Sunday, June 30, 2013

Center Stage June 2013 Character Spotlight

Center Stage is a monthly feature hosted by Ginger-Read Reviews, in which we highlight a character from the books we've read in the past month.

June 2013 Center Stage Character:
Nick Falcott from The River of No Return by Bee Ridgway

Whereas last month I had some trouble finding a character to feature, this month I had the opposite problem: I really liked two characters from the same book, Bee Ridgway's The River of No Return. The competition came down to Nick Falcott, one of the protagonists, and Arkady Altukhov, one of the secondary characters. The pair travel back in time from 2013 to Regency England, where Nick is originally from, and I just loved the banter between the two. Nick won out in the end, though, because of my weakness for Regency heroes.

Lord Nicholas Falcott, Marquess of Blackdown, is fighting for the English against Napoleon's troops when he finds himself on the wrong end of a Frenchman's weapon. Just as he's about to die, he's sent forward in time to the 21st century and learns about the existence of the Guild, a secret organization that watches over travelers like himself. Nick attends a kind of orientation for others who have suddenly found themselves displaced from their own eras and is then comfortably set up by the Guild to live in this new world.

Nick's had quite a while to adjust when the Guild summons him for a mission that requires him to become the Marquess of Blackdown again. Nick is quite happy with the life he has now, thank you very much, but he eventually accepts the task. Being the keen observer that he is, he doesn't blindly put his trust in the Guild, especially since they're being rather cagey about what exactly he's supposed to do once he's back in the 19th century.

Watching Nick readjust to another time period again is pretty humorous sometimes. There are lapses when he uses modern slang or curses like it's 2013, and then he has to cover up his gaffes. On a more serious note, though, he's not the young man who chose to ride off to war rather than face his responsibilities as a marquess after the sudden death of his father. Knowing what he does about the future, particularly what will become of landed nobility like himself, he tries not to act like an entitled, pompous ass.

But where Nick sent my heart a-swoon was with his love for the young girl, now a grown woman, he's never forgotten. Being able to see Julia Percy again makes Nick all too happy to be back in the past. She is unknowingly an important figure in his mission, and when Nick finds out, he's prepared to protect her from everyone, even the Guild.

Nick was a fantastic character in a novel with no shortage of them, and I highly recommend The River of No Return.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Stacking the Shelves (38)

Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga's Reviews. It's an opportunity for everyone to share the new books that we've acquired.

Being that it's summer and everything, we have been awarded loads of free time. We have wisely been spending that time at our local library, which has led to our increase in library hauls.

Ally's Books:


Soulless by Gail Carriger
Wither by Lauren DeStefano

Lee's Books:


Poison by Bridget Zinn
The Rithmatist by Brandon Sanderson

Melissa's Books:


Half-Minute Horrors edited by Susan Rich

What did you add to your shelves this week? Please link us up!

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Harry Potter Moment of the Week (2): Best HP Memory

Harry Potter Moment of the Week is a meme hosted by Uncorked Thoughts. The aim of this meme is to share with fellow bloggers a character, spell, chapter, object or quote from the books/films/J. K. Rowling herself or anything Potter related! A list of upcoming topics can be found here.

This week's topic is:
Best HP Memory

We've been lucky to have a lot of shared HP memories together, but our favorite has to be attending the midnight showing of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince on its opening day/night. It was a pretty last minute decision to go, too; the entire family (seven of us all together) sort of just assembled and went. Of course the theater was packed when we arrived, but we were extremely fortunate when we reached the front of the line. The first showing was completely full by then, and we were some of the first people to be sent to the other showing in a second, and empty, theater. We got great seats, and seeing the film was extra special because it was the only time that we ever went to a midnight screening of an HP movie.

What's your favorite HP memory?

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Review: The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan

The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan
The Forest of Hands and Teeth (The Forest of Hands and Teeth #1)
By Carrie Ryan
Delacorte Press

To Sum It Up:

Mary dreams of seeing the ocean one day, but her reality makes that almost impossible. Her village is surrounded by the Forest of Hands and Teeth and the Unconsecrated, the dead who’ve come back to life. When the Unconsecrated breach the village, Mary is part of a small group that manages to flee. There appears to be nowhere for them to go, but Mary has recently made a discovery that gives her hope of finding life beyond the Forest.


Judging by the title, I was prepared to be thoroughly scared while reading The Forest of Hands and Teeth. Out of all the paranormal creatures, zombies give me the worst fright. They’re usually so disgusting in appearance, and then there’s the whole living dead concept. The zombies in The Forest of Hands and Teeth are described in some grotesque terms, yet this novel didn’t scare me at all.

I had a really tough time mustering investment in the story because I found the prose flat. Mary was not a compelling narrator at all. I never felt like she was actively involved in anything that happened around her; she just droned on about it in a detached voice. The only times when her narration showed some signs of life were when speaking about Travis, the love of her life, and seeing the ocean, which she was obsessed with. And when I say “obsessed,” I’m not kidding. That’s practically all Mary thinks about; that is, when she’s not professing how much she loves Travis. I quickly lost interest in both topics, which only made the book harder for me to get through.

