Just a reminder to everyone! Tomorrow, May 1st, we'll have an interview with Kelley Armstrong, Author of the Month here at Twisted Kingdom! Look forward to this very interesting interview as well as the prize packet that will be drawn!

Here are some new releases that we are looking forward to in May:

All Together Dead (Hardcover)
by Charlaine Harris

Louisiana cocktail waitress Sookie Stackhouse has her hands full dealing with every sort of undead and paranormal creature imaginable. And after being betrayed by her longtime vampire love, Sookie must not only deal with a new man in her life-the shapeshifter Quinn-but also contend with the long-planned vampire summit.

The summit is a tense situation. The vampire queen of Louisiana is in a precarious position, her power base weakened by hurricane damage to New Orleans. And there are some vamps who would like to finish what nature started. Soon, Sookie must decide what side she'll stand with. And her choice may mean the difference between survival and all-out catastrophe.

Marked: A House of Night Novel (Paperback-Young Adult)
by PC Cast, Kristin Cast

The House of Night series is set in a world very much like our own, except in 16-year-old Zoey Redbird's world, vampyres have always existed. In this first book in the series, Zoey enters the House of Night, a school where, after having undergone the Change, she will train to become an adult vampire--that is, if she makes it through the Change. Not all of those who are chosen do. It’s tough to begin a new life, away from her parents and friends, and on top of that, Zoey finds she is no average fledgling. She has been Marked as special by the vampyre Goddess, Nyx. But she is not the only fledgling at the House of Night with special powers. When she discovers that the leader of the Dark Daughters, the school's most elite club, is misusing her Goddess-given gifts, Zoey must look deep within herself for the courage to embrace her destiny--with a little help from her new vampyre friends.

The Walker Papers: Coyote Dreams (Book 3) (Paperback)

by C.E. Murphy

Much of the city can't wake up. And more are dozing off each day.

Instead of powerful forces storming Seattle, a more insidious invasion is happening. Most of Joanne Walker's fellow cops are down with the blue flu—or rather the blue sleep. Yet there's no physical cause anyone can point to—and it keeps spreading.

It has to be magical, Joanne figures. But what's up with the crazy dreams that hit her every time she closes her eyes? Are they being sent by Coyote, her still-missing spirit guide? The messages just aren't clear.

Somehow Joanne has to wake up her sleeping friends while protecting those still awake, figure out her inner-spirit dream life and, yeah, come to terms with these other dreams she's having about her boss…

No Humans Involved (Hardcover)
by Kelley Armstrong

Readers around the world have fallen for Kelley Armstrong’s intoxicating, sensual and wicked tales of the paranormal, in which demons and witches, werewolves and vampires collide – often hilariously, sometimes violently – with everyday life. In Armstrong’s first six novels, Elena, Paige and Eve have had their way with us. Now get ready for Jaime Vegas, the luscious, lovelorn and haunted necromancer. . .

Jaime, who knows a thing or two about showbiz, is on a television shoot in Los Angeles when weird things start to happen. As a woman whose special talent is raising the dead, her threshold for weirdness is pretty high: she’s used to not only seeing dead people but hearing them speak to her in very emphatic terms. But for the first time in her life – as invisible hands brush her skin, unintelligible fragments of words are whispered into her ears, and beings move just at the corner of her eye–she knows what humans mean when they talk about being haunted.

She is determined to get to the bottom of these manifestations, but as she sets out to solve the mystery she has no idea how scary her investigation will get, or to what depths ordinary humans will sink in their attempts to gain supernatural powers. As she digs into the dark underside of Los Angeles, she’ll need as much Otherworld help as she can get in order to survive, calling on her personal angel, Eve, and Hope, the well-meaning chaos demon. Jeremy, the alpha werewolf, is also by her side offering protection. And, Jaime hopes, maybe a little more than that.

Ironside: A Modern Faery's Tale (Hardcover)
by Holly Black

In the realm of Faerie, the time has come for Roiben's coronation. Uneasy in the midst of the malevolent Unseelie Court, pixie Kaye is sure of only one thing -- her love for Roiben. But when Kaye, drunk on faerie wine, declares herself to Roiben, he sends her on a seemingly impossible quest. Now Kaye can't see or speak to Roiben unless she can find the one thing she knows doesn't exist: a faerie who can tell a lie.

Miserable and convinced she belongs nowhere, Kaye decides to tell her mother the truth -- that she is a changeling left in place of the human daughter stolen long ago. Her mother's shock and horror sends Kaye back to the world of Faerie to find her human counterpart and return her to Ironside. But once back in the faerie courts, Kaye finds herself a pawn in the games of Silarial, queen of the Seelie Court. Silarial wants Roiben's throne, and she will use Kaye, and any means necessary, to get it. In this game of wits and weapons, can a pixie outplay a queen?

Holly Black spins a seductive tale at once achingly real and chillingly enchanted, set in a dangerous world where pleasure mingles with pain and nothing is exactly as it appears.

The Well of Shades (Bridei Chronicles) (Hardcover)
by Juliet Marillier

Juliet Marillier continues the epic fantasy begun with The Dark Mirror, which Interzone called: "A fascinating evocation of life in Pictish England and an emotional roller coaster of a story."

King Bridei is a man with a mission. His wish to unite his kingdom seems almost within his grasp but there are forces working to undo his dream. He sends Faolan, his most trusted advisor (who is also a master assassin and spymaster) out into the world to ferret out the truth of who is friend and who is foe.

Along the way Faolan will uncover many truths. Some may hold the key to Bridei's future. But more important, they may unlock the secrets that Faolan has held deep within his soul for decades.

And offer him the chance of redemption.

Chronicles of Faerie: The Light-Bearer's Daughter (The Chronicles of Faerie) (Hardcover-Young Adult)
by O.R. Melling

The third book in this critically acclaimed trilogy, which Booklist described as “shimmering with magic, myth, and romance”

Dana has few memories of her mother, who disappeared when she was small. But she has always dreamed, despite her father’s discouragement, that her mother would come back one day. When her dad decides to leave Ireland and take a job across the ocean in Canada, Dana is heartbroken. How can she leave her home and the only chance of seeing her mother again? She runs away, high into the fairy mountains of Ireland. Following ancient paths, with a mysterious wolf companion at her side, Dana encounters a world of tragic enchantment and fairy romance, and discovers a great secret about herself.

With lush descriptions and rich Celtic lore, plus cameo appearances by characters from the previous books, this latest chronicle will satisfy fans of the series and entice new readers.

Dead Sexy (Garnet Lacey, Book 2) (Paperback)
by Tate Hallaway

Tall, Dark & Dead introduced Garnet Lacey, a bookstore manager/witch who accidentally unleashed the dark goddess Lilith on Vatican assassins. Now she has other things to worry about-like pesky frat boy zombies, a gorgeous FBI agent hot on her trail, love spells gone wrong, and keeping her vampire boyfriend a safe distance from her vampire ex-boyfriend. There's just no rest for this Wiccan...


This is my first attempt at reading Shannon Hale after hearing so many good things about her.

The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale
Published by Bloomsbury USA

4/5

Anidori-Kiladra Talianna Isilee, Crown Princess of Kildenree, spends the first years of her life under her aunt's guidance learning to communicate with animals. As she grows up Ani develops the skills of animal speech, but is never comfortable speaking with people, so when her silver-tongued lady-in-waiting leads a mutiny during Ani's journey to be married in a foreign land, Ani is helpless and cannot persuade anyone to assist her. Becoming a goose girl for the king, Ani eventually uses her own special, nearly magical powers to find her way to her true destiny. Shannon Hale has woven an incredible, original and magical tale of a girl who must find her own unusual talents before she can become queen of the people she has made her own.
I have always enjoyed fairy tale retellings and I keep hearing good things about this author, so I was glad to finally get around to reading this book. I have had it for a while sitting on my tbr pile, and it is thanks to the Once Upon a Time Reading Challenge that I finally got around to reading it.

