Sunday, January 30, 2011

The Long Weekend GIVEAWAY!



Intrigued by Savita's author interview and wanting to read The Long Weekend for yourself?

I certainly can't blame you! Here's your chance to win!


Up for grabs is a copy of The Long Weekend for one lucky winner. You know, since Savita is being so sweet, you really should go leave a comment for her. ;)

This contest is open INTERNATIONALLY!

To enter, please fill out this form. Please make sure to leave a valid email address for me to contact you.

Giveaway ends February 6th at 11:00 pm PST.

ENJOY!


Blog Tour - Author Interview: Savita Kalhan

Hello everyone! Today I'm happy to welcome Savita Kalhan, author of The Long Weekend, to my blog! Let's find out a little about this lovely lady shall we?



***




1. Hello and welcome Savita! Thanks for stopping by. I always like to start my interviews with a challenge. If you had to choose a color to describe you, what would it be and why?

Hi Jessica, thanks for having me here today!

That is a challenge! I’ve never thought of myself as a colour. I have favourite colours – I love green, pink, purple, orange, red, black, but I think I would have to go with green. Don’t ask me why because I don’t know.


2. I read in your author bio that you traveled extensively. What would you say was your favorite place that you visited?

I think my favourite place would have to Malaysia. I’ve been to Malaysia twice – once on my honeymoon and again several years later when I was pregnant, although I didn’t know I was when we went! Each time I loved it, and it has great memories for me. I love it for its warmth, its tropical feel, the sandy beaches, the view of a glittering turquoise sea to wake up to, food that puts a smile on your face, a multi-racial culture that’s rich and diverse, and teeming with stories and legends.


3. Teaching English is what really sparked your interest in writing, correct? When would you say you had that moment of clarity that it was something you really wanted to pursue?

When I was a kid I wanted to be a teacher, librarian, or bookshop owner. I never for a minute thought I would ever be able to become a writer. It was like wishing to be an astronaut or a princess! But I always loved reading and always wondered what it would be like to be a writer. When I was living abroad and teaching English, I was very removed from any environment I had previously known. I think it gave me a bit more courage to try my hand at something that I hadn’t even allowed myself to dream about before. So I think the interest has always been there, but the courage hasn’t. By the time my son was ready for full-time school I had been writing on and off for a few years, and we were back living in England, I think is when I knew I wanted to pursue being a writer rather than going back into teaching. There are always times when you wonder if you made the right choice, but if I had stopped then I would never have gone on to write The Long Weekend.


4. Is there a place that you go for inspiration while you write?

My back garden backs onto a brook and some woods, and I love walking in there or just sitting out on my deck and gazing at them, letting my mind drift wherever it wants. It’s relaxing and empties my head of non-essential stuff and allows the story I’m working on to meander through. Don’t laugh, but the other place is the gym! It’s somewhere else where I can let my mind switch off. I’ve got my earphones in, my body is busy on the treadmill or the cross-trainer, and my head switches into a different gear, which allows the story to filter around and percolate.


5. What is one food item that you cannot live without?

That would have to be dark chocolate, but especially the dark chocolate cherries in cerise! Divine! But if you’re talking about proper food, although I’m sure you’re not, I would have to say the boring old, but extremely versatile potato, whether it’s chipped, mashed, sautéed, or baked, I love ‘em.


6. Is The Long Weekend your first writing project, or did you have others before this thriller gripped you?

The first thing I wrote was an epic fantasy trilogy – talk about throwing myself in the deep end! It started as a fun thing with a friend – we were living in the Middle East and it wasn’t easy to get hold of books. I would come back from a holiday to the UK with my suitcase stuffed full of them. We were really into fantasy epics at the time, but some of them weren’t that great and after the effort it took to bring them back it was so disappointing. So we decided we would write one. I wrote the first chapter, and my friend was supposed to write the second. She loved the first chapter and said I should carry on and do the next one and she would write the one after that. Well, I got to the end of the second book and my friend still hadn’t written a word of it, but she read and critiqued every word!

I also wrote a series of picture books with characters based on extinct or endangered animals, and then another series for middle-grade readers about an Eagle boy. I haven’t looked at any of them in a long time, so maybe I’ll try and get around to it one day. But I think it was good to keep writing and trying out different styles and voices. The Long Weekend came to me like a bolt from the blue – it was so different to anything else I had ever written and yet so right for me.


7. Thank you so much Savita! Last question. Is there any advice you have for aspiring writers out there?

I would very strongly urge any aspiring writers to read as much as they can, read everything they can lay their hands on. To find out as much as they can about the publishing industry, to network with other writers, published and unpublished, and they’re lucky now to have so many wonderful groups and organisations that they can find with a click of a few buttons on the internet. Being internet savvy is important, as is blogging, and joining other social networking sites. Lastly, and probably as important is to keep reading, is to keep writing. Never stop, ever. 


