Book Review: Kings of Ruin by Sam Cameron

kings of ruinInfo:
Title: Kings of Ruin
Author: Sam Cameron
Release Date: March 19, 2013
Publisher: Bold Strokes Books
Source: Bold Strokes Books/NetGalley
Series? Unknown
Genre: YA, LGBT, Adventure, Contemporary, Supernatural, Science Fiction
Page Count: 193
Rating: [4/5 stars]


Danny Kelly cares only for rock ‘n’ roll and fast cars. Too bad he’s stuck in the capital of country music and he’s banned from driving until he turns twenty-one. Plus he likes other boys, a secret that he’s vowed to keep until he graduates high school. When his stepdad’s new truck roars off on its own, Danny discovers a secret that is endangering cars and drivers across America. It almost kills Danny, too, until he’s saved by seventeen-year-old Kevin Clark. Kevin’s gay, handsome, and confident, but working with his dad’s secret government organization has left him lonely. It’s going to take a weekend of car chases, fiery explosions, and country-western singing to save the citizens of Nashville from certain death—but can Danny protect his heart and secrets as well? (summary from goodreads)

My Review:
KINGS OF RUIN is a compelling mix of contemporary and the supernatural. I sat down to read a few chapters and before I knew it I’d finished the whole book. I was that into the story and the characters.

Danny and Kevin are teenagers with one big thing in common: they each lost someone they loved in a car crash. Otherwise, they have some differences. Danny won’t admit that he’s gay, and has a girlfriend to keep up appearances. He doesn’t know the truth about how his father and brother died. Kevin is proudly out but single because of his job — he and his father are part of a team from the Department of Transportation who hunt down Ruins all over the U.S. Kevin’s mother died in a crash caused by the Ruins. Think of Ruins as malevolent spirits that take over cars because they like killing people and creating chaos.

The characters were one of my favorite parts of the book. Aside from Danny and Kevin, there’s the rest of the Ruin hunting team, and I got the feeling they all had interesting back stories of their own. In particular, I liked Mrs. Morris, and the way Danny thought about her when she fills in for his physics teacher: “She was easily the most beautiful woman Danny had ever seen. If it weren’t for the whole gay thing, he might have fallen a little bit in love with her right then and there (p. 17, ARC).”

Some of the other characters that shined were 2KEWEL, FIREBUG, and CHOPR. I don’t know if they would appreciate being described as cute, but they were! The author infused personality into the toy cars and helicopter, and they were an important part of the story even though they couldn’t talk.

I had fun reading KINGS OF RUIN, and I hope there will be another book to continue Danny and Kevin’s story. As you can probably guess, a spark pops up between the two boys. I liked how meeting Kevin made Danny re-evaluate keeping his sexuality a secret. And, although both boys are gay, KINGS OF RUIN isn’t a coming out story. It’s just part of who they are.

I only wish the book had been longer. I thought there could have been more explanation about the Ruins, as I had some questions about them (how does the government know about them? what happens to Ruins after they’re zapped? etc.), and I would also have liked to see some more romance between Danny and Kevin. However, the hints of romance in the book were realistic, and I was happy that they didn’t fall instantly in love and ride off into the sunset together.

KINGS OF RUIN is a well-written YA book full of adventure. I’d recommend it for guys, because there’s a lot of car talk and both main characters are guys, but I think anyone would enjoy it.

Socialize with the author:
Sam Cameron:

– leeanna

Goodbye March, Hello April


In March, I read 24 books. Pretty good, if I say so myself. Some of the books were short, though, so I didn’t make my goal of 8,000 pages for the month. I reread the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series, and I thought it was cool that I first read that series exactly three years ago. Not so cool was reading the reviews I wrote of those books. They’re almost cringe-worthy. But I guess reading old reviews is a way to see that I’ve grown in writing them … or so I hope.

Due to the demise of Google Reader (why, Google, why?) I’m trying out a new way of following/reading blogs, Bloglovin. I still haven’t decided on my replacement for Google Reader, but Bloglovin might be it.

Follow on Bloglovin

Reviews Written:
Writing Scary Scenes by Rayne Hall.
The Holders by Julianna Scott.
Dance of Shadows by Yelena Black.
The Enchanted Truth by Kym Petrie.
Shadow on the Crown by Patricia Bracewell.
Chronicles of Kerrigan #1: Rae of Hope by W. J. May.
Chronicles of Kerrigan #2: Dark Nebula by W. J. May.
Terrestrials #1: Terra by Gretchen Powell.
The Girls of Atomic City by Denise Kiernan.
Delphic Oracle #1: Dark Oracle by Alayna Williams.
Delphic Oracle #2: Rogue Oracle by Alayna Williams.
Black Dawn #1: Black Feathers by Joseph D’Lacey.

It’s Monday, What Did I Read?
March 4, 2013

Fit Owl Tuesdays:
None. I’m getting more unfit by the month.

Waiting on Wednesday:
The Eternity Cure by Julie Kagawa.
Chantress by Amy Butler Greenfield.
Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo.

