Saturday, September 29, 2018

Shelf Candy Saturday No. 263: Grimenna, by N.K. Blazevic

Welcome to Shelf Candy Saturday!

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

Here's my choice for this week!

N.K. Blazevic
Trade Paperback, 304 pages
EDGE Science Fiction and Fantasy Publishing
April 11 , 2018

My Thoughts About This Cover

This is what I call "a split-level cover", which is a style that doesn't usually appeal to me. This one, however, is so seamlessly put together that it totally works!

First off, I LOVE trees. I love interlacing branches, and I love the details of leaves and flowers. And, of course, I'm a tree hugger! So I love the way these branches start out at the bottom of the cover, and work their way to the top. 

The colors are perfect for the fall season, too. The shades of brown and tan are very well integrated into the image, and those eerie, glowing tree branches in the bottom third of the cover are totally striking!

The top third of the cover features a very strange, round object that must be the moon, although I've never seen the moon depicted in this manner before. It's basically a series of concentric circles.

Lastly, there's that superb title! The font has a definite medieval flavor, and I think the title itself refers to the stories of the Grimm brothers. Very clever, indeed!

This book is currently available, and it's calling my name, so I think it will soon join my bulging shelves, lol.

As for the cover artist, she is Canadian Ella Beaumont, and she worked for EDGE Science Fiction and Fantasy Publishing from 2011 to 2016, first as a freelance editor as well as in sales and marketing, and then as a book packager (this is where she obviously designed some covers, too) and Acquisitions Editor. 

It was in 2016 that she decided to go off on her own, working on her own editing and writing endeavors. She attended the Art Institute of Vancouver, Canada, from 2009 to 2010, studying Animation Art and Design.   

I certainly hope Ms. Beaumont continues to design book covers, because she's really GREAT at it!

Online Links

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

Book Blogger Hop No. 144: Checking Out Post Views

Welcome to the Book Blogger Hop,
hosted by Billy @

This Week's Question

Do you sneak a peek at the 
numbers of views
your posts have gotten?

(Submitted  by Elizabeth @

My Answer

Well, it's not so much that I "sneak a peek", as the post views are plainly visible in my Blogger dashboard, in the hours and days after I've published a post. I can't help but see them, lol.

The one time I actually focus on these views is whenever I have noticed a big discrepancy between post views and comments left. I really don't understand THAT at all. Sometimes the difference between the amount of views and comments on a single post can be considerable. So this really puzzles me. If a given post has had lots and lots of views, then why hasn't it also gotten lots and lots of comments?

I can give examples of this rather strange phenomenon. So here are three posts that have this huge discrepancy between views and comments, starting with the most recent. (Note: the total number of comments shown below include my replies. I always reply to every single comment, too.)

Blog Tour: Victorian Town, by Nancy Thorne
(Mini-Review & Giveaway included.)
Date: 7/9/18  Views: 293  Comments: 17

Blitz: Shift, by M.A. George
(Mini-Review and Giveaway included.)
Date: 6/5/18  Views: 429  Comments: 4

Shelf Candy Saturday Surprise Giveaway
(Favorite Cover Giveaway included.)
Date: 3/17/18  Views: 1,299  Comments: 36

Interestingly, these three posts all include giveaways. Still, the difference between number of views and comments is puzzling. I have tried to figure this out, and the only thing I can come up with is that many people just don't like reading blogs with a dark background. They will look at my posts if giveaways are included, but then they don't want to take the time to comment. However, the comment box has a white background, so that shouldn't be a problem. I can only scratch my head on this.....

From its beginnings in 2010, my blog has never gotten lots of comments. I've always tried to make my posts interesting, but nevertheless, I just don't get the volume of comments other blogs get. Perhaps this is actually a blessing in disguise. Lol. After all, replying to comments on my blog, and then commenting back on other blogs, is very time-consuming.

One week, I decided to comment on a specific blog hop/meme (which shall remain nameless), to see how many comments back I would get. I commented on a total of fifteen blogs. How many comments back did I get? Five. It was very disappointing, to say the least..... I had taken the time to comment on these blogs, and got no response. Well, I stopped participating in that blog hop.

I have recently come to a conclusion regarding views and comments, and any discrepancy between the two. I can summarize this conclusion with a very well-known modern saying that has become so common, it's now ubiquitous: "It is what it is." Yup! 

So now I've taken the stress off of myself regarding comments left on my posts. There's a small group of blogging buddies who regularly comment on my posts, and I've come to be satisfied with that. If my dark background does indeed put off some people, well, I refer back to the famous saying above. I have a very distinct blogging personality, and it involves not only having a dark background, but also lots of images. Minimalist I sure "ain't"! Lol.