As for the romance, that, too, was lackluster. For all of Mary's “I love Travis” and “I want to be with Travis” declarations, I didn’t find any chemistry between them. I think it had a lot to do with how monotone the prose was because my pulse didn’t speed up whenever anyone was being chased by the Unconsecrated, either. Travis was okay, but like the other characters (except Mary, who just annoyed me), that was about all I could say about him. No single personality stood out to me, so even when misfortune befell someone, it didn’t really matter to me.

One of my biggest pet peeves with post-apocalyptic/disaster type scenarios is when there’s no explanation of how the world arrived at this point. That’s the case with The Forest of Hands and Teeth. The Unconsecrated surround the village, constantly on patrol for their next meal, but what’s the story behind their origin? Don’t know. People only known as “They” built the fences that stand between the village and the Unconsecrated. Who are They? Don’t know that, either. Personally, if I’m going to read a novel about the undead, I’d like to know how they got reanimated in the first place. I’d also like to know how a line of fences manages to keep them out. Most of the zombies I’ve seen in movies and on TV plow through any obstacles barring their way from chowing down.

I’d actually been looking forward to being petrified by this book, but I could never sense any terror from the characters or urgency to their plight. I pushed myself to finish this, even though it’s not a lengthy novel, and despite the twist toward the end, I’m not intrigued enough to see if it turns into something bigger in the sequel.

All in All:

I read this mostly with disinterest. I thought the world needed to be explained in much more depth because one of the first questions that pops into my mind whenever zombies are involved is: where did they come from? I was disappointed not to find out and disappointed with this book all-around; here’s hoping that I have better luck with my next zombie read.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

ARC Review: Persephone's Orchard by Molly Ringle

Persephone's Orchard by Molly Ringle
Persephone’s Orchard (The Chrysomelia Stories #1)
By Molly Ringle
Central Avenue Publishing
Publication Date: June 28, 2013

* An advance copy was provided by the publisher for review.

To Sum It Up:

Sophie Darrow is about to start her freshman year at college, but adjusting to university life is going to be the least of her worries. She’s barely had time to settle in when she’s whisked away to another realm, where she meets the mysterious Adrian Watts, a young man who actually isn’t the total stranger Sophie believes him to be. Adrian hopes Sophie will unlock her memories of the past, which stretch farther back than she realizes, and which tell a story that’s something like a tale straight out of Greek mythology.


I’ve had some very good luck with mythology retellings lately, and that streak continues with Persephone’s Orchard. I absolutely loved Molly Ringle’s inventive reimagining of Greek mythology, in which deities are reborn into new lives throughout time, and the Underworld isn’t that scary a place (and neither is the god usually associated with it, Hades). I really liked the idea of the gods and goddesses living in the present day under different identities. It was fresh and creative, plus you still get to spend plenty of pages reading about them during their lifetimes as the figures you might be familiar with from mythology. It was this clever, seamless blending of the traditional images I have of these legendary characters with more contemporary versions of them that really sold me on this book. Needless to say, Ringle pulled it off effortlessly.

One of the things I most look forward to whenever I read a mythology retelling is how the author characterizes the gods and goddesses. Each of the characters in Persephone’s Orchard has a unique personality, and I was especially fond of a hilarious and roguish Hermes. Hades, given quite a tragic past here, wasn’t all, “Your soul is mine for eternity, mwahaha!” He’s the total opposite of that; instead, he’s into seeking justice for murdered souls and finding out if the plants that only grow in the spirit realm can be used to cure disease. Persephone is a very relatable character, with her jumble of confused feelings when she begins seeing Hades, whom she’s grown up around, in a different, and romantic, light. As interested as I was to read about Sophie and Adrian in the present, I was completely engrossed in the flashbacks to Persephone and Hades’s past.

The romance in the book leaned a little more toward the epic, swoony side than I normally go for, but I was okay with that because it worked so well for the novel. I’m not a firm believer in soul mates and such, but even I found myself rooting for Sophie and Adrian. It’s difficult not to with a remarkable history like theirs.

I admit that I was a tad skeptical of this book at the beginning because Sophie wasn’t in hysterics over being transported by a stranger to another realm to meet another stranger spouting some babble about souls and a spirit realm. She was startled all right but didn’t have a meltdown, which would have been my reaction. Since Sophie got through it, I decided to shove my doubts away and give this Adrian fellow a chance, too. This proved to be a wise choice because Persephone’s Orchard was a fantastic read, from its take on mythology to the literally timeless love story.

All in All:

If you love Greek mythology, particularly the story of Hades and Persephone, then you should definitely add Persephone’s Orchard to your TBR list. I was very impressed with Molly Ringle’s reworking of the myth, and I can’t wait to see what she has in store for the rest of the series.