Friday, January 28, 2011

Blog Tour - Book Review: Said the Spider

VENOMOUS INTRIGUE OF LUST, GREED AND BETRAYAL

Sophisticated crime syndicate parasites invade the normally solid foundation of Midwestern banking and generations of established manufacturing. Executives and management usually in control suddenly find they are masterfully manipulated into a web of irreconcilable personal and financial seduction. From the traumatic discovery at the river’s edge to the eventual confrontational conclusion Said The Spider seduces greedy, gullible and unsuspecting prey into a deadly and graphic whirlwind of corporate disaster leading to murder, suicide and revenge.

The early exploits of the juvenile crime spree by a youthful mastermind who cleverly manipulates his prey leads the reader to the ruthless genius manipulating the city. This drama of cause and effect with no escape from the temptations of lust, greed, and ignorance has been cleverly baited.The corporate investigative agency and police sources enter almost too late to stop this whirlpool of turbulence as the bank Vice President’s realize their own failure and the investors and corporation officers panic and retreat from the coming Armageddon.

Cover Inspection:
Definitely fits with the book! I like how they incorporated pictures into the spider web.

First Thoughts:
Intriguing. I wonder why the book is starting out from the viewpoint of little boys.

***

My Review:
To be honest, I found Said the Spider a little difficult to get into at first. It jumps around from past events to present day quite often and I was rather confused in the beginning. However I soon realized that it was being used as a way to introduce all the key players in the mystery. Once I figured that out, it was easier for me to go with the flow and appreciate the different points of view that appeared in each chapter.

As mystery/suspense books go, this story definitely has a great pace to it. The author continuously reveals just enough information to keep you intrigued, and then leads you on to the next big event. I'd liken it to being lead along on a string. Each new piece of information keeps you moving in a straight line to the inevitable uncovering of what is amiss. Still I was a little disappointed about half way through because I figured out what was going on early on. The rest of the story just wasn't as interesting once I discovered the vile plot and realized who would ultimately be taken in.

What definitely saved this book in my eyes in its main character, Dan Jamieson. He is a family man who has fallen so deeply into this work as a private detective that it all but consumes him. A fabulous PI, Dan takes his work very seriously and always works hard to get his man. Rising above the greed and temptation that the people he hunts down, Dan shows us how strong a person he can be. Add in the witty banter between him and his partner, and you have my attention. Those two characters were definitely my favorite part of the book!

Overall I'd say that Said the Spider was a good mystery/suspense read. For those of you out there who choose this genre as your main one, I'm sure you'll find a lot to love. I think that because this isn't my usual genre I wasn't as invested as I would be normally. I did enjoy the story though, and I definitely recommend you give it a read!



Book Details
Title: Said the Spider
Author: Earle E Van Guilder
Publisher: Outskirts Press
Pages: Ebook; 290
Source: Received ebook for review.
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

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Dance Central

is the best game ever invented.


It's true. I play every day, I burn calories, I look ridiculous and yet I learn dances at the same time. If you're okay with looking a little bit silly but having a LOT of fun, go buy this game now.

NOW.

I'll wait. Then we can dance battle via the Internet. Oh yeah.


Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Blog Tour - Tommy Batchelor Guest Post




Hi all! Today I'm proud to welcome Tommy Batchelor and his book, Lost on Spirit River, to my blog! Many apologies to Tommy, as this was supposed to go up yesterday. I've been working so hard to make sure his tour ran smoothly and guess who was the one who forgot her post?

Doh.

He's here today to share with us a favorite memory from his childhood! Take it away Tommy!

***

One of my favorite memories growing up?...Mmmm… I was about fifteen at the time and my Uncle and Aunt along with their two youngest sons had moved to the country. The oldest of my cousins was sixteen and the youngest was thirteen. I lived about twenty miles in a different town, I spend many weekends with them, since they owned over a hundred acres of fields and forest. You have to understand these people lived in the city all their lives. My Uncle started up a hog farm, that’s a completely different story. My Aunt and youngest cousin drove up to get me, my older cousin had stayed home. When we arrived back at the entrance of the driveway, we caught a sense of something wasn’t right! Smell was the word, it was a very bad smell. It was the stink of skunk!!!

Clothing was thrown down along the driveway all the way up the steps into the house. The doors were left wide open into the kitchen, thru the dining room into the master bedroom. Sitting in a tub of water up to his arm pits was my older cousin, spraying himself with some type of dish detergent and scrubbing his skin raw, looking as he might bleed at any moment. We had to laugh in spite of the smell and his pain. He was in a panic, as you see he was due for a date in less than sixty minutes.

His Mother finally got him to settle down and he told us the story of what had happen to him. They had set out some rabbit boxes, he went to check them before coming in to get ready for his date. He found the skunk in the last trap he checked and tried to use a long stick to release the latch to set it free. The stick wasn’t long enough as the skunk shot him at a long distance of twelve feet.

After he had used every soap, dish washing detergent, perfume and deodorant in the house. He was ready to go on his date. If I was the young lady, I would have gone out with the skunk, he smelled better!!!

***

Hahaha! What a great story Tommy! I think I might have dated the skunk as well....just saying.

If you'd like to learn more about Tommy and his book, as well as enter a FANTASTIC giveaway, you can visit him at his website: http://tommybatchelor.blogspot.com/

Book Review: Hidden

When Ahmed's parents send him to a residential treatment center known as Serenity Ridge, it's with one goal: to "fix" their son, at any cost. But eleven months of abuse and overmedication leave him desperate to escape. And when the opportunity comes, Ahmed runs away to San Francisco.

There, he moves into a secret safe house shared by a group of teens. Until they become independent at eighteen, the housemates hide away from authorities, bound by rules that both protect and frustrate. Ahmed, now known as Ben, tries to adjust to a life lived in impossibly close quarters with people he barely knows, all of whom guard secrets of their own. But even if they succeed in keeping the world at bay, there's no hiding from each other or from themselves. And there's no avoiding the conflicts, crushes, loneliness, and desire that could shatter their fragile, complicated sanctuary at any moment. . .

--From Goodreads

Cover Inspection:
I wish SO much that I could have found a better resolution cover to share with you all. Trust me, I looked. This cover is beautiful and completely matches the story within.

First Thoughts:
I'm not even sure how to put my first thoughts into a coherent sentence.

***

My Review:
I can already tell you right now that this review is going to be a jumble of thoughts. I finished reading Hidden just a few moments ago and I'm not even sure how to explain what is going on in my head right now. It's a blur of emotions really. Hatred. Disgust. Pure and utter sympathy. Understanding. This is one of those books that I can't even classify as a tough read. No, it's more like a necessary read that tears your heart out, gives you tons of new information you never knew you needed to know, then puts you back together into a much more whole person. Does that make any sense at all?

Although the synopsis shows the story focusing around Ahmed, and it does, there are so many more vivid characters that are presented to the reader. Ahmed, or Ben as he is known throughout most of the book, is wrenched out of his "normal" existence and placed into a treatment center for queer teens. His parents have one thought. To get him out of their lives until a "cure" for what he is can be found. When he finally finds the means of escape, he is thrown into an underground world full of people who understand him, even if they don't quite understand themselves. These characters, and their dark pasts, become a sense of introspection for Ben as he navigates his way through his new found "freedom".

Yes, this book is gritty. It's realistic. Reading it was like watching a documentary unfold. I began to believe in the characters between the pages. I rooted for them. I felt for them and wanted to understand them. I wish I could say more, but honestly Hidden is such a complex and masterful piece of work that nothing I say can truly do it justice. To say that this book touched me is an understatement of the deepest kind. I'd say instead that this book shoved my head into the reality that actual teens like Ben go through. How would I have ever known that there are safe houses set up for these teens? Or the atrocities that they are made to suffer at the hands of those that would "cure" them? I feel like my eyes are so opened now to this that it is my duty to place this books in the hands of others and have their eyes opened as well.

I cannot recommend this book enough to you, my dear readers. Be warned, the vocabulary within can be considered offensive if you're not prepared for it. This is definitely a read for the older reader, or at least one to be shared between a teen and their parents. However I can promise you that if you can get past the vocabulary, and see it as just another piece of the truth that these characters really live, you will come away feeling much like I did. I feel like I should go give Tomas Mournian a hug and thank him so much for writing this book and sharing a piece of himself. Truly.




Book Details
Title: Hidden
Author: Tomas Mournian
Publisher: Kensington Publishing Corporation
Pages: Paperback; 304
Source: Received for review.
FTC Disclosure: I received a review copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Book Review: The Lost Gate


Dan North knows from early childhood that his family is different — and that the differences are secrets that can never be told. This contemporary Urban Fantasy introduces the North family, a clan of mages in exile in our world, and their enemies who will do anything to keep them locked here.

--From Goodreads

Cover Inspection:
My first thought was as to why there is a book on the cover when I initially saw it. Were books the gates? I could understand that! Still, the cover totally drew me in. I won't lie, I was smitten from moment one.

First Thoughts:
Poor Danny, he seems like he is so misunderstood.

***

My Review:
When I hear the term "Master Storyteller", my thoughts always end at Orson Scott Card. From the time that my twelve year old self picked up the first Ender's Saga book, I was obsessed with his writing. Card is an expert at weaving magic and science into stories that are so wholly immersing, that climbing back out at the end of the book is a bit of a letdown. Sure, the stories he writes are sometimes terrifying, but also completely beautiful. I would stay in them forever if I could. The Lost Gate is no exception to this rule.

From the moment that I met Danny North and his eccentric family of Gods, I was hooked in. Danny is the type of character that can be a little awkward, is definitely smart-mouthed, but who the reader can watch grow as the story goes on. As a young boy who doesn't yet know what his powers are, or if he has any at all for that matter, growing up in a family of mages is tough. Danny shows himself to be resourceful and witty, and I fell in love with him from the beginning. Following his journey towards finding and understanding his true self was pure magic for me.

As for supporting characters, the cast follows the rule of all of fantasy and science fiction stories. The reader will get to meet and enjoy many characters that both help and hinder Danny along his way. Each character is fully fleshed out and so vivid. I'm sure you'll find yourself falling in love with even the smallest supporting character. In this case though, as only Card can do, there is a parallel story that takes place alongside Danny's. I won't ruin the surprise, it is entirely too much fun to find out on your own. Instead I will say to you that these two stories meshed so perfectly, entwined so beautifully, that it never seemed to me I was reading the stories of two separate people at all. It was fascinating.

Plot-wise, this book moves at a very consistent and well-written pace. There is a pressing, yet hidden, danger that follows Danny everywhere that he goes. As the story progresses, Card allows us to watch Danny grow into his own. That was definitely my favorite part of the story. Danny has the unfortunate burden of having to navigate both the trials of being an adolescent, and the tribulations that come along with being part of a family of mages. Danny's journey is one that, although I could not connect fully with due to the magic aspect, anyone can connect with based on his sheer confusion over how to become a responsible adult.

The Lost Gate really does have it all. The value of friendship, serving others, giving in to vices, betrayal, all of this and more is present in this book. To say that it has depth is even an understatement! I'll be honest. Now that I'm finished I have no other desire than to get another Orson Scott Card book into my hands. His work is one that can never be duplicated and I for one am quite glad that is true. I eagerly await hearing more about Danny and the other mages!





Book Details
Title: The Lost Gate (Mithermages #1)
Author: Orson Scott Card
Publisher: Tor Books
Pages: Hardcover; 400
Source: Received from publisher.
FTC Disclosure: I received a review copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review.


Final Rating: 5 Keys to My Heart

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Plights of the Round Table: Arranging a BIG event!


Hello everyone and welcome to the first ever edition of Plights of the Round Table! Before we begin you can see the full rules here and submit your own question as well.

To break it down quickly:
* Be NICE and give ADVICE*

Jessi from The Elliott Review asks:

I am just wondering how to best go about arranging for a big themed event in the blogging world - like a blogoversary or birthday celebration that I've seen so many do.


Have some advice for Jessi? Want to share something that worked for you? Shout it out in the comments!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Some things I've decided...

* I will no longer require people to follow my blog to enter contests. EVER. After some thought I think it's totally unfair, and honestly I want you all to follow because you love my content not because you feel like you have to :).

* Extra entries for contests will be limited to one for tweeting. Makes it easier for me and you.

* All contests will be hosted through Google Docs from now on, well because let's face it. Google Docs rocks!

* I am going to IGNORE that number over there (points to follower count) from now on. Don't get me wrong I LOVE AND APPRECIATE every single one of you, but it is way too easy to become obsessed with that count and beat myself up when it goes down. I'll just be happy that you are all here!

* Hosting something on a specific day on blog each week...well...it doesn't work. The Teen {Book} Scene Website causes me to have a lot of randomly placed commitments. So from now I'll just post things when I have extra space.

* This blog is my love. It's my home for all things books. I'm going to make sure it stays that way and stays fun for me. No more feeling stressed. I love this. I'm going to keep loving it.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Blog Tour: Book Review - The Girl in the Green Raincoat

In the third trimester of her pregnancy, Baltimore private investigator Tess Monaghan is under doctor's orders to remain immobile. Bored and restless, reduced to watching the world go by outside her window, she takes small comfort in the mundane events she observes . . . like the young woman in a green raincoat who walks her dog at the same time every day. Then one day the dog is running free and its owner is nowhere to be seen. Certain that something is terribly wrong, and incapable of leaving well enough alone, Tess is determined to get to the bottom of the dog walker's abrupt disappearance, even if she must do so from her own bedroom. But her inquisitiveness is about to fling open a dangerous Pandora's box of past crimes and troubling deaths . . . and she's not only putting her own life in jeopardy but also her unborn child's.

Previously serialized in the New York Times, and now published in book form for the very first time, The Girl in the Green Raincoat is a masterful Hitchcockian thriller from one of the very best in the business: multiple award-winner Laura Lippman.--From Goodreads

Cover Inspection: 
Well of course it's perfection for the title! Plus I just love the color of the raincoat in the first place.

First Thoughts: 
Oh Tess. So bored, this isn't going to end well!

***

My Review:

If you've seen Hitchcock's "Rear Window" and appreciated his stunning work, you'll love The Girl in the Green Raincoat. Similar to the movie, this book deals with a woman who must be content spending her time watching other people through a window. Tess watches the mundane events that occurs outside, until one day something changes. When she thinks that something is amiss, she does everything in her power to solve the mystery from behind closed doors. Little does she know what she is in store for!

At a little under 200 pages, I was a little concerned when this book first arrived. I was wondering how Laura Lippman could fit an intriguing mystery in such a small amount of pages. Let's just say, I shouldn't have worried! It is a quick read for sure, but in the best way possible. The pages just flew by as I devoured Tess' character, her worries, her investigation, and everything else that was wrapped up in this wonderfully written mystery. The prose in this story is also fantastically witty. There were times I laughed out loud at her inner musings. By the time I got to the ending, which was perfection, I was sad that the book was over. Now that I know this is part of a series I'm going to have to go and find the others!

The characters are wonderfully developed, from the main character to the most supporting character. Tess, our protagonist, is a an independent woman that has to come to terms with allowing others to do things for her. She is used to holding her own as a detective and is suddenly having to depend on others to do the legwork for her, which maddens her. I loved her tenacity, and even though she has worries about her boyfriend Crow she is always looking at things from a logical point of view. Tess is a woman's woman if I do say so myself!

This is the first time I've ever read one of Laura Lippman's books, despite her NYT Bestsellers fame. I'm glad that this book was offered to me and put this fantastic series on my radar! Overall, The Girl in the Green Raincoat is a superbly written novel with witty dialogue, well written characters, and a thrilling plot that doesn't disappoint. All you mystery fans out there need to go pick up a copy as soon as possible!










Book Details
Title: The Girl in the Green Raincoat
Author: Laura Lippman
Publisher: Avon
Pages: Paperback; 176
Source: TLC Book Tours
FTC Disclosure: I received a review copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Book Review: City of Fire

When her older sister dies trying to prevent the theft of one of her people’s great treasures, Scirye sets out to avenge her and recover the precious item. Helping her are Bayang, a dragon disguised as a Pinkerton agent; Leech, a boy with powers he has not yet discovered; and Leech’s loyal companion Koko, who has a secret of his own. All have a grudge against the thieves who stole the treasure: the evil dragon Badik and the mysterious Mr. Roland.

Scirye and her companions pursue the thieves to Houlani, a new Hawaiian island being created by magic. There, they befriend Pele, the volatile and mercurial goddess of volcanoes. But even with Pele on their side, they may not be able to stop Mr. Roland from gaining what he seeks: the Five Lost Treasures of Emperor Yu. Together, they will give him the power to alter the very fabric of the universe….

--From Goodreads

Cover Inspection: 
I've always been a fan of Fantasy covers. They are bright, animated and, for a change of pace, don't feature real models. Sorry, a bit of snark there. This one I particularly loved after I read the book and realized how spot on the characters are!

First Thoughts:
This book starts out right away with world building, and whoa....I'm intrigued.

***

My Review:
I've always loved Fantasy. From the time I could first read chapter books I was drawn in by the worlds that were build for me by these amazing authors. However, sometimes it is hard to get into a book because the world is so vast and the amount of characters is overwhelming. As a reader, I find it easier to invest in a fictional world when there is a handhold for me that relates to the world around me. Cue Laurence Yep's City of Fire.

Yep builds a fantastic world around the real events of the 1940's. This time period allows our adventurers the use of planes and boats as their main transportation, which is much more exciting in my opinion! Certain events in our history have been altered, such as the fact that Hawaii is still an independent country. Also, and here is the kicker, mythical creatures walk among humans as equals. Pretty amazing right? Or is your head hurting? Well either way trust me, it's worth the slight confusion at the beginning because once I was pulled into the world there was no turning back. The world is so vivid, so well written, that I can guarantee you'll be pulled in as well.

Bring on the characters shall we? We meet Scirye, the fiery young girl with a vendetta against her sister's killer. She is tired of being treated as a little girl and ready to prove herself. Then we are presented with Leech and Koko, two street urchins with secrets buried within them. Mysterious and hilarious, they are quite the duo! Finally we meet Bayang, a dragon who is disguised as an elderly lady and is the key to the whole journey. These four characters are so fantastic together! Their banter with one another is classic, and throughout their interactions there are so many lessons learned about friendship, understanding and forgiveness. There is a character for every reader to attach to and fall in love with.

I could write a whole novel about my appreciation for this book, but I'll end here. The long and short of it is simply this: City of Fire is a fantastic journey complete with realistic and magical elements. Although this written for the younger reader, I see a lot for us young adult and adult readers to love. If you're ready to be transported to a new world, let Laurence Yep take you there! This book gets the highest recommendation possible from me, and I can only hope that you agree.



Book Details
Title: City of Fire
Author: Laurence Yep
Publisher: Starscape (Tor)
Pages: Hardcover; 320
Source: Library

Final Rating: 5 Keys to My Heart

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

A weekend away.

This weekend I spent some time at the happiest place on Earth! Can you guess where I was? I'll give you a hint...


YUP! DISNEYLAND!

One of my 2011 goals was not to feel guilty when I didn't post here, but instead to embrace whatever came my way. Can you believe that I used to give up going on trips because I wasn't prepared on my blog? What was I thinking.

This weekend I walked away from my blog, away from my computer, and had a complete and utter blast with family that I haven't seen for a few years. We ate, we rode crazy fun rides, and transported ourselves back to being kids.


Does this look like the face of someone feeling guilty? I don't think so!

Embrace your 2011 goals people. They aren't reality until you do something about them. I for one was quite happy for a weekend away, and now I'm recharged and ready to give you some more fabulous blog content!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Light Series: Interview with Lily & A GIVEAWAY!

I am pleased as punch today to welcome Jennifer DeLucy to my blog! She is one of my favorite authors, and definitely a person of the highest caliber of sweetness.

She is on a tour promoting the Light Series, which includes Seers of Light and Whisper of Light so far, with a third book coming very soon. If you haven't yet met William, Lily and the crew, you really need to read these books!

Today I give you a glimpse into the mind of Lily, one of the Sentinents and also our fearless heroine in Seers of Light. Enjoy!



1) Hi Lily and welcome to my blog! If you had to describe yourself in a tweet (140 characters) what would you say?

140 characters?! Uh oh. Well, I'm a giant crybaby, but I can't help that. I feel hard and love harder. I admit I get carried away a lot...


2) What would you say is your biggest strength? Biggest weakness?

My biggest strength is probably the same as my biggest weakness. I'm really passionate a lot of the time about so many things, and I hate it when anyone tries to stand in my way of doing what I feel is right. My temper might flare a little too often. (I'm thinking it's a good thing you're not asking William and Christian this question. Then I'd really be in trouble.)


3) If you could give a message to the whole world, what would you like to say?

Love! Love your life, love the people in it. Don't let fear stand in the way of being and doing everything that matters to you. Act from love, even if you make a fool of yourself sometimes. It'll still be worth it.


4) Okay, I know this is going to be tough but if you had to describe William in just one word, what would it be?

Savior.


5) Is there a food that you simply cannot live without?

Are you kidding? Heck yeah. Bread. I could so live on bread.


6) I know that when you first found out that you were Sentinent it was a little disconcerting, what would you say is the biggest benefit that you've found?

Being awake. Living in awareness. I can't imagine going back to a life where I had to keep blinders over my eyes. There is so much more to our existence than people think, if they're ready and willing to see it. 


7) Out of the new friend you've made, not including dear William of course, who would you say has made the most impact on you?

I would say Clara Wright, for many reasons. She's been through so much, and yet her tolerance and patience and optimism and compassion are unfailing. When I think of all that she's seen and the losses she's suffered, it's amazing to me that she's still so loving and happy. I hope I can be like that.


8) What are your hopes for the future?

I just want to be able to live in peace, continue to learn, and love as many people as I can.


Isn't Lily amazing?


She never fails to inspire me, and neither does her fabulous creator, Jennifer DeLucy!

Speaking of inspired, Jen has been kind enough to bring along a GIVEAWAY as well! Up for grabs are ebook copies of the Light Series books to one winner. Yup, you can WIN the Light Series and read it for FREE.

Lucky you!

To enter, just leave a comment below complete with your email address!

Giveaway ends January 27th at 11:00 pm PST.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Blog Tour - Book Review: A Chronicle of Endylmyr



Media Type: Print Book (ARC)
Title: A Chronicle of Endylmyr: The Witches of Endylmyr
Author: Charles Hall
Publisher: Outskirts Press
Pages: Paperback; 564
Release Date: September 28, 2010
Source: Pump Up Your Book Promotions
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Genre: Science Fiction / Fantasy

HDB Rating: 5 Keys to My Heart

Recommended to: Fantasy lovers


Add it on: Goodreads / Shelfari / Amazon / B&N
A clash of civilizations

Full of ambition an Eastern despot seeks to control all magical items in the world of the novel. These items include a magical falcon, a magical owl, and crystal orbs that allow their owners to pierce the veils of space and time. Created in the distant past the items have become scattered over time, some coming into the possession of the Khan, others into the possession of a primitive pastoral people, and yet others into the possession of the European-like community of Endylmyr, located in the far reaches of the western plains. When the Khan sends armies to seize the devices, the various peoples of the North and West band together to resist, using the magical devices themselves to defeat the Khan's schemes. Led by the retired mercenary, Gylfalin, and his cousin, Pendaran the Archer, the allies use the magical objects to move through space and time to rescue captives and mount a defense against the invading Easterners.

Ah Fantasy. Once I read this genre like there was no tomorrow. Devouring books about dragons, mages, wizards, witches and the like. At some point, that I can't seem to remember happening, I fell out of love with these books and moved on to more realistic fiction. I've been wanting to get back into the world I left behind though, so I jumped at the chance to review Charles Hall's The Witches of Endylmyr. I sat down, cracked open the book and was suddenly lost to the world for three hours. Yes, that's how good this book was.

For those of you out there who are Fantasy fans like me, you know that the key to a good book in this genre is world building. The characters can be perfection, the action can flow beautifully, but without that very special and new world built for the reader there is no story. I am always impressed when authors can build a world so perfectly, without breaking any of their own rules, and bring it to life for the Fantasy reader. That being said, I applaud Charles Hall for his world of Endylmyr. From rock, to tree, to animal, his world shines off the pages with vivid clarity. Close your eyes, and you can see it there before you. I was so amazed! Even before I fell in love with the cast of characters, I was already in love with the land in which they resided.

Once again, speaking to those who frequent this genre, you know that these books often have a copious amount of characters within them. It is part of the world building (lineage and all that), and therefore also an essential piece of drawing the reader in. Hall's characters are well developed and interesting, from the hero to the most supporting character! He brings his characters to life, each with their own personalities. It will likely surprise you how easily you slip into their world and begin to remember each of them. It is as if you are standing there with them as they journey!

Action abounds in this story, and it is a very fast-paced read. Hall weaves an epic fantasy that caught me in its web and drew me in until the very last page. Thank you to Outskirts Press for leading me to this gem, and I cannot wait for the next installment! 

To say that I highly recommend this book is a given. Those of you out there who have a love of Fantasy, please pick this up. You are in for a treat.




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

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Blog Tour - Interview with Hilari Bell


1) Welcome Hilari! I always like to start my interviews with a challenge. What color would you say best describes you and why?

I'm going to say hazel--a soft, mossy green with gold tints. It's a very relaxing, mellow color. Not boring, but it's not going to leap out and assault your eyes.


2) After reading your bio I noticed that you had many books written before you were first published. How did it feel to get that first book published?

Amazing, stunning, overwhelming, astonishing...and when my second book sold just a few months later, terrifying. It's interesting though, people sometimes ask, "Isn't it totally cool to see your name on a book cover?" And it's nice to see your name there, sure. But the real thrill came when I got my first, hardcover copy of Songs of Power, and opened it up, and there was my dialog, and my characters, and my story, bound into a real, published book! It's not about the name, it's about the work--and seeing my work become a real book, for the first time, was a thrill I'll always remember. It blew me away.


3) What draws you to write in the Fantasy/Science Fiction genre?

It's where I can tell the stories I think are the most fun, the most interesting, the most dramatic, intense, and, well, fun. And though I write a lot of fantasy, I have to say that Science Fiction really is "the literature of ideas." You can explore issues and ideas in SF in a way you just can't with any other genre. Fantasy is more about emotion--but you can explore cool ideas there too. And I just really love both genres.


4) I noticed that you like fantasy gaming! (Me too, actually.) What is your favorite game?

I like live D & D style games--though I've come to realize that's mostly based on the fact that the group I played with for years (now, sadly, folded) was a very clever, witty, creative group of people. There was one game in particular, we played around New Years Day called The Crimson 500. The guy who created and DM'd it described it a cross between the Indy 500, the Oklahoma gold rush and World War III. It included, among other things, a wonderful ring that turned you invisible...and made everyone forget that they'd ever known you. So the moment you took it off and told your friends "look at this cool ring I found" they saw a total stranger appear out of nowhere, and (this being a dangerous race) usually tried to kill you. And then you remembered this strange guy who just appeared out of nowhere, claiming to be your Uncle Bob, and you really wished you hadn't all been so quick on the draw.


5) What are your current projects?

I've just finished what I hope will be my final editorial revisions of Traitor's Son, the last of the two Raven books. And I'm getting ready to start a gypsy steam punk novel, tentatively titled The Fixer. But I've still got some research and pre-plotting left to do, and I probably won't start writing the first draft for another month. I'm also planning to do a second digital audio recording to join the one I made of Goblin Wood--which is now available (free!) in the Podcast section of the I-tunes store. It took a lot more time than I thought it would to produce MP3 files of me reading a whole novel aloud, but I do want to do it again, and I'm going to read A Matter of Profit for the next one. I'm going to work on that this summer, while my critique group is reading Fixer.

Sorry for the mess.

As I was fixing up my blog yesterday, I managed to mangle something so badly that my whole blog fell to pieces. LOL. A lesson to you my friends, never ever work on your live blog.

That being said, this mishmash of a background will be here until I repair the other one and get it up and running! I just wanted to make sure it was easy for you all to read the posts that go up here.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Swap Participation Guidelines



Periodically I run swaps through this blog! If you're curious to what a swap is, or how to participate, this is the page for you!

To see current swaps, check the link directly below this in the navbar above.

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The Basics:


WHAT EXACTLY IS A SWAP?
A swap consists of a group of people who sign up to send packages to one another. The specific details will change, but the main guidelines will always stay the same. Give a package, get a package! That's the way it works!

THEME REQUIREMENTS:
Each swap will have its own separate theme, which will always be explained. There will be a general set of items that must be included in each package according to the swap guidelines. For example, a Halloween swap might include a candy item, and something orange or black. Which candy item or orange and black thing you include is up to you! Thus the general requirements.