This is the typical fairy tale with additions added in to make it a novel. I read the Grimms Fairy Tale he other day, so it was interesting to see how it was transferred into a novel. The Princess in this story has always known that she would one day go on to be queen, and was raised to take that role. Her mother changes her mind, though, and she is expected to marry a prince from another kingdom, but her chances of that happening are not so good when her lady in waiting gets the idea for power and will do anything to sweep her off the throne.

Then, she ends up as the goose girl and not a princess afterall. Scared for her life, she is hiding until she thinks it is save to reclaim her throne. No one knows her true identity because it is too risky that they might reveal it to the men that are searching for her. During the course of being the goose girl, though, she gains the confidence that had been missing for the majority of her life. Overall, it is a very good retelling of a classic fairy tale.

4/5

Valiant by Holly Black: 4.5/5
published by Simon & Schuster Childrens in May 2006

First of all let me start by saying that I loved this book! Holly Black doesn't disappoint with her follow up to Tithe: A Modern Faerie Tale. Straight from Amazon:

Val Russell runs away from home after discovering her mom and her boyfriend making out. In New York, she meets two eccentric, homeless teens who take her to their hideout in the subway tunnels where Dave's older brother runs an underground operation dealing potions to faeries. Lolli introduces her to the land of Faerie by shooting up an otherworldly substance called Never (named after Edgar Allan Poe's "Nevermore" from The Raven). Val and Lolli are caught by Ravus, the powerful troll they work for. After enduring his rage and bargaining for Lolli's life in true Beauty and the Beast fashion, Val is bound to Ravus for indefinite servitude and falls in love with him.

I found this book is just as good as Tithe in its dark and gritty portrayal of the Fey. This time we have another human, Val, who gets caught up in the underground network of exiled Fey now living in New York. Val is just as great a heroine as Kay and the romance between her and Ravus is, IMO, just as nice. However, people looking for romance must remember that Holly writes urban fantasy and not romance novels. There is always an element of romance thrown in for good measure but it is never the focus of the story. The tales are always about our heroine and how they deal with their everyday, mundane lives and their reaction when they discover this whole and dangerous world of the Fey.

I truly wish Mrs. Black would decide to continue on with this series as I think there are lots more possibilities and tales to explore in this world. Unfortunately I do believe this is the second book in a planned trilogy. The last book, Ironside, recently came out.

Let's just hope Holly changes her mind and keeps this wonderful world alive.

A solid 4.5 out of 5.


Hey everyone!!
As you know, this month's Author of the Month is Kelley Armstrong, author of the Women of the Otherworld series. I have contacted Kelley and asked her for an interview as well as for a guest post... so here is the guest post!


Release Day Jitters


I don’t think I’ve ever been as stressed out as I was when my first book came out. I hadn’t expected that. It took two years from the time the book sold until it was released, so I was counting down the days, so excited about seeing my lifelong dream about to be realized. Then someone emailed me and said “Hey, I saw your book reviewed on this website.” And there was a link. So I took a deep breath, told myself that it might not be a good review and, if it wasn’t, I’d accept that and learn from it. Constructive criticism, right? So I clicked the link. It went to a site called Mrs. Giggles. I’d never heard of it, so I expected a standard review—liked it, didn’t like it, liked these parts, these parts sucked. Instead I got something like “I kept hoping Elena [the protagonist] would die.” I was devastated. It was like someone saying they hoped your first-born would die, and no matter how hard I tried to rationalize it as “just one person’s opinion,” it was my first review ever, so I was convinced that this was a sign of things to come and I’d failed as a writer.

And so began the release of my first novel. I spent the whole month worried sick about how it would be received and how well it would sell and whether I’d be allowed the chance to publish a second. Not exactly the exhilarating launch I’d expected!

So now it’s book seven that’s coming out next week, and I’d love to say that I’m totally confident about how it will be received. I can say that I’m not as stressed out as I was the first few times. I know that my career doesn’t hinge on how well this particular book does. And I know that this book was as good as I could make it, and I’ve learned that’s all I can ask of myself, that I do the best I can with each book.

I know there will be readers who love it and tell me it’s my best so far, and there will be readers who hate it and vow never to read another Kelley Armstrong novel, and that either reaction probably comes down to a matter of personal taste. My hope, then, is that the general opinion--among my readers--is that No Humans Involved is a worthy addition to the series. If they think that, then I’ve done my job.


So, with less than a week to release date, what am I doing…besides trying not to worry about the book? Working on edits for book 8, which really helps because I’m very happy with it and focusing on “the next one” helps alleviate the stress over this one. I’m also frantically trying to get my website ready for May. I want to do some special contests…and haven’t had time to come up with anything!

As for my “release month schedule,” I just got back from two days in Montreal, meeting booksellers and signing stock. Off to an advance signing this Sunday. Two interviews Tuesday and guest blogging. A writing workshop to give Wednesday (oh God, have I even written out my notes yet?) Signings all weekend. Off to Ottawa for meetings and signings, then Vancouver. Back for a conference that weekend. Got a break for Mother’s Day—I’m taking my mom, mom-in-law, siblings, etc to Mother’s Day brunch to celebrate selling a YA urban fantasy trilogy Podcasting for my US publisher the following week. More signings…more signings…more signings. Yep, that’s my month.

Between obligations I plan to finish those edits, write a new batch of scenes for another book, and proofread pages for an anthology short story. Very busy, but you absolutely will not hear me complaining because I love it. Being busy means I’m doing just fine. My dream career is still chugging along nicely and I’m still as happy in it as I ever imagined I would be.



*me again, Nath :) If you're interested to know more about Kelley Armstrong, you can read the story of Her First Sale over at Dear Author. In addition, Kelley will be guest blogging over at The Good, the Bad and the Unread on May 1st. And last thing, don't forget to come back to TK on May 1st for Kelley's interview with us!! You'll have the chance to win a few goodies!


The second book in the Women of the Otherworld series and my second book by the Author of the Month.

Stolen by Kelley Armstrong
Published by Seal Books in 2003

4.5/5

Even though she’s the world’s only female werewolf, Elena Michaels is just a regular girl at heart -- with larger than normal appetites. She sticks to three feasts a day, loves long runs in the moonlight, and has a lover who is unbelievably frustrating yet all the more sexy for his dark side. Like every regular girl, she certainly doesn’t believe in witches. Then again, when two small, ridiculously feminine women manage to hurl her against a wall, and then save her from the hunters on her tail, Elena realizes that maybe there are more things in heaven and earth than she’s dreamt of.

Vampires, demons, shamans, witches -- in Stolen they all exist, and they’re all under attack. An obsessed tycoon with a sick curiosity is well on his way to amassing a private collection of supernaturals, and plans to harness their powers for himself -- even if it means killing them. For Elena, kidnapped and imprisoned deep underground, separated from her Pack, unable to tell her friends from her enemies, choosing the right allies is a matter of life and death.
This book also follows Elena as the narrator. The reason I like it better is because there are werewolves, witches, half-demons, sorcerors, vampires, and so on. I liked the different characters because they added to the book. This book also does not focus on Clay and Elena's relationship like the previous one did.

In this book, a group of regular people has learned the secrets of the paranormal creatures and is determined to take advantage of their powers for the benefit of the "normal" people. This means that the main paranormal groups have seeked each other out in an attempt to not have it happen to more of them. The werewolves were not aware of the other creatures, though, so when Elena meets up with some witches, she is skeptical until they show her a taste of what it is to be them. I found the fact that she was skeptical funny because here she is a werewolf and she did not believe in anything else. She is a very close-minded werewolf.

Most of the book she is separated from the Pack because she had the misfortune of being one of the kidnapped folk. A good part of the book takes place during her captivity and what she does daily in that situation. It shows the power these people think they have and the problems that she gets herself into because the leader of the compound does not place much value on other lives.

