Friday, November 30, 2012

2013 Paranormal Reading Challenge

  1. This challenge runs from January 1, 2013 to December 31, 2013.
  2. You must have a blog to able to participate, since reviews must be added to the linky.
  3. When you sign up with the linky, please put the link to your post about joining the Paranormal Reading Challenge.
  4. You're welcome to list your books beforehand or just add as you go.
  5. Sign-ups are open until December 1, 2013
  6. At the beginning of each month, a kick-start post will be posted, each month featuring a different category of paranormal creature. This post will also include a linky to include your reviews from that month.
  7. Each review you link will qualify you for an entry into the monthy giveaway and if your review includes the feature paranormal creature of that month, you get a bonus entry.
  8. Each book can only count for one category, even if it contains more than one paranormal creature. For example, Twilight contains both vampires and werewolves, but you can't use it for both the vampires and werewolves/shifters categories.
  9. Everyone who completes the challenge will be entered into a grand prize giveaway at the end of the year.
  10. If you read multiple books from one category, feel free to add them to the linkies. Don't stop at just one!
  11. Book can count for other challenges.
Each month, one of the following creatures will be featured on the list at both Megan Likes Books and Auntie Spinelli Reads.
  • January - Vampires
  • February - Angels/Nephilim
  • March - Fey
  • April - Demons
  • May - Aliens
  • June - Zombies
  • July - Witches and Wizards
  • August - Mermaids
  • September - Dragons
  • October - Ghosts
  • November - Werewolves/Shape-shifters
  • December - Other

Cover Reveal: The Summer I Became A Nerd by Leah Rae Miller

May 7, 2013

On the outside, seventeen-year-old Madelyne Summers looks like your typical blond cheerleader—perky, popular, and dating the star quarterback. But inside, Maddie spends more time agonizing over what will happen in the next issue of her favorite comic book than planning pep rallies with her squad. That she’s a nerd hiding in a popular girl's body isn’t just unknown, it's anti-known. And she needs to keep it that way.

Summer is the only time Maddie lets her real self out to play, but when she slips up and the adorkable guy behind the local comic shop’s counter uncovers her secret, she’s busted. Before she can shake a pom-pom, Maddie’s whisked into Logan’s world of comic conventions, live-action role-playing, and first-person-shooter video games. And she loves it. But the more she denies who she really is, the deeper her lies become…and the more she risks losing Logan forever.

Bloggers, in addition to THE SUMMER I BECAME A NERD cover reveal, Entangled Publishing will be hosting a Marked-to-Read contest on Goodreads in the weeks leading up to THE SUMMER I BECAME A NERD's release on May 7, 2013. Watch Leah’s site,, for details on how to submit/enter to win. Pass the word about this exciting contest to other readers.


Leah Rae Miller
Born and raised in northern Louisiana, Leah Rae Miller still lives there on a windy hill with her husband and kids. She loves comic books, lava lamps, fuzzy socks, and Cherry Coke. She spends most of her days reading things she likes and writing things she hopes other people will like.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Review: Amanda's Story by Brian O'Grady

Amanda's Story
by Brian O'Grady
Release Date: November 13th, 2012
2012 The Story Plant
E-book Edition; 308 Pages
ASIN: B009G1T512
ISBN: 978-1611880472
Genre: Fiction / Suspense
Source: Review copy from publisher

3.5 Stars

In his national bestseller HYBRID, Brian O'Grady created a bracing and vividly realized tale of a virus gone out of control. At the center of that story was Amanda Flynn, a woman not killed by the EDH1 virus, but changed in frightening ways. HYBRID only hinted at the story of Amanda's work in Honduras that led to her exposure and the ramifications when the American government sought to contain the damage. Now, that story can be told.

AMANDA'S STORY is the heart-stopping tale of a woman caught up in a storm she wanted no part of, and what happens when she refuses to be collateral damage. It is the story that readers of HYBRID have been waiting for and that new readers will find impossible to put down.

