...)  He's fiercely protective of her, too.  Still, they look good together, with that storm brewing in the background.  Speaking of that, I also love the colors in the sky -- lilac subtly becoming hot pink.  Last but most definitely not least is the title.  This is what really makes this cover stand out!  The font used is an ornate, highly stylized version of medieval script writing.  The fact that it's all in caps makes each letter really pop (they're slightly raised, too), and yet, the whole title has a unified look.   Each letter is also set at a slightly different angle, instead of straight across.  The resulting effect obviously bears out the theme of the novel. 

I do own this book, but found no information on the cover design anywhere on it.  That's strange, too, because this information is usually available on the back flap of the dust jacket.  When I did a Google search, though, I did find out that the designer for the first book's cover was Art Director Erin Craig.

This is the first book in the series:


(Intertwined #1)
Gena Showalter
Hardcover, 440 pages
Harlequin Teen
September 1, 2009
Genre: YA Paranormal Romance

I'm guessing that Erin Craig was also the designer of the cover for Twisted.  The following is from a statement he wrote, about the development of the cover for Intertwined.

For every cover we design we start the process with a meeting between Art, Editorial and Marketing.  We discuss everything from the story-line details to character descriptions to comparable titles. From that point the Art Department takes over to further develop options for the cover. For Intertwined, I worked initially with three different designers in order to come up with different concepts, each having its own voice.  We spent a lot of time researching what teenagers see, the magazines they read, movies and TV shows they watchm, music they download, Web sites they visit, cell phones they use -- all the types of cultural visual imagery they absorb.  From there, we used our research to come up with a variety of concepts that illustrated the story.

You can view the complete document,
which includes illustrations, 

You can visit Gena Showalter's
Young Adult website

So what do you think
of the cover of Twisted?
What beautiful cover(s)
are you featuring this week?


Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Waiting On Wednesday #40: Endgame, by Ann Aguirre

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!!

(Sirantha Jax #6)
Mass Market Paperbck, 352 pages
Expected Publication:
August 28, 2012
Genre: Science Fiction

From the Goodreads Synopsis

Sirantha Jax has the J-gene, which permits her to “jump” faster-than-light ships through grimspace. She loves nothing more than that rush, but the star roads have to wait…

Her final mission takes her to La’heng, a planet subjugated during first contact. Since then, the La’hengrin homeworld has been occupied by foreign conquerors.

All that’s about to change.

I've just found out about this
exciting series,
thanks to....

Lee @ shewolfreads!! 

So I'll have to start with 
the first one, of course...

(Sirantha Jax #1)
Ann Aguirre
Paperback, 312 pages
Penguin Group
March, 2008
Genre: Science Fiction

I haven't read any SF for a while now, 
since I've been so busy with
paranormal romance...
This sure looks like a great place
to start again!!! 

What fascinating books
are you all  eagerly anticipating
this week?
And what do you think
of my choice?

Sunday, May 20, 2012


Welcome to this stop in 
Cambria Hebert's
CHARADE Blog Tour!

Congratulations to Cambria
on the release of her new installment
in the Heven and Hell series!!

I am very pleased to welcome the author
to A Night's Dream of Books
for a guest post today!

Hello, everyone!

So great to be at A Night's Dream of Books today, as part of the Heven and Hell Tour, celebrating the release of Charade (Heven and Hell #2)!  As we all know, I am a writer, a blogger, and a latte sipper.  You know I am terrified of chickens (eep!), and obsessed with werewolves.  BUT there are things that you don't know about this author (ahem, that would be me).  Think of me as a masked mystery that slinks in the shadows, always watching...  No, I am not Batman. *sighs*  OR...maybe I am... *wags eyebrows* 

In the spirit of getting to know the author behind the book, I thought I would tell you 5 things you always wanted to know about me (you know you want to know), and 5 things you don't want to know, but I am going to tell you anyway.  LOL.  Also, in the spirit of my latest book, Charade, I will also add 5 fun facts about the book and its making.

Five Things You Always
Wanted to Know About Cambria

*My first car was a red convertible (it was an old model), and a few kids at school called me "Barbie".  A few of the other kids called me "Troll".  (Sadly, that is true.)

*My first major in college (I had about four) was in mass communications.  I wanted to write a TV commercial for Pepsi that involved a spider.

*I have an original David Bromstad painting (a designer on HGTV).  My husband emailed him when he was in Iraq, and David painted me a painting and mailed it to my house.

*My daughter (she was 3 at the time) once locked me in the basement, and my husband was out of town.  I had to use a hammer, a hacksaw, and a drill to get back upstairs...the door did not survive.

*I once had a job driving a beverage cart (AKA a golf cart with a cooler full of soda and beer) on a golf course in the middle of winter to serve golfers beverages.  LOL.

Five Things You Never Wanted
to Know About Cambria

*I have a ceiling fan above my bed with dark wood blades.  The first night we stayed in my house, I woke up in the middle of the night and the fan was off, so I thought there was this dark shape up on the ceiling.  I thought it was a Ninja dressed in black dangling over my bed, and I started to scream.  (Yes, this is true.)  We now sleep with the fan on every night.

*I always forget to take the recyclables to the curb every week, so the inside of my garage looks like an episode of hoarders.   (He, he, he.)

*I am allergic to elephants.

*Once when I was out for a morning run on a golf course (my grandmother lives on one, not me), I was challenged by a deer.  I almost peed my pants.  I refuse to run alone now.

*The last time I went to the zoo, a goat started eating my belt (it was a scarf), and I got into a tug-of-war contest with it.  I won.  =)

Five Fun Facts About CHARADE

*Sam's POV wasn't in the original draft.  I went back through and added it in.

*My editor had to edit out my "text speak", meaning, I text so much that my abbreviations made it into the manuscript.  Example: I would write "thru" instead of "through". 

*My husband Beta-read this book.  He hasn't read Masquerade.

*The new character Gemma's looks are inspired by my daughter.

*The model on the book cover is my cover designer's brother.

And those are ten facts you now know about me...and prove that I am crazy.  LOL.  And also, five facts you probably didn't know about Charade, but now you do!

Now it's your turn!  Tell us something about yourself in the comments section below!

Thank you all for being here today!  And a special "thank you" to Maria for hosting this stop on the tour!


Thank you so much for
guest-posting today, Cambria!!

Be sure to visit today's
other tour stop, at

Cambria Hebert
Paperback, 331 pages
Otherworld Publications
May 18, 2012
Genre: YA Paranormal Romance; Urban Fantasy

Book Synopsis
(from Goodreads)

Dying at the hands of a psycho was a shock. Having my life returned to me by an angel was incredible. Being named a Supernatural Treasure and being given Sam as my guard was pretty darn awesome. Acquiring a debt for it all—well, I should have seen it coming.

Now here we are, fighting demons from Hell, caring for a boy that I just don’t trust, and traveling to faraway places to return a treasure to its rightful place. Nothing is as it seems. Everyone wears a mask; everyone puts on a charade. It’s up to us to separate the truth from the lies and reality from fiction. A hard task when my new reality involves fallen angels, witches and dragons… and did I mention Hell?

Anchoring me down through it all is Sam. Sam, who must face tragedies of his own and is put to the test again and again.

If we fail in our task, life as we know it—life as you know it—will end. Forever.

You can order the paperback edition of
Charade directly from the publisher,
since neither Amazon nor B&N
has it available yet.
The Kindle edition is already
up on Amazon.


Saturday, May 19, 2012

Shelf Candy Saturday #20: The Robe, by Lloyd C. Douglas

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

Here's my pick for this week!

Hardcover, 508 pages
People's Book Club: Chicago, Illinois
Genres: Christian Fiction,
Historical Fiction

Why do I love this cover?

I just love the detailed realism of this artist's style!  It really has to be seen in person to be fully appreciated, I think, but even in this photograph one can see that this is the work of a very, very talented artist.  The scene depicted here is the one in which Marcellus, the novel's protagonist, puts on Christ's robe, which he had won in a game of dice at the foot of the cross.  He's at a lavish banquet given by Pontius Pilate, and the spectators are already half-drunk.  Pilate himself is watching the proceedings with a bored look on his face.  The man sitting next to him has completely succumbed to the wine's effects.   The symbols of Rome's dominion are leaning against a massive column behind them. 

I also love the font used for the title.  It's appropriately ancient-looking, and goes quite well with the cover illustration.  The scene is framed in a shade of red that matches the color of the Roman uniforms, and this, too, is very effective.

The book also contains several absolutely gorgeous illustrations, as you can see from the examples below.  Even the endpapers are illustrated!

This is a rare edition of the novel, which I bought on eBay about a week ago,  for a total of $19.31, including shipping and handling.  I had never seen it before, and simply couldn't pass it up!  Besides, the dustjacket is in a mylar sleeve, so it's very well protected. 

This is the front endpaper illustration,
which depicts the soldiers throwing the dice.

This illustration follows page 380, and depicts Marcellus
and his girlfriend Diana, on the island of Capri.
(Photo: zenscapes)

Dean Cornwell
(March 5, 1892 - Dec. 4, 1960)

Cornwell is the wonderful creator of the art for this book.  The following text is from the back flap of the dustjacket.  This is the first time I've come across a book that credits the illustrator so prominently. 

Dean Cornwell was born in Louisville, Kentucky, in 1892.  One of America's leading muralists and illustrators, he received his art training at the Chicago Art Institute, and has exhibited in the major art galleries both here and abroad.  His murals decorate many public buildings and homes, including the Los Angeles Public Library and the State Building in Nashville, Tennessee. 

In 1941 he executed three 50-foot murals on the history of transportation for Eastern Air Lines in Rockefeller Center**.  He is a painter member of the New York City Art Commission and a National Academician.

**This is in New York City, for my international readers.

Here are more examples of Cornwell's work, along with further biographical information:

So what do you think 
of this cover, and
the illustrations inside the book?
What beautiful cover(s) 
are you featuring this week?