Friday, April 29, 2011

Jessi Kirby - When I'm Not Writing

Ever wonder what authors are up to when they're not writing?

Jessi Kirby, author of Moonglass is here today to share exactly that! I know sometimes we see our favorite authors as rock stars who don't have a care in the world. That's why I love reading these posts! Let's see what Jessi does in her day to day...

When I’m Not Writing, I’m…

*Driving my kids to school or the park or swim lessons and torturing them with my singing. Currently on the cranked up, sing-out-loud playlist: Grenade by Bruno Mars, Firework by Katy Perry, and Little Lion Man by Mumford and Sons, which, ironically, is the only one they should cover their ears for but don’t.

*Running. On the beach or the trail on the bluff, with a playlist specially made for my WIP. My precious thinking time.

*Thinking about said WIP. And revising, and marketing, and events, and…

*Doing dishes. I swear I do them 80 times a day. We have no dishwasher. Are you jealous about how glamorous my life is yet?

*Getting a massage. Best Christmas gift I’ve ever been given, ever. From my husband, a membership that entitles me to bi-monthly sessions with the best masseuse around, who’s also kind of like a counselor since she listens to me stress and angst then makes me feel better about the world. Magic, I tell you.

*Browsing the bookstore and shamelessly adding to my towering TBR pile. I buy books like most women by shoes, which is why I mostly wear flip-flops.

*Walking the beach, collecting sea glass with my kids. This is one of my very favorite things and only happens on the most fortuitous of days—low tide, after a storm so all the rocks are exposed, sunlight on our backs, Ziploc baggies in our hands. It’s one of those peaceful, beautiful times when there are no distractions or deadlines or anything. Just us.

*Having a 10 years- married date night, which means we tuck the kids in, order sushi, drink wine, and catch up on Supernatural and Vampire Diaries. In other words, perfection.

Thanks so much to Jessi for stopping by! Click the banner above to follow the rest of her awesome tour!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Feeling the wind in my hair....

So if you didn't already know, I'm one of the few people out there who doesn't drive.

Yep. No car. No driving. (insert gasp here)

So how do I get around? Well I'm lucky enough to live in a fabulous city that not only has a great bus system, but also has bike paths galore! My BF and I take off on our bikes quite often. Down to the beach, out to the pier, just riding with the wind in our hair.

And we take pictures! Just thought I'd share some that we took on our 3 hour excursion yesterday!

Thanks for putting up with my randomness!

10 Things with Tess from I'm Not Her

A treat for you all today! Janet Gurtler, author of the upcoming books I'm Not Her and If I Tell, is here today to share some character love! This is always my favorite type of post.

I asked her what 10 things her character Tess (from I'm Not Her) might not want you, dear readers, to know about her. Let's uncover some juicy character secrets, shall we?

10 things Tess Might Not Want You to Know About Her.

1. Her favourite show is Myth Busters.

2. Tess still has the blankie she slept with every night for the first six years of her life. She has it hidden on the top shelf of her closet. Her mom once tried to throw it away and she had a fit.

3. Tess stayed off of Facebook until her sister got sick, because she was afraid no one would friend her.

4. Tess has a picture of her favourite artist in her locker. Randy McGovern. She also likes Robert Bateman.

5. Tess would rather sketch than go to a party.

6. Tess was addicted to Pokemon cards as a kid

7. When Tess was in Grade One she wanted to be a contestant on American Idol. She worshipped Paula Abdul and performed a dance routine to STRAIGHT UP.

8. Tess is picked last for every sports team in gym class

9. One year she dressed up as a boy for Halloween and no one got her costume.

10. Tess’s middle name is Elizabeth, after the Queen. Her initials sound the same as her name. (TES)

Thank you so much for sharing Janet, and Tess of course! 

Here's a little more info on the book for you all, in case you've somehow been living under a rock and missed it. Add it to your reading list now!

Brainy Tess Smith is the younger sibling of the beautiful, popular, volleyball-scholarship-bound Kristina. When Kristina is diagnosed with bone cancer, it drastically changes both sisters' lives. Sometimes the things that annoy us the most about our siblings are the ones we'd miss the most if we lost them.

In this YA literary coming-of-age novel that will appeal to readers who love Jodi Picoult and Sarah Dessen, sisters Tess and Kristina discover not only who they are, but who they can become.

Add in on Goodreads

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Book Review: Shadow Walkers

Media Type: Book
Title: Shadow Walkers
Author: Brent Hartinger
Publisher: Flux
Pages: Paperback; 216
Release Date: February 1, 2011
Source: Publisher/TBS
Intended Reading Group:
Young Adult

Content Screening:
Nothing to report!

HDB Rating:
3 Keys to My Heart

Living with his grandparents on a tiny island off the Washington State coast, Zach feels cut off from the world. Especially when he's forbidden to chat with his online friends. But then his little brother, Gilbert, is kidnapped. To find him, Zach discovers how to astral project. Soon, his spirit is soaring through the strange and boundless astral realm—a shadow place.

