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Word Spelunking’s temporary hiatus is now permanent. All requests are closed and there will be no new content. Thank you to everyone I’ve worked with and everyone who has read and supported this blog. Y’all are awesome!!

Aeicha @ Word Spelunking

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The Iron Maiden Blog Tour: Interview with Resa Nelson

I'm excited to be hosting The Iron Maiden Blog Tour today! Author Resa Nelson is stopping by for an interview. Resa is the author of the Dragonslayer Series, which includes the following books:

For Astrid, a blacksmith who makes swords for dragonslayers, the emergence of a strange gemstone from her body sets in motion a chain of events that threaten to destroy her life. Her happiness is shattered when her lover--the dragonslayer--disappears without a trace, and the life that she knows and loves implodes without warning.Astrid lives in a world of shapeshifters whose thoughts have the power to change not only themselves but others. Everything Astrid knows to be true is called into question when she learns the truth about her past and the mysterious family from which she was separated as a child.Reality turns inside out as Astrid gradually learns the truth about the people she loves as well as those she disdains. With the fate of dragons, ghosts, and slaves in foreign lands resting on her shoulders, Astrid faces the challenge of deciding who she is and how she will stand up inside her own skin. Will she withdraw and hide from the world that has disappointed her so much...or will she rise to lead others to freedom and peace? 

Astrid is reluctant to travel the winter route beyond the Northlands, even though it's her duty. She'd rather stay home in her village, surrounded by friends and neighbors. Ignoring the bonds of tradition, she decides to spend the cold winter months in the warmth of her blacksmithing shop. Why should she leave the comfort of her cottage to serve and protect foreigners who might raid and harm her native Northlands?Everything changes when a traveling merchant steals Starlight, the first dragonslayer's sword Astrid forged and her last link to her sweetheart DiStephan. Having no time to alert her friends, Astrid races in pursuit of the merchant, determined to reclaim Starlight as her own and return home in time for dinner. Instead, her quest leads her to new lands, unexpected friendships with foreigners, and a harrowing encounter with the damage done by the followers of a new god that considers women as nothing more than servants to men. All the while, she must be ready to face any dragon traveling the winter route.In Book 2 of the Dragonslayer series, Astrid must learn that deciding who she is isn't a decision she can make just once. It's a decision she must make every day. 

