Friday, January 29, 2016

Friday Flourish: The Smoke River Series

Happy Friday Everyone!

One of my favorite challenges when it comes to cover design is creating a consistent look for a series, making sure each book stands on its own merits while still fitting as a piece of a larger whole.

The first book is always easiest for obvious reasons, and each subsequent book typically proves more challenging than the one before it, particularly when it comes to designs featuring people. Stock photography, while initially appearing plentiful when thousands of results show up for a single search term, can be hugely limiting in terms of availability and quality, so I usually try and steer clear of using models in my designs when I know I'm going to be creating covers for multiple books.

I was lucky with the Smoke River series in that each book featured a different heroine, so while there was still the challenge of finding young women that fit the feel of each story, I didn't have to worry about needing to find the same model for all four books. Author Adina Senft was also instrumental in the research stage and sent me a number of photographs that had the feel she was going for, and together we were able to find an image that was perfect for each installment.

The covers for this series are among the simplest I've done, and I absolutely love that about them. As much as I enjoy special effects and exciting typography, there's something to be said for the straightforward approach as well. I hope you guys love the final product!

Book one, Grounds to Believe:

From RITA Award® winning author Adina Senft comes a series of domestic suspense novels flavored with faith. In the small town of Smoke River, Washington, everyone knows the Elect of God. They're good religious people, honest, hardworking—and they're hiding some dreadful secrets.
He'd find Kailey some day. One assignment at a time. One prayer at a time.
A cult took Ross Malcolm's ex-girlfriend and baby daughter seven years ago. He's never stopped looking for his little girl ... and now he has a sidearm, a badge, and a soul-deep commitment to protect the innocent. When the state's elite Organized Crime Task Force assigns him to Smoke River, Washington, to find out why the death rate among children belonging to an obscure plain church is so high, he's sure it's going to be one of the toughest cases of his career. But first, he has to find a way in ...
Julia McNeill is the daughter of an Elder and the almost-fiancee of a prospective Deacon. Her future position among the Elect is secure ... except that she's not sure she wants it. She's never quite been able to fit in, to measure up in comparison with her dazzling sister, who married an Elder and produced two beautiful kids. It breaks Julia's heart that her nephew Ryan is so close to death and no one can figure out why ... but when she asks questions, the church leadership shuts her out.
And then a biker with eyes that have seen too much walks into the bookstore where Julia works, and everything about her life begins to change ... including her belief in God's ability to keep her and her nephew safe ...

Find Adina Senft and the Smoke River series:

You can check out more of my cover design work at Seedlings Design Studio

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Review: These Viscious Masks

These Vicious Masks #1
Tarun Shanker & Kelly Zekas
Paranormal Young Adult
352 pages
Swoon Reads
Available February 9th
Source: ARC from publisher for review

THE STORY (from Goodreads)
Jane Austen meets X-­Men in this gripping and adventure-­filled paranormal romance set in Victorian London.

England, 1882. Evelyn is bored with society and its expectations. So when her beloved sister, Rose, mysteriously vanishes, she ignores her parents and travels to London to find her, accompanied by the dashing Mr. Kent. But they’re not the only ones looking for Rose. The reclusive, young gentleman Sebastian Braddock is also searching for her, claiming that both sisters have special healing powers. Evelyn is convinced that Sebastian must be mad, until she discovers that his strange tales of extraordinary people are true—and that her sister is in graver danger than she feared.

These Vicious Masks is a fun start to this series, a heroine with a delightfully quick wit bringing a smile to our faces even when life and death are on the line. Mr. Shanker and Ms. Zekas have a gift for writing hilarious banter, making the interactions between Evelyn and everyone she encounters–especially Mr. Kent–a highlight of this first installment.

Evelyn is a young woman with modern sensibilities stuck in a time period governed by societal rules that have her chafing at the bit, and while we can't help but applaud her for flaunting her disregard for those rules as she tries to find her sister, we also wince on her behalf when the might of Ton shows her that their apparent frivolity has real power behind it. Evelyn's smart mouth is only one of the reasons she's such an enjoyable protagonist however, with her determination to find her sister and her ability to actually communicate with those aiding in her search also joining the list. She does go charging into a number of potentially dangerous situations in the hopes she'll find Rose, but she at least doesn't do so on her own and takes what precautions she can to ensure her safety.

While the mention of both Mr. Kent and Sebastian Braddock in the synopsis might give many an avid young adult reader the beginnings of a nervous eye tic, no true triangle forms in this first book as Evelyn's focus is almost exclusively on locating her sister. Mr. Kent does makes his romantic interest known toward the end, but the banter between them feels like that which exists between longtime friends, and though a spark between her and Sebastian certainly exists, the authors poke fun at his typical YA love interest broodiness through Evelyn's early observations of him. As a result, it's difficult to label Evelyn's relationship with both young men a triangle, and Mr. Shanker and Ms. Zekas do an outstanding job of making sure the romance remains both secondary and light while not lacking in substance.

