Thursday, September 30, 2010

Wind Warrior Contest Finalists & "You Choose" Update


Thank you to everyone who stopped by to enter! You made this contest a HUGE success!

If you are a finalist, I will send you an email to get your mailing address. That information will be sent to Cynthia Roberts, and she will be picking 5 final winners from the pool of winners that she receives! Sound good?

Okay, here we go!

Sena Sagani
Alisha
Holly Taylor
abitnerdy at Agent Nerdy

Congratulations to all of you! Emails will go out soon and I will forward your information to Cynthia!


"You Choose" Update!!!

The contest has closed and there are literally HUNDREDS of entries. I'll do my best to get them tallied up this  weekend but please be patient with me. Thanks so very much!

Blog Tour: Covert Youth Agency - The Case of Tangled Love



An elite group of nerds fight injustices by running a clandestine operation in high school. The C.Y.A., a.k.a. Covert Youth Agency, hacked into the digital school sign and posted their message: - - - If ever you're in need of help and you have nowhere else to go, seek out the C.Y.A. We're always watching and we're here for you - - - Peter "Pi" Samuels, a fourteen-year-old sophomore, runs the shadow operation. Pi's obsessed with the high school band's lead violinist, who's as beautiful as the music she plays. When she contacts the C.Y.A. to find out if her boyfriend cheated on her at a party, Pi's objective becomes clear. Prove that her beau was unfaithful. Then maybe Pi will be the perfect shoulder to cry on. Pi schemes to destroy his love's boy-toy, all while avoiding a deranged coach bent on exposing an untraceable geek squad for hire. The Covert Youth Agency. 

(From Goodreads)


Cover Inspection:
I have to say that this cover drew me in with the girl in the spotlight. It seemed to flow well with the title!

First Thoughts:
Upon opening my copy of this book, my first thought was that I loved the concept of "nerds for hire". Pi was an intriguing character and I was ready to dive into the story.

My Review:
As the synopsis mentions, the Covert Youth Agency (or CYA) are a group of students who would probably be considered to be the "underdogs" in most situations. Pi and his friends are the nerds at school, but they use their immense brain power for good rather than evil. Good thing too, considering the fact that they know how to hack into the school files and so much more. This "untraceable geek squad", as Jason Ancona puts it, is not to be reckoned with!

Our narrator is mainly Pi in this story, although Vera's thoughts occasionally make an appearance. Pi is a great kid, a loyal friend and a top notch student. He flies under the radar with the greatest of ease. The one chink in his armor? Vera. She's the high school band's lead violinist and the absolute object of Pi's affection. Before we are introduced to Vera, we see that Pi uses the CYA to help the other "underdogs" of the school. Any students who can't seem to get themselves out of sticky situations (especially bullying) are steered towards the CYA and their intelligent tactics. Once Vera steps into the picture though, Pi falls head over heels and hilarity ensues.

Overall I really enjoyed this story. Despite the spots where the plot dragged a bit, the story was well written and full of fun plot twists. The banter between Pi, Lightman and Tollhouse was definitely my favorite part. These three are perfect examples of how really good friends interact. There were portions of this book where I couldn't stop myself from giggling at the way they picked on one another. I love when that happens! What was most difficult for me were the heavy narrative portions of the book. This is what tended to slow the pacing down in the book. Still, I realize that for the voice of this book it was a necessary tool. The bright side is that the reader gets to know Pi and his friends very well, and it makes the characters much more believable and relatable.

Filled with mystery, hilarity and of course some tangled love, this book did end up quite an enjoyable read. It also happens to be a rather short read, which makes it perfect lazy weekend reading material! I'm extremely pleased that this book was put on my radar. I look forward to seeing what Pi and his friends get into in the future. I'd recommend this book to nerds, lovers of nerds, and anyone who doesn't mind giggling like mad while reading.








Book Details
Title: Covert Youth Agency - The Case of Tangled Love
Author: Jason Ancona
Publisher: CreateSpace (August 2, 2010)
Pages: Paperback; 258
Source: Review copy received from author for promotional tour through The {Teen} Book Scene

FTC Disclosure: I received a review copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review.



Final Rating: 3 Keys to My Heart

[+/-] Click to see rating.

Blog Tour: Lancelot's Lady Guest Post


It is my pleasure today to give my blog over to Cherish D'Angelo, author of Lancelot's Lady. Although I haven't had the opportunity to review it yet, I did have the opportunity to read this book and it is fantastically written! Cherish D'Angelo is quite the writer.

Stopping by on her blog tour, she has prepared a post for you about what inspired her to write Lancelot's Lady. I hope you enjoy!

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What inspired me to write Lancelot's Lady?

Thank you so much, Jessica, for hosting me during my Cherish the Romance Virtual Book Tour and for joining in the celebration of my new release, Lancelot's Lady.