The eBook edition of Persephone's Orchard is going to be available for only $0.99 for the first two weeks after its release on June 28, 2013!
Amazon | B&N | Apple | Kobo

Monday, June 24, 2013

Review: The Deception Dance by Rita Stradling

The Deception Dance by Rita Stradling
The Deception Dance (The Deception Dance #1)
By Rita Stradling

* A copy was provided by the author for review.

To Sum It Up:

Raven Smith is ecstatic to tour Europe for the summer with her favorite person in the world, her sister Linnie. Raven is not excited, however, when Linnie’s snobby roommate, Chauncey, decides to tag along. The only thing that Raven finds more annoying than Chauncey is the slew of European guys aiming for her attention. Raven is not looking for a relationship; she only wants to enjoy the traveling. Her steadfast opinion changes, though, once she encounters the dark and mysterious Andras. Raven feels like she already knows Andras, but with the charming Nicholas pulling her in the opposite direction, Raven doesn’t know whom to trust.


The Deception Dance was overflowing with intrigue and deceit, leaving my mind more than a little befuddled. It was pretty hard to figure out what exactly was going on until it hit you directly in the face. I was hooked from the very beginning, with the introduction of Raven’s mysterious childhood, and was hanging on until the very end.

My feelings for the characters are somewhat divided. All the female characters, including Raven, I found annoying, while all the male characters had me entranced. Raven was too “ordinarily perfect.” She wasn’t stunning like Chauncey or extremely talented in any specific area, but she was too nice, too independent, too self-confident, and too likeable. Raven was so likeable that I was looking for flaws to make her seem more relatable, and when I found flaws, they just seemed to enhance her character. That being said, the guys in the book had me gawking. Andras was just so intriguing. He gave off a creepy vibe but nobody really cared because they were too busy trying to figure the guy out. Nicholas was my favorite character until his brothers, Albert and Stephen, were introduced. I fell for the scarred Stephen almost instantly and was pleasantly surprised with all the character development he demonstrated.

The interpretation of demons and the setting of the book were completely brilliant. I’m tired of every other person in the world painting demons as some handsomely suave gentlemen. It was refreshing to read about demons in a grotesquely inhuman form, depicted as the creatures described in mythology. I was frightened when I read about the demons, and it made reading the book all the more exciting. I also found the location of all the action very enjoyable. I’ve always been fascinated with Europe, and seeing it ensconced in demonic light was really fun.

I spent practically the entire book trying to figure out what exactly was going on. Some of it was pretty obvious, mainly concerning the identity of Raven’s childhood friend, while other aspects of the story line left readers with no hints. What really blew my mind were the secrets of Raven’s past. I saw none of what happened coming. Never have I been more surprised with the outcome of a book.

All in All:

The Deception Dance is a mysterious book with twists at every turn. With all the secrets, demons, and handsome Europeans, this book makes for a very compelling read.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Summer Lovin' Read-a-thon: Ally & Melissa's Sign-Up Post

The Summer Lovin’ Readathon is a week-long readathon event hosted by seven independent bloggers! (Oh, Chrys!, Tumbling Books, Effortlessly Reading, Love Life Read, Shelf Addiction, Read Sleep Repeat, and Reviewing Wonderland)

In celebration of summer and the end of the torment that follows school and homework, we have decided the join the Summer Lovin' Read-a-thon! Both of us are psyched to get back to our book lives and join in on all of the fun!

The Details:

Spend the week reading at your own pace, when and how you want to. There will be daily challenges for awesome prizes and opportunities to get points toward the Grand Prize Packs.

As if that weren’t enough—the week will end with a 24-hr marathon readathon! Twitter parties, mini-challenges, games, prizes given EVERY HOUR, and more chances to get points toward the Grand Prize Packs.

Sign-ups will be open through July 6th. We're in, are you?!

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Stacking the Shelves (37)

Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga's Reviews. It's an opportunity for everyone to share the new books that we've acquired.

Last week was the first time in a while that all three of us have been able to go to the library together, and as you'll see from the photos, Ally and Melissa just about cleaned the place out. Well, they had almost a whole shelf in the holds section to themselves anyway, and all their holds aren't even in yet.

