Thursday, March 28, 2013

Zarconian Island by Aja Hannah

 Zarconian Island
Genre: Fantasy
Rating: 5 stars

300 or so years ago, Atlantis sank and all the inhabitants, Zarconians, were thought to be dead.  However, some Zarconians did survive, and now they hide their mystical heritage (and super human abilities) from the world.

Attie Hotep is sent with the best and brightest from her high school in Maryland on a boat trip to Hawaii.  But once on the boat, Attie notices that strange things are happening, and her Zarconian blood is telling her that she is in danger.  When giant whales attack the ship, Attie, her best friend, two boys (her nemesis and his quiet but nice friend) and one other girl from her school manage to get to a deserted island.  Stranded on the island, the kids learn how to survive while they await rescue, but this island isn't just deserted, it's prehistoric. 

I loved this book! It was action-packed from the get go.  It's a little bit LOST, a little bit Cast Away. Attie is a very smart, strong character.  Sometimes she's too strong, so you have her best friend to balance that out.  Then there's the brooding Doug.  He keeps following Attie around and making sure she's ok but his best friend is Attie's nemesis and a complete jerk so she's hesitant to get to know him.  Of course, he's totally gaga for her and so sweet.  Loved this pairing.  And of course, Doug's got his secrets, too...

The island and its inhabitant were described so well.  The author was able to describe the various prehistoric animals in such a way that I could totally picture them.  I even looked one up online and the rendering was exactly as Hannah had described.  There is so much action - from the boat capsizing to fighting the prehistoric creatures to trying to get drinkable water - that the pages just flew by.  My favorite part was the end.  It was just great!  I never saw it coming (love that) and it was all action.  Totally great book from Ms. Hannah.  Looking forward to reading more!

Midnight to Sunrise, Rebecca Axelrod

 Midnight To Sunrise
Genre: Fantasy (vampires), YA
Rating: 3 stars

This books starts as two stories:

Nevaeh is a high school junior in Ohio.  She lives with her mom, is a cheerleader, does well in school (despite a horrible teacher) and has a steady boyfriend.  Her dad disappeared mysteriously two years before, and Nevaeh tries to make her life as normal seeming as possible, when all she wants to do is read vampire books..  On the first day of the new school year, Nevaeh meets the mysterious new boy in school, Ian.  It's instant attraction.  Soon she is sneaking around to meet him, dreading having to tell her Mom and her boyfriend.

The other part of the book is the story that Nevaeh's mom tells her as a little girl. It's early 1900s New Orleans and after years of abuse at the hand of his father, Lukas kills him and runs away.  He meets a woman who shows him that he can be more, and she transforms him into a Vampire.  She tells him that Angels created Vampires to protect humans, but that at some point, the Vampires rebelled.  One Angel showed them how to make more Vampires, and ever since, the Angels have been trying to eradicate all Vampires. But Lukas isn't right for the Vampire life - he is too nice.  Wracked with guilt over having to kill humans, Lukas saves one and falls in love.  But it isn't a happy ending for him and his love and now he must hide from both the Vampires and the Angels.

This book is the first in a series, so there are many questions (why Nevaeh's teacher is so awful to her, for one) that don't get answered, so I won't bring them into this review since I assume they will be addressed in the next book(s).  Overall, I enjoyed the story of Lukas more than Nevaeh's story.  I didn't like that she was sneaking around behind her boyfriend's back.  I know it happens, but it didn't make me like her.  And we don't see Ian and Nevaeh fall in love enough.  It was kind of rushed, which makes it seem more like insta-love than forbidden passion.  Her boyfriend started out seeming like a great guy and then turned into a controlling jerk.  It was inconsistent.  Also, her mother at the end of the book and the scene in her family room just didn't gel for me.  It was too out of character.  .

I didn't have any problems with Lukas' story. Lukas's story was full of action - it was a unique twist on the vampire lore and I flew through those pages.  I would actually have liked more of his story from the discovery at the hospital to present day.  The ending of the book was very fast paced and that is when the two stories merge.

The book could use a good proofread (commas are missing everywhere, which makes it distracting to read), and perhaps a bit of editing, but the overall story isn't bad.  It leaves you on a cliff hanger ending, which leaves me interested as to how the plot would advance in book 2. 

It's a decent start to a series, but I hope that in book two, Nevaeh comes off as more likeable.

Thank you to the author for providing me a copy of the book for my honest review.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Top Ten Movie Countdown Blogfest!

After seeing several of you fellow bloggers doing this blogfest hosted by Alex J. Cavanaugh, I just couldn't resist joining in.  I love movies almost as much as I love books.  My generation was the first to grow up with a VCR and thus able to watch movies over and over and over.  My mom jumped right on this bandwagon when we got our first VCR in 1980 and started taping movies off of tv for us.  Thus began my love for movies and my ability to quote them.