So what inspired me to write Lancelot's Lady? Well, unlike my other novels, I wasn't inspired by things that happened to me when I was a child (Whale Song), or my mom telling me about some river from which people went missing (The River), or my love of all things weirdly paranormal (Divine Intervention), or by Stephen King (Remote Control and Skeletons in the Closet). No, what inspired me to write Lancelot's Lady was much simpler than these. It all boiled down to one thing: I love a good love story.
When I was a young teen, I was fascinated by the books my mother brought home―ones with a gorgeous woman in a beautiful flowing dress on the front cover and often a barely dressed, dashing man gazing into her eyes. My mother would leave her books open and face down on the table, while she went to get more coffee, and sometimes I would sneak a peek and read a page.
In my home, everyone read. We had crappy TV stations; there wasn't much else to do. My father would read mainly sci-fi and computer books. My mother was into romance novels. My brother Derek read sci-fi and fantasy, and I read everything they did, plus mystery, suspense and horror. Nancy Drew, Dean R. Koontz and Stephen King were my three "best friends" back then. But then so were Danielle Steel, Iris Johansen and other romance authors.
A few years ago I decided to try my hand at a romance novel. I called it Reflections. It was to be a romantic suspense. I wrote about half of it and let a good friend read it. She liked it, but I wasn't sure I really was ready to become a romance author. So I put the manuscript away.
When Textnovel announced they'd partnered with Dorchester Publishing for the "Next Best Celler" contest, a contest where writers could text their chapters (or write via PC) one at a time to Textnovel and have readers vote and comment, I decided to dig up Reflections. After months of rewrites and fine tuning, Reflections merged into what is now Lancelot's Lady. It's a far better story than the original and Textnovel readers loved it. I am so happy that everyone now gets to read the complete novel.
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Thank you to everyone for dropping by this blog and visiting me on my Cherish the Romance Virtual Book Tour. Lancelot's Lady is available in ebook edition at KoboBooks, Amazon's Kindle Store, Smashwords and other ebook retailers. Help me celebrate by picking up a copy today and "Cherish the romance..."

You can learn more about Lancelot's Lady and Cherish D'Angelo (aka Cheryl Kaye Tardif) at http://www.cherylktardif.com and http://www.cherylktardif.blogspot.com.  




Prizes & Giveaways: Follow Cherish from September 27 to October 10 on her Cherish the Romance Virtual Book Tour and win prizes.

Leave a comment here, with email address, to be entered into the prize draws. You're guaranteed to receive at least 1 free ebook just for doing so. Plus you'll be entered to win a Kobo ereader. Winners will be announced after October 10th.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

In a bit of a slump....

I know everyone probably goes through moments like these, but I've been so up and down in mood over the last few weeks that it's been hard for me to focus on my blog.

I've managed to keep the lethargy and unease at bay to get through work, but my blog has kind of taken a bit of a back seat. In the mood to read, but not so much in the mood to write and review.

Before you go worrying about me, I'm used to this. Unfortunately it runs in my family and the best thing for me when I'm going through times like this is to put myself around people who make me smile (thank you Twitter friends) and bury myself in things I enjoy. If you don't see as many reviews going up, I just wanted to let you know why.

Mostly I've been arguing with myself over this blog and how much I dedicate towards it. Don't misunderstand, I LOVE my blog and I love sharing my books. It's just easy to fall into the "what is this all for" debate with myself during my down moods. 

It'll get better.

For now just know I'm reading up a storm! I'll try to post a review tonight if I feel up to it and I'll likely play catch up when I'm feeling better.

Much love followers. Thanks for sticking with me through it all. You're the best.


Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Graphic Novel Review: The Little Prince (Graphic Novel)



For over sixty-five years Antoine de Saint-Exupéry's The Little Prince has captured the hearts and minds of its readers. The whimsical story with a fairy tale touch has sold over 80 million copies in 230 languages. This exciting graphic adaptation features beautiful, new artwork by Joann Sfar. Hand-chosen by Saint-Exupéry's French publishers for his literary style and sensitivity to the original, Sfar has endeavored to recreate this beloved story, both honoring the original and stretching it to new heights. A vibrant, visual gift for longtime fans and those experiencing the story for the first time.

(From Goodreads)




Title: The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
Publisher: Reprint May 15, 2000 by Harvest Books
Pages: Paperback; 83
Source: Received from NetGalley for review

Why I chose this:
I have never read The Little Prince despite the many amazing things that I have heard about it. Now that I'm older, I decided that it was time to see what all the magic was about. When I saw that there was a graphic novel version, I jumped at the chance to review it!


My Thoughts:
If I'm being completely honest, on my first read through this graphic novel I was utterly confused. Having never read the original version before, I think the pictures threw me off a bit. However, despite being confused, I did see some a glimmer of magic behind it all. That is what inspired me to slow down and give the graphic novel yet another read through. The second read through I took the time to pour over each page. Joann Sfar's illustrations are engrossing, and as I slowly unraveled the storyline I became more and more enamored with each page. It is evident why Joann Sfar was chosen as the illustrator.

Overall, I'd recommend the graphic novel version to mainly adults. Although the illustrations are extremely mesmerizing, I do believe that children would be a little put off by them. They are extremely exaggerated in color and symmetry, and sometimes confusing. This new version is probably better suited to adults who enjoyed the story as a child and are eager for a fresh take on their favorite story!

It is difficult to put into words exactly how The Little Prince affected me. I came away with a sense of the inner child that dwells within all of us, and how easy it is to forget that part of us is there. As the prince visits various planets in his travels, he comes upon adults who he finds confusing and frustrating. Each of them are so set about finishing their tasks, that they have no time for him and his whimsical ideas. It made me ponder if we as adults really do come across like this to children. Too busy for them and their nonsense? I certainly hope not, and I believe this inner journey is part of the magic of The Little Prince. Well at least for adults. I'm sure children will come away with something else entirely. This graphic novel has definitely inspired me to seek out an original version to read, as I would love to see where this beauteous story began.

I'll wrap this up by simply saying that I did enjoy the story, and I believe this new version adds another level to the beauty of it all. If you enjoy graphic novels and perhaps loved this story as a child, I would recommend this to you.