Overall, These Vicious Masks pleasantly surprises with its humor, but it's certainly not all laughs as Evelyn uncovers a world she never thought possible. We're given a solid resolution to Rose's kidnapping, but the journey to track her down opens a whole new set of doors and gives this series legs to stand on moving forward into the next book.

Rating: 4/5

Find Tarun:

Find Kelly:

Buy These Vicious Masks:


This book was sent to me by the publisher  free of charge for the purpose of a review
I received no other compensation and the above is my honest opinion.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Waiting on Wednesday: True Born

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Breaking The Spine and is a fun way to see what books other bloggers just can't wait to get their hands on!

True Born #1
L.E. Sterling
Young Adult/Dystopian
Available May 2016 from Entangled Teen

From Goodreads:

Welcome to Dominion City.

After the great Plague descended, the world population was decimated...and their genetics damaged beyond repair.

The Lasters wait hopelessly for their genes to self-destruct. The Splicers pay for expensive treatments that might prolong their life. The plague-resistant True Borns are as mysterious as they are feared…

And then there's Lucy Fox and her identical twin sister, Margot. After endless tests, no one wants to reveal what they are.

When Margot disappears, a desperate Lucy has no choice but to put her faith in the True Borns, led by the charismatic Nolan Storm and the beautiful but deadly Jared Price. As Lucy and the True Borns set out to rescue her sister, they stumble upon a vast conspiracy stretching from Dominion’s street preachers to shady Russian tycoons. But why target the Fox sisters?

As they say in Dominion, it’s in the blood.

WHAT ARE THEY YOU GUYS?! I have to know what Lucy and her twin sister are and how they fit into this plague-infested, genetically-damaged world. I'm mildly concerned about the possibility of a love triangle given the mention of both Nolan and Jared, but I'm hoping it's going to work out to where we maybe get two romances–one for each sister–instead of one drama-fueled triangle. *fingers crossed*

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Review (+ Giveaway!): The Impostor Queen

The Impostor Queen #1
Sarah Fine
Young Adult/Fantasy
432 pages
Margaret K. McElderry Books
Available Now
Source: ARC from publisher for review

Sixteen-year-old Elli was a small child when the Elders of Kupari chose her to succeed the Valtia, the queen who wields infinitely powerful ice and fire magic. Since then, Elli has lived in the temple, surrounded by luxury and tutored by magical priests, as she prepares for the day when the Valtia perishes and the magic finds a new home in her. Elli is destined to be the most powerful Valtia to ever rule.

But when the queen dies defending the kingdom from invading warriors, the magic doesn’t enter Elli. It’s nowhere to be found.

Disgraced, Elli flees to the outlands, the home of banished criminals—some who would love to see the temple burn with all its priests inside. As she finds her footing in this new world, Elli uncovers devastating new information about the Kupari magic, those who wield it, and the prophecy that foretold her destiny. Torn between the love she has for her people and her growing loyalty to the banished, Elli struggles to understand the true role she was meant to play. But as war looms, she must align with the right side—before the kingdom and its magic are completely destroyed.

The Impostor Queen starts a touch slow, the introduction of a royal hierarchy categorized by unfamiliar terminology keeping us from settling in immediately, but before long Elli’s journey picks up speed and has us racing to the finish to see how everything will unfold.

Elli is a sheltered young woman both literally and figuratively, having spent her entire childhood and majority of her teen years safe and coddled within the walls of her beloved Temple on the Rock. While her every need is attended to, her thirst for knowledge about the outside world goes unquenched, leaving her no choice but to trust blindly what those in a position of power tell her. Once she gets outside the walls however, she soaks up new information like a sponge, and it’s nearly impossible not to root for a young woman who has absolutely no sense of superiority despite being told she’s the future queen all her life.

The romance between Elli and ice-Wielder Oskar is everything we’ve come to expect from a Sarah Fine relationship, things between them starting out slowly as they both harbor secrets to protect themselves and others, and then steadily growing until we want nothing more than to read about the two of them building a life together. Unfortunately for romantics like myself, that dream of a life together is interrupted by a brutal series of revelations that tears the world Elli once new down and sets it aflame, and our fledgling couple finds themselves in the middle of a battle.

We’re left in a solid place despite a number of threads left loose to be picked up in the next installment, but Ms. Fine is an expert at ripping hearts out and stomping on them, so while this first book leaves us content, there are more than a few hints that she’s getting ready to ball her hands into fists and punch us right in the gut in the not-too distant future.

Rating: 4/5

Find The Impostor Queen:

• • • • • • • • • • • • • • •


I’m the author of several books for teens, including Of Metal and Wishes(McElderry/Simon & Schuster) and its sequel, Of Dreams and Rust, the Guards of the Shadowlands YA urban fantasy series (Skyscape/Amazon Children’s Publishing), and The Impostor Queen (McElderry, January 2016).