Inside the Nest:
None. I have been slacking on updates!

Other Stuff:
March Page Count Contest. I read 7,548 pages, almost hitting my goal of 8,000.
Spring Cleaning Giveaway Hop.
Interview with Joseph D’Lacey, author of BLACK FEATHERS.
Blog Tour Promo: Naked As We Came by Amberly Wynn.

Goal Progress:
How did I do on my Blogging Resolutions?
01: Post 2-3 reviews a week Check!
02: Keep Amazon/Goodreads updated I’ve been much better about this; I think I posted all of my March reviews.
03: Make 1 vlog a month No vlogs yet this year. I might do a bookshelf tour soon, as I’m stumped for topics.
04: Post 1 personal update a week I’ve had too much other stuff on the blog, and not a lot to say.
05: Use Facebook I’m working on this. I always forget to update it. I’ve found some plugins that are supposed to update Facebook automatically, but they require creating an app on Facebook and I can’t do that because I can’t verify my account. Grrr.
06: Learn about SEO
07: Be more active on Twitter I don’t think I opened my Twitter app at all this month.



Lots of reviews, doh :D I’m still having trouble writing reviews here and there, and I’ve been thinking about doing “Book Thoughts” — short recaps of what I thought about a book — for some of the non-review books I read.

That’s about it. I just saw that there’s an April session of Camp NaNo, but I think I’ll resist signing up.

– leeanna

Blog Tour Book Review: Strangelets by Michelle Gagnon (and giveaway!)

Today I am one of the stops on the blog tour for STRANGELETS by Michelle Gagnon. The tour is hosted by Shane @ Itching for Books and you can check out the rest of the stops here.

Title: Strangelets
Author: Michelle Gagnon
Release Date: April 9, 2013
Publisher: Soho Teen
Source: Publisher for review/blog tour
Series? No
Genre: YA, Thriller, Mystery, Supernatural
Page Count: 272
Rating: [3/5 stars]


17-year-old Sophie lies on her deathbed in California, awaiting the inevitable loss of her battle with cancer…
17-year-old Declan stares down two armed thugs in a back alley in Galway, Ireland…
17-year-old Anat attempts to traverse a booby-trapped tunnel between Israel and Egypt…

All three strangers should have died at the exact same moment, thousands of miles apart. Instead, they awaken together in an abandoned hospital—only to discover that they’re not alone. Three other teens from different places on the globe are trapped with them. Somebody or something seems to be pulling the strings. With their individual clocks ticking, they must band together if they’re to have any hope of surviving.

Soon they discover that they’ve been trapped in a future that isn’t of their making: a deadly, desolate world at once entirely familiar and utterly strange. Each teen harbors a secret, but only one holds the key that could get them home. As the truth comes to light through the eyes of Sophie, Declan, and Anat, the reader is taken on a dark and unforgettable journey into the hearts of teens who must decide what to do with a second chance at life. (summary from goodreads)

My Review:
STRANGELETS is one of those books that’s incredibly hard to describe or summarize. If I say too much about the story, it will spoil the whole thing for you, and this is one I don’t want to spoil. I think it’s best if you go in without any knowledge of what will happen.

Sophie, Declan, and Anat, three teens on the edge of death, get sucked into mysterious vortexes. They wake up trapped in a hospital-like building, with three other teens, Nico, Zain, and Yosh. All of the teens have different cultural backgrounds: Irish, Japanese, American, etc. Sophie describes them: “They were a random group of kids, that was for sure. Kind of like a post- apocalyptic model UN (p. 67, ARC).” It’s an eclectic bunch, with Declan probably being my favorite. I liked his sarcasm and wise-cracking in the face of danger.

STRANGELETS is told from the viewpoints of Sophie, Declan, and Anat. I would have liked to read it from the viewpoints of all six, but it became clear later why Nico, Zain, and Yosh didn’t get to share in the narrating spotlight.

As I said, the plot of STRANGELETS is hard to describe without spoiling, so I’m not going to try. What I will say is that it’s a crazy ride, and I read most of the book in one sitting so I could find out how everything would come together. I did have a couple of “Really, guys?” moments when the characters ignored obvious clues staring them in the face, but for the most part, I was swept up in the story.

Aside from the action and suspense, there’s a romance in this book. Usually I don’t like insta-love, but I actually didn’t mind it in this case. I liked that Sophie, who thought she would never have a relationship with a guy, or even kiss one, because she was dying of lymphoma, took a chance and went for it with Declan.

What let me down with STRANGELETS was the ending. After putting her characters through some truly horrible experiences and lots of twists and turns, the author rushed from the climax to the ending in a couple of pages. I thought the ending was too happy, too upbeat, and it took the book down a notch for me. I would have liked to see the climax have more of an impact on the characters’ lives.

Overall, I did enjoy STRANGELETS, and reading the book made me curious about Michelle Gagnon’s other YA novel, DON’T TURN AROUND. I’d recommend it if you like thrillers and suspense.

