Guest Post: Kendra Highley

Today I’m happy to have Kendra Highley on Kinx’s Book Nook to talk about her new book, Matt Archer: Blade’s Edge. I’m a HUGE fan of Kendra’s Matt Archer series. She gave me the honor of letting me read and review an Advanced Reading Copy of Blade’s Edge. For my review, click here.

Kendra has written a wonderful post on the musical influences for Matt Archer.

Character Development: A Musical View

Music’s always been a big part of my life. I started taking violin lessons in third grade, and played into college. I was also in band and I love to sing in the car (although most people wouldn’t love to hear me sing). I feel like my days go better to a soundtrack.  

My love of music starts with my earliest memories.  While working around the house, my mom constantly listened to our stereo, a big console model in a wooden cabinet with huge speakers. This thing was furniture as much as a music maker. From as early I can remember, she’d be folding laundry at the kitchen table, singing along to the Urban Cowboy soundtrack, or Neil Diamond or The Beatles. Her taste was kind of eclectic if you can’t tell, and now I find that mine kind of is, too. I consider this one of the first, and most important, gifts my mother gave me.  She died when I was seventeen, but I still feel close to her whenever I hear certain songs. Music was simply always there at every stage of my life.

I guess it’s not surprising that I have a hard time writing without my earphones and the appropriate iTunes playlist queued up. For the first Matt Archer book, I had a character who was optimistic, self-deprecating and a whole lot of fun. Even on his worst days, Matt has hope. As I’ve written more installments, the playlist has changed dramatically. Matt not only ages, but his assignments are getting tougher. The “home front” isn’t as stable, either, so his life isn’t as clear-cut, and the music gets darker. He’s moved from Moby to AC/DC to Linkin Park. He goes from songs about getting stronger to songs about survival and staying true to yourself amidst chaos.

So what songs fit Matt in book one, Monster Hunter?  Check out the list below:

1.  The Only One, Evanescence
2.  All That I’m Living For, Evanescence
3.  Weight of the World, Evanescence
4.  Bodyrock, Moby
5.  Ride to Be my Girl, Benny Benassi
6.  Flower, Moby
7.  Speed of Sound, Coldplay
8.  Lost!, Coldplay
9.  No Line on the Horizon, U2
10. Hello! (Good to Be Back), Scooter
11. Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic, The Police (Ella’s Song)

Compare that to the songs for book two, Blade’s Edge – there’s a marked difference in Matt’s world view:

1. Thunderstruck, AC/DC
2. Back in Black, AC/DC
3. Honey, Moby
4. Hero, Skillet
5. Monster, Skillet
6. Dirty Paws, Of Monsters and Men
7. Let it Be, The Beatles (Schmitz’s Song)
8. What I’ve Done, Linkin Park
9. A Message, Coldplay (Ella’s Song)
10. The Inception, Soundtrack

Now I’m writing the third book. So far, I’ve been listening to Sail and Soul Wars by AWOLNATION; Castle of Glass, Iridescent, and Burn It Down by Linkin Park; the Transformers soundtrack; and Extreme Ways (Bourne Legacy), by Moby. Darker, harder music, for a darker, more jaded guy. But I like to think it also points to Matt’s development as a character from that optimistic boy to a man of purpose and honor—no matter how deeply his experiences have wounded him.  He’s had a hard road to travel and each song catalogs another obstacle overcome.

By the way…I’m already plotting the final book, and I’ll give one hint: No Light, No Light, by 

So how about you? What do you listen to when you want to feel badass? Any songs you think I should grab on iTunes to help me write?

About Kendra

Author Bio:
Kendra C. Highley lives in north Texas with her husband and two children. She also serves as staff to two self-important and high-powered cats. This, according to the cats, is her most important job.Kendra believes chocolate is a basic human right, running a 10k is harder than it sounds, and that everyone should learn to drive a stick-shift. She loves monsters, vacations, baking and listening to bad electronica. More information about the Matt Archer universe, works in progress and the nature of the Higgs Boson* can be found at*Yeah…not really. We’ll let the scientists handle that part.)

Contact Information:

Purchase Links:


Matt Archer: Monster Hunter – Free!  Use coupon code XF23B via Smashwords

Matt Archer: Blade’s Edge—25% off!  Use coupon code UD38J via Smashwords

Coupons are good from the start of the tour through February 10, 2013.