My Thoughts
Amanda's Story was an interesting and intriguing tale of a young woman exposed to a frightening and deadly virus, one which changed Amanda in unaccountable and unforeseeable ways.  As the word hybrid suggests, "the offspring of two animals or plants of different breeds, varieties, species, or genera, especially as produced through human manipulation for specific genetic characteristics", it is sometimes unclear whether the author is referring to Amanda in his story or the virus, or perhaps both, and it is this theme in the novel that is quite frightening.

The novel begins with Amanda struggling to deal with the death of her husband and young son in a plane crash, and in order to cope with life without her loved ones, she decides to sign up for a Red Cross Humanitarian job to Honduras.  Upon arrival, her team is faced with a deadly virus that not only kills voraciously, but in ways that has never been seen before.  Upon rescue, Amanda is put into isolation and containment for several months as she endures a variety of tests to determine how she alone managed to survive the deadly virus.  It is during this time that the reader begins to see changes in Amanda's more affable personality through the eyes of the other characters and although I found this disconcerting, I did find it interesting.  However, it did have a negative impact on me as I found myself disconnected from Amanda's personality and became far more empathetic towards the other characters that surrounded her.  It was in isolation when she first started hearing voices that were telling her to hurt others, and in quite violent ways. Up until this point of the novel, I was quite fascinated with the events and with Amanda and what was happening to her, but I soon found myself starting to dislike her, even if she was being held against her will.  I couldn't seem to help myself and this really didn't change as the novel progressed.  I tried to like her, but as her thoughts became more and more violent, and as she turned her thoughts into actions, I couldn't seem to empathize too much anymore.  There were times I was actually downright scared of her.

There were some other great characters in this novel however, that I truly enjoyed.  Greg and Lisa were wonderful to get to know, and even though they had their flaws, they seemed very normal to me in light of the events that were occurring.  I appreciated the moral and legal dilemma that Greg faced as he learned more and more about Amanda and what she was doing with her new-found 'talents' and really admired how he dealt with the entire situation. 

There were some aspects of the plot that I really enjoyed and others that I did have some difficulty getting through.  I really thought the description of the Honduran experience was quite well done and I enjoyed experiencing Amanda's bewilderment and confusion as she was trying to survive the days with little hope of rescue and watching those around her die in quite violent ways, especially after dealing with the traumatic deaths of her husband and child.  I am actually amazed she came through it all as well as she did.  Once she was released from the military facility, while there were quite a few interesting moments, it did lose some steam for me, as I found myself more interested in Greg and Lisa's issues rather than Amanda's and basically wanted her stopped from harming anyone.  I just couldn't connect with what was happening.  Yes, I get that everyone has very dark moments and we all have thoughts that verge on homicidal, but very few of us actually act on them or want to be vigilantes, which is a good thing or our society would be absolute chaos.  And it was the acting upon that I had a hard time with as well as the justification for the actions that kept coming up as no matter how had I tried, I just didn't agree with her actions.  

Amanda's Story is an interesting tale of a woman who is infected by a very unusual virus and suffers from side affects that few people would ever have guessed.  Being led by a consciousness that triggers the more violent aspect of her personality, Amanda struggles with being the "good girl", the one that tries to appease everyone else with the one she is slowly becoming.  Although I have not yet read Hybrid (and I will be soon now), this is an interesting prequel that I am sure many people will enjoy as it developed Amanda's story and how she was infected, and gave readers more of an insight into who she was.  For me, I just couldn't quite connect with Amanda and what she was going through, but many that's not such a bad thing either, on reflection.


Sunday, November 25, 2012

Review: Luck or Something Like It by Kenny Rogers

Luck or Something Like It
by Kenny Rogers
Release Date: October 4th, 2012
2012 William Morrow
Hardcover Edition; 304 Pages
ISBN: 978-0-06-207181-1
Genre: Non-fiction
Source: Review Copy from Publisher

3.5 Stars

For more than half a century, Kenny Rogers has been recording some of the most revered and beloved music in America and around the world. In that time, he has become a living legend by combining everything from R&B to country and gospel to folk in his unique voice to create a sound that's both wholly original and instantly recognizable.