Favorite Quote:

“Honestly, I haven’t a clue,” Declan said. “But when we leave tomorrow, I’d like to be holding something more lethal than a can of beans (p. 81, ARC).”

a Rafflecopter giveaway

*This giveaway is not hosted by me.

Socialize with the author:
Michelle Gagnon:

– leeanna

April 2013 Page Count Contest

I’m participating in Reading Angel’s page count contest. It’s a fun way to push yourself to read more. My goal for April is 8,000 pages and I’m going to get this this month!

Title Author Date Finished Page Count
The Last Olympian Rick Riordan 04/01/13 381
Strangelets Michelle Gagnon 04/01/13 272
Fang Girl Helen Keeble 04/02/13 342
Pretty Girl-13 Liz Coley 04/03/13 344
Eternal Revelations Candis Vargo 04/07/13 282
The Lost Hero Rick Riordan 04/07/13 557
The Son of Neptune Rick Riordan 04/10/13 560
The Immortal Rules Julie Kagawa 04/11/13 464
Innocent Darkness Suzanne Lazear 04/11/13 391
Stung Bethany Wiggins 04/11/13 304
Nefertiti’s Heart A. W. Exley 04/12/13 280
Wasteland Susan Kim & Laurence Klavan 04/13/13 336
The Mark of Athena Rick Riordan 04/15/13 608
Incarnate Jodi Meadows 04/16/13 400
Asunder Jodi Meadows 04/19/13 408
School Spirits Rachel Hawkins 04/23/13 304
Poison Bridget Zinn 04/24/13 276
If You Find Me Emily Murdoch 04/25/13 248
The Eternity Cure Julie Kagawa 04/27/13 436
Portrait of a Crossroads Kelly Rand 04/27/13 40
The Fire Horse Girl Kay Honeyman 04/27/13 336
The S-Word Chelsea Pitcher 04/28/13 304
Hannibal Thomas Harris 04/29/13 560
Influential Magic Deanna Chase 04/29/13 310

Running count: 8,743

– leeanna

Blog Tour Promo: Naked As We Came by Amberly Wynn

Today I am the stop on the blog tour for NAKED AS WE CAME by Amberly Wynn. The tour is hosted by Reading Addiction Book Tours, and you can find the rest of the stops here.

naked as we cameTitle: Naked As We Came
Author: Amberly Wynn
Release Date: January 21, 2013
Publisher: Self-Published
Series? The Cassidy Tomei Chronicles #1
Genre: YA, Science Fiction, Romance


Escaping Earth was the first triumph. Surviving Nyx will be the last…

Sixteen-year-old Cassidy Tomei was one of the lucky few airlifted aboard the Wonder to the planet Nyx. This emergency exodus from Earth was meant to bring new hope for the remaining survivors of humankind, but there’s one problem. Humankind isn’t alone on this mysterious new planet.

On Nyx, Cassidy is one of many living amongst subzero temperatures and with nothing, but a meager ration of food for every household. When the rations deplete, she flees to into unfamiliar wilderness in search of food, but instead discovers debris from a foreign spacecraft that proves humankind is no longer the dominate species.

Soon, everything she knows is at stake and everyone she loves is dead. But she’s got one more battle to fight when she’s taken prisoner within Pelhoi, a concentration camp constructed specifically for humans where hominoid creatures dubbed, “the Achillai” reign supreme.

She seeks freedom, but finds romance with someone who might either save her or get her killed. (summary from goodreads)


Tariq’s screams wake me.

I jerk up in a daze, colliding headfirst with the frame of the top bunk. The whole wooden bed trembles in rhythm with Tariq’s thrashing body. It wouldn’t surprise me if he rolled out of bed and hit the floor. Poor kid. This is the third cold he’s had this month.

It’s no wonder why. The fire is a smolder. Nothing but ashes burns in the belly of the furnace across the room. He’s probably freezing to death up there.

“Cassidy, are you up yet?” Mama shouts. Her voice quavers from the other side of my bedroom door when she knocks. She’s catching a cold too.

We’re all on the same schedule for cold season this year. It’s not unusual these days. Born and raised in southern Arizona, none of us have gotten used to planet Nyx’s everlasting winter. But it’s a sacrifice we had to make to keep from perishing on Earth with the others.

“Yeah,” I say. “I’m up.” But I’m not. I remain in bed, basking in the small ray of warm light casting a gleam onto the dull hardwood floors. Tariq gasps again, this time, crying out as his coughs amplify.

On my tiptoes I look onto the top bunk. There, my little brother lays cocooned in the tattered quilts, shivering, but sound asleep nonetheless.

“Hey, little bug, are you okay?” I coo. He doesn’t move. I lean in, wondering if he’s even still breathing. “Tariq? Come on, it’s time to wake up.”

He rolls over and I note the purple tint in his brown cheeks and the yellowing hue of his eyes. This doesn’t look like an ordinary cold.

