RhiReading News

Dear readers,

Hi Rhireaders! Check out the latest events in the sidebar! Thanks for visiting, be sure and follow me on social media for MORE awesome content.

Did you drop by to request a review or tour stop? I am currently CLOSED for review requests for ALL review requests due to time contraints. I have promotional openings for February through July open though so please reach out. Just please drop me an email with a polite request and if I'm interested I will reply.

♥ -- Rhi


7.26.2010

Review: Beastly by Alex Flinn


Beastly by Alex Flinn
Young Adult, Romance, Fairy Tale Retelling
Audiobook (Brilliance Audio, $24.99)
ISBN# 1441849661
A beast. Not quite wolf or bear, gorilla or dog but a horrible new creature who walks upright — a creature with fangs and claws and hair springing from every pore. I am a monster.
You think I’m talking fairy tales? No way. The place is New York City. The time is now. It’s no deformity, no disease. And I’ll stay this way forever — ruined — unless I can break the spell.
Yes, the spell, the one the witch in my English class cast on me. Why did she turn me into a beast who hides by day and prowls by night? I’ll tell you. I’ll tell you how I used to be Kyle Kingsbury, the guy you wished you were, with money, perfect looks, and the perfect life. And then, I’ll tell you how I became perfectly . . . beastly.

Author Site: www.alexflinn.com

Bold, Beautiful, Beastly (5 stars)

It's not difficult to sum up the plot of Beastly. If you've ever heard the tale of Beauty and the Beast you can pick this title up knowing enough about it to be sure there will be a spoiled, wicked boy turned monster and a gentle, lovely girl who eventually falls for him in spite of his monstrosity. Fortunately for us, author Alex Flinn knows how to take a beloved classic (my personal all-time favorite fairy tale) and spin it into a modern fable of truly enjoyable proportions.

Kyle Kingsbury is king of his expensive private school, or prince rather... elected to the homecoming court by his peers based on looks alone. With friends and a girlfriend just as shallow and nasty it will take more than his childhood miseries to make him see the error of his ways. His one act of kindness just before the homecoming dance gives him two years to reverse the curse placed on him by Kayla, a witch who thinks he might be redeemable. But as months pass and his wealthy, famous father cannot find a doctor able to cure him of his ghastly condition hope is all but lost.

Sent away to an old house in Brooklyn with only his foreign housekeeper and a blind tutor for company, Kyle broods and whiles away his hours watching others from the attic window or the magic mirror Kayla gave him. With the help of his tutor he eventually builds a greenhouse where he grows roses, a greenhouse that is eventually broken into by a desperate man addicted to drugs. The man promises to bring his daughter to Kyle in exchange for not handing the evidence of his break-in to the police. Against her will Lindy is brought to Kyle's "castle" and his hope that she might be persuaded to love him, breaking the curse, carries the story along to its climax in truly fairy-tale-romance threads.

I've had the book on my wishlist forever, but getting my hands on the audiobook really made me happy. I'm a busy mother so I popped in each disk one after the other throughout my day of baby care, housework and yard watering. Any time I happened to get too far away in another area of my home to hear it the chapters were set up so I could easily jump back and catch up without five minutes of overlap which I really found useful. The narrator's voice was alright... honestly, when he did the female character's voices I found them really annoyingly cartoony which was distracting. But it was tolerable overall. With six disks it's about a five hour and twenty minute book. (As I recall it anyway... It may have been a bit longer but I did back-up several times so I am gestimating a little there).

The story itself was excellent!!! I love Beauty and the Beast retellings but this one is unusually good. It's modern and with a few exceptions very believable. I grew particularly fond of Will, Kyle's blind tutor, and Magda, is housekeeper. Their roles in the story really enrich it. I could have done without the silly chatroom sections where Kyle speaks to other cursed and transformed persons but my 10-year-old found them really amusing.

