Author Archives: daymstephens

>ARC Review: Legend by Marie Lu


LegendWhat was once the western United States is now home to the Republic, a nation perpetually at war with its neighbors. Born into an elite family in one of the Republic’s wealthiest districts, fifteen-year-old June is a prodigy being groomed for success in the Republic’s highest military circles. Born into the slums, fifteen-year-old Day is the country’s most wanted criminal. But his motives may not be as malicious as they seem.

From very different worlds, June and Day have no reason to cross paths – until the day June’s brother, Metias, is murdered and Day becomes the prime suspect. Caught in the ultimate game of cat and mouse, Day is in a race for his family’s survival, while June seeks to avenge Metias’s death. But in a shocking turn of events, the two uncover the truth of what has really brought them together, and the sinister lengths their country will go to keep its secrets.

Full of nonstop action, suspense, and romance, this novel is sure to move readers as much as it thrills.

Told in alternating perspectives between male and female protagonists this book is sure to find a welcoming audience of boys and girls that are eager to fill the void The Hunger Games books left. The similarities between the two books are minimal–aside from both being dystopian in concept, there is little else to compare.

The writing style in LEGEND is not flowery or lyrical like in others of this genre yet it still draws you in with the character driven plot. From fairly early on I had a good idea of the events that were to unfold in the story. Normally, one would think that obvious clues would be a deal breaker, but for me personally, I couldn’t put the book down and that is due in large part to the captivating way Marie Lu has written the character’s voices. Both leads are very distinct and different but they each have something that makes them easy to relate to and sympathize with.

The Character of Day (great name for a hero of any sex BTW) was so layered and amazing that I struggle to find ways to describe him with justice. A bit like a futuristic, teenage version of Robin Hood that steals from the rich to give to the poor he is the type of character both young men and ladies will be able to embrace–for different reasons. He is humble and confident. Smart and reckless. Day is full of honor and morals and yet his Society deems him a criminal. Despite his labeling by the republic as “WANTED”, his rebellious actions and infamous heists accomplished has turned him into somewhat of a celebrity–and he still somehow manages to keep his identity a secret…that is until people he cares about are in danger. Day risks everything in a desperate attempt to help loved ones and ends up in the wrong place at the wrong time.

June is the opposite of Day in many ways. She was raised in a life of privilege and nurtured by her family (her brother) blossoming into the Republic’s poster girl of perfection. She is just as smart as Day mentally, but possibly because of her gender there are some physical feats the criminal has achieved that she is unable to pull off. Obsessed with being better than the criminal in every way in order to bring him down, June takes on a mission that is personal for her in more ways than one.

Throughout the book Marie Lu demonstrates great character development and pulls the readers along in order to see the final outcome and it really is the characters that shine the brightest in this debut. Both Day and June are strong leads that are inspiring in their own ways. I was up until the wee hours of the morning desperate to stay in the author’s world and spend a little more time with these wonderful heroes. Emotional, fast paced, action packed and easy to read, Legend is a must read.

Check out the Legend Fan Page for original sketches (which are insanely awesome) by the author of her characters and a fantastic trailer and other media.

Also Reviewed by:


>ALERT: Special Contest for The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making" by Catherynne M. Valente


Available now from Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group is Catherynne M. Valente’s first novel for young readers, ‘The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making‘.

To celebrate the release of ‘The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making‘, we are offering a new book trailer for your viewing pleasure as well as the opportunity to win a copy of the book!

*Giveaway guidelines. This giveaway is open to US/ Canada readers only and will end July 27th. To enter you must follow Paperback Dolls and leave a comment in this post with a contact email. Winner will be chosen via and contacted by the email address left in the comments.

