Monday, March 11, 2013

Walking in the Shadows: Review & Crimson Reign Featurette

Walking in the Shadows
by Cassandra Giovanni
Publication Date: October 31, 2012
Genre: YA Romantic Suspense
Formats Available: eBook, Paperback ~360 pages

Book Blurb:
Seconds seem like a lifetime when the life you lived is slowly drained out of you by those who care not what you felt, hoped, or dreamed. When the darkness comes it is all-consuming; there is no light and there is no pain. It is the never-ending loss of hope that now consumes me as I die in his arms.

This is Abigail Martin’s nightmare. After her parents become the first victims of a serial killer obsessed with the vampire saga, "Crimson Reign," Abigail does the only thing that she thinks will save her from her parent’s fate–she becomes some one else. As Vera MacIntrye, she falls in love with the very handsome Tad Knightley, and then walks into her first day at her new school to see him standing at the front of the classroom. He’s every teenage girls fantasy, but as he writes “Mr. Knightley: AP British Literature” across the white board Vera realizes the one person who filled the gaping hole in her heart will soon rip it wide open again.

Vera struggles to adjust to being a ‘normal’ teenager with very adult responsibilities like paying the rent, buying groceries and making sure that lights stay on, while being drawn time and time again back to her off-limits teacher. What’s worse is he is drawn to her too, and their worlds refuse to stay apart when Tad finds Vera screaming in terror in the parking lot after the winter formal. The murderer has struck again and is getting closer to the next target–Vera. Tad will do whatever he can to save her, even if it means losing his dream job, but will it be enough when the murderer is closer than anyone ever thought?

Walking in the Shadows

I absolutely love this book! I stayed up all night reading and could not bring myself to go to bed without knowing the end. It has been a long time since I have become so engrossed in a book. I received Walking in the Shadows as an ARR through Goodreads and didn't have any idea what I was picking up. I thought the synopsis looked interesting and I was blown away! The plot is intriguing and compelling, the drama is intense, and the romance is steamy in a YA way. This book has so many layers and deals with many issues such as morality, ethics, death, friendship, and love.

The Romance: Abigail - or Vera, as she is now known - lost her parents when she was only 16. Instead of going to live with her Godparents, she chose to make it on her own and became legally emancipated. So when she met Tad, a recently graduated college student, it was no wonder why he thought she was older than 17. And Abbi didn't correct his assumption; something she now is kicking herself for because he is now her high school British English teacher. Talk about awkward! He is furious and she is devastated because she will lose him too. But their feelings for each other are too strong and despite the rational idea of letting one another go, they give in to their deliciously forbidden and taboo relationship. I love the chemistry between Abbi and Tad, especially in the classroom when they are fighting their feelings. Tad isn't that much older than Abbi (who turns 18 two weeks into the semester) and has a bit of a temper like a teenage boy which emerges at the best times - Tad1, Mike:0. I love that Tad tries to act like a knight-in-shining-armour. He is Abbi's other half and without him she never quite feels safe.

The Mystery: The teachers have all been told of Abbi's living circumstances and that her parents were killed in a car crash, but that isn't actually the truth. In reality they were murdered by Vampires...well, a serial killer who thinks they are a  vampire. Really, they are taking their love of the popular vampire book, Crimson Reign, to an extreme. Hoping for a new start (and a way to hide), Abbi moved from her home town to Amherst, MA and actually started to see light at the end of the tunnel. She had a best friend, a "boyfriend", a job, and had her Godparents nearby. But then on the night of the Winter Formal, Abbi found another victim of the serial killer and her life is catapulted back into a state of fear. I love the whole idea of a serial killer who mimics a super popular vampire series. And I love the subtle tie-ins to an actual popular vampire series. It made the whole story very believable in that aspect because people love to become something else - something with more power than they themselves as humans posses.

The plot of Walking in the Shadows is fueled by the characters' emotions. I think this is why I didn't find the whole teacher-student relationship to be a bad thing. They love each other and think the same and really are on the same level even though they are a few years apart. Then there are Abbi's dreams about her father. I found myself in tears after her dreams hearing his voice and running to him only having him become a monster and kill her! I felt everything that Abbi felt: my heart was continually broken, I was in fear for my life and angry, I was happy and laughing, and I was in love. Abbi is not the best friend a person could have, but Jaz (her new and only friend) stood by her even when she found out that she had been lied to on many occasions. The only thing that I did not like was the skipping of time. We go from one day to the next without any mention of the time that had passed and I desperately wanted that time filled in!

I found myself completely entranced by Cassandra Giovanni's novel Walking in the Shadows. Normally, I like reading books that can stand alone, but in this case I want more. I really want to read more about Tad and Abbi's relationship and I want to read Crimson Reign and see what the fuss is all about. The characters were written well and are interesting - even if some were slightly two dimensional. Overall, I think that Abbi's journey holds more than just finding her parent's killer and having a boyfriend. This is a book about finding love and learning to accept the love given in return whether it is from a lover, a friend, or family. 
FTC Advisory: I was given a copy of this book from the author for an honest review as part of a Goodreads ARR. No backroom deals or whispered promises were made.

Guest Post by Cassandra Giovanni

The Novel Behind the Novel: Crimson Reign
Walking in the Shadows is a book based off of events caused by another book—the Crimson Reign Saga. This saga of vampire novels is based off of two warring covens with differing ideals and the fight over a vampire that has converted from one coven to the other. The idea of the Crimson Reigncame from the real life events that spurred the vampire phenomena—the books that inspired people to become over the top obsessed. I’ve seen people with Team Edward tattooed on their bodies, which was scary enough on its own. It really got me thinking about how far obsessions can go, so I combined the mind of a serial killer with the mind of a person who is so obsessed with a fictional item that they get it tattooed on their body forever. Thus, the Crimson Reign Saga was born, but I knew my character would never read the novels so how could I really understand the depth that created the nightmare that became Vera/Abbi’s life? It seemed natural to me to write some scenes from the first novel in the saga, and to outline the rest of the series as well. It helped me to gain an understanding of the characters that inspired the murders—the bad characters, the vampires that believed that they should have the power over humans. Seeing I have these files sitting in a folder labeled “Unfinished: Never to be finished”, I might as well share them with you. Please keep in mind that the Crimson Reign novels were never meant to be seen and were written to imitate a style which is not mine. They have a bit of over the top vampire features that border on being ridiculous—but if you like it and you want more…I might oblige.

“Time to hunt,” Evan said, clapping his hands together, his sharp retractable incisor teeth protruding.
Faye leaned up on her tip toes and kissed his neck. “Let’s.”
“I’m good,” I replied looking back down at the book I was reading. We weren’t nocturnal and I wasn’t a fan of night feeding.
“Not hungry?” Evan asked as he leaned down and put his face in front of mine.
“Not in the least,” I said, my voice sounding meeker than the ferocity I felt.
He struck the book from my hand and grabbed me by the shoulder hard enough to bruise as he yelled, “What’s wrong with you lately?”
I slapped his hand away. “You aren’t the boss of me Evan.”
“I’m the leader of this coven whether or not you like it,” he hissed, shaking his arm. There was no doubt in my mind that I had bruised him back and that I had bruised his ego, too.
“I don’t,” I retorted in a matter of fact voice. Being a vampire was so dramatic sometimes.
“And what pray tell would you do about it? Leave?” Faye teased, dancing in front of Evan and running her hands across his chest, “I think not.”
She had her back to me now as she rubbed her body against his and then bit his lip. I rolled my eyes as I tried to look away from them. My life was filled with these awkward moments 99% of the time. I didn’t have a mate and they felt the need to rub it in my face, or complain about it. Either way I wasn’t in the mood for their nasty feeding and make-out fest.
“I think you need a mate,” Evan commented in between kisses with her.
“Don’t you dare try to convince Collin into trying to seduce me again,” I said, thinking of the other single coven member. They had chosen him for me, and weren’t very pleased when I decided he was almost as much the scum of the earth as they were; as we were.
“Then come feed, you can’t starve forever,” Faye begged with sweet pout. It was fake though, she really didn’t care.
“I’m good,” I repeated.
“Why are you so stubborn? They deserve what’s coming to them. This is what we were put here to do. They are our prey. God put us here to do this,” Evan explained forcefully.
I watched as Collin, Aria and Leo entered the room ready for the hunt.
“Is she getting a conscience again?”Aria guessed, flipping her curly golden locks.
“I don’t like that theory,” Evan growled as he turned on Aria and pushed her to the wall. “So keep your opinions to yourself.”
“She’s just like the Gray’s. Sorry excuses for vampires,” Aria retorted, pushing back against Evan. She was weaker than me, though and couldn’t free herself from his grip.
“Us equal to the humans?” Collin spat with his black eyes narrowed on me.
“Live among humans?” Leo added as he pulled Evan off of Aria. They acted like beasts, no wonder we couldn’t live among humans. They would all be running for their lives—too bad they wouldn’t get far.
“The Grays live with them?” I asked, jumping over the couch and grabbing my book of the floor.
“You already act like one—reading. What a waste of time,” Leo commented as he sniffed Aria’s hair before kissing it.
We were supposed to be more evolved than the humans, yet we acted like this. I felt the bile rising under the pale skin of my throat. That was the reason I couldn’t feed; these idiots made me nauseous with their sexual behaviors and lack of any sort of inhibition.
“You’re coming with us whether or not you like it,” Evan demanded before grabbing me by my arm and throwing me over his shoulder. His finger dug into my collar bone, and I couldn’t fight him. He knew it was the only way I wouldn’t.


I knew I couldn’t run from them forever. They would fine me, not because they cared but for their own selfish motives. My only way out was this; I would do it before they could find me. I lay down and stared up at the stars and kissed them goodbye with one slice of each pale wrist. The metallic stench was overwhelming. It called me to feed, but it would do nothing to save me now. I watched the pink veins beginning to flow forward as the blood cycled towards the deep cuts and out. I let my wrists lay in the cool crimson puddles and tried to forget the pain. I hoped there was a God to save me at the other end of this.
“What the hell are you doing?” a deep, intoxicating voice interrupted.
“Finding a way out—away from them,” I replied as I watched his face come into view over me. It was blurred by the moon that was making a halo over his head. I had thought the stench of the freshly manure covered field would hide my blood from other vampires.
“Why?” he pried as his voice softened.
His face focused through the blur of the moon and I found myself staring into the sterling eyes of Colby Gray. He was a name and face I knew but a voice I had never heard.
“We’re beasts, diabolical beasts. I can’t do it anymore,” I choked out in a rasp whisper. I knew that his strong ears would be the only thing that could hear my weakened voice. It was working; I was dying, finally.
“They’re beasts, you don’t have to be,”he murmured as he swept me into his arms.
“I’m done for already,” I said. I could hear my heartbeat fading from a thump to a pitter. Yes, that much closer to never having to kill again.
“We’ll save you—?”
“Nara Cabe,” I managed with a slurred voice, the words painfully coming as my head lolled against his shoulder.
“Nara Gray now,” he replied, brushing a tear away from my face. My body was numb, but his cool finger was like an electric shock. I fought hard against the weakness in my limbs as he ran faster and faster. His face was desperate, and I could tell he didn’t know if they could save me. I wished I had known they would have been willing to save me. The Grays—the coven mine despised so much. The one I would now become if I could only convince my heart to stop beating the life out of itself.

Cassandra Giovanni is an avid writer of young adult novels and can't wait to share her work with you. The genres of her novels include dystopian, paranormal, mystery and romance all aimed at appealing to adults and young adults alike. Her personal goal with her writing is to show the reader the character's stories through their dialogue and actions instead of just telling the reader what is happening. She began writing at a very young age, in fact from the moment she could draw she was telling stories that way. At age seven she won a contest in American Girl Doll to have a chapter she had written published. From that point on she was always writing, if not on paper than in her head. In May 2012 she published her first novel, In Between Seasons, which demonstrated her unique writing style and approach to the genre of post-apocalyptic fiction. On Halloween 2012 Cassandra released her second novel, Walking in the Shadows. This novel puts a new twist on the obsession of vampires in literature and explores some of the darkest parts of human nature, while still showing that there is always hope--if we only choose to believe in ourselves.

Cassandra is also a professional photographer with areas of interest such as car features, floral and architecture. Her photography company, Gio Design Studios, will be transitioning into a publication marketing company that designs covers and marketing materials for authors utilizing the company's photography. She is currently studying to receive her associates degree in Marketing. Cassandra is happily married to the man of her dreams and they live in the rolling hills of New England with the other loves of her life their dogs, Bubski and Kanga.

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