Overall I loved this story. I was shocked to keep catching my 10-year-old son sitting and listening to it instead of playing video games. When it was over he actually told me he had really liked it. That said I would highly recommend the audiobook for a 9-15 year old audience on a long car trip. Maybe even an older fan of classic fairy tale retellings. Oh, and parents who care about this sort of thing should note there are a few swear words and sexual references but it's all very age appropriate, cutting off where details might be too much or dropping off and saying "I cursed" instead of actually using the word. I found it to be well suited to the age group suggested for this. Now I think I might have to buy a book copy for myself and let my kid have the audio version. ;) Enjoy!

Other Reviews:

Silence @ Amazon.com
small reviews @ Amazon.com



Notes: I received this audiobook via Amazon's Vine Program.

And for those of you who might not have seen or heard about it yet there is a movie version (though heavily changed based on the trailer) coming out sometime next year. You can see the trailer here:

7.25.2010

August Reading Theme!


Happy Sunday dear readers! I hope you're all enjoying some lovely summer sun today. :)

I am having such a wild and crazy summer. For lack of a better one word description exhausting comes to mind. The start of school is barely a month away... when did that creep up on me? But I digress, we're here to talk about books eh?

I thought I hadn't got much reading done last month and this month has been even worse. *sulks* I am enjoying my reading that is getting done though. It is sooo hard putting Raised by Wolves down to sleep at night but I'm averaging 5hrs a night which is simply not enough for a nursing mom. If you love werewolf urban fantasy I think you'll enjoy it very much. It lacks the humor of Kimberley Pauley's Mina books but has a very similar conversational narrative quality that sucks me right in.

As August is sneaking up on me I've been trying to think of a suitable theme. But then I noticed that I have a stack of half-read books I've put down. Elphame's Choice by P.C. Cast and Touch of Seduction by Rhyannon Byrd to name a couple. No real themey theme. Just a bunch of unfinished business. So that's what I want to work on in August. Clearing out some of these books I put down to work on other themes.

But I also have Almost to Die For: A Vampire Princess of St. Paul by Tate Hallaway to read, review and get a little interview with the author for August so be sure and check back in early August for the dish! I may even be doing a giveaway!

Well crap on a cracker... the teething baby is quite unhappy with me attempting to blog while she cries. I best get off here and console her. Have a terrific week and let me know what you're reading (or writing!) if you feel like sharing.
-- Rhi

7.16.2010

Review: Claire de Lune by Christine Johnson


Claire de Lune by Christine Johnson
Young Adult, Werewolves
Hardcover (SIMONPULSE, 352 pages, $16.99)
ISBN# 978-1416991823
Torn between two destinies?
Claire is having the perfect sixteenth birthday. Her pool party is a big success, and gorgeous Matthew keeps chatting and flirting with her as if she's the only girl there. But that night, she discovers something that takes away all sense of normalcy: she's a werewolf.
As Claire is initiated into the pack of female werewolves, she must deal not only with her changing identity, but also with a rogue werewolf who is putting everyone she knows in danger. Claire's new life threatens her blossoming romance with Matthew, whose father is leading the werewolf hunt. Now burdened with a dark secret and pushing the boundaries of forbidden love, Claire is struggling to feel comfortable in either skin. With her lupine loyalty at odds with her human heart, she will make a choice that will change her forever?

Author Site: www.christinejohnsonbooks.com



A Good Choice For Younger Werewolf Fans (3 stars)

It could be the perfect summer. Claire's sixteenth birthday party is a poolside hit. Her crush, Matthew flirts with her. But then a werewolf is spotted in the woods behind her house and the town's hysteria over the sighting leads to an early end for Claire's special bash. It couldn't get much worse... until Claire finds out the family secret.

Now she's forced to lie to her au pair, her best friend and worse, Matthew. But with Matthew's father, a supposed werewolf expert with a cure, hunting the werewolf who has been killing local citizens, she can't be honest. Too much is at stake for Claire and her pack to ever trust a human with her true identity.

