The Wait is Over! ~ Cassandra Clare’s ‘City of Heavenly Fire’ is here!

The wait is over.

The epic conclusion to the #1 Bestselling Mortal Instruments series releases today.


I am coming.

Darkness returns to the Shadowhunter world. As their society falls apart around them, Clary, Jace, Simon and their friends must band together to fight the greatest evil the Nephilim have ever faced: Clary’s own brother. Nothing in the world can defeat him — must they journey to another world to find the chance? Lives will be lost, love sacrificed, and the whole world changed in the sixth and last installment of the Mortal Instruments series!

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My Top 20 Favorite Reads of 2013

I surprised myself in 2013.  I only read 32 books last year.  I usually read twice that amount.  I’m a little disappointed I didn’t reach my goal of 50, but then again, I did do a lot of beta reads this past year, so in a way, I did read close to 50 books/novellas; I just can’t claim them yet.

Anyway, here are my top 20 not listed in any particular order.  Reviews will be popping up for each of them soon.

1.  Don’t know why it took me 8 years after its publication date to read it, but I’m glad I did.  I would have to say out of all the books I read this past year, it comes in at #1.

  2.  This is the second novel in a fantastic middle-grade series.  Received it as an ARC and completely fell in love with it.

3.  Talk about an emotional rollercoaster.  Ms. Ayres’ new book, 18 Truths arrives on  Jan. 28, 2014 and I can’t wait to read it in its final glory.

4.  Clockwork Princess by Cassandra Clare.  This is book 3 in the Infernal Devices series and it’s OMGosh stupendous.

5.  The Iron Traitor, by Julie Kagawa  #2 in The Iron Fey:  Call of the Forgotten series.  I’d love for Kagawa’s books to be made into a movie.  Then again, some things are best left to the imagination.

6.  Taken by Erin Bowman.  This book blew my mind.  Fan-freaking-tastic.

7.  Requiem by by Lauren Oliver.  Not as great as Delirium in my opinion, but still a great read.

8.  The Fall:  An Autobiography of an Alter Ego by Elle.  This book had my emotions all over the place.  It’s a dark book that deals with depressive topics, yet it is so completely filled with hope.

9.  Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi.  I didn’t think I’d like this one but I was so wrong.  The next in the series, Through the Ever Night is next on my TBR list.  Can’t wait to read it.

10.  Keeper of the Lost Cities by Shannon Messenger.  The first book in the series.  Love the fantasy element in this book and the plot is perfect for middle grade kids…especially girls.

11.  Jack & Jill Volume 1 by Jennifer Eaton.  Two lovely romantic stories that follow the lives of Jack and Jill’s Christmas romance.  These are quite endearing tales with beautiful HEA endings.

12.  Avenger, by Heather Burch.  Super fun, probably my favorite in the entire Halflings series.

13.  The Selection by Kiera Cass.  Described as The Hunger Games meets The Bachelor.  Whomever came up with that pretty much hit the nail on the head.  Loved it.

14.  After Dark by Emi Gayle.  Loved this beginning to the 19th Year series.  Filled with all kinds of fantasy goodies and a great storyline.

15.  Day After by Emi Gayle.  Second book in the 19thYear series and wow…I can’t wait to get my hands on book 3.

16.  Perry Road by Emi Gayle.  This is the first book in the Revolution series.  What do teenagers do when they find they are pawns for the new American Union?  Emotional and deeply involved plot.

17.  Eye of the Soul by Terri Rochenski.  Again, another fantastic fantasy story and I’m in love with the cover.  A perfect blend of good and evil.  Well thought out characters.  Stunning plot.

18.  Songs from the Phenomenal Nothing by Steven Luna.  I don’t know why I picked up this book but oh my, what a haunting, beautiful tale.  Talk about a tear-jerker.  Totally worth 5 stars.

19.  This is book 4 in the Heroes of Olympus series and was a fun, fast read.  It was charming, funny, and way too short.

20.  Sever by Lauren DeStefano (The Chemical Garden, #3).  I’m all over the place about this book and this series.  I wasn’t crazy about Fever but I had to see how this story wrapped up.  This definitely ends the storyline.  Like the ending of Mockingjay, it left me feeling numb, like there should have been more or something else, but it really was the only way to end it.