“Tar, wake up.” He doesn’t answer. I put my hand to his forehead. “Geez, boy, you’re cold as ice. Are you okay? Answer me!”
There’s a pause then a gasp and he coughs, spraying blood through his teeth.

“Oh my god.” I unravel him from the sheath of blankets and tote him down the narrow hallway into Mama’s bedroom. She’s all ready for the day and fixing her hair into a bun when I stop in her doorway, knocking on the frame.

“Mama, something’s wrong with Tariq.”

She sighs. “This weather is getting the best of all of us, isn’t it?”

“He’s not breathing,” I say and she scurries over, snatching him out of my arms to rest him atop her sunken burlap cot. In a matter of seconds, she checks for a pulse then vitals, putting all of her previous nursing school training to good use.

“Get me water and a towel,” she says. “Hot water, now, Cassidy!”

I rush out, grabbing a tin bucket from the hallway cupboard, full speed from the hut, neglecting a coat or even a pair of socks. The moment my toes touch the snow outside, my feet burn with blisters as the dry ice cooks the skin.

The wind collides, knocking against my featherweight body so hard that I topple over, forced to crawl the rest of the way. If the wind were any stronger it’d sweep me into the air as I forge against it toward the pump behind our hut.

The rusty thing squeaks when I wind the handle and flushes nothing but brown droplets of water from the faucet. Crap. Of course. It’s only 5AM. They don’t turn on the water until eleven.

They don’t even crank up the underground generators for electricity until noon. All that talk from before about “conserving our provisions” from Earth was pointless on a planet that is subzero ninety percent of the time.

I need to think fast. Let’s see…the Strip opens at six. Around that time, there’ll be a crowd of colonists already outside the gates fending each other off for the best lumber.

Water isn’t an option for five more hours. Venturing into the forest for wood isn’t forbidden, but inadvisable if you have no idea what you’re doing. Whether I like it or not, braving the inevitable pandemonium at the Strip is all I can do. I rush back inside.

Mama hovers over Tariq in the den, cocooning him in blankets on the floor in front the last flame of fire smoldering in the furnace.

“Where’s the water?” she asks. “Cassidy, he’s freezing!”

“There’s no water,” I say. “The pump is dry until eleven. I’m going to the Strip for firewood, okay?”

“There’s no time for that!”

“We don’t have a choice, Mama! I have to go. I’ll be back. Keep Tariq as warm as you can. I promise you, I will be back. Okay?”
She nods. I hurry to my bedroom and slide a large plastic storage bin from beneath the bottom bunk and pick out my best coat along with a pair of mukluks, hand-me-downs courtesy of my older brother, Lonnie.

I dress fast and rush out onto the porch. The first thing that hits me is the wind. It hits me so hard that it dries my face. I lick my cracked lips and taste the fleck of dried blood down the center of a cut. I stuff my hair in handfuls beneath my snowcap, neglecting the stray strands peeking from under.

Before descending the wooden porch stairway, I make sure to click close the padlock on the hut door and check all the windows for locks as well. It’s better this way to keep others in the colony from getting any ideas.

Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s house isn’t exactly a practiced commandment around here.

I follow the gravel pathway downward, around the bend of the block. More turf huts dot the edges, separated, padlocked and boxed into little sections by rusty wire fences. None of them have smoke in their chimneys which means that either they’re still asleep or heading to the Strip to wait in line with the rest of us.

I’m hoping for the former. The longer they sleep in, the fewer people I’ll have to deal with for the day’s portions. This would be a worthwhile venture it if the wood they threw at us through the shafts were any good.

Every once and a while there’s at least one sadistic woodsman that doles out a fine piece of wood that people swarm over until someone is either shot to death or beaten into submission.

I’ll take whatever I can get right now. Even if it’s scraps, I’ll make do with it for Tariq’s sake. After all, we’ve lived off less. So long as it’s enough to spark a decent flame, I don’t have a problem with accepting second best today.

Halfway down the path, I see the usual grey smoke signal through the thorny treetops. Sometimes, when Nyx’s fog is too thick, the smoke transitions to purple to help fellow colonists see their way into the Heart.

After landing on Nyx, the only things we learnt when the schools were built were trades that would only benefit the colony.
Things like firewood, crop picking and smoke signals are amongst the curriculum for graduation, insisting we learn the exact potion formulated for changing the color of smoke to fit specific situations. Red is for danger. Blue is for weather advisories. Purple is for times like this when seeing is the utmost importance and pink is an SOS.

It’s amazing what a dash of food coloring, potassium chlorate oxidizer and lactose can concoct under the right conditions. I follow the purple smoke in, rounding the gravel pathways further into the most populated part of my colony, Cere –- the Heart.

Further in, past the horizontal rows of unmarked huts, the lone Quonset amongst a fleet of wooden shacks sits in waiting with the purple smoke signal seeping out from its tin chimney. I smell the fire raging from inside and covet the heat like a dying flower craving water. I rub my hands together, peeling the dead skin rolling off my palms.