I’m also the co-author (with Walter Jury) of two YA sci-fi thrillers published by Putnam/Penguin: Scanand its sequel Burn. My first adult urban fantasy romance series, Servants of Fate, includes Marked, Claimed, and Fated, all published by 47North in 2015, and my second adult UF series — The Reliquary, kicks off in summer 2016. When I’m not writing, I’m psychologizing. Sometimes I do both at the same time. The results are unpredictable.

• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •


Thanks to Margaret K. McElderry Books and Irish Banana Blog Tours there are 3 finished copies of The Impostor Queen up for grabs today! To enter, please fill out the Rafflecopter form below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Don't forget to check out all the participating blogs for more reviews, interviews and guest posts!

Week 1:

Week 2:

Monday, January 25, 2016

Unhooked Blog Tour: Interview + Giveaway!

Today I'm super excited to kick off the promotional tour for Unhooked, an entirely new take on the world of Neverland thanks to author Lisa Maxwell. Lisa was nice enough to answer a few fun questions for me about what readers can expect when they crack the spine, so I hope you guys enjoy. Welcome to Supernatural Snark Lisa!

Before being kidnapped and taken to a Neverland inhabited by monsters, what would Gwen say was her biggest fear?

Before Neverland, Gwen’s biggest fear was that people would realize how unstable her mother was and separate the two of them. She grew up fast, because she knew that if people really knew what her mother was like—the strange fears, the delusions about monsters chasing them, the erratic behavior—she might be taken away from her mom. She’s worked her whole like to make their life appear as normal as possible, and that’s all she’s ever wanted to be—normal.

If Gwen could get those of us in this world a message about the dangers of the Fey, what would her most dire warning about them be?

Human life means less than nothing to the Fey. They aren’t interested in us, unless we get in their way. And if that happens, well… good luck. Because with the glamour, you won’t even see them coming.

If you somehow knew ahead of time you were going to be taken to Neverland along with Gwen and Olivia, what one character from another piece of YA fiction would you beg to teach you a course on supernatural survival training before you went?

I’d have to say the Darkling. A) because who wouldn’t want to sit in a class and watch him teach? Yes, Please. And B) I’m not sure that you really have a chance to survive in this version of Neverland if you aren’t willing to play a little dirty to get what you want.

Gwen has a choice between trusting a fairy-tale hero and a young pirate in this story. If she had time to make a pros and cons list to help her figure out what to do, what’s one pro that she would list for each of them?

The only pro that matters is “Is he trying to kill me?” Too bad that the answer for each is… maybe?

If you could take any other fairy-tale (or myth/fable) world and turn it completely on its head, which would you most like to recreate in your own way?

What a great question! It’s a hard one, too, because as much as I did turn the Neverland we know on its head in this book, what I really did was go back to the source material. For UNHOOKED, I really wanted to bring out a part of the original story that gets forgotten, because the Neverland we know is so muted and Disney-fied that we don’t realize just how dark Peter Pan really was. Snow White might be interesting to do, though. Or maybe Hansel and Gretel? I like the idea of characters venturing out into the unknown and figuring out what they’re made of.

Thanks so much for stopping by Lisa!

• • • • • • • • • • • • • • •


From “talented wordsmith” (Publishers Weekly) Lisa Maxwell comes a lush, atmospheric fantasy novel filled with twists and turns about a girl who is kidnapped and brought to an island inhabited by fairies, a roguish ship captain, and bloodthirsty beasts.

For as long as she can remember, Gwendolyn Allister has never had a place to call home. Her mother believes they are being hunted by brutal monsters, and those delusions have brought them to London, far from the life Gwen had finally started to build for herself. Gwen’s only saving grace is that her best friend, Olivia, is with her for the summer.

But shortly after their arrival, the girls are kidnapped by shadowy creatures and dragged to a world of flesh-eating sea hags and dangerous Fey. And Gwen begins to realize that maybe her mother isn’t so crazy after all…

Gwen discovers that this new world she inhabits is called Neverland, but it’s nothing like the Neverland you’ve heard about in stories. Here, good and evil lose their meaning and memories slip like water through your fingers. As Gwen struggles to remember where she came from and tries to find a way home, she must choose between trusting the charming fairy-tale hero who says all the right things and the captivating pirate who promises to keep her safe.

Caught in the ultimate battle between good and evil, with time running out and her enemies closing in, Gwen is forced to finally face the truths she’s been hiding from all along. But can she save Neverland without losing herself?


• • • • • • • • • • • • • •


Lisa Maxwell is the author of Sweet Unrest, Gathering Deep (Flux, Fall 2015) and Unhooked (Simon Pulse, Spring 2016). When she's not writing books, she's an English professor at a local college. She lives near DC with her very patient husband and two not-so patient boys. 

