Wednesday, June 30, 2010

A Creepy Classic Review: The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

This month’s Creepy Classic is Robert Louis Stevenson’s The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.  I honestly never have read this story before and vaguely recall various film depictions of the story.  And from what I did recollect, the tale was about a mad scientist, Dr. Jekyll, who drinks a potion and becomes the nefarious Mr. Hyde. Oh, how the original delves much deeper than that.

The book starts off with Mr. Utterson; one of Dr. Jekyll’s old school chums thats described as probably one of the best openings I’ve read in a book in a long time. “Mr. Utterson the lawyer was a man of a rugged countenance that was never lighted by a smile; cold, scanty, and embarrassed in discourse; backyard in sentiment; lean, long, dusty, dreary and yet somehow loveable.” And boy was he ever likeable. Utterson’s a little obsessive and possibly a stalker at times, but the poor guy does so because he’s concerned for his friend, Dr. Jekyll. As the executor of Dr. Jekyll’s will, Mr. Utterson is troubled by the notion that his friend, Dr. Jekyll - in the event of his disappearance would leave all his belongings, assets and so forth to that of a stranger, this Mr. Edward Hyde.

And what’s to make of this strange man, Mr. Hyde? As described in the original, he’s not as all as Hollywood describes. He’s odd, no doubt, small frame and sinister nature, yet as Stevenson put it in Utterson’s terms: “Mr. Hyde was pale and dwarfish, he gave an impression of deformity without any nameable malformation…” And one of my favorite passages after Utterson is confounded by his first meeting with Jekyll’s creepy friend, he surmises “Jekyll, if ever I read Satan’s signature upon a face it is on that of your new friend.”
While Utterson continues down the path of discovery, pursuing Mr. Hyde incognito, I was reminded by the classic phrase I’d forgotten, “If he be Mr. Hyde,” he had thought, “I shall be Mr. Seek.” Oh, I love that passage. It’s such a classic it needed to be repeated.

As the story unveils more bizarre occurrences with the good natured, Dr. Jekyll and then the evil-spirited, Mr. Hyde, Utterson grows more and more perplexed. Utterson then seeks input from another of Dr. Jekyll’s friends – Dr. Lanyon.  Soon, both men get entangled in their mutual friend’s “unscientific balderdash” which results in Lanyon’s untimely death.

What I enjoyed most about this short story, other than the buildup, was the reasoning as to why Dr. Jekyll did it. We all know it’s about potions or scientific concoctions, etc… but was it all in the name of science? Or was it the deeper moral issue that drove Dr. Jekyll’s insane motives to create a drug that could alter his ego so wickedly?  I won’t ruin it for you. You’ll just have to read this book. It was such a simple read that it shouldn't take too long to get through it. And for the love of Peter, it’s a free book that you can find most anywhere online or dare I say in the library.

On the Mina Burrows KilloMeter, I give Robert Louis Stevenson’s The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde a 4.
Until next time…read something creepy, read a Creepy Classic.
Mina B.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Mina's Author Interview: USA Today's Bestselling Author, Jennifer Ashley

Hey, mystic mind fans. I haven’t been this excited about a blog post since… I don’t know when. It’s “All Things Jennifer Ashley” week and the hits just keep on coming. Today, I’m here at my mystic minds blog interviewing one of my favorite authors: USA Today’s bestselling author, Jennifer Ashley.

For those of you that don’t know, Jennifer Ashley is a celebrated, bestselling author who writes under two other pen names: Allyson James and Ashley Gardner. For more information about Jennifer and all her many riveting romance novels, visit her website at .

As an added perk, I’m running a“Free Book Giveaway Contest "for Stormwalker, a killer mystical series written by Jennifer Ashley’s alter ego, Allyson James. Click here to enter.

Now, let’s get to our questions.

Mina: Your “Immortals” series is on my list to read. But I have had the opportunity to read your Nvengaria series, which I find are like historical paranormal romance – do you agree with this genre label? And can you tell the readers about the next book planned in this series?

Jennifer Ashley: The Nvengarian series is indeed paranormal historical romance. When I first came up with the concept (each book based loosely on a fairy tale), I wasn’t certain I’d make it paranormal, but then it seemed like too much fun to pass up! Thus was born the magic, the prophecies, the logosh, and all the rest.

I don’t at present have another book planned in this series (the last story, so far, was the novella about Valentin and Mary in A Christmas Ball). But there are other characters out there (I’m thinking in particular of Adam Ross, Egan’s neighbor in Highlander Ever After) so who knows?

The fairy tales I used are: Cinderella (Penelope and Prince Charming); Beauty and the Beast (The Mad Bad Duke); Snow White and the Seven…Highlanders (Highlander Ever After); and Little Red Riding Hood (“The Longest Night” in A Christmas Ball; except in this case, the big, bad wolf is the hero!).

Mina: I noticed you’ve begun a new series, Stormwalker. Did living in Phoenix inspire this? Can you tell us some insightful information about the Janet Begay’s character – something that hasn’t been revealed?

Jennifer Ashley: The beauty of Arizona, New Mexico, and the Navajo Nation is, yes, very inspiring! I’d always had the vague idea of setting a book/series in northern AZ, and then one day when I was up there, I looked around at the craggy mountains and incredible vistas, and something in me said write it! Write it, now! The storms out there are amazing, and so Janet and her ability to use storms to work magic was born.

Something about Janet—Hmm. I reveal more and more about her as the series goes on, so I’ll just say that she’s more powerful than anyone guesses. She also loves her family (grandmother, aunts, father) very much, but it’s difficult for her come to terms with it.

Mina: I understand you’ve won a staggering amount of awards – which all speak to your unbelievable talent as a captivating writer. Can you tell us what award, accolade or accomplishment you haven’t won yet that would be the ultimate feather in your cap?

Jennifer Ashley: Thank you! Awards are a nice pat on the back from my peers, and I treasure them. I’ve won a RITA for best novel with romantic elements, and I’m up for one in novella this year, but I’d LOVE to win the RITA for either historical romance or paranormal romance. That would be fantastic.

FYI: RITA is an annual contest held by the Romance Writers of America.

Mina: I read you love to cook. What’s your favorite recipe?

Jennifer Ashley: I do like to cook and bake all kinds of things. There’s a chocolate/vanilla marble cake with nutmeg in it that is good to eat plain (without frosting), although sour cream chocolate frosting is good on it too! My husband (and my friends) also love my chocolate chip cookies, and try to coerce me into making them a lot. I make my own pizza (crust and all), because I can customize it for what I’m in the mood for: goat cheese, pepperoni, white sauce or oil and herb sauce, or whatever.

Probably my favorite dish (to make or eat out) is mole (pronounced moh-leh). Mole is a savory stew of meat (chicken, beef, or pork), with a smooth chile sauce with a bite of unsweetened chocolate. Different recipes use different veggies or no veggies at all, some add hazelnuts and other things. It’s divine! I have Janet eat some in Firewalker. “:-)

Mina:  Anything with chocolate, I'm a fan of.  I gotta try mole. Yum!  How do you stay motivated?

Jennifer Ashley: I do all kinds of things to stay motivated, because writing is a difficult job—it drains your emotions and your stamina. I do let myself write, write, and write when I’m in a frenzy, but I also let myself step back when I’m burned out (even if I’m on deadline).

To step back, I “play” a lot (build dollhouses and do musical things with my friends), spend time with my family, and do what I call “brain-cleansing” activities—such as take a short vacation/retreat, learn something completely new, do things that are about other people. I have stories in my head constantly, and I love nothing more than to pour them out, but I find that if I’m stuck, and I step aside for a day or two, I come back fresh and raring to go.

For me, reading books (that I didn’t write), especially ones I love, motivates me. Other people’s creativity, period, motivates me. I guess it’s a matter of “That looks like fun; I wanna do it too!”

Mina: I do a monthly segment on my blog called Creepy Classics where I review a classic mystic or paranormal novel. Last month I reviewed Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray. This month’s Robert Louis Stephenson’s Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde. What is your favorite Creepy Classic & why?

Jennifer Ashley: Picture of Dorian Gray is pretty creepy! That’s one of my favorites. Another is Henry James’s Turn of the Screw. It’s a weird and perplexing story (is she crazy, or are there really ghosts?). It’s one of Henry James’s shorter works (well, it’s short for him!), and I think one of his very best.

Mina:  Cool.  I've just added Turn of the Screw to my Creepy Classics in Queue.

Mina: In your Mackenzie series, your characters are so explosive, it’s amazing. With respect to Lord Ian, what was it with the gaze? What inspired you to write such a unique, intriguing, sensual character/hero?

Jennifer Ashley: Lord Ian has Asperger’s Syndrome, which is considered a form a high-functioning autism. In the Victorian age, autism hadn’t yet been diagnosed—so Ian would have been considered eccentric at best, crazy at worst.

Many autistic and AS people have trouble looking into someone else’s eyes (and, actually, I do too, unless I know the person very well). In my research I also learned that one reason to avoid a locking gaze is that the AS person loses track of the conversation while focusing on the other person’s eyes. I have to say that it was difficult to write a man not being able to look directly at another person! I couldn’t say: “Their gazes met.” No, they didn’t! I had to be very careful—no lazy writing!

The inspiration for Ian came from me pondering what it must have been like to have something we recognize now—autism, ADD, Asperger’s—in a time when such things weren’t recognized. What would a person do? Ian’s character was not easy to write, but worth the effort!

Mina: With my last question, please tell our readers about your upcoming release, the 2nd book in the Mackenzie series, Lady Isabella’s Scandalous Marriage? (PS, fans can read the first chapter on your site and about fell out of my chair with the visual of Mac painting with his chest bare, wearing nothing more than a kilt with a bandana on his head. Holy cow…oh to be Lady Isabella!)

Jennifer Ashley: Mac is hot! He’s passionate, charming, a little wild, and did I mention hot? Lady Isabella’s Scandalous Marriage begins a week after Madness of Lord Ian ends, with Isabella returning to London, and Mac following her. Three years previously, Isabella had left Mac, her turbulent marriage with him having nearly destroyed her. Mac, though heartbroken, let her go, sobered up, and reformed—and now he’s back. This time, he’s not going to let Isabella go again. Mac will do anything to get Isabella back into his life, and most importantly into his bed.

I ended up really loving Mac, and I hope readers to do. As a bonus, there’s a sneak peek at Cameron’s story in the back of Mac’s book!

FYI: Lady Isabella’s Scandalous Marriage releases July 6th. Don’t miss out on a wickedly, delicious series. Order your copy today!

Mina: Thank you Jennifer for everything.

Jennifer Ashley: Thanks so much for interviewing me!

Hey, that wraps up my killer interview with Jennifer Ashley
but we still have the Free Book Giveaway Contest" for Stormwalker.
Be sure and click on this link and comment
on its blog post to enter to win. Contest ends eod – July 1st.

Until next time...need something to read?  Read something by Jennifer Ashley.

Mina B.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Jennifer Ashley's Lady Isabella's Scandalous Marriage

Next up in my "All things Jennifer Ashley" week is my review of Book 2 in the Mackenzie series, Lady Isabella’s Scandalous Marriage. This instant historical romance classic is all about Mac Mackenzie – the ingenious artist – and Isabella – the runaway debutante. They met on her coming out party where Mac snuck in uninvited on a bet to kiss an unknown debutante. Smitten instantly, Mac whisked Isabella away and married her in a scandalous elopement. Their relationship began a tumultuous one and sadly continued down that same rugged path.

We first meet Isabella and Mac in The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie where we learned they’d been estranged; separated when Isabella left Mac and neither one had spoken to one another in over three years. It was the near death experience Ian and Beth endured, that brought them somewhat back together. Mac, shaken by the tragedy, began to relook at his life, making a vow to get Isabella back in his life – and in his bed.

Relationships are a funny thing. Isabella, after marrying the notorious Mac Mackenzie was disowned by her family and then heavily scrutinized or slandered, rather by the ton.  But the worst part of her marriage was Mac and his alcohol induced episodes. After three years of instability, followed by another three of loneliness - as much as Mac wanted her back - Isabella wasn’t sure she could venture a second try at being married to such an incessantly maddening man.

What I loved about this book was Ashley stayed true to the characters – Mac and Isabella. This tale is not a rollercoaster of plot twists – like the previous novel. Oh, it wouldn’t be a Mackenzie story if there wasn’t some sort of an evil opportunist threatening the livelihood of Mac and his family. And so there is a no name man, trying to impersonate the great Mac Mackenzie to the point of being delusional about Mac, his career, his family and even his wife, Isabella. Oh the plot does get delicious but that’s not the crux of the book. What is then? Love.

The rollercoaster ride in this book is an emotional one; all courtesy of its main characters, Mac & Isabella. Now with a renewed commitment on Mac’s part, at what lengths will he go to mend Isabella’s broken heart?

In order to get a true appreciation for this book, you must…MUST read The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie. Only then will you truly appreciate this tale. The Mackenzie dysfunction is alive and still thriving and as a vivacious reader of this series I promise you’ll adore the glimpses of Ian and Beth as well as a few other family members.

On the Mina Burrows KilloMeter, I give Lady Isabella’s Scandalous Marriage a 4 ½ .

Until next time…you MUST read about those kilt wearing Mackenzies!

Mina B.

Tune in tomorrow - June 29th - for my
Interview with Jennifer Ashley!
She'll be stopping by my mystic mind blog for an up close and personal interview.
Don't miss out on revealing insight into 
a beloved, brilliant and successful author.

going on now through July 1st.
Win a copy of Allyson James,
aka Jennifer Ashley's, Stormwalker.
This series is hot, hot, hot!
Don't miss out on your free copy today.
Sign up under comments on this blog post.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Jennifer Ashley's The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie

To continue on my special segment of “All things Jennifer Ashley”, I’m deviating from my usual paranormal reviews and featuring one of my favorite historical romance novels – and I mean FA∙VOR∙ITE – The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie. As I’ve mentioned previously, I have a wicked hunger for not only killer paranormal books but delicious historical romance books.
Don’t ask me to divulge how many historical/reagent novels I’ve read. I’ve seriously lost count. Being an avid reader of genres like paranormal, urban fantasy and historical romance, I often see some of the same old tiring plots. But Jennifer Ashley’s The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie is breathtaking: a true masterpiece in historical romance novels. Beyond the obvious i.e. romance and suspense, Ashley creates the Mackenzie world which epitomizes family dysfunction.  Coming from a long line of raging lunatics, they're all cursed, especially Ian, the youngest of four brothers. With his Ian’s unique personality and bizarre gaze combined with a perilous murder plot, Ashley has perfected a recipe for a wickedly good book.

Ian and Beth are misfits among England’s high society and when they meet, both are mesmerized with one another. Ian becomes instantly obsessed with Beth (a widow) and attempts to steal her away from her fiancé. Despite his brilliant mind, Ian’s considered the craziest in his kin, suffering from early childhood abuse and a stint in an asylum. As the ton dismisses him, Beth gravitates towards him. His peculiar nature is alluring and Beth gets a glimpse of passion and love; something she hasn’t seen in 9 years since her husband’s death. With Ian and Beth’s checkered backgrounds, it’s no wonder they were practically made for each other. But that’s only the beginning.

Ian is cursed with not only his madness but murder. There’s a killer lurking about and Ian – the suspected killer - has been running for the last five years, trying to thwart Scotland Yard and protect his family. When wooing Beth, Ian’s terrified of her learning that side of his life. And what will Beth do when she finds out the entire truth about Ian, his family and their many lies. It’s a mouth-watering read from beginning to end. I won’t say anymore because this book – in my heart – is a classic. It has mystery, suspense, heroism, sinister motives, love, romance, salacious content and above all, a killer plot. And to add a cherry on top, I have a new found respect for men in kilts. Oh, those Mackenzie brothers (…sigh). If you’re looking for a unique romance novel with imperfect characters and a brilliant storyline, The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie is just for you.

On the Mina Burrows KilloMeter, Jennifer Ashley’s The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie gets a 5. Yes. It’s that good. I love, love, love this book. Since reading it last year, I’ve reread it at least 5 times. I’m also a huge fan of the series. Stay tuned for tomorrow’s posting as I review Book 2 in Jennifer Ashley’s The Mackenzie series, Lady Isabella’s Scandalous Marriage. Ooooo…I can’t wait to give you the 411 on that yummy continuation.

Until next time…read about crazy Mackenzies’.

Mina B.

Reminder:  Free Book Giveaway Contest -
going on now through July 1st. 
Win a copy of Allyson James, 
aka Jennifer Ashley's, Stormwalker.  
This series is hot, hot, hot!
Don't miss out on your free copy today. 
Sign up under comments on this blog post.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Free Book Giveaway Contest – Jennifer Ashley’s aka, Allyson James, Stormwalker

I have great news for my mystic fans. My “All Things Jennifer Ashley” week has just gotten better. I’m running a "Free Book Giveaway Contest" and Jennifer Ashley – a USA Today Best Selling author - has generously donated a book from her alter ego, Allyson James. Ashley is amazing and writes like a fiend, effortlessly creating delectable books for insatiable readers like me.  I'm thrilled beyond compare to feature her this week. 

My special giveaway for my mystic readers
 is Stormwalker.
Register now in the comments section of this blog post, leaving your name and email.
Contest is running from today until eod - July 1st.

For those of you that aren’t familiar with the hip new series, Stormwalker, it began in 2009 in a standalone prequel called "A Little Night Magic," in Hot for the Holidays. With the success with the previous release, we are now blessed with her first book in the series. Here’s an overview from Jennifer’s (Allyson James’s) website.

Half-Navajo Janet Begay comes to Magellan to investigate the mysterious disappearance of the police chief's daughter. But the people of Magellan sense that Janet is not what she seems, and they're right.

Janet possesses extraordinary power which is tied to the storms that waft across the desert. The only person who can control her when she's caught in the storm's evocative power is Mick, a dark-haired, blue-eyed biker Janet can't seem to touch with her powers. He can wield fire and not get burned, and Janet's never sure where he goes when they're not together.

Together they investigate mysterious disappearances, which Janet fears are tied to her mother's people, the mythical gods from below the earth. They are helped along the way by Coyote and Crow, but these shapeshifting gods have their own agendas.
Book One of a new Contemp. Fantasy / Paranormal Romance series.

Don’t delay, sign up today!!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

A Paranormal Book Review: Jennifer Ashley’s The Mad, Bad Duke

Moving forward in my week of “All Things Jennifer Ashley”, I am reviewing Book 2 in her Nvengaria series, The Mad, Bad Duke. Fresh off of Penelope and Prince Charming, these paranormal historical romances are riddled with mystery, desire and authentically cool characters.

It all starts with a love spell. Oh, what a delicious way to start a book. Deirdre, a nitwited girl, seeks a love spell from a powerful gypsy to ensnare the likes of Alexander, the grand Duke of Nvengaria. He’s tall, dark and handsome, of course, and with his lethal presence, no member of England’s society would dare trifle with the great Duke. But not Meagan’s chit witted friend, Deirdre.

The spell backfires – gotta love that - and instead Meagan is trapped in a love spell that compels both her and the Duke to unspeakable passion. One night at a society ball and her virtue is ruined. The Duke knows he’s compromised the girl but can’t help his incessant attraction to her. What to do? What to do?

As the acting ambassador and sometimes spy to Nvengaria, Alexander, lives in England spending his time charming the ton while thwarting off assassin attempts and deadly espionage against his homeland. Once an enemy of Prince Damien, the ruler of Nvengaria, Alexander is now a trusted ally and he’d do just about anything to protect his beloved country.

There are several twists to this book including the presence of Myn, the leader of the Logosh and now a pivotal character in the plot of this book. Alexander’s past is a mystery and he’ll need Myn, Meagan and Egan (our yummy kilt wearing Scott) to reach his happy ending.

This was a cute book and fast read for me. I liked it because it was different. Sometimes when you read paranormal or urban fantasy, the plots get stale and same old same like boy meets girl under mystical circumstances and then snore – the plot sucks. Not this book. With its historical setting, Nvengaria patriotism and lovable characters, Ashley continues to bring this series to life.

On the Mina Burrows KilloMeter, I give The Mad, Bad Duke a 3 ½.

Until next time….read, would ya? It’ll keep you out of trouble.

Mina B.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Coming up next… USA Today’s Bestselling Author, Jennifer Ashley

This week and next is all about USA Today’s Bestselling Author, Jennifer Ashley. First, stay tuned as I continue to review Jennifer Ashley’s paranormal historical romance novels. The 2nd installment in the Nvengaria series, The Mad, Bad Duke, is what I call a cool continuation and just wait until you get a load of the Duke. (See my previous post for Book 1 in the series, Penelope and Prince Charming.)
Second, I’ll be segueing to a slightly different genre – historical romance. Jennifer Ashley exhibits sheer brilliance when writing her historical series, The Mackenzie’s. And I’m freakishly excited to review one of my favorite historical romance novels, The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie. This series is completely void of the paranormal aspect that we know and love but don’t let that deter you from reading it and revelling in its mystery, its madness and its intense seduction. There’s perfection riddled throughout this story as Ashley peels away the imperfect qualities of riveting characters like Lord Ian himself.  I promise you, you’ll be fumbling for your wallets to add these prized books to your collections – and I mean pronto. Following this, I’ll be reviewing an ARC copy of Book 2 of the Mackenzie Series, Lady Isabella’s Scandalous Marriage. And oh, I can’t wait to tell you about that one too.

This week and next promises to be wickedly inspiring with the crème de la crème being my one-on-one interview with the bestselling, kick-A author herself, Jennifer Ashley. Yes, I got an interview with one of my heroes and might I say, I feel blessed (cue in singing angels – Ahh Aaaa). Don’t miss out on some keen insight from my killer interview with Jennifer Ashley scheduled for June 29.

Until next time...the must read of this season is Jennifer Ashley’s The MacKenzies.

Mina B.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

A Paranormal Book Review: Jennifer Ashley’s Penelope & Prince Charming

For the next couple of weeks, I’m changing things up a tad and reviewing a few different types of paranormal books. For those that don’t know me, I’m also a lover of historical romance novels. To tally the amount of historical novels I’ve read just within the last year, would be obscene I assure you. Anyway, one of my favorite authors is best selling novelist, Jennifer Ashley. She’s an incredible writer with books in several genres including paranormal and historical romance.

Back in 2006, she launched The Nvengaria Series; a mystical series that takes place in historical England (early 1800’s).  Book 1, Penelope and Prince Charming, begins with Prince Damien accepting his birthright to take over his deceased father’s thrown and rule Nvengaria. But before he can do so, he must find his prophesized wife-to-be, Penelope Trask.

Prince Damien was use to women bowing to his every need until he met Penelope. For her, this foreign royal with his handsome features, charming wit and domineering presence was a bit too good to be true. And why on earth would he ever want her; a want-to-be-spinster? Damien came to Penelope professing love and spouting off prophecies and she thought he was crazy. But the one thing she couldn’t resist was the passion he ignited when he looked, spoke and kissed her. Damien was indeed her Prince Charming.

It all began with a prophecy to reunite two royal lines so that the country of Nvengaria, under Prince Damien’s rule, would thrive in peace and prosperity.  In order to succeed to his rightful place as ruler, he needs Penelope as his wife, by his side, entering into Nvengaria on the day of the country’s festival, a Midsummer’s Day. Since the deadline is quickly approaching, Prince Damien has to move fast. He’s not only racing against time, but also against his nemesis, Alexander the Duke.

Alexander uses magic, mystical creatures and assassins to derail Prince Damien’s journey to his homeland. With a fairy tale romance of a prophesized prince and princess sparring with a determined Duke, this historical/paranormal romance makes for some good reading.

On the Mina Burrows Killometer, I give Book 1 of the Jennifer Ashley’s Nvengaria series, Penelope and Prince Charming a 3 ½. If you like historical romance doused with mysticism, this charming tale is just for you.

Until next time…read something deliciously unique, read Jennifer Ashley.

Mina B.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

A Paranormal Book Review: Rachel Caine’s Glass Houses, Morganville Vampires

When I first heard about the YA series, Rachel Caine’s Glass Houses, Morganville Vampires,I wasn’t sure what to think about it. I always give books a try before I buy with my iKindle sample. And what a sample it was. Just a few short pages in and I was hooked. I guess for me the allure was the intensity at the beginning. Claire Danvers, a brilliant 16 year-old, graduates high school early to go off to a nearby college in a small town (Morganville, TX.) She encounters her first real taste of college life when she’s bullied and nearly killed by the campus mean girl – Monica- who ends up throwing Claire down the stairs. Poor thing. As a reader, you can’t help but feel bad for the girl.

That’s just the opening of the book. What I love best about this series is how dark and creepy it is. The kind of darkness you crave for when reading a vampire novel. Claire is naïve about life, let alone about vampires and now she doesn’t have place to live so she answers an ad for “room available”. And here is where she meets her cohorts: Michael, Eve and Shane.

The fearsome four some have a unique chemistry but Michael’s ghostly self is about the coolest thing I’ve read in a long time. Claire soon finds out about Michael’s mysterious presence and not too long after learns the entire town is run by vampires. As the rabbit hole deepens, humans are “protected” by certain vampires and in some creepy way, are kind of like slaves to the superior undead beings. When you’re an independent like Claire, you’re vulnerable and a target for the vampires. Being new, Claire has to pick a side and do it fast. And in town like Morganville, vampires are always jockeying for power, which makes for some killer storytelling on Caine’s part.

With 8 books total, this series is still hot. I’ve read 5 books within the series are they were riveting. I plan on reviewing the other 4 books, so check back for updated reviews. Caine takes a fresh and delicious approach to vampires which now have left me craving for more.  I promise, I cannot get enough of this series. My only complaint are the cliff hangers. Caine loves to suspend her fans, which pissed me off in most of her books. But, that didn’t stop me from reading at least 5 of her killer books. So what happened to reading books 6, 7 & 8? Simple: money. If anyone wants to let me borrow the last three, I’d be beyond grateful.

On the Mina Burrows KilloMeter I give Rachel Caine’s Glass Houses a 4.

Until next time…read something fangtastic, read the Morganville Vampire series.

Mina B.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Doing It Write – The Larissa’s Life Creative Writing Contest

A really cool contest is brewing over at Larissa’s Bookish Life – a paranormal romance book review site/blog. It’s a creative writing contest and has a few best selling paranormal authors involved. Authors like: Larissa Ione, Dakota Cassidy, Angie Frazier and Stella Price will be judging along with the site/blog's owner, Larissa.

Ever read a book and you wished it ended differently? I have. Well…now’s your chance. Rewrite an ending to a treasured or not so treasured book using no more than 1500 words. The deadline is June 14th and there are a slew of other contest rules. Check out Larissa’s blog for more information.

I personally will take a stab at it, if I have the time. I already know which book I’d like to rewrite and hope to throw something together over the weekend. Good luck to everyone participating. Better get your creative juices flowing and fast. I’m sure if you plan on entering…you’re gonna need all the creativity you can conjure.

Until next time…read, write and rewrite - but sometimes not in that order.

Mina B.