I think I was most shocked by the ending to these book. It made sense, but at the same time it was a very graphic ending. Overall, it was interesting to both meet all the new characters and to see how Armstrong writes them with her own creative flare. I look forward to reading the next book in the series to see more of the paranormal creatures.

So, my challenge for the month was to read Kelley Armstrong. I had never read her before, so I had all her books to handle. I only had to read this one, though, so anything passed this is just an added bonus.

Bitten by Kelley Armstrong
Published by Sel Books in 2001

4/5

Living in Toronto for a year, Elena is leading the normal life she has always dreamed of, including a stable job as a journalist and a nice apartment shared with her boyfriend. As the lone female werewolf in existence, only her secret midnight prowls and her occasional inhuman cravings set her apart. Just one year ago, life was very different. Adopted by the Pack when bitten, Elena had spent years struggling with her resentment at having her life stolen away. Torn between two worlds, and overwhelmed by the new passions coursing through her body, her only option for control was to deny her awakening needs and escape.

But now the Pack has called Elena home to help them fight an alliance of renegade werewolves who are bent on exposing and annihilating the Pack. And although Elena is obliged to rejoin her "family," she vows not to be swept up in Pack life again, no matter how natural it might feel. She has made her choice. Trouble is, she's increasingly uncertain if it's the right one.
This book has been on my TBR pile for a while now. The second hand bookstore had all her books but one, so I decided to invest in them because I had heard good things. Then, they just sat on the bookshelf... So, Nath challenging me to read them was a very good idea!

I am very big on books that portray women in a positive role. It is so easy for authors to slip into the old-fashioned style of damsel in distress saved by the very handsome young man. I try to avoid books like that. I like to think that both sexes are capable of taking care of themselves if they have to. This book met the criteria. Following Elena, the narrator, through her adventures as the only female in a pack of werewolves. She had left the pack in an attempt to live a "normal" life. She had everything she thought she always wanted, but then the pack leader called her back because they needed her help and suddenly she could not ignore her "abnormal" life anymore.

I liked Elena. She gets the job done. She is supposed to listen to the Alpha, but she has an amazing ability to stand up to him at the same time. She can be annoying, but at the same time she is the only female in a bunch of males, she is a werewolf so that puts her outside her normal society, so she is always fighting to fit in. The other characters in the book are interesting too, though. Jeremy, the Alpha, gets the job done and is a compelling character. He is the brains of the operation. Then, there is Clay, he is the sex appeal, but do not get any ideas because he is already taken! Nick is the comedian who I think should be in the future books, but I see him only being a minor character. His father's character does not get developed very well, nor do the other two members of the pack.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book. I felt bad for Elena, because everyone has those moments where they try so hard to fit in and it does not work out for them. She is just a werewolf, but it is a very human problem. The pasts of these characters is also laid out, so they are given depth. I really enjoy this series! Thanks for challenging me to read it Nath, it was worth it.

Today, we have another guest review by Katie from Rhinoa's Ramblings. Unfortunately, it'll be the last one for awhile, as Katie will be switching to classics reading :) And guess what? The book she's reviewing is Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman! Enjoy!


Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman
Published by Review (2005)


Rating - 4/5
Genre - Fantasy, gothic, fairy tale
"Under the streets of London there's a place most people could never even dream of. A city of monsters, and saints, murderers and angels, knights in armour and pale girls in black velvet. This is the city of the people who have fallen between the cracks.

Richard Mayhew, a young businessman, is going to find out more than enough about this other London. A single act of kindness catapuls him out of his workday existence and into a world that is at once eerily familiar and utterly bizarre. And a strange destiny awaits him down here, beneath his native city: neverwhere."

This is the first full length novel I have read by Neil Gaiman (I have read Smoke and Mirrors which is a collection of his short stories as well as The Sandman graphic novels) so I was intrigued to see if it would be any good or not! It follows Richard Mayhew who is your typical bloke having moved from Scotland to London. His life is forever changed after helping a young woman who is badly injured one night when going out to dinner with his fiance. He is dragged into London Below which is a whole other world underneath London as we know it, where the people who have slipped through the cracks live.

Below he meets Rat-speakers, murderers in the form of Mister Vandemar and Mister Croup, Old Bailey, the Marquis de Carabas, Hunter and the girl he saved Door who has the inherited ability to open any door she comes across. Door sets on a quest to avenge her family who have been killed by Vandemar and Croup on behalf of an unknown employee and Richard finds himself tagging along to see if he can uncover a way back to his life in London Above.

The prose wasn't the best I have to admit, however I loved the imagination and creativity behind the story. The fact that I live in the London and use the Underground most days made it seem more real to me. The use of the Underground names and the play on words Gaiman does was great (eg Seven Sisters are seven actual sisters, there are a bunch of Black Friars, Islington is an Angel and the Earl holds Court). It's funny that I didn't realise Terry Pratchett was doing a paraody of Vandemar and Croup in his book The Truth with Mr Pin and Mr Tulip in their manner of speaking, their characteristics and their love of fine artwork!

Very dark, I can also see where Holly Black took some inspiration for her novel Valient. I am looking forward to reading more of his novels.

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Hey everyone!

So I'm really, really excited, because Ms. Kelley Armstrong has agreed to be a guest-blog at Twisted Kingdom!!! Isn't that great news? She will have a guest-blog post (TBA date) and an interview on May 1st!

So if you have any questions you'd like to ask to Kelley Armstrong, author of the Women of the Otherworld series, please email them at thetwistedk@gmail.com by the end of the week-end (Sunday April 22, midnight). I can't guarantee 100% that we'll ask them, but it's worth a try! :D

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City of Bones by Cassandra Clare: DNF
published by Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing in March 2007 (HC)

Don't be deceived by the following plot [from Amazon]:


When fifteen-year-old Clary Fray heads out to the Pandemonium Club in New York City, she hardly expects to witness a murder -- much less a murder committed by three teenagers covered with strange tattoos and brandishing bizarre weapons. Then the body disappears into thin air. It's hard to call the police when the murderers are invisible to everyone else and when there is nothing -- not even a smear of blood -- to show that a boy has died. Or was he a boy?

This is Clary's first meeting with the Shadowhunters, warriors dedicated to ridding the earth of demons. It's also her first encounter with Jace, a Shadowhunter who looks a little like an angel and acts a lot like a jerk. Within twenty-four hours Clary is pulled into Jace's world with a vengeance, when her mother disappears and Clary herself is attacked by a demon. But why would demons be interested in ordinary mundanes like Clary and her mother? And how did Clary suddenly get the Sight? The Shadowhunters would like to know. . . .


Let me just start by telling you that this is the first time EVER I will be getting my money back. I am the type that figures if you bought it then you stick it out. However, I hadn't come across such a horrible read as this one in such a long time I think I deserve my money back.

How bad was it? A Did Not Finish. I barely got past the first 20 pages and I felt I was in a very, very bad episode of Buffy [from back in Season 1 when everything was so campy and horrid you couldn't help but wince].

Mind you and I am a HUGE Buffy fan.

Oddly enough what I find most disappointing was not the book itself but the fact that one of my absolute favorite YA writers recommended it. I don't know what Holly Black was thinking. In fact, I am willing to bet she didn't even have time to read the book and just read the description, saw faeries and figured it had to be good.

I bought the book because she spoke so highly about it. I have never done this. Ever. I don't buy books because of author quotes. EVER. But Holly Black is so amazing with her dark faeries and I figured what the hell.

I am never, ever doing that again.

Let's see, where to begin. Oh yes. We have a seemingly normal teenager walking into a club. Somehow I get the idea she isn't of the "in" crowd and her and her friend probably stick out like a sore thumb but what the hell I'm going with it. Out of the blue [remember she is supposed to be normal] she sees a boy following a girl and figures they are about to get it on but what bothers her is that they are being followed by two more boys. Now, anyone else would have A)figured they were all friends or whatnot and B)minded their own business. But not our heroine. She thinks this is weird and so she proceeds to follow them all into the storage closet.