Final Rating: 5 Keys to My Heart

[+/-] Click to see rating.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Blog Design packages are up!


Okay isn't this the coolest bed ever? I sure think so....but then again I'm obsessed with all things odd.

Anyhow I digress.

I'm off to dreamland soon! (See bed above.) However I thought that I would let everyone know that my blog design packages are officially up and running! If you look above at my navigation buttons, over there on the right is a brand new glowing button for more information!

I look forward to beautifying many more blogs.

For now, bedtime. Night!



Warning: Rambling Ahead!

Oh my gosh...this is the first time in a week that I've had time to post something that I actually write. Wow. I tell you, back when I started my blog and I wrote nonstop I always complained. Now that I participate in a lot more blog tours, sometimes I miss all those times I complained. Ironic yes?

This is actually how I feel today!
Well I think I need to play some catch up, so are you ready for some ramblings? No, well too late! You've already read this far so hang on tight, we're going for it!

***

I haven't had a chance to speak my piece of Banned Books Week yet, but I'll keep it short.

Books should never be banned. That implies that one voice, one opinion, dictates what is right for everyone. How is that okay?

If you are a parent and you want to choose what your children read, that is your right. More power to you! I hope that you read the books beforehand so you can make a good decision, but either way that is a parent right!

You choose your child's books, I'll choose mine. Sound good? Done and done!

Go out, get that banned book, and read it my friends. Take it all in. If you're offended, well at least you took the time to figure out what was so offensive. Arm yourself with knowledge.

***

Quick shout out to my 500+ followers over there!

I can't believe there are so many of you and I love you all for it! Sorry, was that uncomfortable? If you prefer, I greatly appreciate you :). Thank you for sticking with me, and don't worry I promise to amuse you! Or at the very least to act ridiculous in front of you while you scowl in confusion....either way.

***

Some quick links! I missed a chance to post my weekly links, so instead here's a quick rundown of things I find completely awesome.

* I loved this post by Mindi Scott about going "Back to the Future" and changing things. It made me ponder what I would change if I could go back. Look for that post this week!

* Maureen Johnson's article, "Sell the Girls", particularly caught my eye this last week. The fact that she mentions how many boys (men) are adverse to reading "girl" stories made me giggle. My BF is the perfect example of this.

* This post by Lovely Little Shelf on Indie Bookstores made me think. I shop at my Indie a lot actually, mostly because I love the staff there. Now I'm thinking I might go try to do an interview with them!

***

Okay, you're free!

If I made your head spin, please walk away slowly rather than running in terror from my ramblings. I wouldn't want to be responsible for your skinned knee or elbow, and I'm all out of unicorn band aids!

Although I do have bacon ones! (No seriously, I really do.)



Sunday, September 26, 2010

Nightshade ARC Giveaway!

Nightshade's release is coming up so quickly!



I was lucky enough to win an ARC from LibraryThing and so I've already devoured it. Trust me, it's amazing! I'm truly smitten with Calla and her pack. So, it's time to share the love!

GIVEAWAY TIME!

Rules:
- You may only enter once, please make sure. Multiple entries will disqualify you.
- You are not required to be a follower, however if you are thank you! I love my followers!
- Please make sure to leave a valid email address! You have 48 hours to respond to a winning email.

This giveaway is open Internationally, however any International winners must we willing to pay the difference in shipping!

What this means is simply this. It is approximately $2.60 to ship a book in the U.S. with Media Mail. If you live anywhere outside the U.S. you must be willing to pay the difference in shipping to send the book to you! The easiest way is with PayPal, so if you don't have an account with them please make sure you are willing to create one.

Again, please take the shipping into account. I love leaving things open to my International friends, but I'm on a tight budget :). Thanks a ton!

Contest ends October 4th, 2010.

Blog Tour: No Vacancies - Day 3

Well sadly it's the final day of Lucien Black on my blog. Yes, I know, I'm saddened too. My library has his books on purchase request now because I harrassed them for not having them. I need to know what happens in the rest of the story!

I'll stop rambling now however, and give you the second half of the teaser that he sent over for you. Enjoy, and make sure you go and read the rest as well.

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Castor recognized the accent as Middle Eastern; Iranian he suspected. Caster reached his right hand into his jacket slowly and placed his hand on the end of the Glock he had in his waistband. The captain was the first to reply.

“Like hell we do,” he said and jerked a weapon from his belt. Before he could fire, the man in robes leapt from the top of the gangway, flipped in mid-air and landed perfectly behind the two sailors. The men were unprepared for what happened next. With one swing, the scimitar met the larger of the two sailors at the base of the neck and, like a warm knife through butter, removed the man’s head from his shoulders. The head fell with a thud on the gangway and bounced into the dark water below. The other man froze in sheer terror as the robed man thrust the blade deep into the man’s stomach and wrenched it upward, and opened the man’s breastbone. With a straight kick, the robed man knocked the last sailor back into the water and turned his attention to the captain, the blood tinged blade seemed to hum with energy from the battle.

To his dismay, the captain had already run up the gangway and was almost to the edge of the boat. The robed man lifted his right hand and gestured to the other robed men. One of the men stepped forward and launched a long, black spear through the air, which caught the captain over his right shoulder blade and into his spine. He jerked backward and a second later rolled down, his body stopped at the robed man’s feet.

Caster waited for their next move. The six men that were on either side of him made no advancement and he supposed they were waiting for orders from their leader. The man with the scimitar, the group’s leader, turned to face Caster and spoke in a low, raspy voice, “That box belongs to us. You have no valid claim to it or its contents.”

Caster held his stance and said, “This box belongs to my employer and he will be very disappointed if I return without it.”

“We will kill you,” the leader of the robed men said.

“You can try,” Caster responded, pulled the Glock from his jacket, and let it hang to his side.

With a near blinding motion, the robed man thrust the scimitar into Nicholas Caster’s chest, who yelled in pain as the blade pierced through several vital organs. He slumped forward onto the blade, his breath erratic and up blood. The robed man yanked the blade back, spewing blood all over the dock. He raised the blade over his head and sliced it downward towards Caster’s head.

Suddenly, Caster reached up with his left hand and grabbed the hilt of the scimitar, surprising the robed man. With his right hand, he raised the Glock and pressed it under the robed man’s chin. Then he said, “As I said, you can try.” Then, Caster pulled the trigger and the bullet entered the robed man’s head, brain matter and blood splattered to the dock.

The robed man released his grip on the scimitar and fell backward with a thud. Caster turned to his right and faced three of the robed men, scimitar in one hand, Glock in the other. The six men charged forward, weapons ready.




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A gigantic THANK YOU to Lucien for allowing me to host him these last three days! I'm glad that his books are now on my radar, and I'm intrigued by Caster and his story. If my library doesn't purchase soon, they will have one angry girl on their hands.

Here are some Lucien Black links once again, to help with the separation anxiety.

Lucien Black on Goodreads
Lucien Black books on Amazon
The Official Lucien Black Website

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Blog Tour: No Vacancies - Day 2

It's Day 2 of the Lucien Black blog takeover, and like I said yesterday I'm quite excited that he has decided to use my blog as part of his tour!

Yesterday he introduced us to his No Vacancies series. Today he's giving us a glimpse into one of the stories that begins in Volume 1 and ends in the newest installment, Volume 4. Take a look!

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(Goodreads Link)

The excerpt I have selected for you is from Volume 2 of No Vacancies. Here, the mysterious hitman, Nicholas Caster, is running an errand for his boss, Adrian Vandenberg (the antagonist) and he finds himself up against a tough crew of mystical warriors. What they don’t realize, is that Caster has some mysterious secrets of his own. I hope you guys enjoy!


Chapter 4 

November 14
11:50 pm
Port of Hudson
Pier 29

Nicholas Caster waited patiently at Pier 29 for the arrival of the sea vessel called the Windlass. Mr. Vandenberg’s assignment was to deliver a letter to the ship’s captain. With his years of experience with the family, Caster knew the deep seeded obsession the Vandenberg men had with the occult. Tonight’s mission was surely to further those obsessions.

According to Vandenberg’s instructions, the Windlass was to arrive at the docks between nine pm and twelve am this evening and according to his watch, it was almost midnight. He glanced around the empty docks and checked for any sign of life or incoming vessels, but the night was still. The heavy fog in the air made it difficult to see; coupled with the fact that the docks had no lighting.

Another glance at his watch showed the time as 11:57 and it seemed to Caster that his meeting would not take place this evening. He started to walk away from the dock, back to his car, when a very low hum filled the air. He turned and looked back at the pier and saw a dark form move slowly into dock. The ship, which ran in complete darkness, was barely visible to the naked eye. Caster approached the edge of the pier and waited for the ship to make port. It took a few minutes, but the ship finally stopped and the low hum of the engines faded into silence. The gangway lowered slowly to the dock and Caster waited. A few seconds later, a man dressed in jeans, a dark leather jacket and work boots appeared, approached Nicholas and said, “You Caster?”

The man smelled of fish, sweat and engine grease. Caster reached into his jacket pocket and pulled the letter from Adrian out. He reached to the man and said, “I think this is for you.”

The man opened the envelope and flipped through the contents. Caster saw that there were several large bills in the envelope. When the man finished, he thrust the envelope into his jacket and zipped it up quickly. He turned and waved behind him and two men that stood on the Windlass disappeared from sight. “It’ll just be a minute,” the man said, his smile revealed a few missing teeth.

A little more than a minute later, the two men came down the gangway, a large wooden box in tow, decorated with ornate, Middle Eastern text. The men placed the box on the ground in front of Nicholas Caster and stepped behind the captain. “Tell your boss it was a pleasure doing business together. You have a nice evening,” the captain said as he turned to head up the gangway.

The three men stopped short as they proceeded up the gangway and froze in their tracks. At the top, stood a man dressed in black robes and a hood, which shrouded his face. In his left hand, he carried a black scimitar, the blade pointed down at the three men. In the darkness, Nicholas could not see any more details of the man’s face.

Nicholas turned to his right and looked towards the end of the dock and saw three more men, dressed the same, ancient and ornate bladed weapons at the ready. A noise from his left turned Caster to face yet another group of three robed men. Seven in all surrounded Nicholas, the captain and the sailors.

The man at the top of the gangway spoke first and said, “You have something that belongs to us.”

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Ooooh, mysterious cliffhanger! That just means that you will have to stop back by tomorrow to see how it all goes down. In the meantime, here are some links that you can check out to keep with up Lucien Black and his fabulous writing!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Blog Tour: No Vacancies - Day 1

Today I am extremely excited, my dear readers, to announce a Lucien Black takeover! Yes indeed, for the next three days I'm giving this amazing author full reign over my blog and he'll be sharing his No Vacancies series with you.

Today he'll introduce the series, and then tomorrow and Sunday you'll get a glimpse into one of the stories that ends in the newest installment, Volume 4. You lucky people you!

Lest I continue to ramble on like a fangirl, I'll go ahead and give the floor over to Lucien. 

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Thank you very much Jessica for giving me a spot on your blog. This tour is going great and I am excited to share some of the No Vacancies series with your followers. This tour is for my latest release, No Vacancies Volume 4. But since the series is so new to so many people, I wanted to take a step back and introduce your followers to the short story series, Outcast, which started in No Vacancies Volume 1 and ends in the latest release.


For those of you unfamiliar with No Vacancies, here is a quick description.

Two volumes of No Vacancies are released each year and each book contains four short stories. At times, the stories are stand alone, or appear only in the one volume of No Vacancies. These are ideas or concepts that I felt I needed to convey, but were not necessarily part of a bigger series or story. The first volume of No Vacancies contains a story called “One More Sunday”, which tells the tale of the events which led up to the death of the city’s primary superhero. In this noir thriller, Detective Sam Arkwright finds himself wrapped up in a case that is beyond his imagination and takes him to the edge and back as he uncovers not only how the Protector died, but secrets hidden away long ago but the reclusive superhero.

The other stories contained in the series are serialized or episodic tales, told over multiple volumes of the No Vacancies series. So, each volume of the series, contains a part or episode of the titled story. Outcast, for example, starts in No Vacancies Volume 1 and ends in No Vacancies Volume 4, with some heavy cliffhanger endings along the way.


Outcast is a supernatural thriller/horror story with elements of classic horror characters with a twist. In the story, Nathaniel, the main character, is a drifter in search of his fiancés’ murderer. He has traveled the streets for nearly three years before he winds up in Hudson, New York, brought there by a news story of a family butchered in cold blood in an apparent wild animal attack. Nathaniel’s fiancé was butchered much the same way by a werewolf. A werewolf that belonged to the very same pack as Nathaniel. Nathaniel’s adventure in Hudson puts him up against the city’s most affluent citizen and occult worshiper, Adrian Vandenberg.

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Thank you so much Lucien for stopping by!

Stop back again tomorrow for a glimpse into Outcast. I read it, and I'm hooked already. Trust me, you'll want to be here!


Thursday, September 23, 2010

Book Review: Some of the Whole





All the stories have a common thread – a mix of flash-back and current situations – the blend pushing up the curiosity level and finally finishing it with a twist that undoes all that the reader thinks while reading the initial parts of the story. Contemporary set-up (each of the stories are based in the modern, Indian metros), real-life kind of characters and situations keep the story in the realm of being REAL.


Title: Some of the Whole by Abhijit Bhattacharya
Publisher: Cedar Books
Pages: Hardcover; 144
Source: Received from author for review.

Why I chose this:
I always like to take a step outside of what I normally read, especially when it involves reading about a place I haven't been. Abhijit's story sounded fantastic all on its own, but I was especially eager to take a look at India and its people.


My Thoughts:
As a collection of short stories, Some of the Whole, is definitely one of the most interesting and cohesive that I have had the pleasure to read in a long time. Each story is wholly different, and yet at its deepest part still seemingly the same. I was extremely impressed with the writing, in that the cities it described really came to life. Being that I have never had the pleasure to visit India, this glimpse into its inner workings and day to day goings on was fascinating.

The characters in these stories are also amazingly vivid. Each one of them has their own unique quirks and personalities, and they pop off the page. In fact, the characters are so well written that there were times I felt myself wishing I really knew these people. When it came to the sadder stories, where miscommunication lead to some awful ending, I wanted to be able to tell these people that I empathized with them. When you can become attached to a character like that in a mere 7 or 8 pages of writing, that is truly intense.

I'm sure it is apparent from what I've written above, but Some of the Whole truly impressed me! Had Abhijit Bhattacharya not approached me, I may never have known that this book existed which is truly saddening. The writing in the stories, the links between the characters, and the ultimate ending, all conspire to create a beautifully woven collection that I'm sure will impress you as well. 







Final Rating:5 Keys to My Heart

[+/-] Click to see rating.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

An Interview with Abhijit Bhattacharya


Good morning my dear readers! Today I am pleased to welcome Abhijit Battacharya, author of Some of the Whole, to my blog! His book launches tomorrow, so you'll see a review tomorrow to hopefully encourage you to give it a read!


And now, let's give our attention to this fabulous author shall we?

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1) I always like to begin my interviews with a challenge. If you had to describe your book in only three words, which would you choose?

Wow! That is a tricky one. Three words...erm....Short, pacy & young!


2) Some of the Whole is a collection of short stories. Did you start out to write short stories, are did your story manifest itself this way on its own?

I started writing them out as separate short stories. After penning down five of them, I realized that this was leading me somewhere. And that is when I decided to write a complete set. But yes, the I wrote the prologue the last because the prologue encapsulates the lead characters and the plots of each of the ten short stories.


3) What would you say was the most difficult part of writing this story?

Like I mentioned earlier, the most difficult part of writing the book was writing the prologue. Because I had to a) integrate the plots, b) integrate the characters and c) introduce the theme in one go. So, I had to work backwards and working backwards in never easy. At least, when you are writing a story.


4) One thing that struck me most about your writing was the vivid characters. Did you pull inspiration from people you knew in real life, or are your characters entirely fictional?

To be very honest, I have not pulled inspiration from anyone that I have known or come across. But yes, I have picked up certain nuances from various people that I have met in my life - from cleaners to bosses, from women in the park to businessmen at the airport - people who I know; people who i dont.


5) Do you feel that your background in marketing assisted with your character and setting creation?

Not really. In fact, not at all. I have been a brand and marketing guy in media for almost a decade now and that has neither influenced me nor inspired me to write or build characters and plots for the book.


6) What do you hope that readers will take away with them after reading Some of the Whole?

A few key things. a) Slices of life in the three key Indian metropolis - Kolkata, Mumbai & Delhi. b) A new genre of snack-in and snack-out writing. c) Every story ends with a bang - something that will completely undo what the reader has read till that point. Really, you should log on to www.authorabhijit.com to know more about the book.


7) What advice would you give to those who are aspiring writers?

I would advise the aspiring young writers to refrain from using flowery languages just for the heck of it. Just keep the plot and the language simple. Play around with words - use that as your weapon. Because, that is your one and only weapon.


8) Do you have plans for other books in the future?

Yes, I am writing my second book already. But this one would not be a collection of short stories. The next one is going to be a surprise. Like, all my stories. And my life.

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Thank you so much Abhijit for stopping by today!

You can find more information on Abhijit and his book at his website: http://www.authorabhijit.com/

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Blog Tour: Ugly As Sin

Today I am extremely excited to be working with TLC Book Tours and author Tori Raiten-D'Antonio to promote her book, Ugly As Sin. Below is my review, but let me premise it by saying I truly believe each and every woman should read this book. Amazing doesn't even begin to cover it.

About the Author:
Toni Raiten-D’Antonio, LCSW, is a well-known psychotherapist with a thriving private practice in Suffolk County, Long Island. She is a professor of psychology and social work at Empire State College. Prior to becoming a therapist she worked in television and theater as both a performer and producer. She has two daughters and lives in New York with her husband, the Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Michael D’Antonio.

Goodreads Link

Title: Ugly As Sin by Tori Raiten-D'Antonio
Publisher: HCI
Pages: Hardcover; 264 
Source: Received from TLC Book Tours (Thank you!)

Why I chose this:
I don't read much non-fiction, but when I do I tend to choose books that speak to me. From the moment I saw the title and premise of this book I knew it was one that I needed to read. 


My Thoughts:
I feel like I should premise this review with a quite note. I'm extremely intrigued by the notion of body image and how it affects people. After working around and directly with children for the last 14 years, I've seen the age at which children are struck by negative body image slide lower and lower. Due to this fact, I tend to devour any article that I find on the matter. Not until TLC Book Tours offered me a chance to review Ugly As Sin did I find a book that compiles it all so neatly and beautifully.

Toni Raiten-D'Antonio is both a psychotherapist and professor, and it shows in her work. The chapters are thoughtfully separated into sections that discuss the origins of "ugliphobia", how it relates to culture, what effects it creates, and how to overcome it. Her book is beautifully written, which I honestly find rare among non-fiction works. The accounts that she shares, the meaningful quotes that she puts in, it all comes together to create an extremely meaningful and fascinating account of how the concept of ugliness has evolved.

What I enjoyed most about reading Ugly As Sin was how much of herself Raiten-D'Antonio puts into her book. There are multiple accounts of her own personal experience with the body image battle, and she even goes so far as to share candid stories from her childhood. A book like this is sometimes hard to read because it tackles the truth so well. I found myself nodding at times, teary-eyed at others, and fuming over the whole issue at others. It is hard to face the fact that we built this world for ourselves, and trapped ourselves in our own individual prisons.

Ugly As Sin is, without a doubt, a book that I recommend to all women of all ages. Like I mentioned above, the age at which body image affects us as a society is slowly sliding lower and lower. I feel that if more women read this book, felt the empowerment, and took the steps to make themselves feel comfortable in their own skin, society as a whole would benefit from it! (Yes, that is my soapbox and I'm sticking to it.) I leave you with a quote from the book itself that I think will resonate with you, and I hope will encourage you to read this book.

On-screen romance stories depend on the female lead being beautiful or just temporarily ugly. The transformation of so-called "ugly ducklings" is a hugely popular theme. In every one of these stories we learn that the fulcrum of a woman's value is her appearance. But take heart. With the right investment in fashion, and perhaps lesson in poise and etiquette, you can become a swan worthy of love.
~ Ugly As Sin by Toni Raiten-D'Antonio - pg. 98

For more tour stops follow the book tour.

Visit Toni Raiten-D'Antonio at her website.


Special thanks to 














Monday, September 20, 2010

My apologies for not posting anything.

Oh wait, I just did.

Well this post won't have too much substance. I'm catching up on tour books and then I got a request to push another tour up so....I've been reading my behind off. 

Is that possible?

Too bad reading doesn't burn calories!

If you haven't already, make sure to check out the post before this about Travis and I hosting an AWESOME Halloween swap.

Now...I'm off to the paper mill.

Come one, come all to the Spooky Swap!



Travis of Inked Books and I are hosting a Halloween Spooky Swap! 

(Special thanks to Jeremy West for this fabulous graphic!)


If you don't know what a swap is, here's what it's all about:

Everyone likes getting stuff in the mail, and Halloween isn't really a gift-giving holiday. Why? Well I wish we knew, but I like getting surprises so we declared it a gift-giving holiday!

Everyone participating will fill out an info form, and we'll match everyone with someone they groove with. Yes, we did just say groove. Unless you REALLY want to know who's sending your package, we'll keep that a surprise. :) You will be emailed info about who you'll be sending your Package of Awesome to. Then at the end we'll set up a Mr. Linky so that you can share your undying love for what your partner sent you! Sound fab?


The theme is Halloween, so here are the requirements for the packages:

(1) Scary story (book/movie/etc)
- This can be something you have, purchase at a thrift store (good condition please) or discover on the sale rack!

(1) Halloween colored item (orange/black, purple/black, etc)
- This is open to your interpretation! Consider what your partner likes/collects/etc.

(1) Type of candy or something sweet
- Come on...we all know Halloween is about the candy...mmmm....

Once you've included these items, you can add anything else you'd like to your recipient's package! Be fun, be intentional, enjoy!


Official Rules and Regulations:


MONEY LIMIT:
15$ MINIMUM + shipping. This means that you MUST spend at least 15 dollars - no less. We want to make sure that everyone is fair. You could spend a few more dollars if you wish to do so, but that is completely up to you. Shipping is extra. Please take some time into getting thoughtful items for your partner! Don't just stop at the gas station and pick something up - think about whether the items you get are something you yourself would like to receive.


Just to be on the safe side, please do not send the following to ANYONE: tobacco products, alcohol, prescription or illegal drugs, weapons, or pornographic material.


REQUIREMENTS FOR SHIPPING:
Members are required to get Delivery Confirmation with their packages and email the number to Jessica or myself. You can find our email addresses on our respective blogs. We will email you to remind you if the deadline is nearing and we haven't heard from you yet.


WHEN YOU GET YOUR PACKAGE:
Once you get your package, please post about it! Tell us what you got, post pictures, and thank your partner! If you don't have a blog, you can still participate! Please send your thank you post and pictures to one of us and we'll post it for you.


DEADLINES:
All participants must be signed up by October 3rd. This will give us plenty of time to pair you off, notify you, and ensure that you still have plenty of time to go out and get some fun items for your partner. We will consider taking late signups if the participant is willing to ship by the deadline!

All packages must be sent by October 20th. This is to ensure that your package gets wherever it is shipped off to in time! You are welcome to send it before the date if it is ready to go. If you agree to ship Internationally, you may want to send it a bit earlier.

In the form below, put some info about yourself to give to your partner. Let them know things like:

Favorite flavors
Favorite scents
Any allergies?
Favorite color and pattern
Hobbies
Favorite music
Favorite movies/tv shows
Favorite books/authors
Favorite accessories
Clothing/shoe/bracelet/ring size
Things you collect
Other interests

We look forward to having you all join! Let's make this a blast!


HERE IS THE FORM!!!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Blog Tour: Dead Politician Society Review




After the mayor falls down dead in the middle of a speech, a clandestine student society claims credit for his demise. 

Clare Vengel is given her first undercover assignment: to pose as a student and penetrate the society. A streetwise amateur mechanic, Clare finds university a foreign land, and has trouble creating an in with the suspects. She quickly alienates a popular professor and loses the respect of police superiors. 

When another politician is killed, Clare kicks herself into high gear. She forges friendships with students and makes inroads into the secret society. 

As the body count rises, Clare realizes that the murderer she has to unmask is someone she has come to consider a friend. She only hopes that the friend doesn't unmask her first.

(From Goodreads)


Title: Dead Politician Society: A Clare Vengel Undercover Novel
Publisher: ECW Press
Pages: Hardcover; 325
Source: Received from author for review

Why I chose this:
First off, Clare rides a motorcycle. That gives her plenty of kudos in my book! I was also attracted by the murder mystery aspect.


My Thoughts:
As soon as I opened the book to its first page, I was struck by how long it had been since I'd read a mystery novel. To be completely honest I left mystery novels behind in my Nancy Drew days, in favor of more fantasy books. It's still a mystery (pun intended) to me why this shift occurred, but perhaps it was what I needed at that point in time. Mystery took a back seat and I forgot how amazing it can be to become absorbed in a particularly harrowing sequence of deaths.

That being said, of course you can ascertain that I found myself hooked! Clare Vengel is, in my mind, a much cooler and much more sassy Nancy Drew. She is the undercover cop I wish I was. Whereas Nancy snuck around in turtlenecks and dresses, Clare Vengel rides around on a Triumph motorcycle in leather and designer jeans. Her wit is deliciously acerbic, and she can hold her own with any man that comes her way. In other words, Clare is my kind of girl!

In this first installment of Robin Spano's series, Clare is asked to pose as a college student to discover who is behind the murders of several politicians. As she navigates this new group of people, she finds herself becoming a little closer to them than she originally intended to get. I must admit that I was extremely impressed with the way the story was told. The chapters alternate between the perspectives of the people Clare finds herself amongst, and the story becomes a giant puzzle. 

I found myself gathering intel that even the detectives didn't have (one of the  perks of being omniscient) and working to solve the murder myself. Isn't that the best part of a mystery novel? I guarantee that those who read these books often would have been able to uncover the ending, however I was blown away by it! As hard as I tried, and as eagerly as I read, I wasn't able to put together who the murderer really was. In fact, I literally gasped out loud at the end.

I'll stop rambling now and end this review with what I'm sure you've already gathered (you sleuth you) from my review above. I adored this book! I am a huge fan of Clare and an even greater fan of her creator Robin Spano. I eagerly look forward to the next installment! I can't wait to see what Clare has in store for her next, or what lengths she will go to in an effort to solve it.










Final Rating:5 Keys to My Heart

[+/-] Click to see rating.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Cover Contest: Anna and the French Kiss



Cindy at Princess Bookie is at it again! This time she has a contest going to redesign the cover of Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins. I want to read this book so badly I can taste it, so I knew I'd be participating in this one!

Here is the original cover:

and here is mine:

What do you think? I was pretty happy with how it came out, although I wish the girl in the picture was smiling a little more :). Nonetheless, here is my creation and I hope it does well!


Friday, September 17, 2010

Book Review: Shadow Bound



Media Type: Ebook
Title: Shadow Bound
Author: Erin Kellison
Publisher: Dorchester Publishing Company, Inc.
Pages: Mass Market Paperback; 336
Release Date: July 1, 2010
Source: Barnes & Noble Free Book Fridays
-----------------------------------------------
Genre: Paranormal Romance

HDB Rating: 5 Keys to My Heart

Recommended to: Readers looking for a good paranormal book with fabulous characters.


Add it on: Goodreads / Shelfari / Amazon / B&N
Death
Some people will do anything to avoid it. Even trade their immortal souls for endless existence.

Wraiths
Secretly, inexorably, they are infiltrating our world, sucking the essence out of unsuspecting victims with their hideous parody of a kiss.

Segue
Adam Thorne founded the Institute to study and destroy his monster of a brother, but the key to its success is held in the pale, slender hand of a woman on the run. There is something hauntingly different about Talia O’Brien, her unknowing sensuality, her uncanny way of slipping into Shadow.

Twilight
This is the place between life and what comes after - a dark forest of fantasy, filled with beauty, peril, mystery. And Talia is about to open the door.

Shadow Bound is Erin Kellison’s debut novel, and I must admit that it's quite the stunning debut! In a genre that is quickly becoming filled with vampires and werewolves, Kellison was able to create a completely different world. The concept may have been done before, but the sheer brilliance of the story line makes this book stand out from anything else I've read this year. Shadow Bound is fast-paced, engrossing, and the characters are extremely well-developed and true to life. My Nook did not leave my lap the entire day my friends. I read this one straight on through!

Adam Thorne is our hero, and his description led me to believe that he is quite the looker! The reader quickly discovers that Adam has poured his inherited life savings into The Segue Institute in an effort to study the wraith behavior. Able to steal a person's soul by "kissing" them, these wraiths are nigh unstoppable. Adam is driven by a deep vengeance, vowing to unlock the secrets of the wraith and kill the monstrosity that is his brother by any means possible. I quickly fell in love with Adam and his quest. He is the perfect example of how the darkness inside us can keep us from realizing what we really want.

Talia O’Brien, our female protagonist, is another mystery that Adam must solve. He believes her to be the key to his so far fruitless quest, but only if he can get his feelings for her under control. (Enter portions of book I warned about above!) As a character, Talia really caught my attention. Although she begins the book a bit rough around the edges, she quickly harnesses her energy into creating a better person. She learns to control her fear, and use it to her benefit. Watching Talia change and handle what was thrown her way was probably my favorite part of the story.

Speaking of the story line, Kellison shows her expertise at blending the supernatural with a thriller. The result is a book that will have you emotionally torn and on the edge of your seat! I was most impressed by the slow buildup of the characters and their personalities. Even the romance between Adam and Talia was believable, despite the speed at which it had to develop. The action in the story dictates that these two have very little time to get to know one another. Still, I was amazed at how invested I was in Adam and Talia's struggle, and I wouldn't have had their relationship any other way!

Overall, Shadow Bound is a well written and admittedly refreshing read in such an oversaturated genre. I'd recommend it 100% to lovers of both the paranormal and thrillers. I'm eager to throw myself wholeheartedly back into Adam and Talia's world and see where they take me. The ending leaves so much possibility for the second book that I simply cannot wait to get my hands on a copy!



FTC Disclosure: I received a copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. I was not monetarily compensated for my opinion.

The Fanatic Report 6


Your place for all the book news you NEED to know around the internet!

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From the home base, here are the noteworthy posts this week.

 * My Monday post this week was about a fun blog tweak! Ever wondered how to change your font on your post titles and sidebar titles to a cute one? Check out the tutorial! Also, this week only (until Saturday evening) I'll do it for you if you email me! 

* This week I was fortunate enough to have Steve Brezenoff, author of The Absolute Value of -1, stop by my blog for an interview!

* Finally, a sweet and sappy post dedicated to my first grade class. They make me feel young!


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* Lisa Barone asks, Are You Prepared for Blogging's Dark Side? I really liked this post because so much of it hits home. The bigger you are, the more attention you garner...both negative and positive.

 * Parajunkee does it again this week! She gives all those newer bloggers out there an amazing list of all things blog related.


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* Reading With Tequila asks us, Are You a Book Pusher? I'm going to have to answer a resounding yes! 

* Kari at A Good Addiction was up on her soap box again this week! This time her post is all about "cliche" character traits and why that's fairly unavoidable. How do you weigh in?

* The Book Show Blog had an excellent post this week on Young Adult Heroines and how the have evolved over the years.

* Remember the "Choose Your Own Adventure" books? If you don't...I'm sorry. I know I'm older than some of you! Well anyhow, one amazing person adapted the concept to, wait for it, TWITTER! Check it out!


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* This article makes an interesting case as to why you might want to use a pseudonym when you're a writer.

* YA Highway had a fabulous post this week on "The Passive Sentence" and how to strengthen that baby right on up!

* The amazing Maggie Stiefvater once again shares her wisdom, this time explaining how to effectively revise for mood in your writing.


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* This article shares with us the 7 skills you need to be super smart. What do you think?

* I thought this was rather cute! A Team Charlie cake! Poor poor Charlie, always lost in the shadows of Bella and Edward. He deserves a cake!



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My new favorite song! It's so cute, and sappy, and cuddly and....okay it's sugary sweet. You've been warned...you've been warned.

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