While searching for his brother, Zach meets a boy named Emory, another astral traveler who's intriguing (and cute). As they track the kidnappers from the astral realm, their bond grows—but each moment could be Gilbert's last. Even worse, there's a menacing, centuries-old creature in their midst that devours souls and possesses physical bodies. And it's hungry for Zach.

What first drew me in to Shadow Walkers was the idea of astral projection. I would love nothing more than to be able to leave my physical body behind and just travel! Brent Hartinger hits the nail on the head with his explanation in this book. By the time I had finished reading, I'd say I had a pretty good handle on the concept. If you have ever wondered about astral projection, you'll find it simply fascinating.

Truthfully though, other than the astral projection aspect, this book had a difficult time holding my attention. The characters are sweet enough. Zach has a good head on his shoulders, although he feels trapped on his island home. Emory is sincere and definitely meshes with Zach. However it was Gilbert that stole the show, let me tell you. This fireball of a little brother was so adorable! When he goes missing I seriously had a moment of panic. Such a cute little kid!

The romance aspect of the book was also a nice addition. I thought it was fabulous that Brent Hartinger included a homosexual romance that wasn't angst driven or a social issue. It did fall a little flat for me though, mostly in the believability department. Although I enjoyed the fact that the boys were able to connect on such an otherworldly level, their relationship moved like lightning. I've heard of stress bringing people together, but even with my paranormal blinders on I had a hard time accepting that they would be so into one another in such a short time.

Added on is a bit of a side story about an astral creature that tries to devour the souls floating in the astral realm. I liked this addition, but I so wished it was a little more drawn out and explained. It was genuinely interesting! It just happened to be overshadowed by everything else going on. I'd honestly have to say that my favorite part of the whole book was the mystery surrounding Gilbert's disappearance. I had no idea where that part of the story was going, and as Zach searched I genuinely worried. When your favorite character ends up missing, well that's just something that you end up worrying about.

My final verdict on this book is that it is a sweet, short and unique read. Although it didn't sate my whole literary appetite, there was definitely enough there to keep me coming back! If Zach, Emory and Gilbert come back in a second book I'll be there to follow them on their adventures.

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.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Frank Cole's Top 10 Books of all time!

I'm proud to welcome Frank Cole, author of The Guardians of the Hidden Scepter, to my blog today! I LOVED this book. You can check out my review if you'd like. In the meantime, Frank is here to share his favorite books of all time with us!

Maybe I’ve read and enjoyed other books more than these over the years. But I would have to say these books impacted me more than any others.

#10 Lord Loss by Darren Shan – Gruesome. Shocking! Who knew scary could work for teens? I sure didn’t until I read this one.

#9 - The Magicians Elephant by Kate DiCamillo - Not since experiencing C.S. Lewis have I read a book that made me stop and think on whether the author really intended the story to mean something so much more.

#8Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs by Judi Barrett- This book took my young child brain, put it in a blender, mixed in some creative juices, and pressed frappe. Dare I say the beginning? Yes I dare.

#7The Magicians Nephew by C.S. Lewis – I don’t know why I loved this book more than the other Chronicles of Narnia episodes. Maybe its because I imagined my excitement as a child experiencing the magic in this story. Or maybe its because they never made a movie out of this one. J

#6Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer – Such a great idea! Take fairies and give them super technology and then throw in a punk (hilarious) criminal mastermind who happens to be a pre-teen, to exploit them.

#5Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins – I put off reading this book for a long time. Said to myself, “I’m not going to believe the hype.” Then I read it while sitting on the beach and I’m pretty sure I smacked myself with the book at least a dozen times because I got too close to the pages. Unbelievable!

#4The Taily Po by Joanna Galdone – Don’t read it. It scared me. Made me cry and sleep on my parents’ floor when I was 6 years old. A seriously creepy ghost story with some even creepier illustrations.

#3The Shining by Stephen King - Don't read it. It scared me. Made me cry and sleep on my parents’ floor when I was 18 years old. There are moving bush animals and other wildly scary stuff.

#2Ghost Soldiers by Hampton Sides – Very disturbing and yet probably a story people need to read about a heroic rescue of American POWS. I started reading this book when I was with my family at Disneyland of all places and I kept complaining because I wanted to head back to the hotel to finish the book.

#1 Harry Potter… All of them– Yes, I probably liked book 5 the best and then book 7. Book 6 would take 3rd and then book 3. Book 4 earned a solid 5th place and then book 1. And though book 2 didn’t wow me as much as the others, the series would be incomplete without it. I can’t help, but hop on the bandwagon with this series. These books changed my whole way of thinking in my writing. And like so many children’s authors out there in the world, I have to thank J. K. for her masterpiece.

Such a great list! A HUGE thanks to Frank Cole for stopping by! Share out in the comments. What books do you consider your favorite of all time?

