Friday, December 28, 2012

My top pick of 2012 (Book review): The Fault in Our Stars

Disclaimer: This review appears on Women24.com, a South African women's lifestyle website where I manage, amongst other things, an online books section.

The Fault in Our Stars

Contrary to what Cassius believes, sometimes the fault DOES lie in our stars and not in ourselves.

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green (Penguin Books)
One of my current favourite songs is a song called All this and Heaven too, by Florence and the Machine.

In this tune, Florence Welch sings about how the language of the heart is hard to translate. 

She croons about it speaking in whispers and sighs, and prayers and proclamations. 

She acknowledges its eloquent beauty and its indescribable splendour.

And while the words of her song and its melody is nothing short of exquisite, it's the part about how she, for all of her education, can't seem to find the proper words to commend or command it, that resonates very deeply within me.

Regardless of how hard she tries to capture it in poetry, she can't because she's been "scrawling forever" and would give "All this and Heaven" to understand it.

For me,this is the essence of just why this song is a conduit that describes my every thought and feeling about John Green's The Fault in Our Stars.

Not because I don't understand it, but because I'd give everything to be able to give this book the praise it deserves without me fumbling over the words.

I want to paint this book in stars and write it a Shakespearean love letter.

I want to seduce you into buying it without you feeling liked you've been conned or connived into it.

I want to find a way to immortalise this book and give it even bigger wings to fly than it already has been flying.

Most of all, I want you to experience this profoundly tragic, funny, beautiful and heart-wrenching read and I want you, like me, to feel ALL the things, think ALL the thoughts and contemplate life in all of its raw, chaotic and unflinching beauty.

I'm not sure if I have it in me to paint this review in such incandescence, but I am going to try. 

Most of you know that I'm not a huge fan of books that fall victim to the hype monster. Past experience has often taught me that these must-reads , for the most part, tend to be commercial fodder that offers nothing new in terms of characters, plot and substance.

So you can only imagine my reluctance when everyone around me started raving about John Green's The Fault in the Stars. Having said that, I did like the premise of the story, so did end up putting it on my list of books to read.

When a number of bookish blogger friends I trust implicitly started raving about the book, I finally began thinking that there may be something here I'm missing out on.

So, when I finally picked the book up and sat down to read it, my feelings went on a journey that took me from one end of the emotional spectrum to the other, all the while feeling every single thing in between.

The Fault in Our Stars is a gobsmackingly magnificent read.

It's luminescent in its beauty and ugly in its truth. It takes a good, hard and long look at the effects of Cancer on the dying and rips you apart beautifully, terribly and tragically.

If I could sum up the way this book made me feel in a paragraph and address it to John Green, this is what I would say:

"Dear John.
There's no way to stop the faucet of tears that's just been unleashed. I don't think there'll ever be a tourniquet effective enough to stop my heart and soul from bleeding all the world's heartache in your book that is filled with aching tragedy.

Please don't ever stop writing books that make me feel."


Such is the power of this book of his. 

It's not just about his writing, which by the way, is nothing short of genius (and which I'll elaborate more on later), but it's about the plot, the characters and the stripped-bare, uncensored look at sickness, death  and the Cancer-stricken victims fighting it in all of its battle stages.

Hazel is a 16-year old teen who has stage four Thyroid Cancer. Due to a specific medical type of treatment that has somehow managed to shrink the mini tumours living inside of her, Hazel, although still terminally ill, has been granted a few extra years to live.

The brave, young girl is only too aware that she's dying and so she spends most of her time reading, watching TV and just being around her parents (After all, she doesn't want to be the grenade that mortally wounds the ones she allows close to her, by dying).

What Hazel doesn't realise, is that life has other plans in store for her.  Plans in the form of a hunky, one-legged boy named Augustus Waters (a boy who himself is a survivor of Osteosarcoma - bone cancer).

When she meets him at the weekly Cancer Kid Support Group she attends, her life takes on a whole different dimension and suddenly Hazel has to learn that falling in love is not only inevitable, but unavoidable. And no terminal illness can ever prevent that.

I am convinced that this is the most beautiful book of 2012, if not ever. 

I haven't had a book affect me this much since I've read Forbidden by Tabitha Suzuma and The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson.

 John Green is just such a phenomenal writer.

The thoughts he expresses, the sentiments that are gleaned can be summoned up in a quote from the book itself: "My thoughts are stars I can't fathom into constellations."

It not only speak of the intelligence of this book, but it speaks of the larger than life characters that crawled deeply into my heart, giving me no other option but to love them.

A friend's review stated that she's seen many people criticise the voices of the teens because they're so much older than teens should be, but I completely disagree with this sentiment.

Impending death has a way of aging you and because these two teens are so gravely ill, their maturity, their intelligence and their ability to appreciate and marvel about everything that's around them because they know that their infinities are less than others , only serves to make you fall  more deeply in love with them and their story.

Hazel is an incredible protagonist. She's smart, funny, sardonic, accepting without being defeatist and incredibly clever.

She tries so hard to protect the ones she allows around her that it hurts to see how she views herself at times.  Augustus couldn't be more right when he says the following to her:  "You are so busy being you that you have no idea how utterly unprecedented you are."

And by this token, it's exactly why I love this boy. He's not just a hot boy, he's a boy that sees so much more than a sick girl who breathes through an oxygen tank. 

Despite how heartbreaking his own story is, the strength of his love for her, and the lengths he goes to make her dreams come true, make him more than just a funny and sexy boy fighting his own battle.

I wish I could map out the profoundness of the novel in its entirety and tell you more about the unexpected twists and turns of this novel, but my flimsy attempt at expressing my feelings is nothing but a black hole in comparison to the sheer and magnetic force of John 
Green's writing.

If there's one book you still need to read this year, make it this one.

It will change you more than you could ever begin to imagine.

Special note to my lovely blog followers:

I'm so sorry I haven't been around much this year. It's been one chaotic year for me, leaving me with barely any time to update regularly or given me enough of an opportunity to visit all your blogs.

THANKFULLY, I am on a bit of a break now, so will be playing catch up on all your blogs soon. Oh, and look out for a giveaway coming soon.

In the meantime, hope you guys enjoyed my review of The Fault in Our Stars - it really is the best book I've read this year. Seriously, lovelies, make a point of reading this book.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Cover reveal, excerpt & contest: Dear Cassie by Lisa Burstein

Hi everyone

Today I’m pretty fortunate to be part of the big cover reveal  for Lisa Burstein’s up and coming YA novel, Dear Cassie. Now for those of you who don’t know, Dear Cassie is the companion novel to Lisa’s debut novel, Pretty Amy.