Now, in his first-ever memoir, Kenny details his lifelong journey to becoming one of American music's elder statesmen—a rare talent who's created hit records for decades while staying true to his values as a performer and a person. Exploring the struggles of his long road, his story begins simply: growing up in Depression-era Texas, living in the projects, surviving in poverty, and listening to his mother, who always had just the right piece of wisdom.

Staring across the decades, Kenny writes a story seemingly straight from one of his songs. The end result is a rollicking ride through fifty years of music history, which offers a heartwarming testament to a time when country music wasn't just a brand but a way of life.

My Thoughts
I have been a long-time fan of Kenny Rogers and jumped on the chance to review this memoir when the opportunity presented itself.  With a mom as a country music fan, I can remember singing to his music as a young child and I was always fascinated by his songs and the stories they told.  I even found a collection of his songs on Youtube and treated myself to a trip down memory lane as I was reading his memoir.  Unfortunately, while I found his memoir to be interesting and quite enjoyed it, I was disappointed as I felt it only moderately scratched the surface of what I now perceive to be a quite fascinating and quite brilliant career.

There were some pretty fascinating moments in this memoir, such as his work with Michael Jackson and Lionel Richie on "We Are the World", his duets with Dottie West, his work with Dolly Parton, and his partnership with Lionel Richie, but I found the information to be superficial, something I could have found on Wikipedia if I had taken the time to hunt it down, and what I wanted was something a bit deeper, what it REALLY felt like to work with these legends of song.  Can you imagine that Kenny Rogers actually sat down several times with Elvis Presley and it was only casually mentioned in his memoirs?  And what was it REALLY like to work with all of these legends on "We Are the World"? To be fair, Mr. Rogers did mention quite clearly in the Author's Note that his friend Patsi Bale Cox, who was instrumental in getting this memoir off the ground, died of lung cancer in the middle of the project, which could be why it has that feeling of being rushed and incomplete.  

I also enjoyed learning about his family and those moments of his childhood that shaped his life.  As a memoir, I felt like a lot of information was kept hidden, probably due to protect the individuals involved, but it would have been nice to learn a bit more about his children and their childhoods as very little was revealed and I don't feel like I learned anything about them other than what would be gleaned off any internet site.  

I did enjoy learning about a lot of the charity works he has been involved in and a lot of the other interesting things that he has done with his life.  That was quite fascinating as I don't think I really knew about the tennis, the photography, and some of the other interests that drive Mr. Rogers in his more private life.  And I am absolutely amazed at the longevity of his career.  I know he is coming to my area in January for two shows, and both of these shows have been completely sold out now for months.  And this past summer, as we were doing a sing-a-long around the campfire, what songs came up that everyone knew and belted out at the top of their lungs?  You guessed it.  "The Gambler" and "Coward of the County".  And some of these folks, by the way, are die-hard 'rockers' who would never admit to being country fans.  And there they were belting out these tunes along with the rest of us.  

Luck or Something Like It was an enjoyable look at the life and singing career of a very remarkable man.  While I found it to be somewhat superficial, he does open up about some things, such as the phone sex scandal, but remains very closed about other aspects of his life that probably would have been quite interesting.  I would thoroughly love to see a sequel, one that captures a bit more of Mr. Rogers himself, and delves a little deeper into his thoughts and perceptions about those around him and the legends he has had the privilege of working with.     


Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Guest Post & Giveaway: Shane KP O'Neill

I am pleased to welcome Shane KP O'Neill, author of The Dracula Chronicles: Bound by Blood, a gothic horror novel featuring who else, Vlad Dracul, and his sons, one an angel and one a devil.  Shane is here today to discuss what is was like to re-create a legend and infuse his own brand of fiction within the legend that already exists.  As someone who has always been fascinated by the legends and tales of Count Dracula, I certainly can't wait to sink my teeth into these tales of horror and mayhem.  Please pardon the pun!!!  Take a look.