I wanted to like Claire de Lune. Unfortunately too much goes unexplained throughout the entire book for me to say I did in the end. Such as how the world knows there are werewolves, yet they know nothing real about them. Or how there are special paranormal investigations units but no other creatures are mentioned. I felt as if I were dropped into a world built without readers in mind. I did, however, like the idea of the only female werewolves. There is a strong feminist thread to that aspect that I liked very much.

Claire is a likable heroine, I don't think many of the target audience's members would find her hard to relate to. I will say that Matthew was a little too perfect which does make it a little hard to believe he'd be into Claire but this IS fiction and suspending disbelief is part of what makes it enjoyable.

The story wraps up pretty cleanly and without much major conflict. I tend to like my paranormal fiction, even YA stuff, a bit grittier and dangerous but I think this would be a good one for younger readers. I think the age suggestion on this is 7th grade and up but I'm going to see if a 5th grader I know who likes Twilight might be interested in this one.

Other Reviews:

Steph Su Reads @ Feminist Review
Katie's Book Blog
Mundie Moms



Notes: I received this book through the Amazon Vine program.

7.07.2010

Review: Hourglass by Claudia Gray


Hourglass (Evernight #3) by Claudia Gray
Yong Adult, Urban Fantasy, Vampires
Hardcover (HARPERTEEN, 352 pages, $16.99)
ISBN# 9780061284410
Bianca will risk everything to be with Lucas.
After escaping from Evernight Academy, the vampire boarding school where they met, Bianca and Lucas take refuge with Black Cross, a fanatical group of vampire hunters. Bianca must hide her supernatural heritage or risk certain death at their hands. But when Black Cross captures her friend—the vampire Balthazar—hiding is no longer an option.
Soon, Bianca and Lucas are on the run again, pursued not only by Black Cross, but by the powerful leaders of Evernight. Yet no matter how far they travel, Bianca can't escape her destiny.
Bianca has always believed their love could survive anything . . . but can it survive what's to come?

Author Site: claudiagray.com



Way to leave me hanging! (4 stars)

If you haven't read Evernight or Stargazer please don't read this review. It's impossible not to give some spoilers for the plots of those two and talk about this one.

After learning that the ghostly beings attacking Evernight are targeting her (in Stargazer), Bianca must flee the vampire school. Hiding her secret rendezvous with Lucas, her human boyfriend, has only complicated matters as his family of vampire slayers have burned the school to the ground. Thinking she's human they let Lucas bring her into their ranks and train her to be a Black Cross hunter. But one little mistake could bring the vampires to where they are currently hiding forcing the young couple to flee with no money or safe place to go. Love can go a long way but without the bare neccessities they can't survive. Looking to their friends for aid the two try to start a new life together only to be stricken by a tragedy neither is ready to face.

Bah! This book was so hard to summarize because there's a lot of plot that really only boils down to a couple of key incidents which move the overall story arc along. If you're an Evernight series fan who was able to get past the sudden "uh okay there's ghosts now?" factor you'll love Hourglass. There's something very sweet and exciting about the journey Bianca and Lucas go on together. That "you and me against the world" storyline resonated with my inner romantic. If you're at all like me in that regard you'll find yourself really wishing things would work out for them. Alas in a world where vampires, wraiths and slayers are running around it's never gonna be that easy.

My only real whine about Hourglass is how boring the Black Cross parts were for me. I wanted to skip most of it and get to the good stuff. I really didn't care for any of the Black Cross characters enough to care what happened to them, not even Dana. If you like Raquel you may find her personality shift in this book a bit jarring, I know I sure did. Oh, and completely sidetracking but I just adore Ranulf and we get to learn a little more about him this time, which I enjoyed a lot. Anyways... on the whole I recommend this one if you've liked the series thus far and still recommend this series to anyone who likes YA vamp fiction.

Other Reviews:

Koorihime-sama's Book Reviews
Danielle @ The Book Blogger
Sarah's Random Musings



Notes: I received this book through the Amazon Vine program.