Waiting on Wednesday: A Murder at Rosamund’s Gate

Waiting On” Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we’re eagerly anticipating.

My Waiting on Wednesday:

A Murder at Rosamund’s Gate by Susanna Calkins
To be released on April 23, 2013

For Lucy Campion, a seventeenth-century English chambermaid serving in a household of the local magistrate, life is an endless repetition of polishing pewter, emptying chamber pots, and dealing with other household chores until a fellow servant is ruthlessly killed, and someone close to Lucy falls under suspicion. Lucy can’t believe it, but in a time where the accused are presumed guilty until proven innocent, lawyers are permitted to defend their clients, and – if the plague doesn’t kill the suspect first – public executions draw a large crowd of spectators, Lucy knows she may never find out what really happened. Unless, that is, she can uncover the truth herself.

Determined to do just that, Lucy finds herself venturing out of her expected station and into raucous printers’ shops, secretive gypsy camps, the foul streets of London, and even the bowels of Newgate prison on a trail that might lead her straight into the arms of the killer.

Happy Birthday Pride and Prejudice! (And Me too)

Two hundred years ago today, Pride and Prejudice was first published. The author had no name; only “By the author of Sense and Sensibility.” I find it amazing that after 200 years we are still reading and cherishing Jane Austen’s work. For many, Pride and Prejudice is Jane’s masterpiece. Mr. Darcy has captured many ladies’ hearts, past and present. Some many women admire Elizabeth Bennett’s wit and intelligence. Even if this book is not your favorite of Jane’s works, on has to admire the wonderful take on 18th Century English society.

Thank you Jane Austen for this amazing gift! We will cherish it forever!

I’m so honored to share my birthday with the Pride and Prejudice anniversary. It’s going to a wonderful birthday reading all the wonderful blog, Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest posts about Jane. 

Stacking the Shelves

Stacking The Shelves is all about sharing the books you are adding to your shelves, may it be physical or virtual. This means you can include books you buy in physical store or online, books you borrow from friends or the library, review books, gifts and of course ebooks!
I only purchased one book this week for my Kindle. It has been on my TBR list for a while and the movie premiered at Sundance this last week. So, I thought it would be a perfect time to get it!
Austenland by Shannon Hale
Jane Hayes is a seemingly normal young New Yorker, but she has a secret. Her obsession with Mr. Darcy, as played by Colin Firth in the BBC adaptation of Pride and Prejudice, is ruining her love life: no real man can compare. But when a wealthy relative bequeaths her a trip to an English resort catering to Austen-crazed women, Jane’s fantasies of meeting the perfect Regency-era gentleman suddenly become realer than she ever could have imagined.

Decked out in empire-waist gowns, Jane struggles to master Regency etiquette and flirts with gardeners and gentlemen;or maybe even, she suspects, with the actors who are playing them. It’s all a game, Jane knows. And yet the longer she stays, the more her insecurities seem to fall away, and the more she wonders: Is she about to kick the Austen obsession for good, or could all her dreams actually culminate in a Mr. Darcy of her own?

Feature & Follow Friday (29): Late Night Read

Gain new followers and make new friends with the Book Blogger Feature & Follow! If this is your first time here, welcome! You are about to make some new friends and gain new followers — but you have to know — the point of this hop is to follow other bloggers also. I follow you, you follow me.
The Feature & Follow is hosted by TWO hosts, Parajunkee of Parajunkee’s View and Alison of Alison Can Read. Each host will have their own Feature Blog and this way it’ll allow us to show off more new blogs!
How does this work? First you leave your name here on this post, (using the linky tools — keep scrolling!) then you create a post on your own blog that links back to this post (easiest way is to just grab the code under the #FF picture and put it in your post) and then you visit as many blogs as you can and tell them “hi” in their comments (on the post that has the #FF image). You follow them, they follow you. Win. Win. Just make sure to follow back if someone follows you!
What sets this Hop apart from others, is our Feature. Each week we will showcase a Featured Blogger, from all different genres and areas. Who is our Feature today? Find out below. Just remember it is required, if you participate, to follow our Features and you must follow the hosts (Parajunkee & Alison Can Read) as a courtesy. How do you follow someone? Well, if you have a preference, state it in your #FF post. A lot of blogs are transitioning to WordPress in which they do not have the luxury of GFC, so an RSS subscription is appreciated or if you choose an email subscription. If you don’t have GFC please state in your post how you would like to be followed.

Q: What is the last book that kept you up late into the night just to finish it?

A: The last book I finished, The Night Cirus by Erin Morgenstern. I absolutely loved it! If you’re curious, here’s my review. Night Circus is one of those books that you can completely lose yourself. The Cirque des Reves is definitely a Circus of Dreams.


Why I love to read: My Comfy Reading Blanket

Why I Love to Read

I’ve been thinking for a while of starting either a weekly series. However, I’ve had some difficulty deciding on what to write about. So many bloggers have wonderful weekly memes on what they currently reading, what they are waiting for, and what they just bought, borrowed, or given. My creativity for something new was extremely lacking. But then, I thought, keep it simple. Just ask a simple question, why do I love to read sooo much. As I was thinking about it, I found that it’s not an easy question to answer. It could be different on any given day or even hour. Sometimes, I read just to read because I feel like I have to or I’ve had a bad day and I want to escape from the world.  There are so many reasons and I now I want to share those reasons with you. In return, I hope you leave lots of comments on why you love to read!

My Comfy Reading Blanket

Do you have a comfy blanket that you have to have before you lose yourself in a book? I do! It’s a lovely, navy blue plaid heated blanket that I got for Christmas. My sister-in-law picked it out for our Dirty Santa Christmas with me in mind. It is so warm and cozy that I just curl up and don’t move except to turn or flip a page of my book.

Another great part of my comfy blanket is that my girls love it too. Once I sit on the couch, spread it out and turn up the heat, I have two little girls on either side of me. Sometimes I have one on my lap which makes reading a little challenging; however, it’s pretty sweet all the same. My youngest likes to turn up the heat all the way and before we know it it’s pretty darn warm. Everybody has to get up and go to another room to cool off. Then it’s right back to the comfy blanket with the heat on full blast. It’s a crazy cycle!

However, there are times when I have the entire couch to myself. I go to the end and snuggle against the arm and wrap that comfy blanket around me. I, either, pick up my book or my Kindle and start to read. It’s like eating comfort food. It feels so good! After a while it doesn’t feel like I’m reading words anymore. I see the story building in my mind and I snuggle deeper in my comfy blanket. It’s such a wonderful way to spend your day!

My comfy blanket is pretty popular in my house. Sometimes I will find my husband lying on the couch taking a nap with one of our kitties, Harry Potter. Pretty sweet! Other times, both girls will be snuggled under it playing games on my IPhone or IPad.  I wish they would read while using it. Maybe I should make that a rule if anyone wants to borrow my comfy blanket: MUST READ TO USE COMFY BLANKET.

Anyway, that’s why I love to read this week. Do you have a comfy blanket? Why do you love to read? I would love to know!

Waiting on Wednesday: Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald

Waiting On” Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we’re eagerly anticipating.

My Waiting on Wednesday:

Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald by Therese Anne Fowler
To be released on March 26, 2013


I wish I could tell everyone who thinks we’re ruined, Look closer…and you’ll see something extraordinary, mystifying, something real and true. We have never been what we seemed.

When beautiful, reckless Southern belle Zelda Sayre meets F. Scott Fitzgerald at a country club dance in 1918, she is seventeen years old and he is a young army lieutenant stationed in Alabama. Before long, the “ungettable” Zelda has fallen for him despite his unsuitability: Scott isn’t wealthy or prominent or even a Southerner, and keeps insisting, absurdly, that his writing will bring him both fortune and fame. Her father is deeply unimpressed. But after Scott sells his first novel, This Side of Paradise, to Scribner’s, Zelda optimistically boards a train north, to marry him in the vestry of St. Patrick’s Cathedral and take the rest as it comes.

What comes, here at the dawn of the Jazz Age, is unimagined attention and success and celebrity that will make Scott and Zelda legends in their own time. Everyone wants to meet the dashing young author of the scandalous novel—and his witty, perhaps even more scandalous wife. Zelda bobs her hair, adopts daring new fashions, and revels in this wild new world. Each place they go becomes a playground: New York City, Long Island, Hollywood, Paris, and the French Riviera—where they join the endless party of the glamorous, sometimes doomed Lost Generation that includes Ernest Hemingway, Sara and Gerald Murphy, and Gertrude Stein.

Everything seems new and possible. Troubles, at first, seem to fade like morning mist. But not even Jay Gatsby’s parties go on forever. Who is Zelda, other than the wife of a famous—sometimes infamous—husband? How can she forge her own identity while fighting her demons and Scott’s, too? With brilliant insight and imagination, Therese Anne Fowler brings us Zelda’s irresistible story as she herself might have told it. 

What are waiting you for?

Review: Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

Night Circus
Written by Erin Morgenstern
Published by Anchor Books
Released in 2011
512 pages


The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede. It is simply there,  when yesterday it was not. Within the black-and-white striped canvas tent is an utterly unique experience full of breathtaking amazements. It is called Le Cirque des Reves, and it is only open at night.

But behind the scenes, a fierce competition is underway: a duel between two young magicians, Celia and Marco, who have been trained since childhood expressly for this purpose by their mercurial instructors. Unbeknownst to them both, this is a game in which only one can be left standing. Amidst the high stakes, Celia and Marco soon tumble headfirst into love, setting a domino effect of dangerous consequences, and leaving the lives of everyone from the performances to the patrons hanging in the balance.

Erin Morgenstern has written a magnificent tale in The Night Circus. It is hard to find the words to describe my love for this books, but I will try.

The first thing I noticed about this book is the richness of it. The descriptions are so detailed and vivid. I could imagine myself walking through each tent and experiencing the magic. I feel privileged that Ms. Morgenstern let us inside her amazing imagination.

The circus is its own character. Each individual tent has its own distinct personality. The use of black and white did not give the circus a sinister feel. Instead, the colors, or lack thereof, make it whimsical and magical. I usually don’t like circuses but the The Cirque des Reves would be a beautiful sight to behold.

At the heart of the book is Celia and Marco and what I call their diabolical competition. Two men steal their lives for a competition that no one really wins. Hector, in particular, is obsessed with the game. He doesn’t care who he hurts, including his daughter, in order to win. While Alexander does show some pity Marco at times, he is still cold and indifferent. It is heartbreaking. Celia and Marco’s love story evolves slowly over time. Each creation in the circus is made with love for each other. Deep down, it is a true Romeo and Juliet story.

I really enjoyed Ms. Morgenstern’s view of magic. The illusions are beautifully described. There are no witches or wizards, only amazing illusionists who can manipulate people and objects around them. I found this be very intriguing and kept me engrossed in the book.

The Night Circus is amazing book. I highly recommend it to anyone that loves the circus, or even if you don’t, and beautiful love story.


It’s Monday! What are you reading?!

Welcome to It’s Monday! What Are You Reading! This is a great way to plan out your reading week and see what others are currently reading as well… you never know where that next “must read” book will come from! Hosted by Book Journey.
Here’s what I will be reading this week:
A Tainted Dawn: The Great War Book I
By B.N. Peacock
A new age dawns.
And yet, old hostilities persist: England and Spain are on the brink of war. France, allied by treaty with Spain readies her warships. Three youths – the son of an English carpenter, the son of a naval captain, and the son of a French court tailor – meet in London, a chance encounter that entwines their lives ever after. The English boys find themselves on the same frigate bound for the Caribbean. The Frenchman sails to Trinidad, where he meets an even more zealous Spanish revolutionary. As diplomats in Europe race to avoid conflict, war threatens to explode in the Caribbean, with the three youths pitted against each other.
Will the dawn of the boys’ young manhood reamin bright with hope? Or will it became tainted with their countrymen’s spilled blood?
Searching for Captain Wentworth
By Jane Odiwe
When aspiring writer, Sophie Elliot, receives the keys to the family townhouse in Bath, it’s an invitation she can’t turn down, especially when she learns that she will be living next door to the house her favourite author, Jane Austen, lived in. But, the neglected house is harbouring more than the antiquated furniture and nesting mice, though initially Sophie tries to dismiss the haunting visions of a young girl. On discovering that an ancient glove belonging to her mysterious neighbour, Josh Strafford, will transport her back in time to Regency Bath, she questions her sanity, but Sophie is soon caught up in two dimensions, each reality as certain as the other. Torn between her life in the modern world, and that of her ancestor who befriends Jane Austen and her fascinating brother Charles, Sophie’s story travels two hundred years across time, and back again, to unite this modern heroine with her own Captain Wentworth. Blending fact and fiction together the tale of Jane Austen’s own quest for happiness weaves alongside, creating a believable world of new possibilities for the inspiration behind the beloved novel, Persuasion.