• • • • • • • • • • • • • •


As a thank you to the lovely authors who blurbed UNHOOKED Lisa is giving away…
  • (1) winner will receive a signed finished copy of UNHOOKED, a large Neverland map, and a Funko Pop Captain Hook, US Only.
  • (5) winners will receive a swag pack containing a NVR sticker, bookmark, postcard, other stickers, US only.  
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Don't forget to check out the rest of the tour for more interviews, reviews and guest posts!
1/25/2016- Supernatural SnarkInterview
1/26/2016- Seeing Double In NeverlandReview  
1/27/2016- Please Feed the BookwormGuest Post  
1/28/2016- Stories & SweetiesReview  
1/29/2016- A Glass Of WineInterview
2/1/2016- A Reader Under The SeaReview
2/2/2016- Two Chicks on BooksGuest Post
2/3/2016- Owl Always Be ReadingReview
2/4/2016- Lili's Reflections- Interview
2/5/2016- Mundie MomsReview

Friday, January 22, 2016

Friday Flourish: The Separated

Happy Friday Everyone!

A couple weeks ago I teased you all with snippets of six recent cover designs that hadn't yet been officially revealed, but today I get to share one of those covers in full. YAY!

Author Troon Harrison came to me through one of my longtime clients, Shelley Adina, and with one word she had me clapping excitedly and demanding to start immediately. What was that word you ask? UNICORNS. Unicorns! When I was little I was absolutely obsessed with an animated movie called The Last Unicorn (anyone else? Yes? No? No. Just me then. Awesome.), and longed for the day when it would be revealed that unicorns actually existed. Sadly, that day still hasn't come.

What did finally come though was the opportunity to bring a unicorn story to life through its cover, and I loved every minute I spent collaborating on this design with Troon. Obviously the presence of a unicorn was more than enough to suggest high fantasy, but I wanted the entire design to have a magical, enchanted feel, so I played a lot with various lighting effects around the unicorn as well as in the type itself. The end result is everything I hoped it would be when I first read through the design memo, and I hope you guys love it as well!

Tales of Terre #1

Long ago, a fierce sea dragon sank a ship that carried two Golden Horns and their Keeper. The creatures—with power against darkness—were separated, and passed into myth. But now evil grows, for the cruel Lord Maldici guards a terrible secret in his mountain stronghold. He studies the black book of sorcery, and sends out spies to quest for the missing Golden Horn.

Vita is the youngest descendant in the long line of Keepers. Her magic must preserve the remaining Golden Horn in safety, for only its power can thwart the growing evil. Yet Vita is in danger of betraying her trust. Her best friend, the pirate Giovanni, struggles to break free of the gold-greed that enslaves his people. Only then can he aid Vita, and vanquish the dragon in battle. But when Vita wavers, Giovanni's life will be at risk in the dungeons of Lord Maldici. One other person will aid them: Marina, outcast daughter of a sea witch, searching for a home in the land of Verde. Overcoming their differences, these three must find courage to save what they love most from the gathering power of darkness.

Find Troon:

You can check out more of my cover design work at Seedlings Design Studio

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Review: Revenge and the Wild

Michelle Modesto
Young Adult/Western/Paranormal
384 pages
Balzer + Bray
Available February 2nd
Source: ARC from publisher for review

THE STORY (from Goodreads)
The two-bit town of Rogue City is a lawless place, full of dark magic and saloon brawls, monsters and six-shooters. But it’s perfect for seventeen-year-old Westie, the notorious adopted daughter of local inventor Nigel Butler.

Westie was only a child when she lost her arm and her family to cannibals on the wagon trail. Nine years later, Westie may seem fearsome with her foul-mouthed tough exterior and the powerful mechanical arm built for her by Nigel, but the memory of her past still haunts her. She’s determined to make the killers pay for their crimes—and there’s nothing to stop her except her own reckless ways.

But Westie’s search ceases when a wealthy family comes to town looking to invest in Nigel’s latest invention, a machine that can harvest magic from gold—which Rogue City desperately needs as the magic wards that surround the city start to fail. There’s only one problem: the investors look exactly like the family who murdered Westie’s kin. With the help of Nigel’s handsome but scarred young assistant, Alistair, Westie sets out to prove their guilt. But if she’s not careful, her desire for revenge could cost her the family she has now.

Revenge and the Wild is a dark and twisted tale, one full of blood and horror that won't soon be forgotten, but also one featuring a charmingly flawed heroine who brings a smile to our faces just when the darkness threatens to overwhelm.

Westie is the type of young woman who sends the gently bred ladies of her creature-infested town screaming in terror, a badass mechanical arm the perfect fit for her unapologetic attitude and delightfully foul mouth. She doesn't care what anyone thinks save those who are closest to her, is in possession of quite possibly the thinnest brain-to-mouth filter in existence, and to top it all off fights (and sometimes loses) a daily battle to stay sober. As a result of her addiction she often makes decisions we wish she wouldn't and seeks a magical cure for her alcoholism rather than trying to find the strength to do it on her own, but while those things may sound as though they would be frustrating for us as readers, the way in which Westie is written simply makes her feel human instead. She's a patchwork of impressive faults and inspiring strengths, and certainly one of the most memorable characters to ever strut across the pages of young adult fiction.