7.02.2010

Interview: Jeannie Holmes, Debut Author of Blood Law

As you dear readers know, I loooove strong heroines. I'm always looking for the next big name in urban fantasy. It's a tough group to get into with butt-kicking ladies like Rachel Morgan, Faythe Sanders and Allie Beckstrom to stand up against. Naturally when I see a new book coming out featuring a female who can be her own hero I can't wait to get my hands on it.

Okay and I am a sucker for great cover art... bite me! :P

When I saw the original cover art for Blood Law months ago I knew I HAD to have it.

No offense to my blonde readership but as a brunette I dig darker haired heroines most of the time. Even so I have a confession... when I was in middle school there was a girl a couple years older than me who had the most amazing auburn-red hair and I wanted it. I'd have traded any of my likable features to have hair so strikingly beautiful. So every once in a while I still find myself loving a red haired heroine and daydreaming of calling my hair stylist to discuss the unleashing of my inner flamemaned vixen.

I wasn't so shallow as to think I shouldn't at least see if the content sounded good. I had originally planned on this major project for the blog this summer. I was literally going to sit down with a map and do a summer urban fantasy road trip. Start at once corner of the map (my home state of Washington is prime UF real estate) and work my way through around the country from June to August where the South was going to be final destination. Alas time does not keep in bottles and the project is on hold for a summer when I don't have a baby who needs quite so much of my undivided attention.

Meanwhile, I was ambitious enough to think that maybe Jeannie Holmes would send me an ARC of Blood Law and even grant me an interview if I asked politely. (If only every author I contact was as cool and cordial as Jeannie has been to me). And to you my dear readers come the spoils! I tried really hard to come up with good questions (and not too many *phew*) so I hope you will enjoy the following interview with the very gracious debut author. I feel like we should be having a debutants ball or something... lol! Enjoy!
-- Rhi




Interview With Jeannie Holmes, author of Blood Law


Congratulations on your debut! Readers can check out a synopsis of Blood Law with my review or at your website but I thought I'd open up our interview with a few questions about the book. Vampires are so "in" right now. What makes the vampires in the world you've built different from those readers might find in another vampire book series? The main difference between the Blood Law vampires and other series is that my vampires are born, not created through a virus or sorcery, and are mortal although with much longer lifespans that humans. Blood Law vampires aren't human and never have been. They're actually a separate species/race that has evolved alongside humans but one that's remained secretive until recently. I've kept some of the familiar aspects of vampire mythology, such as greater than human strength, heightened senses, and the need for blood, but tried to find plausible scientific explanations for them. My quest for plausibility led to a lot of research in to genetics and evolution, most of which doesn't appear in the book, plus several e-mails to my high school biology teacher brother. In the end, I think I've created a version of the vampire that fits well within the ever expanding mythology.

Blood Law is set in Jefferson, Mississippi, territory you're personally familiar with. What about the South do you think lends itself to writers of vampire fiction? And what sets the world of Blood Law apart from others set in the South? Yes, I'm a Mississippi native even though I now live in Alabama. I think the South lends itself to vampire fiction, or any paranormal fiction, in that we have a long history of spooky tales and things that go bump in the night. There's something mystical about the ruralness that still dominates much of the South. I grew up in a rural area, twenty miles from the nearest town, and when you're walking under an expansive night sky with only the moon to guide your steps, it's easy to imagine any sort of supernatural creature lurking in the darkness.
The world of Blood Law is a world of transition. Even though vampires have been living openly for over forty years, not all humans readily accept them. The smaller towns, such as Jefferson, have the hardest time with change - that's actually true in real life as well as fiction. I think what sets the world of Blood Law apart from others are the characters and how they respond to their changing world. Some accept the changes and move on, while others react violently toward it. The conflicts come when these two groups collide.


Alexandra has a gift of psychometric powers. If you were a vampire character in the world you've built what kind of gift would you love to have? That's a tough one. I think Alex's gift of psychometry (the ability to gain information about a person or place through touch) would be cool. That way I'd know which one of our four cats to blame for the shredded furniture.