As part of the cover reveal, the Entangled publishers and Lisa have kindly allowed all the bloggers taking part in the cover reveal to also feature an excerpt from Dear Cassie, which will be out in March 2013.

Not only that, but Lisa is hosting a really awesome contest to celebrate Dear Cassie’s cover reveal, the details for which you can find below.

On to the big reveal: how awesome is the cover?


About Dear Cassie
Publication date: March 2013
What if the last place you should fall in love is the first place that you do?

 You’d think getting sent to Turning Pines Wilderness Camp for a month-long rehabilitation “retreat” and being forced to re-live it in this journal would be the worst thing that’s ever happened to me.

You’d be wrong.

There’s the reason I was sent to Turning Pines in the first place: I got arrested. On prom night. With my two best friends, who I haven’t talked to since and probably never will again.

And then there’s the real reason I was sent here. The thing I can’t talk about with the guy I can’t even think about.

What if the moment you’ve closed yourself off is the moment you start to break open?
But there’s this guy here. Ben. And the more I swear he won’t—he can’t—the deeper under my skin he’s getting. After the thing that happened, I promised I’d never fall for another boy’s lies.

 And yet I can’t help but wonder…what if?


DEAR CASSIE excerpt:
We kept walking on the lake trail, the bullfrogs croaking. There was also a humming in my ears from the nicotine.

 It could only be from the nicotine. It had nothing to do with being outside, at night, alone with Ben. It had nothing to do with Ben coming to the cabin and taking me instead of Nez and it definitely had nothing to do with the stars above us shining like they were the sky’s tiara. 

I stopped on the trail and looked up, taking them in, when all of a sudden bright colored lights exploded in the sky—fireworks, one after another, on top of each other, huge kaleidoscopes of light, like sparkling rainbow spiders.

“How did you know?” I asked, my voice going softer, like if I talked too loudly they would stop. It was so beautiful, after weeks of so much ugly. 

Ben turned to look at me, the colored lights in the sky turning his skin pink, blue, green. “I’m magic.” He shrugged.
I geared up to tell him to fuck off, because that was some corny-ass shit, but then I realized that he really kind of was. In that moment he was able to actually make me forget being me.
 “I would try to kiss you,” he said, “but I’m afraid you’d kick me in the balls.”

“I probably would.” I laughed, the sky filling with noisy color like paint launching from a giant popcorn popper. “But like I said, it wouldn’t be about you.”

“I guess I’ll have to figure out how to make it about me,” he said, taking off his boots and socks and standing. “Come on.”

“There is no way I am getting near that water again,” I said.

“I’ll make sure nothing happens to you,” he said, holding his hand out to help me up.

 I looked at his palm, open, waiting, just wanting to hold mine. For once, I didn’t think about anything except that there was a cute, sweet, smart-ass boy standing in front of me with his hand out.

I pulled off my boots and socks and took it.
 
We stood at the lakeshore, our hands still clasped, the water licking our feet, fireworks decorating the sky.

I turned to him. He was looking up, his mouth open in wonder like he was trying to swallow the moment.

It was definitely one worth keeping.

Contest:

Lisa is hosting an EPIC CONTEST to celebrate DEAR CASSIE’ s cover reveal.  Lisa wants you guys to share diary entries of your favorite fictional characters with me. That’s right, choose ANY character from books, TV, movies, a cereal box and write a 500-750 length diary entry from their point of view.

We will choose the top 5 and then let the masses vote on their favorite. The favorite will be published in the final version of DEAR CASSIE. You read that right, published with the author’s name! The additional four will win $20 book buying gift cards.

So get diary-ing! Send you entries to prettyamystories@yahoo.com  by January 1st!
Voting for the top 5 will begin January 7th, with the winner being announced January 14th!

About Lisa
Lisa Burstein is a tea seller by day and a writer by night. She received her MFA in Fiction from the Inland Northwest Center for Writers at Eastern Washington University. She lives in Portland, OR, with her very patient husband, a neurotic dog and two cats. Dear Cassie is her second novel.

DEAR CASSIE pre-buy links:

Add Dear Cassie to your Goodreads TBR
The Book Depository
Amazon
Barnes & Noble

PRETTY AMY Links:
Add Pretty Amy to your Goodreads TBR
Powells 
The Book Depository
Amazon 
Barnes and Noble

Additional links to Lisa’s pages:

Twitter
Facebook
Website

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Book review: The Other Life

Disclaimer: This review appears on Women24.com, a South African women's lifestyle website where I manage, amongst other things, an online books section.
 
The Other Life by Susanne Winnacker (Usborne)
It's been a good while since I've read anything dystopian, so when The Other Life arrived on my desk for review, I couldn't help but be intrigued.

Having come across it on previous occasions, I actually didn't realise it was a work of speculative fiction until I really paid attention to the synopsis (I previously just skimmed through it, so didn't actually have a real sense of what the book was about).

And was I surprised by how much I ended up enjoying this!

I think the reason for this is that with so many works of dystopic fiction saturating both the Adult and Young Adult market, The Other Life does, at first, seem like just another non-descript, post-apocalyptic novel no different from the rest.

While it certainly follows a formula that make up some of the common characteristics of the genre, what sets this book apart is, that for such a relatively short novel, it actually packs quite a punch. It's jam-packed with action, great characters and offers an interesting twist on zombies.

Better yet, even though it tackles a genre that's more known for its much darker and moodier elements and atmosphere, The Other Life actually manages to add a component of fun to the novel, all without the book losing any of the essence of its genre.

The novel starts off when we meet Sherry and her family.

Living in a sealed bunker (really just a fancy term for basement), it's been more than 3 years since they've dared to venture outside. Closed off from the world outside, they've always managed to make do - at least until the inevitable happens and they run out of food.

With no other option left, Sherry and her father are forced to venture outside in search of other people and to see whether or not they are able to find any food sources.

What they find instead is a city ravaged by destruction and a landscape devoid of human activity.

There's not a soul in sight...at least not until they reach an abandoned store where the action really begins.  While on the hunt for food, their scavenging is interrupted when they are attacked by zombie-like creatures thirsting for their blood.

Sherry manages to escape (with the help of the gorgeous but haunted Joshua), but her father isn't so lucky and ends up being snatched by one of the zombies (aka The Weepers). 