Ally's Books:


Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo
Etiquette & Espionage by Gail Carriger
Wake by Amanda Hocking
Unspoken by Sarah Rees Brennan
The Crown of Embers by Rae Carson
Dark Triumph by Robin LaFevers
Crewel by Gennifer Albin
Beta by Rachel Cohn

Lee's Books:


Girl of Nightmares by Kendare Blake
The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan
Seraphina by Rachel Hartman

Gifted from Ally:

The Tragedy Paper by Elizabeth LaBan

Melissa's Books:


Unravel Me by Tahereh Mafi
The Diviners by Libba Bray
A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray
Darker Still by Leanna Renee Hieber
The Space Between by Brenna Yovanoff
Such Wicked Intent by Kenneth Oppel
Fear: 13 Stories of Suspense and Horror edited by R. L. Stine
The Monstrumologist by Rick Yancey
The Indigo Spell by Richelle Mead
The Immortal Rules by Julie Kagawa
Finale by Becca Fitzpatrick
The Golden Lily by Richelle Mead
Rapture by Lauren Kate
The Restless Dead: Ghostly Tales from Around the World by Daniel Cohen
This Dark Endeavour by Kenneth Oppel
Being Dead by Vivian Vande Velde
Where She Went by Gayle Forman

What did you add to your shelves this week? Please link us up!

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Harry Potter Moment of the Week (1): Favorite Moment in Book 2

Harry Potter Moment of the Week is a meme hosted by Uncorked Thoughts. The aim of this meme is to share with fellow bloggers a character, spell, chapter, object or quote from the books/films/J. K. Rowling herself or anything Potter related! A list of upcoming topics can be found here.

This week's topic is:
Favorite Moment in Book 2

This is our first time participating in this meme, and we're all very much excited! Seeing that all of us are obsessed with all things Harry Potter and the wizarding world, we figured that this would be right up our alley.

One of our most favorite moments from Chamber of Secrets, both in the book and the movie, has to be the flashback of the young Tom Riddle that Harry experiences while reading the future Dark Lord's diary. First of all, we found it ridiculously cool that the part of Tom's soul in the diary was able to communicate with Harry. It was even more amazing to get a glimpse of the past, seeing Hogwarts with Dumbledore as the Transfiguration professor and Hagrid and Tom as students. Not to mention, the actor who plays Tom Riddle in the movie, Christian Coulson, is a very handsome fellow!

What's your favorite moment from Chamber of Secrets?

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Review: The Lost Prince by Julie Kagawa

The Lost Prince by Julie Kagawa The Lost Prince (The Iron Fey: Call of the Forgotten #1)
By Julie Kagawa
Harlequin Teen

To Sum It Up:

Ethan Chase can see the fey, and this unwanted ability has already cost him dearly. He’s spent his life pushing away anyone who might get too close to him because of the danger that the Sight seems to draw to him. Ethan never thought he’d find himself helping the very beings he hates, but when a new threat to the fey also poses one to him and his family, Ethan has no choice but to once again become involved in a world that he’s fought so hard to avoid.


After having my ups and downs with the original Iron Fey series, I wasn’t sure if I’d reach the point where I'd want to check out The Lost Prince. The Iron Knight concluded on a strong enough note for me to carry on reading about the world of Faery, though, and so I picked up the spin-off.

Initially, I wasn’t sure that I’d made the right decision to read this after all because I wasn’t digging Ethan Chase, the now teenage younger brother of The Iron Fey’s Meghan, as a narrator. Ethan has a colossal boulder on his shoulder, and he’s one angry young man. He blames the fey for just about everything that has ever gone wrong in his life, including getting kicked out of school a few times. Of course, there’s also the rather large issue of his sister being unable to see her family in the mortal world due to her responsibilities as the Iron Queen. Because his ability to see the fey often brings trouble, Ethan doesn’t want anyone to get close to him. This means he acts like a supreme jerk most of the time, pushing people away for what he thinks is their own safety. Although his intentions are good, my patience for his attitude dwindled quickly, and that’s why I didn’t see myself reading future books in this series.

Fortunately, Ethan mellows out some, and I found myself quite invested in the story once it shifted to the Iron Realm. Several familiar faces from the original Iron Fey series pop up (including the ever-wise Grimalkin—yay!), and I was even happy to see those whom I wasn’t exactly fond of in the other books (like Leanansidhe). The nice thing about this little reunion is that the old characters don’t overshadow the new ones, and their appearances don’t feel forced, like they’ve only been included for nostalgia’s sake.

I was a bit worried that The Lost Prince was going to wind up with a love triangle in an Ash-Meghan-Puck redux, but hooray! No love triangle! I was also a little leery of Keirran, a fey with some rather famous parents, turning into the Puck of this series because of his penchant for getting into mischief. But in another welcome surprise, Keirran was his own character. In fact, he ended up being my favorite character. Yeah, I can’t resist a charmer with a wicked glint in his eye.

After having to endure Ethan’s surliness for a good portion of the book, I really didn’t expect to enjoy The Lost Prince, but I did. Once Ethan realized he didn’t have to be so darn angry all the time, the story picked up considerably. Ethan, Keirran, and Ethan’s classmate, Kenzie, make a pretty good team, and I look forward to reading more of their adventures.