Q. What three words best describe The Dragonslayer Series?
Adventurous.  Dark.  Hopeful.
Q. The Dragonslayer Series is considered fantasy…why did you choose to write in this particular genre? What do you love most about writing fantasy fiction and/or what is the most challenging part about writing in this genre? Why do think this genre appeals to so many different readers?
I’ve been writing short stories since I was 8 or 9 years old, and I usually write science fiction, fantasy, and horror stories that are sometimes blended with mystery or historical.  So far, all of my novels are in the fantasy genre.  When I write fantasy, I feel like anything is possible.  I’m a big fan of symbolism, and for me fantasy provides the greatest possibilities for symbolism.  For example, my main character Astrid is covered from head to toe with scars because in her childhood she was chewed up and spit out by a dragon.  To me, this symbolizes what every human being goes through in life:  we’re each chewed up and spit out by our own life experiences.  We each have a choice:  do we let negative experiences beat us down or do we learn and grow from those experiences and rise above them, even if we have nightmarish experiences that seem impossible to survive?  The challenge for me is that I want my fantasy novels to feel as real as possible.  So I take a lot of time to think through the logic of everything that happens.  I also strive to include details that will ground the story in reality.  I think fantasy appeals to people for a lot of different reasons.  I think most of us read as an escape from everyday life, and fantasy provides an amazing escape.  Also, studies have shown that during challenging times (wartime, economic recessions, etc.), sales of fantasy books go up.  Again, I think it’s because fantasy is a wonderful way to escape the stress of everyday life.
Q. How has your main character, Astrid, changed or evolved from The Dragonslayer’s Sword to the second book in this series,The Iron Maiden? Is her character turning out to be exactly how you envisioned her to be when you began writing this series?
I’m very surprised by how Astrid is evolving through the entire series.  By the end of The Dragonslayer’s Sword, she learns that she must decide who she is before she can stand up inside her own skin and find her place in the world.  This idea threads through the entire series, and in The Iron Maiden, Astrid must learn that deciding who she is isn’t something she can do just once and be done with it – she learns that it’s something that happens with every decision she makes, every day of her life.  At the beginning of The Iron Maiden, Astrid doesn’t want to do anything to help people from other countries, and she has good reasons to feel this way.  She’s had some bad experiences with foreigners in the past, and she has no reason to trust them.  But throughout the book she develops a deep friendship with foreigners, including one who doesn’t speak Astrid’s language.  Astrid doesn’t speak any other languages, so they’re never able to communicate by speaking to each other.  They have to find other ways to communicate, and Astrid becomes very close to this character, despite the language barrier.  This causes her to change the way she feels about foreigners.  Astrid surprises me all the time.  Sometimes she’s much more courageous than I expect her to be and sometimes something happens that causes her to stumble and fall – and then she has to figure out how to get back on her feet again.
Q. Can tell us a little bit about what’s to come in the next books in The Dragonslayer Series?
Sure!  In Book 1, one character briefly mentions a rumor, and that rumor turns out to be the catalyst for the entire series.  In Book 2 we learn what that rumor is about and get a glimpse of who’s behind it.  In Book 3 we find out the rumor has far greater implications than any of the characters could have imagined.  And Book 4 we see people from different nations joining forces against a danger that threatens them all.  Also, I drop a lot of hints about dragons throughout the series, but it’s not until Book 4 that I answer all of the questions about them.
Q. What or who do you think has been the biggest inspiration behind your novels? Behind your writing as a whole?
Like a lot of writers, I write to solve problems and to try to figure out how I can become a better person.  The entire Dragonslayer series started because I was propositioned by a married man (with young children).  I was horrified because I thought he was my friend and colleague but I quickly realized he’d only been pretending in an effort to manipulate me.  That’s what cause me to writeThe Dragonslayer’s Sword, which began as a short story and that I later expanded into a novel.  I also write about large issues that trouble me.  For example, like my main character Astrid, I’m a pacifist.  Ironically, there’s a lot of violence in the Dragonslayer series, but that’s because I’m against violence.  I’m deeply concerned that in the United States violence is often glamorized, especially in the media.  My intent is to make it horrific and distasteful, because that’s how I feel about violence.  I think it’s important to remember that violence isn’t a good thing, and that can be difficult within the culture of the United States.
Q. Who is your favorite literary villain…who do you just love to hate or hate to love?
I might be cheating, but I’ve always loved Professor Snape in the Harry Potter series.  Because I’m a writer, I pay close attention when I’m reading.  It was obvious to me from the beginning that if Snape truly wanted to hurt Harry that he’d already had many opportunities to do so but often protected Harry instead.  I didn’t know exactly what was going on with Snape, but I found him fascinating, and I knew there was a lot of good in him, no matter how mean he might appear to be.  And I’m so impressed with the history J.K. Rowling gave to Snape.  She shows us how broken he is and why he ended up that way.  I just adore him.
Q. If you could magically transport yourself to any made-up world from any book/movie/tv show, which would it be? What would you do there?
I’d like to live in the Firefly universe – and this is a difficult decision because I’m a huge fan of Joss Whedon and am very tempted to live in the Buffy universe.  But I think I’d choose Firefly because I like the idea of traveling to other planets.  I’d like to be like Zoey, Capt. Mal’s right-hand woman.  I like the idea of fighting against corrupt systems.  In real life, I marched with the Occupy movement, and it was one of the most satisfying and inspiring experiences I’ve ever had.
Q. If you could magically bring any character from any book/movie/tv show into your world, who would it be? Where would you take them?
Right now I’m really impressed with The Walking Dead on TV, and I’m head over heels in love with Daryl.  Someone who risks his life every day to find someone else’s missing little girl and refuses to give up – that’s my kind of man.  I’d take him on a walk to show him there are no zombies in our world.  And then take him to a restaurant, because I’m sure he’d be ready for a good steak after living on squirrels for so long.
Q. What’s the one book you wish you wrote? Why?
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo because I am so thrilled with the title character.  There is a scene in that book that makes me happier than anything I’ve ever read.  I would have written the novel differently (it would have been a much shorter book), and I would really have to be a Swedish native (which I’m not) to do it justice, but I think the characterization is just brilliant.
Q. What’s the one book you think everybody should read at least once? Why?
That’s a really good but difficult question to answer!  OK, we’re talking about people all over the world, so what can translate across cultural boundaries?  And let’s suppose we’re talking about children, teens, and adults.  I don’t know if this would work, but I’m going to choose Winnie-the-Pooh.  It’s the first favorite book I ever had, and I think it’s charming and hilarious.

Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions Resa and allowing us all a chance to get to know you and your work a little better!

Find the author: Website / Goodreads / Twitter / Facebook

Resa Nelson has been selling fiction professionally since 1988. She is a longtime member of SFWA (Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America) and is a graduate of the Clarion SF Workshop.  Resa was also the TV/Movie Columnist for Realms of Fantasy magazine for 13 years and was a contributor to SCI FI magazine. She has sold over 200 articles to magazines in the United States and the United Kingdom.Her first novel, The Dragonslayer's Sword, was nominated for the Nebula Award, the highest honor in science fiction and fantasy. It was also a Finalist for the EPPIE Award. This medieval fantasy novel is based on a short story first published in the premiere issue of Science Fiction Age magazine and ranked 2nd in that magazine's first Readers Top Ten Poll. The Dragonslayer's Sword is Book 1 in a 4-book series. Book 2, The Iron Maiden, was recently published. Book 3 is scheduled for publication in Summer 2012.Resa's standalone novel, Our Lady of the Absolute, is a fantasy/mystery/thriller about a modern-day society based on ancient Egypt. Midwest Book Review gave this book a 5-star review, calling it "a riveting fantasy, very highly recommended."In real life, Resa is a fan of chocolate, travel, summer, museums, ballet, movies, and Broadway musicals (her favorites are Les Miserables and Wicked).  She lives in Massachusetts.

Message from Resa Nelson
 During this blog tour I’m telling lots of stories about the research I’ve done for my Dragonslayer series.  You can find out where I’ve been and where I’m going next by checking my website (, my Facebook page (Resa Nelson & The Dragonslayer’s Sword), or following me on Twitter (ResaNelson).  If you’d like to sample my work for free, you can download a free “mini” ebook called “Dragonslayer Stories” from my website at  No cost, no obligation, nothing to sign up for, no information gathering.  I like giving away samples of my work so you can decide for yourself whether you like it or not.  If you do, you can enter to win a copy of the first two books in my series, which I’ll give away at the end of this tour on Feb. 14.  To enter, just send email to  (I won’t keep your email address – this just makes it easier for me to keep track of entries.)  I’m also doing a book giveaway on GoodReads, so you can enter to win there, too.

Helpful Links
Free “mini” ebook of Dragonslayer short stories:
Ebooks ($4.99 each) are available directly from Mundania Press at: (get a 10% discount at checkout with the coupon code MP10)
Paperbacks are available from Mundania Press, Amazon, and Barnes&Noble: (get a 10% discount at checkout with the coupon code MP10)

Teaser Tuesdays (22): Oppression by Jessica Therrien

Teaser Tuesdays... is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
• BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
• Share the title and author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

I haven't started this book yet (but will soon), but here's a teaser for you AND me...

"Her curiosity was not surprising. The box was a beautiful dusty gold color with carved floral patterns running along its surface. It was closed securely with an elaborate latch that held it shut like a treasure chest. A box like this was bound to hold answers to buried family secrets."
Oppression (Children of the Gods #1)
Jessica Therrien

Oppression (Children of the Gods, #1)


Monday, January 30, 2012

Interview and Giveaway: Dan O'Brien

Today, I am very pleased to have author Dan O'Brien, author of the YA novel The Ocean and the Hourglass, stopping by for an interview and giveaway!