Now, how big this storage closet is that there are 3 boys, 2 girls AND that the first four fail to notice our heroine hiding in the darkness, well, I don't know. Also, they are all super humans or not human and they can track each other yet they fail to detect a mere mortal hiding a few paces from where they are all standing.

It just gets better and better.

Of course our heroine mistakes the scene for a gang rivalry and figures they are going to kill the one boy they all followed. Instead of going to get help what does our heroine do? You probably saw this coming: she yells at them to stop what they are doing because killing humans is just plain wrong.

I didn't make that up. I paraphrased. No joke.

Oh, I think I forgot to mention that, before she decided to speak up, she was pretty scared thinking that these were not your average weirdos what with their talk of demons and supernatural beings.

Raise your hand if you would have run back the way you came.

Raise your hand if you would have gotten an adult, like one of the bouncers, to help.

Raise your hand if you wouldn't have even follow the lot of them into a storage closet because it was none of your damn business.

Since I couldn't believe my eyes I decided to check out some reviews on Amazon and, apparently, I should have checked them out first. It seems I wasn't mistaking and this book is a cross between every fantasy novel that ever was from Buffy to Harry Potter to Star Wars to god-knows what else.

I could have tried to read some more but not only was the plot horrific, so was the writing. This was somebody's fan fiction gone wrong.

I would have overlooked all of this if indeed it WAS someone's fan fiction but a professional book that cost no less than $18 USD?

Oh you bet I will be getting my money back. And if they ask me why at the bookstore I am not even going to lie. I am going to tell them that it just plain stinks.



As you all know, all who commented on Colleen Gleason's interview had the chance to win an ARC copy of Rises the Night, book 2 of the Gardella Vampire Chronicles, generously offered by its author. So, Kailana drew the name earlier this evening and the lucky, very lucky winner is...

... Sorry, not you Ames...

...MEARDABA!

Congratulations Meardaba! Many are very jealous of you!

To claim your prize, please contact us at thetwistedk@gmail.com or Colleen, directly, at author@colleengleason.com.



First, I apologize for the delay for this review. I had it planned for earlier this week, but we had a busy week and much more interesting stuff than this review to post :D

As for this book... You know, sometimes, you buy a book that looks good: beautiful cover, great back blurb, and you just want to like it. You really want to like it... and so when you don't, it's really disappointing. Well this is what happened with Claimed by Shadows...


Claimed by Shadows by Karen Chance: DNF
published by ROC in March 2007


Cassie Palmer is a clairvoyant as well as a medium who was raised by vampires. She's also the heiress to the title of Pythia, the world's chief of clairvoyants in the magic community. Along the title comes new powers that Cassie does not want to be burdened with, but she doesn't have a say since it is THE power that does the choosing. After the events of Touch the Darkness, Cassie is on the run... from everyone: the vampires, the fey, the mages, the witches, etc. She also looking for Antonio, the vampire that has killed her parents, for revenge.

While interrogating one of Antonia's second-in-command, Cassie learns that a geis has been put on her by one powerful master vampire. A geis is a magical claim that warns off any would-be suitors, and might also explain the rather ... intense attraction between them. However, before she can ask for more details, two forces burst in: one that would see Cassie die and one that is there to protect her... and everything that can go wrong, goes wrong...


Genre: fantasy, psychics, magic, vampires, the fey
Series: Cassie Palmer series, book 2

Review: So this was really a roller-coaster ride. It's hard to explain, but my problem is that there was too much action (can't believe I'm saying this) and that made it hard for me to follow. One of Cassie's new power is the ability to travel in time - but she doesn't have much control over it. This just complicates the story. While reading, I didn't know when an event was starting and ending. I think I read half-way the book before giving... it was just too much.

The Characters - Cassie is an interesting character, that I won't deny. My problem though is that we always see her when something is happening, in action. I don't have a sense of who she is as a person. This makes it hard for me to connect with her... or even root for her. I mean, is Cassie a good or bad guy? So yeah, I don't know who she is as a person. I know she is a clairvoyant, a medium, the next Pythia, a person that everyone seems to desire and covet... but do these things define her personality? No, at least not entirely. So I guess what I'm complaining about is the depth of the characterization... which wasn't deep enough to make me care about Cassie.

Some characters from Touch the Darkness reappears, but the same problem occurs. They're all busy fighting, running and etc. for me to have a sense of who they are. I have to admit that I was happy to see Pritchkin as he's quite an intriguing character.

The Story & Writing - I was really confused while reading this book... way too much happened, but I've already complained about it, so I will stop. Something else that made me stop reading this book is the requirement for a person to become a Pythia. One minute, they all believe that the heiress (Cassie) must be a virgin, another minute, no-no, she has to lose her virginity, etc. I'm tired of this kind of plot where virginity plays such a big role... it's been done and we all know the result of it: sooner or later, she will have sex. Which brings me to my other complain, and this is strictly the romance reader side of me speaking: couldn't she at least sleep with someone she loved? I guess not...

The Cover - The cover is really nice, better than the first one I think... which is what push me into buying the book and finally, start reading the first one.

Sigh. I'll probably try to read this book again, maybe it's easier when you've alread tried once... However, I'll wait and see before buying the third one. All in all, I was really disappointed because I really wanted to like this book :(

You probably read Harry Potter or perhaps another equally famous not-for-adults book, figured teen and children novels can be just as entertaining and well written as those meant for adults yet are stuck and don't know where to go next. Fear not my dear friend for I am here to guide you in the right direction. Whether is high fantasy, more wizards, faeries or even a vampire pirate or two I will tell you just which books and series are a treat for everyone in the family regardless of age.

The first thing you should know is that children and Young Adult books can be just as well written and descriptive as any book geared towards an older audience. You won't find simple dialogue or two sentence descriptions here. They can also be as chock full of dangers, murder, death and mayhem as their adult counterparts. Indeed a lot of younger audience books don't shy away from killing, mayming or otherwise harming even the protagonists. These means you don't have to suffer from sugary sweet worlds filled with nice, fluffy beings that never get into anything dangerous. No siree-bob, these books have a bit of everything!

With that said, let's get to the books themselves!


NOTE: I've put descriptions by each of the titles so you have an idea of what to expect. Please note that GORE means just that. Some of the books easilly get into creepy character death/murder and/or other somewhat disturbing themes.


Books of Pellinor by Allison Croggon - High Fantasy, Magic, Quests, Adventures

These books are beautifully written. They are, in fact, my favorite in the children, young adult category as far as the writing is concerned. The books deal with the adventures of Maerad in the world of Edil-Amarandh. Books 3 & 4 deal with Hem, Maerad's brother.

They are:
The Naming
The Riddle
The Crow
The Singing


WEBSITE




The Abhorsen Trilogy by Garth Nix
- High Fantasy, Necromancers, Quests

Second best children/YA writing. Garth Nix has such a way with words and this trilogy shows just how incredible his writing can be. Get swept away to a magical world where necromancers are good and they are all that stands between the forces of good and evil.

The books are:
Sabriel
Lirael
Abhorse
n


WEBSITE



Faerie Wars by Herbie Brennan - High Fantasy, Faeries, Magic, Some Gore

Amazing. Absolutely amazing! From book one these books are one rollercoaster ride after another. There is always something going on from the first time we are brought into this magical kingdom and the ride doesn't stop until the very end.

Books are:
Faerie Wars
The Purple Emperor
Ruler of the Realm


WEBSITE







Tithe by Holly Black
- Urban Fantasy, Faeries, Minor Gore

Holly Black shows us faeries as they were meant to be: mean, selfish, and cruel. You won't be finding cute little Tinkerbell pixies in this book. No way. These faries just as soon eat you or torture you for entertainment than look at you.

Tithe and Ironside tell the story of Kaye and Roiben.
Valiant is set in the same world but has different characters.

WEBSITE








The Sisters Grimm by Michael Buckley
- Urban Fantasy, Fairy Tale Characters, Some Gore

Unbeknownst to humans, there is a town where faerie tale characters live and mingle with the rest of us mortals. However these immortal characters are not as you remember from your children fairy tales. Snow White is the most beautiful teacher in school. Prince Charming is the town mayor and a mayour sleaze of a politician. Little Red Riding Hood is a deranged lunatic. The Big Bad Wolf works for the good guys alongside the Three Little Pigs. This is one strange town where you never know what to expect except a lot of murder, mysterious kidnappings, and more. Nothing is what it seems and, as the town's detectives, it's up to the Sisters Grimm and their Granny to sort out just what the hell is going on.

Books so far:
The Fairy-Tale Detectives
The Unusual Suspects
The Problem Child
Once Upon a Crime


WEBSITE


Fablehaven by Brandon Mull - Urban Fantasy, Magical Creatures, Faeries, Magic

If you like Sisters Grimm then you'll surely love Fablehaven. Brother and sister Kendra and Seth are faced with a similar dilema of being in a preserve where magical cratures exist. Humans, of course, are not aware and it's their job to keep it that way while at the same time dealing with the not so nice and often evil creatures.

So far:
Fablehaven
Fablehaven: Rise of the Evening Star


WEBSITE






The Edge Chronicles by Paul Stewart
- High Fantasy, Adventure, Quest, Pirates, Some Gore

You NEVER know which way is up in this highly entertaining and exciting series. Unlike most series, the main protagonist in these books is the land of The Edge. That's all that is constant throughout the series as main characters in one book become mince meat in another. From one book to the next the story jumps forwards and backwards in time to tell the history of The Edge and some of its most famous and interesting inhabitants. These books don't shy away of killing anyone as some of the creatures that inhabit these worlds can be downright cruel and you just never know who will make it to the end....of the series!

Books so far:
Beyond the Deepwoods
Stormchaser
Midnight over Sanctaphrax
The Curse of the Gloamglozer
The Last of the Sky Pirates
Vox
Freeglader
The Winter Knights


WEBSITE


Ranger's Apprentice by John Flanagan - High Fantasy

This series is set in a world much like ours in medieval times but where evil creatures exist and are threatening to take over the world led by an evil human. Not much magic but lots of adventures as we follow William in his quest to become a knight and then a Ranger, the secret service that works for the king.

Books are:
The Ruins of Gorlan
The Burning Bridge
The Icebound Land


WEBSITE




Septimus Heap by Angie Sage
- High Fantasy, Magic

These books arte just plain fun. Also reminds me of a magical medieval times where we follow the adventures of Septimus Heap, the seventh son of the seventh son and thus endowed with magical powers.

Books so far:
Magyck
Flyte
Physik


WEBSITE




Leven Thumps by Obert Skye
- Urban Fantasy, High Fantasy

Just think of him as a down=on-his-luck Harry Potter. OK, so Leven isn't a wizard but he did have one hell of an upbringing with his adopted family. The poor guy is stuck living outside in a trailer park when suddenly things start going bump in the night...and they want to bump him off!

Books so far:
Leven Thumps and the Gateway to Foo
Leven Thumps and the Whispered Secret


WEBSITE







The Keys to the Kingdom by Garth Nix
- Urban Fantasy, High Fantasy

The books gets better as the series progresses simply because one of the most entertaining characters, Suzy Blue, has a quick wit and dry humor that grates on Arthur's nerve and makes for some really funny dialogue and observations at the worse possible moments. At first I was skeptic of the series but by book 3 I was completely hooked.

So far:
Mister Monday
Grim Tuesday
Drowned Wednesday
Sir Thursday
Lady Friday


WEBSITE




Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events

You'll laugh yourself silly with this witty series as the poor yet resorceful Baudelaire orphans go form one caretaker to another. Highly recommended reading.

13 books in this series which has now come to an end.

WEBSITE








Vampirates by Justin Somper
- Quest, Adventure, Vampires, Pirates

If vampires are bad and pirates are too, well, what do you expect from pirate vampires?! Highly entertaining book about the adventures of twin brothers Connor and Grace as they are faced with the truth about the Vampirates.

Books are:

Demons of the Ocean
Tides of Terror
Dead Deep
Blood Captain


WEBSITE

Wow, there's really been a lot of things going on on this blog :D So as you know, Colleen was our guest blogger last Wednesday and in her post, she offered a copy of The Rest Falls Away. So the name has been drawn this morning and our lucky winner is...

!!!!LOUISE!!!!

Congrats Louise!!! You're such a lucky girl!

The winner of the Advanced Reading Copy of Rises the Night will be drawn on Friday, so be sure and get your comments in!

(And, Kelly apologizes for not having this up earlier, she got stuck in Renaissance England, but not by choice!)


She's back! As promised, Colleen Gleason is back to answer some of our questions, as well as your questions (that's what the comment section is for). She also will give away a copy of Rises the Night to a lucky person, but like I was really strict about last time (not that I am in any means strict), you have to contribute more than "pick me, pick me!" Not a lot to ask. The winner of The Rest Falls Away will be announced later on this afternoon.

Twisted Kingdom: What is your favourite colour?
Colleen Gleason: With a name like Colleen Gleason, it has to be kelly green! Although it’s really not. I’m fond of jewel colors—sapphire, garnet, emerald. Any of those colors are favorites.

TK: What is your favourite food?
CG: Pizza, nachos, chocolate, guacamole…hm…lobster. The list goes on and on. I haven’t met too many foods I don’t like!

TK: What is your favourite author/book?
CG: That’s no fair! I can’t pick just one…but I’d have to say that some of my favorites are Elizabeth Peters’ Vicky Bliss books (particularly Trojan Gold and Night Train to Memphis) and JD Robb’s In Death series.

TK: What other fantasy/romance authors do you read?
CG: Nora Roberts, Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Jennifer Crusie, Liz Carlyle, JK Rowling to name a few…all the gals at the Wet Noodle Posse (Diane Gaston, Janet Mullany, Stephanie Rowe, Stephanie Feagan, Terry McLaughlin, I know I’m missing some…Lisa Scottoline (she’s not romance or fantasy, but I like her). I don’t read a lot of fantasy.

TK: Any of them close friends?
CG: I’m close friends with all of the Wet Noodle Posse gals, and I know several other authors that I read (Caroline Linden, Sally MacKenzie), but none of the others I’ve listed above. I wish!

TK: How do you feel about having a second book coming out?
CG: Alternately ecstatic and terrified. Part of me can’t wait for the people who have read The Rest Falls Away to read the next installment (after all, I’m two books ahead of everyone right now, having just finished the third book, The Bleeding Dusk, due to be released in February)….but there’s always the fear that it won’t be well-received and that there won’t be good reviews. But that’s part of the business, and it’s normal.

TK: Are their any personality traits that you share with the main character? What about the men? Are they based on anyone at all, or are they fantasies?
CG: In some ways, in a fantasy, Victoria is who I’d like to be. We’re both stubborn and reasonably intelligent women, but she’s a lot more physical and bold than I am! And she’s got three hot men after her.

And the men…well, there are certain aspects of each of the men that are drawn from my husband.

For example, Sebastian’s always making double entendres and turning any moment into an opportunity for seduction; my husband has that kind of sense of humor. And my husband also shares Max’s blunt, outspoken conversation style. So you can see that there’s a bit of him in each of them. But other than that, no. They’re my fantasy men.

TK: In previous interviews, you said that The Rest Falls Away is your ninth completed novel. Now that you're a successfully published author, has there been interest in your other 8 novels?
CG: My agent and I haven’t made the decision to send out any of the previous novels, mainly because they are so different than The Gardella Chronicles books.

If one or more of them sold, my publisher would want me to write more books along those lines (eg, contemporary romantic thriller, or medieval historical romance) and I honestly don’t have time to do that, with my schedule of two Gardella books a year as well as other projects.

Perhaps some day those manuscripts will have the chance to see the light of day. I certainly would like them to, for I still love them as much as I did when I first wrote them.

TK: In other series where vampires are villains, they've eventually become love interests. Can you see yourself writing a non-villainous vampire?
CG: I don’t know. Right now, no, I can’t see that. But never say never, right? If it were the right character in the right circumstances, it could happen. I’d probably be more likely to write a sympathetic vampire before I’d write a love-interest one…but again, I don’t have any plans to do so at this time.

TK: If you got offered the chance to make a movie or television series of your books, would you do it? Why or why not? And if you would, who would you like to see playing the lead roles?
CG: I probably would have a hard time saying no to a movie or TV option offer…but I’m such a control freak that in some ways, it would be hard to give that up. And based on the story and the way I’ve written the first three books, I’d anticipate Hollywood wanting to make a lot of changes to the story—to tie up loose ends sooner, or in different ways.

However, if it happened, I’ve already got the cast figured out. :-D

Victoria: Emmy Rossum (from The Phantom of the Opera) or Anne Hathaway
Max: Clive Owen or maybe Gerard Butler
Sebastian: A cleaned up Matthew McConaughey or Patrick Wilson
Aunt Eustacia: Judi Dench
Kritanu: Jackie Chan (even though the nationality is wrong)
Verbena: Joan Cusack
Lilith: I don’t know. Maybe Kate Beckinsale.


TK: How long would you like for the Gardella series to run?
CG: I would like to write five books about Victoria (at this time, I’m contracted for four), and then if they want more Gardella books, I’d probably move to a different main character or Venator—likely in a different time period. I think that would keep me from getting bored and from stringing along a series for too long.

At least, that's my plan

TK: And, just in case people did not see it in the comments, what is SWAT?
CG: SWAT is my street team. I’m looking for people who really enjoyed the Gardella books enough to be part of my street team—like musicians and bands have. They’d help spread the word, come hold my hand if I come to their town for booksignings, be eligible for extra prizes, exclusive excerpts and giveaways, etc.

Interested parties can sign up by sending an email to GardellaSWATteam-subscribe at yahoogroups dot com

Thanks for having me! I’ll take questions in the comments section. Please try to avoid spoilers, though. ;-)

When the Twisted Kingdom ladies let me know that we scored an interview with Colleen Gleason, the author of The Rest Falls Away, I just had to read it. It had been languishing in my TBR pile the day I bought it (way back in January). It wasn't forgotten though, because I did include it on my list of 50 books to read by June (in an effort to reduce said TBR pile).

All I can say is...delicious.

In every generation, a Gardella is called to accept the family legacy of vampire slaying, and this time, Victoria Gardella Grantworth is chosen, on the eve of her debut, to carry the stake. But as she moves between the crush of ballrooms and dangerous, moonlit streets, Victoria's heart is torn between London's most eligible bachelor, the Marquess of Rockley, and her enigmatic ally, Sebastian Vioget. And when she comes face to face with the most powerful vampire in history, Victoria must ultimately make the choice between duty and love.

I devoured this book. I just couldn't put it down, which made me late to work. Haha. Kudos, Colleen!

The Rest Falls Away harkens back to the day when vampires were villains. Remember when vampires were seen as evil creatures? And people hunted them? So Victoria Grantworth is one such executioner. And it was really great to read about such a strong heroine. Shh...they're my weakness. She's not infallible mind you, she does fall in love and has some hard decisions to make, especially when executing vampires gets in the way of falling in love. That's some hard stuff to deal with! I love that Colleen handled Victoria's need to have some light and joie de vivre in her life in a way that did not make Victoria look silly. She took her duties as a Venator (vampire killer extraordinaire!) very seriously, but something needed to balance out the evil and the death. And Colleen made this need for balance a way in the which the reader could sympathize with Victoria, not judge her.

The other thing I loved about this book were the men. There's the oh-so-human Phillip, Marquess of Rockley, Max Pesaro, the most highly skilled Venator and Sebastian Vioget, the mysterious stranger whom we can't determine if he's friend or foe. These sexy men all have a role to play in Victoria's life, but the one I'm most interested in is Sebastian. Talk about the dangerous stranger we can't resist. (And Victoria has a real hard time resisting him!)

Colleen Gleason's writing style is also enjoyable. Each chapter title had me cracking up and trying to figure out what it meant. This was an interesting technique in that I had to pause and reconsider what I just read at the end of the chapter. Usually I just go through a novel and the only thing that stays with me is how I feel at the end. Not so with the Rest Falls Away. I was deeply engrossed from start to end.

I can't wait for Rises the Night (which thankfully comes out June 2007-which is barely tolerable *sigh*).

Here is another review from Katie, who is fast becoming our favorite guest reviewer! LOL :) You can find her original reviews over at her blog, Rhinoa's Ramblings!

Night Watch by Terry Pratchett
published by Corgi (2003)

Rating - 3.5 out of 5
Genre - Fantasy, Comedy
Series - book 27 of Discworld novels


"Truth! Justice! Freedom! And a hard boiled egg!
Commander Sam Vimes of the Ankh-Morpork City Watch had it all. But now he's back in his own rough, tough past without even the clothes he was standing up in when the lightening struck. Living in the past is hard. Dying in the past is incredibly easy. But he must survive, because he has a job to do. He must track down a murderer, teach his younger self how to be a good copper and change the outcome of a bloody rebellion. There's a problem: if he wins, he's got no wife, no child, no future. A Discworld Tale of One City, with a full chorus of street urchins, battles, ladies of negotiable affection, rebels, secret policemen and other children of the revolution."


The twenty-seventh Discworld novel takes place during the events of Thief of Time (the twenty-sixth in the series). Commander Vimes is transported back in time along with mass murderer Carcer during the storm where the lightening strikes the clockmakers shop and effectively stops time. The History Monks led by Lu-Tzu and Qu turn up to help Vimes get back to his own time where his son is being born.


Back in the past Vimes has to mentor his younger self and keep history from changing too much. Riots are breaking out as revolutionaries try to take down Lord Winder the current Patrician. For Vimes and the Night Watch to win the battle, he must sacrifice his future including his wife and child. He has The Unmentionables on his trail who Carcer has teamed up with along with it seems almost everyone in the city (Vimes is so good at ruffling feathers!), and this proves to be another race against time to try and get back to his future.


This was a really fun book and was interesting having it running in parallel to Thief of Time. Pratchett again steps away from his usual outlines and tries something a little different, whilst still retaining the security of much loved and well developed characters. During the book you get to see Cut-my-own-throat Dibbler get started selling his infamous pies, Nobby Nobbs joining the city Watch and Fred Colon get promoted to Sergant among other little tie-ins. The most interesting of these was seeing Vetinari as a younger man studying at the Assassin's Guild. Hopefully Pratchett will one day write a book with him as the main character



So, Sunday was the last chance to send in your guest reviews for a chance to be entered in a draw to win one of the Twisted Kingdom Author of the Month Books. Originally, only one person was going to win, but since only four people joined in, we decided to make you ALL winners.

Congrats to the four of you, the four of you being:

Zeek from The Way I See It
Katie from Rhinoa's Ramblings
Stephanie from Stephanie's Confessions of a Book-a-holic
Marg from Reading Adventures

We will just need your addresses and the books that you would like to receive. You have a year to claim your prize, but we likely will be a bit more hasty and try and get the books out in May. The catch, though, since we are giving away four books, hopefully all four of you will guest review your winnings in the months that they are author of the month, or if they have gone by already, afterwards. Guest reviews are still accepted, even if there is no longer a competition.

Fans of paranormal romance! Head towards Sanctuary's Finest where Rene Lyons, author of The Templar series, is guest-blogging today!


Ms. Lyons will be interviewed as well as promoting her new book! Who says promotion, says giving book away :) Yes, she'll be giving a copy of her new book, Tempting Darkness!


So don't forget to drop by Sanctuary's Finest, I can guarantee a lot of fun!

Welcome to our second edition of the Author of the Month! This month will feature Ms. Kelley Armstrong, creator of the paranormal/fantasy Women of the Otherworld series!

I both admire Ms. Armstrong as an author and as a person. As an author, because the Women of the Otherwold series is awesome. In my opinion, many factors make this series stand out from all the other fantasy/paranormal series featuring paranormal creatures. First is her world building. Ms. Armstrong has kept it simple as all her novels take place in our present time and in the world that we know. There are werewolves, vampires, witches, sorcerers, demons, necromancers and all these people want to remain hidden and pass as normal humans. However, what really makes the world building unique is all the characteristics and details that make her paranormal creatures different than what we know. For example: Ms. Armstrong's vampires have no problem dealing with sunlight and they are mortal (as in they eventually die, although they do live much longer than normal humans) and so on. So these details really make a difference.

There's also the theme of the series, i.e. the Women of the Otherworld. Ms. Armstrong has chosen to write this series in the first-person point of view of female characters. Each novel follow one female character and her adventures... and with her good writing style, Ms. Armstrong is able to pull it off. Even a reader like me, who doesn't usually enjoy the first-person POV, has no problem in this case. All in all, Ms. Armstrong is able to combine humor, little romance, adventures and action well and provide awesome books.

So far, there are 6 books and 1 novella out and her next book is due for May 1st, in hardcover. Here is the chronological order:

- Bitten with Elena, a werewolf, as narrator
- Stolen with Elena, a werewolf, as narrator
- Dime Store of Magic with Paige, a witch, as narrator
- Industrical Magic with Pagie, a witch, as narrator
- Haunted with Eve, a ghost (also witch/half-demon), as narrator
- Chaotic (the novella part of Dates from Hell anthology) with Hope, a half-demon, as narrator
- Broken with Elena, a werewolf, as narrator
- No Humans Involved with Jaime, a necromancer, as narrator - due out on May 1st!

I've also said that I admired Ms. Armstrong as a person. That is because I am amazed of her generosity towards her fans. First, her website is updated on the first of every month. It sounds a bit stupid and simple, but I think it's nice of her. Let us know what she's been up and what is coming so fans are aware of what's happening. Secondly, if you are fans of her books, you'll want to go to her website for the online novella that she's been writing over the years for free. Those are very good and interesting and provides a more detailed background to the series. Also, more recently, is this offer: Return of Hardcover Celebration!

Again, you can go to her website for more details, but here's the short story. Her first book, Bitten, was first published in hardcover. Then, the following books of the series were published in paperback format only. I guess that now that Ms. Armstrong has become more popular and has gained more readership, the publishers have decided to come back to the hardcover format and so, No Humans Involved is going to be first released in hardcover. Ms. Armstrong knows that this format change does not suit everyone, but the decision was not up to her. So to compensate, Ms. Armstrong has offered to give a thank-you Otherworld goodie bag to those who will buy No Humans Involved before May 15th! All the readers have to do is send her your receipts where it's indicated that you have bought the book before May 15th and Ms. Armstrong will send you a goodie bag at her cost with no restriction (i.e. doesn't matter in which country you live)! Isn't that awesome and so generous of her!?!? I know that in the past year, there's been a lot of discussion about authors' behaviors and it's been mostly negative... but I think it's important to highlight the good action of authors as well and this is really something generous from Ms. Armstrong.

Anyway, I'm going to stop gushing and announce the TK TBR Challenge. Simply put, I'm challenging my fellow ladies here at TK to read a book by Kelley Armstrong and to review it. It doesn't matter which book of the series it is, as I know that Kailana hasn't started the series while Ames has already read the first two. So just read one, any of them! LOL :) The challenge is extended to fellow bloggers as well :) If you've read this series and like it, you're welcome to guest review a book :) If you've never read this series and is still hesitant after my post, come back during this month and read the reviews I and others will be posting! :)


Because last month was Neil Gaiman for author of the month, I thought I would review Coraline today.

Coraline by Neil Gaiman
Published by Harper Trophy in 2002

The day after they moved in,
Coraline went exploring....

In Coraline's family's new flat are twenty-one windows and fourteen doors. Thirteen of the doors open and close.

The fourteenth is locked, and on the other side is only a brick wall, until the day Coraline unlocks the door to find a passage to another flat in another house just like her own.

Only it's different.

At first, things seem marvelous in the other flat. The food is better. The toy box is filled with wind-up angels that flutter around the bedroom, books whose pictures writhe and crawl and shimmer, little dinosaur skulls that chatter their teeth. But there's another mother, and another father, and they want Coraline to stay with them and be their little girl. They want to change her and never let her go.

Other children are trapped there as well, lost souls behind the mirrors. Coraline is their only hope of rescue. She will have to fight with all her wits and all the tools she can find if she is to save the lost children, her ordinary life, and herself.

Critically acclaimed and award-winning author Neil Gaiman will delight readers with his first novel for all ages.

This is the fourth book I have read by Neil Gaiman. I have also read Good Omens (which he wrote with Terry Pratchett), Stardust, and Neverwhere. I keep on reading him because I keep on enjoying his books. I think Stardust is probably my favourite, and I cannot wait to see the movie (it looks really good), but this was an enjoyable read as well.

For those of you planning on joining in with Stainless Steel Droppings R.I.P. Challenge this year, this is a perfect book! Very dark and creepy, that's for sure. It could almost be called a faery tale, but a very dark one. This book is perfect for children because when you are growing up there are always moments when you feel like your parents are not doing everything that they can for you, and that you sometimes wish that you had different ones. So, when Coraline explores her house and finds a secret door to a new family, for a time it seems like a dream come true. No matter how much they looked like her parents, though, and how much they treated her like their whole world, they were not the parents that had raised her and they were not the parents that she wanted to live with forever.

While this book is perfect for all ages, it is also a very good adventure story for the young reader, and it reminds the older readers of just how bad it was to be living with the folks from time to time. It is only a short book, 194 pages, but it fits those pages. It does not feel rushed, it flows very well, and there are lots of interesting characters to meet in both words. There is also a cat, which, I think is a great addition to the cast of characters. Coraline is a smart girl, and Gaiman shows what it is like to be young very well.

Overall, another great Gaiman for readers everywhere to enjoy. One of these days I might pick up the audio version because I have heard good things about it. I think that everyone should read Gaiman, though, very worth the time!

Stardust by Neil Gaiman
published in 1999

Ames' rating: 4/5
Nath's rating: 4/5


In the tiny village called Wall, things are not quite what they seem...
In the sleepy English countryside of decades past, there is a town that has stood on a jut of granite for six hundred years. And immediately to the east stands a high stone wall, for which the village is named.
Here in the town of Wall, Tristran Thorn has lost his heart to the hauntingly beautiful Victoria Forester. One crisp October night, he makes a rash promise that sends Tristan through the only gap in the wall, across the meadow, and into the most unforgettable adventure of his life.

Genre
: Fairy Tale, Fantasy
Series: none


Review: Back in March, Kailana challenged Nath to read a Neil Gaiman book by April 15th. I decided to jump on board because Mailyn sent me Stardust for Christmas. (Thank you, Mailyn!) Nath chose Stardust to meet the challenge, and we decided to do a buddy review.

Nath: I almost didn't make it!!! LOL ^^;

Ames: Despite a slow beginning, I thought this book really picked up and was quite satisfying in the end. I think I read somewhere that Stardust is like a modern fairy tale, and I agree.

