Friday, November 29, 2013

Book review: Moonless by Crystal Collier

Hey guys, I guess I should totally start out by introducing myself. I'm Heather, Sharon The Awesome's assistant. As well as keeping her on top of All The Things in the lead up to Sleeper's release, I also do any reviews she needs me to. With that said, here is my first. Moonless, by Crystal Collier.

MOONLESS is Jane Eyre meets Supernatural.

In the English society of 1768 where women are bred to marry, unattractive Alexia, just sixteen, believes she will end up alone. But on the county doorstep of a neighbor’s estate, she meets a man straight out of her nightmares, one whose blue eyes threaten to consume her whole world—especially later when she discovers him standing over her murdered host in the middle of the night. 

Among the many things to change for her that evening are: her physical appearance—from ghastly to breathtaking, an epidemic of night terrors predicting the future, and the blue-eyed man’s unexpected infusion into her life. Not only do his appearances precede tragedies, but they are echoed by the arrival of ravenous, black-robed wraiths on moonless nights.

Unable to decide whether he is one of these monsters or protecting her from them, she uncovers what her father has been concealing: truths about her own identity, about the blue-eyed man, and about love. After an attack close to home, Alexia realizes she cannot keep one foot in her old life and one in this new world. To protect her family she must either be sold into a loveless marriage, or escape with the man of her dreams and risk becoming one of the Soulless.

- Blurb from Goodreads

Let me first start off by saying I’m not the intended audience for this book. I don’t read a lot of books set in ‘ye olde times’ but with that said, I really enjoyed it.

Moonless finds Alexis going through a pretty unstable time in her life. She’s just become old enough to be married off, keeps having some pretty disturbing dreams about the future, and is being practically stalked by a blue-eyed hottie.

Great start to a book.

What I really liked about Moonless was it kept you wanting more. There was so much suspicion and unanswered questions right from the start that as soon as a question was half-answered, another one would pop up to say howdy.

Collier weaved interest and intrigue right from the beginning and it wasn’t until the very end that she gave you all the pieces. I love books that keep you guessing and this was one of them.

On top of the mystery, there were two really great characters that stood out. The first was Alexis’ sister-aunt Sarah. She was flirty, and vivacious, and fun in a time when woman really weren’t supposed to be. I could totally picture her going without stockings for a day, or waving her bloomers out the bedroom window, just so people knew she was home. We could totally be friends.

Then there was Bellezza. I think I fell in love with her as soon as she was introduced. She is cray-cray to the maximus and if Crystal wrote a book about her I’d be the first to buy it, no matter when it was set. If you love a character who would burn down your house and paint her face with your blood – here she is. She’d even do it with a smile.

Now, despite all that, I did find Moonless hard to get into. I couldn’t figure it out at first and it took me a few chapters in to work out what had me so confused. There’d be certain scenes were Alexis would mention one person and then use the pronoun for another. This seemed really odd to me until I worked out why. During the first half of the book, Alexis doesn’t know Kiren’s name so she just refers to him as ‘He’. And once I worked that out, everything became so much clearer.

Lastly, if you’re worried about a lack of swoon (which I totally was) because of the setting you don’t even need to worry. Kiren brought swoon to the table and made it his bitch.

If you love books with mystery, swoon, a character that grows into herself, and some pretty awesome creatures, Moonless is definitely for you. (Just remember what I said about those first few chapters).

Luuuuuurve, Heather.

Coastal magic Secret Santa Contest!

SecretSantaContestHeader2 copy 

Merry Christmas and happy holidays, my lovely reader friends!! Now that Thanksgiving has passed (and while we're all trying to fit back into our clothes after yesterday's dinner) it's time to start passing out presents!!! Ok, maybe not ALL the presents, but how about some virtual "Secret Santa" presents to our favorite characters in the urban fantasy and paranormal romance world, and some very real convention registrations for two of YOU!!

That's right. One blog hop commenter will win free registration to the 2014 Coastal Magic Convention in Daytona Beach, Florida, in February. A second winner will win registration to the 2015 event!! This is a weekend full of fun panels, meet & greets and face time with some of your favorite authors in the UF/PNR genre. Over 50 authors will be featured, and you'll be surrounded by fellow book lovers.

A few of the participating blog hosts are Featured Bloggers for the Coastal Magic Convention, and a few are Featured Authors. Be sure to ask them questions or leave them comments about the con if you're curious about it, or if you're planning to attend. They'll be thrilled to hear from you!! To find a list of confirmed Featured Authors and other information about Coastal Magic, be sure to check out the website.


In addition to the two overall, grand prize winners... some of the blogs will be featuring individual prizes, so keep an eye out for those as you're checking out the other stops on the hop!! Here's how to enter:

1 - The ENTIRE urban fantasy and paranormal romance world is yours to choose from. Imagine every name in a giant Santa hat... whose name do YOU pick?? List that person's name, what book they're from, and what gift you would give them in the comments section of this blog.
2 - Click on the Rafflecopter link and complete the entry tasks you'd like to participate in. The ONLY mandatory entry is your "secret santa" comment, but there are a few other ways to get extra entries. (just a few, I promise :-) )
3 - Visit other blogs on the list between today and December 6th to play again!

So... easy peasy, right?!? I'm excited to see who each of you chooses!!!

GOOD LUCK, everyone!! Let the season of giving begin!!

 Participating Blogs:
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Thursday, November 28, 2013

A Writer Gives Thanks

A writer’s life is not for everyone.

There is something about that blink, blink, blink cursor on an empty page that could drive a person to the brink of insanity. There is rejection at every step.. There are days when notes from a CP appear in the inbox and suck the wind from sails. There is the lure of six seasons stacked up on Netflix and closets that need organizing and a million other ways to procrastinate a writing session away. There is rejection. Did I mention that already?

BUT… today is Thanksgiving, so instead I’d like to talk about everything that makes me grateful to be a writer.

That blink, blink, blinking cursor. It is possibility. It is imagination unleashed. It is a playground with an extra twisty slide and a zip line. It is sheer fun and limitless possibilities. I am most grateful for this.

I am grateful for tough notes from critique partners, beta readers, my agent, and my editor. The time they put into those notes means they believe in my story and in making it better. It means they are invested right alongside me.

Well, there’s no way to sugarcoat rejection. Or is there? Helpful rejections make you stronger, make your focus tighter, show you ways to improve, make your stories better. Sometimes something might look like a rejection, but is really a redirection and a door opening elsewhere.  I am grateful for those.

I am grateful for the kidlit community we all share. I may spend my days in pajamas (forget what I said earlier- I believe I am most grateful for THIS!) staring at a monitor, but I love venturing out of the house if it means meeting up with kidlit types. This year I loved seeing and making friends at the NE-SCBWI conference, BEA, the Boston Book Festival, an NCTE conference tweet-up, as well as numerous book launches and my two monthly writer groups. Knowing this community is out there, sharing in success and hugging out those rejections warms my heart more than pumpkin pie and hot cocoa.

I hope you’ll take a few minutes this Thanksgiving to thank your muse, your critique partner, your agent, your readers, or your fellow bloggers and just revel in the fact that we’re pretty darn lucky. At the very least, it beats having any of these jobs!

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Coastal Magic Con Spotlight: Ciara Knight

Coastal Magic Con is an awesome weekend celebrating paranormal romance and urban fantasy in Daytona in February! Today, I'm featuring one of the featured guests, MR Merrick.

Ciara Knight writes to ‘Defy the Dark’ with her young adult speculative fiction books. Her most recent Amazon best-seller, Escapement, book I of The Neuamrian Chronicles, released to acclaimed reviews securing a Night Owl Top Pick and five stars from InD’Tale Magazine.

Her first love, besides her family, reading and writing, is travel. She’s backpacked through Europe, visited orphanages in China, and landed in a helicopter on a glacier in Alaska.

Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Pinterest | Blog

YAtopia: Do you have any weird writing habits?

I do my best writing after a morning work out, coffee and some quiet time on my back porch.

YAtopia: Name three books you think everyone should read.

A Voice in the Wind by Francine Rivers
One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich by Alexander Solzhenitsyn
Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card (Yes, it's been made into a movie now)  :)

YAtopia: Which one of your characters has the most of you in him/her?

Raeth, for sure.  I had challenges when I was young and fought hard to overcome them. Writing about Raeth in Weighted, the prequel to The Neumarian Chronicles, I tapped into that self-conscious child that was teased for a speech impediment. I think that's why I've received so much email about her. Sometimes when an author bleeds on paper it produces the most heart wrenching moments to a reader.

YAtopia: If you could only give aspiring writers one piece of advice, what would it be?

Enjoy the journey and try not to take things too seriously. I've seen too many writers melt over a bad review or a rejection. Learn from it and focus on the next challenge ahead.

YAtopia: What's next for you? What are you working on now?

I'm working on the final installment of The Neumarian Chronicles, writing my next young adult series about a dragon shifter and I'm also releasing four contemporary romance novels based on a Tennessee small town in Sweet Water County. Book I, Winter in Sweet Water County will be out in January, followed by Spring in Sweet Water County, Summer in Sweet Water County and Fall in Sweet Water County. The next year will have a holiday theme.

YAtopia: Thanks for stopping by today! 

Do you love urban fantasy and paranormal books? Check out Coastal Magic Con!  

Haunting memories.
Terrifying dreams.
Crippling lies.

Trapped in a world of deception, my sanity rests with the love of Ryder Arteres and our renegade friends. Six months of scouring the ocean floor in a rebel ship fleeing our homeland, delivers us to a possible alliance with the opportunistic European Council. Our only hope is to utilize our forbidden gifts to free our people from slavery, proving our worth. But when a trusted ally turns traitor and a new breed of the queen’s weaponry is revealed, I’m forced to face the terror of my past to save our crumbling future.

B&N | Kobo | iTunes | Goodreads

(Available 12/3)

Friday, November 22, 2013

10 Things I'm Thankful for as a Writer

Happy early Thanksgiving to my fellow YAtopians to the south! Even though I celebrated Thanksgiving in October, being Canadian and all, I thought I'd get into the spirit once again for the American readers of the site.

I wanted to make a list of what I'm thankful for, as we tend to do on Thanksgiving, but I figured I'd make it more specific to me as a writer, something that other writers can relate to. Being a writer is a special thing. We have lots to be thankful for. So here are 10 things I'm thankful for as a writer.

1)  I'm thankful that I basically get to make up stuff on a daily basis.

2)  I'm thankful that my characters do exactly as I tell them (most of the time, at least).

3)  I'm thankful for being a part of a supportive YA writing community.

4)  I'm thankful for my imagination, even (especially?) when it runs wild.

5)  I'm thankful for having an outlet for creative, artistic expression.

6)  I'm thankful that if I'm stressed out, writing can calm me down.

7)  I'm thankful that if I'm bored, writing can add some spice to my day.

8)  I'm thankful that all I need to practice what I love is a pencil and a piece of paper.

9)  I'm thankful for the puzzle that is piecing together a story, stimulating my mind.

And finally...

10)  I'm thankful for an audience, who I can make laugh or cry or think with the flick of a key or stroke of a pencil.

What are you thankful for as a writer or reader of MG or YA fiction?

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Win prizes on Shameless promo day

Today I'm going to shamelessly promote…and you can too (see the bottom of the post).

My release date for my debut novel SLEEPER is less than two weeks away, so I can barely think of anything else. So, I'm going to give it a plug along with a competition that I'm hosting with four other  New Adult authors being Zoe Dawson, Elisabeth Grace, Brenna Aubrey and S.J. Pajonas. All their deers are in the rafflecopter giveaway.


Mishca Richardson’s life is at an all-time high after her heart transplant. With new boyfriend, Ryder, the two of them have the perfect summer romance. Even the nightmares that have been plaguing her sleep since her operation can’t dull the high she’s on. 

Things start to unravel as Mishca develops superhuman abilities. She does her best to hide them so as not to end up a science experiment in a lab. But she can’t ignore the instant attraction she experiences when she meets her university professor, Colin Reed. 

Torn between the blossoming love and the obsession, Mishca must decide if she wants Ryder or Colin. But the organization responsible for her changes and her connection to Colin, is moving to secure Mishca for himself so that she can be the weapon he always intended her to be. If Mishca can’t resist her programming she’ll have a lot more to worry about than romance

Add it on Goodreads here.

Now for your promo opportunity. I'm opening up YAtopia's comments for your promo. It must be MG, YA or NA related. Books, blogs, competitions or the like are all welcome. 

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Monday, November 18, 2013

Guest Post – Breakable and Bullying

Aimee Salter, former YAtopian, has stopped by to talk to YAtopians about bullying in relation to her book Breakable.

There’s been a lot of attention in recent reviews of my book about the fact that the main character is bullied. Really bullied. Thankfully, so far the reviewers seem to understand that this is an issue which is important and real. What surprised me was the thoughtful commentary they included in their reviews – particularly here.

But I hit an interesting obstacle when I was original writing and having Breakable critiqued: Some of the people reading for me hadn’t experienced (or apparently witnessed) real bullying, in real time. I was told more times than I could count that the content was unrealistic, implausible, or hard to believe. Considering I’d drawn from my own experience, and those of friends, and in many cases toned down the content, I found this a little ironic.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I think every writer has a responsibility to bring the reader “along for the ride”, and I’ve made adjustments to Stacy’s narrative, and parts of her story in an effort to help those without personal experience of bullying relate to her journey.

But I was bullied in high school. I know firsthand that this issue is deadly serious. Headlines aside, there are silent, unnoticed kids (and adults!) out there every day whose lives are difficult, tragic, stress-filled, and miserable. And I know the words and fists in their day-to-day existence create impressions. And they’ll take those impressions into themselves, begin to believe what they’re being told, and carry those messages for years – in some cases, for the rest of their lives.

Now, I didn’t write Breakable to be a “bullying book”. I don’t offer any answers within its pages (except perhaps, a friend / family member’s guide to what not to do). But I’m glad that the issue hasn’t escaped notice.

See, whether it’s happened to  you or not, bullying is a serious issue, and not just because it can make teenage girls cry, or because a boy comes home with a bruise.

It’s a serious issue because it changes how people see themselves. In desperate, catastrophic ways.

Bullying isn’t a euphemism for teasing, or not getting along, or a personality clash. Bullying is targeted, ongoing, insidious, and cruel. It can’t be “disciplined” out. It won’t stop because someone tells the perpetrator that it’s wrong. And the target can’t always avoid it, even when they want to.

It doesn’t get better on its own.

Whether you read my book or not, I hope you take bullying seriously. Because I can promise you, no one in the headlines woke up that morning thinking they’d end up there. No one who killed themselves did it on a whim. There were always signs. So why didn’t people notice?

I think they did. The question I always have is, how do the people around those in the headlines feel when they realize what’s happened? If they knew the bully or the bullied? If they saw altercations? Or had a friend crying on their couch…?

Can they forgive themselves for not trying harder to do something?

Could you?

Your Turn: How do you feel about recent bullying headlines? In your opinion, does the media coverage help or hinder?

If you can’t trust yourself, who can you trust?

When seventeen-year-old Stacy looks in the mirror she can see and talk to her future self. “Older Me” has been Stacy's secret support through the ongoing battle with their neurotic mother, relentless bullying at school, and dealing with her hopeless love for her best friend, Mark.

Then Stacy discovers Older Me is a liar.

Still reeling from that betrayal, Stacy is targeted again by her most persistent tormentor. Only this time, he's used her own artwork to humiliate her - and threaten her last chance with Mark.

She’s reached breaking point.


"Original. Authentic. Heart-breaking. BREAKABLE has officially become one of my favorites!" -New York Times Bestselling Author, Cora Carmack

Read the opening chapters on Goodreads.

Aimee L. Salter spent much of her young (and not-so-young) life in
New Zealand. After picking up a Kiwi husband and son, she’s recently returned to her home in Oregon.

Aimee writes novels for teens and the occasional adult who, like herself, is still in touch with their inner-high schooler.

Aimee is the author behind Seeking the Write Life, a resource blog for writers at You can also find her on Twitter ( and Facebook (

You can purchase Breakable on (paperback and for Kindle), and at (for Nook).  Or add it to your Goodreads To-Read list here.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Book Thieves with Georgeann Swiger

Today I'm delighted to introduce you to YA author Georgeann Swiger. Her debut paranormal romance, ADORNED, has just hit the shelves. But today's conversation isn't about angels, it's about thieves.

Over to Georgeann...

Book piracy is a growing menace to authors and publishers. However, I’ve discovered something just as disturbing--bloggers putting a positive spin on book piracy. These bloggers claim there are many “gray” areas with this issue. Yet, the gray areas they mention are only gray to the people benefiting from this practice. As an author, I don’t see anything gray about it. Book piracy is as clear as the waters of the Caribbean.

It’s NOT stealing.” The bloggers who preach this line of thinking really wave around their muskets over this. Yeah, so technically, according to laws in the U.S., it’s infringement. However, to the author who spends months or years writing a novel, then spends months editing, and then spends many more months promoting the book, piracy sure feels like stealing. It’s funny how a lot of spending is done by the authors and publishers, but these takers feel entitled to get something for nothing. In my view, book piracy is the same as shoplifting. These people lurk around cyberspace and sneaking intellectual property on to their computers without paying for it the same way a shoplifter goes into a bookstore, sneaks a book into his coat and leaves.
Book piracy is good for authors.” Some bloggers toss around this wet mop like they’re swabbing the starboard side of the boat. “But dear author,” they say. “This gets your book to the masses so you can be discovered. Once readers know how great you are, they’ll be happy to pay for your book.” Well guess what, bestselling authors have their books pirated every day. According to this line of reasoning, readers should be purchasing popular novels, not getting them from some hacker.
Sometimes ebooks are just too expensive”. W-w-what?! Let me put this into perspective. I’d love to have a yacht, but it costs too much. Is that a good enough reason for me to go out and hijack one off the open waters? If I can’t afford something, I don’t buy it. Period. Here’s a thought. If you don’t have the cash for a $3.99 ebook, start saving. And if you feel $9.99 is too much to pay, use the library or wait until the price comes down.

Just because you put a positive spin on something doesn’t make it right. Bloggers touting the positives of book piracy need to get their heads out of the fog. Book piracy is wrong. Bloggers who defend book piracy need to stop rocking the boat. All they’re doing is help sink authors while throwing a lifeline to a bunch of thieves.   

What are your thoughts on book piracy?

Georgeann Swiger earned her degree in journalism from West Virginia University, and then spent five years as an anchor/reporter at WBOY-TV in Clarksburg, WV. After having children, she left television news to be a stay at home mom. During that time, she discovered creative writing was more fun than writing about real life tragedy. Imagining interesting characters and having them come to life on the page is now her passion. When she’s not writing, she works as a substitute teacher. She lives in Reedsville, West Virginia with her husband, two kids, a beagle dog and a temperamental cat who tries to rule the house.

Website     Facebook     Twitter     Pinterest 

When seventeen-year-old Anya finds out she’s actually an angel being trained to protect humanity, she discovers that becoming an angel has nothing to do with wings and haloes. For Anya, becoming an angel has to do with death—her death.
Micah, the angelic soldier ordered to protect her until she transitions from human to angel, promises her death will be a glorious experience as long as she follows his rules. But getting Anya through this life and to the next isn’t as simple as Micah expects. His job becomes even more difficult after he unwittingly performs a miracle that exposes Anya’s hidden angelic light.
With her secret out, Hell’s legions begin targeting her. Unfortunately, Hell’s minions are the least of Micah’s worries. He’s more concerned about the forbidden human emotions he’s developed toward Anya. Even more troubling, is she seems to love him too. And giving in to those feelings, could mean dire consequences for them both.

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