These daily windburns have done a number on my skin and caused so much of my complexion to fade in patches of dry cardboard colored flesh. Once, I was blessed with a brilliant brown complexion that’s now sallow beige.

If you’d look at me now, you could almost never tell that I was once teased for being the blackest girl with the kinkiest hair at school in Arizona. I’m a ghost of my former self in this weather and on this planet.

I’m not the only one sucking my cracked lips to keep them from chapping in the wind. There’s already a small huddle of people gathered before the Quonset. The frosted windows are still barred shut and the tin log chutes jutting out its sides are clearly inaccessible.

Nonetheless, there are already people lying outside the place in makeshift sleeping bags and heavy coats. The huge sundial hanging from the Quonset’s hood is around forty-five after five. In a cluster of maybe ten or fifteen people, I figure, I’ve made some good time.

I can handle a crowd this small. I think. There aren’t many people here to fight. I remind myself to not underestimate the company. I stay behind the crowd, burrowing my hands inside my coat pockets, wondering which strategy I’ll go with from here.

I could make a run for it as soon as the chutes open, but that would take some quick feet not to mention some tricky footwork to keep out of the crossfire of others who will be tempted to do the same thing.

Or I could stay back and out of the way until the trampling starts. By then wood will be flying from people’s arms one log at a time. I’m small for my age. I could squeeze into the crowd unnoticed and retrieve the dropped lumber before anyone catches me.

Yeah, that’s best. It’s best not to push my luck by getting too cocky. I’ll stay out of the way and pick up whatever is dropped. As the crowd thickens, I wonder more and more how possible that plan is. What started as a crowd of fifteen is now a twice the number and growing by the second.

I don’t have much wiggle room to maneuver through. I can’t see over the heads of the taller people blocking my view of the chutes. Still, I stand as far away as I can to wait with everyone else as dawn casts light over the colony sundial’s sixth hour. The chutes unlock and the first batch of wood shoots out like torpedoes.

People have to duck to keep from getting hit. I dodge behind the biggest man I find to shield myself. The first batch incites the usual brawl. Two men battle it out over one huge log that’s big enough to fuel a continuous fire for at least two weeks.

The rest of us scatter. We know better than to get in the way of this once the knife is drawn. I make a beeline for the opposite direction, dodging the log that flies at my head. Someone jerks me around. I get out of their way and fall all-fours to search the ground for dropped wood. Overhead, I watch a nice piece of timber burst from another one of the chutes.

It’s right in my path, aiming for me like it’s meant to be mine. I open my arms to catch it then something hits me from the left and takes me down in a tackle that knocks the wind out of me. I sit up wheezing as a boy intercepts the wood midair, looks down at me chuckling then says, “Oops. Better luck next time?”


“What was that?”

Holding my stomach, I prop myself onto my feet. “I called you an asshole.”

“It’s not my fault you’re slow with poor reflexes.”

“Whatever,” I say. “Take the wood and get out of my face.” I dust myself off, bruised from limb to ego. All I want to do is disappear even if it’s with nothing, but my tail between my legs so I try, but he sidesteps and blocks off my path.

“Wait…you take it,” he says then shoves the wood at me. “Go on. It’s yours. Take it before I change my mind.”

“I don’t need your charity.”

“You also don’t need that attitude either, but we’re all forced to deal with the cards we’re dealt, right? Besides, there’s no way you’re getting past these other vultures for anything better. Take the wood.”

“Forget it.”

Again, he shoves the wood in my direction. I step back. He steps forward.

“Take the damn wood and stop being so stupid. I’m fast and a good jumper. I can easily catch another piece of wood.”
“I can catch my own wood,” I say, determined to do just that. “Now move!”

A second log whizzes over us. It hits the snow as me and two others scurry toward it. The girl who reaches it first draws a pocketknife and waves it at the rest of us to keep us at bay.

As we stagger back, the man behind her grabs her by the neck and snaps it with one quick motion. In a matter of seconds, he swipes the wood and rushes off. I stand still holding my breath. The boy steps in front of me and drops the log into my arms.
“Here,” he says. “Someone has gotta show some humanity around here.”

I don’t reply. I watch as he disappears back into the crowd. With him gone, my eyes return to the girl in the snow. I bet she’s no older than Tariq and died over a stupid piece of wood.

Socialize with the author:
Amberly Wynn:

Find the book:
– leeanna

Waiting on Wednesday: Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo

siegeandstorm-wSiege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo
Release Date: June 4, 2013

Darkness never dies.

Hunted across the True Sea, haunted by the lives she took on the Fold, Alina must try to make a life with Mal in an unfamiliar land, all while keeping her identity as the Sun Summoner a secret. But she can’t outrun her past or her destiny for long.