The Dracula Chronicles is the brilliant and terrifying new concept of Dracula. It is an epic journey through the ages where the forces of Light and Darkness struggle for supremacy until the Second Great War, as foretold in the Book of Revelations. This bitter feud began after the creation of mankind. Lucifer’s jealousy leads to the First Great War of the angels. Hundreds of thousands of years on the feud simmers beneath the surface. It plots the course of history as we know it today. Both sides manipulate the major players through the centuries to seek an advantage over the other.  

On a cold night in December 1431 in Sighisoara an old gypsy woman delivers a prophecy to the great Vlad Dracul. She tells him he is about to sire two sons, one an angel and the other a devil. He returns to his fortress just as his wife bears him a son, whom he names Vlad. In the very same moment across the country on the border between Transylvania and Hungary a gypsy girl gives birth to another son, Andrei. The die is cast. The twin souls are born. The young Vlad Dracula becomes the instrument of the forces of Darkness. To balance this, the baby Andrei is blessed by the angels and bestowed with awesome powers. These chronicles are their story.


There are few names in popular culture today as famous as that of Dracula.  I would go as far as to say that in the western world the name conjures up an image of one description or another for anyone who hears it, anyone above the age of twelve at least.  For me personally, as a youngster anyway and even now to an extent, I see the face of Christopher Lee, who will always enjoy immortality as the on-screen icon.  Of course, the name Dracula is not limited only to western culture.
For his iconic status in the modern age I guess we need to thank Bram Stoker, who gave us Dracula the vampire for the very first time back in 1897.  From that time forward, his literary classic haunted the imaginations of his countless readers.  Of course, over a dozen actors have taken up the mantle of Dracula on the big screen, beginning with Max Schreck’s Nosferatu in 1922.  Notable mentions to those who have followed in his footsteps and helped cement the legend that is Dracula would include Gary Oldman, Bela Lugosi, Lon Chaney Jr, Gerard Butler, John Carradine and the best of all, Christopher Lee.

And then there is Dracula the man, the true legend, but about whom so little is known by the wider audience that is captivated by the on-screen vampire.  This was a man famous in his own times, as the ruler of Wallachia – one of the three main states that form modern Romania today.  He was a man famed for his brutality, even in his own day, and whose method of punishment brought him notoriety long after he was gone.  When people hear the name Vlad the Impaler, they are a little more familiar with the man I am describing.

So, when the legend already exists, and there are few bigger than this one, how do you create something new?  How do you breathe life into a subject that has already had so many incarnations be it on screen, in books or in historical texts?  What can you write that will capture the imagination of those that already adore Dracula and survive the obvious scrutiny that is sure to come?  It goes without saying that any such undertaking is never likely to be easy.  If it is to succeed then it will have to be something special and something that stands apart.

The first question anyone ever asks me when he/she learns I am a writer, is naturally, “What do you write?”  When I tell them the subject of my books is Dracula, I always see the scepticism in their eyes.  Even if it is unintended it is always there, and this is the point I am trying to address.  How do you write on a subject that everyone holds a pre-conception of, in a way that is not only going to capture their attention, but also their imagination?  If they take the time to investigate further and allow me to explain the concept and premise of my books, then the expression and the look of doubt inevitably changes.  And it is then I know I have something in my possession that will draw interest over a wide spectrum and possibly see the birth of a new legend.

I have always had my own love affair with Dracula, with both the vampire and the famed voivode.  He has intrigued me for decades and given me many a late night trying to understand and know the man he was.  I have always wanted to write, but more significantly, I have always wanted to write about him.  I wanted to write about both Dracula the man and Dracula the vampire.  Even in the earliest days of my project I knew it was going to need to be something grandiose and epic in scope.  And that is what I set out to create.  Nine years on and three books later, The Dracula Chronicles is well on the way to achieving this.

My task, therefore, was to formulate a concept where I could focus on building the world of Dracula the man and move into fantasy with Dracula the vampire and successfully blend the two together.  I based my premise on the aftermath of the first Great War of the Angels.  This war is a consequence of Lucifer’s jealousy upon the creation of mankind, which causes a great divide in Heaven and results in him and those that had sided with him to be cast out.  To end the carnage, God agrees a truce with Lucifer.  One of the terms of the truce is that they would contest the soul of every man, though without any physical interference.  If at any time Lucifer controls a greater number of souls then he can return again to Heaven and oversee the end of mankind.