In addition to the dual mystery surrounding the arrival of cannibals in town and the major issue of magic disappearing from Westie's world, there's also the development of a friends to lovers romance between Westie and fellow cannibal-survivor Alistair. There are a number of guys who flit in and out of Westie's orbit in this tale, but her heart is Alistair's alone and their relationship is one full of the type of tension and pain that can only come from a longtime friendship on the cusp of something more. The romance definitely takes a backseat to the revenge plot, but it's prominent enough to give those like myself who live for a little swoon in their stories something to smile about.

Overall Revenge and the Wild will likely not be a story for everyone, the gore of the cannibal attacks paired with a protagonist who's a bull in the china shop of polite society a recipe that might turn a number of readers away, but there's something undeniably fascinating about the darkness of this world and its beautifully damaged inhabitants.

Rating: 4/5

Find Michelle:

This book was sent to me by the publisher  free of charge for the purpose of a review
I received no other compensation and the above is my honest opinion.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Waiting on Wednesday: Shades of Darkness

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Breaking The Spine and is a fun way to see what books other bloggers just can't wait to get their hands on!

Ravenborn #1
A.R. Kahler
Paranormal Young Adult
Releases March 8th from Simon Pulse

From Goodreads:

When Kaira Winters decided to go to Islington—a boarding school deep in the woods of Michigan—she thought she could finally get away from everything she has tried so hard to forget, including some things from her past that she refuses to believe ever actually happened.

Everything seemed great until the bodies of murdered students started appearing all over campus. The victims seem to have been killed in some sort of ritual sacrifice. And even worse, Kaira’s dreams are giving her clues to the killer’s identity.

Though she tries to resist, Kaira quickly realizes that she is the only one who can stop the violence, but to do so she must come to terms with her past. She’s going to have to listen to the voice that is buried deep within her…the one that claims to have unimaginable power…the one that claims to be an actual goddess.

But even if Kaira can harness the power within her, will it be enough to stop the darkness that has fallen over her school? And if it is strong enough, then what’s to stop the goddess from wreaking her own havoc once she’s released?

Confession: I'm a sucker for a boarding school story. Especially a paranormal one. I don't know what it is about them (maybe the intimacy of all the characters being forced to spend time together in one place?) but whenever I find one it goes on my list immediately. Plus this is set in Michigan where my parents live and I've spent a great deal of time, so that of course makes this boarding school paranormal murder mystery an even bigger winner in my book. *makes grabby hands*

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Review: Of Beast and Beauty

Stacey Jay
Young Adult/Fairy Tale Retelling
391 pages
Delacorte Press
Available Now
Source: Bought for book club!

THE STORY (from Goodreads)
In the beginning was the darkness, and in the darkness was a girl, and in the girl was a secret...

In the domed city of Yuan, the blind Princess Isra, a Smooth Skin, is raised to be a human sacrifice whose death will ensure her city’s vitality. In the desert outside Yuan, Gem, a mutant beast, fights to save his people, the Monstrous, from starvation. Neither dreams that together, they could return balance to both their worlds.

Isra wants to help the city’s Banished people, second-class citizens despised for possessing Monstrous traits. But after she enlists the aid of her prisoner, Gem, who has been captured while trying to steal Yuan’s enchanted roses, she begins to care for him, and to question everything she has been brought up to believe.

As secrets are revealed and Isra’s sight, which vanished during her childhood, returned, Isra will have to choose between duty to her people and the beast she has come to love.

Of Beast and Beauty is a gorgeous reimagining of the Beauty and the Beast fairy tale, one that forces us to reevaluate the traditional definition of beauty and see how devastating prejudice can be.

Isra is a young woman who's been sheltered most of her life, confined to a tower as she awaits the day in which she'll give her life so that the magic which sustains her kingdom will continue to flourish. As a result of her very limited life experience, she's had little cause to question her father the king or his advisor when they make decisions they feel are best for her, and her thoughts on the Monstrous simply mimic the thoughts and opinions of those around her. It takes us a while to truly warm to her (though she's easily likable from the beginning), convinced as she is that her world is simply too big for one person to change, but ever so slowly with the help of her Monstrous prisoner Gem she finds a backbone of steel she never knew she had. Once she sees that only the presence of scales and claws separates the Smooth Skins from the Monstrous, she begins a campaign to turn her world upside down and set right all that has gone wrong over the past centuries.

Gem is someone we can't help but root for from the beginning despite his plans to deceive Isra and steal the magic sustaining her kingdom, his interactions with her bringing a smile to our faces every time. He is a voice of reason, a bright spot of color shocking her black and white world, calling into question everything she's believed for so long and making her see (figuratively of course given her blindness) that one person is all that's needed to be a catalyst for change. Their romance is of the slow burn variety, the two of them forming a hesitant friendship at first that gradually builds in trust and respect until it turns to love and has us swooning left and right.