What follows is a desperate hunt for her father (before he becomes one of a mutant Zombie... or worse), a quest to save and keep her family safe and of course, dealing with her growing feelings for the boy who's consumed with his desire to kill every single weeper out there.

With books like The Hunger Games and Veronica Roth's Divergent proving to be bestselling reads, speculative fiction has proven to be quite a popular genre. In fact, this genre is one of the predominant categories found in YA fiction, so it's no wonder that more and more authors are jumping on the dystopian bandwagon.

Susanne Winnacker's The Other Life is another one of the many books that can be added to this particular genre - and while it's not in the same league as the aforementioned reads, it still makes for a very entertaining read.

What I loved about the book, is that Susanne takes a seemingly simple plot idea and adds a few interesting and unexpected elements  to the book that took me completely by the surprise - especially regarding to how the title of the book comes into play.

I certainly have to admit that I didn't give a thought to why the book was called The Other Life, until towards the end of the novel, when certain revelations are revealed.

The details and reasons behind the existence of the Weepers are quite sparse, and are at times a little frustrating, but since there is a sequel coming out next year, I'm hoping that there are answers to some of the most important questions I have.

What we know is that there was a virus developed by the government. The virus mutated, spread and resulted in mutant-like creatures running rampant.  Very few reasons are given and all the events prior to what has happened, is shrouded in a veil of secrecy.

Was this deliberate? Is this a government ploy to create anarchy?

Considering that they haven't been in contact with the survivors for months on end already, one can't help but be suspicious of them, their lack of communication a menacing cloud lurking just beneath the surface and prompting many questions from the reader as to just why they haven't been in touch with the remaining survivors.

It's questions like these that have me desperately hoping for answers in the next book. 

Character wise, Sherry and Joshua made for a great team.

Since the novel is relatively short, I couldn't help but feel as if I didn't get to know them as well as I would have liked.  I do, however, suspect that this could probably have been deliberate on the author's part and that we'll get to see some more character development and insight into their personas in the next book.

I loved the chemistry between Sherry and Joshua and have to applaud Winnacker for creating a male protagonist who doesn't treat the female character as if she's unable to fend for herself.  Sherry is one gutsy, kick-ass heroine who refuses to give up without putting up a fight.

Pretty much my favourite kind of heroine, really.

Combined with plenty of heart-stopping moments filled with action, weeping zombies and a promising introduction to a great cast of characters, The Other Life makes for a thrilling read and will have you waiting in breathless anticipation for The Life Beyond, the next book in the series.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Author guest post: Cat Hellisen on finding inspiration for her book settings

Hi everyone

Today I’m really excited to welcome Cat Hellisen, author of YA fantasy novel When the Sea is Rising Red, to my blog today.

The reason I’m so delighted to have her featured on my blog today is because not only is Cat and incredibly gifted author whose novel just happens to be one of my top reads of 2012, but also because the settings of her novel is, on so many levels, so very recognisable to me.

Photo:Nerine and Thomas Dorman
Imaginative book worlds are always such a treat to immerse one’s self into, but they’re made even more phenomenal, when the author takes elements from the city she lives in (a city which I hail from and reside in too), and incorporates it into a her fantasy novel,

After I’ve read When the Sea is Rising Red (do please check out my review of the book), I simply had to ask Cat if she’d give us a little insight and background into her book world.

So, without further ado, I’m handing over to Cat and let her do all of the talking…

How Pelimburg grew up on Cape Town's beaches.
 
When I wrote my first book set in the Hobverse, I was still living in Johannesburg and dreaming of going back to Cape Town where I was born.

That first story was set in the sprawling mining city of MallenIve, but I missed my home, and out of my longing Pelimburg was born.

Later I wrote a book set in that dream-city, and it seems almost fitting that the new book sold after I returned home. In When the Sea is Rising Red, the character Felicita describes Pelimburg as “a city of rain and mist and spray”, a grand thing slowly decaying. That's not the Cape Town of today. 

Old Muizenberg Buildings
The inspiration came from my childhood, of the faded grandeur of the narrow Victorian façades in Green Point, the long beaches of Muizenberg, the hill-side houses of Fish Hoek and the harbour and mountains of Simon's Town. 

Image from: Hilton Teper
One of the first places Felicita runs to when she tries to escape her tightly-controlled life is the promenade I loosely based on Sea Point's (then) crumbling promenade that runs along the rocky little beaches.

As a young adult I lived all over Green Point and Sea Point, before the big boost turned Green Point into the re-invented place it is today.

Like Mouillie Point, it's losing anything that gave it any charm and is being turned into an extended soulless wing of the Waterfront Empire of the Wealthy. But that's not how I remember it. 

Some of my favourite moments came from getting off the last bus home to Sea Point, leaning my elbows on the promenade railings and smelling the night sea while the fog horns sounded blearily.

Or of sitting on the rocks sharing my fish and chip gatsby with the gulls. Walking the dog at 6:30 in the morning and surprising a large bull seal in the mist. Those are the images and feelings that informed Felicita's first tentative exploration of her city.
Cape Point
Pelim's Leap is one of the pieces of landscape that plays a significant role in the story as the place where Felicita fakes her suicide.

This one is easy to dig up the inspiration behind, as anyone who has made the often wind-ripped trip to Cape Point will know.

I did leave out all the baboons, though.

What with selkies and unicorns and jackals and gulls and penguins, I was worried that book was going to turn into more of a zoo than a story.

I would have liked to add in porcupines, hippos, baboons and all the birdlife I love, but I think it might have been a bit much.

Simon's Town: Image from Daguero
The harbours in Cape Town all played their part in the shaping of Pelimburg – from the V&A with its huge industrial harbour, to the smaller fishing harbours of Kalk Bay and Simon's Town. Simon's Town in particular is the one I was thinking of when I was writing about the music of the masts – that eerie whistle that hums and shivers right through your skull as the wind blows.

Pelimburg is not a transplanted Cape Town – for a start, we definitely don't have navigable shipping rivers - but my home is a great place to get source material and I loved embroidering the little pieces of Cape Town into my made-up city, stealing sights and sounds and smells and working them into the bizarre tapestry of Pelimburg.

I'm sure that readers familiar with Cape Town will recognise little places here and there, and I love that connection. I wanted my made-up city to feel real, no matter how strange it was, and I didn't want to write just another medieval-lite fantasy setting.

