Thursday, December 29, 2011

Blog tour book review: Existence by Abbi Glines

Existence
What's a girl to do when Death literally comes looking for you?

As part of the Existence blog tour (courtesy of the lovely ladies from the Teen Book Scene), today's stop on my blog is an actual review of the book.

Be sure to check out the previous stop on my blog, where Abbi gave us a glimpse into the characters and what they'd say if they each had a twitter profile.

Existence by Abby Glines (Wild Child Publishing)
For as long as she can remember, 17-year old Pagan Moore has always been able to see lost and wondering ghostly souls.

Since most can't talk and because she's the only one that is able to see them, Pagan has pretty much been able to ignore them.
At least until the first day of school, that is.

When she steps out of her car and spots the brooding boy lounging against the picnic table and smirking at her, she doesn't think much of it. Until she realises that:

a) he just won't seem to leave her alone, and
b) he actually speaks.

Despite her initial fear of him, Pagan quickly becomes fascinated with the talking soul, who is not only incredibly smart, but also has some serious music skills to boot. 

What she doesn't realise is that the wicked beautiful soul she's quickly falling in love with is not a normal soul at all.

He goes by the name of Dank Walker and he is Death; which can only mean one thing: Pagan's appointed time to die is near.

But, as life goes, nothing is as clear-cut as it seems and Death is about to discover that he's willing to break more than a few rules to keep the living soul he's falling in love with, alive.

Review:


If anyone had to ask me what the first word is that comes to mind with regards to Existence, then the word I'd most likely use is: addictive.

There's something about a fast-paced novel that doesn't spend pages waffling through tedious descriptions that makes for a quick, easy and highly entertaining read.

Not that I mind descriptions (To be perfectly honest, I adore them), it's just that the sense of immediacy about Existence is what sucked me into the world Abbi Glines created within her book.

For those who have just about had enough about the vampire, werewolf and angel genre, Abbi brings a unique concept to the world of YA literature that is not only refreshing, but one that's quite intriguing too.

I don't necessarily think it's been fully explored just yet, but considering that Existence is the first book in a trilogy, I'd certainly like to see and understand more about Pagan's ability and the reason behind why her soul is so different from anyone else's.

For me, Pagan was a pretty interesting character for the most part. I often find that I get very annoyed if characters are too walk-the-straight-line perfect, but Pagan is a pretty flawed character whose actions will no doubt cause the reader to fluctuate between varying degrees of sympathy and annoyance.

Case in point: the messy love triangle situation she got herself in.

The supporting characters also made for a great addition to the book, although at times I did feel as if they were relegated to the background when Pagan went through some terrifyingly supernatural experiences. 

Of course, the character that was a favourite of mine is definitely Dank (Death). I've mentioned in a previous post of mine that I'm a sucker for fictional boys who are musically inclined and Dank definitely applies here. 

While not present throughout the entire novel, for me, there was a sense of omniscience surrounding him that had me aware of him, even during his absence.

He's definitely the ultimate broody bad boy sort and I'm looking forward to seeing more of him in the next instalment in the trilogy.

The one thing I'd like to see more of is things from his perspective. Existence had me questioning what he was thinking when he first saw her, just how and when he fell in love with her and basically just what was going on in his mind when he first decided to bend the rules for her.

Aside from the concept and interesting characters, for me the highlight of the novel would be towards the end of the novel.

There's a refreshing twist on the idea behind sacrificing that completely caught me by surprise and has me wondering just what else Abbi has up her sleeve for the next instalment in the trilogy.

It will be interesting to see how she can top that.

More than that I can't say for fear of giving too much away but suffice to say that Existence is certainly a read that will leave you waiting with bated breath for the next instalment in this trilogy. Especially with that cliff hanger of note.

On a final note: how creeptastic and awesome is that cover? The eerie green eyes is a nice touch, don't you think?