Dreams are not for the faint of heart, they are for the brave to follow.A Book, an Hourglass.An adventure into the mind.Nicholas had always dreamt of faraway places, distant lands beyond imagination. Wandering into the library on a cold day, he finds an adventure that he had not been looking for. Transported to a distant world, Nicholas finds himself involved in sweeping adventures of a broken and lost kingdom. Filled with sea giants and ancient cities, the young man soon finds that the adventure was greater than he could have ever imagined.

Q. What three words best describe The Ocean and the Hourglass?

Philosophical. Thoughtful. Personal.

Q. Where did the idea behind this particular book come from?

I had a dream about this book, and that dream lingered throughout a work day until I decided that it was a novel I thought I wanted to write. I liked the idea of how it moved and the hardship and thoughtfulness that was required to be a hero. 

Q. Are your characters (from any of your books) purely fiction or are they based on real people?

Some of the characters are drawn from real experience - even when those characters are fantastical in nature - and most have an element of someone I have met along the way. A forthcoming novel is drawn directly from people I have known, with the events being being pure fiction, but their mannerisms, personality, and overall characterization reminiscent of friends and family. 

Q. What has been the most challenging aspect of writing? The most rewarding?

Not being able to have everyone love your writing is always the most difficult. When editors and agents give you the party line - we loved it, but don't think it fits the current publishing trends - it kind of discourages you from moving forward. However, most readers are very supportive, even when they might not gravitate toward your novel in principle. I am passionate about writing and the act itself is tremendously rewarding, though it pales compared to one person enjoying what I have written and being affected by it in some way. 

Q. Do you have a favorite book among those you've written? One that you are most proud of?

I really enjoyed writing The Journey. I would be tempted to say that novel is one I am most proud of. The End of the World Playlist - a forthcoming release - is also very near and dear to me because it is something I never intended as releasing as fiction, but I had such a positive response to it that I felt I needed to share it with a larger audience. 

Q. What are you working on now?

I am working on a slew of novels that I will be releasing throughout this year. Deviance of TimePath of the Fallen, andThe End of the World Playlist are the novels that should be out the soonest. There are others down the pipeline that I am excited about, but it is too soon to talk about them. The sequel to Bitten is on its way as well. 

Q. In The Ocean and the Hourglass, Nicholas is transported to another, faraway world...what made-up world from any book/movie/tv show would you love to be transported to? What would you do there?

I would imagine I would want to be transported to either the Star Trek universe or Middle Earth universe, simply because of how much time I have spent there through novels and movies. However, the Island from Lost or Greendale Community College from Community would also be pretty interesting. I imagine listening and watching would be what I would want to to do mostly. 

Q. Who is your favorite literary villain? Who do you just love to hate or hate to love?

There a few villains that come to mind, but I imagine I would have to go with Gollum - who is not really the villain of the novelper se. Tyrion Lannister is another solid choice - from A Song of Fire and Ice series - though again, he is not really the main antagonist. Something similar about both of these characters is that they are likable despite circumstances. Both are fallible and damaged, but interesting to read nonetheless.

Q. What's the one book you wish you had written?

I don't think I have a book I wished I'd written, but I do have a few ideas I wish I had hopped on board earlier for. There is this sense of what is trending at any given time, and sometimes you catch the trend before it takes off, and sometimes you are left wondering what might have been if you were quicker to the plate in terms of churning out a particular theme or genre. 

Q. What's the one book you think everybody should read at least once?

I would have to say either Les Miserables by Victor Hugo or The Prophet by Gibran.

Thank you so much Dan for taking the time to answer my questions and giving us all the chance to get to know you and your work a little better! Oh, and I'd love to go to Middle Earth as well and Tyrion Lannister is one of my favorite book (and tv show) characters ever!

Find the author: Website / Goodreads / Twitter
I have been writing novels for over a decade and had a couple published by traditional, small houses. Riding the self-publishing boom, I have four books in print that are available in paperback or e-book format. If you are interested in reading them, I am always open to sending out samples (or PDFs) to those who are interested. I was born on the east coast and spent most of my life moving around. I recently settled into California where I am a graduate student in Experimental Psychology. I was a fitness trainer and am a lifelong student of martial arts. I write a little bit of everything and have lately been focusing on a few new novels, continuing some series and embarking on a screenplay binge. Hope to hear from other avid readers and novelists out there.

Dan has generously offered one (1) signed copy of his YA book The Ocean and the Hourglass to give away!
Open to the US and Canada only
Will run from 1/30 - 2/5 at 11:59pm ET
Fill out the Rafflecopter form to enter
  • Must be 13 or older to enter
  • One main entry per person
  • Winner will be emailed and must claim prize within 48 hours
  • I am NOT responsible for lost or damaged prizes as they are not being sent by me

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Musing Mondays (18)

MUSING MONDAYS…is a weekly event hosted by Should Be Reading where MizB will ask a book/reading-related question, and you answer with your own thoughts on the topic

How far along are you in your current read before you start thinking about what you’ll read next?

Well, since I have my book reviews scheduled (not necessarily written, just scheduled) a couple months in advance, I'm constantly thinking about what I'll be/should/need to read next. Although, just because I'm always thinking of my next fix read doesn't mean I don't give my full attention to my current read. And, of course, sometimes *coughallthetimecough* I deviate from my schedule if a new book catches my attention and has me thinking about it all the time ;)


In My Mailbox (13)

In My a meme hosted by Kristi over at The Story Siren, and is a way for bloggers to share all the bookish (books they've won, been given, given for review, checked out from the library)  goodness that recently came into their possession.

"Here's the mail, it never fails.  
 It makes me want to wag my tail.   
When it comes I want to wail - Maillllllll!"
 (Mail Song from Blue's Clues)

In my mailbox this week...

For Review

sent by author for review
(my mom actually "borrowed" this as soon as it came and she's already read it and really liked it!)

Getting books in the mail is ALWAYS awesome, but getting surprise books (books I wasn't expecting) is SUPER awesome! These 3 books were fabulous surprises...

sent by Tor Books for review

sent by Harper Collins for my March MG Madness Event
(I've been able to contact the wonderful author and he has agreed to be a part of my MG Event!)

Ebook For Review

sent by Zova Books

I want to thank Andrew Gavin, Tor Books, Harper Collins, and Zova Books for sending me books for review!


Saturday, January 28, 2012

ARC Review: Incarnate by Jodi Meadows

TITLE: Incarnate                             SERIES: Newsoul #1
AUTHOR: Jodi Meadows               PUB DATE: 1/31/12
PUB: Harper Collins                         FORMAT: ARC, 372 pgs
SOURCE: from publisher for review

NEWSOUL Ana is new. For thousands of years in Range, a million souls have been reincarnated over and over, keeping their memories and experiences from previous lifetimes. When Ana was born, another soul vanished, and no one knows why. NOSOUL Even Ana’s own mother thinks she’s a nosoul, an omen of worse things to come, and has kept her away from society. To escape her seclusion and learn whether she’ll be reincarnated, Ana travels to the city of Heart, but its citizens are suspicious and afraid of what her presence means. When dragons and sylph attack the city, is Ana to blame? HEART Sam believes Ana’s new soul is good and worthwhile. When he stands up for her, their relationship blooms. But can he love someone who may live only once, and will Ana’s enemies—human and creature alike—let them be together? Ana needs to uncover the mistake that gave her someone else’s life, but will her quest threaten the peace of Heart and destroy the promise of reincarnation for all? 

THREE WORDS: Mesmerizing, Original, Stunning

MY REVIEW: So, obviously the first thing one notices about Jodi Meadow’s Incarnate is the beyond beautiful cover, but trust me, once you finish this book, it’ll be the fabulous story inside that will leave you enchanted and mesmerized.

For 5,000 years in Range, the souls of a million people have been constantly reincarnated. In each life, a soul gains a new body but retains all its past memories and experiences. But Ana is new; she has no past lives. Dubbed a Nosoul, the people of Range fear her. Kept isolated and hidden away by her abusive mother, Ana has no friends and is desperate to understand just why she was born. At 18, Ana sets out for the city of Heart where she hopes to find the answers she seeks. Along the way she meets Sam, her first real friend. Sam doesn’t think Ana is a Nosoul, simply a Newsoul. With Sam as a friend, protector and guardian, Ana enters Heart, even if its citizens are less than welcoming. As Ana searches for answers about who and what she is, she must battle her feelings for Sam, hostile souls and fantastical creatures, and she ends up discovering things she never expected.