 1. The Empire Strikes Back is my all time favorite movie.  It's so dark and twisty, yet funny. I love the whole trilogy but especially that one.  We're not going to talk about episodes 1-3.  Let's just pretend they never happened, ok?

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2. Indiana Jones. I honestly thought I was going to marry Indiana Jones when I was younger.  Is there anything hotter than Harrison Ford in a fedora?  I think not. And same rule for Star Wars Eps 1-3 applies here to Indiana Jones #4.  Never happened.  *shudder*
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3. Back to the Future (Pt 1). While you may have noticed that I like trilogies, this one is not one of those.  The second movies is just plain awful.  However, #1 is so incredibly amazing that I forgive #2.  A little.
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4. The Princess Bride. "As you wish." 'Nuff said.  *sigh* Ah Wesley.  You were my #2 choice for husbands as a kid. And I still believe that Robin Wright Penn is stunningly gorgeous.

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5. Starman.  I was mildly obsessed with this movie.  So much so that I watched the TV series religiously and then taped it when it was on re-runs on the SciFi channel(before it was SyFy).
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6. Somewhere In Time.  Need a good cry?  Watch this.  It's romantic and beautiful and Christopher Reeves is at his dreamiest (RIP).
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7. A Real Genius. Val Kilmer was husband #3.  I had really high standards.  Funny and quirky, you cannot believe how disappointed I was to find out that college would not be like this.  Damn you 80s films!
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8. Clue. I can recite this one word for word - and often do.  Hilariously funny, a little spooky, it's a cult classic that my best friend and I watched every day after school in 4th grade. Just remember: Communism is a red herring.  And Mr. Green didn't do it.
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9. Forrest Gump. It was released while I was in Germany.  I came home and my mother asked me if I wanted to see it, to which I responded "What's a Forrest Gump?" I quickly found out - I watched it twice in a row and still am known to shed a tear for Bubba, Momma and Jenny.
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10. The Harry Potter Series.  Ok, so the movies aren't as good as the books, but it's a lot easier to marathon these movies than to read all the books.  Sometimes I just have to take the easy way out.  I love seeing Ron, Hermione and Harry grow up and mature in the bad-ass Voldemort defeaters that they turn out to be.

I have about a million movies that I love, but those are my top 10.  Honorable mentions go to: Some Like It Hot, Easy A, The Holiday, Love Actually, Die Hard, the BBC Pride & Prejudice, American Pie and The Hangover.

What are your favorite movies?

Friday, March 15, 2013

Author Interview - Zarconian Island by Aja Hannah

Zarconian Island
Today I have the pleasure of sharing an interview with Aja Hanna, author of Zarconian Island and fellow Marylander. (Gotta have love for the home state).  I had the pleasure of reading Zarconian Island and let me tell you, it is AWESOME!  So full of action from the get go.  I loved it.  Expect my review soon, but in the meanwhile, here's a description:

My stomach knotted tighter, winding so hard it hurt.
Kate watched me, rubbing a piece of her hair between two fingers.
I bit my tongue, trying to work the words out.
"The boat …we're going under.”

Possessing powers that are feared and shunned, eighteen-year-old Alexandra “Attie” Hotep is no virgin to attacks. Her ancestors, the Zarconians-- mixed-blood inhabitants of Atlantis--were rumored to be the English fairies who kidnapped children, the Caribbean sirens that sunk ships, and the dream-like apparitions who broke into psyches. By the 1850s, they were hunted to near-extinction, leaving the existence of Atlantis and Zarconians little more than myth.

When a class trip turns deadly, Attie and her friends become stranded on an uncharted tropical island in the middle of the Pacific, and Attie finds herself targeted once more. With a jungle full of extinct and prowling animals, she struggles to find a compromise between keeping her friends safe and keeping her family's secret.

Enter Doug Hutchinson—the school’s soccer star, and a handsome boy with his own secrets. But Attie and Doug soon realize the animals aren't the only threat. There is a traitor amidst the group, one that plans to turn all Zarconians into permanent myths. And Attie is next on the list.
And now, for the interview...  Allow me to introduce Aja Hanna!
Sus: First I want to know a little bit about you, before we get into your book.  If you could have dinner with one other writer, living or dead, who would it be and why?

AH: When choosing a dinner partner, you must have:
1. Someone you admire
2. Someone you are attracted to
3. Someone you are comfortable with (because food can get messy).
For me, it's like this: When I was in gymnastics (and--no vanity--I was good), I was frequently asked which gymnast was my favorite. The only problem was, I didn't really admire anyone. I never set out to go to the Olympics or be just like "name a gymnast." I just did it for fun. Just like my writing.
Sure, there are writers I admire, writers whose works I enjoy, and writers whose blogs I will peruse. But I know very few writers by name, and even fewer by their attractive back cover photo. Finally, I can say confidently, I know none I would be comfortable eating with.