Book Review: Boyfriends with Girlfriends

Media Type: Book
Title: Boyfriends with Girlfriends
Author: Alex Sanchez
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Pages: Hardcover; 224
Release Date: April 19, 2011
Source: GalleyGrab
Intended Reading Group:
Young Adult

Content Screening:
Mild language; Sexual situations

HDB Rating:
3 Keys to My Heart

Lance has always known he was gay, but he's never had a real boyfriend. Sergio is bisexual, but his only real relationship was with a girl. When the two of them meet, they have an instant connection--but will it be enough to overcome their differences?

Allie's been in a relationship with a guy for the last two years--but when she meets Kimiko, she can't get her out of her mind. Does this mean she's gay? Does it mean she's bi? Kimiko, falling hard for Allie, and finding it impossible to believe that a gorgeous girl like Allie would be into her, is willing to stick around and help Allie figure it out.

Boyfriends with Girlfriends is Alex Sanchez at his best, writing with a sensitive hand to portray four very real teens striving to find their places in the world--and with each other.

Let me start out by saying that I was completely excited at the prospect of reading this book. I fully believe that Alex Sanchez's message is something that needs to be out there. He not only addresses the concepts of homosexual and straight, but also tackles the much debated idea of being bi-sexual. As a person who works with children, I know that there are a lot of young people out there sitting on the same fence that Allie and Sergio are in this book. Not quite sure what side they fall on, they are trapped somewhere in between and ridiculed for it. That being said, I really wanted to love this book. Sadly, it missed that mark for me.

The first thing that struck me when I opened Boyfriends with Girlfriends was the writing style. Written almost entirely in dialogue, the story skips between the viewpoints of the four characters in an almost manic way sometimes. In fact, certain conversations took place in just one paragraph. It was a little disconcerting to say the least, but the saving grace was definitely in the actual dialogue itself. Sanchez paints the reader some extremely accurate personality types for each of his characters, and that is what I fell in love with.

From the heart pattering gorgeousness of Sergio through Lance's eyes, right on down to the questioning thoughts of Allie, the dialogue really brings these characters to life. I was incredibly impressed with the depth and complexity that each character possessed. Kimiko, for example, isn't just a cultural stereotype of a Japanese girl. Instead she is her own shining personality, from her boyish clothes to her love of sweet adolescent poetry. I won't lie when I say she was my favorite character in the book. Each character however had their own charm, and I kind of transported back to high school as I followed them. These could be kids that I actually knew.

Sadly, my love for these characters couldn't overshadow the simple fact that the message Sanchez was trying to convey was being beat to death. Although I really enjoyed the snippy and witty dialogue, it seemed like all the characters ever did was discuss their sexuality and their relationships. I liked that I got to see a little further into each of them through that, but I would really have liked to know more about where they came from. It was hard for me to believe that four friends would just sit around all day and discuss nothing but relationships. 

I'll be completely honest when I say that I nearly didn't make it through Boyfriends with Girlfriends.  It wasn't at all the subject matter that pushed me away from the book, but rather the way that it was delivered. What it really reminded me of was an after school special. You know, the ones where the topic is attacked mercilessly until something happens and everything ends up just as it should be? Yes, sadly that is this book. I can't imagine that teenagers are going to appreciate such heavy-handedness in a book. Really I worry that this fact is going to keep such an important message, such great characters, from reaching the audience who truly needs them. Teenagers aren't always as forgiving with "in your face" tactics as adults. I only hope they'll finish the book and see the merit in it like I did.

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.

Character Tweets - Back When You Were Easier to Love

Emily Wing Smith is here today! She is the author of the upcoming book, Back When You Were Easier to Love. She's here to share with us some tweets from her characters.

mattiasmind: Which psychologist are you? Take this quiz

HHS Noah: HHS girls soccer at home on Friday. Be there!

joy_after: cheap rates on plane tix here: who’s in?

mattiasmind: forget it, @joy_after. #nowayjose

ustgretel: Wait, plane tix @joy_after? Do tell!

I have to say, I haven't read this book yet but these tweets definitely peak my interest! Especially coupled with the synopsis that you'll find below.

What's worse than getting dumped? Not even knowing if you've been dumped. Joy got no goodbye, and certainly no explanation when Zan—the love of her life and the only good thing about stifling, backward Haven, Utah—unceremoniously and unexpectedly left for college a year early. Joy needs closure almost as much as she needs Zan, so she heads for California, and Zan, riding shotgun beside Zan's former-best-friend Noah.
Add it on Goodreads

Monday, April 25, 2011

Alex Sanchez - Books from his past!

I'm pleased to welcome Alex Sanchez to my blog! Alex is the author of many books such as The God Box, BAIT, and the upcoming Boyfriends with Girlfriends.

Today he is here to share with us some of the books from his past and why they are so important to him!

At five years old: The Story of Ferdinand, by Munro Leaf and illustrated by Robert Lawson. It describes a Spanish bull that prefers smelling flowers to fighting in a ring. That gentle but strong bull challenging the status quo by being true to himself made a fierce impression on my young imagination and self-image. In the years that followed, when I’d doubt myself and who I was, I often remembered Ferdinand.

At eleven years old, I belonged to a mail-order book club and recall one title I loved: “How to Be a Nonconformist.” I knew I didn’t fit in, and I was trying to figure out who I was.

For when I was sixteen, I wish a book had been available that portrayed gay and bi teens—a book that would’ve told me, “It’s okay to be who you are.” Part of who I was then was a very normal teenage boy trying to sort out love, friendship, sex, and sexuality. Now there are sooo many great gay teen books. I have a huge list on my website at:

At twenty, I discovered my first “gay” books by authors like Christopher Isherwood, Mary Renault, Patricia Nell Warren, and Yukio Mishima. If you haven’t read any of those, I recommend them!

You can find more information about Alex Sanchez, and his books, at:

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Book Review: Warm Bodies

Media Type: Book
Title: Warm Bodies
Author: Isaac Marion
Publisher: Vintage
Pages: Hardcover; 256
Release Date: April 26, 2011
Intended Reading Group:
Young Adult

Content Screening:
Mild zombie gore; mild violence

HDB Rating:
5 Keys to My Heart

A zombie who yearns for a better life ends up falling in love—with a human—in this astonishingly original debut novel.

R is a zombie. He has no memories, no identity, and no pulse, but he has dreams. He doesn’t enjoy killing people; he enjoys riding escalators and listening to Frank Sinatra. He is a little different from his fellow Dead.

Not just another zombie novel, Warm Bodies is funny, scary, and deeply moving.

Opening with the best kind of dry humor, this book instantly grabbed me and made want to read more. R is our zombie narrator, and we follow him as he explains what the world is now. Filled with shambling and lost zombies, R and his friends each have no memory of who they were or what really happened to them in the first place. All that has been lost in the recesses of their mind when they turned. Or has it?

We are introduced to R at the beginning, and he remains our zombie narrator the rest of the story. My favorite part about R was how different he was from the others, even in the very beginning. There was a overall humanity to him that was easy to relate to, and yes I really did find myself falling in love with a zombie. Rotting flesh and all. What Isaac Marion does is create this character that is such a part of us that, despite his undead state, you find things to relate to in him. R likes the simple joy of riding escalators, of listening to Frankie Blue Eyes, and even of just sitting in the sunshine. Even though he has no pulse, he is so endearing!

This book completely surprised me. Yes, it does contain all the typical zombie items. Eating of brains, shambling, and of course the occasional rotting flesh. However it so much more than that. At the heart of Warm Bodies is a love story of the most sincere kind. In fact I'd equate it to a bit of an old school fairy tale. It isn't always pretty, it isn't always happy, but in the end everything turns out the way it is meant to. Definitely unique, this book has successfully meshed the romance and zombie elements together in a perfect way! I cannot begin to explain how impressed I was.

Final verdict? I devoured this book with a fervor from beginning to end. A perfect mix of bittersweet romance and zombie lore, Warm Bodies is a book that is unlike any other I have ever read! R helps us to explore our own mortality and humanity, while leading us through one heck of a story line. Thank you Isaac Marion. I was able to see my beloved zombies in a whole new light and I couldn't ask for more!

Spring Fever Swap - Sign Up!


Lack of good spring weather got you down? Feeling like you need a little color in your life? A little excitement? Well look no further!

What is a "swap" you ask? Let me put it this way. You give something, you get something! Simple as that. Read more below if you're interested.

The Basics:

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

Everyone enjoys getting a package in the mail. Unfortunately there isn't always a reason to give a gift. So....I create my own gift giving holidays! Give something, get something. That's how a swap works!

If you are interested all you have to do is fill out the form at the bottom of the page! I'll then match you with someone who you "groove" with, and TA-DA you have a swap partner. 

Now I must warn you, secrecy is the name of the game! Unless you REALLY want to know who's sending your package, it'll be a surprise! You will be emailed information about who you'll be sending your "Spring Fever" package to. Then at the end you'll link a post with a big thank you to the person who sent your package, along with a photo of what you got! After all, we love to gush over goodies!

The theme is Spring, so here are the requirements for the packages:
(1) "Spring Read" Book
- To me Spring means light, airy reads that are enjoyed sitting in the sunshine. What does it mean to you? Pick a book that you think best embodies that! (This can be something you have already, purchase in good condition at a thrift store, or even something off the sale rack.)

(1) Spring Organization Item
- Spring is all about cleaning, organizing and starting fresh! Consider putting in a small memo pad, a fridge calendar, or even some fun pencils.

(1) Spring Miscellany Item
- Make this one all about your partner! It can be candy, a small trinket, anything at all. This item is totally your choice!

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:

This swap is open Internationally! I will, however, need at least one person in the U.S. to mail Internationally, and vice versa.

15$ MINIMUM + shipping. This means that you MUST spend at least 15 dollars - no less. I 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 in 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. If shipping perishable items, consider the heat!

Members are required to get Delivery Confirmation with their packages and email me the number! You can find my email by clicking the envelope icon to the right. If I do not have a confirmation from you by two weeks before the delivery deadline I will remind you.

Once you get your package, please post about it! Share what you received, post pictures, and thank your partner! Don't have a blog? No problem! Send me a picture and your thank you note, and I will post it for you.


(I don't want anyone to end up without a package.)

All participants must be signed up by May 1st. This will ensure I have plenty of time to pair everyone, and get emails out. Plus it will give you lots of time to choose items for your partner! I will consider taking late signups if the participant is willing to ship by the deadline!

All packages must be sent by May 30th. You are more than welcome to send early, but please make sure your package is out by the deadline to ensure that everyone receives theirs around the same time.

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
Favorite music
Favorite movies/tv shows
Favorite books/authors
Favorite accessories
Clothing/shoe/bracelet/ring size
Things you collect
Other interests

If I missed any information that you are curious about, please let me know in the comments. I'll answer you straight away!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Odessa: The Seraphym Wars - Teaser & Giveaway!

For you today, I have a teaser from Rebecca Ryals Russell's upcoming book, Odessa: The Seraphym Wars. A little bit steampunk, a lot fantasy, I'm about half way through reading this and can't wait to share my review with you! In the meantime though, let me give you a taste of what to expect if you choose this book for your TBR pile.

"Trembling, I stepped forward and thrust the sword into her chest where I hoped the heart was. I couldn't imagine how a simple shard of metal could destroy a demon, but I watched in fascinated horror as it swelled and changed.

The screeching wail that ensued did not issue from a twelve-year-old's throat. It climbed in timbre until the roar was a train running through the bathroom, echoing off the shiny, wet tiles. The demon, no longer able to hold the image of a child, displayed his usual golden scaly skin and horned head with a large toothy maw. Claws with long nails scraped at the tiles, shredding them to dust as he thrashed madly, trying to pull the glowing sword from his chest." - Odessa: The Seraphym Wars, pg. 48

I'm hoping that this little taste will peak your interest! Trust me when I say that if you are a fan of fantasy, this is a book that is going to suck you in. I stayed up WAY too late last night reading.


Now for some giveaway goodness!

Rebecca has sweetly offered up some great goodies for her blog tour! There will 2 winners for this one. Let me share the prizes with you.

One winner will receive a signed copy of Odessa: The Seraphym Wars for their very own!

Another winner will receive their choice of one of the two prize packs pictured below. Choose wisely my friends, they are both fabulous.

 Pack 1choice of 1 Wall Calendar (Majikals or Monsters)
               Odessa pen
               Odessa Sticky Pad
               Odessa Notepad
               Odessa Author-signed Cover 
                  Art Postcard
               Odessa Cover Art Bookmark
Pack 2 – Seraphym Wars Character 
   Wall Calendar
               Odessa Mug
               Odessa Pen
               Odessa Key Ring
               Odessa Author-signed Cover 
                  Art Postcard
               Odessa Cover Art Bookmark

Giveaway ends May 1, 2011. Open INTERNATIONALLY.

Comments, while appreciated, will not be counted as entries.


Myrna Ashlin Watts graduated from High School in Jacksonville, Fl just in time to find herself transported to a bizarre and primal planet corrupted by demon-dragons. And they want her DEAD. Her problem is she has been recruited to kill them, too.

18-year-old Myrna is drawn into the middle of an epic battle between Seraphym and Demons. An average High School student from Florida, struggling with inner demons resulting from a rape two years earlier, she wakes one morning on the Steampunk planet of Dracwald, home of the demon-dragons responsible for her brother’s recent murder as well as many other atrocities in the news. She meets Michael, who becomes her guide and explains that according to prophecy, Myrna must gather the remaining six Vigorios (teen warriors with special talents) then train with the Majikals on an enchanted island.

Reluctantly, and knowing it is her only way to get back home, she agrees to lead, battling dragons and monsters while crossing swamps and mountains, forests and seas. She wrangles with the old inner demons when three very different men join her quest—a seasoned demon/dragon-slayer who irritates but beguiles her, a tender and sweet mentor in whom she trusts completely and a roguishly handsome Scientist who sets her senses aflame. How is she expected to lead the others and keep everyone safe with so much inner turmoil?

Will love and lust, jealousy, greed, deceit and distrust break the delicate tie that binds these teen warriors called The Vigorios? Can a troupe of teens help the Seraphym finally defeat the massive empire of evil dominated for eons by the demon-dragons of Dracwald?

Friday, April 22, 2011

Book Review: Girl Wonder

Media Type: Book
Title: Girl Wonder
Author: Alexa Martin
Publisher: Hyperion
Pages: Hardcover; 304
Release Date: May 3, 2011
Source: Publisher/TBS
Intended Reading Group:
Young Adult

Content Screening:
Sexual situations, Cussing, Drug Use

HDB Rating:
3 Keys to My Heart

As if transferring senior year weren't hard enough, Charlotte Locke has been bumped to lower level classes at her new school. With no friends, a terrible math SAT score, and looming college application deadlines, the future is starting to seem like an oncoming train for which she has no ticket.