When it seems that Lucifer might triumph, God sends His son who is then crucified to free man from sin.  This undoes all of Lucifer’s work and leaves him in the same position as he was after the truce.  However, on the day of the Crucifixion the Catholic Church is born.  Fourteen hundred years on Lucifer comes to believe if he can destroy the institution of the Catholic Church then he can turn man against God once more.  The candidate he chooses for this immense task is the young Vlad Dracula.  In the moment the young Dracula breathes life, so does his half-brother to a gypsy woman on the other side of the country.  The Powers of Light bestow the baby Andrei with great power as a balance to Dracula.

This is the point where I build the world of Dracula the man and create Dracula the man.  There have been a few noble attempts by others to do this and I am aware of another in progress at the moment.  However, the best effort I have read was that written by Michael Augustyn.  But even then, his book fell short of what I was looking for personally in Dracula the man.  So with the first two tomes, The Gates Of Babylon and Descent To Darkness I have created his world.  I have built a profile of a most amazing man with his struggles, his conflicts, his loves and his triumphs.  Despite the image the history books convey of him, my readers will fall in love with Vlad Dracula.  I daresay he will be as popular with readers, despite the antagonist of the series from Book 3 onwards, as his brother, Andrei, who is the protagonist of the story.  It is in Book 3, Bound By Blood, that I give you Dracula the vampire, as created by Lucifer.  He then begins his journey through the ages to bring down the institution of the Catholic Church.

So for those of you out there who may have been waiting for something new from Dracula, or even just a return to the traditional vampire with a little something different, I give you the Dracula Chronicles.

A prequel to the series is available now to give a feel for the Chronicles, with Bound By Blood coming out on December 1st.  I invite you to join Dracula and I on our journey through time.

Book Trailer

One lucky reader will win one signed copy of Bound by Blood.  Open internationally.  Contest ends 30 November 2012.  

In order to enter, please comment below.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Review: Arise by Tara Hudson

Arise (Hereafter #2)
by Tara Hudson
Release Date: June 5th, 2012
2012 Harper Teen
Softcover Edition; 404 Pages
ISBN: 978-0-06-202679-8
Genre: Young Adult Paranormal
Source: Review copy from publisher

3.5 / 5 Stars

New Orleans
Saint Louis
Number One Cemetery
A night there can change a life . . . or a death.

Increasingly worried that dark spirits will carry out their threats and hurt the people she cares for most, Amelia is ready to try anything to protect them. And for his own very different reasons, Joshua has come to this cemetery at midnight to join her in a powerful ritual.

Both know that once Amelia steps inside the Voodoo circle and the beautiful girl from the Conjure CafE begins the cere-mony, everything will change.

Tara Hudson's enthralling sequel to "Hereafter" escalates the danger and excitement, bringing a new dimension to her already mesmerizing story of a haunted love.

My Thoughts
Arise is the second novel in the Hereafter Series and although I enjoyed the first novel, I wasn't as crazy about this installment in the series. And while this one tended to focus much more on the paranormal aspect of Amelia's world rather than on Joshua and Amelia's relationship, I felt like there was something missing in the story, something that just didn't draw me in enough to really care wholeheartedly about the story or the characters.

As always though, any time a story is set in New Orleans, I take an immediate interest as I just love the atmosphere of that city.  There is just something fascinating and intriguing about the history of New Orleans and when the author can weave that magic into the book, it can definitely elevate it to another level of reading.  And while there were some elements of intrigue and interest in Arise, I don't feel like the author really captured the atmosphere of New Orleans like I have seen it done in other novels, like those written by Anne Rice, Barbara Hambly or James Lee Burke.  I felt like the elements just jumped from scene to scene, and never really got a chance to fully develop to their potential.