Monday, December 19, 2011

Existence Blog Tour: Character tweets

As part of the Existence blog tour, I'm happy to welcome the main characters from Existence. Today we'll be given a glimpse into what they'd be tweeting about if they were on Twitter - and I must say, that based on their tweets, they certainly sound like an intriguing trio don't they?

Before we kick off though, here's just a brief look at what the book is about. Be sure to check back in the next week or two, which is when I'll have an actual review up on my blog.

About the book:
What happens when you are stalked by Death? You fall in  love with him of course.

Pagan Moore doesn’t cheat Death, instead, she falls in love with him.

Seventeen year old Pagan Moore, has seen souls her entire life. Once she realized the strangers she often saw walking through walls were not visible to anyone else, she started ignoring them.

If she didn’t let them know she could see them, they left her alone.

Until she steps out of her car on the first day of school and sees an incredibly sexy guy lounging on a picnic table, watching her with an amused smirk on his face.

Problem is, she knows he's dead.

Not only does he not go away, when she ignores him he does something none of the others have ever done; he speaks. Pagan is fascinated by the soul.

What Pagan doesn’t realize is that her appointed time to die is drawing near and the wickedly beautiful soul she is falling in love with is not a soul.

He is Death and he is about to break all the rules.

And now, on to the tweet-fest. Meet Death, Pagan and Leif.


Death Dank Walker
I may be enrolling in high school soon. I’ve found some entertainment.

QBKing Leif Montgomery
Who knew tutors could be so hot?

JustPagan Pagan Moore
Some people you don’t expect to talk and when they do it changes everything.

Death Dank Walker
What’s the big deal about a guy that throws a football straight? Am I missing something?

QBKing Leif Montgomery
Speech is going to be my favorite subject this year.

JustPagan Pagan Moore
What have I got myself into? #whatwasIthinking

Death Dank Walker
She’s cute when she frowns.... did I just say cute?

QBKing Leif Montgomery
When you find someone you can tell your secrets to then you’ve found #theone

JustPagan Pagan Moore
Ouch. I was waaaay off. #judgementalmuch

Death Dank Walker
I can make my own damn rules. Screw this!

QBKing Leif Montgomery
I’ve screwed up. God I hope I can fix this. #I’manass

JustPagan Pagan Moore
Near death experiences change everything.

Death Dank Walker
Welcome to high school. Freaking hilarious.

QBKing Leif Montgomery
I’ll see my girl soon. @JustPagan I can’t wait to see your face back at school.

JustPagan Pagan Moore
@QBKing See you soon =)

Death Dank Walker
I really hate blonds. It’s just an aversion to the angelic appearance I have.

QBKing Leif Montgomery
@JustPagan I’m sitting in class wishing I were with you. I’ll meet you outside the door in 5 min.

JustPagan
Pagan Moore
He’s here. How is he here?

Special thanks goes out to the fabulous team over at The Teen Book Scene for allowing me to be part of this tour. Want to check out where to head on over to for the next stop? Click on the banner below.

Book review: Nightshade (The Poison Diaries Book 2)

Nightshade: The Poison Diaries
Dark, lush and seductively twisted, Nightshade, the second book in The Poison Diaries series, lures you into a Gothic world of poison, romance and cruel and deadly intention.

Nightshade: The Poison Diaries (HarperCollins)

Warning: Considering that this book is the second in the Poison Diaries series, this review may contain spoilers.

You might also want to check out my review of The Poison Diaries, before you read this review.


It's been some time since Jessamine has been healed from the poison she's been dealt, yet despite her recovery, she can't help but be heartbroken.

Weed, the boy she's fallen in love with has disappeared without a trace, and her stern and unyielding father has become increasingly remote; choosing to spend most of his days studying poisonous plants and tending to his deadly garden of poisonous plants.

What he doesn't know is that Jessamine, through her heartbreak, has become a lot more suspicious about his involvement regarding Weed's disappearance and has gained more knowledge and confidence in handling the dangerous plants that has always been a part of her life.