Sus: What's your favorite song, tv show and movie?
AH: Jurassic Park is my all-time favorite movie. Right now, I like New Girl, Adventure Time, MLP: FIM, and Community on TV. I don't have a favorite song at the moment, but I love listening to the Kane Show on weekday mornings. I also get into the Funk and my brother's band Davey Jones and the Sailors of Funk.

Sus: Cats or dogs?  Or (god forbid!) neither?  (No judgement here...)
AH: Cats. They are more independent.

Sus: Were you always jotting down stories as a kid, or did you come to write as an adult?   

AH: I've been writing ever since I found out that writing stories was a profession. So second grade, I think. From silly chapter books to novels, I have journals full of ideas that I still need to start or finish.

Sus: And do you put any of your own life experiences into your writing?  I mean, your book is set on a prehistoric island, so obviously it can't be 100% life experience.
AH: Ha! Well, I love dinosaurs. Being a paleontologist was my number 2 career choice as a kid so I wanted my first book to have a little pre-history in it. My other works mostly come from dreams. I dream up stories like someone watches a film. Sometimes I'll stop and go back to try a new ending. Very frequently, I will remember names of places, dialogue, and characters.  Then I wake up and write it down.

Sus: Considering the characters are shipwrecked, the book takes on a Lost or Castaway feel.  Did that tv show/movie inspire the book or help form any of its concepts?
AH: I actually started writing the book before Lost came on. I was inspired by another book called "Dr. Franklin's Island" but I've never heart of Castaway before.

Sus: Your book involves the story or myth of Atlantis.  Are you a big fan of Atlantean myth?
AH: I'm actually not big into Atlantis, though I have always liked the idea of exploration and uncharted, unfamiliar territories.

Sus: The main character, Attie, is very smart and knows a lot about prehistoric animals.  How much did you have to research to learn about the era (and forgive me but I've forgotten which era it was) and can you actually pronounce the animals names?
AH: I pulled from what I know about prehistoric animals already, and gave that knowledge to Attie. I had to reference my books a few times, but I had a general idea of the scenes and the animals I wanted on the island. A few times I even visited the Smithsonian to gauge the size of the 20-foot tall sloth.

Sus: What was your favorite scenes to write, the love scenes or the action?
AH: I like action better. Though romance plays into most of my stories, I am somewhat uncomfortable writing it. (It's just so private!) My friends and family joke that I hate romance because I will cover my eyes during kissing scenes in movies, or I will say "Gross" when two people confess their love on-screen. My editors actually told me to beef up on the romance scenes so I got out my "sexy-time" music and a bit of rum.

Sus: Why did you chose to make the castaways (with one exception) teenagers, rather than adults?  They are very smart for teenagers. Or at least smart in comparison with how I remember my teenage years.
AH: It's all about personality. The teens are supposed to be the "Best and Brightest" of the whole state so that gives them a leg up on the average student. Michelle is a genius, Kate is the Class President and has outstanding grades, and Bryan and Doug can hold their own on and off the soccer field. Then there is Attie who has "street smarts" rather than "book smarts." This combination makes them successful.
Sidenote: As a kids and teenagers, my sisters and I were very much in the same line of thinking. We were reckless but never without a plan. We were prepared for the worst, but we always took it as a challenge or adventure. We had elaborate plans to run away, detailing down to which roads we would take. If the world fell into dissaray, we knew what necessities we would need and how to get them. I suppose this excitment for adventure prompted me to keep the characters young. I started writing Zarconian Island in high school actually. While there have been a slew of edits since then, the characters' basic knowledge and personalities haven't changed.
Alright guys and gals, there you have it!  Now go and check it out for yourselves!  The expected publication date is March 25th, so you have 10 days to get yourself excited for it.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Buried Blog Tour and a TRUE Scary Story by Gerilyn Marin

Today I am participating in Gerilyn Marin's Blog Tour for her book Buried, which comes out March 18th.  Here's a little bit about the book:

Fane’s Cove isn’t the average coastal town- not with wandering apparitions, disembodied voices and poltergeist activity occurring on a regular basis- but the residents are used to it.  As far as they know, it’s simply always been that way.  Somehow, Cadence McKenna can’t shake the feeling that normal-seeming new resident Gray Addison is hiding something stranger than all of the town’s odd happenings combined and she’s determined to find out what that is.

This is Gerilyn.  Wave hi, everyone!

Now, instead of doing an author interview, Gerilyn has so genergously (and coolly) offered to tell her own real-life paranormal/scary story!  So, without further ado, here it is!