While I was glad to have the setting moved to New Orleans, I wasn't overly crazy about the plot.  I will admit however, that I was glad to see the emphasis shift from Amelia and Joshua's relationship issues to the darker elements that surrounded them, as it made it more interesting.  As Amelia began having nightmares and began fearing for the safety of Joshua and his family, she spent a lot of time agonizing over whether to stay with him or leave him.  While I understand how difficult this ghost-human relationship thing can be, the whining was somewhat annoying and I wanted to just get on with the story.  What was the darkness?  Who was doing the nightmares? And why do they want her so badly? I don't really feel like any of those questions were really answered in this novel however, so perhaps more answers will be forthcoming in the next installment.  It was interesting though, to see what Amelia was becoming through her various voodoo practices, if you want to call it that, and I am curious as to what the author will do with Amelia now that she is no longer what she was.  Is that obscure enough without giving away too much relevant information?

I did like the introduction of the various new characters although I don't feel like I got to know any of them at all.  Joshua's sister got on my nerves the most as I couldn't fully understand her behaviour.  I can understand how she might be miffed at her brother's ghostly relationship, but that same ghost saved her life and she could at least show some gratitude once in a while.  And for a family full of witches/seers not to figure out that another witch/seer may be under a spell, well...not very good witches/seers are they?  I did like to see Joshua and Amelia explore their difficulties and differences a bit more as the complications of their relationship must cause Joshua problems in his real world.   He would have been heard speaking to himself on a number of occasions and I'm sure, as parents, they would be wondering what was wrong with their son.  I did really like the ending though, as it was somewhat heart-wrenching and not what I expected at all.  Amelia certainly understands the realities of the relationship, but I don't think Joshua does, and he is way too understanding and compassionate.  Does he ever get angry?  

Arise is an interesting follow-up in the Hereafter Series, and while I didn't quite enjoy it as much as the first novel, there are still quite a few elements I found intriguing.  Amelia's situation is still precarious and the changes that have happened to her lead to a potentially very interesting third novel in this series and I am looking forward to seeing how these changes will impact the relationship between herself and Joshua as well as with the rest of the family.  Arise doesn't have the feel of the middle book of a trilogy though, as the emphasis in this one was quite different than in Hereafter and I liked that very much. The pacing was also rather quite good, and the author manged to keep up the tension and suspense very well throughout. While I don't quite feel like a lot of things were fully explained in this novel, and many interesting developments were sort of glossed over, and the characters were not developed as fully as they could have been, I will probably still read the third novel, Elegy, if only to find out what will happen to Amelia.    

Thursday, November 15, 2012

2013 Ebook Challenge at Workaday Reads

2013 Ebook Challenge Hosted by Workaday Reads

I have decided to do this challenge again because I enjoyed it and I do tend to read a lot of ebooks.  While I wasn't as successful in the 2012 challenge as I would have liked, I am upping the ante next year in the hopes it will motivate me.  I am also hoping 2013 will be a far easier year than 2012 and I will have more time to read.  I am looking forward to blogging more consistently after taking a hiatus for four months and doing a lot more reading. If you're interested, check out Wordaday Reads for more information.  Ante up!!!!

Challenge Guidelines:
  1. This challenge will run from Jan 1, 2013 – Dec 31, 2013.
  2. Anyone can join, you don’t need to be a blogger. If you don’t have a blog, feel free to sign-up in the comments. You can post reviews to any book site (i.e. Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Smashwords, Goodreads, etc).
  3. Any genre or length of book counts, as long as it is in ebook format.
  4. You can plan your books in advance or as you read them.
  5. When you sign up in the linky, put the direct link to your post about joining the E-Book Reading Challenge.
  6. You can move up levels, but no moving down.
  7. Sign-ups will be open until Dec 15, 2013, so feel free to join at any time throughout the year.
  1. Floppy disk – 5 ebooks
  2. CD – 10 ebooks
  3. DVD – 25 ebooks
  4. Memory stick – 50 ebooks
  5. Hard drive – 75 ebooks
  6. Server – 100 ebooks
  7. Human brain – 150 ebooks
I am going to try for Hard Drive this year for a total of 75 books.  I am really hoping to hit Server (100 books), but I do need to be realistic.