While things for Isra and Gem get dark in the final quarter of this book, we're left with a fairy tale ending and a sense of contentment, setting this book on a shelf of favorites to be re-read time and again in the future.

Rating: 4.5/5

Find Stacey:

Friday, January 15, 2016

Meet and Greet Weekend! (Update)

Happy Friday Everyone!

This week has been a busy week for me work-wise, so I don't have any bookish content to share with you today. Blogger fail. Instead, I thought I'd do a quick personal post as my husband and I have a very exciting weekend ahead of us.

Most of you know that we lost both our boxers to cancer last year, their losses coming ten months apart and effectively bringing us to our knees as they meant the world to us. In the middle of all the loss though we rescued Gracie, our 3 year-old pit bull of ridiculousness, and she continues to be a bright spot for the two of us.

I've always loved having two dogs in our home, and while Gracie has been truly amazing about being an only child these past couple months, the house still feels eerily quiet to both of us at times and we miss all the silly moments that come with dogs being dogs together. I've been searching our local rescues for a while now to try and find a good fit for us and Gracie, and this weekend we're meeting with two potential new family members! *HAPPY DANCE*

We met with another just before Christmas and he unfortunately wasn't the best match for our family, but I have high hopes for this weekend. Tonight we're meeting with a 2.5 year-old pit bull named Lukas and I couldn't be more excited. LOOK AT HIS SMILING FACE!!! I'm madly in love with him already, so I've got all my fingers crossed that he loves us just as much.

On Saturday we're meeting with Eddie, a 1-ish year-old Staffordshire Terrier (in the pit bull family) and I think he's ridiculously adorable as well. From the information the rescues have provided on both I think Lukas is of a temperament comparable to Gracie's (a bit more laid back), whereas Eddie is more energetic and high strung. Kevin and I did high-strung for 9 years with Gatsby and Griffin, and while we loved them beyond words, we want our newest addition to fit with Gracie, so at the moment we're leaning more toward Lukas. I can't wait to meet both though, so wish us luck! Hopefully one of these handsome boys will be joining our family soon:)


*sigh* So this weekend didn't go as well as Kevin and I had hoped. Lukas, while sweet and absolutely gorgeous, turned out to be the very opposite of laid back. It was pure chaos from the moment he got out of his lovely foster mother's car, and his sole goal once he met Gracie was to tackle her to the ground and not let her up. She held her own for a while, but we kept having to pull him off her and it was clear that after about a half hour it stopped being fun for her.

Eddie, conversely, turned out to be much calmer than expected, but still a bit higher energy than we're looking for. He was an absolute sweetheart though, so hopefully he finds the best home in the world soon.

Kevin and I know we're being really picky with this adoption, both Lukas and Eddie are amazing dogs deserving of great homes, they just unfortunately were not the right fit for us. We're feeling a little defeated and are going to put a temporary hold on our search for a new family member, but hopefully the right dog for us will turn up soon!

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Traveler Blog Tour : Q+A with Arwen Elys Dayton

Today I'm thrilled to welcome author Arwen Elys Dayton back to the blog as part of the promotional tour for book two of her young adult fantasy series, Traveler. I asked Arwen to talk a little bit about the Seekers themselves - their purpose and history and what they're meant to stand for since the first book sees everything that Seekers are supposed to be turned upside down. Arwen put a video response together which is really exciting (I've never had an author do a video specifically for my blog before so I may have fangirled a little when I watched it the first time), but I've included the transcript below as well just in case the video doesn't work for some of you.

Be sure and check out the bottom of the post as well for a complete list of participating blogs so you can follow along on the tour!

Today I am here at Supernatural Snark to answer “What is the ideal Seeker?”

A little explanation of the story…

SEEKER is the story of three teenagers who have spent most of their lives training for what they think is a noble purpose – to be Seekers - only to discover that their families are actually turning them into assassins. In TRAVELER, as they try to break away from this fate, or maybe embrace it, they discover that the world of Seekers is larger than they’d realized, and they become entangled in a plan begun generations ago that immediately threatens their very survival.

If not assassins, what are Seekers supposed to be?

Seekers are not who Quin thought they were. So what did she think they were?

Seekers have interesting weapons and tools that take them out of our normal world, through hidden dimensions, and then back into our world somewhere else. Quin believes Seekers should use these things for good.

For Quin, a Seeker is: someone who cares about others more than herself; someone who finds a better way; someone who is courageous in the face of personal danger.

For her, it was something like being a Knight Templar in the Middle Ages. Somebody who has pledged his life to putting other before himself and to doing good. And she really thought she was going to be the modern version of that.

So it was a huge blow to discover that her father was actually turning her into somebody who was greedy, cowardly, and vicious.

In TRAVELER, Quin is very much trying to break away from her father’s version of what it means to be a Seeker, and discover can she change things back to the way they should be.

