Thursday, August 1, 2013

Review, Author Interview & Giveaway - Haven by Celia Breslin

I had the opportunity to be a part of this awesome tour for Haven.  Make sure you scroll down for the giveaway and to read my interview with Celia Breslin (you'll get to learn about our shared love of Joss Whedon!)

HavenTitle: Haven
Author: Celia Breslin
Genre: Urban Fantasy Romance
Release Date: July 2, 2013
Pages: 372, eBook
Goodreads Rating: 4.6 stars
My Rating: 3.5/5 stars
Content Rating: 18+ (Some explicit sex scenes)

Summary from Goodreads: San Francisco nightclub owner Carina Tranquilli works hard, plays hard, and never allows the death of her parents and her twelve-year memory gap to get her down. But her life takes a left turn when a witch attacks her on her twenty-fifth birthday.

Three hauntingly familiar vampires emerge to reveal she possesses a latent power. To protect her from their enemies, they admit to wiping her memories clean and abandoning her as a child, but now they need her help. As she struggles to evade her new protectors and even newer enemies, she meets Alexander, an enigmatic, undead musician. Insta-lust flares, leaving her wanting more.

With evil’s minions hounding her every move, and everything she thought she knew turned on its head, Carina must harness her burgeoning power, unravel her vampire family’s web of deceit, and fight to have a love life...without getting killed in the process.


Haven is sexy, edgy, exciting and hip (one of the main settings is a hot nightclub that the main character owns and the characters are mostly all in their early twenties).  I really enjoyed this book and struggled with whether to give it 3.5 or 4 stars.  I finally settled on 3.5, but I think that if you're a true fan of Urban Fantasy and/or the New Adult genre (with its sexy adult situations), you'd probably LOVE this book.

The story follows Carina Tranquilli (Rina), who discovers that she is part of a vampire family that she doesn't remember (they erased her memories when she was a child in order to protect her).  Meanwhile, she meets Alexander, who she feels instantly connected to (and lustful for!) - he brings out a side of her that she didn't know existed and she's not sure that she can control it once it's out.  Add in some evil vampires and a prophecy and you've got yourself one heck of an adventure!

What I wasn't crazy about:

  • Rina's lack of curiosity. Rina has no memory of her childhood.  When she is confronted by a bunch of people from her past who can unlock her memories, she just isn't that interested.  Huh?  Really?  It's not that she's really afraid of what she might learn or anything - she just kind of likes her life the way it is and doesn't see any point in self-discovery.  Rina waffles back and forth throughout the book, alternately upset that her family won't tell her everything and insisting that she doesn't want to hear any more.  When they do give her information, she almost always stops them before they can tell her too much - she insists that she's on information overload. If this had happened once, it would be okay, but it happens every time they start to tell her about her past.  I was a bit torn about this - on the one hand, I hate when an author dumps an entire backstory on you in one sitting (it was great that there was some mystery), but on the other hand I felt myself getting frustrated with Rina and not really believing that her character would act this way - it just felt like a plot device to keep us (and her) from learning too much too soon. 
  • Sex steals the show.  Okay, so I've heard that the NA genre is basically erotica for twenty-somethings and this book fit that criteria.  (NOTE: This book is not technically NA, but it fits a lot of the criteria for NA - twenty-something characters, adult situations and a young, hip feel). This would actually be okay with me (because it wasn't too over-the-top descriptive and there wasn't anything horribly kinky going on), except that at some points in the book, the lust-factor took over and completely overshadowed the actual plot.  There was a portion of the middle of this book that focused almost solely on how much Rina wanted to have sex with Alexander.  To give Breslin credit, there was a reason given for why Rina was so overcome with lust, but I just felt like this middle portion of the book lost me somewhat.  When thinking back later about what Haven was about, I found myself thinking, "It's about a girl who really, really wanted to have sex with a hot vampire guy," and then remembering the rest of the actual plot.  This is the main reason that the book gets 3.5 stars from me instead of 4.  Having said that, I think there might be a lot of people who really like the whole lust storyline (it's definitely sexy) and won't mind at all that it takes center stage for a while.
What I loved:
  • The setting.  I thought that nightclub setting fit really well with this book and added something tangible to the story.  The setting was almost a character itself - it seemed to represent freedom and abandon to Rina, but also gave her a sense belonging and security.  It also added a young, hip vibe to the book that will definitely resonate with twenty-something readers.
  • Carina and her crew.  I loved that Carina was bold and audacious without being snarky or whiny.  She didn't let anyone walk all over her and didn't let a few invading vampires get her down.  Yet, she wasn't perfect - she doubted herself when life didn't fit into her type-A personality mold.  That's when she would call on the help and advice of her friends.  I especially loved BFF (with benefits) Adrian - he knew Carina better than she knew herself and was the one who would put her on the right course when she threatened to self-destruct.  Carina's friends were all completely loyal to her and wouldn't back down from protecting her, even when she wanted them to!  A great group to have around when fighting off a vampire apocalypse.
  • The vampires.  I loved that even the "good" vampires in this book were dangerous and sometimes downright nasty.  You never knew if you should be rooting for them or not. Rina didn't know whether or not to trust them and you really couldn't blame her.  The only vampire who never crossed over to the dark side was Alexander (but I wouldn't doubt that he has it in him).  This is one vampire family that I would not want to cross!  And of course, the truly bad guys are just plain diabolical - the situation that they leave Rina in at the end of the big final confrontation is beyond cruel (but I don't want to say more and spoil anything).
Haven was definitely an exciting ride.  If you are a fan of urban fantasy romance books (with an NA flair), I'm pretty sure you'll love this one too.  I give the book 3.5/5 Stars.

**Disclosure: This book was provided to me by the author in exchange for an honest review. No other compensation was given. All opinions are my own***

An Interview With 

Celia Breslin

Hi, Nicole!

Thanks for having me over for a visit today. :-)

Thanks for visiting! Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I live in San Francisco with my family and totally love the fog.  My husband jokes that I’m part vampire, LOL.  I’m a full-time mom with one kid and two feisty young cats. The latter two often think they’re human. In addition to writing urban fantasy and paranormal romance, I line edit and read slush pile for an indie publisher.  

I hear you're a Joss Whedon fan.  I am too!!  Buffy is my absolute favorite TV show of all-time.  What's your favorite Whedon project and why?

Joss Whedon RULES. And all of his projects are so good! Do I have to pick just one? *grins*  Okay, how about one from TV and one from film? “Buffy” was my absolute favorite until Angel spun off to his own show. I loved how Joss developed the characters we had known and loved in “Buffy.” Plus, the evil law firm was total genius. And, of course, when Spike - my favorite Joss vampire - moved from Buffy to “Angel,” that was icing on the cake.

In film, I like Whedon’s “The Avengers.” Superhero goodness + Whedon snark = Awesome Sauce. That said, I’m going to cast my favorite vote to “The Cabin in the Woods.” Such a clever and fun movie. I love his nod to classic horror films (sorry, no spoilers here, watch the movie if you haven’t!) and of course his fantastic dialogue and the timing of his humor vis-à-vis scary moments.

Here are two Joss Whedon quotes I like:
“Write it. Shoot it. Publish it. Crochet it. Sauté it. Whatever. MAKE.”

“All worthy work is open to interpretations the author did not intend. Art isn't your pet--it's your kid. It grows up and talks back to you.”

You know, Nicole, we could spend a whole blog session on Joss Whedon! :-)

You're right, I could spend hours talking about Joss Whedon, but I guess we should move on. 

So, what inspired you to write Haven?

My love of vampires, the urban fantasy and romance genres, and my interest in exploring the themes of safety and love.  

Haven, defined, means “a place of safety or refuge.” Carina creates a home for herself with her best friends. And her club, Haven, is a safe space where *everyone* – regardless of race, religion, sexual preference – is welcome. When her refuge is threatened by the emergence of vampires in her life on both Teams Good and Evil, Carina must make some hard choices…

Love of family, friends, and soul mates is explored in the novel, along with the question - just how far will you go to protect your loved ones? Carina’s family went quite far to protect her...

Tell us a little bit about your writing process. How long did it take you to write Haven?  Did you have the whole story mapped out before you started writing or did you figure out the plot as you went along?  Were there any particular scenes that were especially easy or difficult to write?

It took almost two years, writing part-time, to create Haven, including edit passes.  I worked with a skeleton outline containing the major plot points and let the characters fill in the details as we went along. I’d pause from time to time to expand on the outline as needed. 

The action scenes and the dance club scenes were the easiest to write. I’d crank up the tunes and let the music move my Muse. Good times! Speaking of music, the Haven soundtrack is on Spotify: Check it out here! 

The epilogue was the most challenging to write. I wrote a long version and then spent time editing it down. Haven is the first book in a series, but I like my series books to be able to stand on their own. So, the epilogue needed to tie up the story’s loose ends with a pretty bow. 

Besides Rina (who I love, by the way), who is your favorite character in the book?

All of my Haven characters hold a piece of my heart. But I hope Rina and crew will forgive me if I confess her mentor Jonas is my favorite. An ancient vampire originally from England, Jonas embodies extreme violence in a pretty package.  He’s a man of few words, dark and moody, fiercely loyal and violently protective of those few people he loves (such as Rina).

I adore Jonas so much I gave him his own story, a prequel to HAVEN entitled “The Vampire Code.” It releases this October, also from Champagne Books.

Can't wait to read it - I'm definitely eager to learn more about Jonas!

So, what book are you reading right now?

I just finished Laura Kaye’s paranormal romance South of Surrender, the third book in her Hearts of Anemoi series. And I’m about to start Dysus Dreamer, an urban fantasy by my writer pal, J. A. Garland.

One more fun question.  Since my blog is called Feed Your Fiction Addiction, I always have to ask: What are you addicted to?

You mean besides Joss Whedon’s work? LOL.  Let’s see... writing, reading, exercising (yes, really, I’m a sucker for a Boot Camp style workout), Soy Thai Iced Tea and Starbuck’s Soy Chai Tea Latte. And Asian food, especially Thai and Japanese.

Thanks again for the chat, Nicole!

About the Author:

Celia lives in California with her husband, daughter, and two feisty cats. She writes urban fantasy and paranormal romance, and has a particular fondness for vampires and the Fae. When not writing, you’ll find her exercising, reading a good book or indulging her addiction to Joss Whedon’s TV shows and movies.

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