Incarnate is truly captivating, and often breathtakingly so. Meadows has created a wonderfully original, grand and well developed story. The exploration of reincarnation is, of course, nothing new, but Meadows has taken this concept to places I’ve never seen, and I found her ideas completely fascinating.

Nicely paced, the story never rushes or drags. The story moved fast enough to never feel boring, but slow enough to allow me to really get to know its world and characters, both which are incredibly absorbing. The world Meadows creates is vivid, concrete and entirely believable.

There’s a compelling mix of fantasy, romance, dystopia, sci-fi, mystery and action, and Meadows does a great job of harmonizing and balancing all these elements. I really loved Meadow’s take on reincarnated souls, although this idea isn’t explored without its faults. The actual concept of reincarnation in this book, and all that it entails, is quite complex and at times making it overwhelming. I think overall the concept is explained and explored efficiently, but there were still things that left me slightly confused…such as, are these million souls and people in Range the only people in the entire world? And throughout the book it seems that all these people-all one million of them-seem to know or at least know of each other to the extent of being able to recognize who one is (and know of their accomplishments, work, etc) simply by their name, which I found hard to believe. I mean even after thousands of years it seems implausible for a person to “know” 999,999 people…right?!

 I found much of the exploration of souls, life, love, etc. in this book to be quite thought-provoking and profound. Personally, I loved the way that souls in Range could and would often switch genders from life to life and that, although the souls retained most of their memories, experiences and personality traits, they evolved and changed emotionally, mentally and psychologically from life to life and body to body. Meadows offers a fascinating and insightful look at the concept of souls in general. But I think the captivating and often deliciously startling and shocking story itself will appeal to readers, whatever one’s personal beliefs and thoughts concerning reincarnation may be.

I was disappointed that Ana’s search for answers regarding who and what she is wasn’t focused on more, especially since this seemed like such an integral part of the story in the beginning of the book. The ending provided a few nice twists and surprises, but it kind of felt lacking. But the ending does clear up a few mysteries while excitingly and enticingly setting up a few more.

The story is told from Ana’s perspective, so she really needs to be a likable and engaging character in order for readers to feel invested in the story…and she definitely is! I really enjoyed Ana as a character and I think she is wonderfully developed and written. She has a likable mix of strength, sass, vulnerability and relatability, and she’s easy to root for. I loved her natural curiosity, passion, and determination.

Sam is a fabulously swoon-worthy character. I love that he isn’t simply there for the sake of Ana’s development as a character; his story is just as intriguing and important as hers. There’s a lot of fun and exciting mystery surrounding Sam and I really liked that he wasn’t always easy to decipher, but that I always felt confident in believing in him.

There’s an eclectic and dynamic cast of supporting characters, many of whom I hope we get to know better in future books. There’s no real “bad guy” in this book, although there are characters that do bad things, and I found this disappointing. I was really hoping for a villain I could love to hate or hate to love.
When I first began reading this book, I was afraid that because of the story’s exploration of reincarnation, that the concept of soul mates would play a major role, which would thus lead to the dreaded insta love…but this didn’t happen!

The romantic relationship between Ana and Sam is definitely not intsa-love. This is a romance that we actually get to see develop and progress naturally. Although, I do think the whole “will they/won’t they” kiss/hold hands/become a couple/get be-zay was a little drawn out. But, in the end this was a romance that I truly enjoyed reading about.

MY FINAL THOUGHTS: Jodi Meadows’ Incarnate is a simply stunning debut. Although this isn’t a perfect book, it is an enchanting and enthralling read, and I’ll eagerly be awaiting the next book in the trilogy. Highly recommended!

4/5 Cupcakes

Find the author: Website / Goodreads / Twitter / Facebook
Jodi Meadows lives and writes in the Shenandoah Valley, Virginia, with her husband, a Kippy*, and an alarming number of ferrets. She is a confessed book addict, and has wanted to be a writer ever since she decided against becoming an astronaut.*A Kippy is a cat.