All in All:

The Lost Prince is a solid start to this spin-off series. The book smoothly transitions from its Iron Fey origins into a new story arc that should be intriguing to see play out.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Blackbrooke II Blog Tour: Review & Character Interview

Welcome to our stop on the blog tour for Blackbrooke II: The Guardian by Emma Silver! Today we're both reviewing this thrilling sequel to last year's Blackbrooke, as well as welcoming back Denzil Rathbone, one of Blackbrooke's coolest residents, for another character interview.

Blackbrooke II: The Guardian by Emma Silver
Blackbrooke II: The Guardian
By Emma Silver
Crooked Cat Publishing
Amazon | Goodreads

* A copy was provided by the author for review.


Liberty’s fight continues.

After she had discovered the truth behind "walk outs" in her hometown of Blackbrooke and forced to sacrifice her best friend, Liberty Connor thought she was finally free.

But her nightmare was only just beginning.

Taken to the Institute, a research facility dedicated to Blackbrooke, Liberty finds herself under the watchful eye of sinister Blackbrooke guardian, Mr. Jones. Things aren’t as they seem. Familiar faces provide little comfort, and she soon realizes the Crits aren’t the only specimens under the microscope.

Determined to escape, Liberty is once again plunged into a world beyond her comprehension. The one thing she knows for certain is: trust no one.

Friends become strangers, but help is at hand from unexpected quarters. Forced to confront her real enemy, Liberty is left with one familiar choice.


Ally's Review:

The ending of the first installment of the Blackbrooke series truly left my head spinning. I was teased with the sweet promise of closure and justice only to have that ripped away from me. I had to wait in suspense to find out what happened to Liberty and the rest of the gang. Blackbrooke II: The Guardian was no better when it came to rewarding the reader with answers and compensation for all the emotional trauma he or she has to undergo when reading about the Crits in all their ungodly glory.

In my opinion, the best thing that happened in this book was the change of setting. Blackbrooke is an awesome place to read about with all of its mystery and sketchy people. It’s too crazy not to love. But like the old saying goes, too much of a good thing . . . . I just know I would have been claustrophobic if the scenery didn’t change from the first book. The Institute was new and interesting. It opened a door for the introduction of new characters and some character development. It also gave some answers to the questions floating about in my mind, yet it did raise some new questions of its own. It was nice to take a break, and it also gave the reader the opportunity to miss the wacky, old town.

The characters were just as great. It was super easy to fall back into step with the gang. It was sad having Noah gone; he was one of my favorite characters, but with all the stuff Cassius and Liberty were dealing with, it was easy to get all caught up in the action. Liberty was tougher and more independent this time around. She didn’t let the Crits scare her and she wasn’t afraid to speak her mind. Cassius, on the other hand, has always been harder for me to relate to. With the reappearance of Gabriel, Liberty’s ex-boyfriend, I found Cassius slightly annoying. Cass was so insecure about his relationship with Liberty that it made me sick. I lost count of how many times Liberty had to tell him that she loved him. And Gabriel wistfully lurking in the background was just plain ridiculous and wasn’t helping the situation. I get that Cassius didn’t want to have to go through losing Liberty again, but he needed to man up. In reality, I don’t think Liberty really needs a guy.

The action and conflict in book two were much more interesting. Instead of just fighting against the Crits, who are creepy as all hell, the gang had to go toe-to-toe with Mr. Jones and the town itself. But even with the new opposition bearing down on Liberty’s shoulders, there were small miscellaneous gaps of nothing dotting the story. There were times when nothing of interest was happening, and they dragged the book down. If I wasn’t so pumped about taking down Mr. Jones and the Crits, I think I would have been disappointed with the fluidity of the story.

Blackbrooke is one of the best horror series I have ever come across. It’s really hard to scare people with words alone, but Blackbrooke does its job. I did my best to read it in highly lit areas with several other people around, but when I was reading alone at night I had to put a lot of effort into remembering that it was all fictional. The first installment in the Blackbrooke series was amazing, and the sequel didn’t disappoint.

All in All:

Blackbrooke II: The Guardian was creepy, action-packed, and loads of fun. If it’s even possible, I’m left with even more questions than I had when I started.

Lee's Review:

Liberty Connor and her trusty, Crit-slaying axe are back, and I was very happy to see them both. Horror is a genre I don’t read too often due to being a gigantic chicken, but I really enjoyed the first Blackbrooke. Emma Silver has a way of writing horror that gives me a severe case of the creeps yet eager to read more of it.

Blackbrooke II: The Guardian continues in the scary footsteps of its predecessor. I loved what Silver did with the sequel, opening with a flashback to the chilling details of an event from Blackbrooke and then picking up in the present with Liberty at Blackbrooke’s Institute, where she was taken after her and Cassius’s run-in with the Queens. The Institute is a research facility that ostensibly works to improve the lives of Blackbrooke’s citizens, but of course Liberty is too smart to fall for that line. She distrusts the place and most of its staff. Quite a bit of the book focuses on what’s going on at the Institute, and I was totally into all of the government conspiracy-type stuff. For a small town, Blackbrooke certainly has a lot of secrets.

