Monday, April 30, 2012

Spring Fling Giveaway Hop

I haven't done a giveaway hop in a long while but with all these awesome releases lately and 10% off The Book Depository, my affiliate account (aka everyone's shopping sprees) is allowing me to participate in the Spring Fling giveaway hop hosted by I Am A Reader, Not A Writer and Eve's Fan Garden! There are close to 200 blogs participating, so lots of chances to win!

What's up for grabs?
One book of choice at The Book Depository up to a value of 10$.

 Open Internationally as long as TBD ships to you (is your country on the list? Click here)
Giveaway ends on May 7th, 2012
Use the Rafflecopter below to enter.

Make sure to hop along the other participants for more chances to win!
Click here for the full blog list.

This giveaway was made possible by The Book Depository affiliate program.
Help support future giveaways by using the link below or on my sidebar to shop at TBD
10% Discount / APMA12 Coupon Code / Book Depository
The Book Depository currently has 10% off EVERYTHING!

Hemlock Tour Stop

Kathleen Peacock is visiting Xpresso Reads today for the blog tour of her wonderful book, Hemlock. This is one of my top favorite reads of 2012 so I'm very excited to have her over for an interview. Let's first have a look at my glowing review! =)

Kathleen Peacock
Series: Hemlock, #1
Release date: May 8th, 2012
by HarperCollins

Goodreads / Purchase
Mackenzie and Amy were best friends. Until Amy was brutally murdered.

Since then, Mac’s life has been turned upside down. She is being haunted by Amy in her dreams, and an extremist group called the Trackers has come to Mac’s hometown of Hemlock to hunt down Amy’s killer: A white werewolf.

Lupine syndrome—also known as the werewolf virus—is on the rise across the country. Many of the infected try to hide their symptoms, but bloodlust is not easy to control.

Wanting desperately to put an end to her nightmares, Mac decides to investigate Amy’s murder herself. She discovers secrets lurking in the shadows of Hemlock, secrets about Amy’s boyfriend, Jason, her good pal Kyle, and especially her late best friend. Mac is thrown into a maelstrom of violence and betrayal that puts her life at risk.
*A copy was provided by HarperCollins Canada for review purposes*

There has been no shortage of vampire and werewolf novels in recent years. I was wondering how a new werewolf book could possibly bring about something new and original. Somehow, someway, Kathleen Peacock thought of an intriguing plot, wrote some fantastic characters, gave them life, unique voices, strong personalities, and wrapped it all up in this lovely novel full of mystery, friendship, and loyalty.

What makes this plot unique is obvious from the start: The werewolves are out. The public has been made aware of Lupine Syndrome. The Trackers, who are trying to contain the spread of this virus, are basically given free reign to be violent to whomever they think has been infected. Thus, as you can guess, the infected want to hide their secret. Then there's Amy -
our protagonist's best friend - who's just been murdered. See? We've got a simple werewolf lore with added suspense, a murder mystery, and anarchy, which gives us a pretty darn good page-turner! Also, this is the first book in a long time that I can honestly say has surprised me with the twists. It ambushed me! There are actually several of these twists wound together that made me take a step back… and blink.

An anarchist society such as Hemlock's really triggers some helpless feelings while reading. Everyone's at the mercy of the Trackers. They have all the power, and believe me, they use it. This actually reminded me a bit of reading a dystopian: feeling like you're trapped with no one to turn to for justice. One thing I'm curious about is the werewolf politics: What they're doing to fight this, what the camps are like, etc. However, seeing as this is the first in a series there's still time to get into this.

Inside this society, Hemlock possesses characters that shine throughout. Mac's personality is so honest I really grew to be fond of her. She's got incredible devotion, she's strong and her head is screwed on right. In addition, there are two of the sweetest, although polar opposite, guys after her. I don't dislike love triangles but I've read my fair share of them. Yet, I was delighted by the way Kathleen wrote the romance in Hemlock. First you should know that although the romance is always somewhat present underneath it all, it never takes the lead. The plot keeps at  center-stage with Mac's commitment to get to the bottom of Amy's murder. With that said, both guys in this book are incredible. Kyle is so adorable you just want to squeeze his cheeks. Jason- he's the bad boy. You'll hate his actions, but it's easy to see the huge heart that he's hiding underneath his tough exterior. Don't ask me which team I'm on, though, I have joined none. I refuse to choose! *Crosses arms*

As far as werewolf books go, this is easily my favorite to date; it has so much more. It's an all around wonderful novel that balances plot, romance, and action perfectly. It will keep you up till morning, either from its enticing pace, or its gorgeous cover that you simply cannot stop staring at!