The Darkling has emerged from the Shadow Fold with a terrifying new power and a dangerous plan that will test the very boundaries of the natural world. With the help of a notorious privateer, Alina returns to the country she abandoned, determined to fight the forces gathering against Ravka. But as her power grows, Alina slips deeper into the Darkling’s game of forbidden magic, and farther away from Mal. Somehow, she will have to choose between her country, her power, and the love she always thought would guide her–or risk losing everything to the oncoming storm. (summary from goodreads)

I liked Shadow and Bone a lot. A lot lot. My wait for Siege and Storm has been waaaaay too long. Here’s hoping I’m lucky enough to get an ARC of this. That would be a nice birthday present!

Socialize with the author:

Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Breaking the Spine.

– leeanna

Book Review: Black Feathers (Black Dawn #1) by Joseph D’Lacey

black feathersInfo:
Title: Black Feathers
Author: Joseph D’Lacey
Release Date: March 26, 2013
Publisher: Angry Robot
Source: Publisher
Series? Black Dawn #1
Genre: Post-Apocalyptic, Fantasy, Eco-Fantasy, Dark Fantasy
Extra: Author Interview
Page Count: 426
Rating: [5/5 stars]


Black Feathers is a modern fantasy set in two epochs: the Black Dawn, a time of environmental apocalypse, and generations into the future in its aftermath, the Bright Day.

In each era, a child undertakes a perilous journey to find a dark messiah known as The Crowman. In their hands lies the fate of the planet as they attempt to discover whether The Crowman is our saviour… or the final incarnation of evil. (summary from goodreads)

My Review:

     “When the final days came, it was said that Satan walked the Earth in the guise of a crow. Those who feared him called him Scarecrow or sometimes Black Jack. I know him as the Crowman.


     This you must understand: The Crowman is no more evil than you or I (p. 7, ARC).”

Thus starts BLACK FEATHERS by Joseph D’Lacey. A book that’s impossible to put into words — in a very good way. Who is the Crowman? Is he good or is he evil? Why is his story so important? Is he responsible for the Black Dawn, the environmental apocalypse? Or is he the savior of humankind?

Gordon Black is born at the dawn of the end of the world. When the Earth starts to change, with natural disasters, food shortages, and riots reshaping the landscape, Gordon is thrust into a life he’s not ready for. The only clues he has are the black bird feathers he’s collected his whole life, and letters from his parents telling him to find the Crowman.

Generations after the Black Dawn, a young girl named Megan Maurice is called upon by the Crowman to walk the Black Feathered Path. Megan lives in a world with no technology or electricity, and the journey she takes in learning the Crowman’s history is one that will test her in every way.

The stories of Gordon and Megan are woven together in BLACK FEATHERS, with the enigmatic figure of the Crowman connecting them across generations. Although both are teenagers at the start, I wouldn’t classify the book as Young Adult. Sure, it’s something teens should read, to get a new view into the post-apocalyptic genre. But take some caution — there are a few gritty, painful-to-read scenes, but they do serve a purpose and aren’t there for gratuitous violence.

Usually I prefer one character over another, but in this book, I liked Gordon and Megan equally. They both undergo a lot of trials on their respective journeys, and I’m curious to see what they will learn about themselves in the second book of the duology, THE BOOK OF THE CROWMAN (2014). As it is, they grow quite a bit between the start and finish of BLACK FEATHERS.

BLACK FEATHERS does start off slowly, but if you stick with it, the book is worth it. Give yourself an hour or so to get immersed in the story. The writing in the novel is descriptive, with lots of scene setting. Because the Earth is such an important part, most of it is set outside, in the woods and countryside. Something I like about Angry Robot as a publisher is that they don’t localize their books. So because this book is set in England and by a British author, they stuck with British English instead of Americanizing things. It provides some extra authenticity and adds to the feel of the book.

The ending of BLACK FEATHERS did leave me with a lot of questions, but I’m okay with that. At least I’ll only have to wait one year to find out the conclusion to the story. I’m very eager to learn more about Gordon and Megan, and to find out the truth about the Crowman. Throughout BLACK FEATHERS, you’re not sure if he’s good or bad. He’s this shadowy, mysterious figure — is he a just a story, or is he real? The way the book is written, it’s like you’re reading a legend or watching a prophecy unfold.

I had a difficult time figuring out just what to say about BLACK FEATHERS. In the end, all I can say is: Read it. If, like me, you feel like you’ve read every post-apocalyptic book out there, you haven’t. BLACK FEATHERS is something different, with a new take on the end of the world. In an interview I did with the author, he described it as “eco-fantasy,” which I think sums it up perfectly.

Socialize with the author:
Joseph D’Lacey:

– leeanna


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Author Interview: Joseph D’Lacey ( @JosephDLacey )

Today I have an interview with Joseph D’Lacey, author of BLACK FEATHERS. BLACK FEATHERS is published by Angry Robot.

I got the chance to read BLACK FEATHERS early, as well as to do an interview with Joseph. The book is brilliant; check back tomorrow for my review.

1. So far, you’re more well known in the UK than in the US. Is there anything American readers should know about you or your work? Any Brit slang explanations, maybe?

