Wednesday, February 27, 2013

The Burning Time - JG Faherty - Blog Tour Review

An ancient evil has come to Hastings Mills, and only one man can stop it. 
Wherever The Stranger goes, evil follows. Wild dogs roam the fields. Townspeople turn on each other in murderous fury. Innocent women throw themselves off bridges. Swimmers disappear, victims of a deadly beast that haunts their waters. And the worst is still yet to come. The Stranger plans to open a gateway to the nether realms and release the Elder Gods to bring forth Chaos on Earth. 
Only one man knows the truth, a country mage whose family has fought The Stranger before. But can he defeat his ageless enemy before Hastings Mills is nothing but a smoking ruin and the townspeople become unwilling blood sacrifices to the Old Ones? With only the help of a young woman and her teenage son, he will have to use all of his arcane knowledge to thwart his adversary and prevent the final apocalypse. 
In Hastings Mills, The Burning Time has arrived.
Synopsis taken from goodreads.

Author: JG Faherty 
Genre: Adult Fiction, Horror 
Publisher: JournalStone 
Publication Date: January 18, 2013 
Format: Finished copy. 
Source: Many thanks goes to Dark Eva for sending me a copy of this book for review. I received this book free of charge in exchange for an honest review. This review is part of JG Faherty's blog tour for The Burning Time
Look for it: Amazon, Book Depository 
My Rating: 3.5/5

When the Stranger comes to town, you should probably take off for parts unknown to him. When he comes to town, all the dark and chaotic energies in the universe come out to play. Wild dogs, tempers flaring to the extreme, sinister and senseless deaths. With the body count rising, and hell coming to fruition in Hastings Mill, it looks like there will be a burning time. Only one man has a chance at stopping it. With a town set against him, will he be able to stop the Stranger from burning through Hastings Mill? 
John is an interesting character. He has been around fighting evil in all entities as well as collecting lore for years. He has lost many loved ones to the Stranger in previous years. He is weary, yet dedicated to eradicating the world of the Stranger once and for all. He is flawed, yet all the more human for his flaws. 
The premise of The Burning Time makes this book sound like a good read, and it does not disappoint. It reads fluidly, though I would have liked more rounding out of the characters and situations. The horror instilled although sinister and insidious, was not bone-chilling. The book is dark, though not dark throughout, there was enough "light" when it came to John and his newfound companions. As their story unfolded, you couldn't help but like Danni and Mitch. 
The Stranger is pure evil and chaos. He alone will make the hair on the back of your neck stand up while reading. He is fanatical in his obsession to bring about the burning time. 
All in all, The Burning Time was essentially an 'easy' read as everything unfolded. I was absorbed in the tale and didn't find the horror too overbearing. That is not to say that it wasn't dark, because it had its share of darkness and death. One would not want to go to Hastings Mill anytime soon, what with all the macabre and senseless violence happening there. Fans of horror will enjoy The Burning Time

Thursday, February 14, 2013

A Natural History of Dragons - Marie Brennan - Author Interview

Marie Brennan is here today with an author interview, courtesy of the Tor blog tour for her new release, A Natural History of Dragons. Thank you for being here today, Marie! 
If you needed to choose one of your characters to stand by your side in a fight, who would you choose, and why? 

Mirage, from the doppelganger books. No contest. She’s a mildly superpowered ninja; why wouldn’t I choose her? 

Actually, now that I think about it, very few of my novel protagonists are physical badasses. Deven was briefly a soldier and Dead Rick’s probably good in a street fight, but Mirage is the only one who’s highly trained. If I’m allowed to have magic, though, I’d probably go for Julian, from Lies and Prophecy; a combat-trained psychic could take down a great many threats.

What is your favourite part to write. Do you prefer plotting, characters, world-building? 

My imagination tends to start with the world, followed shortly by a character in that world; for example, A Natural History of Dragons started out as “a Victorian kind of setting, with dragons” plus “a woman studying dragons and writing her memoir.” But for favorite bits -- the parts I think up and then can’t wait to write -- those are all over the place. They could be neat bits of setting, intense emotional moments, unexpected plot twists, whatever. 

 If you could define yourself in one song, what would that song be? If you could define how you view the world in a song, what would it be?

With the size of my music collection? No way on earth I could boil myself or the world down to a single song. I will say, though, that I make “soundtracks” for my novels, and love it when I find the perfect piece for a certain character or plot event. That’s actually part of why I make the soundtracks; once I build up that association, the CD becomes a memento of the story, and a way to relive those moments. (There’s a hazard to this, too. I stop whatever I’m doing when “Death Is the Road to Awe” from The Fountain comes up on iTunes’ shuffle, because it throws me right back into the climax of With Fate Conspire.)

If you could visit any time in history, which would you choose, and why?

 Again with making me choose just one! Republican or imperial Rome, Heian Japan, New Kingdom Egypt, one of the Classic Maya states . . . but I’ll stay a bit closer to home and say Elizabethan England, if it means I get to meet some of the major players from that time. I got a very strong sense of their personalities while researching Midnight Never Come, and deeply admire a lot of those people, warts and all.

Where do you write? Do you have any rituals while writing?