Hopefully, I achieved that and one day I hope to be able to share the other books and the other cities, like the monstrous city MallenIve, “known for her vices and pleasures” with my readers. 

About When the Sea is Rising Red

After seventeen-year-old Felicita’s dearest friend, Ilven, kills herself to escape an arranged marriage, Felicita chooses freedom over privilege.

She fakes her own death and leaves her sheltered life as one of Pelimburg’s magical elite behind.

Living in the slums, scrubbing dishes for a living, she falls for charismatic Dash while also becoming fascinated with vampire Jannik.

Then something shocking washes up on the beach: Ilven's death has called out of the sea a dangerous, wild magic.

Felicita must decide whether her loyalties lie with the family she abandoned . . . or with those who would twist this dark power to destroy Pelimburg's caste system, and the whole city along with it.


Where you can find Cat:

Twitter
Facebook page
Website
Tumblr


You can also purchase a copy of the book over at Kalahari.com, Exclusive Books, The Book Depository or Amazon.com.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Book review: Mistwood


Disclaimer: This review appeared on Women24.com, a South African women's lifestyle website where I manage, amongst other things, an online books section.

Mistwood

A beautifully written fantasy novel featuring a bold, fearless heroine who inadvertently gets caught up in a battle fraught with intrigue and murderous intent.

Mistwood by Leah Cypess (Greenwillow)
It's been a good while since I've read a fantasy novel, so when I found myself browsing through my bookshelves not too long ago, the first book my eyes landed on was Leah Cypess' Mistwood.

With its pretty purple cover, which features a green-eyed girl and a castle shrouded in mist, this book just had read me written all over it.

And am I glad I picked it up, because, while not without its flaws, Mistwood proved to be an exquisitely written and complex novel consisting of an intriguing cast of characters, a unique plot and a magical setting filled with secrets it refuses to give up very easily.

Isabel is not human. 

She's an immortal shifter, bound by duty to protect every Royal King of Samorna. Living in the magical and mystical woods of Mistwood, she only leaves the forest when she's needed.

When Prince Rokan first stumbles across her, the young woman he brings to the Royal courts is wild, feral and mistrustful of everyone around her. Complicating matters further is that Isabel can’t remember anything about her past.

Knowing very little about her heritage, the power she possesses and even less about her history with previous members of the Royal court, Isabel is not entirely sure what she’s gotten herself into.

However, bound by a bracelet, she finds herself compelled to protect Prince Rokan, even though she suspects that he may be lying about the very reason he brought her to the Samorna court.

With only days to go before his coronation, Rokan not only needs her ability to sniff out danger, but also relies on her to remain in his service, showing complete loyalty to him and only him.

What he doesn’t realise is that the deadly secret he is harbouring, may not only prove to be his downfall, but will impact on isabel’s life in ways she couldn’t even begin to imagine.

If you’re a relatively new fan of fantasy fiction and are looking for a read with a plot that isn't as complicated as the Game of Throne series, but interestingly layered all the same, then Leah Cypess’ Mistwood is a good place to start.

While often categorised as a YA fantasy novel, the book’s plot, characters, structure and writing style is executed in such a way, that I think this is one of those novels that actually has major crossover appeal. 

Think of how universally appealing the Terry Pratchett books are to both adults and kids alike, and you’ll be able to get just what I mean when I say that Mistwood is a novel that falls under the same category.

Exquisitely written, Leah’s descriptions of Mistwood and life inside the Royal throne of Samorna are nothing short of magical.

From the ornately decorated castle to the colourful cast of characters - each with very distinctive (and not always good) traits - Cypess manages to pull the reader into a book world that is at once magical, treacherous and mythical.

Leah's writing has somewhat of a lyrical quality to it. Combined with the interesting character dynamics, her mystery-tinged fantasy style is a perfect fit for Mistwood, especially considering the fact that a plot to overthrow the crown prince forms one of the most dominant arcs within the story.

What's especially fascinating about this novel is that Leah turns the character stereotypes on their head, making sure that Isabel's bold and dominant character is felt throughout the novel. 

As a shifter, Isabel is ordinarily not ruled by human emotions. While she's excellent at sensing an impending physical attack, she often takes a little longer to decipher the real intent behind people's motives.

What she doesn't realise is that for all of her claims of being the shifter, being around the Prince and the people of the court, exposes her more human side, resulting in her slowly changing, adapting and showing a far more vulnerable side to her than she realises.

Her relationship with Prince Rokan is certainly an interesting one. For a prince, Rokan often tends to err on the side of caution and insecurity, often making decision based on his emotions than on level-headed and logical thinking.

Isabel acts as his protector and often steps in to rescue Rokan on more than one occasion.

For me, reading a book like this is such a nice change from the "knight in shinging armour rescuing the damsel in distress" type of reads that so often presents itself within the fantasy genre.

Leah created a protagonist who is not only more than capable of defending herself, but is willing to risk dying to protect what she is bound to protect. 

That there is the beginning of a romance between the two characters  slowly but surely surfaces, but this aspect is so subtle that it actually takes a backseat to the actual story. The additional cast of characters, including Clarisse, Rokan's sister, also add a dynamic that only serves to add depth to this intriguing novel.

In fact, Clarisse is a character that readers will find themselves not quite sure of. At times, you'll even find yourself suspecting her of double-crossing her brother, such is the fickleness of her nature.

The one criticism I have about Mistwood, is that the plot becomes a little muddled towards the end. While events between past and present seem to be related, it often comes across as being a little disjointed.

I think the best way to not let yourself be confused by everything that happens, is to actually read it in one sitting.

Still despite this issue, Mistwood with its plot twists and turns, devious sorcery and political treason at hand, proves to be a great fantasy read that will keep you engaged with both the plot and characters right unto the end.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Book talk; The Quirks of a Book Nerd

The thing I love most about books and reading, is that it has resulted in me developing a lot of eccentric and bookish habits.

I've been thinking about the fact that we read so much and focus so much on the lovely interior and world within the books, that we forget how we appear on the outside.

In fact, I can say with certainty that we often have no idea just how far their influence stretch to and beyond our daily lives and how it shapes our day-to-day routine.

And so, it's with this in mind I've come to realise the following about myself:

1. If I take a break, I have to stop when a new book chapter ends or starts. I hate bookmarking in between chapters because it makes me feel like I'm reading something incomplete.

2. If I buy a book series, they have to be in the same format and have the same covers. I recently bought The Hunger Games box set and gave away my original copy because it didn't match up with the rest.

3.
I am a complete and utter sucker for a pretty book cover and (will sometimes spend money ill-advisedly I might add!) to splurge on a book because the cover entranced me.

4. I get excited about a book, buy it, and once I do, end up not reading it immediately. It's as if I first need to satisfy the need to have the book on my book shelf, let it soak in a little, and then maybe a month or so later, finally pick the book up. There are of course, exceptions to this rule.

5. Perversely enough, when I'm in the mood for a book, I tend not to be in the mood for one of my own, unread books on my shelf, and end up buying another one.

Sometimes, I'll even read that one immediately and sometimes, I'll end up picking up a book from my shelf after adding the one that I just bought. (I know. I'm a walking contradiction).

6. I've only recently learned how to abandon books I don't like because there are simply too many books and too little time! Still working on the guilt issue though.

7. I know books are subjective and I know that I've written a column about how I don't need to love the book that you do, but secretly, it still annoys me when people don't recognise my favourite book for the awesomeness that it is (feel free to throw rocks at me if you want).

8. You are instantly my new best friend if you end up loving a book that I recommended to you. If you hated it, I don't want you to tell me (oh alright, you can tell me).

9. I am the ultimate book hoarder. I hate letting go of books. Also, how can I let go of books when I'm planning to build a library bigger than the one that the Beast gave Beauty? Tsk.

10.
If I lend you books, I'm secretly hoping you'll read the book in a day so that I can get it back immediately. I have book separation anxiety issues, ok? They're my babies.

11. If my book comes back to me in a bad condition, I make a mental note to never pass another book the offending person's way, and then ask them to buy me a new copy.

And finally...

12. If I love an e-book, I absolutely have to buy the physical book as well.

Right, now that I've confessed my oddball habits.

Actually, I have so much more to add, but think it would be more fun to hear about yours. 

Disclaimer: This originally appeared as a column on Women24, a South African women's lifestyle website where I manage, amongst other things, an online books section.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

The Mortal Instruments Movie trailer

Right.


I'm not going to do any talking. I'm just going to post the official trailer for The Mortal Instruments movie right here. Right now.


Can we say *squee*

*Dies of excitement*



P.S. You're welcome. * Cheeky Grin*

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Book review: Vixen

Disclaimer: This review can also be seen featured on  Women24.com, a South African women's lifestyle website where I manage, amongst other things, an online books section.
 
Vixen
The rip-roaring 1920s comes alive in a novel that focuses on three girls trying to make it into the high-flying world of Chicago's jazz-fuelled and Flapper society.

Vixen by Jillian Larkin (Corgi)
When I first picked up Jillian Larkin's Vixen, I must confess that I did so rather grudgingly.

While I do love my fair share of historical fiction, I find that I don't read the genre very often; something I really should change.

When I chose to read Vixen, it was with the intention of just filling up a reading void while on a break from my usual favourites.

My expectations of Vixen were very low to begin with, so you can imagine my surprise when I found that I had to swallow all my preconceived notions as I found myself not only being completely enthralled by the story, but also being thoroughly, thoroughly invested in the lives of the characters.

In short, Vixen is an absolute gem of a novel.

I had no idea that books set in the sexy and jazzy 1920s could actually make for such a titillating read. Having not really been a fan of Flapper period-based novels, Vixen is the book that now has me wanting to read more books set in this period.

Chicago 1920. 

It's a metropolis of unlawful activity.

From illegal speakeasies and alcohol consumption, to the Mobsters who rule the dark, smoky and sensual underbelly of the city, Vixen explores the era when the Prohibitions Act was alive and well, in all of its glittery, seductive and seedy opulence.

You'll fall in love with the glamour and the ra-ra-ness of it all.

Think about fabulous descriptions of the gorgeous fashion to the ostentatious parties thrown by the flashy nouveau riche, and you'll definitely have a sense of just what you can expect from this smoky and swoon-worthy historical read.

The story focuses on 3 different young girls: Gloria, Lorraine and Clara.

At the age of 17, everyone thinks that Gloria has it all. She comes from one of the most prestigious families in Chicago, is a gifted student and is engaged to Sebastian Grey, one of the city's ultimates in Blue Blood breeding.

Despite it all, our dear Glo longs for more than the life she's living. Stifled by the stiff and rigid rules she's forced to live by, Gloria yearns to be part of the flapper lifestyle. From the sleek and bobbed hairstyles to the sensuous jazz music that forms part of the nights at local speakeasies, Gloria wants to have fun.

Clara, Gloria’s cousin arrives in Chicago to make sure that the wedding of the year goes off without a hitch. Presenting herself as the picture-perfect good girl, Clara hopes to make a brand new start away from a past filled with nothing but heartache, secrets and pain.

Finally, there’s Lorraine, Gloria’s loud and outspoken best friend. Tired of living in her friend’s shadow and desperate to get the boy of her dreams to notice her, Lorraine will do anything to get her way.

Combine three girls who each have different ambitions and aspirations, add a cauldron of scheming, forbidden trysts and run-ins with mobsters and you’ve got yourself one dazzling and dishy read.

Switching between the three girls’ point of view, we as the readers, are given a chance to get to know each character very well. The dynamic and different personalities are rather striking in their differences, and is one of the biggest aspects that lend this novel its packing punch.

The underlying tensions, jealousy and catfights give you an idea that these girls won't let anyone stand in their way. Lorraine in particular, is nasty and spiteful. Yet, for all of their flaws, Lorraine's in particular, you can't help but root for each and every girl to find what she's looking for.

At the end of the day, underneath all the so-called superficial layers, these girls are incredibly soft, vulnerable and just want to follow their dreams. Sure they often tend to be misguided and do incredibly stupid things, but that's what forms part of their charm.

An added interesting aspect of the novel is the interracial romance between Gloria and one of the black jazz musicians she meets at a speakeasy.

The 1920s was a period where the drinking and distribution was not the only thing that was considered illegal, but where relationships between people coming from different ethnic backgrounds were more than frowned upon.

And Larkin handles the simmering and sensual tension between Gloria and Jerome with a subtle intensity that will have you cheering and hoping for a happy ending for the two.

Clara herself proves to be an especially interesting character. Watching her suppress her natural persona and putting on act will leave you wondering just what the secret is that she's so desperately trying to hide.

Added to the drama is the fact that Marcus, the boy Lorraine is trying so hard to catch, starts showing an interest in her.

Naturally you can only imagine the big hoo-ha that ensues.

There are so many fabulous things about this novel, that it's really hard to go into everything in any more details than I already have.

The one thing I can tell you is that when you read this, you should be prepared to be dazzled by the intoxicating settings, the beautiful writing and the devious twists.

Oh, and the best thing about this? It's part of a trilogy.

And with the way things ended in this novel, I can't wait to see how these girls fair in the next two books.

Read it.

It's fabulous and all that jazz.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Book review: Adorkable

Disclaimer: This review appeared on Women24.com, a South African women's lifestyle website where I manage, amongst other things, an online books section. It also appears on Penguin Books South Africa's blog.

Adorkable
Embrace your inner geek with this phenomenal and adorably adorkable read.

Adorkable by Sarra Manning (Atom)
When I first stumbled across Adorkable, my first thought was that there is absolutely no way a book with such a fabulous title could be anything but fabulous. 

Having seen so many rave reviews for it, I couldn’t help but actually resort to begging the fabulous publicist (thank you Candice) from Penguin Books to send me a copy for review.


Let me tell you this: Adorkable, is hands down, the best book I’ve read this year so far.

To give you some idea of the reasoning behind the conclusion of just why this book is so incredible, let me start off by quoting the Adorkable philosophy that the book kicks off with:

“The Ad♥rkable Manifesto

1. We have nothing to declare but our dorkiness.
2. Jumble sales are our shopping malls.
3. Better to make cookies than be a cookie-cutter.
4. Suffering doesn’t necessarily improve you but it does give you something to blog about.
5. Experiment with Photoshop, hair dye, nail polish and cupcake flavours but never drugs.
6. Don’t follow leaders, be one.
7. Necessity is the mother of customisation.
8. Puppies make everything better.
9. Quiet girls rarely make history.
10. Never shield your oddness, but wear your oddness like a shield.”


With a book that starts off like that, you can only be assured that you’ll be in for the reading journey of your life. 

As the back cover of the book says: “Welcome to the dorkside. It’s going to be a bumpy ride.”

In fact, I love this book so much, that I fear that my review won’t do the contents of this adorable, clever and thoroughly witty and engaging book the justice it deserves.

Written in the form of a dual narrative structure, Adorkable focuses on two teens who are complete polar opposites to one another, and have nothing in common except a pair of cheating exes (who, by the way, have since hooked up).

Jeane is your ultimate geek. Not only is she a jumble sale fanatic and blogging extraordinaire, she also has her own lifestyle brand (called Adorkable), more than half a million followers on Twitter and is an active promoter of feminism amongst her more apathetic peers.

What she doesn’t have, is friends.

Michael on the other hand, is everything that Jeane is not (nor wants to be).

He’s the ultimate golden boy of his school. He’s popular, wears the latest and most fashionable clothing (Mass market produced clothing as Jeane like to label it), is an all-round sports star and manages to maintain good grades while having an active social life.
 
In short, he has it all.

Now, from what I’ve described so far, I realise that this may sound like your average popular boy meets geeky girl , sees beyond her exterior and eventually falls in love with her story, but don’t be fooled.

Because it’s about the furthest thing from what it is.

You see, as clichéd as the concept may sound, it’s what Sarra Manning does with it that makes this novel so utterly, utterly fabulous.

Not only does she take a well-known and common concept and completely turn it on its head,  but she does so in a humorous, snarky and incredibly thoughtful way, that she not only gives depth to the book, but also to the very characters she’s created.

Jeane for all of her quirkiness, is actually not a very likeable person.

Sure, she wears the most eccentric of clothing and dyes her hair the most outrageous colours available (she loathes conformity, our Jeane), but she’s abrasive, rude, obnoxious and has a superior “geeks against the rest of the (dumb) population” complex going on.

She doesn’t mince words, constantly argues and picks fight with her teachers and has a no-tolerance policy against people whom she considers three numbers short of being classified as a bone fide moron with no brains.

Here’s the kicker though.

Jeanne may be an infuriating character, but Sarra manages to not only make you care about her, but also to downright love and root for her despite her blatant obnoxiousness.

You can’t help but love her, because not only can you sense that underneath all the tough-as-nails, I-don’t-need-anybody-on-my-side attitude, there’s a desperate feeling of loneliness that constantly lurks underneath the surface.

She may be an emancipated teen making a ton of money because of her lifestyle brand, but she doesn’t have much of a relationship with her parents and her sister is on the opposite side of the pond.

Adorkable and her dare-to-be-a-rebel-against-the-confirmist-society attitude is all that she has, and makes up the entire philosophy behind her company. In reality, she craves for that special human connection that’s so desperately missing from her life.

See? You can’t hate someone who hides behind a defensive exterior in order to shield herself (and her fabulous self – because she is an awesome character) from the world.

When she starts spending time (read: making out sessions galore) with the gorgeous Michael (who, may I had, is one of my favourite book boys), she soon begins to learn that there’s more to Michael than just a pretty face. And that she may be missing out on something she’s always disparaged.

For his part, Michael is one of the most genuinely likeable male characters I’ve come across. For all of his status as the It-boy of his high school, he’s friendliness and willingness to go out of his way to help Jeanne (despite her initial putdowns), speaks of a boy with heart, empathy and incredible insight.

He’s the sweet to Jeane’s sour and balances her out perfectly.  The chemistry and the attraction between the two of them is palpable and watching their relationship unfold is such an absolute treat. I have to add at this point, that Manning also doesn’t shy away from sex in this book.

I often find that many authors, especially within this genre, tend to tiptoe around it (to be fair, with all the wails and battlecries calling for ridiculous censorship of books, one can hardly blame them), but Sarra manages to not only make it sweetly awkward and real, but also very, very sexy too.

Apart from the relationship between the two and witnessing how Jeanne comes full circle from a dark place in her life, Adorkable is not just a book about two polar opposites coming together.

Instead Adorkable is a book for the disenfranchised.

It’s for those who feel like they don’t belong, and for those who are trying to find their identity in a society filled with pressure to conform to the expectations that has unwittingly been set out for us. It’s a book that wholly embraces feminism and a novel that celebrates you for being you.


In the end, no matter what you where, what flaws you have, and how you learn from mistakes, it’s a book that celebrates every single person who has ever felt the desperate need to belong.

Read it please. The space on this page is just not enough to tell you how wonderful this book is (and there is so much more I want to say about it).

Friday, October 26, 2012

Cover reveal: Sweet Peril by Wendy Higgins

Hi everyone

Today I’m very excited to be part of the cover reveal for Sweet Peril by Wendy Higgins.

Having read Sweet Evil, the first book in The Sweet Trilogy (which I adored by the way), I just had to jump at the chance to be part of the unveiling of the fabulous (and fabulous it is) jacket cover for the next book in the trilogy.

Luckily for me, Wendy was more than happy to accommodate me. Yay.

So, without further ado (and enough babbling from my side), I present to you, the exquisitely beautiful Sweet Peril cover.


Go ahead and swoon. That’s what I did when I first laid my eyes on it.

About Sweet Peril
Publication Date:  April 30, 2013 from HarperTeen
Anna Whitt, daughter of a guardian angel and a demon, promised herself she’d never do the work of her father—polluting souls. She’d been naive to make such a claim.

She’d been naive about a lot of things. Haunted by demon whisperers, Anna does whatever she can to survive, even if it means embracing her dark side and earning an unwanted reputation as her school’s party girl.

Her life has never looked more bleak. And all the while there’s Kaidan Rowe, son of the Duke of Lust, plaguing her heart and mind.

When an unexpected lost message from the angels surfaces, Anna finds herself traveling the globe with Kopano, son of Wrath, in an attempt to gain support of fellow Nephilim and give them hope for the first time.

It soon becomes clear that whatever freedoms Anna and the rest of the Neph are hoping to win will not be gained without a fight. Until then, Anna and Kaidan must put aside the issues between them, overcome the steamiest of temptations yet, and face the ultimate question: is loving someone worth risking their life?

You can add Sweet Evil and Sweet Peril to your TBR lists on Goodreads if you haven’t done so already.

More about Wendy:
Wendy Higgins was born in Alaska, grew up an Army brat, and lived all over the United States before settling in the Washington, DC area.

She attended George Mason University for her undergrad degree in creative writing, and Radford University for her masters in curriculum and instruction.

Wendy taught 9th and 12th grade English in a rural school before becoming a mother and author.

She now lives in Northern Virginia with her husband, daughter, and son. Sweet Peril is her second novel.

Where you can find Wendy:
Her website
Twitter
Character Kaidan Rowe on Twitter
Preorder on Amazon
Preorder on Barnes & Noble
Preorder on The Book Depository
Wendy's Facebook profile
Sweet Evil's Facebook

A huge Thank you to Wendy for allowing me to be part of the cover reveal. Now for the actual book to come out....

Friday, October 19, 2012

Shadows (by Ilsa J. Bick) blog tour: Excerpt

Hi everyone

As part of Ilsa J. Bick’s Shadows blog tour, I’m very excited about featuring an excerpt and a giveaway on my blog today. I absolutely loved Ashes, the first book in the trilogy, and considering the epic cliffhanger that Ashes ended with, I can’t wait to read Shadows.

For those of you who can’t remember what happened in the first book, Ilsa has a fantastic post up on her blog which chronicles a recap of the most important events, along with a reminder of who the different characters are.

So, before you read the excerpt below, make sure you head on over to her blog for her refresher course on Ashes.

About Shadows:

The Apocalypse does not end. The Changed will grow in numbers. The Spared may not survive.

Even before the EMPs brought down the world, Alex was on the run from the demons of her past and the monster living in her head. After the world was gone, she believed Rule could be a sanctuary for her and those she’d come to love.

But she was wrong.

Now Alex is in the fight of her life against the adults, who would use her, the survivors, who don’t trust her, and the Changed, who would eat her alive.

Welcome to Shadows, the second book in the haunting apocalyptic Ashes Trilogy: where no one is safe and humans may be the worst of the monsters.


Read on for an exclusive excerpt below:


Six more ninja-kids trudged from the woods. They were working hard, their breaths coming in white chuffs. Each pulled a long, scalloped, fire-engine-colored plastic sled.

“Oh Lord.” Ruby’s hand fluttered to her mouth. “They’ve got children.”

Twelve in all. Very dead. Girls and boys. Two to a sled, and carelessly sprawled across one another in a tangle of limp arms and legs and dragging hair like corpses from a concentration camp.

She picked out a few head shots. No mistaking that drippy third eye or the misshapen skulls. But most had their throats cut and wore wide bibs of iced blood. Some—most—had died with their eyes wide open, and their mouths, too, frozen in a final, silent scream.

The lingering odor of the dead children’s fear and terror lodged in her throat, but she also smelled a whisper of gun oil, powder. Solvent—and a drift of ashes scraped from a blackened hearth.

Then, she knew: these weren’t only children.

They had been soldiers.

Two more ninja-kids huffed into view. They, too, were dragging something along, working up a real sweat like cattlemen wrestling a bucking bull that just wouldn’t quit.
Which wasn’t far from the truth.

He was tall like Chris and Wolf but had Tom’s muscle. His hair, very blond, was tied back with a twist of leather in a short ponytail.

She pegged him as pretty close to Chris’s age, give or take a year. His parka was torn wide open, and a huge blood-spider was splayed over his shirt, low and on the left. More blood smeared his face and the hollow of his throat. His hands, naked to the cold, were crimson.

“B-bastards.” The boy was fighting, gasping, his breath coming  in hitching, pained sobs.

“Should’ve killed you when I had the chan—”

He let out a high shriek as Acne slammed a fist into the kid’s gut. The boy’s knees jackknifed as the two ninjas let go. Retching, the kid dropped to the snow, trying to brace his injured side with one bloody hand.

“P-please, let him go.” The boy’s face was etched deep with despair and pain. “Please. You can have me, but let—”

“Daniel?” The word was shrill, a spear of sound hurtling from the dark woods. “Dannnniellllll?”

“Oh shit,” Sharon said.

No. A sudden film of tears burned her eyes and splintered the firelight and all those bodies into a smeary rainbow. Please, not another one; not this, too.

The cry came again but was inarticulate this time and not a word but a line of pure sound as thin and bright as a laser. A moment later, one last ninja pushed into the light.

He was hauling something, staggering a little with the effort but grinning fiercely the way a fisherman did when he’d just landed the catch of a lifetime.

“Oh, sweet Jesus,” Ray said.

When the shot came, Tom was pawing through the tool chest, a small penlight clamped between his teeth to free his hands. At the sound, Tom jumped, his teeth clicking metal. The dog yipped then growled.

What the hell? What is Jed shooting at?

Then he caught the slight separation, the overlapping echoes, and his brain, so conditioned to gunfire, instantly understood: two shots, with only a half-second’s separation, if that. And close.

Jed! The Phillips clattered to the concrete. He killed the penlight, slung off his pack, and unhooked his rifle. Shucking a round into the chamber on the run, he was nearly out the door when he caught himself. Easy. Whatever’s happened has already gone down.

Run into an ambush and you won’t be able to help anyone.

Two shots, three possibilities: two shooters, both firing at Jed at virtually the same moment. Or Jed got a shot off first and the other guy spotted him at the last second. Or Jed squeezed off a round as a warning and then the other guy—

No. Can’t think that, not yet.

“Raleigh, down,” he hissed. The dog obeyed, instantly. Dropping to a crouch, he listened.

Nothing. No shots. No shouting. No Jed.

A hard knuckle of dread dug at his chest. He had to get out of the boathouse. The big slider opened west and onto the lake; the one door was hinged on the right, but that was only good if there was no one already on the trail. The slider, then. Take the ice all the way back to—

Another sound: high, thin. The dog let go of a whimper. Tom’s ears tingled. What was that? A shout? No, a scream and—A distant crack.

A third shot. Further away, to the north. The cabin.

Grace? What air he’d held in his lungs came in a sudden, hard  exhalation close to a sob. He rested his forehead on his rifle. The metal was cold enough to burn. My fault, I shouldn’t have waited.
“Kid!”

The shout was so close, Tom nearly vaulted out of his skin. By his side, the dog sprang to its feet and let out a low, menacing ruff. “Kid, we don’t want to hurt you! Just come on out!”

We. So, two men? Three? Or the guy could be bluffing. But he knew now, beyond a shadow of a doubt: Jed was dead, too.

You bastards, I’ll kill you. His lungs were lead. I’ll kill you, I’ll—
“Kid, we can do this hard, or we can do this easy. We don’t want to hurt you, but if you take a shot, we will shoot back. So open the door, then come out slow, hands up.”

Maybe fifty yards away, Tom thought, and from his perspective, a little to the right, which made sense because the woods were there. That decided it.

“What do you want?” He didn’t really care, but he needed to buy just a little more time.
“Just need you to come with us.”

In the next instant, the darkness erupted in yellow light that fired the sliding window above Tom’s head. The light played over the boathouse right and then left and then right again.

They did him a favor because now he saw the machines very well: the wind sled on the right and a little ahead of the snowmobile. Jed’s Road King was tucked further back, across from the cot and propane heater.

The dog whimpered again.

An instant later, he caught the smell, too: a faint char of wood smoke. He knew a fair amount about smoke and fire, and his nose had no trouble teasing apart the odors.

Saturate wood with gas or another accelerant and the smell was very different. Burning cloth and synthetics had a chemical reek. The cabin was going up.

The bastards were smart, trying to get on top of him. They knew he’d have nowhere to go. The boathouse would be next, too. Burn him out.
“Smell that, kid?” The voice was much closer now. “Come on, you’re just making this harder on yourself.”
Scooping up his pack, he moved fast, dumping his gear in the wind sled’s rear seat, sliding the rifle into the footwell, thinking through what he had to do—the exact sequence.

It really came down to how fast they figured it out. And if they could find a way to follow him. He glanced at the snowmobile.

In the grainy light, the hole left when he’d pulled the  ignition assembly was an eyeless socket. But the loop of cord still dangled. So they just might.The snowmobile’s faster. It’s got a light. One can shoot while the other drives.

No choice.
“Come on, kid!” The lights bobbed as the hunters closed in.

The interior of the boathouse was graying now.

“Raleigh, come,” he hissed, patting the rear seat. As the dog scampered into the wind sled, Tom darted to the slider. “Good boy. Stay.” He hooked his right hand through the cast-iron latch, set his feet, braced himself on his stronger left leg. Pulled in a deep  breath. Once done, he was committed.

Do it.

He yanked, almost too hard. The slider rolled easily, thanks to all Jed’s WD-40, the metal wheels whispering over the rails like a  bowling ball over polished wood.

A gust of very cold air ballooned  into the boathouse, pulling with it the stink of burning wood and melting plastics. Then he was pivoting, leaping back toward the sled. Outside, the light suddenly shifted as the hunters caught on.

Five seconds, maybe ten. Vaulting into the Spitfire’s front seat, he jabbed at the ignition, pumping the accelerator to drive fuel into  the engine. There was a millisecond’s delay, and then the engine  ground, coughed, spluttered— And did not catch.

Come on, come on, come on! From outside, there came a shout.

The lights bobbed; he heard the thrash of brambles and icy wood.  They were coming, fast. Gritting his teeth, he forced himself to give the engine two precious seconds he did not have and then  tried again.

If it floods, I’m dead. Sweat trickled down his neck. They’ll be  around the corner, and if I’m still sitting here— The engine came to life in a spluttering crescendo roar.

And he began to move.

The little boy was dark-haired and bright-eyed with terror, but Alex  saw the resemblance immediately. There was a splash of crimson  on the boy’s face and more blood on his hands, too, but nowhere  else that she could see. So maybe the blood was his brother’s.

“Daniel!” the little boy cried. “Daniel, are you okay?”

“It’s all right, Jack.” Daniel struggled to his knees. “Stay calm, okay?”

“But what are they going to do to us?” Jack’s voice was tight, and  his lips were drawn back in a bright, hard rictus. He was very young,  no older than Ellie. Huge tears were rolling down his cheeks, where  they mixed with gore, so that it seemed like he was weeping blood.

“Are they going to eat us?”

“No.” Daniel heaved to his feet, pushing up on his thighs. It was  costing him, too; his arms trembled and Alex saw how his breath  grabbed and hitched. “You’re going to be fine. It’s all right.”

It was not all right. Acne was helping Beretta to his feet. Spider  and Leopard and the others were gathering around Daniel and Jack  the same way Wolf and his crew had watched as she and Spider fought.

Of course, Spider had that corn knife, too. Already thick  and feverish and frenzied, the air suddenly bunched and roiled.

“Oh God,” she said.

To her left, Sharon darted a look. “What?”

Alex didn’t reply. She couldn’t. But she had enough experience  with the Changed and knew when she smelled it. Daniel and Jack didn’t have much time.

And neither did they.

Giveaway:

This giveaway is now closed. Congratulations to Angeline, who has won herself a copy of Shadows.