I wish I’d been published in the States a long time ago but this is just the way things work out – at least it is finally happening! If US readers have heard of me at all it’s probably because of my debut novel MEAT (Beautiful Books, 2008). That was the book which caused Stephen King to say “Joseph D’Lacey rocks!” – So, I know at least one American has read something by me.

Because they’re set in rural England, in London and Coventry, Black Feathers and The Book of The Crowman both contain plenty of Brit slang. But I’m sure the context will be enough of an explanation in every case and I hope that adds authenticity rather than diminishing any American reader’s response.

2. From what I’ve read on your blog and about your books, you’re a horror writer. But BLACK FEATHERS didn’t read like horror to me, other than the fact that hey, we’re mucking the Earth up pretty badly and we might have our own Black Dawn, which *is* horrifying. How would you describe BLACK FEATHERS?

You’re right, it’s not Horror but it contains grim, unsettling themes and concepts. I think of it as either a Dark or Apocalyptic Fantasy. Following on from previous work – my Eco-Horror – I might even call it an Eco-Fantasy. I certainly hope it will end up in the Fantasy section of bookshops because that’s where it belongs. And apologies in advance if it scares anyone. *winks*

3. If it’s not a spoiler for THE BOOK OF THE CROWMAN (book two of the duology), where did The Crowman come from?

I’ve always had a thing about corvids. I’ve loved the look of them ever since an art project I did at school. As the years have gone by, I’ve begun to feel a kinship with them, though why that would be I can’t say. They’re much-maligned in this country and yet for me they represent the positive elements of mystery and magic. Even without my emotional attachment to them, the corvid is an exceptionally intelligent and adaptable animal. If you study them you’ll find there’s much there to admire. So The Crowman is born, a little, from those things.

I first heard the name on a 70’s Children’s TV show, Worzel Gummidge, in which scarecrows come to life and have adventures when humans aren’t watching. In my twenties I was friends with a performance artist who sometimes dressed in a long black coat and top hat and painted his face white. He used to attend festivals as a kind of trickster figure, flitting through the crowds and whispering strange things in people’s ears. The idea of a crow personified stuck with me and grew over many more years until my own Crowman was born into the pages of these novels.

4. I’d say BLACK FEATHERS is geared more towards adults than teenagers, so is there any specific reason you chose to make both Megan and Gordon teens as they begin their journeys?

I’ve thought very hard about this and I’m fairly sure Black Feathers is the first instance in which I’ve used adolescent protagonists. I wanted both Gordon and Megan to undergo rights of passage as part of their self-discovery. I also wanted it to be a powerful, positive experience that makes them stronger. This happens for both of them in Black Feathers, preparing them for the trials they face in The Book of The Crowman.

I don’t think we completely understand what it means to be an adult in modern society and I can see myself exploring these themes with teen heroes and heroines in other stories – regardless of whether the perceived readership is YA or adult.

5. Do you prefer eBooks or real books for reading?

Real books, though this may be due to not having found a reader or tablet I get on with. I have an early Kindle but hate reading on that. I’ve seen people using the Kindle app on an i-pad, however, and that looks great.

The trouble is, I still see books as artefacts, almost with their own spirit. They feel good, they smell good and they give you a sense of ownership. A file on a device doesn’t have quite the same gravity or attraction for me. Perhaps I’ll get over that but I can’t see it happening yet!

6. When you’re having a down day, perhaps with writing or editing, what do you do to cheer yourself up?

The best thing for me is to get outside in the fresh air and go for a walk – alone is best. It allows me to mentally and physically relax and recharge those writing batteries. I have a habit of ‘talking’ to the land and the animals and that helps too.

Spending a lot time at the keyboard isn’t a particularly healthy pursuit but I can’t escape it. When things go wrong, I long for the outdoors.

7. Any last words?

Well, on my deathbed, perhaps!

For the moment, though, I’d like to thank you for inviting me and, to anyone who picks up a copy of Black Feathers: I put my heart and soul into every page. I truly hope you’ll enjoy it.

I want to thank Joseph for taking the time to answer my questions! He was super nice about it. BLACK FEATHERS is a book I really enjoyed. It releases tomorrow in the U.S., March 26, and I’ll have my review up to celebrate its book birthday.

– leeanna

Blog Tour Book Review: Rogue Oracle (Delphic Oracle #2) by Alayna Williams

Today I have two posts for you as part of the blog tour for the Delphic Oracle Series. by Alayna Williams. This is the second, a review of ROGUE ORACLE and a guest post by the author. The first post, a review of DARK ORACLE, is here. This tour is hosted by Bewitching Book Tours. You can check out the rest of the stops here.

rogue oracleInfo:
Title: Rogue Oracle
Author: Alayna Williams
Release Date: February 22, 2011
Publisher: Pocket Books
Source: Blog Tour
Series? Delphic Oracle #2
Series Reviews:
Delphic Oracle #1: Dark Oracle
Genre: Urban Fantasy, Thriller, Mystery
Page Count: 360
Rating: [3/5 stars]



Tara Sheridan is the best criminal profiler around—and the most unconventional. Trained as a forensic psychologist, Tara also specializes in Tarot card reading. But she doesn’t need her divination skills to realize that the new assignment from her friend and sometime lover, Agent Harry Li, is a dangerous proposition in every way.