Will she make it? Let’s find out.

Thank you so much to Supernatural Snark for having me.
• • • • • • • • • • •
If you have questions about writing…

If you’re interested in being a writer, I do a weekly video called ONE QUESTION TWO MINUTES where I take questions about writing from readers and try to answer them as best I can. Feel free to send me your own questions at

Thanks so much Arwen!

• • • • • • • • • • • • • • •


Quin Kincaid is a Seeker. Her legacy is an honor, an ancient role passed down for generations.But what she learned on her Oath night changed her world forever.

Quin pledged her life to deception. Her legacy as a Seeker is not noble but savage. She was trained to be an assassin. And the boy she once loved is out for vengeance, with her family in his sights.

Yet Quin is not alone. Shinobu, her oldest companion, might now be the only person she can trust. The only one who wants answers as desperately as she does.

But the deeper they dig into the past, the darker things become. They are long-vanished Seeker families, shadowy alliances, and something else: a sinister plan begun generations ago with the power to end the legacy forever. And it might destroy them all.

• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •


ARWEN ELYS DAYTON is the author of SEEKER and TRAVELER. She spends moths doing research for her stories. Her explorations have taken her around the world to places like the Great Pyramid at Giza, Hong Kong and its many islands, and lots of ruined castles in Scotland.

You can follow her on Instagram and Twitter @arwenelysdayton, and check out her video series about writing, 1 QUESTION, 2 MINUTES, at and on YouTube

And don't forget to check out all the participating blogs on this tour! 

January 11 - The Cover Contessa

January 12 -  Once Upon A Twilight

January 12 - Two Chicks on Books

January 13 - Lytherus

January 14 - Book Blather

January 14 - Supernatural Snark

January 15 - Bookish Lifestyle

January 15 - The Eater of Books

January 16 - Page Turners

January 17 - Winterhaven Books

January 17 - Black Dog Speaks

January 18 - Sci Fi Fan Letter

January 19 - Mundie Moms


Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Waiting on Wednesday: Dream On

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Breaking The Spine and is a fun way to see what books other bloggers just can't wait to get their hands on!

The Silver Trilogy #2
Kerstin Gier
Paranormal Young Adult
Releases May 2016 from Henry Holt BFYR

From Edelweiss:

Things seem to be going well for Liv Silver: she's adjusting to her new home (and her new family) in London; she has a burgeoning romance with Henry Harper, one of the cutest boys in school; and the girl who's been turning her dreams into nightmares, Anabel, is now locked up. But serenity doesn't last for long.

It seems that Liv's troubles are far from over--in fact, suddenly they're piling up. School gossip blogger Secrecy knows all of Liv's most intimate secrets, Henry might be hiding something from her, and at night Liv senses a dark presence following her through the corridors of the dream world. Does someone have a score to settle with Liv?

Romance, adventure, and danger abound in Dream On, the second book in the Silver Trilogy.

I thoroughly enjoyed last year's Dream a Little Dream and Kerstin's Ruby Red trilogy before it, so I'm really looking forward to this second installment. One of my favorite thing about Kerstin's books is her sense of humor, something a bit unexpected since all of her books are translated from I believe the original German, but her snarky sense of humor is present and accounted for in this series and she always makes me smile with her characters.

Those of you who read this blog with any frequency know I don't care for stories where one romantic partner is keeping secrets from the other, it causes me stress, but Kerstin's books tend to be lower-key on the relationship angst (it's still present, but it's never the kind that makes you want to beat your head against a wall) so I'm not too worried about it. So ready for May!

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Guest Post: Shayne Leighton + Of Light and Darkness

Today I'm so pleased to turn the blog over to author Shayne Leighton, whose latest New Adult Paranormal Romance Of Light and Darkness just hit shelves yesterday. I thought a fun way to introduce this world and its heroine, Charlotte, to readers would be to take a closer look at her bookshelves, so below you'll find a few of the titles that she highly recommends! 


Greetings to those reading this. Charlotte Ruzikova here–writing this during the daylight hours. I should be sleeping, but I wanted greatly to prepare you all for your impending journey into the Occult City and I didn't want Valek to find out what I was doing. (You'll know more about him later.)

Naturally, before venturing over the borders and into our town, forbidden to all human kind, there are some things you should know...for your safety. Perhaps, there are even a few things you should read up on before you begin your journey. I have a few recommendations.

Firstly, heed my warning about Lycanthropes guarding the city borders. They have a no-tolerance policy for mortals trying to pass through the woods into our town. It's wise to carry objects that might distract them. A dead rabbit might do the trick. Maybe, even, a goat leg!

In all Occult Cities, many things are possible. There are Witches, obviously Vampires, Elves, Shifters, dragons, and such other terrifying beasts...Fae being the worst.

J.K. Rowling does a decent job of naming a few possibilities in Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them. That's my first recommended piece of reading, and perhaps the most important.