I write in my home office, and don’t have a lot of rituals, beyond the fact that I almost always write late at night. (I am a solar-powered night owl; it’s an odd combination.) The major one is that I usually have music playing; I always make several playlists for a given book, to fit different kinds of scenes, and use those to get myself in the right mood for whatever I’ll be writing that night.

Thank you so much for being here today, Marie, and answering my questions! 

Marie Brennan can be found at her website, on twitter, and on goodreads.

A Natural History of Dragons can be found at Indiebound, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, BooksAMillion, Powells, Walmart, and Overstock.

About the book.

You, dear reader, continue at your own risk. It is not for the faint of heart—no more so than the study of dragons itself. But such study offers rewards beyond compare: to stand in a dragon’s presence, even for the briefest of moments—even at the risk of one’s life—is a delight that, once experienced, can never be forgotten. . . . 

All the world, from Scirland to the farthest reaches of Eriga, know Isabella, Lady Trent, to be the world’s preeminent dragon naturalist. She is the remarkable woman who brought the study of dragons out of the misty shadows of myth and misunderstanding into the clear light of modern science. But before she became the illustrious figure we know today, there was a bookish young woman whose passion for learning, natural history, and, yes, dragons defied the stifling conventions of her day. 

Here at last, in her own words, is the true story of a pioneering spirit who risked her reputation, her prospects, and her fragile flesh and bone to satisfy her scientific curiosity; of how she sought true love and happiness despite her lamentable eccentricities; and of her thrilling expedition to the perilous mountains of Vystrana, where she made the first of many historic discoveries that would change the world forever. 

Marie Brennan introduces an enchanting new world in A Natural History of Dragons

Author Bio:

Marie Brennan is a former academic with a background in archaeology, anthropology, and folklore, which she now puts to rather cockeyed use in writing fantasy. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area. In addition to many short stories and novellas, she is also the author of A Star Shall Fall and With Fate Conspire (both from Tor Books), as well as Warrior, Witch, Midnight Never Come, In Ashes Lie, and Lies and Prophecy. You can find her online at

All art credited to Todd Lockwood.

The Ruining - Anna Collomore - Blog Tour Review

Annie Phillips is thrilled to leave her past behind and begin a shiny new life on Belvedere Island, as a nanny for the picture-perfect Cohen family. In no time at all, she falls in love with the Cohens, especially with Libby, the beautiful young matriarch of the family. Life is better than she ever imagined. She even finds romance with the boy next door. 
All too soon cracks appear in Annie's seemingly perfect world. She's blamed for mistakes she doesn't remember making. Her bedroom door comes unhinged, and she feels like she's always being watched. Libby, who once felt like a big sister, is suddenly cold and unforgiving. As she struggles to keep up with the demands of her new life, Annie's fear gives way to frightening hallucinations. Is she tumbling into madness, or is something sinister at play? 
The Ruining is a complex ride through first love, chilling manipulation, and the terrifying depths of insanity. 
Synopsis taken from goodreads.

Title: The Ruining 
Author: Anna Collomore 
Genre: Young Adult, contemporary. 
Publisher: Razorbill 
Publication Date: February 7, 2013 
Format: E-ARC 
Source: Received from publicist. Many thanks goes to Penguin/Razorbill for sending me a copy of this book for review. I received this book free of charge in exchange for an honest review. This review is part of the Razorbill blog tour. 
Look for it: Amazon, Book Depository, Chapters 
My Rating: 4/5

Annie Phillips jumps at the chance to nanny for a family in sunny California when she realizes it would mean she could leave her current life, and family, behind. She falls in love with the Cohen family, and idolizes Libby. The adage be careful what you wish for comes into play as she realizes that not everything is ideal in her new life. She fights to hold on to her sanity as she tries to figure out if Libby is truly the person she thinks she is; or if she is the cause for all of the weird  and crippling situations that are occurring with a frightening regularity.
The Ruining has oppressive undertones that nag and worry the reader as they are reading. It is easy to see Annie's descent into madness, even though she herself cannot see it. Within the first few pages we get a glimmering of Libby's personality. However, Annie, who is completely enraptured with creating the ideal life for herself with a new family, does not see that there is something off with her 'perfect' family. 
The undertones throughout the novel continue to build this web of confusion, and madness around Annie, leaving the reader unsettled. As we find out more, we realize, long before Annie does, how dangerous Libby can be. Nothing is as it seems, and Annie will need to figure out what is going on before she loses herself, her identity, completely.
I would have liked more closure, for Annie's sake, as I felt that there were some things left unresolved. Collomore weaves a brilliant tale of madness and horror as Annie realizes that things are not alright, that she cannot trust herself, or those around her. I just wish that there had been a more visual, more tangible interaction between Annie and Libby at the end of the book once Annie comes full circle and realizes just what has happened to her. I felt the ending was a bit anti-climactic for my taste. That is not to say others won't enjoy it, I just wanted a little more action.
All in all, The Ruining is a chilling and disturbing read that does not pull any punches. Annie struggles with identity and madness. The sheer insidiousness of the book alone had me reading along wanting to know more, with the hope that Annie would realize what was happening to her before it was too late. Even now, the book has gotten under my skin, and it has left me feeling a little unsettled.