The book’s antagonist, Jonathan Jones, is the very definition of the word. How I wanted to see him get devoured by a Crit. He’s the type of bad guy who thinks he’s smarter than everyone and who revels in his villainy. Luckily, Liberty’s not the type of heroine who backs down without a good fight, even with Mr. Jones going out of his way to terrorize her.

Just when I thought that the book wasn’t going to set foot outside of the Institute—hello, plot twist! It was a clever one, too, and in general, the book held me in suspense over where it was heading next. The plotting in Blackbrooke II was top-notch; I was constantly surprised and didn’t feel that any part lagged, which was something I did occasionally experience while reading the first book. This is a finely tuned sequel that expands on the original premise and pushes it to a new level, all while continuing to give me a terrific fright. And I am fully ready and willing to be scared all over again with the next book.

All in All:

If horror’s your thing and you haven’t checked out this series yet, then you really need to. Returning to Blackbrooke was even more awesome than I’d hoped it would be, even when I was trying to clear my mind of images of the Crits before I went to sleep at night.

** Our Interview with Denzil **

We're thrilled to once again have Denzil Rathbone, Blackbrooke resident and proprietor of Tales from the Crits, the place to find all of your favorite Crits-themed merchandise, here on the blog. Denzil was kind enough to answer a few questions for us and to talk about what's been going on since we last chatted with him.

Welcome back to Rally the Readers, Denzil! It’s been a while since we last spoke to you, and it looks like a lot has been going on in your life since then. Can you bring us up to date a little on what’s been happening with you since that night Liberty took Cassius to the Queens?

Whoa, it's been interesting. I want to tell you it's been a thrill ride but there was nothing thrilling about it. The night the kids walked out is one of the worst of my life. I should have known they weren't going to come back. Maz was crying and I kept telling her over and over again they were going to come strolling through the door. She managed to fall asleep on the floor of the shop but I sat, wide-awake, staring at the door until the sun came up. I wanted them all to come back, even Cass which would have defeated the point of them going out in the first place. I actually felt sorry for the Crits having to go up against Noah. Did you see the lad? I wouldn't have messed with him. But, more than anything, I wanted Lib back with every ounce of my soul. When I realised that wasn't going to happen, the situation went from bad to worse . . .

You and Liberty have been through some harrowing adventures together. Out of all of them, which one would you say has been the scariest?

Yeah, we've had some . . . interesting encounters. I'd have to say there was nothing more scary than seeing her leave the shop with Cass and Noah but that didn't really involve me. I was scared in the tunnels, of course. That was really messed up. Everything about that night was.

Have you ever met Liberty’s family?

No. Her dad came to the shop to try and persuade her to come home after we formed our version of the Scooby Gang but other than that, I've never spoken to them. I'm surprised they didn't scope me out seeing as I'm a bloke who spends a lot of time with their teenage daughter but I know from the bits Lib told me that her family has a few issues. I don't probe. She comes to work to escape and if that's the only thing I can offer, that's cool with me.

You aren’t on the friendliest of terms with Jonathan Jones, Blackbrooke’s mayor and the headmaster of Blackbrooke Academy. Is there any truth to what he said about you being a troublemaker during your school days?

Let's get one thing straight, I wasn't a troublemaker. I didn't seek out or cause problems but I did supply my classmates with contraband and I was scruffy. Jones had my card marked from day one and hauled me into his office for any reason he could find. He must have known the story with my home life but he did it anyway. And what's worse is that he seemed to enjoy it. We of course now know the reason why he did it. He got what he wanted.

What’s the one thing you’ve always wanted to say to Mr. Jones?

You wouldn't be able to print the things I'd like to say to that man. Think of the worst expletives and you get the idea. On a serious note, after everything that's happened recently I'd want to laugh in his face, but then I remember the man stole twenty years from me and I'm back to reigning offensive insults again.

What went through your mind when you were left in that cattle field?

I hope this is quick. I expected to start thinking about my life and all that crap but I didn't. I was surprised at how practical my mind worked when facing certain death. I was even feeling grateful to Blackbrooke police for making me bleed because it meant the Crits would smell me and kill me quickly. I was cursing the rain for washing it away. It was very strange.

If you could swap places with any character from a movie or a book for a day, who would it be and why?

I'd be Bruce Campbell from ANY movie he stars in. That dude doesn't die. He kicks everyone's ass, gets the girl and still has time to deliver the best one-liners in cinema history. He's my hero. If my life were a Bruce Campbell movie, I'd be one of the poor swines who bit the dust really early. I'm not meant to live to the end of any story. Sounds morbid, right? I know, it's just a feeling I have that my days are numbered. Bloody hell, that was one of the more fun questions and I still made it depressing. Sorry guys, it's been a rough week . . .

If you could have one of your dreams come true, which one would you choose?