Great heroines in urban fantasy are everywhere. I think Alexandra ranks up there with Faythe Sanders from Rachel Vincent's Shifters series in her complexity. She might be one tough cookie but she has some really vulnerable moments as well. Which elements did you find more challenging to bring to the page? Both are challenging in different ways. I don't like confrontation and violence in real life, but Alex lives in a world filled with it. There are times when she needs to be the aggressor from a physical standpoint, such as when she's in a fight or arresting someone, and those scenes can be a challenge to write because I have to be able to picture the action in my head to write it. On the other hand, during the times when she's really vulnerable, that can be difficult emotionally. Alex carries around a lot of emotional baggage and dealing with her inner demons can get kind of hairy. More than once I had to walk away from the computer because I was becoming too emotionally invested in a scene. Oddly enough, those turned out to be some of the best scenes in the book so now I know if I have to walk away from a scene, I'm on the right track.

Because I am totally vain I have to ask... The first cover I saw for Blood Law was pretty darned awesome and I love the new one too. On a scale of one to ten (one being a yawn and ten being kid-on-Christmas-morning) how exciting was it to see YOUR book cover for the first time? Honestly, with the first cover, I really liked it. Until that time I hadn't been able to form a mental image of what my cover would look like. When my editor called me to say they wanted to change it, I was naturally concerned because at that point the original cover had been posted all over the internet. However, when I saw the new cover, I admit I squealed louder than a four-year-old at Disney World. The new cover perfectly captures how I picture Alex in my head and I'm totally in love with it.

You made your very own book trailer! I am really impressed. Many readers love to hear whom an author would love to see cast in a film version of their book's characters so I have to ask... any special talents you'd love to see light up the screen as Alex and Varik? I've actually discussed this with friends and even my agent. Unfortunately, I can't think of anyone to play Alex. Others have suggested everyone from Jessica Alba to Jessica Biel but none of them seem to “fit” in my head. I'll have to leave casting that role of up someone more knowledgeable. However, for Varik, I do have someone I'd love to see in the role: Ben Barnes, who played Prince Caspian in The Chronicles of Narnia. I actually discovered him as my husband and I were going into a local theater for some other movie. I saw an advance poster advertizing the new Narnia film and it featured Ben Barnes. My husband still laughs at me about it because I stopped in the middle of this huge crowd, pointed at the poster, and said (rather loudly), “Oh my god - that Varik!” He simply looks exactly like how I envisioned Varik in my head even before I saw the poster. Of course, later I found out the actor's name and he's been my ideal Varik ever since.

Blood Law officially hits the shelves on July 6th, can readers anticipate a sequel any time soon? I recently finished the sequel and it's with my editor now. Depending on how revisions go, readers can look for it to hit shelves sometime next year. I'll certainly keep everyone posted through my website and blogs on the latest developments.

I would gladly grill you for hours Jeannie but I don't wish to take up too much of your valuable writing time. Is there anything you'd love to tell readers about yourself and your writing that I haven't asked? Only that I do love to hear from readers and do my best to respond as quickly as possible to e-mails, blog comments, or Twitter messages. If I don't respond immediately, please don't take it personally. I'm probably following Alex and Varik on another adventure and will be back soon.

Thanks, Rhianna, for inviting me to hang out and chat. It's been a lot of fun, and I hope we can do it again sometime. Thanks, also, to all the readers out there! Y'all are awesome!!!