Oh, and sidenote: The author is Canadian! REPRESENT, YO! >.<

5 Hot Espressos

Interview with Kathleen Peacock
Q. Let's first start by telling us a bit about how you came up with the story behind Hemlock.

I actually had the initial idea while walking to work and listening to emo breakup music. “It’s Been Awhile” by Staind started playing, and I just had this very clear picture of three teens in a hospital room. A girl had just been hurt, and her two best friends—both boys—were at each other’s throats.  

Q. Hemlock has two incredibly sweet, well-rounded male characters. How did you go about creating such vivid opposing personalities?

Kyle’s personality has really stayed true to the first few flashes I had of him as a character. In every draft the book went through, he always felt so much responsibility and wanted so badly to protect the people he cared about—especially Mac.

Jason has been a little harder to pin down. He’s so self-destructive, and it’s been a challenge to portray that side of his nature while balancing it so that you can understand why Kyle bails him out of trouble and why Mac cares about him so much. 

Q. If you had to pick one to go on a date with, would it be Kyle or Jason (and why)?

I can’t really pick because they’re seventeen...

That being said, when I was seventeen, I would totally have crushed on Jason. I always liked guys who were ridiculously out of my league and just a little bit broken.

Q. What is your writing process? Do you go with the flow or do you already know how this series will end?

I used to totally go with the flow, but over the course of the first book, I really became a fan of outlines—mostly because it was just too hard to figure out which clues should get dropped where without planning it.

In terms of the series, there are events in book two which will lead to revelations in book three, and I do have plans for each of the main characters. That all being said, I’ve never completely stuck to an outline, so nothing is set in stone.

Q. If you were a werewolf, what would you look like (in wolf form)?

Not to sound ultra-Canadian, but I think I’d look scruffy and kind of like a wolf version of The Littlest Hobo.

Thanks so much for having me on the tour Kathleen! I loved getting to know you and I can't wait for the sequel! *grabby hands*

Kathleen spent most of her teen years writing short stories. She put her writing dreams on hold while attending college but rediscovered them when office life started leaving her with an allergy to cubicles.

Hemlock, her first novel, will be released on May 8th by Katherine Tegen Books/HarperCollins

This post is a part of:

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Xpresso Weekly (1)

Xpresso Weekly features blog news/happenings of the past week, and the bookish goodies received.

Hi guys!! Soooo, you may notice something is very different on the blog today! I am extremely thrilled with my new beautified blog a la Parajunkee. She's amazing and I definitely recommend her to ANYONE looking for a design. She made this in less than a week! She freaking blows my mind! So anyways, I'm sure you're all aware of the plagiarism story and can thus deduce why I've decided to move on from the In My Mailbox meme. I'm not going to be a broken record, so if you want to know the full story - click here. The opinions in PJs post mirrors my own, that's all I'm going to say about it. All  the links needed for the full deets are in there.

So this week on the blog, - other than its fabulous makeover - I had the Siege blog tour drop by for a fantastic interview with Rhiannon and my stellar review of this incredible series. You HAVE to check it out here! I posted a cover reveal with three new great covers so check that out! Then I posted a giveaway to thank my lovely followers for rocking my face off. You can win an ARC of Something Strange and Deadly here (and it's international!). Also, if you missed it, yesterday's Fresh Batch post has FIFTY titles! *dies*  Have a look at the insanity here!

Now let's see what I got for review this week:

And for the upcoming blog tour I got Devri's upcoming novel (she's fabulous btw!)

*Big thanks to Simon & Schuster Canada, Hachette Book Group Canada, Tor Books, Random House Canada, Thomas Allen & Son and Devri Walls for the review copies!*

And I bought:

I actually had pre-ordered Unraveling a gazillion years ago and totally forgot about it until it arrived this week! So that was cool! And this book is HUGE, like 6" thick! And Rhiannon's well, no explanation needed there.

That is all for this week at Xpresso Reads!
Do you have a similar meme? Leave me a link and I'll go visit!

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Fresh Batch (April 29th - May 5th)

Exclusively titled for Xpresso Reads, Fresh Batch features the hottest releases of this upcoming week.

Flavor of the week:
Sweet Evil
Wendy Higgins
Release date: May 1st, 2012
by HarperTeen

Goodreads / Purchase
What if there were teens whose lives depended on being bad influences? This is life for sons and daughters of fallen angels in Sweet Evil.