I put myself out there with my blog posts. I work hard to make sure they're as good as I can possibly make them. At the end of the day, that has to be enough. I know I did my best. If this is not noticed or appreciated, yeah, refer to that well-known saying again! Just knowing that I enjoyed creating a given post, and poured my true self into it, hey, that's a tremendously GOOD feeling! Because I've given the world what I had inside to share. 

So I've come to the point that I no longer worry about the number of comments left on my posts, or on who failed to comment back, or even on how many views my posts have gotten. My entire focus is now on bringing my readers the quality I want to achieve (and continue to improve upon), and that's that!  

So I'm throwing out a big, hearty "THANK YOU" to all of you out there who continue to read and comment on my posts, as well as comment back when I've left comments on your blogs! I LOVE my corner of the blogoversary, and you guys are part of it!!  :)  

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

Friday, September 28, 2018

Book Review: Eighth Grade Bites, by Heather Brewer

Eighth Grade Bites
(The Chronicles of Vladimir Tod, Book 1)
Heather Brewer
Trade Paperback, 182 pages
Speak, March 13, 2008
Humor, Paranormal Fiction, Urban Fantasy, Young Adult Fiction

Synopsis: Vlad has to keep his vampire urges under control while dealing with the pressures of middle school. Thirteen-year-old Vladimir Tod really hates junior high. Bullies harass him, the principal is dogging him, and the girl he likes prefers his best friend. Oh, and Vlad has a secret: His mother was human, but his father was a vampire. With no idea of the extent of his powers, Vlad struggles daily with his blood cravings and his enlarged fangs. When a substitute teacher begins to question him a little too closely, Vlad worries that his cover is about to be blown. But then he faces a much bigger problem: He's being hunted by a vampire killer.

Can a vampire novel actually be FUNNY? Isn't that an oxymoron? Well, I've read quite a few vamp novels by now, and no, this is not an oxymoron! However, I had not read any of the books in this series, although it's been around for some time now. The first book was released in 2008. Somehow, though, I just hadn't gotten around to it. Then one day, a co-worker, who knows how much I enjoy paranormal fiction (especially if there's some humor involved), gave me a nudge. So I picked up this book, wondering whether it would be all that good. After all, it did look more like a middle-grade read, and I rarely, if ever read this genre. 

Boy, was I surprised! This novel turned out to be a hugely enjoyable one! The characters were absolutely wonderful, and the setting and action just perfect, keeping me turning pages. Since it's a short novel, I was able to finish it in several hours. That made this usually slow reader VERY happy!

Most wonderful of all was the main series character, Vladimir Tod. Vlad is just like any other thirteen-year-old boy, except for the fact that he was actually born a vampire; well, a half-vampire, really, since his mother was human. And, as the novel unfolds, the reader discovers that being born with vampire powers and a raging desire for blood can really put a cramp in your style, if you're trying to impress the opposite sex (who are unaware that you have these unnatural qualities, but still).

Amid the usual middle school shenanigans and crushes typical of any human boy, Vlad must also deal with his big secret, which he's terrified will one day be discovered. He's frequently bullied by two of his classmates, and is generally considered an outcast. He lives on bagged blood that his guardian, Aunt Nelly, provides for him from the local hospital. As a nurse, she's able to sneak out the bags. She also feeds him very rare steaks.

Vlad has a very close friend, Henry, who knows his secret, and with whom he also shares his thoughts on hot girls and other topics of world-shaking relevance to teen boys. Henry is a great and faithful friend, too. He not only sticks by Vlad in times of trouble, but also tries to help him out in the girl department, and, in general, is Vlad's one tie to humanity, aside from, of course, Aunt Nelly, who is a vivacious young woman who truly loves and cares for Vlad.

The novel is laced with humor, but there are some dark events, as well. One thing that shadows Vlad's existence is the memory of his parents, whose deep love for each other actually doomed them to a mysterious death. Vlad has still not gotten over this event, which took place about two years ago. 

All things considered, though, Vlad's life is pretty much normal, until a rather strange substitute teacher arrives in school to take over Vlad's English class, as the regular teacher has very mysteriously disappeared. This teacher's name is Mr. Otis Otis (yup, TWO first names!), and the most noticeable thing about him, aside from his weird name, is his purple top hat....

This character is the catalyst for the adventures to follow. In the process, the reader finds out about the land of the vampires, which actually coexists with the human world, as well as the fact that there are very strict rules in place regarding the big taboo: revealing the existence of this vampire world to humans. 

The book begins at a somewhat slow pace, as we get into Vlad's world, his thoughts and anxieties, and everything seems pretty much normal. This did not put me off at all, though. And I found Vlad's and Henry's activities very funny, at times. They sometimes like to pull pranks, as is usual with boys that age. However, I was a bit upset at them for scaring free candy out of some little boys at the beginning of the book. Still, I thought that Vlad and Henry's comments and thoughts were pretty funny. 