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Most Anticipated 2013 YA Novels

Okay, folks.  Here are my top YA novel picks releasing in January and February of 2013.  Each month after I will post a list  of my top picks coming out the following month (if there are any).  My goal is to read all of these books on my list, but we’ll see as I’m still chipping away at my 2012 list.


Splintered  1/1  The Cadet of Tildor  1/10 Shadowlands 1/8

Shades of Earth (Across the Universe, #3) 1/15 Boundless (Unearthly, #3) 1/22 Asunder (Newsoul, #2) 1/29

Prodigy (Legend, #2)1/29  18 Things 1/24





Breaking Point (Article 5, #2) 2/2   Unravel Me (Shatter Me, #2)  2/5   Perfect Scoundrels (Heist Society, #3) 2/5

The Indigo Spell (Bloodlines, #3) 2/12 Sever (The Chemical Garden, #3) 2/12Scarlet (Lunar Chronicles, #2) 2/15


The Liebster Blog Award

A few days ago, the lovely Victoria at Victoria-writes honored me with the Liebster Blog Award.  Thank you, Victoria.  For those of you who aren’t familiar with the award, here’s how Liebster works:

  • I list 11 random facts about myself.
  • I’ll answer the 11 questions asked of me by the person who nominated me.
  • I will then nominate my 11 picks for the award, along with my 11 questions for them to answer when they post a response.
  • If you’re nominated, your name/link will appear at the bottom of this post along with the questions I come up with.
  • Follow the same format; paste the award badge to your blog, give us 11 random facts about yourself, answer my 11 questions, and choose your nominees…but you cannot nominate the blog who nominated you.

I’m going to break the rules a bit and pop these out to all followers of my blog, You are under no obligation to participate, but if you do, please ping back to my blog so we can learn more about you.

Here are the questions Victoria asked me. I hope I don’t bore you.  🙂

  • What made you want to be a writer?

I’ve always wanted to be a writer.  I always loved making up stories and weaving tall tales.  It was and is my way to escape reality.  I find it’s better on my body and soul that drugs and alcohol.

  • Where do you find the inspiration for your writing?

Everywhere.  In the breeze, listening to conversations, watching, reading, singing.  Inspiration is everywhere.  All we need to do is open our eyes and ears.

  • What are your goals for 2013?

Get a publishing contract for my YA novel, finish the second in the series.   Write a few more shorts and have them published. Find a job.  Find my inner peace and joy.

  • What’s your favourite quote?

I have so many.  The first one that pops in my head is “Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.” ~ Dr. Seuss

  • Where in the world would you most like to visit?

Ireland/Scotland.  I also want to go back to Neuschwanstein.  I have a strange calling to return to that castle.  It’s a deep in my gut calling.  I also want to go to Italy.

  • What five things would you take to a desert island?

a yacht full of fuel.  champagne and orange juice (gotta have mimosas), laptop, friends & family, my pups.

  • What is your biggest strength and your biggest weakness?

I’m a huge champion for others.  I’m not a huge champion of myself.

  • If you could met one author, who would you choose?

Wow.  Ummm, toss up.  John Green or Cassandra Clare?  If Ayn Rand were alive, I’d pick her, too.

  • What’s your favourite film?

Oh, I have so many.  My Fair Lady ranks right up there at the top with While You Were Sleeping, and It’s a Wonderful Life.

  • If you went into The Hunger Games, what would be your most useful skill?

hiding.  I’m not big on confrontation.  My family tells me I have a knack for disappearing.

  • Which fictional male would you most like to marry?

If you’d asked me that question when I was ten, it would be Frank Hardy from the Hardy Boy mysteries.  Now, I could totally go for Mangus in my Chronicles of Fallhollow series.  I’m also very enamored with Caleb in Raymond Feist’s Midkemia novels.

I liked these questions so much, I’m passing them on to each of you.  Thanks for playing and don’t forget to link back!!

The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones

Have you ever read a book and you knew immediately it had to be a movie, too? I felt that way with The Hunger Games and I felt again with Cassandra Clare’s The Mortal Instruments series.

These books have everything you could possibly want in a fantastic YA urban fantasy novel:  vampires, werewolves, fairies, supernatural creatures, hot guys, sweet guys, kick-butt heroines.  And Cassandra Clare has a way to deliver all of it in a way that prohibits the reader from putting the books down for a moment.   I have to say she is one of my favorite authors and I have spent lots of time evaluating her writing style so I can learn what makes it work so darn well.