Nath: Hmmm... Me I didn't know what to expect really. Upon reading the first few pages, I know it was going to be different, the writing style and all... then, I read the end... couldn't help myself. So when I went to read the beginning, I was wondering how it would tie with the story... but it fit really well. Also, I do agree that it's a satisfying book :)

The wall, by which the town of Wall stands, has one breach in it. And this breach is guarded every day and night to prevent people from going through to the other side. Through the breach, a meadow can be seen, and on the other side of the meadow, a forest. Every nine years, there is a Faery Fair in the meadow, and the guard is relaxed for one whole day. As a mini-spoiler, I have to say that Tristan is the result of a resident of Wall charming a lady from the Other Side. Only he doesn't know about his birth mother and blissfully lives his life in Wall. One day, in his 18th year, he walks home Victoria Forester, his love, and in a passionate bid for her hand, he tells her he will give her the star they just watched fall out of the sky. And Stardust is the story of Tristan Thorn's journey to find that fallen star.

Tristan's fate isn't the only one tied to the star's. There are three old witches, who need the heart of a star to remain young. A dying king's three sons must find the star to control the throne of Stormhold. And the star herself, who was knocked unceremoniously out of sky, has a destiny to fulfill as well.

An interesting story, fast paced, with some great characters. I think this is a great introduction to Neil Gaiman.

I liked the story, however, I disagree with Ames' comments on fast-paced. I didn't think this book was fast-paced at all, perhaps because of Mr. Gaiman's writing style. His writing style is so smooth that when you read the book, it feels gentle, peaceful and very passive. You're not in the action with the characters, but you're looking from afar... which is very different than nowaday's books, especially fantasy and I think it was a nice change. I agree with Ames that this was a nice introduction to Neil Gaiman, but I think this book is an exception. As in if I read Neverwhere or American Gods, the writing style will be very different and more contemporary... and that's why I'll be reading another book of his very soon.

Kailana's Questions

Did you enjoy reading Neil Gaiman?
ames: Yes I did. There were some parts where I thought the story would be long and drawn out (because Tristan is going on a journey) but the story was never bogged down with the minute details.
nath: I really did enjoy the story. This was very different than what I'm used to read... The story was very straightforward and it wasn't dragged either.


Considering that you two both typically read primarily romance, did you enjoy the experience?

ames: Well, considering Tristan goes into Faery because of his love, I thought Stardust was a good blend of fantasy and romance.
nath: Personally, I think that Stardust was a romance :P Because if it wasn't for love, there wouldn't have been a story. But to answer the question, yes, I did enjoy the experience.


Would you recommend Gaiman to non-fantasy readers?
ames: Definitely. There is no major world-building and Stardust was quite humourous.
nath: I think I'll have to read a few more books by Mr. Gaiman, before making the recommendation. Not because the book wasn't good, but just to have a better sense of what's Mr. Gaiman's style.

Are you planning to read him again, or will this be your only attempt? Why or why not?
ames: I am going to read Gaiman again. I already have two books of his in my TBR pile.
nath: Yeah, I'm planning to read him again... either American Gods or Neverwhere. They sound intriguing.


Would you watch the movie?
ames: If Peter Jackson directed it, yes I would.
nath: hmmm, the movie is coming out soon and so, yes, I would go see it. I'm actually quite intrigued as how it will turn out. Unlike most fantasy books, I think this one would be quite easy to adapt to the big screen :D
ames: Nath has informed me that the movie, Stardust, is coming out soon and Peter Jackson didn't direct it. I was tempted to change my answer, but I had to investigate, and the trailer looks really good. Here is the Stardust movie website.

So, did anyone else achieve the Twisted Kingdom TBR challenge? What did you think of Stardust? You're welcome to share your thoughts with us! Also, if you want to read more about Stardust, you'll find Kailana and Mailyn's reviews in the following post.


We have the end of the author of the month being posted today, so today will be focused on Neil Gaiman, but I just wanted to talk about a site I found through Lynn Flewelling's Live Journal. Earlier, Nath posted a list of the nominees for the Hugo Awards, and while there was a nice list, it was predominately a male list. The Broad Universe did what they call a "Bean Count." In these statistics they take a tour of the Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror department. It is scary just how uneven things are. You can read the whole list, but here are some of the hightlights:

For Starters, Romance is the most popular reading choice: (no wonder they are womanizing other genres, women appear as the predominant readers, although men read romance too)

Sales of popular fiction in 1999 including hardcovers and paperbacks. From Publishers Weekly (13 Nov 2000, p.42)

Science fiction/fantasy: 7.3% of sales
General fiction: 12.1% of sales
Mystery/detective/suspense: 25.7% of sales
Romance: 38.8% of sales
Now, let's get into the point of this. While these are older numbers, I would still think that people would find similar results in 2007:

Authors of Forthcoming Books

From Locus (Dec 2000), list of Complete Books by (American) Publishers for Nov 2000 through Sep 2001. Note that not all these books represent new works of fiction; many are reissues of older works.
373 female authors (31%)
812 male authors (67%)
21 authors are of unknown gender (2%)
Total: 1206
Authors/Editors of Books Received
From Locus, Jan-Dec 2000
(Fractional points indicate two, three, or four editors.)
636.75 female authors/editors (31.4%)
1331.75 male authors/editors (65.7%)
57.5 authors/editors of unknown gender (including house names and anonymous) (2.8%)
Total: 2026
The statistics go on, you can read the rest, but these two numbers illustrate why the Hugo's are so male-dominated. If they were to come up with an award for women only, I think, in my opinion, that would not make things much better. Awards, like the Orange Award, are for women. If there was equality in the world, though, would these awards need to be made for women only? Or, do men just write better books? In my experience, I will read both male and female authors, but I know lots of people that will only read their own gender. Men only reading male authors, and women only reading female authors. People say that feminism is dead, but it is not. There is still so many avenues in daily life that are sexist. It is just not the 70's anymore, and people are not as geared up for protests.

Also, this is only one publishing company, there are others.

Before I wrap this up, what started this was the list for the Hugo's being mostly men. Here are some other years numbers for fantasy, science fiction, and horror awards. As you can see, it is an on-going thing:

Campbell
1973-79: 2 women, 6 men (25%, 75%)
1980-89: 5 women, 5 men (50%, 50%)
1990-99: 6 women, 5 men (55%, 45%)

Dick
1982-1989: 1 woman, 7 men (12%, 88%)
1990-1999: 1 woman, 10 men (9%, 91%)

Hugo
1953-59: 0 women, 13 men (0%, 100%)
1960-69: 1 woman, 26 men (4%, 96%)
1970-79: 11 women, 30 men (27%, 73%)
1980-89: 9 women, 31 men (22%, 78%)
1990-99: 13 women, 28 men (32%, 68%)

Nebula
1965-69: 3 women, 19 men (14%, 86%)
1970-79: 10 women, 27 men (27%, 73%)
1980-89: 14 women, 22 men (39%, 61%)
1990-99: 19 women, 21 men (47%, 53%)

Stoker

1987-89: 3 women, 14 men (18%, 82%)
1990-99: 14 women, 44 men (24%, 76%)

Tiptree
1991-1999: 15 women, 1 man, 1 transgendered (88%, 6%, 6%) <-- never heard of this one

World Fantasy

1975-79: 1 woman, 13 men (7%, 93%)
1980-89: 6 women, 32 men (16%, 84%)
1990-99: 11 women, 33 men, (25%, 75%)

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Since I was a little girl I have been fascinated with books. Early photos show me with a book in hand, even if it was not exactly my reading level... My first word was a made-up word meaning 'book', actually. I suppose I had my priorities at an early age... Over the years my interest in books has become one of the defining features of who I am as a person. You can probably call me a bookworm. While I have other interests, reading will always be the one I talk about the most, even if I am not focusing on it as much as I used to.

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