Here are some quotes from the book:

"Vlad shrugged and adjusted the cape around his shoulders. 'I'm a creature of the night, for God's sake. And she wants me home by eleven? Why doesn't she just follow me to the party and kiss me good-bye?'

'Hey, don't knock it. If it weren't for Nelly, you'd never get kissed.'

Vlad slowed his steps. 'Like you've got room to talk.'

Henry shrugged. 'I've kissed plenty of girls.'

'I'm not talking about your mom, dork.' (page 9)


"Girls like Meredith Brookstone didn't date boys like Vladimir Tod. 

Besides, the hickeys would be a nightmare." (page 15)


"Whoever had decided that school should start so early in the morning and last all day long needed to be hunted down and forced to watch hours of educational television without the aid of caffeine." (page 32)


The quotes above are typical of the humor laced throughout the story. In fact, they make me wish this series were to be made into a movie. Plenty of adults would be reminded of their own middle school days, while kids in this age bracket would laugh -- or maybe make fun of -- Vlad and Henry's silly dialogues and observations.  

As I mentioned above, the unexpected arrival of Mr. Otis brings a subtle but very noticeable change to the school, as well as Vlad's world. This teacher is obviously a rather eccentric person, but a very creative one, as well. His classroom assignments are quirky, interesting, and, oddly enough, sometimes too focused on Vlad....

This teacher's personality strongly reminded me of one of Harry Potter's teachers -- the totally ridiculous Gilderoy Lockhart. However, this guy Otis has a seriousness about him that makes it obvious that his odd clothes and classroom antics are a cover for something that actually frightens Vlad. Is this man out to uncover Vlad's secret? If so, for what purpose?

This book was not what I was expecting at all. From this point on, a sudden conspiracy is discovered, which Vlad and Henry make sure to investigate. So the intrepid duo plunge in, and then there are twists and turns galore! Surprises abound, as well, and it seems that Vlad is much more special than he had ever realized. 

I highly recommend this book to all lovers of vampire fiction with a nice combination of humor and drama. This is the type of vampire novel I really enjoy -- no "Dracula types" involved! (Well, at least not the good guys, and the bad ones do get what they deserve.) 

This novel will appeal to fans of series such as The Twilight Saga, by Stephenie Meyer, Vampire Academy, by Richelle Mead, and The Night World series, as well as The Vampire Diaries, both by L.J. Smith. And, oh yes, it will also appeal to readers of another even funnier teen vamp novel -- Vampire Crush, by A.M. Robinson. (If interested, you can check out my reviews of all of these books, on my "Book Reviews" page.)

What a GREAT, funny reading start to my 2018 Halloween season!


Heather Brewer is the pseudonym of Zac Brewer. Zac is the NYT bestselling author of The Chronicles of Vladimir Tod series, as well as The Slayer Chronicles series, Soulbound, The Cemetery Boys, "The Blood Between Us", and more short stories than he can recall.

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Can't Wait Wednesday No. 79: The Queen's Pardon, by J.A. Sutherland

Welcome to "Can't Wait Wednesday"!

This is a weekly event hosted by
Tressa @ Wishful Endings!
This is also where we excited book bloggers showcase future releases we're eagerly anticipating! 
For more information, 
please click HERE.

There's also a Linky widget, so participating blogs can link up!

Here's my choice for this week!

 The Queen's Pardon
 (Alexis Carew, Book 6)
J.A. Sutherland
Kindle Edition, 349  pages
    October 29, 2018 
Science Fiction

Allies and enemies are not always what they seem.

Trapped on a hostile world, hunted by pirate bands and abandoned by her fellow captains, Alexis Carew must lead her small band to safety, even though it seems every hand is set against her. Stalked by pirates in the skies above and shadowy, alien figures on the planet below, Alexis must convince former enemies to trust her even as she discovers where the tendrils of her true enemies lead.

 Why I can't wait for this one!

That cover grabbed my attention RIGHT AWAY!! 
Then, of course, I read the plot synopsis, and was totally blown away! A kick-butt female protagonist? Space pirates? WOWZA!! I'm in!! 
The only thing that would make my joy complete
is if these books were released in print.... 

Be sure to catch the Alexis Carew
series right HERE!

J.A. Sutherland spends his time sailing the Bahamas on a 43' 1925 John G. Alden sailboat called Little Bit ...

Yeah ... no. In his dreams.

Reality is a townhouse in Orlando, Florida, with a 90- pound husky-wolf mix who won't let him take naps.

When not reading or writing, he spends his time on roadtrips around the Southeast US searching for good barbecue.

What do you think of my
choice this week? 
Please leave a comment and
let me know!