Upon stumbling across her father's secrets and learning that Weed is, in fact, alive and in danger, a new, darker and no-longer innocent Jessamine decides that she'll do whatever it takes to find her way back to him; including both killing whoever gets in her way and turning to a far darker, supernatural and poisonous source for help: Oleander, Prince of Poisons.

My thoughts:

The thing about book series or  trilogies is that one is often never sure if the second or third book in the series will live up to the expectations of the first.

Some books that are series should often be relegated to remaining standalones, while follow-ups to the first instalment in other books usually disappoint.

So you can imagine how wary I must have been when it came to reading Nightshade, the second book in The Poison Diaries series; especially considering that I had a few issues with book one (despite enjoying the read overall).

Needless to say, I was in for a fantastic surprise, because not only is Nightshade a fantastic and far superior follow-up to The Poison Diaries, but it's also the best sequel in a trilogy that I've read to date.

Everything about this book lures you in.

The beautiful writing, the Gothic and atmospheric settings, the personification of the plants and the depth, depravity and the twisted changes and growth we see in many of the characters; Jessamine in particular. 

The world Maryrose Wood has created is sinister and dangerous, but at the same time is also imbued with an alluring, menacing beauty that draws you into a world of romance, venomous plants and deadly intention.  

Back when we first met Jessamine, she was young, naive and very impressionable. Obedient and subservient to her father, she obeyed instruction without any question.

This time around, we see a darker, sultry and far more dangerous (and murderous) side to Jessamine.

For me, this was definitely one of the highlights of the novel.

I often love seeing how characters grow from novel to novel, and seeing how Jessamine changed, although in the most drastic and twisted manner possible, was beyond fascinating to me.

That Maryrose decided to opt for this new, wickedly provocative and no-longer innocent girl, for me, shows that she's an author that's not afraid to take her characters completely out of their and the reader's comfort zone.

And I, as weird as it may sound, was completely enthralled by Jessamine's drastic metamorphoses.

There's a new and deliberate suggestiveness to her actions that speaks of someone who is focused on doing whatever it takes to get what she wants.

She's bold, reckless, and very intense.

Most of her actions throughout the novel are certainly not something that we as readers would condone, and yet, for all that, she retains an innate inner goodness that still shines through and - at the end of the day - still had me rooting for her.

I have to say though, that as much as I love the sensitive and incredibly devoted Weed with his strange gift of talking to plants, the male character who really stole the show here, was Oleander, Prince of Poisons.

Perhaps the fact that I love this villain, speaks of my strange preference for seductive, broody characters with a bad-to-the-bone streak.

Whatever the case may be, Oleander's supernatural, mostly disembodied presence (Jessamine, for the most part, hears him in her mind), was a tangible, wickedly magnetic and deadly force that kept me captivated throughout the entire novel.

The influence he exerts over Jessamine is palpable and is a feeling that literally seeps into your own veins; making you feel as if you yourself were caught up in his lethal game.

It was case of her being the butterfly being trapped in the spider's web, and a case of me thinking: "... but oh, what a web to be trapped in.

(Ok, I have to say that at this point, I'm seriously beginning to worry that I like Oleander's character so much. Apparently my sense of self-preservation is non-existent) 

Ruler over deadly plants, his capacity to drive the now hopelessly lost Jessamine further and further into the depths of depravity, will have you either wishing Weed would rescue her, or have you willing Oleander to push her just a little further to see how far she can still go.

He's the puppet master holding all the strings, and she, fuelled by her desire to be reunited with Weed, is seduced into being a willing participant in his twisted game.

And herein lies the heart of this novel. It's not just an off-kilter story featuring murder, and romance, but it's a story that speaks of the very nature of humans and about what they are capable of doing when circumstances propel the person in question to act.

Often, when you see crime stories on TV, the murderer usually ends up being the neighbour who wouldn't dare hurt a fly. Nightshade doesn't outright express this sentiment, but it does show that the old adage, "never say never", definitely applies here.

My review wouldn't be complete if I didn't mention Weed and the plants.

His relationship with the plants have always fascinated me and what I really loved is that we really get a glimpse into his thoughts and the way he communicates with them from his perspective.

I complained that in The Poison Diaries, we weren't given much chance to get to know him, but Nightshade certainly made up for that in more than a few spades.

Weed is as dashing as he is honourable and I, while mostly caught up in Oleander's spell, couldn't help but love him too.
 
His devotion to Jessamine is incredible and the lengths which he goes to in order to try find and save her, will have every single reader wishing for a boyfriend like him.

And the talking plants?

That's something special you can only experience while reading the book. No amount of description can capture just how intriguing the plants are in their capacity to heal or kill given the right dosage and their ability to communicate with Weed, in a book review.

To sum it up:

Nightshade is a book of shadows and mystery, and one of murder and romance. It's a tangled weave of sweet and sinister, and a highly concentrated dose of venomous plants and sinful seduction.

If you love romance with a sinister plotline, then be prepared to be caught up in the darkly mesmerising spell of Nightshade. 

Oh, and the ending? Probably one of the best and most unexpected endings to a book I've read in a long time (although many will probably disagree with me).

Go out and get yourself a copy. It's definitely worth reading.

Better yet, why not enter the giveaway I'm hosting, here?

Disclaimer and a word of thanks: A huge, huge thank you goes out to Leanne and the Poison Diaries team for sending a review copy of Nightshade in exchange for an honest review! Please note that having received a free copy of this book, in no way affects my opinion of the book.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Of Light and Darkness blog tour: Character interview

As part of the Of Light and Darkness book blog tour today I'll be interviewing Valek the smouldering hot vamp and love interest of his human charge, Charlotte.

Before we get to the interview, here's a brief overview of what the book is about: 

About the book:
When one human stands before an army of impossible obstacles, the likelihood of overcoming them in this coming-of-age modern fairytale may result in war between light and darkness.

Abandoned as an infant in Prague, naive and strong-willed Charlotte Ruzikova was raised by one of the last Vampires left alive. 

As a human, she knows no other home than the one nestled deep in the woods of Eastern Europe, where Witches drew spells of enchantment, Phasers threw tea parties, and Elves are the closest in kin.

Charlotte has lived her life in the dark with her Guardian, content to having him to herself and reveling in his attention, until she's realizes she wants more...

Resident medical doctor and Vampire, Valek Ruzik fears the day his ward would come of age and blossom into a fine woman, and he is forced to confront his own motives as time is of the essence once his past catches up to him, and their lives become endangered...

As genocide and war threatens their secret society, the dictator in power is ready to wipe out Valek's race, but Charlotte will not allow that to happen. 

Fighting for the only one she's ever loved and truly believed in, she will do whatever it takes to save their love...before the sun comes up and light takes over.

Sounds fab, doesn't it?

On to the interview...

Welcome to The Book Fairy's Haven, Valek (I hope you don't eat book-loving fairies for breakfast).  

Chuckles darkly:: No, no. Fairy blood doesn't sit well with me, but thanks for asking. 

Beware of Mr. Trinozka, though. I never know where that spider is hiding and if he's hungry. Because, as you know, arachnids do eat flies. ::eyes Book Fairy deviantly:: Thank you for having me...

1. If we had to ask Charlotte to describe you in less than 10 words, what do you think she would say about you?

Well, Charlotte's vision of me is a little skewed. She'd probably come up with something like 'a selfless hero who is more human than monster.' However, I wish Charlotte would see me for what I actually am. I'm afraid she's lacking a reality check.

2. For those that haven't read your story yet, can you tell us a little about your Vampiric abilities. What makes you different to any other vampire out there?