Stacking the Shelves

Stacking The Shelves is all about sharing the books you are adding to your shelves, may it be physical or virtual. This means you can include books you buy in physical store or online, books you borrow from friends or the library, review books, gifts and of course ebooks!
 Instead of ebooks, I actually bought some print books. I’m pretty darn excited and here they are:
The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not. Within the black-and-white striped canvas tents is an utterly unique experience full of breathtaking amazements. It is called Le Cirque des Rêves, and it is only open at night.

But behind the scenes, a fierce competition is underway—a duel between two young magicians, Celia and Marco, who have been trained since childhood expressly for this purpose by their mercurial instructors. Unbeknownst to them, this is a game in which only one can be left standing, and the circus is but the stage for a remarkable battle of imagination and will. Despite themselves, however, Celia and Marco tumble headfirst into love—a deep, magical love that makes the lights flicker and the room grow warm whenever they so much as brush hands.

True love or not, the game must play out, and the fates of everyone involved, from the cast of extraordinary circus per­formers to the patrons, hang in the balance, suspended as precariously as the daring acrobats overhead.

Written in rich, seductive prose, this spell-casting novel is a feast for the senses and the heart.

Death Comes to Pemberley by P.D. James
It is 1803, six years since Elizabeth and Darcy embarked on their life together at Pemberley, Darcy’s magnificent estate. Their peaceful, orderly world seems almost unassailable. Elizabeth has found her footing as the chatelaine of the great house. They have two fine sons, Fitzwilliam and Charles. Elizabeth’s sister Jane and her husband, Bingley, live nearby; her father visits often; there is optimistic talk about the prospects of marriage for Darcy’s sister Georgiana. And preparations are under way for their much-anticipated annual autumn ball.

Then, on the eve of the ball, the patrician idyll is shattered. A coach careens up the drive carrying Lydia, Elizabeth’s disgraced sister, who with her husband, the very dubious Wickham, has been banned from Pemberley. She stumbles out of the carriage, hysterical, shrieking that Wickham has been murdered. With shocking suddenness, Pemberley is plunged into a frightening mystery.

The Beggar King by Oliver Potzsch

The year is 1662. Alpine village hangman Jakob Kuisl receives a letter from his sister calling him to the imperial city of Regensburg, where a gruesome sight awaits him: her throat has been slit. Arrested and framed for the murder, Kuisl faces first-hand the torture he’s administered himself for years.

Jakob’s daughter, Magdalena, and a young medicus named Simon hasten to his aid. With the help of an underground network of beggars, a beer-brewing monk, and an Italian playboy, they discover that behind the false accusation is a plan that will endanger the entire German Empire.

Chock-full of fhistorical detail, The Beggar King brings to vibrant life another tale of an unlikely hangman and his tough-as-nails daughter, confirming Pötzsch’s mettle as a writer to watch.

The Last Runaway by Tracy Chevalier

In New York Times bestselling author Tracy Chevalier’s newest historical saga, she introduces Honor Bright, a modest English Quaker who moves to Ohio in 1850, only to find herself alienated and alone in a strange land. Sick from the moment she leaves England, and fleeing personal disappointment, she is forced by family tragedy to rely on strangers in a harsh, unfamiliar landscape.

Nineteenth-century America is practical, precarious, and unsentimental, and scarred by the continuing injustice of slavery. In her new home Honor discovers that principles count for little, even within a religious community meant to be committed to human equality.

However, drawn into the clandestine activities of the Underground Railroad, a network helping runaway slaves escape to freedom, Honor befriends two surprising women who embody the remarkable power of defiance. Eventually she must decide if she too can act on what she believes in, whatever the personal costs.

A powerful journey brimming with color and drama, The Last Runaway is Tracy Chevalier’s vivid engagement with an iconic part of American history.