Former Cold War operatives, all linked to a top-secret operation tracking the disposal of nuclear weapons in Russia, are disappearing. There are no bodies, and no clues to their whereabouts. Harry suspects a conspiracy to sell arms to the highest bidder. The cards—and Tara’s increasingly ominous dreams—suggest something darker. Even as Tara sorts through her feelings for Harry and her fractured relationship with the mysterious order known as Delphi’s Daughters, a killer is growing more ruthless by the day. And a nightmare that began decades ago in Chernobyl will reach a terrifying endgame that not even Tara could have foreseen. . . (summary from goodreads)

My Review:


ROGUE ORACLE is the second book in the Delphic Oracle Series by Alayna Williams. It picks up a couple of months after the conclusion of DARK ORACLE. Mostly healed from the emotional wounds she suffered before the first book, Tara has returned to work as a profiler. She and Harry haven’t made much progress on their burgeoning relationship, and Tara’s main priority these days is protecting Cassie from the Pythia.

Tara is plunged right back into working for the government when Harry asks for help with a case. Tara’s not thrilled about being part of “The Little Shop of Horrors” again, but she is happy that she can try to do something for Harry. The case itself is intriguing — several ex Cold War intelligence operatives have gone missing. Their knowledge of uranium stockpiles is being sold, and there’s enough to lead to another Chernobyl.

There’s an interesting fusion of science and urban fantasy in ROGUE ORACLE. After reading it, I feel like I learned a lot about Chernobyl, and I liked that the author didn’t rely just on magic to flesh out her story. The bad guy in ROGUE ORACLE is a result of that blend of science and urban fantasy, and elements from both are used to catch him.

ROGUE ORACLE smooths out some of the rough spots I had with DARK ORACLE. The writing has matured. There’s not as many extraneous descriptions, and there’s less of a focus on the tarot card readings. As Tara relies on tarot cards to interpret events, they are a vital part. However, in the first book of the series, I felt like there was a lot of space devoted to describing each card and its significance. There isn’t as much of that in ROGUE ORACLE, yet the tarot cards remain just as important.

There are some scenes from Cassie’s viewpoint, which I really enjoyed. The scenes with Cassie and the Pythia expose more of the secret world of Delphi’s Daughters, and it’s a world I’d like to see even more of. There’s a moment near the end where I went, “Ohhh. That would be a big burden to handle.” Having characters that can see the future lets the reader consider if that future is set in stone, or if it can be changed. And if it can, should it be changed.

Yet again, there are some great characters in ROGUE ORACLE. My favorites this book were the Steves, a pair of federal marshals. They are quite the colorful duo, nicknamed the Kahuna and the Cowboy by Tara. They provide some comic relief, but they also shine in serious moments, and they help Cassie recover from a traumatic experience.

The main story of ROGUE ORACLE is tied up neatly at the end of the book. Currently, there isn’t a third book in the series, but I would like to read another.

Guest Post:
Writing Destiny and Free Will
By Alayna Williams

There’s something odd about writing about free will and destiny. When I’m building a story, I’m conscious that my characters really shouldn’t have much free will. After all, I’m the gal behind the curtain, directing a story and pulling the strings of my characters. They do what I want them to do…most of the time.

Sometimes, they surprise me. I think I know where I want to take them, and they rebel. They deliberately ignore the destiny I’ve scribbled down for them in my outline and decide to go on a road trip without me. Sometimes those scenes work, and sometimes they don’t. Trying to keep my characters harnessed to complete their mission is somewhat like herding cats. If I can get them from point A in chapter one to point Z in the final chapter, I feel like I’ve got things under control.

Weird things happen when I’m writing about characters who are grappling with destiny and free will in the plot line. It’s as if my internal processes become part of the external product. I have the sense that my characters are critters on an ant farm who have just become aware of a human tapping on the glass, and they’re not happy about being trapped and manipulated.

Tara Sheridan is the heroine of my ORACLE books. She’s a criminal profiler who uses Tarot cards to solve crimes, and also a former member of a secret society of mystics, Delphi’s Daughters. Delphi’s Daughters work behind the scenes to nudge world events, for good or ill, and Tara wants out of the game. When she’s teamed with her skeptical partner, federal agent Harry Li, Tara is forced to figure out where destiny ends in her world and free will begins.

It was an exciting concept to play with. Do Tara’s cards tell of possibilities, or a fixed destiny that can’t be changed? Is free will an illusion, and Tara and Harry are simply pawns in a larger pattern? Can they break free and restore order to their world?

These are questions my characters ask each other. Some of the answers are not what they want to hear. But they are questions the characters have muttered to me as I’m shoving them along their adventures with pen and paper…and it was a lot of fun to show the readers that process.

Socialize with the author:
Alayna Williams:

– leeanna