Thank you so much for giving RhiReading a little bit of your time. I certainly look forward to seeing more of your work in the near future and hope my readers will check out Blood Law when it debuts on July 6th.

credit: photo of Ben Barnes courtesy benbarnesonline.net

7.01.2010

Review: Blood Law by Jeannie Holmes


Blood Law by Jeannie Holmes
Urban Fantasy, Vampires
Mass Market Paperback (DELL, 400 pages, $7.99)
ISBN# 055359267X
To stop a vampire killer, she’ll have to slay her own demons first.
A provocative and savvy vampire, Alexandra Sabian moves to the sleepy hamlet of Jefferson, Mississippi—population 6,000, half vampires—to escape the demons lurking in her past. As an enforcer for the Federal Bureau of Preternatural Investigations (FBPI), Alex must maintain the uneasy peace between her kind and humans, including Jefferson’s bigoted sheriff, who’d be happy to see all vampires banished from town. Then really dead vamps start turning up—beheaded, crucified, and defanged, the same gruesome manner in which Alex’s father was murdered decades ago. For Alex, the professional has become way too personal.
Things get even more complicated when the FBPI sends in some unnervingly sexy backup: Alex’s onetime mentor, lover, and fiancĂ©, Varik Baudelaire. Still stinging from the betrayal that ended their short-lived engagement, Alex is determined not to give in to the temptation that soon threatens to short-circuit her investigation. But as the vamp body count grows and the public panic level rises, Varik may be Alex’s only hope to stop a relentless killer who’s got his own score to settle and his own bloody past to put right.

Author Site: jeannieholmes.com



Okay for a debut novelist, looking forward to more! (3 stars)

The Federal Bureau of Preternatural Investigations uses its resources to solve crimes against vampires. Enforcers like fiery, fierce Alexandra Sabian and her former lover/mentor Varik Baudelaire, face trouble on all sides as they attempt to keep the peace between vampires and humans. A shaky peace that wasn't even known to be needed until the murder of Alex's father back in the 60's. When her dad's grisly murder prompted the vampires to reveal themselves the world was turned upside down.

Decades have passed and even with plenty of water under the bridge there are plenty of folks who hate vampires. Jefferson, Mississipi's sheriff certainly holds no warmth for the bloodsuckers making up half the local population. When murdered vamps start piling up with a creepy similarity in MO to the murder of Alex's father the humans do more to hinder the investigation than aid it. Enter Varik and the dirty laundry never aired out between the two Enforcers. If they're going to work together and find the killer they'll have to fight fires both of the physical kind and the romantic.

First I have to admit I probably didn't love Blood Law as much as I wanted to because I had some strong preconceived notions about the strong Southern heroine type. Alex is definitely cut from the right cloth, she's just been put together by a seamstress still new to the craft. There are a lot of characters brought into this story, for me as a reader there were a few too many to keep track of. Many of them were good, in particularly I liked Tasha, the liaison between the FBPI and the cops, but I feel like some of them were under developed. I'm not an editor so I can't really offer anything from that realm but as a reader I think the lack of depth to them made me not care about their parts of the story.

The romance—a very complicated one at that—between Alex and Varik was a bit frustrating. There was a lot of back story I felt I was missing for too long. Once I finally got enough to understand some of the conflict between them I had a bit of an "uh that's all it was?" moment. Anticlimactic! Argh! Even still they make a couple I want to read more of.

The actual meat of the story, the vampire murders plot, is good. My only beef with it is that sometimes it felt driven more by Alex's getting into one bad situation after another to the point of feeling a bit contrived. A little more natural flow (maybe have someone other than Alex getting hurt??) would have been good.

One area I felt was really left open is the world building. As far as I can tell the vampires of Holmes' world are basically blood drinking humans with a supernatural gift. Long lives are hinted at but not a lot is elaborated on. If you're a reader who doesn't mind waiting for more details in a series I think you'll get just enough to keep you interested in following the characters into further installments of this series. And yes, there is a sequel in the works, I checked with Holmes to find out.

Overall, I can't say I loved Blood Law, but I didn't dislike it either. Some of the previously mentioned areas kept me from being able to quite give it four stars but as a debut novel I think it's worth recommending to urban fantasy junkies like me who are looking for something fresh. Holmes has the right ingredients for an enticing new series all she needs now is to keep challenging herself as a newly minted author and we should be reaping the rewards very soon!

Other Reviews:

If you have reviewed this book please comment to this post, I am looking for other reviews to link to!



Notes: As per my request I received an ARC from the author.

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