Sarah, my best friend and Francis' indentured house Witch, might want you to read up on a few spells and incantations to prepare yourself for the sorcery sort. For this, I'd recommend reading The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. It won't teach a mortal any magic tricks, but it is a good example of the fact that, in my world, things are not always what they seem!

Also, Prague is a city of vast secrets and steeped in mystery. Locals say the streets of Prague seem to change, as if by magic, every day. It would be wise to arm yourself with a guide that appreciates such magic...for I don't think any normal map would help you. For this, I recommend City of Dark Magic by Magnus Flyte.

Of course, if you're still a bit hesitant about your trek, Autumn: An Introduction by Shayne Leighton is a good way to test the waters. It will give you a taste of what's to come. I'll even get you started by offering you the copy from my library:

Most inhabitants are nice. Remember to keep to the shadows and not to trust just anyone...

I look forward to your visit to the Southernmost Bohemian Occult City.


Thanks so much Charlotte and Shayne!

• • • • • • • • • • • • • •


Shayne Leighton's stunning NA debut is a fiercely imaginative, multilayered contemporary fantasy where Erin Morgenstern's The Night Circus meets Anne Rice's The Vampire Chronicles in a story about a girl caught between two societies . . . two sides . . . and two loves.

Raised by a Vampire in a secret society of Witches, Shifters, and Elves, Charlotte finds that she is the freak in her world of magic and wonder. When she stands before an army of impossible obstacles, the likelihood of survival in this coming-of-age modern fairy tale is slim, resulting in a war between light and darkness.

Charlotte knows no other home than the one nestled deep in the woods of Eastern Europe, where Witches draw spells of enchantment, Shifters throw tea parties, and Elves are the closest in kin.

As genocide and war threatens her life and her home, Charlotte will not allow her one true love to be destroyed. Fighting for her adopted coven of rogue monsters, she will do whatever it takes to save them...and she'll do it before the sun comes up and light takes over forever!

Find Shayne + Of Light and Darkness:

Monday, January 11, 2016

Review: Shadow Fall

Tracers #9
Laura Griffin
Romantic Suspense/Thriller
Pocket Books
357 pages
Available Now
Source: Bought

THE STORY (from Goodreads)
Special Agent Tara Rushing arrives at a grisly murder scene and quickly discovers she’s got a serial killer on her hands. The killer is meticulous, making sure to wipe up even the smallest traces of evidence…but the Delphi Center experts are on the case.

The local sheriff has a suspect all picked out—ex-Marine and current security expert Liam Wolfe. Despite all her digging, Tara knows very little about Liam when she shows up at his sprawling Texas compound, which serves as headquarters for Wolfe Securities, and she’s surprised by her intense physical reaction to him.

As she and Liam grow closer, Tara finds herself depending on his skills and expertise to help her track a killer. But when another body turns up, Tara must decide if she can trust the man who’s quickly stealing her heart.

Shadow Fall easily stands on its own despite being the ninth book in the Tracers series, giving us a new murder to solve and a new set of lead characters to guide us through it. Ms. Griffin truly excels at crafting a believable investigation full of individuals who know their job and do it well, neither weighing us down with too many complicated forensic details nor denying us information required to feel as though we're a part of things. We crack the spine of this thriller and find ourselves surrounded by the story, all our senses on full alert as we try and identify a brutally misogynistic killer.

Tara is an incredibly strong woman, forced to fight a battle on two fronts as she's assigned a new case, both that of a woman in a male-dominated field as well as that of a Federal Agent sent to assist a small town police force. As a result she has more than a few hard edges, but she never tries to one-up those around her in order to prove her competence, instead the only person she consistently strives to impress is herself. She's good at her job and makes smart decisions, never asking us to suspend disbelief as she goes running headlong into danger without so much as putting in a call for backup, and we can't help but root for her throughout.

While the murder mystery element is brilliantly executed, forcing us to bite our nails further into nubs with every chapter as our killer gains confidence, the romantic element between Tara and ex-military/current security specialist Liam isn't quite as strong. Because Tara's fighting the aforementioned battles, she does feel a need to assert her independence and show everyone (but most of all herself) that she's more than capable of handling whatever is thrown at her on her own, and therefore she never really lets Liam in. He in turn gets frustrated with her when his protective streak takes over, and they do a dance around one another for most of the book. It's not a huge source of frustration mind you, and any tension between them gets resolved quickly and with little drama, but it does make the declaration of love at the end feel a touch forced.

There's also a backstory with regard to the last case Tara was on just before she was assigned this new job, but we're only given tiny hints about it here and there when she has a nightmare or two, and it's hard not to wish for a little more information regarding the outcome (it's possible it was in a previous book though, this is the first of the series I've read and I'm not entirely sure how/if the books are loosely connected). Overall however, Shadow Fall is a lighting-fast read with an extremely well done murder investigation and an enjoyable romance even if it's not quite as emotionally engaging as we might have liked.

Rating: 4/5

Find Laura: