Sunday, July 31, 2011

Top 10 Fantasy

Fantasy is one of my little guilty reading pleasures.  I have asked a wonderful person I've met out here on the web who loves Fantasy as much as I to share in this post.  Blodeuedd at Book Girl of Mur-y-Castell.  She and I have found we share some great loves in Fantasy and Urban Fantasy books.  Blodeuedd gives me a fellow reader to brag about the amazing Fantasy reads I come across, and (I hope) likewise back to me.  We torment each other with different books.  And enjoy our bloody fantasy. ;)

So to start off I have Blodeuedd's list then mine...

Top 10 Fantasy Reads:
Now this is hard!! I love fantasy, it is my favorite genre and I read fantasy even before I knew what fantasy what. Then one day I realized what fantasy actually was and started reading David Edding’s books and never looked back. Now I will give you the best fantasy books I have read these last two years. And I will focus on epic fantasy and not count books that take place on earth, even if a changed earth.

1. The Eye of the world by Robert Jordan (The Wheel of Time 1)

This was a re-read since I love love, did I mention love ;) The Wheel of time series. I am also totally bias and would also put in his latest two books (12, 13) on the list but I will try not to. It is the kind of fantasy books that I can read over and over again.

2. The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson (The Stormlight archive 1)

This book is LONG, but good and it made me gasp and I sat on the edge of my seat. He is a worthy author to finish The wheel of time (see I mentioned it again ;)

3. The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by N.K.Jemisin (The Inheritance trilogy 1)

It’s not often (ok never) I like a fantasy book because of the language but here the prose was just beautiful and dreamlike. The story was different too.

4. Poison Study by Maria V.Snyder (Study #1)

A YA book made it to the list. I just loved this book but, here is the disappointing thing. Book 2 was meh and I hated book 3. Still book 1 has to be on the list. And I heart Valek.

5. Shadow’s Lure by Jon Sprunk (Shadow Saga #2)

Melissa brought this book to my attention (thank you!). It was light and dark and it kept me reading, I love being swept away.

6. The Way of Shadows by Brent Weeks (Night Angel #1)

This is actually one of the hardest books I have ever read. Sometimes I had to stop because I just could not read any more. It was depressing, sad and horrible. But it stayed true to a world dark by war.

7. A Darkness Forged in Fire by Chris Evans (Iron Elves #1)

This book was different again. They have muskets and cannons, it is military fantasy and it was a new subgenre to me. Still I enjoyed it a lot.

8. The Painted Man by Peter V. Brett (Demon cycle #1)

This book did have parts that I did not like, mostly the POV of one character, but the rest made up for it because this is one scary book. You have never seen demons like these.

9. Fire by Kristin Cashore (The Seven Kingdoms #2)

Another YA, and one that surprised me since I more or less hated her other book. But I liked it because of the world she had created. A woman who people want to have or want to kill.

10. Warprize by Elizabeth Vaughan (Chronicles of the Warlands#1)

Yes I know, I said epic fantasy but since I have YA here I will also put this fantasy romance on the list. I usually think fantasy romance and light fantasy are only ok, but this one I liked. Even with the excess romance and stuff.

Though if I had included books that are more or less fantasy, but taking place on this earth, like steampunk/alternative history kind of books rich in fantasy, then Cold Fire by Kate Elliott and The Greyfriar by Clay Griffith would have made it.

Thanks for having me over Melissa :D and letting me share some of my fav fantasy books.
Thank you Blodeuedd!  I have many of these books either on my stacks here to read, have read, or on the WANT list to get. ;) Thank you so much for the amazing list!  And so glad you enjoyed Shadow's Lure so. 

My Top 10 Fantasy Reads:
(This is another tough list for me to create.  So No particular order here as I loved them all and STRONGLY suggest you read all these series!)

Nyphron Rising by Michael J. Sullivan - Now, picking one book from this series is to much for me.  I had the hardest time picking.  This is one of my most favorite series going.  I love the thieves we have and the connections with other characters as the series goes forward.  And the underlining thread of conspiracy and what really is going on.  Amazing work!

Chasing the Bard by Philippa Ballantine - Aaaa, this is a take on William Shakespeare and the fey.  I LOVED it!  Wonderful story with the fey mixed in.  Really caught my attention so quickly taking me in with the characters.

Shadow's Lure by Jon Sprunk - I'm so glad Blodeuedd read this series and loved it thus far too.  Great take with a thief and some dark shadow abilities.

Antiphon by Ken Scholes - WOW!  This is just one of those series that will wow any Fantasy lover.  Great use of point of views and the story is soooo deep, yet easy to read.  You will be taken by the world, characters, and happenings in the plot.  Just a whole league of his own!

The Crowded Shadows by Celine Kiernan - This fantasy read is one a younger adult reader could read too.  But this was the one where I fell in love with the characters and what I learned of Christopher.  Wonderful fantasy world created here.

The Warded Man by Peter V. Brett - I loved the wards and how our character uses them! The night is trouble too.  Wonderful set up and story.

The Last Stormlord by Glenda Larke - Loved the world with lack of water and the importance of it.  Great story here and interesting world building.

Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss - Loved the wording!  Oh the story is wonderful, like getting two for one with the way it's told.  And the words flow poetically together.  Wonderful!

Geist by Philippa Ballantine - I'm a sucker for world and characters I think.  This world created here is all full of ruins used against the geist, ghosts.  Wonderful order to the system here!  This book could be one for paranormal lovers too.

Thief by Sarah-Jane Lehoux - A female thief trying to survive in a harsh world.  Wonderful story here with a character willing to push the limits, and one that will have to.  I love the chances taken here.

So, there are your top 10 from Blodeuedd and I.  Hope you enjoy them.  What are your top picks?

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Book Blog Chat (16)...Schedule

We have picked our next book for the Month of August.  If you have been following along with us we have been reading the Sirantha Jax series, so we are continuing on to Killbox.  We are hooked!

Hope you will join us in August!

Sirantha Jax #4
By: Ann Aguirre

Talk is cheap when lives are in jeopardy

Sirantha Jax is a “Jumper,” a woman who possesses the unique genetic makeup needed to navigate faster than light ships through grimspace. With no tolerance for political diplomacy, she quits her ambassador post so she can get back to saving the universe the way she does best—by mouthing off and kicking butt.

And her tactics are needed more than ever. Flesh-eating aliens are attacking stations on the outskirts of space, and for many people, the Conglomerate’s forces are arriving too late to serve and protect them.

Now, Jax must take matters into her own hands by recruiting a militia to defend the frontiers—out of the worst criminals, mercenaries, and raiders that ever traveled through grimspace…
The schedule:
Stop 1 ~ August 11, 2011 ~ pg 119 End of Ch 19
Stop 2 ~ August 18, 2011 ~ pg 233 End of Ch 36
Stop 3 ~ August 25, 2011 ~ End of book

Chatting on Books

One of the Posts I run here at My words and pages is shared with Robyn at The Bookoholic Zone.  We chat on one book a month.  We break it down into thirds, or sometimes a half.  But in doing this we chat on what we read.  We talk about the characters, plots, and happenings which leads us back to the first two.  We even speculate on where the story will go and why.  And anyone and everyone is welcome to join us on these chats!  We try to post a week to two weeks prior to let you know what book is next in the list.

I was so glad when Robyn and I started doing this as I really enjoy it.  I get to take a story I love and take it apart.  Not apart in a bad way, but a good way.  I like to see how the author built the story and the threads that lead to it.  To me this is part of the enjoyment of a book.  Seeing the foundation of it built then creating an amazing structure on top, a masterpiece so you could say.

I'm one who likes to savor a good thing too.  And in doing this I get to share with someone who too enjoys the great parts and can gosh over them.  But many times I find I miss interpreted something too, or even just one word, that could change a whole meaning.  So this brings me right back to the story and clarifies it for me.  But then you have different views on the same thing.  I get to see a new meaning to the parts I didn't take in.  And that is always interesting to me to see how different people take in different meanings.

To me it's all fun.  No harsh hashing of the book, just fun to take it all in.  I do hope you will think of joining us on these reads, or series we chat on.  Do you enjoy Chatting as you read?

And with mentioning Robyn, I asked her to join in with any thoughts she had on what we have started here.  Thank you Robyn for joining me! And for all the great chats we've had, and will have. :) 

And to Robyn...
I love doing the chats every week also. I love being able to analyze the books. You get more into the characters and the plot that way. You can really put yourself into the shoes of the characters.

One of my favorite parts of the discussions is when we have different views. You get to see what the other thinks and no one ever gets upset. We see each other's point of view. I always love it when we're on different teams for the main female character. It always makes for fun discussions. When the heroine ends up with her hero, no one gets upset or goes, haha, my man won.

I'm looking forward to the weeks ahead, especially as we continue the Jax series and Black London. I can't wait to see what happens to our favorite heroines and heroes.

Thank you Robyn!

So, what about you followers and friends?  Do you like to chat on your books?  Let us know.  And I hope you will check out the books we do chat on here. :) Thank you!

What do I post?

What do I do here?

I started looking back over the last two years just to see what all I have been posting.  I've done so many fun meme's and posts over the last two years I thought I would share what it is I post.

What all do I post?
Book Reviews ~ Of course there are my thoughts on the books I read.
Podcast Reviews ~ I've just started with one Podcast series and do look forward to getting into more of them as there are loads of wonderful ones out there.  But I've reviewed Tales from the Archives, based off the book A Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences: Phoenix Rising.
Book Cover Releases ~ If I catch wind of a book cover I love; either for an author I enjoy, series I love, or new series/book coming I'm interested in.  I love sharing these.
Furniture Reviews ~ Of course these are related to my books!  I always need new shelves and such to help around the house with the growing stacks.
Blog Book Club ~ This is one a book friend, Robyn at The Bookoholic Zone, and I share.  We chat about one book a month, together.  We rotate weeks between the discussions.  You are always welcome to join us!
Interviews ~ I was a little slow on the take for this one, and bashful.  But now I love doing interviews with authors.  If you are curious who I've interviewed you can go to my Authors Interview & Guest Post page.
Guest Posts ~ Again, I was a little shy on starting these, but I do enjoy posting Author guest posts.  If you are curious who I've had guest post, you can go to my Authors Interview & Guest Post page.
Conventions ~ I love sharing the conventions I go to.  Now I've only started to go this year, but they are sooooo much fun! :)

What meme's have I done?

Still posting them:
Monday's Beginnings ~ This is my meme.  I started doing this one and evolved it over the last two years.  It was a way for me to share what had happened here in the last week in my bookish world.  I also get to share what I've gotten in the mail or bought too.

Teaser Tuesdays ~ Hosted by MizB Should be Reading. I do still do this one as I love sharing just a short piece of what I'm reading with you out there. And you get a short tease of the book and writing.

Who? What? Where? ~ This one I started out as Who...WHere...WHAT? and knew it needed some adjusting.  So I quit doing it and then later came up with Who? What? Where?  And love the comments I get on it.  It's just a short description of who you are with, what you are doing, and where you are in your book.  Always fun to read these.

Throwback Thursday ~ This one I started because I keep collecting books I WANT and feel I need to read.  But as time speeds by I seem to not be able to get to them.  So I thought I would spotlight one book a week from my ever growing shelves to bring back into the light.  I enjoy this post, but feel guilty at the same time as I want to read all these books.

Looking Forward Too... ~ I love sharing what books I have on my Desired List or radar for the future.  This is a meme I do on Fridays to share them.  Just one book a week.

Flash Fiction Friday ~ This is hosted by Dottie at Tink's Place. She posts every Monday a picture in which we work on a short writing of 350 words to post on Friday.  My trouble... I seem to not be able to limit myself to 350 words.  I usually go over, some weeks not by much others... well... I have fun.  But I enjoy doing these sooooo much.

Not Currently Doing:
Favorite Fictional Character ~ This one is created and hosted by a fellow blogger that got me into blogging.  Yep, Ryan at Wordsmithonia.  This is always so much fun to do.  And I miss not doing them.  I use to pick any character; movies, tv shows, books, anything, and post a short blip on why I enjoyed the character.

Bladerdash ~ This one was just for the fun of it.  It was fun with the verification 'words' you had to type in with the posting of a comment.  It was just fun to create definitions and meanings for the 'words' created there.

It's Tuesday...Where are you? ~ This was a meme I did for a short while that spotlighted where you where in the world of books.  To give a small glimpse of where you where at.  Nice to share this with others too.

Book Blogger Hop ~ I've joined in a few of these and really enjoyed doing so.  And the wonderful people you meet.  I do need to get to doing it again, but time around here seems to be limited these days.

Oh, I'm sure I'll come up with more things in the future and probably stop with some I am doing now.  I might even go back to some of the old memes.  But this is all in fun.  A great way to have fun with the books I love. 

Hope you enjoy the posts and your visits here.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Giveaway #3 for 2 Year Celebration!

****Giveaway CLOSED****

I hope you enjoyed meeting and reading of Zara Lain in the short story Home by Skyla Dawn Cameron.  I LOVED reading this and reading Bloodlines, book #1 of Demons of Oblivion series and wanted to share this one with everyone.  Everyone who enjoys Urban Fantasy reads with action and fun should read this book.  So, I am excited to offer 1 copy of Bloodlines up for a giveaway!

I will be purchasing this book through Book Depository to be sent to you.  So if Book Depository ships to you, you can enter.  I think this will cover most of my International followers.  So, if Book Depository (or Amazon) Ships to you, You can enter!

Giveaway Ends:  August 5, 2011 11:59pm EST.  Winner will be announced August 8th (after my weekend of celebrations.)

Must be at least 18 to enter, an adult book.

What do you need to do?

+2 ~ Leave a comment here saying you want to enter.

Extra Entries?
+4 ~ Share the giveaway.  MUST LEAVE A LINK to verify.
Anywhere;  Blog, Post, Sidebar, Tweet:
     2 Yr Celebration fun with giveaways @MelLHay blog! 3rd up ~ BLOODLINES by Skyla Dawn Cameron.

+6 ~ Comment on the Short story post, Home by Skyla Dawn Cameron. (being it's a long post I'll give a few extra credits. But I think you will want to read it anyway. So much fun!)
+3 ~ Follow My words and pages with Google Friend Connect. (PLEASE leave your Follower Name) You are not required to follow to enter, but I would love the company.


Do keep in mind Skyla Dawn Cameron is starting a serial series with Zara Lain, August 1, 2011.

Book two of the series, Hunter, will be released August 30, 2011 from Mundania Press.

EXCLUSIVE! Zara Lain Short Story, By Skyla Dawn Cameron

If you looked over my Top 10 Urban Fantasy books you noticed a book there called Bloodlines by Skyla Dawn Cameron.  Well after much chatting with Skyla on many a thing, I consider her a very good friend.  And I asked her to guest post with Zara Lain, her main character in Bloodlines and my VBF (Vampire Best Friend).  And what I got was even better than I expected!  Yes.  Skyla wrote a short story of Zara and Nate for us.  What are you waiting for?  Read it!

I apologize in advance to Melissa and her readers—this was supposed to be an interview with my character and a chat about making friends, but just wasn’t gelling. And then it popped in my head suddenly: what better anniversary gift than some Zara/Nate lovin’? So here’s a short piece, just for you, Melissa. AND it still relates to friendship. Erm...yeah, sorta. ;-)

Note: It might make more sense if you’ve read Bloodlines (it takes place afterward), but I think you can follow along if you haven’t. Spoilage is minor.


Alchemy Red used to be a small pub that catered to supernatural types and sold occult black market items a few centuries earlier when my city was just a hamlet. Times changed, the building changed, but the name hadn’t; now it was a supernatural nightclub on the harbour that altered its look and feel every decade or so. Currently it was in a classy phase, but a week earlier they’d been replacing the mezzanine level stairs with something metal and industrial, so I knew “classy” was on its way out.

Still, I dressed the part; under my black wool coat was a sleek, scarlet cocktail dress with a plunging neckline and a modest hem that stopped just above the knee. Snow on the sidewalk muted the click of my strappy black high heels.

The night was blue and white, sky above navy velvet and ground with a thin layer of crisp snow. Spots of yellow from streetlights dotted the road and my shadow crept up as I passed under one. The temperature was below zero but it was warm enough for snow, which I figured was on its way yet again. I hadn’t been dreaming of a white Christmas—I’d been dreaming of one in the Caribbean that promised warm nights on the beach and a holiday with old acquaintances in the area. But my flight wasn’t until the following night and there was the proverbial unfinished business while I was still in town.

That’s what I called it, in my head. “Unfinished business.” It made me sound cool and collected, and not like the type of vampy girl who would bounce up and down, iPhone clutched to her chest, grinning like an idiot and singing, “He called, he called, he called.”

I’d never do such a thing. Ever. And not just because it was technically a text and not a call.

The bouncer at the door was more for show than anything; T.J. was six-five and bald, with shoulders of a linebacker on steroids, but otherwise entirely human. I flashed him a smile as I strolled up to Alchemy Red and he nodded. He tended to scare off the odd mortal who tried to get in without an invite so management threw him out front—rain, shine, or snow, apparently—to deter them with a glare. It rarely occurred to humans to worry about anything smaller than them.

Like Katee, who waited at the next set of doors inside.

I stepped past the threshold, warmth wrapping around me, and sauntered to the diminutive chick in a black pantsuit. Her dark eyes glittered, scanning me. She wasn’t totally human but I’d yet to figure out what else swam through her DNA.

She cocked a brow and stared at me.

I sighed and twisted the oversized buttons of my jacket to pop the coat open so she could see I wasn’t packing anything. “Seriously?”

Katee gave me the once over. “Rules haven’t changed in the past century, Lain. You pick a fight with one of our patrons, you go on the list.”

“It was just that one time.”

She met my gaze. “You stabbed him with a chair leg.”

I fought not to roll my eyes. People could be so touchy. “He had it coming.”

“Management had to replace the flooring from all the bloodstains.”

“But the renovations look much better than the original.”

Katee thrust her thumb over her shoulder to indicate I could pass. “How did you manage to get blood twenty feet across the room behind the bar?”

I splayed my hands as I backed through the set of double doors to the club and shrugged. “It’s why they pay me the big bucks.”

Jazzy folk pop played over the speakers, something artsy with a female vocalist who had a small range but was otherwise pleasant enough to listen to. I scanned the club; most patrons sat at the smattering of bistro tables tonight, the dance floor empty. The black couches along the walls were occupied, faces looking back at me familiar but not ones I sought. My stomach did a weird twisty thing when I didn’t see him initially, but I swallowed tightly and kept walking.

If he didn’t show, maybe I’d pick another bar fight for fun. Had to break my new shoes in somehow.

Lighting was subdued, much of it coming from floating candles in small glasses at the center of tables; everything overhead had been turned down low, giving the room a bit of a diffuse glow filter. I was getting warm under my thick coat but I hadn’t yet committed to taking it off, which would mean staying. Nearly a full trek of the perimeter and I’d yet to see a sexy warlock.

Might be time for Zara to go stabby stabby.

I reached the club’s split level, which was generally quieter and more intimate, with fewer patrons. Darker, too; a ceiling hung low, boxing it into its own little space in the corner of the club, under the stairs that led to the mezzanine.

My gaze settled on someone with his back to me.

Nathan O’Connor sat alone, arm resting on the table with something small, square, and flat in his hand that he tapped gently, turning over and over. His dark brown hair was shorter, about two inches above his shoulders now. I hadn’t expected that, but then it had been awhile. Seven months and thirteen days since we’d strolled up to that mansion and kicked the ass of Carolina Sousa, the Brazilian witch who’d been the source of all our problems. Seven months and eleven days since he, Heaven, Peter and I had parted ways to clean up after the witch’s destruction—since I’d last seen Nate.

Not that I had counted.

There was a flutter in my belly, something I was unaccustomed to. I steeled my spine and took the three steps up.

He didn’t turn as I approached but the air felt charged, full of expectancy, and tension creeping up as if it had never left us. I rounded the table, heels clacking on the lovely flooring Alchemy Red never would’ve had without my violence, and paused.

Very blue eyes looked up at me and a smile played on his lips. “You’re late.”

Looking at him felt a little like coming home...while simultaneously standing on the top of a skyscraper, wind whipping my hair, toes tipping over the edge as I was about to plummet onto concrete a hundred stories below.

It’s complicated with boys sometimes.

I cleared my throat. “I was held up at the door.” A roll of my shoulders and the jacket slipped off, sliding down my arms to be collected in my hands before it fell all the way. I was so glad I wore a cute dress, even though he still—irritatingly—held my gaze instead of checking out the scenery.

Nate’s hand had stilled on the table, whatever he’d been flipping flat and hidden under his palm. I hung my coat on the back of the chair and dropped to sit, swinging one long leg over the other once I’d settled.

That stupid fluttering in my stomach hadn’t abated. Was this what human teenagers felt like? It was a wonder they didn’t all go on homicidal rampages constantly.

"So you didn’t mind the change of venue?” I glanced around the private area where we were basically alone. “This as opposed to coffee?”

He gave a slight nod. “It’s...fine.” His lips parted again as if words hung there, waiting to be spoken, but he closed his mouth once more.

That might be the story of the night—I had an awful lot to say and none of it seemed like a good idea. That feeling of being on top of a building, looking down and about to fall, had my heart stuttering again. Awkward silence picked up. This wasn’t a restaurant where a waiter would come and ask for our orders—it was up to us to get drinks from the bar. No respite.

Ah, fuck. I’d never in my life—not once—held my tongue. I could do subterfuge when it didn’t matter.

This mattered. Nate mattered.

“What’s not fine about it?” I smiled pleasantly and gave my eyelashes a bat.

His mouth opened and he took in a breath before speaking. My gaze honed in on his lips because I’m shallow like that and I’d been thinking about them for months.

“I first met Mishka here.”

Shit. Great, way to leap back to where we were eight months ago.

I was about to snark back, then I gazed over him again. Nothing had changed in his expression—no pain, no anger. “Oh my god, are you actually not brooding?”

He rolled his eyes. “It’s been eight months.”

Seven and eighteen days since her death. Not that I’m counting.

I leaned back in my chair. “I don’t know if I can get used to this new, non-broody you.”

“I won’t be breaking into song and dance any time soon if that’s what you’re worried about it.”

Oh, I’d missed him. Few people kept up with me verbally. Or physically. And we’d once had a discussion that left me wondering—in incredibly vivid detail—how we’d fare in bed as well.

“Good. I left my Bollywood backup dancers at home.”

He nodded, deadpanning. “Everyone needs a night off.”

“Yes, and I’d rather they not decide to form a union.”

Silence. Again. Air pressed down on me, thickening. I shivered, shifting in my seat. Pity I couldn’t get drunk—while Alchemy Red stocked enough liquor to get my kind plastered and I could afford it, I didn’t think spending the next hour sucking vodka out of a bottle with a straw would be the most effective use of my time. I knew what to do when I was chasing him. I knew how to seduce men. But he’d texted me out of the blue—I didn’t even know he had my new number—and now here we were, staring at one another, him smiling slightly, and I couldn’t remember a time I’d ever felt this stupid.

Not running for our lives apparently made for awkward conversation.

I took another leap. “So, eight months, as you said. What made you call?”

His smile widened and hand flickered as he picked up whatever he’d been playing with before I arrived. I recognized it immediately; the red curtains in the background, my naked torso with a hand up to cover some of my naughty bits, and the words, “This holiday season, I’d rather go naked than wear fur.”

Ah. My Christmas card.

He cleared his throat and face seemed to fight to keep a neutral expression. “I thought you didn’t exchange Christmas cards?”

“I don’t, normally, but VETA gave me extra freebies this year ’cause of the photo shoot.”

“Peter has his framed.”

I grinned. I knew, of course—he posted a photo of it and shared it with me on G+. “I’m trying to get him a poster. Now, Mr. O’Connor, if I’d know that’s all it would take to get you to call, I would’ve sent you naked pictures of myself awhile ago.”

He tapped the card on the table. “You told me, on numerous occasions, that we weren’t friends—”

I rolled my eyes, leaned back in my chair, and crossed my arms. Here we go.

“—and that there would be no going out for coffee, no exchanging Christmas cards, et cetera.”

“I know I always make a big point of saying how irrelevant relationships are in the grand scheme of things and that I only care about me, but you should realize by now that I’m basically all talk sometimes.”

I blinked. A vice clenched my chest, squeezing, squeezing, and dread sunk in my gut—fucking déjà vu.

Nate stared at me, apparently noticing nothing.

Get it together.

"And you didn’t think to call and let me know that?” he continued. “Peter gave you my address—he could’ve given you my number.”

God, we were bickering like a human couple. I...actually kinda liked it. “You needed sufficient brooding—I mean grieving time, I imagined...” My voice trailed off as someone strolled up to our table and I glanced up. For fuck’s sake

He wore black, as hired thugs were prone to do, and I guessed he’d come into Alchemy Red with more weaponry than I’d’ve been allowed. He held himself straight-backed and tensed, dead serious, and I didn’t think I’d be distracting him with sudden witty repartee.

“Zara Lain?” the third wheel said in a gravelly voice. His dark eyes were emotionless as he stared down at me.

Nate tapped the naked-me card again. “Who did you kill this time?”

“Oh, you know me—it could be anybody.” I shifted my attention to the thug. “Look, I’m on a first date here. He’s not gonna want to see me again if this gets bloody.”

He didn’t budge. Whoever I’d pissed off this time had paid him big bucks to totally ignore my reputation and pick a fight with me. “Please step outside.”

Ah, the wacky life assassin Zara Lain. I sighed and glanced at Nate. “If you like that Christmas card, hold onto it.”

His fingers locked on the card and he moved his arm off the table.

My hands wrapped around the table’s edge and I sighed dramatically, shifting as if to rise—then I twisted, hauling the table up, whipping it in the direction of the thug. It cracked him hard, striking his torso before his arms could come up in defence. The glass with the floating candle spun off the tabletop, whirling through the air to splatter across his face, white wax and water dripping.

On my feet now, I gave the small bistro table another swing and smacked his head this time. The thug stumbled back.

Why I hadn’t picked a dress with a longer slit, I’d never know, but I couldn’t kick or do much of anything without destroying the thing, and if it was going to be ripped off me for any reason that evening, it would not be to fight some goon. I locked my grip on my chair, letting my coat drop, and swung it into my opponent; his head snapped to the side, blood spraying artfully in the air to splatter on the wall and floor.

If they cleaned it up quickly, it wouldn’t stain—and really, it wasn’t enough to justify redoing the floors again. No one should be too mad.

I dropped the chair and grabbed my jacket. Alchemy Red had erupted into screams, like a bunch of bloodsuckers and half demons hadn’t seen a fucking fight before. Chairs squealed on floors and fangs flashed, everyone ready to get in on the action. Nate was already moving, slipping his coat on as he ran down the steps with me at his heels, and we darted into the ensuing chaos of supernatural freak out.

“See, the coffee place would’ve sucked way more to get cornered in,” I said as I stuffed my arms into my coat.

Feet scraped on the floor behind me; Nate’s arm coiled around my waist and he dragged me down just as a shot rang out. He yanked me under a table while people scattered around us, legs and feet shuffling back and forth.

Noise had moved to a whole new level, shrieks clawing at my brain, but I still caught Nate’s voice over the din. “Because this is working out so well for us.”

I swiped long black hair from my eyes and peeked around the throng between us and the gunman. “Teleport?”

“No nearby location marked.”

“Jeez, it’s like eight months made you forget all about what being in my presence entailed. Didja bring a gun?”

“Generally my dates don’t require firearms.”

“You clearly see the wrong kinds of girls. Guess I’ll throw another table at him.” I grabbed the legs of the cute black bistro table hiding us and stood. With decent aim, I heaved it over the crowd and it struck my assailant’s shoulder.

I missed whether he went down or not—Nate had my wrist and was weaving us through the horde, around someone bleeding, past someone else swinging a broken beer bottle, and up to the doors leading to the outer hallway.

Katee stood there, sweat dotting her brow, and I guessed she’d already thrown a few people out. Her gaze settled on me. “What the fuck is your problem?”

“Well, if you let me bring my guns, I wouldn’t have to throw your furniture at people. Have management bill me.”

Nate tugged me past Katee and she didn’t object—she was probably glad to see me go. We burst through the last doors, outside into the chill night air.

Snow drifted down, settling on the shoulders of half a dozen more thugs waiting for me.

“You sure know how to show a guy a good time.” My warlock companion studied our new opponents.

Any sane person would’ve been freaked out, but then I was neither sane nor a person. I was a mildly sociopathic vampire who delighted in killing people dumb enough to attack her. Even if I hadn’t been, though, I couldn’t think of a single place I’d rather be. Nate was at my side, and even if the people before us were a threat to me—and they weren’t—together we’d be more of a match for them.

“I hope these heels hold up,” I said with a sigh, shifting and readying for a fight that would probably ruin my dress. “I don’t want to walk home barefoot.”

Nate’s arm snaked around my waist, his heat warming me even though the layers of our coats. A whisper from him and the snow...stopped.

I blinked.

The expressions of our assailants were stony and frozen, not a single breath raising their chests. Air took on a hazy quality, thick and swirly, magic crackling in the atmosphere and sending prickles up my spine.

Fuck, I loved warlocks. Um, when I didn’t have to go up against one in a fight.

I gazed around in wonder. “That is my favourite trick in your arsenal. Well, so far.”

Our steps were silent as Nate began walking and I followed, the pair of us arm in arm as we wove around the goons sent to wait for me. White snow hung motionless in the air, brushing over my skin like a breeze as we stepped through it. I leaned into him, fitting snugly under his arm.

“Zara,” Nate said softly.

I was gawking at a car frozen on the road, snow hanging mid-air after shooting from under its tires. So fucking cool—I had to take back that thing I said once about witches not being impressive. “Uh huh?”

“I’m in love with you, you know.”

A happy little flutter tickled my stomach again. I let his words hang there, savouring them, warming me inside and out. “Yeah, I know.”

His arm tightened around me. “But if you marry me then hire a demon to kill me as a sacrifice to unleash your own demonic power, I won’t be too forgiving.”

Déjà vu clawed at me again, digging in. I shivered and shook my head, trying to clear my brain, but it remained. The dread got heavier, sinking in me enough that I might’ve crumpled to my knees if not for Nate’s arm around me.

I swallowed dryly and pushed back at everything, fought to keep my voice light. “I suppose that sounds reasonable.”

We walked in silence and I stopped gaping at the timeless dimension he’d temporary placed us in to look at up at him—to study that profile of straight, chiselled features, kissable lips, and beautiful eyes that I’d missed so, so much. I had that feeling then, again, of standing on a building, ready to fall—the feeling that if I spoke, if I confessed, I’d plummet and possibly not make it out alive.

But I still felt like I’d come home. “Nate, I’m in love with you too, you know.”

He met my gaze. Grinned. At some point we’d stopped walking and he was facing me, fingers trailing my cheek. My lips trembled and I held onto him, clutching with both hands, terrified of what would happen if I let go.

Nate leaned in and whispered, “I know.”


I opened my eyes.

My bedroom was dark and cold. Quiet. Though I had special blinds in place, sealing the loft’s windows to all light, I sensed the night outside. My fingers twitched, for a fleeting moment wanting to reach out—to pretend there was someone there, breathing next to me.

But I knew. Even in the dream, I knew.

The dread had followed me into wakefulness, twisting in my stomach like I might be sick. I was tired. So damn tired. And I had to get up and pack, with a flight to catch to Europe—a not-so-gentle man named Martin LaCroix needed to be killed and it was going to be a long term job that had me out of the country for at least a few weeks.

My flight was a private one, though. It could wait.

For now I closed my eyes again and held onto that waning sense of home. For a second I felt the snow on my face, tasted fresh air, was warmed by body heat not my own.

And then it faded as it always did and I was alone.

(Zara's Christmas card mentioned in above story)

© 2011 Skyla Dawn Cameron

Home is exclusively available at My words and pages, and may not be copied or reproduced.

Special thanks to Adrienne Jones for proofreading.

Are you curious about the books?  Want to read more?
You can find them at:

Or At Mundania Press with the short stories present in the back of the eBook.

Flash Fiction Friday (16)

Dottie over at Tink's Place have come up with the idea for a Monday Morning Flash Fiction challenge. Each Monday a new picture prompt will be posted and if you choose to participate you post your story on Friday - 350 words, give or take.

I have to thank Blodeuedd at Book Girl of Mur-y-Castell for introducing me to this fun meme. I don't know if I'll be able to keep up with every week, but I'll give it a try from time to time.

The Image This Week:

This story picks up where the Bloody Queen left off last week.
The previous parts are:

By:  Melissa

My mind rises from the foggy slumber it's been lost in. My eyes start to peel open. Realization settles like boulders in the river, hard and fast. My hands fling to my sides pushing down on the hard bed I'm lying in. Readying to leverage myself up into a sprint for my safety.

But I hear a deep caressing voice, "No need to run. You are safe here."

I turn and see a long chiseled man sitting legs crossed looking down at his legs, almost lost in a meditation.

I sit up, checking to make sure my body will react with quick timing when I'm ready to go. I shift my back bone ever slightly, looking like I'm stretching from lying on this hard earthen bed, but really checking to make sure my family gift is still present and not taken from me while I slept. I feel the sheathing, and a slight curl more, there. There is the handle of my blade. So they didn't find it.

The man lifts his long lean face to look at me, his hair clumped together in small pony tails and braids. He has to be a refugee, no rebel. A rebel with Magicians at their aid and calling. Not a good combination. Very dangerous combination. I'll have to remember to mention this to my husband and search them out when I have removed the current threat of my sister.

But his face is so calm, looking at me with those large dark eyes. His thin mouth slightly curls at the sides. And a well defined jaw line, but thin that flows into a long neck. No scars. His bare chest has no scars, but chiseled as he have been working hard lifting and carrying on the farms.

He chuckles and my eyes return to his. There is a sparkle there. Then, through the thin lips he says, "You don't remember me, do you? All's well as that was years ago. Much has changed since then."

"LaAron? It can't be." My eyes look for his thumb.

"Aahh, you do remember then. Yes, it still bleeds." He lifts his right hand looking to it, showing a small bead of blood slowly welling on his thumb. "No one I've come across can lift the curse."

That explains the lack of scars even a scratch on the bare parts of his body.  I remember all to fond the day he got the one wound that now bleeds eternally.  He must have found someone to slow the bleeding enough to live with, but will never stop.

"But.. You... What is going on here?" Now starting to feel annoyed and anxious I need to get moving and finish what I started in motion.

"To the punch then. You always were one to be direct even as a child. Have you learned to play the political games yet? Hm, no need to answer. Your plan's not as secret as you thought. She was waiting for you."

"So you'll have me believe you saved me. What do you want with me?" Irritation starting to well in my chest, as I scan the little hut we are in.

"He's not my king. Eh. Before you say it, I don't care you're married to him. He doesn't rule here and never will. You do, as eldest and only child to King Raul. And there is much more at play here than you think with your sister."

I put my hands on my knees. I just questioned these thoughts myself not so long ago. My father and his ways, my sister, my husband. Hell even myself. Who's the enemy here? Now I'm in the rebels' camp. Just another piece to the growing puzzle, where no pieces fit together.

Blog Book Chat (15) Final Stop!

We have come to the end of Doubleblind by Ann Aguirre.  What an encounter that was!
I do hope everyone will join in with us chatting about Doubleblind and speculating what will happen in the next book.  (which we are going to have to sneak in here very soon.)

So, lets get started with this chat!  Robyn and I have started with a few questions to get the ball rolling...

Robyn's Questions:
1.)  Jael.  Do you think we have seen the last of him?
2.)  What do you think will become of the bugs?  Will they be trouble in the future?
3.)  We saw a tiny fight between Vel and March.  was this just the beginning when it comes to Jax's safety?
4.)  What's in store for the gang in the upcoming books:

Melissa's Questions:
1.)  Do you think Jael shared information over the bugs and their culture with the Syndicate or anyone else?
2.)  Will the war that is underway in space undo March?
3.)  Do you think the Bugs will figure out the switch?
4.)  What's in store for the universe?

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Giveaway #2 for 2 Year Celebration!

****Giveaway CLOSED****

So many people have been praising with delight about this book, and I have two copies here.  One for me and one for you!

I was hoping to read and review this book before this celebration, but time has run out on me.  But I still have to share this book as it's by an amazing author I have enjoyed many books from.  Yes, Ann Aguirre again. :)

I have a Hardcover copy of Enclave (Razorland #1) available for you!

And once again as I'm grateful to all my followers close and a far, this giveaway will be open INTERNATIONAL.  (it's going to be one expensive trip to the post office for me when this is all said and done.)

Giveaway Ends:  August 5, 2011 11:59pm EST.  Winner will be announced August 8th (after my weekend of celebrations.)

Must be at least 13 to enter.  This is a YA book.

What do you need to do?

+2 ~ Leave a comment here saying you want to enter.

Extra Entries?
+4 ~ Share the giveaway.  MUST LEAVE A LINK to verify.
Anywhere;  Blog, Post, Sidebar, Tweet
     2 Yr Celebration fun with giveaways @MelLHay blog! 2nd up ~ ENCLAVE by Ann Aguirre

+4 ~ Comment on the Top Ten Young Adult Post.
+3 ~ Follow My words and pages with Google Friend Connect. (PLEASE leave your Follower Name) You are not required to follow to enter, but I would love the company.

Top 10 Young Adult Reads

I have been getting into more and more Young Adult reads lately, more so this year than previous ones, and loving them.  Not that I didn't enjoy YA books before, but I seemed to be stuck in a particular groove of books for a while.  And this year so many amazing YA books have been released.  I've acquired so many TO read.  So one of the Top 10 lists is Young Adult books.

I'm so glad a friend book blogger has agreed to join in the fun of sharing her top 10 with us.  And in doing this, I get a glimpse of additional books on her shelves... which I need to go visit... I'm thrilled to first turn the post over to Melissa from Books & Things to share her Top 10 YA Reads.  Take it away Melissa...

Melissa's Top 10 YA Reads:
I'd like to thank Melissa (GREAT name, btw) for inviting me here to talk a bit about my favorite YA books.  I have to admit that I do have YA books on my tbr waiting to be read (like the Hunger Games, rest of the Shiver series… etc) so this is by no means a complete list just because of that.  However, I looked back into what I had reviewed in the past 2 years and this is the list I came up with. In no particular order:

Blood Red Road by Moira Young. Oh this one took me by surprise. I think it is so far one of the best YA books I have read it a while. It has a bit of everything. Adventure, romance, kick-ass heroine. I just loved it. It did take a bit to get used to the narrative style as well as the language, but after that it was a brilly book.

Tyger Tyger by Kersten Hamilton. Both Melissa and I enjoyed this book (look for her review here). It was several types of fae stories melded into one great adventure. Again, the heroine was smart and at the center to a great mystery. The sequel is coming out this year. I can't wait!!

The Silver Phoenix by Cindy Pon. This was a book I won and didn't know much about. The hard back cover is beautiful (not as much as the paperback) and it is a story of a young girl who escapes her fate of marriage to a bad man and goes on a mythical journey. I just loved it. I also loved that it was set in a culture not often seen in YA.

Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys. This is a book I hope gets banned. Why? Because it is an important book for YA and adults alike and usually important books like this get banned. ;) It is a story about what happened to a Lithuanian families under Soviet rule. Not many know about this story that really happened. Ruta brings this story to life through the heroine's eyes that we follow. It's a must read.

The Iron Fae Series by Julie Kagawa. Oh I just loved this whole series. I felt that the books got better and better as we went along with the story. Oh and I know people took sides of either Team Ash or Team Puck (if you don't know what I'm talking about get this series… another must!), however, I am total Team Grim! ;D Oh and don't forget to check out Melissa's reviews here on these books!

Luminous by Dawn Metcalf. I really enjoyed the world that was created in this book. It was confusing, but the world was supposed to be that way. So, in this rare case it made total sense. I also loved the introduction to Dia de Los Muertos.

Hold Me Closer Necromancer by Lish McBride. Hey! Finally a male protagonist! This one was also very funny and also for older teens. This one had a lot of snark and I just loved snark. Usually the female gets that coveted role, but in this book… it was mostly the males that got that honor.

Virals by Kathy Reichs. The author of the Bones series on tv and the series books. This is the introduction to her YA series and I just loved the first book. Great adventure and characters. I hope that her next book coming up this year even rocks more.

Firelight by Sophie Jordan. You don't get many dragon books in YA so I was interested immediately. Not all questions were answered in the first book and I can't wait for the next book, Vanish, which I cannot wait to read. I have a feeling those that I will understand so much more about this world in this series.

Glimmerglass by Jenna Black. The fae, a young feisty heroine was the fun part, but what made me love this book was the alcoholic mother. Not that I loved her character but that it brought up such an important subject within this YA novel. I think it was done so well.

Now of course I feel like this list is so incomplete. I wanted to showcase books
that were known and books that may have slipped the radar. I have a lot on my
personal tbr I have yet to read so I may be adding to this list in the near future.

Oh, Melissa.  You have just reminded me of soooo many great books I want to get to. *sigh* You are tormenting me once again with amazing books I do desperately need.  Did you mention your books shelves... hmm.... I think it's time for a road trip!

My Top 5 YA Reads:

(again as it's so hard to pick, there is no particular order to my list.  And since I've just started getting really into YA reads, I'm limiting my list to 5.)

Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins - This really is one trilogy that should be read.  I enjoyed this one as it puts a new spin on the Hunger Games and the Distracts too.

Tyger Tyger by Kersten Hamilton - This one won me over as I loved the celtic folklore feel to the story and the time spent on the journey.  Great characters and world.

City of Bones by Cassandra Claire - Aaaa, this one I started not knowing if I would love like everyone else.  And boy, did Cassandra sucker punch me.  I was sucked right into this wonderful world of Shadowhunters and demons and loved it.

City of Glass by Cassandra Claire - This one is my favorite of the beginning trilogy.  I love all the action and movement here along with the protective wards used by the Shadow hunters.

Iron Queen by Julie Kagawa - To me this was the best book of this beginning trilogy.  Wonderful!  Meghan has grown so much to this point.  And wonderful action here.

Do you have any to add to my stack?  I have many here, but always looking to add more to the stacks. :)  What do you think?

Guest Post on Evil Writers

As part of the celebrations this week, I was asked to guest post over at Evil League of Evil Writers.

And the topic... Evil Writers from Readers Perspective.

he he he...  Are you curious now?

Come stop by and see what I had to say on what makes Authors soooo devilishly Evil for us Readers.  I do hope you say hello and share your thoughts on what makes an amazing writer so Evil. ;)

Throwback Thursday (26)

Let's talk about those books already on the shelves, yours or the stores.

I have a post for books I'm looking forward to coming out;

Looking Forward To...
But what about all those wonderful books that are ALREADY on the shelves.

Whether it be on your shelf waiting to be read or on the shelves in the stores waiting for you to give it a good home.

So, I thought I would share a book a week that is just waiting for me to travel through it's world.

Now... where do I start? Lets go by Published Date on the books...

This Week:

This is a book I have had for a while and ashamed to say I have not read it yet.  I really liked the premises here in this fantasy world created and really want to get to it.  But the life long story of time keeps taking over.

Goodreads Synopsis:
The city states of the Lowlands have lived in peace for decades, bastions of civilization, prosperity and sophistication, protected by treaties, trade and a belief in the reasonable nature of their neighbours.

But meanwhile, in far-off corners, the Wasp Empire has been devouring city after city with its highly trained armies, its machines, it killing Art . . . And now its hunger for conquest and war has become insatiable.

Only the ageing Stenwold Maker, spymaster, artificer and statesman, can see that the long days of peace are over. It falls upon his shoulders to open the eyes of his people, before a black-and-gold tide sweeps down over the Lowlands and burns away everything in its path.

But first he must stop himself from becoming the Empire's latest victim.