Tenderhearted Southern girl, Anna Whitt, was born with the sixth sense to see and feel emotions of other people. She’s aware of a struggle within herself, an inexplicable pull toward danger, but it isn’t until she turns sixteen and meets the alluring Kaidan Rowe that she discovers her terrifying heritage, and her will-power is put to the test. He’s the boy your daddy warned you about. If only someone had warned Anna.

A cross-country trip to meet her father forces Anna to face the reality that hope and love are not options for her kind. When she confronts her destiny, will Anna embrace her halo or her horns

Sweet Evil book trailer

After earning a Creative Writing degree from George Mason University and a Masters in Curriculum and Instruction from Radford, I taught high school English until becoming a mommy. I've always had a heart for teens, and writing YA stories gives me the opportunity to delve into the ambiguities of those pivotal years before adulthood.

I live in the D.C. area with my husband, daughter, and son.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Giveaway: Something Strange and Deadly

Something Strange and Deadly
Susan Dennard
Release date: July 24th, 2012
by HarperTeen

Goodreads / Purchase
There’s something strange and deadly loose in Philadelphia…

Eleanor Fitt has a lot to worry about. Her brother has gone missing, her family has fallen on hard times, and her mother is determined to marry her off to any rich young man who walks by. But this is nothing compared to what she’s just read in the newspaper—

The Dead are rising in Philadelphia.

And then, in a frightening attack, a zombie delivers a letter to Eleanor…from her brother.

Whoever is controlling the Dead army has taken her brother as well. If Eleanor is going to find him, she’ll have to venture into the lab of the notorious Spirit-Hunters, who protect the city from supernatural forces. But as Eleanor spends more time with the Spirit-Hunters, including their maddeningly stubborn yet handsome inventor, Daniel, the situation becomes dire. And now, not only is her reputation on the line, but her very life may hang in the balance.

Guess who got an extra copy of this gorgeous pretty and plans to give it away!? *cheer*

This time I saved up on my affiliate acct to make it open to everyone! I love my international readers and you deserve a BIG thanks for reading and supporting my blog! I ordered myself a few books off my affiliate account so I could loophole it and use the money I would have spent for shipping. Right!? I iz smart! Big thanks to HarperCollins Canada for the extra copy!

You can continue to support my blog and future giveaways by using this link (also found on sidebar) to shop at The Book Depository. Plus, until May 14th everything is 10% off!
10% Discount / APMA12 Coupon Code / Book Depository

Review: Eve of Destruction by Patrick Carman

Eve of Destruction
Patrick Carman
Series: Dark Eden, #2
Release date: April 24th, 2012
by Katherine Tegen Books

Goodreads / Purchase
Will Besting and the other teens who were “cured” at Fort Eden are still experiencing the strange signs of aging  that were a part of their recovery. Now they are being called back to Fort Eden because Mrs. Goring is dying, and  for some reason she wants to see the seven teens together again.

But once Will and the others arrive at Fort Eden, they find themselves ensnared in a dangerous plan to finally end  the reign of Rainsford. Will must lead the group through a perilous underground trap masterminded by two devious  souls. Can he outwit both Rainsford and Goring and find a new cure?  Patrick Carman’s Dark Eden 2: Eve of Destruction is another terrifying journey into the depths of fear, love, revenge,  and—ultimately—redemption.
*A copy was provided by HarperCollins Canada for review purposes*

Dark Eden made my short list of 5-stars last year. It was creeptastic and thrilling; I loved it. Suffice it to say, I was highly anticipating this sequel. However, I don't know if the author took a different approach, or if these are things I failed to notice in the first book, but among other things, I was mostly bothered by the writing style.

There IS such a thing as too much detail - in particular, too many clarifications to where it comes off as a tad juvenile. Or as though I'm not intelligent enough to interpret what is happening without having it spelled out for me.

- "I hit the camera switch for S4 and the door-open knob for R1 at the same time, which turned Rainsford's feed off and opened the R1 door simultaneously"

-"She looked straight into the camera and gave Mrs. Goring the finger. And by finger, I mean the finger"

Yes, thank you for these clarifications!

This might be fine for some novels - especially for younger readers - but for a thriller such as this and from what I expected based on Dark Eden, I had a hard time taking it seriously.

The characters were incredibly hard for me to like in this sequel, mostly due to their naivety and poor judgment. Right from the start we get reacquainted with Will Besting when he gets a call from Mrs. Goring summoning the gang back to Fort Eden. Without a second thought on this ominous and obviously suspicious request they all agree that it's a good idea to go back to this nightmarish place (huh?). Once there, they happily comply to Goring's request to go down a dark and gloomy chamber that, "aghast", they get trapped in. (Wow, they could have never seen this coming!)

"She wouldn't put us through all these hoops just to fry us in the end."

At least he keeps his faith in a woman who trapped them in an underground Missile Silo filled with death traps so she could use them to collect what she needs.

It may come off as a surprise, but I did not hate the book. The plot itself is still entertaining. I mean, death traps and evil masterminds! We also get a lot of answers to the questions we were left with in the first book. The vibe of the book itself is quite different since some paranormal aspects that were introduced at the end of Dark Eden are now in the forefront. I did find it interesting, but I had felt much more frightened in the first book where everything was occurring in our reality without supernatural elements; Dark Eden had me in a constant bewilderment for what was happening. We didn't already know; the unknown was spine-chilling.

Do I still recommend it to fans of Dark Eden? I think some could still be satisfied with this one as a lot of the plot elements are intriguing and we have some exciting developments. However, I would suggest you proceed with caution.

Note: The quotes in this review are taken from the uncorrected proof.  

2 Hot Espressos
The Dark Eden Series:
 Want to know my thoughts on the first book?
Click here for my review of Dark Eden!

Cover Reveal x 3

Hannah Moskowitz 
Release date:
by Simon Pulse

Add it to your Goodreads
Hannah Moskowitz's (author of BREAK and INVINCIBLE SUMMER) TEETH features a sixteen-year-old boy whose family, in an effort to cure his ailing brother, relocates to a remote island where legendary magic fish are said to have healing powers, and he discovers the island has terrible secrets, including a half-teenager, half-fish.

Monstrous Beauty
Elizabeth Fama
Release date: September 4th, 2012
by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)

Fierce, seductive mermaid Syrenka falls in love with Ezra, a young naturalist. When she abandons her life underwater for a chance at happiness on land, she is unaware that this decision comes with horrific and deadly consequences.

Almost one hundred forty years later, seventeen-year-old Hester meets a mysterious stranger named Ezra and feels overwhelmingly, inexplicably drawn to him. For generations, love has resulted in death for the women in her family. Is it an undiagnosed genetic defect . . . or a curse? With Ezra’s help, Hester investigates her family’s strange, sad history. The answers she seeks are waiting in the graveyard, the crypt, and at the bottom of the ocean—but powerful forces will do anything to keep her from uncovering her connection to Syrenka and to the tragedy of so long ago
New vs Old cover:

Alpha Moon
Rachel Deagan
Series: Caged Moon, #1.5
Release date: June 17th 2012

Add it to your Goodreads
A novella from the male character's POV in Caged Moon.

Tormented by a repressed past, Liam is faced with the responsibility of raising, and taking care of a pack of younger, obnoxious ‘pups’. He’d do anything for them; guilt from prior mistakes, driving him to protect them at any cost. Until a strange human girl, bearing the scent of a wolf, throws his world into chaos. Instinct says she’s his mate. Logic says she’s a danger to the pack. Curiosity can’t keep him away.

The Caged Moon series:

What do we all think!? I really like them. The cover for Teeth could be great in real life! I imagine it very flashy and shiny! I think the redesign for Monstrous Beauty is gorgeous. I love the bright covers. I also really like the dark vibe of the Alpha Moon cover!

Leave me your thoughts!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Review: Fairy Metal Thunder by JL Bryan

Fairy Metal Thunder
J.L. Bryan
Series: Songs of Magic, #1
Release date: September 16th 2011

Goodreads / Purchase
A rock & roll fairy tale.

Jason plays guitar in a teenage garage band called the Assorted Zebras, but they have no fans, no gigs, and they're going nowhere. Even worse, Jason has a crush on their lead singer, but she doesn't seem interested in him at all.

Then Jason steals instruments from the fairy world. Soon the band is enchanting crowds, and Jason is a step closer to the girl of his dreams, but the new gear is brimming with dangerous and destructive magic they can't control.

Their shortcut to success has cost a troupe of innocent fairies their livelihood and turned Jason and his band into enemies of the powerful and ruthless Queen Mab of Faerie, who sends supernatural bounty hunters to the human world to track them down...
*A copy was provided by J.L. Bryan for review purposes*

Fun and quirky; Fairy Metal Thunder is a quick read that you can easily finish in one sitting. After highly enjoying Jenny Pox, I was especially curious to see what JL Bryan had done with his attempt at a YA novel - about fairies nonetheless. First let me tell you that this could not be any more different from Jenny Pox, and I was greatly impressed. This is plain and simply entertaining with an effortless writing style that makes it easy to get absorbed inside this enchanting tale full of music and magic.

Let's hear it for the Assorted Zebras! Jason, Erin, Mitch Mick and Dred can't even get one simple lowly gig. But when Jason comes home with instruments from the Fairy Ream, the tables have turned. Now people can't get enough of them - instant stardom. Like I expected from his previous work, the characters in this novel are all realistically fleshed out. They're flawed and they make reckless decisions. These are teenagers, through and through. The band dynamics are amusing as well with just a tad of romance woven in. Then, we've got the creatures...

Fairies, goblins, elves, and… get this… a unicorn! And this is no ordinary unicorn either! The sweet, pretty, innocent creature is no more! *pets evil unicorn* It was fun to have these exotic mythical creatures bringing in even more life to the party. From delightful commentary on the realm's past wars, to bizarre and disgusting eating habits; there is no lack of comical antics in this story. Overall we've got a great cast with all types of personalities to enliven these pages.

Going from one realm to the other, the plot is pretty straight forward with the Fairy band trying to find their instruments, and the Man-band (teehee) exploiting them. There's nothing too complex; it's a very light read in that regard. The Fairy lore is original and creative, although since we spend much more time in the human world, we don't delve incredibly deep into Fairy technicalities. But we do get plenty of descriptive details when Jason visits the supernatural realm to boost our imagination of this eccentric land, as well as glimpses of what's coming for these kids in the next books.

Magic music! That's what you get inside JL Bryan's charming YA novel. If you want something refreshing and genuinely fun, this is the book for you!  

4 Hot Espressos

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Review: Radiate by Marley Gibson

Marley Gibson
Release date: April 3rd, 2012
by Graphia

Goodreads / Purchase
Hayley Matthews is determined to be the best cheerleader she can. She works hard and pushes herself 110% all the time.

Then Hayley finds a lump on her leg. The diagnosis is cancer. The prognosis is unclear. She could lose her leg. Or maybe her life.

At first Haley is scared, terrified. In an instant, everything she’s worked for seems out of reach. But Haley is strong. She’s going to fight this disease. She will not let it take her life or her dreams.
*A copy was provided by Thomas Allen & Son for review purposes*

"This is a story of how cheerleading saved my life"

Some may be thinking "Aww poor her she was a loser and being a popular cheerleader "saved her"". Nope: We're talking cancer. We're talking honest to goodness heartfelt emotions. Although this is not about the cancer itself more than it's about the power of positive attitude. After reading this, I truly believe that we have the power to make our own miracles. It's an inspiration to all who are going through a rough patch. Don't ever believe you can't come out of it!

If you're now thinking "Oh another of those mind over matter stories that I'll never believe really happen". Guess what, this is a based on a TRUE STORY. It's still a classed as a work of fiction, but at its core, this is the author's experience with cancer. I only found this out at the end, and it made me love the book even more. To know someone - even moreso: a teenager - was this strong, this inspiring, it's truly something to look up to.

In this book though, it's Hayley Matthews. Hayley has just gotten her dream of making the varsity cheerleading squad when she starts to get pains in her leg. For a book about cancer, it's surprising more enlivening than depressing. She never develops a desolate - the world is ending - attitude. She stays remarkably positive with a determined perseverance that makes it a really fantastic read. I would even say uplifting. She made me realize that we are stronger than we make ourselves out to be. She takes what's been given to her, and she gives it the finger - this is who Hayley is. I adored her. I loved that she doesn't succumb to the staring and whispering. She goes in front of a crowd to cheer because she loves it; with a limp, with a bald head, with scars, and with a smile. This, to me, is plain a simply admirable.

Besides the cancer, we've got family, friends, football, romance - all the things that make a good book even better. The family dynamics, especially, is great. We have siblings, parent, even friends' families that feel like her own. We also have a reappearing long lost childhood friends. But most of all, we have love. The love that Hayley shares for her friends and family is unequivocal. I wasn't only feeling for her, I was feeling for everyone around her. Full of shocks and secrets - the side stories give off as much heart as the central one. I really enjoyed how it was all interjected seamlessly into this already loaded story.

It's undeniably emotional, but also positively encouraging; I'm actually quite surprised that I haven't seen this book around more, so please, give it a chance because it will surprise you!

5 Hot Espressos

Waiting on Wednesday (33)

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event that is hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine and spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating. 

My pick this week:
The Farm
Emily McKay
Release date: December 4th, 2012
by Berkley Books (Penguin)

Life was different in the Before: before the Ticks began devouring humans in a deadly swarm across America; before the surviving young people were rounded up and quarantined “for their own protection.” These days, we know what those quarantines are—holding pens where human blood is turned into more food for the Ticks. Surrounded by electrical fences, most kids try to survive the Farms by turning on each other…

And when trust is a thing of the past, escape is nearly impossible.

Lily and her twin sister Mel have a plan. Though Mel can barely communicate, her autism helps her notice things no one else notices—like the portion of electrical fence that gets turned off every night. Getting across won’t be easy, but as Lily gathers what they need to escape, a familiar face appears out of nowhere, offering to help…

Carter was a schoolmate of Lily’s in the Before. Managing to evade capture until now, he has valuable knowledge of the outside world. But like everyone on the Farm, Carter has his own agenda, and he knows that behind the Ticks is an even more dangerous threat to the human race...

So I just found this like, 10 minutes ago while looking at upcoming books for my WoW. And can I just say, Squeeeee. Ok, this sounds SO up my alley it's like it was made for me! That's right, the author saw my horror talks on Twitter and wrote this! I swear! TICKS!! KILLER TICKS! This whole blurb has me drooling. *grabby hands*

Sidenote: Emily McKay is part of the group of authors who wrote The International Kissing Club :)

What's are you waiting on this week?
Link me up! :)

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Review: Ascend by Amanda Hocking

Amanda Hocking
Series: Trylle Trilogy, #3
Release date: April 24th, 2012
by St. Martin's Press

Goodreads / Purchase
Wendy Everly is facing an impossible choice. The only way to save the Trylle from their deadliest enemy is by sacrificing herself.  If she doesn’t surrender to the Vittra, her people will be thrust into a brutal war against an unbeatable foe.  But how can Wendy leave all her friends behind…even if it’s the only way to save them?

The stakes have never been higher, because her kingdom isn’t the only thing she stands to lose. After falling for both Finn and Loki, she’s about to make the ultimate choice…who to love forever. One guy has finally proven to be the love of her life—and now all their lives might be coming to an end. 

Everything has been leading to this moment.  The future of her entire world rests in her hands—if she’s ready to fight for it.
*A copy was provided by St. Martin's Press for review purposes*

This is it. The queen is dying. The king wants her kingdom. He will do anything to get it. Only Wendy stands in the way.

The final book in the Trylle Trilogy has great character development and an excellent romance. I was, however, a bit underwhelmed by the ending. We'll get to that. First, the characters. Wendy can be a bit dramatic. She will jump to decisions in a heartbeat and that kind of annoyed me at first. It's like she doesn't stop to think before she acts. I guess I should be used to her by now but it irritated me more in this one. I think she may have been a bit too confident by her almost-queen status. But since she is almost the queen, she shouldn't make rash decisions. She seemed to do as she pleased without listening to advice thrown at her. So I did get a bit frustrated with her decisions. However, she still has her awesome sense of humor that had me giggling a few times. Next to her, we have the whole gang of side characters that I grew to admire from the first book. I loved Tove especially in this one, but we didn't delve much deeper into any of them except for Loki.

Loki is the character I was the most fond of. He is an absolutely great addition to the series. Mysterious and sincere - he's a really strong character with a lot of heart. The romance he shares with Wendy is intense and honest. It's not only Loki that's been grasping at Wendy's heart, though. Finn has never left it, but she's trying to move on. I actually quite enjoyed the way the love triangle played out in this series. It didn't turn out the way I thought it would, and that was a pleasant surprise. It made it much less cliché with real emotional consequences.

This series as a whole is not incredibly action packed. It's more about the characters and the ominous upcoming battle. This battle that finally arrives, to me, was a bit underwhelming. Having waited 2 previous books for this epic showdown, then getting it over with without much effort, not to mention a bit too perfectly, felt anticlimactic. It's very much the happily ever after ending. It wasn't bad, but I expected more emotion, more negative repercussions I guess; giving it more weight to make it memorable. Maybe I'm just a masochist. *shrugs* Regardless, I wouldn't say I was disappointed with the ending, I just wasn't wowed by it.

This whole series is definitely fun. I loved learning about the complex world of Trylle and Vittra. It's highly original. I also had a great time getting to know the numerous characters inside it. It reads a lot like a mild fantasy novel that I'd recommend for paranormal fans who are looking for something different and creative.  

3 Hot Espressos
The Trylle Trilogy:

Monday, April 23, 2012

Siege Tour Stop - Review & Interview

RIGHT? How awesome is today!? I am beyond thrilled to have Rhiannon dropping for the Siege Blog Tour. First you will see my glowing review of Siege, the final book in the As The World Dies trilogy which is my favorite EV-ER. Then I've got a super awesome interview with Rhiannon to show you. If you haven't read this series yet, don't worry - everything is SPOILER FREE! So you have to read this, and then go get these books because if you don't, I may cry.

Rhiannon Frater
Series: As the World Dies: A Zombie Trilogy, #3
Release date: April 24th, 2012
by Tor Books
Goodreads / Purchase
The zombie illness has shattered civilization. The survivors who have found tenuous safety in Texas defend their fort against the walking dead and living bandits.

Katie has made peace with the death of her wife and is pregnant and married to Travis, who has been elected Mayor. Jenni, her stepson, Jason; and Juan—Travis’s righthand man—are a happy family, though Jenni suffers from PTSD. Both women are deadly zombie killers. In Siege, the people of Ashley Oaks are stunned to discover that the vice president of the United States is alive and commanding the remnants of the US military. What’s left of the US government has plans for this group of determined survivors.

Spoiler free even for those new to the series.

Wow. Just. Freaking. Wow!

I read The First Days and thought it was an all around great zombie novel with strong characters. A few weeks later I read Fighting to Survive. Only a few pages in did I realize that by that point, I was completely invested in these characters. They got into my heart, they made me laugh and cry, they made me love them uncontrollably, and I always will! Not just Katie and Jenni, every single one. Even crazy Calhoun (he's freaking awesome!). By the time I read Siege, this had become of my favorite series, I didn't want it to end, and I envy those who get to experience it all for the first time.

Siege, the final book in the As The World Dies trilogy, is undoubtedly the most emotional of the three, as well as the most life changing. Katie and Jenni are as bad-ass as ever, and as in Fighting to Survive, zombies are only the start of their problems. Even through all the death, through all the despair, it's surprising how much happiness you can feel in every little corner. It's wonderful to see how strong humans can be, how selfless, how much we are willing to do to assure we kick this zombocalypse's ass! Realism is one of the strongest trait of this series. Everything that happens, every single thing - including the undead, is incredibly realistic. So yes, I talk about it as if it was real, because if the dead started walking today, THIS is what we would be facing; this is how humans would react.

The suspense, the anticipation, the terror - I can't get over how remarkably well written it all is. Action scenes so intense, flashing from one character to another, making us experience the terror through glimpses of every one's horrifying situation. I could see it so clearly in my head it might as well have been happening to me. Heck, it definitely felt like it was. The emotions are all so deeply vivid. This is it, this is the finale, people die - a LOT of people die, not only is it the first book to ever make me cry, she has me relive these deaths every time loved ones learn about them; every time a character reminisces, it's like a stick to the heart.

Really, do yourself a favor, and read these! Don't shy away because it's a zombie book. Sure there are zombies, and I won't be the one to tell you it's not terrifying, but this story is not about the terror and gore, it's about survival, it's about humans joining together and starting over, it's about rebuilding a society that has been torn apart by infinite horror. You will be frightened, you will be touched, you will experience love and loss, and I can assure you- it WILL stick with you!

5 Hot Espressos (x1,000,000)

As The World Dies: A Zombie Trilogy:

Want to read my thoughts on the previous books?

Interview with Rhiannon Frater

Q. Siege is officially releasing tomorrow (!!), honestly, how does it feel?

It’s a huge relief. I have spent over six years in the world of Jenni and Katie and to finally be at the end of their journey is an amazing feeling.  It’s liberating, too. I can finally move on to all the other stories I have rattling around in my brain.

But it’s also bittersweet because I will miss them enormously.  They’re two of my favorite all-time characters.

Q. How is the Tor version different from the self-published edition of Siege (or the whole series for that matter)?

One of the things the older fans of the series assume is that the Tor versions are either unchanged, or that I was forced by Tor to make changes against my will.  I have had a few fans say, “Oh, I won’t read them. I have your real vision.” I quickly respond that the Tor versions are my real vision and the ultimate versions of the story. I wish everyone would read the Tor editions since I now regard the self-published ones as a rough draft.

Because of the online inception of the AS THE WORLD DIES story, I had a lot of scenes that were actually “filler” for days when I didn’t feel like posting. I also started to buckle a lot to fan demand on some things (the Senator, the ending of SIEGE) and I later regretted it. But I had already self-published the books by that point and felt I would be somehow betraying the original online fans if I changed anything.

When Tor bought the series, I was relieved. David Dunwoody said something to me about his novel, EMPIRE, that had the same roots as AS THE WORLD DIES as an online serial.  I had mentioned to him that I liked it, but it didn’t have the panache of his later works.

“Well,” he said with a grin “I was writing for fun. It wasn’t my real writing.”

That was an a-ha moment for me. The online serial and, therefore, the original self-published versions of the book, weren’t my real writing either. I had written AS THE WORLD DIES for fun on a whim.  Therefore, when I signed the deal with Tor, I was excited about making the trilogy be the best they could be.

The new versions have lots of new scenes, a streamlined, yet expanded storyline, greater characterization, and are just so much better now. 

SIEGE did have the most changes out of all three. I sliced out a lot of extraneous stuff (the filler days), and restored my vision of the ending.  Some of the scenes I removed because they didn’t add to the overall story arc will appear in UNTOLD TALES VOLUME THREE.

Q. You have worked a long time on this series, what is your absolute favorite/most memorable moment in regards to writing or publishing it?

This is very hard to answer. This series has given me a ton of “firsts.” First fan email, first convention, first panel appearance, first book signing, etc. 

I think my biggest moment was when THE FIRST DAYS received a Starred review from Publishers Weekly. It was like winning an Oscar. I felt like it validated my writing career and the series.

Q. As the World Dies is filled with incredibly realistic characters, who was the most difficult to write and why?

Otis Calhoun!  Oh, my!  Writing a schizophrenic was not easy at all.  He was an enormous challenge.  My editor was constantly afraid he was ending up a cliché, and I understood her fears. She wanted to excise some of his scenes, worried that he was just comic relief, but I just couldn’t do it.  He’s a fan favorite. People love him.

I did read up on schizophrenia and watched some films that portrayed the way people with the illness see the world.  It was a challenge to make him endearing while he was being really, truly annoying at the same time.

The only scene I wrote from his perspective gave me a splitting headache. It was really rough to get into his mindset. I do feel bad for Calhoun because at one point in his life he was obviously brilliant (and still is), but his handicapped by not being treated for his illness.

Q. Along with the undead, ghosts are a part of the series from the start but they become a lot more present in Siege, why did you decide to add them into the story?

A famous line from Dawn of the Dead is “When hell is full, the dead will walk the earth.”  I really liked that idea and it inspired the ghosts. I do write horror novels, so the supernatural element of ghosts didn’t feel like a far stretch to me. C’mon, we’re taking about cannibalistic dead people! Yet, I knew some people wouldn’t like the idea.  For some reason a few fans of the zombie genre really like to keep their zombies rooted in the reality of our world.

But, since the AS THE WORLD DIES universe is not our world, I wanted to go beyond just the ramifications of a mass extinction event not only in the physical realm, but the spiritual realm as well. I’ve had my own odd experiences of the ghostly kind, so I wondered what would happen when so many people died horrible, tragic, violent deaths.  Since the idea behind ghosts is that they are trapped by their unexpected demise, I began to ponder a world not just full of zombies, but ghosts. And would some of those ghosts try to make a difference in the world of the living?

As you said, the ghosts are there from the first book. I deliberately made the reader wonder if people (like Katie) were just imagining them. But by the end of FIGHTING TO SURVIVE, it becomes more apparent that there are ghosts about. 

In SIEGE, with the rival of Rune, a biker and a medium, it is confirmed that not just zombies roam the earth, but ghosts. He can see the trapped spirits and that becomes vitally important to the fort.

Furthermore, I’m intrigued by the mythology that surrounds the beginnings of civilization, and since the fort represents a new Eden, a new beginning, I liked the idea of seeing their mythology coming into being. And what if the supernatural element of the mythology isn’t fanciful, but real?

At one point I did consider removing the ghosts due to pressure from the fans of the original online serial, but like I said, I am a horror writer and I felt ghosts and zombies actually go well together.

Rhiannon Frater is the award-winning author of the As the World Dies trilogy (The First Days, Fighting to Survive, Siege,) and the author of three other books: the vampire novels Pretty When She Dies and The Tale of the Vampire Bride and the young-adult zombie novel The Living Dead Boy and the Zombie Hunters. Inspired to independently produce her work from the urging of her fans, she published The First Days in late 2008 and quickly gathered a cult following. She won the Dead Letter Award back-to-back for both The First Days and Fighting to Survive, the former of which the Harrisburg Book Examiner called ‘one of the best zombie books of the decade.’ Rhiannon is currently represented by Hannah Gordon of the Foundry + Literary Media agency.

This post is a part of:

Make sure to go and enter the SIEGE Giveaway: