October 31, 2014

Month9Books Birthday Bash! Halloween Stop

Hey all! Today I’m hosting this awesome post to celebrate Month9Books’ Birthday Bash! Make sure you follow this haunting schedule! The full schedule is below and make sure to stick around for the EPIC Giveaway taking place!

Here’s a quick note from Georgia McBride, owner of Month9Books!

“Month9Books is turning 2 this year and I could not be happier. We are living proof that if you have a dream to write, create and inspire, you should follow that dream and let nothing keep you from realizing it. Thank you to all the readers, writers, agents, partners and friends who have made this possible. We write for you.
--Georgia McBride, Publisher and Owner of Month9Books”

Here’s a slide show of some of Month9Books 2015 releases!

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The Wraiths – The Ghosts Haunting CROWN OF ICE

It might seem that CROWN OF ICE—my dark YA retelling of Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Snow Queen”—is a story more suited for winter and the Christmas holiday season than Halloween. But ghosts are actually a major aspect of CROWN OF ICE. The wraiths, who are the mindless, bodiless spirits of former Snow Queens, haunt the icy corridors of the current Snow Queen’s palace.

My protagonist, Thyra Winther, has lived with the wraiths for years, ever since the wizard Mael Voss brought her to the ice palace and transformed her into the Snow Queen. She’s seventeen, and knows if she can’t complete the reconstruction of a shattered enchanted mirror by her eighteenth birthday, she’ll end up just like the wraiths. This is truly a fate worse than death for Thyra, who values her brilliant mind above all things.

At the beginning of CROWN OF ICE, Thyra describes the wraiths and their fate:

At night the palace’s crystal halls are tinged sapphire. One of the first bits of magic that Voss taught me was to set the carved walls alight so that I’m not forced to walk the halls in darkness. I conjure a cold light that glows within the thick walls without melting the ice. I mastered this trick quickly once I knew what those shadows held. If I leave an area in darkness, they come—the girls who reigned as Snow Queen before me.

“I must find it.” Their hollow words wind about me like a shroud. “The last piece. I must place it. Give it to me.”

They are only shadows—swirling mists that occasionally coalesce to create phantoms of their former selves. So many girls, from so many eras. Some from the far past, their ghostly bodies attired in ancient robes and strange, peaked headdresses, and some dressed in the garb of more recent years. I know there is nothing left of their real natures—a curse has destroyed their minds. All thought is lost to them, except for the memory of their final terror. Of every shape and size and time, they share only one trait—the absolute agony that burns within their hollow eyes. They suffer a fate that makes ordinary death look like a blessing—the loss of so much more than a body. It is the sacrifice of the soul and the destruction of mind and will.

I would free them if I could. Allow them the respite of a true death. Send them to their rest. But it does not matter what I might desire to give them, I cannot alter their plight. They thrust their hands at me, but their fingers can neither hold nor grasp. They are not dead, they cannot die. Mael Voss made them immortal when he made them queen.
(From: CROWN OF ICE by Vicki L. Weavil).

Many of Thyra’s actions are driven by her burning desire to escape this terrible fate. She is haunted by the consequences of failure, which she can see and experience only too well:

I often encounter them in the shadows, their translucent faces frozen into masks of grief, their eyes devoid of memory, of sense. I stride past them. Or through them, if necessary. A disgusting sensation, like walking through a spider’s web—light as milkweed floss but clinging to my skin. Still, I’d rather endure such unpleasantness than stay in their company, haunted by a constant reminder of my fate.

“The final piece,” they whine. “I have it. I hold it. I will place it correctly. I will remain queen.”

They cannot truly speak with me—their words are those burned upon their tongues when their lives were ripped into shreds of mist. Only when they warn of my future, channeling the power of the mirror’s curse, do they speak anything other than their foolish, repeated phrases.

“You’ll do nothing.” I snap at them. “You are smoke and air and unending stupidity.”

It does no good for me to show any kindness. They comprehend nothing. Their gaze is turned inward, focused on their own memories of horror.

I stalk away to the safety of my bedchamber, where a cold flame fills the icy fireplace and the skins of slaughtered beasts cover the walls and floor.

They all failed, all those who came before me. But I will conquer Voss’s task. I am no ordinary girl—nothing like the wraiths, although they were once a bit like me. I am brighter than the borealis, sharper than an ice crystal, stronger than the northern winds. I will reassemble the mirror and reign as Snow Queen forever.
(from: CROWN OF ICE by Vicki L. Weavil)

The wraiths are a constant horror woven throughout the story, haunting Thyra with the threat of future terror. These ghosts are a major force in the book, so reading CROWN OF ICE for Halloween is perfectly appropriate!

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About the Book

Thyra Winther's seventeen, the Snow Queen, and immortal, but if she can't reassemble a shattered enchanted mirror by her eighteenth birthday she's doomed to spend eternity as a wraith. Armed with magic granted by a ruthless wizard, Thyra schemes to survive with her mind and body intact. Unencumbered by kindness, she kidnaps local boy Kai Thorsen, whose mathematical skills rival her own. Two logical minds, Thyra calculates, are better than one. With time rapidly melting away she needs all the help she can steal. A cruel lie ensnares Kai in her plan, but three missing mirror shards and Kai's childhood friend, Gerda, present more formidable obstacles. Thyra's willing to do anything – venture into uncharted lands, outwit sorcerers, or battle enchanted beasts -- to reconstruct the mirror, yet her most dangerous adversary lies within her breast. Touched by the warmth of a wolf pup's devotion and the fire of a young man's desire, the thawing of Thyra's frozen heart could be her ultimate undoing.

CROWN OF ICE is a YA Fantasy that reinvents Hans Christian Andersen's "The Snow Queen" from the perspective of a young woman who discovers that the greatest threat to her survival may be her own humanity.

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About the Author

Raised in the shadow of the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, Vicki L. Weavil turned her early obsession with reading into a career as a librarian. After receiving a B.A. in Theatre from the University of Virginia, where she was inducted into the Phi Beta Kappa honor society, she received a Master’s Degree in Library Science from Indiana University. Her library career took her to New York City, where she worked for the New York Public Library at Lincoln Center and the Museum of Television and Radio (now the Paley Center for Media). An opportunity to truly integrate her background in theatre, art, and music with her library degree then drew her to North Carolina, where she is the Director of Library Services for the University of North Carolina School of the Arts. Her love of learning led her to earn a second masters, a M.A. in Liberal Studies, from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.

An avid reader who appreciates good writing in all genres, Vicki has been known to read seven books in as many days. When not writing or reading, she likes to spend time watching films, gardening, or traveling. Vicki lives in North Carolina with her husband, son, and three very spoiled cats. Vicki’s debut novel, CROWN OF ICE – a Young Adult retelling of Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Snow Queen” – will be published by Month9Books in December 2014. She is represented by Jennifer Mishler at Literary Counsel.

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This is a tour hosted giveaway!
(1) New Kindle with touchscreen (US only) loaded with all our Month9Books titles. US Only.
(1) Paperback prize pack of 5 Month9Books Titles. US ONLY.
(2) eBook Prize Packs of 5 Month9Books titles. International

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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☆ The Tour ☆

Read for your Future: Jessica Arnold
Pretty Little Pages: Vanessa Barger
In Vogue with Books: Lisa M. Basso
A Book and A Latte: Sarah Bromley
Jump Into Books: Steve Bryant
A Backwards Story: Brynn Chapman
Two Chicks on Books: Nicole Conway
Books and Ashes: Scott Craven
The A P Book Club: Ty Drago
Her Book Thoughts!: Dorothy Dreyer
Oops! I Read A Book Again: Dorothy Dreyer
Book Briefs: Jennifer M. Eaton
Book Lovers Life: Kit Forbes
All Things Urban Fantasy: Janice Gable Bashman
Aspiring Joy: Amanda Gray
Book Geek Review: Kelly Hashway/Ashelyn Drake
Tales of a Ravenous Reader: Elizabeth Holloway
Once Upon A Twilight: Missy Kalicicki and Abi Ketner
ReadWriteLove28: Nicola Marsh
YA Sisterhood: Georgia McBride
A Dream Within A Dream: Jen McConnel
Dark Faerie Tales: Jackie Morse Kessler
The Unofficial Addiction Book Fan Club: Beck Nicholas
Doodle's Book Reviews: Michelle E. Reed
Bookish Things & More: Heather Reid
Fiction State of Mind: A. Lynden Rolland
Chicklit vs Fantasy: Kristal Shaff
Classy Cat Books: Pab Sungenis
Jessabella Reads: Rachel Tafoya
Magical Urban Fantasy Reads: Vicki L. Weavil

October 30, 2014

Tour Stop! Mortal Heart by Robin LaFevers + Giveaway!

About the Author

Robin LaFevers was raised on a steady diet of fairy tales, Bulfinch’s mythology, and 19th century poetry. It is not surprising she grew up to be a hopeless romantic.

Though she has never trained as an assassin or joined a convent, she did attend Catholic school for three years, which instilled in her a deep fascination with sacred rituals and the concept of the Divine. She has been on a search for answers to life’s mysteries ever since.

While many of those answers still elude her, she was lucky enough to find her one true love, and is living happily ever after with him in the foothills of southern California.

In addition to writing about teen assassin nuns in medieval Brittany, she writes books for middle grade readers, including the Theodosia books and the Nathaniel Fludd, Beastologist series. You can learn more about those books at www.rllafevers.com.

☆ How to find Robin ☆

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Annith has watched her gifted sisters at the convent come and go, carrying out their dark dealings in the name of St. Mortain, patiently awaiting her own turn to serve Death. But her worst fears are realized when she discovers she is being groomed by the abbess as a Seeress, to be forever sequestered in the rock and stone womb of the convent. Feeling sorely betrayed, Annith decides to strike out on her own.

She has spent her whole life training to be an assassin. Just because the convent has changed its mind doesn't mean she has...

My take: This book was so flipping good that I ate it alive! In Mortal Heart, Robin LaFevers reminds us how remarkably brilliant she is at crafting riveting historical novels, and she ended this trilogy phenomenally; but I’m super sad that it’s all over. I sure hope Robin will write a spin-off.

I loved how, with each book in this series, we follow a different character in the His Fair Assassin trilogy, and I appreciated how different, yet connected, each book was in this series. In the first book, we have a girl that has lived a life of pure hatred toward men where finding a purpose in life allows her to have an outlet for her hatred . . . and love. In book two, we have a girl that is severely mentally disturbed who has tried everything to escape the hauntings of her past but the past eventually catches up to her and blows up . . . and it’s horrifying. And in this last book, we have a girl that helped train girls to be Death’s assassin, she watches each assassin get their assignment but she never does and all she wants to do is serve her god. This last book is about discovering who this girl, Annith, really is and discovering her purpose in life.

There are a few truly insane twists throughout this book. While reading it, I felt like I was continuously engaged in a guessing game to help figure out where Annith’s story was going to go. Annith was an insanely good eaves-dropper and investigator throughout this series. She always wanted to know the “why” of every situation and circumstance. But there were times Annith would hardly give the evidence in front of her face the smallest bit of notice, where even I could see it plainly, and I wanted to yell at her through the pages to open her dang eyes! The storyline in Mortal Heart was well laid out, but it really was the unexpected plot twists that made this story phenomenal.

There were many things in this trilogy that were dramatically changed by how this story ended, and there were also new, exciting elements that were introduced in this book. The story ended beautifully, but because of the new elements that were introduced in this book, I’m hoping that a spin-off will be revealed soon.

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This is a tour hosted giveaway!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

☆ The Tour ☆

Week One:
10/27/2014- Two Chicks on Books- Guest Post
10/28/2014- Katie's Book Blog- Review
10/29/2014- Once Upon a Twilight- Interview
10/30/2014- Magical Urban Fantasy Reads- Review
10/31/2014- Reading YA Rocks- Guest Post

Week Two:
11/3/2014- Mundie Moms- Review
11/4/2014- Tales of the Ravenous Reader- Interview
11/5/2014- The Starry-Eyed Revue- Review
11/6/2014- Step Into Fiction- Interview
11/7/2014- Parajunkee- Guest Post

October 18, 2014

I'm so annoyed! Kathleen Hale reminds me bloggers aren't safe!

The negative things I say here do not apply to all authors because 99% of the authors I've been in contact with are absolutely amazing.

As a book blogger, you come to realize that your book reviews are taken extremely personally by most authors. You also come to realize that there are a lot of authors that obsess over their first few bad blogger reviews. So, when I first "started" reading 'Am I being catfished?' An author confronts her number one online critic, I felt really bad for Kathleen Hale because I know that a lot of authors experience a lot of the same things she was feeling. When she talked about being tempted to make comments to this blogger that she talks about, in my mind I was coaching Kathleen and telling her "No!!! Don't do it!" Or when she went searching for bad reviews on Goodreads or searched her name on Twitter, I kept thinking "Oh no this can't be good!"

Bloggers know that authors do online searches to see what people are saying about them. Knowing this puts pressure on some bloggers because, if you've been blogging a while, you start to feel that you don't want any author to be obsessing about your reviews; especially, because there are some authors that lash out at bloggers, and there are even some authors that tell bloggers to remove their reviews!! (What? We can't have an opinion?!) A lot of bloggers learn to not care what authors think about their reviews/opinions if they’re negative. Other bloggers create pseudonyms so they can freely speak their opinions. I, myself, have had authors who were offended just because I didn't accept their review request, and I know this because the author would then make negative comments on one of my other reviews. This all seems very odd to me because bloggers aren't doing this for money, but at the same time I'm aware that their work is something they cherish. I'm not trying to tell you that you look fat in the outfit you are wearing, I'm just expressing my opinion about a book I wasted precious time reading (that's if I'm talking negatively, which doesn't happen very often). We are just reading books and speaking our mind about it. That's it!

I have a friend that was physically attacked (at her child's school!) because she tweeted her opinion about a book. The author didn’t like her opinion and proceeded to stalk her through Foursquare, finally tracking her down at her child’s school. Yep, stories like this make bloggers feel the need to create pseudonyms to protect themselves.

I've come to the point where, if I'm not liking a book, I simply stop reading it and set it aside so I don't feel the need to write a bad review. I also set aside books I don’t like because I'm already extremely busy with other things in my life, and I don't want to waste my valuable time on a sucky book. But I know of a lot of bloggers (and others) that feel the need to finish every book they've started. And, when you've put so many hours into a book that you didn't like, it's easy to have a lot of negative things to say, especially for that sucky book that took away all those precious hours of your life. I could gripe all day long about how much I hated the movie Drive, but that was only 1 hour and 40 minutes out of my life…unlike a lot of sucky books that take ten or more hours to read!

Now, when I feel the need to say something negative about a book or author, I just text my local blogging friends to vent about it because I don't want the author doing a search on Twitter to find it.

But Kathleen Hale took this searching/stalking thing to a whole other level by getting this blogger’s address, stalking her house on Google Maps, paying money for an internet background check, calling her at work and, finally, renting a car to show up at her front door step unannounced. I'm absolutely appalled! The only thing that had me questioning the blogger was her use of a supposed friend's picture. But since I don't know this blogger in question, I don't know if that information is true to begin with. I sure am not going to take the word of the person proudly stalking a blogger.

Now, Kathleen, if this was someone trying to have a relationship with you (online dating) then I can understand the horror of this hidden identity. But no! She's just a blogger who wants an online presence while keeping her identity a secret! Who cares if she's talking crap about your book!

On multiple occasions I’ve thought about how I wish I would have thought about keeping my identity secret from my blogging presence. Unfortunately, I realized this way too late, and now I'm kicking myself even harder for being so naive.

I just want to finish by saying, "Thank you Kathleen for reminding me that I'm not safe speaking my honest opinion in the book blogging world!"

October 7, 2014

Tour Stop! Snow Like Ashes by Sara Raasch + Giveaway!

Sara Raasch has known she was destined for bookish things since the age of five, when her friends had a lemonade stand and she tagged along to sell her hand-drawn picture books too. Not much has changed since then — her friends still cock concerned eyebrows when she attempts to draw things and her enthusiasm for the written word still drives her to extreme measures. Her debut YA fantasy, SNOW LIKE ASHES, the first in a trilogy, comes out October 14, 2014 from Balzer + Bray. It does not feature her hand-drawn pictures.

☆ How to find Sara ☆

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Publisher’s summary: Game of Thrones meets Graceling in this striking fantasy tale of dark magic, dangerous politics, and discovering your true self. Sara Raasch’s debut fantasy is a lightning-fast story of loyalty, love, and controlling one’s destiny.

Sixteen years ago the Kingdom of Winter was conquered and its citizens enslaved, leaving them without magic or a monarch. The Winterians’ only hope for freedom is the eight survivors who managed to escape, and who have been searching for the opportunity to steal back Winter’s magic and rebuild their kingdom ever since.

Orphaned as an infant during Winter’s defeat, Meira has lived her whole life as a refugee. Training to be a warrior—and desperately in love with her best friend, Winter’s future king—she would do anything to help Winter rise to power again. So when scouts discover the location of half of the ancient locket that can restore their magic, Meira decides to go after it herself—only to find herself thrust into a world of evil magic and dangerous politics, and to realize that her destiny is not, never has been, her own.

My take: I absolutely loved Snow Like Ashes! This book has it all . . . chaos, betrayal, heartache, torment, despair and bloodshed . . . all the while still including moments of friendship, loyalty, sacrifice and love. I’m absolutely blown away with everything that happened and I’m more than a little excited to read anything else written by Sara Raasch; more importantly, I’m dying for the next book in the Snow Like Ashes series.

My all-time favorite aspect of this book is the character build. We immediately start to learn the unique personalities of these characters, and Meira is the perfect heroine for this series. As each character is introduced, you almost immediately have feelings of admiration for the character or utter hate. There is nothing better than a story where you can actual have as much hate toward a villain as do the characters in the book. Or when there is a betrayal, you feel as though that knife was plunged into your back right along with the character. I have to say to Sara, “Now that’s talent!” Normally I’d pick several characters to talk about at this point along with the specifics of my love, my hate or my anger towards them, but I’m scared I might spoil something by expressing my feelings about any one character. Well . . . I will give you a shout-out about two characters. First, I have a huge crush on Theron and, second, Nessa is just so dang cute. Both characters you will not meet right away. Is that good enough?

The world Sara created in this book is truly phenomenal, even though I have to admit that I’m a little confused over the differences between the Seasons and the Rhythms and all that. But I absolutely loved the politics! Oh! My! Gosh! There is so much betrayal, backstabbing and desperation when it comes to the politics that it’s just plain crazy! And then when someone actually does recognize the need to be self-sacrificing, it even turns out worse when it doesn’t even work out the way they wanted it to. Or, worse, when it doesn’t work out at all! INSANE I tell ya!!!

I love how, in only one book, there are so many changes in scenery as we get to see the characters’ lives from multiple angles. And, oh my! I’m sitting here thinking that Snow Like Ashes was going to be like most books where we have a storyline that might lead to a crazy insane ending…but no! Sara wants to give us the entire craziness right smack in the middle! Because, even though there are some crazy action scenes throughout the book, something really big happens right smack in the middle, and it completely changes things! Or does it? I’m going to stop now . . . or I might end up taking away some of the awesomeness of this book by telling you about things that happen. All I’ll say is that, at that point smack in the middle of the story, the scenery completely changes again…to very dark. But Sara doesn’t leave it there . . . and there are still tons of moments of heart pounding intensity, with an ending that leaves me craving for more.

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This is a tour hosted giveaway!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

☆ The Tour ☆

Week One:
10/6/2014- Bookish- Interview
10/7/2014- Magical Urban Fantasy Reads- Review
10/8/2014- Bewitched Bookworms- Guest Post
10/9/2014- Fictitious Delicious- Review
10/10/2014- Adventures of a Book Junkie- Interview

Week Two:
10/13/2014- Fiction Freak- Review
10/14/2014- Dark Faerie Tales- Interview
10/15/2014- Fiktshun- Guest Post
10/16/2014- IceyBooks- Review
10/17/2014- Two Chicks on Books- Guest Post

Dear followers, fans and peeps! Some of the books I review on Magical Urban Fantasy Reads are provided to me for free by either the publisher or author in exchange for my honest review. Please know that I am in NO WAY compensated for my reviews. All opinions are mine and I am not required to give a positive review in exchange for a free book! But some of the purchase links on my blog are monetized through places like Amazon, Book Depository or Barnes & Noble.