Living in a beach hut with the woman I love and watching the sun set every night. Maybe Lib could be there to serve us drinks. She'd love that. I think she secretly dreams of being my slave.

What's your ideal future for Blackbrooke?

Blackbrooke doesn't have a future. Get everyone out and bulldoze the place. I used to think the shop meant everything to me but it really doesn't. I also used to think I couldn't care for another soul in the world after losing so many but Liberty Bell saved me from that nonsense. Things and places mean nothing if you don't have the people you love around you. God listen to me, I've gone all soft . . .

Thanks so much for your time today, Denzil! We really appreciate it, and we wish you the best of luck!

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Discussing Game of Thrones: Mhysa & Final Thoughts on Season 3

* Spoilers ahead if you haven't seen "Mhysa."

Last week, we bid adieu to Game of Thrones for another year. * Sniffle* Only having 10 episodes per season is a bummer, but what an intense 10 episodes they were. Surpassing the all-out mayhem of the previous episode, “The Rains of Castamere,” was no easy feat, and “Mhysa” didn’t quite do it for me. Episode 9 seems to be the showcase episode for each season, judging by “Blackwater” from Season 2 and “Baelor” from Season 1 (AKA the episode in which newcomers to A Song of Ice and Fire learned that no character’s life is safe. Ever.). Still, I’d hoped to see a few last-minute fireworks go off, but I thought “Mhysa” was a little on the quiet side for a GoT season finale. Anyway, on to the details . . . .

The RW Fallout

The last thing/person I wanted to see at the beginning of this episode was Roose Bolton’s ugly, duplicitous mug, but there it was, as the desecration of anything associated with House Stark continued at the Twins. Later, Filch, uh, I mean, Walder Frey, crows about how he outsmarted the Tullys and the Starks while stuffing his shriveled face. Bolton remarks on the Blackfish’s escape, which gives me hope that the Blackfish will return one day with a vengeance. A very deadly vengeance.

Joffrey Gets Put Down for a Nap

So I really wanted to see this little turd finally get what’s coming to him this season, but alas, the worst thing that happened to him was getting sent to bed early. Really bad idea on his part to accuse his gramps of hiding under Casterly Rock during Robert’s Rebellion. And I feel very sorry for Tyrion every time he’s summoned to a Small Council meeting these days; it’s like everyone’s just waiting to harass him about something.

What’s in a Name?

Reek, Reek, it rhymes with meek. I’m sorry—I couldn’t help myself because once you write “reek,” you have to finish the line. Theon has a new name, and his torturer’s identity was finally revealed: Ramsay Snow, Roose Bolton’s bastard. Clearly, extreme sadism runs in the family.

Go North, Young Bran

Bran, Hodor, and the Reeds are camping for the night when someone pops out of the well. It’s none other than Sam, followed by Gilly and her baby. As soon as Sam spots Summer, he knows who Bran is, and he offers to take him to Jon. But Bran tells Sam that his destiny lies beyond the Wall, and Sam hands over the dragonglass he found so that Bran and the Reeds will have some kind of defense against the Others.

Arya Gets Stabby

Arya and the Hound pass by some Frey soldiers joking about the RW and how Grey Wind’s head got sewn onto Robb’s body. At first Arya approaches them meekly, and then she proceeds to stab the holy heck out of one dude. A fray (no pun intended) breaks out, with the Hound joining in and getting all slash-happy with his sword. Valar morghulis, indeed.

This Is Not the Time for a “You Know Nothing, Jon Snow”

Jon is trying to clean up his eagle-clawed face when he looks up to find Ygritte aiming an arrow at him. She’s in no mood for his excuses and starts shooting away. Riding back to Castle Black can’t be much fun when you’ve got arrows sticking out of various limbs, courtesy of your now ex-girlfriend.

It’s Been a Long Trip from Harrenhal

At long last, Jaime and Brienne arrive in King’s Landing. The first place Jaime goes? To see Cersei, of course. That was disappointing, after all he and Brienne had gone through together, but it wasn’t a surprise, either.

Let’s All Go to the Wall

Davos, now able to read thanks to encouragement from Stannis’s daughter, Shireen, is alarmed by the call for help from the Night’s Watch, re: The Others Are Coming! The Others Are Coming! Stannis is peeved at Davos for helping Gendry escape, but after Melisandre pronounces the letter legit, it’s decided that they all need to hightail it up North to the Wall. The Gods help the Night’s Watch if Melisandre is headed up there . . . .

The Return of Some Familiar Faces

This has to be one of the biggest casts on TV, and not all of the characters have continuous story lines, so obviously, some faces come and go. It was nice to see Maester Aemon, Pyp, and even Balon and Yara Greyjoy again. Theon’s daddy was quite a jerk, blaming Theon for bringing his misery upon himself and refusing to help him. Yara (who’ll always be Asha in my mind, as she’s called in the books) was pretty badass in this scene, banding a rescue party together and setting out to rescue her brother.