I am greatly aware of the many vampires that exist in the universe. The ones that sparkle. The ones that...fang-bang ::shudders::

No, I'm afraid our kind reverts back to the original classics of Bram Stoker and even modern-classics like Anne Rice. We have fangs, we roam the night, the sun is lethal, we move without you seeing, stalk without you knowing, we infiltrate your thoughts - your dreams - your nightmares.

Once we choose you, there is no escaping, I'm afraid. We are lethal monsters that no human should ever in their right mind hang around. Luckily for me, Charlotte wasn't in her right mind since the day I found her...

3. What is it like living in a world filled with all sorts of wondrously strange and (sometimes) wicked creatures?


It's wonderful. I love that there is such diversity and so much culture between our races that live in our small, Occult city.

Of course, I could do without the Elves, but I do have my love of the fairies ;), the phasers, the ogres, the enchanted scarecrows, and sometimes, the witches. It is a fantastical atmosphere and a wonder to behold indeed.

4. You have one last day to spend with Charlotte. Where in Prague would you take her and how would you spend your final day with her?


One last day with Charlotte? Hmm...that's something I do not even wish to think about, but I'll play along.

If I had to spend one last day with Charlotte, in Prague, I would take her back to Hradcany, where I found her.

I would show her the exact spot where I first saw her when she was too little to remember. I would tell her of that night, and how it felt when I decided to keep her forever.

After that, we'd stroll along Charles Bridge, and listen to the folk musicians play for meager earnings in the night. We'd watch the water gleam under the lights that set Prague castle aglow every evening.

We'd watch the fireworks they set off over the Vltava to the West. We'd walk the castle gardens, completely alone, so I could spend those last moments telling her how much I absolutely adore the very make of her and how I will always be with her.

And then I'd wrap her in my arms, and we'd watch the sunrise together while I slowly disintegrate into ash for the final time, listening to her weep quietly next to me.

There! I've played your game! Happy? Now you've gotten me emotional...

5. If you could trade places with a supernatural being from another book for a day, who would you choose and why?


I think I'd like to be that water serpent from Beowulf for a day. That would be an interesting experience...

Special thanks to Valek for taking the time out to answer my questions. A huge thanks also goes out to the fabulous team over at the Teen Book Scene for allowing me to partake in this tour.

Want to meet Valek's maker?

You can follow Shayne Leighton on twitter here. Be sure to check out the rest of the tour stops, by clicking on the banner below.


Sunday, December 4, 2011

Giveaway: Win a signed copy of Nightshade (The Poison Diaries book 2)

So, it's been a while since I've done a giveaway on the blog, hasn't it? Which is why I'm so excited about hosting the following competition on the blog.

The fabulous team from The Poison Diaries have given me the  chance to host this new giveaway in which you can win a signed copy of Nightshade, the second book in The Poison Diaries series.

The book is truly a phenomenal read and definitely counts amongst my favourites of 2011 so far. I would highly recommend that you enter this giveaway to stand a chance of reading this dark, twisted tale of murder and romance.

(While you're at it, you can check out my review of Book 1 here. I'll have a review up of Nightshade soon- but trust me, you'll want to read this series).

So, enough rambling from my part.  If you want to enter this giveaway, all you need to do is follow 3 simple steps below.

Step 1: Head on over to The Poison Diaries website and search for the plant: Arum Maculatum. Once you've found the plant, add it to your poison diary.


Step 2:  Follow The Poison Diaries team on Twitter and tweet about the giveaway and the plant that you've added to your poison diary. Make sure to include me on the tweet so that I can keep a track and tally up the entries. To make things easy for you, you can copy the tweet below:

@Tammy24_7 I've added the Arum Maculatum to my poison diary and want to win a signed copy of Nightshade from @poisondiaries.


Step 3: Like The Poison Diaries on Facebook and be sure to drop them a note and let them know what you think of The Poison Diaries books so far. And that's all there is to it.

Giveaway open to everyone and ends Monday.