Then Amanda enters her orbit like a hot-pink meteor, offering Charlotte a ticket to something else: popularity. Amanda is fearless, beautiful, brilliant, and rich. As her new side kick, Charlotte is brought into the elite clique of the debate team—and closer to Neal, Amanda's equally brilliant friend and the most perfect boy Charlotte has ever seen.

But just when senior year is looking up, Charlotte’s life starts to crumble. The more things heat up between Charlotte and Neal, the more Neal wants to hide their relationship. Is he ashamed? Meanwhile, Amanda is starting to act strangely competitive, and she's keeping a secret Charlotte doesn't want to know.

Every now and then I stumble across a book that I'm completely conflicted about. After finishing Girl Wonder I'm still sitting here trying to rein my thoughts in enough to write a coherent review. See, Charlotte's story makes a lot of sense. I've been the girl in her shoes for a lot of situations, and even if I haven't experienced them all myself, I know that they exist. At the same time it seemed like Charlotte's life caused her to go through every single trial that can happen to a young person. I'll explain more about what I mean below, but it was kind of disorienting.

First off, let me say that the prose with which Alexa Martin writes is stunning! Every page in Girl Wonder comes to life with descriptions, and a lot of times I was able to place myself right beside Charlotte. As a reader who loves to be a part of the story, this really kept me engaged while I was reading. Similarly, the characters are extremely well written and vivid. Each one of them had a personality that shines off the page, and I could feel myself going through the range of emotions that come along with this book. You can trust me when I say that this book will make you feel. It might not always be good, but it will definitely be there.

Now on to Charlotte's story. My main problem with Charlotte specifically was her inability to pull herself out to the "black hole" into which she was falling. Don't misunderstand me. I knew she was hurting, I saw that she was lost, but the simple fact that she wouldn't grab on to any of the lifelines that were being thrown to her was so frustrating to me. I honestly disliked her so much in the middle of the book that I thought about putting it down. I ended up reading on because I hoped, that like most coming of age books, things would start to get better for her. I kept wishing she'd look at the good things she was being given, instead of always being so negative all the time.

I understood that Charlotte was dealing with a lot. She has a learning disability, she isn't in the GATE program like she was supposed to be, she has to move her Senior year, her parents are fighting, the boy she loves is giving her mixed signals, and her so called friend is manipulative. Are you exhausted yet? I was. This only skims the surface of what is going on in Charlotte's life. I'm not denying that there are teens out there who have all this hit them in their teenage years. However this all happens to her in a matter of just one year. My conflicting emotions made me want to hug Charlotte sometimes, and slap her at others for not seeing things that were clearly there. It made this otherwise beautiful book a very tough read for me. It was almost like there was a checklist of things that happen to teens, and Charlotte had to fulfill them all.

I don't mean to imply that this book isn't a great read. It honestly is. As I mentioned above, it does make you feel and the way that Alexa Martin deals with the stigma of learning disabilities is brilliant. I was also very much drawn in by her exploration of what "love" really is. It isn't only Charlotte who is trying to figure that out in this book, and it's beautiful to watch these characters grow and learn. Honestly if it hadn't been for poor Charlotte's insane year of life, I think I would have been a lot more in love with this book. I wanted to yell, "Give the girl a break already!"

I'll end with the simple fact that this is a book about growing up and I understand that. Girl Wonder is an exploration of what it means to be an older teenager who still hasn't figured everything out yet. It is a beautifully written example of the utter hopelessness that comes along with being in this situation. For that I applaud Alexa Martin. Although there were some rough spots for me, I do see the beauty in this book. I believe that if you can in with an open heart and mind, you will too.

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.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Book Review: Broken

Media Type: Book
Title: Broken
Author: Susan Bigelow
Publisher: Candlemark & Gleam
Pages: Ebook; 340
Release Date: January 25, 2011
Source: Publisher/TBS
Intended Reading Group:
Young Adult 

Content Screening:
Cussing, Violence, Sexual Situations

HDB Rating:
4 Keys to My Heart

In a post-war future world where First Contact has been made, humans are colonizing the stars, and the nations of Earth have been united under a central government, Extrahumans are required by law to belong to the Union. When a young man with visions of the future sets out on a mission to define the course of human history, he encounters a devastated former hero, a fascist dictatorship bent on world domination, and the realities of living in a society where affiliation is everything.

Broken is a breath of fresh air in an otherwise saturated market. At a time when I've temporarily had my fill of vampires and werewolves, I welcomed some good old superheroes into my repertoire! For those of you looking for something different, something epic and slightly bittersweet, this is definitely a book for you.

First off I need to applaud Susan Bigelow for creating such a perfectly balanced story. By that I mean that Broken is completely plot driven, and a wild ride at that, but isn't lacking in the character department at all. Yes you heard me right! This story has a fast moving and intriguing plot, set in a post-war dystopian world. There really isn't a moment of peace. I kept reading just to see what was going to happen next. However amidst all this, the reader is treated to some deep and multi-faceted characters. I was so impressed with how well both of these aspects were done!