I got all giddy when I found out the first book in the series, City of Bones, would be made into a film.  Like many others, I waited patiently to hear who would star, and I was surprised to find a fairly unheard of cast (Lena Headey from The Brothers Grimm; Lily Collins (daughter of Phil Collins); Robert Sheehan; and Jamie Campbell Bower (not how I pictured Jace at all!)).  I began to have my doubts about the casting until I saw they signed on  Jonathan Rhys Meyers to play Valentine.  I was sold.

The film is set to release August 23, 2013 in the US.  I hope it’s as good as the book.  I really don’t want to be disappointed with this one.

The Next Big Thing

In the last two weeks or so I’ve been tagged by two authors – Julie and Kathils – to participate in the new blog hop sensation: The Next Big Thing!  The purpose:  discuss my current Work in Progress.  Seeing as I was tagged by not one, but two authors, I figured I should indulge all of you with some little tidbits about my  novel.

What is the working title of your book? In the Shadow of the Dragon King.

Where did the idea come from for the book?  The idea has been swirling in my head since I was young.  I’m an army brat with a love for fantasy – the kind of fantasy that involves knights and dragons and sorcerers.  My Army dad was always a hero to me, as are our servicemen and women.  One Saturday morning while sitting in an IHOP, nine servicemen dressed in uniform, came in and took a table by the window.  Watching them, listening to them, the idea for my novel began to play out in my head and it wouldn’t stop.  I’ve been working on the trilogy ever since.

What genre does your book fall under?  a cross between urban and high fantasy.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book? Kidnapped for his own safety, a seventeen-year old boy is thrust into a magical world hovering on the brink of war, and forced into finding a hidden ally before his arc enemies – a sorcerer and a dragon – can kill him.   (Still working on it but it’s what I have for now.)

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?  Wow, my list is long (yes, I’ve thought about this a lot :-))  Are you ready?  Nicholas Haut, Vanessa Hudgins, Megan Fox, Cameron Bright, Jeremy Sumpter, Craig Parker, Roselyn Sanchez, David Wenham and Paul Rudd to name a few. 

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?  I would love to have my book repped by an agency, but I’ll probably end up going with a small press.  There are several out there I’m looking at who have a great reputation and same publishing model I’m looking for.  All options are open at this time.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript? Years.  I worked on it part-time to begin with only to realize I needed to do some research into medieval weapons, castles, locations, etc.  This put the actual writing on hold for a while.  Then I started writing again but I didn’t like the way it started, so I ditched it and started over.  I was also working full-time and trying to raise four kids, so time was limited.  Then I was laid off in 2010 from my job and, unable to find a job, dove into my manuscript with vigor.  I completed it in 2011, sent it off to a publisher who liked it but needed changes.  I’ve been working on those changes ever since, along with the other two novels in the trilogy.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre? I’ve been told my story has elements of Tolkien, Rowling, C.S. Lewis, Cassandra Clare and Anne McCaffrey mixed with my own flare, but as far as actual books?  I don’t think it’s been compared to any books.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest? There are mysterious tattoos, fight scenes to appeal to the YA male reader, a hint of love interest for the gals, a bit of sarcastic wit for the adults and some bad a$$ characters to love and hate.  There’s a good dragon as well as a very, very bad one, a couple of kick-butt fae, and an army of shape-shifting teens any kid would want on his/her side in an epic battle.  It’s a story of love, sacrifice and believing in one’s self.

And now, for my nominations, in no particular order:

Amy M. Newman

Kourtney Heintz

Tristan Berry

Jamie Ayres

Carrie Ruben


And anyone else who wants to play along.

Travel Tuesday

I’ve read several blog posts recently where authors have taken road trips in search of locations that mimic parts of their novels.  They want to get a feel for the real environment.  They want to awaken their senses so they can incorporate them in between the lines of what they write.  One author recently went on a trip to a peach orchard because her characters pick peaches in her novel.  Another walked the streets of a big city at night to experience the ‘fear’ factor.  I, personally, have taken fencing classes and even trained for about an hour with a ‘knight’ from our local Renaissance Festival so I could get a true understanding of how difficult it is to wield a broadsword.

But what do you do if you’re  not a traveler?  How do you tap into your senses to write true to life fiction?

