Saturday, February 27, 2010

Richelle Mead's Book Review: Frostbite – The Vampire Academy Series Continues

Today I'm reviewing Book 2 in Richelle Mead’s Vampire Academy series, Frostbite.

In Frostbite, life continues on at St. Vladimir’s. Rose continues her crush with Dimitri, while Mason, her friend and fellow schoolboy chases her aimlessly. It’s winter time and the Strigoi are mounting attacks on neighboring Moroi/Dhampir locations. The school ramps up security and decides to confine winter break to a secluded Idaho resort. Rose, Lissa and Lissa’s boyfriend, Christian, are among the several students, faculty, Morori and Dhampirs in attendance. But for Rose, an official guest visits her school then the resort, causing her much angst. This person is one she despises the most…her mother, Janine Hathaway.

Life among the dhampirs is strange. For the half breeds (part vampire and part human), dhampir women have really two life alternatives. Becoming a blood whore and succumbing to the thrill of a vampire bite which gives dhampirs a euphoria feeling that often leads to sex.  Or...becoming a Moroi guardian: one that’s trained to protect and guard the Moroi against the Strigoi. Despite becoming pregnant with Rose at an early age, Janine Hathaway left Rose under the care of St. Vladimir's and ultimately chose a guardian’s life.  Her choice left Rose feeling abandoned by her mother, causing much strife when Janine enters the story.

During the winter break, the Strigoi threat is imminent and a few foolish Moroi and Dhamphir students, like Mason, make a reckless attempt, hunting Strigoi. Rose discovers the preemptive attack and sets out to find her runaway friends.

The ending of this book was so riveting that I've reread it several times since. Richelle nailed it with the suspense so much so that I was devastated when she killed off a beloved character. But…it just had to be. I understand…I swear I do *sniffle*. The Strigoi are a powerful and menacing force. Book one described their propensity for evil, but this book made you feel it.

What I love most about Frostbite was seeing Rose grow as a person. Her immaturity in Book one was natural; a typical YA female strong-willed teenager. But in this book, you could see Rose start to blossom and it was captivating, beautiful, realistic and mesmerizing.

On the Mina Burrows KilloMeter, Richelle Mead RIP’d it – 5 RIPs. If you’ve not had a chance to read this book or the series for that matter, I have one word for you…RUN to your book store and get it today!

Next week I’ll review Book 3 in The Vampire Academy series, Shadow Kiss

Happy days to you.  And remember….keep reading!!


Paranormal Weather in South Florida

Ever heard of a paranormal weather in South Florida? OK, not really, but I thought I’d post this quick blog about my writing/reading atmosphere.

Yes, I said South Florida; a place where this time of year, people flock to due to its tropical winter climate of a 75°. Well, I’m here to tell you, that’s not the case. For me, it’s beyond chilly. For others in the Northeast, for example, it would be wonderful, I’m sure. The temperature here is 54°. The picture here is of my fireplace. My toes would be donning a pretty pedicure right now if it wasn’t for this blasted cold weather. Yes, some older homes down here do have fireplaces despite the proximity of my home being 1 mile away from the beach.

Anyway, I’m letting my readers know what my scene looks like as I read and write during this lovely change of climate we’re having.

Happy readings and if you’re cold…stay warm.


Saturday, February 20, 2010

A Bloody Book List – 75 Vampire Books You Must Read

NPR (National Public Radio) aired a special segment aired on All Things Considered on Vampires, and then turned around a published a follow up article, For Love Of Do-Good Vampires: A Bloody Book List. What a great segment, an excellent read and killer book list.

One aspect of the article I found most interesting were the time periods analyzed when a particular vampire novel or movie was written/released. For example, when Bram Stoker’s tale was first written, “England had some of the largest ports in the world”. Could it be that the public interest soared for Stoker’s tale because of fear? With the influx of people, trade and diseases coming into the ports from foreign lands, the concept of “Dracula” was possibly more believable to the masses. Other public interest crept in during the Great Depression, when Bela Lugosi launched his own personal depiction of the great, Count Dracula. The NPR article also highlights other famous vampire novels, pairing them with certain decades that I found beyond interesting, like Anne Rice’s Interview with a Vampire. This article was such a delight to read that if you like the mysterious as much as I do…I highly recommend reading or listening to the piece.