I live in a small town (small for Queens, NYC). It has kind of a creepy feel to it—I've spooked my husband some mornings 'cause it gets really quiet here, and we'll wake up to find this thick blanket of fog has rolled in. I usually point out the window and say, "Crap, we're in Silent Hill, again."

We live down the block from a sign which informs visitors that our town was founded in 1645. I based Fane's Cove (the town in which Buried takes place) on a switched around/spiced up version of this locale. By spiced up I mean, well . . . for example, we don't have a cemetery in the center of town.

I used the moment I'm about to tell you as the basis for an account, which is supposed to have taken place near two-hundred years ago, in Buried.

This is a very simple incident, very quick in the telling, but it sticks with me still. Every time I leave the house at the same time of day, I still glance toward the same spot on the street where this happened, looking for it.

I don't know if I want to see it, or if I'm praying it's not there.

I wake up every morning between 4:30 and 5:30. Usually, unless it's the peak of summer, it's still dark (or at least, darkish). I'm a scatterbrain, so very often I'll forget to go to the store for something the night before, so I have to go in the morning before the family wakes up.

One morning, I leave the house, close the door behind me and start down the block to the store. Then, for no real reason, I look over my shoulder.  About half a block away, by a cross street, I see what looks like a shirt. But the shirt is about the height and shape that it would be if someone were wearing it, but there's no body to go with it. And it's moving, like I'm watching a person walking, or moving around (albeit a bit jittery), but I simply can't see the rest of them.

I took a deep breath, turned right around and continued walking, convinced I imagined it. I went about my business at the store, came back to my block and kept my gaze on the spot where I'd seen this thing the entire way. It wasn't there, of course, and I never saw it again, but, like I said, every morning that I leave my house at that time, I catch myself staring at that same spot in the street, like I'm waiting for whatever that was to pop up again.

Spooky, no?  With that kind of experience, no wonder she decided to right a paranormal book! Now I am so excited to find out about this cemetery in the middle of the town, Cadence & Gray, and all about Fane's Cove.

Check out the book.  It comes out March 18th, and if the blurb is any indication of the story, it'll be a fun, scary ride!

Monday, March 4, 2013



Did that get your attention?

Because ..


Wilde's Fire is FREE on Amazon!!!

Wilde's Fire (Darkness Falls, #1)

So go get it.  It's free for 3 days (that's until Wednesday the 6th, folks).


If you want to read my review of it first, you can see what I thought (and by the way, I loved it) here.

William & Lucy by Michael Brown

William & Lucy
Genre: Historical Fiction, Romance
Rating: 4 stars

A penniless poet struggles to keep him and his sister afloat in Britain during the Napoleonic Wars.  A young orphaned woman takes a position as a governess to two children whose father is entirely too friendly.  An agent for the crown is sent to a small town to investigate allegations of a traitor, maybe even a spy, posing as a poet. Their lives will intertwine to change one another permanently...

William Wordsworth isn't having a very good week.  His landlord is kicking him and his sister out, the local town bullies are after him, he's received news that he's being investigated by the crown and he's lost his muse.  Then he meets a young woman, Lucy Sims, and his words are able to flow forth again.  He needs to see her again.  But how can he try to win her heart when his whole world is so tumultuous?

18th Century England doesn't have many choices for orphaned 17 year old girls, but Lucy Sims is going to make it in the world.  She is going to be a governess until she is 18, then she is going to sell her paintings and take the world by surprise that a female has painted such wonderful landscapes.  But a stranger puts a kink in her plan when her heart falls for him.  And she may have to leave her position sooner than she expected if the Squire, the man whose children she teaches, doesn't stop his attempts to force her into his bed.

Geoffrey Walsh has been assigned to investigate William Wordsworth on the grounds of being rumored a French spy.  Walsh must come back with evidence that Wordsworth is a spy or his job is on the line.  Rumors are abounding, but without concrete evidence, he has nothing.  Is a job worth fabricating evidence to put a rumored spy on the gallows?

This book is so well written.  Considering that the topic of the book is one of the most famous British poets, the writing would have to be nothing short of beautiful, and it is.  Brown weaves this sweet, lovely love story while showing the (sometimes) awful conditions people lived with in the late 1700s.  Having known next to nothing about Wordsworth (honesly, all I knew was that he was a poet - I could tell you nothing else), I found this to be educational since it does include lines from his poetry.  The story is the author's imagining of what had happened to inspire Wordsworth's "Lucy" poems, and it is bitter sweet and touching.

But don't assume that the book isn't fast-paced.  The end in particular will have you turning the pages as the characters race to their destinies. There are bad guys a plenty, and even a Detective Javert type to break up the love story. 

I recommend this to anyone who enjoys an innocent love story with a twist and a good plot.

This book was provided to me by the publicist for my honest review.  Check it out here on Amazon