Crowd Surfing, GoT Style

Getting back to how there are so many characters on this show, did Daenerys really need to get the last scene of the season spotlight again? I mean, wasn’t her moment back in Season 1, when the dragons hatched? All of her new subjects declaring their love for her was a little over the top for me, and a bit of a dud as a close to the season.

Peeps (and Direwolves) We Said Goodbye to This Season

RIP: Robb Stark, Catelyn Stark, Talisa Maegyr, Rickard Karstark, Ros, Jeor Mormont, Craster, Orell, Grey Wind. (And anyone else I forgot.)

Final Thoughts on Season 3

I loved it! I’ve been shipping Jaime and Brienne since I read A Storm of Swords two years ago, so this season really delivered for me. My favorite moment was Jaime’s confession to Brienne about what led him to kill the Mad King, Aerys. Jaime’s been derided as the Kingslayer ever since, and almost no one knows how he saved the people of King’s Landing that day.

Of the new characters, my two favorites were Lady Olenna Tyrell and Ser Brynden “Blackfish” Tully. Lady Olenna wasn’t afraid to put anyone in his/her place, including Tywin Lannister. And the Blackfish—no one’s ever made scaly armor look so cool.

I thought we’d see more of Mance Rayder, but it looks like the Wildlings’ assault on the Wall is being held over until next season. Joffrey and Margaery’s nuptials also appear to be slated for some time in the fourth season. Speaking of Season 4, there was a great article on Entertainment Weekly’s site about the future of the show, namely what could happen if the show catches up to the books. It also brings up a good point about the potentially challenging adaptation of the fourth book, A Feast for Crows, for television; key characters are absent in that book and don’t reappear until book 5, A Dance with Dragons. Best case scenario: George R. R. Martin gets The Winds of Winter done and we don’t have to worry about running out of material for a little while more.

Well, that’s it for these recap posts until next year. They’ve been a lot of fun to write (and occasionally vlog), and they’ll be back for Season 4! If you missed any from this season, you can find all of them listed on the Features page.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Stacking the Shelves (36)

Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga's Reviews. It's an opportunity for everyone to share the new books that we've acquired.

Since I'm still working on some library books that I have at home (reading one now, and then one more to go), I've been trying to be good about not adding to the pile, especially since I have some review books to read, too. I did splurge a little and bought Throne of Glass as my birthday book. My cousin Ally has been hounding me to read it, and after reading the back cover, well, I'm pretty psyched to start it.

For Review:

Chase Tinker and the House of Secrets by Malia Ann Haberman
Persephone's Orchard by Molly Ringle
Blackbrooke II: The Guardian by Emma Silver
Thanks to Malia Ann Haberman, Central Avenue Publishing, and Emma Silver!


Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas

What did you add to your shelves this week? Please link me up!

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Melissa's Fill-In Post

In honor of Lee's birthday, Melissa, the lazy, is writing a post so that Lee doesn't have to work on her birthday! Well, she does have to format this post, but it's the thought that counts, right? How kind of me! I would have written it for yesterday, but Lee was insistent on putting her giveaway up. I cannot fathom why on earth one would give on their birthday when one should be doing the receiving! What can I say, Lee is a strange one . . . .

Happy belated birthday, Lee! I can't wait for you to open your freakin' awesome present on Saturday. (Because Saturdays are much better days for parties than Wednesdays.) If you guys are lucky, maybe she'll show you the epicness. Lee, thank you so much for being such an awesomely wicked cousin and book blogger! I hope you had the greatest birthday ever. I'm sure you did because I made darned sure of it! You're welcome, birthday wench! Don't die or anything until you get your life alert. ;)

On an unrelated note: You owe me a strawberry banana smoothie! Mwahahaha! >:) I told you I'd write the post eventually!

Another unrelated note: This is Larold. Larry for short. He's a fish.

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Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Lee's Birthday Giveaway!

And the giveaway goodness around here continues! It's just the way the timing worked out: blogoversary in April, Armchair BEA last month, and now . . . my birthday! To help me forget about turning an age that possibly begins with a "3" and ends in a "6," I'm giving away one of my favorite books! One winner will get to choose from one of the following: (Click on a cover to read the Goodreads description.)

Please Note: While I'll do my best to obtain a hardcover, depending upon the availability of the chosen book, the winner may receive a paperback. Also, if the book is part of a series and you would like a different book from that series (for example, Hallowed or Boundless instead of Unearthly, I'm happy to do that.

** Giveaway **

  • You must be at least 13 years old to enter.
  • Winner will be notified via email and have 48 hours to respond or else another winner will be chosen.
  • Book will be shipped directly from Amazon if the winner lives in the U.S., or from The Book Depository if the winner lives outside the U.S. and The Book Depository ships to your country (you can check by clicking here). We are not responsible for lost, stolen, or damaged packages.
  • Giveaway ends at midnight on June 26, 2013.
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