For me, I escape in books, especially ones that address what I’m working on at the moment in my own writing.  If I’m working on a fight scene, I’ll consult George R.R. Martin or Raymond Feist.  If I’m looking for YA romance, I’ll hit up Nicholas Sparks or Myra McEntire.  If I want dystopian, who else to turn to than Suzanne Collins, Veronica Roth, and Stephanie DeStefano? As for fantasy?  Without a doubt, C.S. Lewis, Lewis Carroll, Cassandra Clare, Martha Wells, Julie Kagawa and J. K. Rowling hold the keys.

What about you?  Where do you travel to find the umph needed to awaken your senses and write true to life settings?

Flying below radar again

Hi guys!

I’m so glad you dropped in to see what’s up.  I hate to inform you that this week will probably be another down week for me.   You see, I’ve written 3 versions of the same novel…one for me, one for the publisher, one with the publisher’s comments and edits, and now I’m working on #4…a melding of the previous three.

I understood and agree with many points the publisher pointed out to me and I am gladly working on them.  They were correct on many aspects of the novel and I respect and admire their keen eyes and editing sense.  However, there are aspects about my novel that I must keep for my novel to remain mine.  There are hints of things to come in books two and especially book three in the saga.  If I take them out, then those events don’t hold as much weight.  They don’t pack a punch, and it won’t be the story I want to tell.

I had a discussion with the publisher the other day and they are a little hesitant about my decision to leave in a certain aspect that I have to have in the trilogy.  they are, however, still interested in seeing the final result.

The melding it, the bringing all 4 versions together has been more difficult that I thought.  Scenes, once ‘acted’ out by other characters, have been relegated to only two points of view.  Scenes that weren’t there at all in any of the versions have been written.  Conflicts once suffered by others are now experienced by someone else.  I have to admit, the writing is better, the story is better, but the outlining of 3 novels into one has been a chore to say the least.  The first novel was outlined to a certain extent.  I knew what I wanted to happen in each chapter and to whom, but now that many character POVs are gone, those scenes now have to go away all together or placed elsewhere with someone else.

That means this week will be another down week for me on my blog.  I will try to pop in here and there to say hello. I’m definitely still popping in on all your blogs to say hi and keep informed of the latest news and developments.

Oh, just to let you know…in my down time I’ve been engrossed in Cassandra Clare’s Immortal Instruments series:  City of Bone, City of Ash and City of Glass.  If you haven’t picked these up, you must.  A lot of folks think she’s a bit heavy on the description.  To me, it’s just the right amount, and her characterizations are fantastic and well thought out.  If you’re looking for faeries, werewolves, vampires, dead, silent, mind-speaking ghoulish things called the Silent Brothers, all wrapped up in an urban fantasy that takes place in NY, you’ve opened the right book.   It’s sexy, fun and definitely an adventure.

Till next time,

Stay healthy, happy and keep sweet.


CRUX – Book Review

CruxCrux by Julie Reece

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

In the immortal words of current YAs everywhere…OMG!

I had the pleasure of reading Crux by Julie Reece as a beta and I thought it was fantastic. The ARC of the final version blew me away.

From the moment the man with the mystery bag appears until the very last word, Reece held me spellbound, jumping seamlessly between Birdie’s real world on the streets of Atlanta, to a land overrun with menacing Vikings. Her quest, not one for the timid, is real in every sense of the word, and I found myself on the edge of my seat more than once. The story is unique and unfolds quickly, dragging the reader along effortlessly.

Reece’s descriptions are amazing, giving us clear pictures with few words. Her characters are alive and they have a way of embedding in your heart and mind. Like Karou in Daughter of Smoke and Bone, Katniss Everdeen in the Hunger Games and Jace and Clary in the City of Lost Souls, you will never forget Birdie or Grey.

This novel has everything a YA urban fantasy should have: action, snooty, lovable friends/family, thugs, a hot love interest and kick-butt pacing. The love story unfolds gently over time and it’s not without its problems. Grey is to die for gorgeous, charming, kind, and will even make adult women salivate and swoon.

Reece pulls off some twists and turns that I didn’t see coming even though the clues were there all along. Thank you, Ms. Reece, for making sure I was so invested in Birdie and her mission I didn’t see the signs until she did. Brilliant writing!

CRUX is one of the best YA novels I’ve read in a long time. If you are a fan of Cassandra Clare, Laini Taylor, Rae Carson, Patrick Ness, or Veronica Rossi, you’re going to fall in love with this novel.

Keep your eye on this author, folks. She’s destined for the NY Times Best-seller list!

View all my reviews