SHARING INFORMATION:
One of the most important parts of a swap is allowing your partner to know what you might like to receive! In order to make sure you get a package that is tailored to you, it is asked that you share some personal information. Be assured that this information is entered into a locked document and will never be shared with anyone except for your swap partner. Once the mailing deadline has passed, all information is purged from the system.



Official Rules and Regulations:

OPEN TO:
Depending on the swap, and how much time there is to set it up, they may or may not be International. Please pay special attention to this section to see who the swap is open to.

MONEY LIMIT:
Each swap has its own money limit! Most will be no more than $15, with the ocassional bigger swap being $20. You must agree to spend at least this amount on the items included in your package. Whether you choose to spend more is up to you. This does not include your shipping costs.

DEADLINES:
Each swap will have a set of deadlines attached to it. There will a sign-up deadline, along with a date at which all packages must be sent out and delivery confirmation numbers sent in. Please do not sign up for a swap if you cannot meet the deadlines. It might cost someone else their package.

REQUIREMENTS FOR SHIPPING:
Members are required to get Delivery Confirmation with their packages. A Delivery Confirmation  form will be put up following participant information going out. Please make sure to fill it out! Failure to obtain Delivery Confirmation may result in you being excluded from future swaps.

WARNINGS:
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!



When You Get Your Package: 

SAYING THANK 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 a picture of your swap box, along with your thank you note, to my email and I will post it for you. Please make sure you title it with the appropriate swap title.



Graphic Novel and Manga Reviews





GRAPHIC NOVELS

Evelyn, Evelyn - Amanda Palmer, Jason Webley, Cynthia von Buhler (Illustrator)

Friends With Boys - Faith Erin Hicks

The Last Dragon - Jane Yolen, Rebecca Guay (Illustrator)

The Last Unicorn - Peter S. Beagle, Renae De Liz (Illustrator), Ray Dillon (Illustrator)

My Boyfriend Is A Monster #1: I Love Him to Pieces - Evonne Tsang, Janina Gorrissen (Illustrator)

My Boyfriend Is A Monster #2: Made for Each Other - Paul D. Storrie, Eldon Cowgur (Illustrator)

Return of the Dapper Men - Jim McCann, Janet Lee (Illustrator)

Secrets, Monsters & Magic Mirrors - Donald B. Lemke

Spontaneous - Joe Harris, Brett Weldele (Illustrator)

And the winners are....

CONGRATULATIONS TO THE FOLLOWING WINNERS!

Winner of In The Belly of Jonah

Wendy Hines 

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Winner of The Absolute Value of -1

Jami Slack

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Winner of a signed Shadow Hills Poster

Travis Pearson

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Winner of The Healing Spell

CiNdY

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Winner of The Seers of Light Ebooks

Twimom101

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Winner of a signed copy of Freeze Frame

Tore923


Emails are going out shortly! Winners have 48 hours to respond before a new winner is chosen. Thanks for entering!


Giveaway Policy

UPDATED: 4/6/11

These are the giveaway terms for Hopelessly Devoted Bibliophile. Please make sure you understand all the terms below BEFORE you enter any giveaways here on the blog. Once you enter, you agree to the following terms:

*Entrants must at least 18 years of age to enter a giveaway, unless otherwise stated. If you are under 18, please have a parent/guardian enter for you.

*Entrants must completely and correctly fill out the information in giveaway forms. Incorrect entries will be disqualified.

* One entry per blogger. Multiple entries will be deleted, and your original entry will be disqualified.

* Entries will not be accepted after the stated giveaway deadline.

* It is up to entrants to provide a valid email address. I will only contact you once.

* Winners have 24 hours to respond to a winning email before I choose a new winner.

*A valid shipping address is required from the entrants so the prize can be shipped as soon as possible. All information is confidential and will only be used if entrant is a winner. All information will be deleted after the giveaway is over and the winners announced.

Hopelessly Devoted Bibliophile will not sell or give out the information provided by the entrants to anyone outside of the post office used for shipping.

*All winners are chosen based on their entry number using the random number generator at Random.org.

*The most economical (aka slowest) means of shipping will be used. Delivery time of prizes varies. Hopelessly Devoted Bibliophile is NOT responsible for any prizes stolen, lost and/or damaged during transit, especially if the prize is being dispersed from a third party.

*Hopelessly Devoted Bibliophile reserves the right to change or cancel any giveaway at any time without  prior notice.


Current Giveaways!



Enter to win a hardcover copy of Riding on a Beam of Light by Ramsey Dean!

Open to U.S. mailing addresses only.
Giveaway ends July 10, 2013.


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Enter to win a poster of one of Tonya Burrows' covers! Your choice!

Open to everyone.
Giveaway ends July 11, 2013.


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Enter to win an ebook copy of Zombie, Incorporated by Jill Elaine Hughes.

Open to everyone.
Giveaway ends July 12, 2013.


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Enter to win an ebook copy of Scary School by Derek the Ghost!

Open to everyone.
Ends July 13, 2013.





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