More about ‘The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making’ :

The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own MakingTwelve-year-old September lives in Omaha, and used to have an ordinary life, until her father went to war and her mother went to work. One day, September is met at her kitchen window by a Green Wind (taking the form of a gentleman in a green jacket), who invites her on an adventure, implying that her help is needed in Fairyland. The new Marquess is unpredictable and fickle, and also not much older than September. Only September can retrieve a talisman the Marquess wants from the enchanted woods, and if she doesn?t . . . then the Marquess will make life impossible for the inhabitants of Fairyland. September is already making new friends, including a book-loving Wyvern and a mysterious boy named Saturday.
With exquisite illustrations by acclaimed artist Ana Juan, Fairyland lives up to the sensation it created when the author first posted it online. For readers of all ages who love the charm of Alice in Wonderland and the soul of The Golden Compass, here is a reading experience unto itself: unforgettable, and so very beautiful.

Macmillan page for the book & author:

Author’s website & blog:

>BadAss week: Mona’s favorite Badass is…


Ya Gotta Love a Man Who Knows He’s Bad
(….but doesn’t care)

​There are so many wonderful tough guys in fiction that at first I was going crazy trying to pick one to write about. For instance, one of my all-time favorites is Ranger from Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum series. Unlike a lot of you, I’m not a Morelli fan. At. All. But I lurves me some Ranger for many different reasons—not the least of which is the way he always rescues Stephanie, gives her anything she needs or wants, and never asks anything in return. Nor does he take her for granted. Not to mention, he’s gorgeous and dangerous. (sigh)

Then there’s Eric Northman from Charlaine Harris’s Sookie Stackhouse series. Now, don’t act like you don’t know what I’m talking about—Gracious Plenty, indeed. Plus, he can wear pink spandex and still be hot and studly. There are also Barrons, Bones, Curran, Dimitri, the entire Black Dagger Brotherhood, all the Dark-Hunters, and a slew of others too numerous to mention, but the one who really captures my heart is none other than…..(drumroll please)……Acheron—or Ash as he’s known to those who love him.

​Yes, I’m talking about Ash of the Dark-Hunter series by Sherrilyn Kenyon. I mean, c’mon, what’s not to love about a six-foot-eight-inch god with swirling silver eyes and long black hair with a bright red streak in the front, who walks like a seductive predator? The opaque black Oakley sunglasses, the long black coat covering that amazing bod, black tees (usually sporting the name of a heavy metal band), black leather pants, and cherry-red Doc Martens boots with skull and crossbone buckles going up each side are enough to fog up my glasses, yet that description alone would make most people cross the street to avoid him.

​Of course, his natural god appearance is even scarier. His skin is marbled blue, he has two black horns, black claws and lips, and his eyes are yellow-orange encircled by red. He is the Talimosin, the Destroyer’s Harbinger, the Final Fate, and a single word from him can destroy the gods and the world. Despite having such immense power, he’s gentle and caring. He loves Simi like a daughter (a young Charonte demon who also doubles as his tattoo), and spoils her with a limitless credit card so she can buy whatever sparklies her heart desires. (All together now……aahhh)

​Due to the horrendous acts committed against him by humans and gods when he was mortal, he has every reason in the world to wipe out the universe. The atrocities he suffered would have killed a normal child, and yet he chooses to protect mankind. It’s because he was so abused, maimed, and tortured that he wants no one else to suffer the way he did.

​Keeping his godhood a secret is of paramount importance, so no one other than Tory (his new wife and newly created god) and a few other gods know what he is, but keeping his human past a secret is even more important. As strong and powerful as he is, the shame of what was done to him guides many of his actions.

You can see why I have such a tender spot in my heart for Ash. He’s a survivor, leader, husband, and protector. Through a complicated, damnable, twist of fate, he also fathered a daughter with Artemis—the bitch goddess as Simi calls her. Soon he and Tory will welcome their first child, and I know he’ll move heaven and earth to protect them from his ever-growing list of enemies.

And that, my friends, is the measure of a true badass hero—he can totally destroy the universe, but instead, chooses to protect it. You gotta love a man with that much restraint and compassion.

I probably shouldn’t say this, but I honestly hope no one makes a movie about him, because in my mind, there’s no way any actor could measure up to his role. And oh, by the way, if you aren’t familiar with him, start with the first book in the series, Fantasy Lover. Now that you know who he is, you’ll be more apt to notice all the wonderful things he does. (….long, protracted sigh….)

>BadA$$ Week: Cowboys, Gangsters, Thugs and Military men…Day’s Favorites.


I thought it would be much easier to select a favorite fictional BadA$$ character, but it wasn’t…AT ALL.

Lonesome DoveThe thing is, I have several favorites. I have already shared my love of Larry McMurty’s Lonesome Dove characters Augustus McCrae and Capt. Woodrow Call. I love me some good ole boys! Especially some that have a certain code they live by– hang a man for thieve’n and murder’n, yet they’ll sneak across the border to steal cattle for their own outfit. I love the Capt’s rough exterior and disciplined work ethic-I wouldn’t want to annoy him and yet…I really loved how Gus was just as able to work but appreciated the finer things in life–like drinking, women and driving Capt. Call crazy with his joking around.  Both the Capt. and Gus have qualities that are badass and endear them to me–they leave me day dreaming of having my very own cowboy. *cue Kasey Chambers “Pony”*

The Godfather Memorabilia, Al Pacino, Plate, Bullets, Photo, Poster Framed, 31lI also have a a huge dysfunctional crush on Mario Puzo’s gangster Michael Corleone.  In the book, it was Michael all the way though in the movie adaptation of The Godfather , I was in love with the elder brother Sonny Corleone. In a big way, my love of gangsters has led to some of my more recent fiction crushes, like my newest favorite badass, Jack Winter from Caitlin Kittredge’s Black London Series or Terrible from Stacia Kane’s Downside Series.  I think it is the confidence and power the characters exude–after all, confidence is very sexy.  But, underneath that tough exterior is a very insecure, hurt and often vulnerable character. Isn’t that what most girls love….the idea that they could “change” a man. “Sure, he’s a criminal and a killer….but underneath he is a cute little puppy that I can train!” Don’t even act like you don’t know what I’m talking about ladies…it’s what I refer to it as the “stray dog syndrome” and I am an expert–just ask my parents;).


Cowboys and gangsters aside, I think my all time favorite fictional bad @ss has to be Lee Child’s thrilling character Jack Reacher. Jack is smart and tough like Corleone, hard working like Capt. Call and has a sense of adventure like Gus. I guess you could say he has all the elements that I find sexy and intriguing. With sixteen books so far in this series, it is safe to say that the appeal of the character is not going away…at least not anytime soon. Especially with the book “One Shot” optioned for film. Paramount Pictures has secured Christopher McQuarrie (Oscar winner for The Usual Suspects) to write a new screenplay for “One Shot.” McQuarrie may also direct but that has yet to be confirmed. Lee Child’s website says…

Lee got a call from producer Don Granger at the movie studio, and things seem to be very positive and optimistic … we’re very close to seeing One Shot greenlighted, he thinks. Christopher McQuarrie’s screenplay is an absolute knockout, he says … and they had a preliminary casting conversation. Details are still confidential, of course, but some very interesting names were mentioned. Fingers crossed”

Author Lee Child

So why Jack Reacher? Well…let me give you some stats and faqs on the character as per Lee Child’s website and wikipedia:

Name: Jack Reacher (no middle name)
Born: October 29th
Measurements: 6’5″, 220-250 lbs., 50″ chest
Hair: Dirty-blond
Eyes: Ice blue
Clothing: 3XLT coat, 95 cm. pants’ inseam

Reacher is a giant, standing at 6′ 5″ tall (1.96m) with a 50-inch chest, and weighing between 220 and 250 pounds (100–115 kg). He has ice-blue eyes and dirty blond hair. He has very little body fat and his muscular physique is completely natural (he reveals in Persuader, he has never been an exercise enthusiast.) He is exceptionally strong but is not a good runner. Reacher is strong enough to break a man’s neck with one hand (Bad Luck and Trouble) and kill a villain with a single punch to the head (61 Hours) or chest (Worth Dying For). In a fight against a 7 foot, 400 lb steroid using thug, Reacher was able to lift his opponent into the air and drop him on his head.

In TRIPWIRE, a character noted Jacks appearance: “His lazy lopsided grin. His tousled hair. His arms, so long they gave him a greyhound’s grace even though he was built like the side of a house. His eyes, cold icy blue like the Arctic. His hands, giant battered mitts that bunched into fists the size of footballs.” Reacher has a scar on his arm where his brother, Joe, struck him with a retaliatory chisel.

In fact, Reacher has multiple scars, most notably a scar on his abdomen caused by a bombing in Lebanon. He also has a 3-4 inch thin white scar that intersects his shrapnel scar that he received during a knife fight with Al-Qaeda operative Lila Hoth. Reacher mentions how the rough stitch work from his existing scar helped decrease the severity of his most recent attack. However, the cut did produce a deep, serious gash that led to Reacher passing out from blood loss. He also has a scar on his chest from a .38 bullet, a tear drop burn scar from close range gun shot that crossed his chest at point blank range, and the one on his arm from his youth.

Reacher left home at 18, graduated from West Point. Performed 13 years of Army service, demoted from Major to Captain in 1990, mustered out with the rank of Major in 1997.

As a drifter, the only belongings he carries are money, a foldable toothbrush and, after 9/11, an expired passport. He wears his clothing for 2–3 days before discarding it, usually purchasing new clothing cheaply from chain outlets. He has no steady income and lives on savings in his bank account and part time jobs. At various points during the series, his bank account is supplemented by taking money from his enemies (this occurs most notably in Bad Luck and Trouble).

In KILLING FLOOR it is revealed that he has a love for music, especially blues music. It was this affinity for the blues that inspired Reacher to get off the bus at the start of Killing Floor and catapulted him into the resulting story. It is also in this novel that Reacher’s internal monologue reveals that he has a music collection in his head, which he listens to.

What Jack Reacher doesn’t have: A driver’s license, Federal benefits (doesn’t want them), tax returns (doesn’t do them; he hasn’t filed taxes since he left the Army).

Don’t tell me that’s not kind of sexy. Sure he doesn’t slay dragons or is an immortal demigod, vampire, shifter of some sort, but this character is sexy and badass in very real and believable ways. He is the type of guy you want around when things turn south and although he’s not immortal he always manages to get out of some pretty scary situations and land on his feet. *sigh* My Hero!

Want to know what my mental picture of Jack Reacher is? Well, my first choice is none other than…

I realize that the dashing Mr. Craig is fairly booked up with landing the other film adaptation of Stieg Larsson’s GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO but…Daniel Craig’s look is nearly exactly how I see Jack Reacher. Now, in the spirit of new and different, how about this…

Alexander Skarsgard in Generation Kill

Alexander Skarsgard could play a more youthful Jack Reacher. He is definitely tall and shares the same coloring as Jack. He could buff up a bit more for the role if need be and he has proven he has the acting chops…PLUS Skarsgard has that whole European thing going for him. I can see him as Reacher.

Jason Lewis

Another actor I could totally see playing Jack Reacher is Mr. Jason Lewis. At 40 years old he is closer to Reachers age and like Skarsgard, Lewis is over 6’1 with similar coloring. Any of these incredible actors have my vote to play Jack Reacher on the big screen.

What do you think? Have you read Lee Child’s books…if so, who would you cast as Jack Reacher?

*Edited to add: I totally forgot to add another picture of an actor that more accurately meets the physical description of Jack Reacher — Mr. Dolph Lundgren. He was known for his height and physique. At 6’5, he totally could be Reacher, at least from the back, plus he is definitely built like a house.

Dolph Lundgren with “tousled hair”

>Bad@ss Men of Fiction book GIVEAWAY!


Ok . . . so we can’t give the characters away, but we CAN hook you up with books featuring the sexy male protagonist we will be shining the spotlight on this next week! 

Are you ready for a BadA$$ Giveaway?

Feast your eyes on this BadA$$ lot of books!

One Foot in the Grave (Night Huntress, Book 2)Acheron (Dark-Hunter, Book 12)  Killing Floor (Jack Reacher, No. 1)
Unholy Ghosts (Downside Ghosts, Book 1) Hunt the Moon: A Cassie Palmer Novel Rivals
To enter this Bad@ss Giveaway simply fill out
Extra entries given to each person that comments on each post during this week’s feature. 

This contest is *international and will end June 26th. Winner will be selected via Random.Org and announced in our “Week In Review” post the following Sunday. 
Now for fun, can you guess which character each doll picked?
*In some case of International winners a Gift Certificate or E-book may be substituted

>ThrillerFest returns to the BIG Apple



Anticipation mounts as those who dare to scare plot their return to the
Big Apple for ThrillerFest VI July 6-9, 2011

Imagine learning the craft of novel writing from Ken Follett, the world-acknowledged master of the thriller novel whose iconic prose has kept millions of fans up late turning pages. This fantasy will become reality when New York City brings back the world’s biggest gathering of masters and devotees of the crime novel July 6-9, 2011 at ThrillerFest VI at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in New York City.

Bestselling author Ken Follett

“ThrillerFest VI is breaking records again this year!” says ThrillerFest Chair Kathleen Antrim. “It’s the only event of its kind on the planet. A summer camp for thriller fans and writers. We’reespecially excited to have international best seller Ken Follett teaching the craft of writing. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”

Class with Follett and many other New York Times Bestsellers at CraftFest is just one loop of the non-stop thrill ride that is ThrillerFest VI. This year AgentFest, the follow-through roundhouse to the one-two punch of CraftFest and AgentFest, will be bigger than ever. Sixty of the industry’s best will be there for the event described as“speed-dating with agents.” Aspiring authors will have three minutes to pitch an agent – and they can pitch as many agents as desired within two hours. Every year new writers are discovered.

There’s felonious fun in store for fans, too. More than 200 of the world’s best thriller writers will be in attendance with the express purpose of mixing, mingling and meeting their readers. There will be talks, readings and cocktail parties where tales of suspense will intoxicate more than the libations.

Thrillmaster R.L. Stine

This year’s Thrillermaster is R.L.Stine, a name that is sure make those young at heart shiver in anticipation.The mastermind behind the wildly popular FearStreet and Goosebumps series,Stine has written 330 books for children and four adult thrillers and has sold almost 400 million books around the world. ThrillerFest will also welcome special guests:

  • Robert Crais, author of the bestselling Elvis Cole series and winner of the 2006 Ross Macdonald Literary Award. His novels are bestsellers in 42 countries.
  • Diana Gabaldon, whose unique novels blend 20th-century science-fiction with18th-century historical romantic adventure in a way that is impossible to categorize. A true word-of-mouth sensation, she inspires writers everywhere to keep the faith.
  • John Lescroart, who took 20 years to become an overnight sensation, but today has novels translated into 16 languages in 75 countries.

The dénouement of ThrillerFest is the Awards Banquet, where authors and fans alike will feel pulse-racing anticipation as they wait to find out who will win the International Thriller Writers awards for best novel,best debut novel and best short story. Two beloved authors will also be honored. Karin Slaughter will receive the Silver Bullet Award for her outstanding and meritorious achievement in the pursuit of literacy and the love of reading.The True Thrill Award will go to Joe McGinnis for the verve, guts, and ambition that have inspired three generations of nonfiction suspense and true crime authors.

To make a reservation for an adrenaline-pumped summer adventure, please visit

>Interview with Shiloh Walker + GIVEAWAY of Hunter’s Fall with swag!


*This Giveaway is Now CLOSED*

Shiloh Walker has been writing since she was a kid. She fell in love with vampires with the book Bunnicula and has worked her way up to the more…ah…serious works of fiction. She loves reading and writing anything paranormal, anything fantasy, and nearly every kind of romance. Once upon a time she worked as a nurse, but now she writes full time and lives with her family in the Midwest. She writes paranormal and contemporary romance, as well as romantic suspense.

Q- What made you finally decide to write Nessa’s story?

A- It wasn’t so much of an active decision on my part. It was that Nessa was ready for her story to be told. I’m not one of the writers who plots things out-the stories come as they are ready to be told and Nessa was finally read to let me tell her story.

Q- The world of The Hunter’s and Nessa’s journey in particular, go to some rather dark places. Is it ever difficult to go there and expose that dark side of human nature through your characters?

A- Not really. If the story didn’t naturally flow that way and I tried to force it, then yes, it would be hard, but I just go with what the story wants.

Q- With the Hunter’s world being made of various supernatural beings (Were’s Vampires, Witches) did you base your mythology on any existing folklore and what kind of research have you done for the different spells used in your stories?

A- Well, I’ve always read a lot of paranormal and fantasy works and I’ve read up a lot of the folklore behind vampires and werewolves, but that’s the closest to ‘true’ research I can say I’ve done. With the Hunters, it’s mostly just imagination, I’m afraid.

Q- Readers get to know the character of the vampire Hunter, Dominic Ralston in Hunter’s Fall. His back story seems very sad and emotional, will we learn more about him in future books or short stories?

The Hunters: Rafe and Sheila (Book 6)A- Dominic’s story was actually relayed in an older book of mine-it was released from Ellora’s Cave some time ago. The book was Hunters: Rafe and Sheila and Dominic was introduced then as a college student. I knew the minute he came onto the page that he’d have a story, and I had a feeling it would be with Nessa. It just took a while for both of them to be ready.

Q- As the series has progressed the world has gotten more complex. What is it like writing such a long series, how many more books can fans anticipate?

A- Oh, that’s a question I have no answer for. I’ll continue writing the books as long as the stories keep coming to me easily. If it gets to the point that I’m forcing them or they feel like they are becoming redundant, I’ll move on. Nothing sucks so much as a series that’s gone stale.

Q- Which couple from the Hunter’s World did you find most rewarding to create and why?

A- Probably Dom and Nessa…because it took so long to tell their story.

Q- Do you have any mental images for some of the Hunters…inquiring minds want to know;)?

A- Afraid not-I have images in my mind, but I rarely see anybody that matches them.

Q- What is next for you? Anything you can tease us with?

A- The next book due out is an ebook, one of my Grimm stories, called LOCKED IN SILENCE. After that, my romantic suspense series from Ballantine, which I’m so nervous about. Afraid I can’t give you details on that one, though…I’m keeping it close to my chest. I do have excerpts from the books posted at my site, if the readers want to check it out.

*Paperback dolls wish to thank Shiloh Walker for taking the time to answer our questions. Hunter’s Fall is available NOW for purchase. Be sure to visit the author on her:


Hunter's Fall (The Hunters)Nessa lost her memory following a near-death experience. Dominic is a Hunter dealing with his own problems with memory and sanity. When the two are put together to battle the forces of darkness-while trying to restore what they’ve lost-their all-consuming passion becomes an even greater unknown.

The Prize!

We are going to giveaway a SIGNED arc copy of Hunter’s Fall, book marks and swag romance trading cards. To enter simply fill out THIS FORM and leave a comment for us. It is not required that you follow Paperback Dolls or spread the word about the contest, but it is greatly appreciated;).

This contest is international and will end June 17th. Winner will be announced in the Week in Review post Sunday June 18th.

Good Luck!