The writing in this one is a little different, sticking more to short and simple sentence structure. It really works for the characters though. The character Broken is one of the most lost and pathetic creatures I have read about in a long time. After loosing the ability to fly, she's just coasting through life as she tries to figure out what to do with herself. By using this short and terse kind of writing, Susan Bigelow is able to show the complete and desperate misery that lives inside this character. It's heartbreaking, and amazing.

Lastly, I just want to say how much I loved the relationship between all the characters in this book. Michael, Broken and even Monica, who isn't as prevalent in the story, all share similar ties in the utter hopelessness that they feel, and yet they are so different in the way they deal with it. Michael, being younger, shows the power that can come from accepting and moving on. Broken shows us what happens when you accept it and won't let it go. Monica shows that sometimes fighting back is all that you can really do.

I feel like I'm beginning to ramble, so I'll end here. I really enjoyed this book if you couldn't tell! Like all good speculative fiction books, this is one that is a little confusing at the beginning. I'm only mentioning it so you don't give up on it. Once you read further into Broken you'll fall in love with the story. At it's heart, this book reminds me why I love super heroes so very much. Broken or not, they are always capable of doing great things.

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

Hungry For You - EPIC BLOG TOUR

When I was approached by A.M. Harte to be a part of the Blog Tour de Force extravaganza I was so excited! See, first off I think this is a fantastic idea. Pitting author against author...who doesn't love that?  Second of all it gives YOU my dear readers, a chance to win a KINDLE! Am I jealous? You bet.

Below please enjoy my review of A.M. Harte's Hungry For You and read on to see how to get in on all the goodies that are being given away.  You lucky ducks you.

Book Title: Hungry For You
Author: A.M. Harte
"There is no greater drug than relationships; there is no sweeter death than love."

Love is horrible. It’s ruthless, messy, mind-altering, and raw. It takes no prisoners. It chews you up and spits you out and leaves you for dead. Love is, you could say, very much like a zombie.

In this haunting short story collection, anything is possible—a dying musician turns to tea for inspiration; a police sergeant struggles with a very unusual victim; a young wife is trapped in a house hiding unimaginable evil….

With "Hungry For You", A.M. Harte explores the disturbing and delightful in an anthology that unearths the thin boundary between love and death.
Add in on: Goodreads / See the trailer at: YouTube

Okay let's get this out in the open first. I LOVE zombies. I mean it. Those undead, rotting corpses just so happen to be one of my favorite fodders for a good story. Sure, they may not have a pulse. That doesn't mean that they can't be totally fascinating! So of course when A.M. Harte approached me to review Hungry For You, I instantly accepted. Anytime I see zombies and sexy (see the trailer) in the same paragraph, I have to wonder what is inside the pages. I dived right in like a zombie eating a brain!

Rather than review each story separately or choose my favorites, which would be hard because they are all great, I'll just give you my overall opinion. I can even give it to you in four simple words. This book is awesome. Seriously! Each story is so different, but so well-written. Picking a favorite is like trying to choose an ice cream flavor on a hot day. It's just too hard. What I liked best was that even if a story was a little slow, or weird, the next one will pick you right up again. Thus is the beauty of anthologies.

Anyhow Hungry For You is a testament to why zombies are so much fun to read. At their core they are still people, and they still have a humanity to them despite their decaying state. Each story in this anthology shows a little bit into the mind of these shambling past humans. Some are about love that grows stronger, others are about love that just won't die, and still others border on that obsessive lust that we sometimes see as love. Make no mistake, these aren't your typical zombie stories! There is a message in each short story, and that is what I loved so much about reading.

If you love zombies, or even have a slight interest in them, you're likely to enjoy Hungry For You! There is so much zombie goodness, without too much of the zombie gore. Sure, you might be a bit confused at times. I'll admit I had to re-read one or two stories again to understand exactly what they were getting at, but overall it is so worth it. Again I state, it is the humanity that these stories bring to zombie kind that makes me happy. I loved it and I look forward to more!

Now for the giveaway details!

This here is the lovely A.M. Harte and she needs YOUR help. When you saw Cage Match in the flyer up above, they weren't kidding. These authors are on a mission to get the most meaningful comments on the blogs they post at. In order to do that, A.M. needs you!

Oh, and she is willing to bribe you. Here is what you can win.

* Comment on her blog for a free ebook copy of Hungry For You and experience the zombie goodness for yourself!

* Anyone who comments on this review is entered into a giveaway for a signed paperback, 3 limited edition postcards, and a surprise free ebook. Three runner-ups will get a postcard + the surprise ebook. Winners will be announced May 5.

* FINALLY, every person who comments and enters the other contests is entered to win the big KINDLE prize at the end! 

So what are you waiting for? Look at how many goodies are up for grabs! Get to commenting, get yourself some good reading material, and build up your love for zombies. You won't be sorry!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Book Review: Unsavory Delicacies

Media Type: Book
Title: Unsavory Delicacies
Author: Russell Brooks
Publisher: Self-published
Pages: Ebook; 22
Release Date: April 21, 2011
Source: Author
Genre: Thriller / Mystery

HDB Rating: 4 Keys to My Heart

Recommended to: Readers looking for a book of short stories with some thrill attached!

Add it on: Goodreads / Shelfari / Amazon 
A three-course story collection with a side-order of revenge.

For fans of Barry Eisler, Robert Ludlum, and Clive Cussler. Three short stories of suspense with unsavory results.

Crème Brulé—Rogue operative, Monique Beauvais, cons a software genius into selling her a coveted technology that would allow its user to control CIA drones while they’re in flight. And she will go as far as killing him in public in order to have it.

To the Last Bite—A renowned food critic—whose scathing reviews have closed down restaurants—gets a savoury surprise.

Shashlyk and Morezhenoe—CIA operative, Ridley Fox, leads a team against one of Russia’s most powerful crime families. He discovers secrets, but not one that he was expecting to find.

Three stories with three consequences. All containing three Unsavory Delicacies.

Short story compilations are becoming a bit of an addiction to me lately. I think of them as the perfect bite-sized snack of reading. Just enough to sate you, but also to keep you coming back for more! That being said, when Russell Brooks asked me to review his newest project, Unsavory Delicacies, I jumped at the chance. I've already had the pleasure of reading Pandora's Succession, his first book, and loved it. Needless to say I had high hopes for this one as well. Below are my bite-sized reviews of each story within.

Crème Brulé
This is the first story in the book, and thus the one that had to catch my attention to keep me reading. Luckily I wasn't let down. This story had intrigue, trickery, and even a femme fatale. Featuring a character who I know quite well from Russell Brook's previous book, this was one that I literally devoured. See, Ridley Fox vowed revenge after his past excursions. I can't deny that I was a little disappointed he didn't get that before we left him. In this story...well let's just say everyone gets their just desserts. 

To the Last Bite
Oh, this story. What do I say about this story? First off, in a matter of sentences Russell Brooks is able to build a vivid character. I could picture Dennis Kirby, the food critic, in my mind. After eating the best meal he's ever had, Dennis cannot seem to place the chef that he thanks. Who is he? A twist my friends. That's all I can say without giving anything away. Suffice it to say that this one greatly appealed to the side of me that enjoys a bit of dark humor now and then.

Shashlyk and Morezhenoe
I'll admit the title of this one had me a bit stumped at first, but after reading the story I got it! Very clever. By far my favorite story of the bunch, Ridley Fox once again takes center stage! The best part is that this story allows him to be the total bad-ass that he is. Oh yes, that's why he is my kind of guy. Reading this further proves to me that Russell Brooks is indeed a master of action and intrigue.

Overall thoughts? This is definitely a short story compilation worth buying, if only for the reason that it will make you want to read more from the fantastic Russell Brooks. If you are a fan of thrillers, you need to look more into his writing. Start by taking some time to dive into this perfectly bite-sized short stories. Think of them as appetizers!

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

Talking covers with Brent Hartinger

Today we're lucky enough to have Brent Hartinger, author of Shadow Walkers, here to share a bit about his cover process and his input! I love hearing about how much say authors have into their gorgeous covers. Let's see what he has to say...

I'm sure you've been told by other authors how we have little or no control over our book covers -- even though we're so closely associated with them. I always say it's a little like how they play the theme song to certain sitcom stairs whenever they go anywhere for the rest of their life. Imagine how the cast of Friends must hate that song!

So it's always with a little trepidation when I get my book covers. I've had some great ones, and a couple so-so ones (and one that was outright horrible, but thankfully I got that changed).

A good cover isn't just a good cover -- it's a good cover for the particular book. Does the cover accurately reflect what's inside?

The thing that I think is weird in book publishing is how cover design goes in "waves." One year "faces" are in, then the next year they're out. And everyone is looking at everyone else, seeing what's selling, trying to decide how they want their covers to be. I was walking by the paranormal romance section at Barnes and Noble yesterday, and every single cover looks exactly like every other one.

Maybe it's just me, but wouldn't you think publishers would want their covers to be different from all the others, at least a little?

Which brings me to my cover, which I think is a good example of being enough like other covers to look contemporary, but different enough to look different. Obviously, faces are definitely in right now, but my cover is a little more complicated than just the close-up-on-an-angst-y face, which is so in vogue right now.

But with Shadow Walkers, I was given the cover really, really early, which is great, because I was able to tinker with the book a bit. Most covers are done with clip-art these days -- sometimes they still do photo-shoots, but not very often.

Anyway, once I saw the face on the cover, I was able to rewrite Zach's actual description a little and, more importantly, I saw that the artist had made a lighthouse a prominent feature. There was a lighthouse in the original book, but it was mostly just a throwaway. I was able to rewrite the book a bit and make the lighthouse much more important to the story.

It's perhaps not the best cover I've ever had -- that would probably be The Last Chance Texaco or Geography Club, which people still rave about. But I think it's very good.


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