And now for the most exciting detail of the article, the Bloody Killer Vampire Book List. The article's author, Margot Adler, actually read 75 vampire books. I think she may be my new hero. Of course, I’ve read several of these books but all 75, I doubt it. But have faith…I will get there and will bring you along the way.

See below the list I plan on reviewing and or reading in the 2010 year.

Margot Adler's Vampire Book List

  • 1-4. The Twilight Saga, by Stephenie Meyer
  • 5-13.The Sookie Stackhouse Novels, by Charlaine Harris
  • 14-15. A Touch Of Dead, by Charlaine Harris
  • 16-18. The Hunger, The Last Vampire, Lilith's Dream, by Whitley Strieber
  • 19. Let The Right One In, by John Ajvide Lindqvist
  • 20. Sucks To Be Me, by Kimberly Pauley
  • 21. Suck It Up, by Brian Meehl
  • 22-25. The Vampire Diaries, by L.J. Smith
  • 26-29. Blue Bloods, by Melissa de la Cruz
  • 22-25. House Of Night, by P.C. Cast and Kristin Cast
  • 36-39. The Vampire Academy, by Richelle Mead
  • 40. Undead And Unwed, by MaryJanice Davidson
  • 41-50. Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter, by Laurell K. Hamilton
  • 51-55. Blood Ties, by Tanya Huff
  • 56-58. The Smoke Trilogy, by Tanya Huff
  • 59. Interview With The Vampire, by Anne Rice
  • 60. Dracula, by Bram Stoker
  • 61-62. Bloodsucking Fiends: A Love Story; Suck: A Love Story, by Christopher Moore
  • 63-64. The Society Of S; The Year Of Disappearances, by Susan Hubbard
  • 65. Hotel Transylvania, by Chelsea Quinn Yarbro
  • 66. The Vampire Tapestry, by Suzy McKee Charnas
  • 67. The Delicate Dependency, A Novel Of The Vampire Life, by Michael Talbot
  • 68.Those Who Hunt The Night, by Barbara Hambly
  • 69-71. Red Moon Rising, Malachi's Moon; Craven Moon, by Billie Sue Mosiman
  • 72. Eternally Yours, by Stephen Juers
  • 73. Fledgling, by Octavia Butler
  • 74. The Dead Travel Fast, by Eric Nuzum
  • 75. The Vampire Archives, by Otto Penzler, Neil Gaiman, and Kim Newman
I have no doubt that most of these, if not all, are great but I look forward to adding a few more to this list. Stay tuned and most of all…keep reading.

Mina B.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Mina Burrow’s Killometer - Book Review System

Yes, I too have a rating system for my book reviews. It's not terribly complicated. Even as a writer, I strive to create killer novels. So, as I read, and then review another author’s novels, I also strive to follow those same guidelines…which I've now deemed, the Mina Burrow’s Killometer.

This year, I’ve reviewed some of my favorite authors, Laura Adrian, Lynsay Sands and Richelle Mead. Even though, those review's have missed the Killometer…check back for updates as I’ll be be adding my killer RIP tombstone's back into their previous reviews.

I’m not that terribly hard to please. I’ve read decent books I’ve paid a fortune for and phenomenal ones I’ve gotten for free. For me, this isn’t rocket science...just read what you love…and most of the time, you’ll be happy with the results.

But, for those who need to have more clarity in my reviews, I created these semi-stringent guidelines.

Mina Burrows - Killometer for Book Reviews

*  One RIP, means it was dead before it got published.

*  Two RIPs, means the killer intent was there but was somehow got lost.

*  Three RIPs, means I felt a killer instinct and was entertained along the way.

*  Four RIPs, means it was a killer book.

*  Five RIPs, means the author killed it, so brilliantly that he/she slashed it off the pages.

There you have it. The Mina Burrow’s Killometer. It’s pretty simple folks; write a good book, get a RIP tombstone (or 5) and a killer review by me, of course.

Mina B.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Book Review: Richelle Mead’s Vampire Academy

Okay, so I read on Richelle Mead’s blog yesterday she’ll be out of the country, in the UK to be exact.  From what I read, she hopes to get through all the Valentine’s Day Contest contestants within the next few weeks. So, while we wait...I thought I’d take the next few blog posts to review her best-selling series, Vampire Academy.

First things first, Book 1, Vampire Academy. At the time when I read this, I was reading like a fiend.  I won’t disclose how many books I read during that time - but let me just tell you I was not sleeping much.  And so, I was trying to quit or at least take a break. That was until my friend, Sandra, gave me the Vampire Academy.  Yeah, I was a bit resistant. I went down the list of how I didn’t really want to read another YA book but then holy hell, I’m glad I did. (Oh hi Sandra…thanks again)

I think I finished it within a day. I can’t remember but something like that. At the time, I preferred using my iPhone/Kindle application for getting most of my books. Anywho…I read it and was blown away.

It is a brilliant book and a splendid read. On the Mina Burrows’s KilloMeter…Richelle Mead slashed it off the pages! The book rocks!  The series opens with the two main characters, Rose Hathaway and Lissa Dragomir. Rose is a dhampir; a powerful part human and part vampire. Lissa is a Moroi; a born vampire from a royal line. The two girls are best friends and runaways from a prestigious vampire high school, St. Vladimirs. Rose is Lissa’s unofficial body guard, using an unspeakable bond to protect Lissa and fend off the immortal vampires called, Strigoi. These evil vampires would do just about anything or kill anyone to turn a Moroi into one of their own deadly breed.

After being on the run for two years from the Academy, the girls are captured and brought back to St. Vladimir. With classes already in full swing, and being gone for so long, both girls have regimented schedules to get up-to-speed in order to graduate on time. Despite Rose’s efforts to protect Lissa, she is the underdog in this series. Barely anyone wants to see her succeed, except for the fans…which is why we love her so much.  She’s your a-typical, no nonsense, cocky, know-it-all teenager that says pretty much everything that’s on her mind. After being back, she’s assigned to Dimitri, another powerful dhampir, who spends his time training dhampirs and guarding Moroi.

As close as Rose is to Lissa, she constantly keeps secrets from her - one being her growing interest in her Dhampir teacher/trainer, Dimitri.

The book sets the stage, describing the dark world of Moroi, Dhamphir and Strigoi. With murders, Stigoi turnings and subsequent attacks on Lissa, Rose has her work cut out for her.
Vampire Academy was beyond good, more like phenomenal.  It sucked me in, so much so, that I pulled out my iphone and downloaded the next installment, (Vampire Academy, Book 2)Frostbite .

Stay tuned as I plan on reviewing Book 2 shortly. If you’re looking for a good read, that sucks you into a dark, seductive but still PG world, Vampire Academy is a killer place to start.

Have fun...reading.

Mina B.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Richelle Mead’s Valentine’s Day Card Contest

For those of you who haven’t heard, Richelle Mead, author of the best selling YA series, The Vampire Academy, is hosting a contest for Valentine’s Day. Why am I excited? Because it’s Richelle Mead…hello! Besides, it sounded like so much fun, I couldn’t resist. Now, the sample her friend and fellow author, Michelle Rowen created was pretty hilarious, so I decided to take a stab at it.

Here are three cards I’ve created…in the barbaric program, Paint. Can you believe it? Yes. Despite my husband efforts to unknowingly sabotage my design skills (pulling off all the art programs on my computer like Photoshop, Illustrator etc…), I was still able to show off some meager abilities with what he left me with...Paint (of all things). Oh, well… se'la'vie! Maybe I’ll win. I hope so!

And here are my masterpieces.

Enjoy and be sure to comment!




Thursday, February 11, 2010

Valentine’s Day Reservation – Evil Editor

Ok, so here’s something fun, right before Valentine’s Day, I might add.  For those of you not familiar with Evil Editor and his hysterical blog here’s a brief into. Evil Editor started his blog several years ago and is practically an icon in the publishing industry.  He rants, teaches, and scolds all newcomers and established writers, under the pretense of giving insight into the confounding and diabolical world of publishing.  He’s practically a god, I tell you…or the devil, rather.  Anyway, I’ve been reading his blog for some time now and have participated in his writing exercises. They're good fun and if you have the time…I recommend you partake in the challenge too.

The writing exercises must be completed based on a timeline, a minimum word count (300 words max) and centered on a scene dictated by Evil Editor.  For last week the scene was as follows:
Evil Editor is on the phone trying to make a restaurant reservation for Valentine's Day, but it seems every restaurant manager in town is aware of what happened last Valentine's Day. Write the transcript of the phone conversation.
Here is my response…

Valentine Reservation 1 -

Muttering inaudible comments, EE called again, his 4th attempt at reserving a table at the French restaurant, Très Magnifique.

The female matradee answered whimsically, “Bon Jour, Très Magnifique”

Incognito, using a southern drawl, EE said “Howdy there, purdy lady. Would you kindly help me with a reservation…for Valentine’s Day?”

“Monsieur Evil?” She growled.

EE sat silent.

“Oui. I know its zou, Monsieur Evil!” She replied with French snobbery. “I said No! Zou aren’t welcomed here. Stop calling…imbecile!”

“But I need a reservation.” EE pleaded.

“Absolute no. I told zou. I heard what zou did at FiFi’s last year.”
EE countered, “And I explained….I ordered the coveted foie gras and what I got was a culinary catastrophe of pheasant droppings!”

Click here to read the entire posting:  Evil Editor 

Have fun!

Mina Burrows

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Book Review: Lynsay Sands's Bitten by Cupid

I have several blog topics that I want to get posted before one of the biggest Hallmark days of the year approaches, (yuck) Valentine’s Day. Don’t get me wrong… I adore romance it’s just that, why should a gal have to wait once a year to get wooed and dined! I mean…once a year? Come on…. Well, if that’s the case for some women then…thank god for the 14th of February.

For those ravenous readers, like me, I wanted to leave you with my review of one of Lindsay Sand’s latest anthology books, Bitten by Cupid. Her story starts the three part series along with two other authors, Pamela Palmer and Jaime Rush. Lynsay Sands is one of my favorite authors. I stumbled upon A Quick Bite; her first book in her best selling series about the Argeneaus’, a close-nit vampire family that prefer to be called a more civilized term of immortals. There are a total of twelve released books in the series, thirteen if you count this anthology. Naturally, some are better than others. But never fear, I plan on reviewing all twelve so that you too can be inspired and feel the need…to read!

Vampire Valentine – By Lynsay Sands

Lynsay first introduced one of my favorite characters, Tiny McGraw, in Book 6 of the series, A Bite to Remember. He’s mortal and a private investigator whose hired by the Argeneau family and soon is metaphorically adopted into the family by the Argeneau matriarch, Marguerite. Tiny is anything but small. He is a tall, larger than life man with a rough exterior but a softy on the inside. Marguerite, who is famous for matchmaking in the family, finding her children and extended family life mates, sets her sight on finding Tiny a life mate, thus binding him to the Argeneau clan forever. In this anthology, she succeeds in introducing Tiny to Mirabeau La Roche. The two meet and are smitten. Despite their alarming attraction and Mirabeau’s inability to read Tiny’s mind (a tale tale life mate indicator), Mirabeau is still terrified of commitment. I liked the story but was somewhat disappointed that it wasn’t blow out into a full novel. I so love Tiny McGraw and couldn’t help but feel he got the shaft with this story. I truly feel bad about saying that but can honestly say, that’s this is the only negative thing I have to say about Lynsay Sands novels. I love almost everything she’s written…I swear. Even though this story wasn’t my favorite, I still found it griping and exciting to read. As a killer fan and admirer of all her works, both paranormal and historical, I’m in it for the long haul. Go Lynsay!

Hearts Untamed – by Pamela Palmer

At first, I have to admit, I had a hard time reading this one. The story by Pamela Palmer was a bit challenging for me to get into. And so…I tabled it…only for a few weeks though and just last night finished reading it. Boy, am I glad I did. In a mystic world of immortals, Julianne, a Therian immortal, is haunted by Melisande, an Ilinas and a Therian clan enemy. At 30 years of age, Julianne is young for a immortal and upon meeting Melisande, she learns she is half Ilina and ordered to find the precious moon stone necklace and deliver it to the Iliana Queen.

Another person haunts her as well, her one and only true love, Zeeland. When she was young, her parents died and the Therian clan, along with Zeeland took care of her and raised her. Over time, she grew to love and admire Zeeland, the man of her dreams. Upon her 20th birthday, she professed her love to Zeeland, who balked and left town. It had been 10 years since she seen him, the love of her life, a man that she never forgot.

Kiss & Kill Cupid - by Jaime Rush

This paranormal story was more of a mystery. It was captivating from the beginning all the way through until the end. A real “who done it” and I loved it. Kristy, a freelance writer and unofficial mind reader meets her new potential boss, Adrian. While at her meeting, Kristy overhears a random, unknown thought from the Kiss and Kill Cupid serial killer. He’s chosen Kristy as his next victim and with little time left, she’s on a mission to capture the murderer before her life expires. The scene is set at a coffee shop where there are many unusual suspects, including her new boss, Adrian, a man she’s beginning to fall for. With her new love interest, his partner, the cops, the reporter and other character’s anyone could be the culprit. But for Kristy, her only hope is to trust the right people in order to survive.

Enough said….now go read!!!

Mina B.**

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Silent Genes – Book Cover Draft

Hey, check out a draft of the cover art for my book, Silent Genes.  It’s cool, right? This is a first draft and although it needs some work… I still think it rocks. It’s got a dark and sinister feel to it...which I love. 

For inquiring minds, the book cover art was done by Alex, owner of Immature Productions. He’s also the designer for the header of my wicked blog. The feedback I’m getting on my book, blog and the overall design has been far greater than I anticipated…and all positive, of course. There are so many people that have helped me on this journey that I plan on blogging about them soon, thanking them for all their support.

Stay tuned for that plus more book cover drafts as well as another sneak peak of Silent Genes, Chapter 2, The Transaction.



Friday, February 5, 2010

Book Review: Lara Adrian’s Shades of Midnight

As a lover of paranormal romance books, I wanted to post about one of my favorite authors, Lara Adrian.   Her Midnight Breed Series about alien hybrid vampires is both thrilling and suspenseful, to say the least. What I like most like about the vampire warriors - deemed, The Breed - is they are manly, rugged men. Not at all sissy, pretty or elegant, like many vampire male characters, but raw, unadulterated, gorgeous, gloriously depicted men….just the way we like them.

To be honest, when I read the book 1, Kiss of Midnight, I wasn’t necessarily hooked, . But, I read it nonetheless. By book 2, Kiss of Crimson, however, I was hooked and then some. There are a total of seven books to date. And what I like best about Adrian is how she masterfully defined the rules around being a Breed Warrior, and then magically breaks all her own rules with her riveting plots. Sheer genius. I can’t say it enough about the critical need for stellar plotting. As a writer, often, I’ve sat for hours, even days/months contemplating characters, schemes, dialogue and so forth, all in an effort to weave together a successful novel. And Lara Adrian kills it nearly every time.

If you’ve not had a chance to read the series, I have only one suggestion. Run to your nearest book store, library, Barnes&Nobles, Amazon, download it on your Kindle – whatever you got to do and read them all. You’ll get sucked in a matter of days, like I did. Okay, that’s an exaggeration, but still they’re brilliant books, for real.

On another note, the real reason for this post it to do a quick review of Book 7, Shades of Midnight.

A continuation of the midnight breed series Shades of Midnight features Kade, one of the breed warriors who is sent on a mission to Alaska, near a place he once called home. While investigating a bludgeoned massacre in a small town, he meets a mysterious breedmate whose captivating presence provokes a desirous, wanton relationship.  As their relationship blossoms, he’s inspired to covet and protect the innocent female and contemplate her as his own.

During his investigation, he uncovers Dragos’s mining fortress and the reason behind the deadly pillaging that occurred in the small Alaskan town. That reason is…the Ancient. He’s hungry, of course, and wreaking havoc in a murderous fashion trying to satiate his blood lust. I loved the way Adrian portrayed the human side of the Ancient in this book. It’s definitely intriguing and makes us fans want more.

Although this book was not my favorite, (my favorite being Kiss of Crimson & Midnight Awakening) it’s still Lara Adrian and the Breed. 

I highly recommend all to read and reflect and repeat as needed.

Mina B.