Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Just a quick note:

For all you "Beach Reads" Summer Reading Challenge participants.

The giveaways and the linky for August are extended (so they will still be open) until September 5th. I won't have time to close them and tally them until then anyway, so enjoy.

There is one more giveaway that goes up tomorrow. All giveaway winners will be chosen on the 6th.

Don't forget that you can enter the giveaways even if you aren't participating.

Thanks guys!


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An Interview with Beth Barany

Beth Barany, author of Henrietta the Dragon Slayer, is here today for an author interview. I asked her a few questions and she was sweet enough to answer them!

You can see my review here, the book was great, but I'll let her go ahead and take the center stage. Don't forget to leave a comment for her!


1) I saw on your website that you help aspiring authors! What led you to choose that as a path?

I've always seemed to gravitate to teaching and helping others, and what better way to focus my talents and enthusiasm and knowledge than help other authors!


2) What would you say is your favorite part of writing Young Adult fiction?

This may sound geeky -- it's because I get to talk to my inner teen and give to myself the kinds of stories I wanted when I was younger, and that I still want now!


3) If you could choose one person, alive or dead, to have lunch with who would it be?

That is such a hard question! I guess I'd love to hang out with Isaac Asimov. He had such a wonderful imagination that traveled the stars. I love that!


4) How do you come up with ideas for your writing? Is there a method, or do they just happen and you go with them?

My ideas come in a flash and sometimes leave as quickly. The ones that really want to be written about rattle around in the back of my mind and just never leave. If a story idea hangs on for at least six months, I know it's time to start writing it down. With Henrietta The Dragon Slayer I first wrote a scene when I was 20 years old. At that age, a scene was all I knew of the story. Fifteen years, I was looking for another novel to write, this scene came back to me and knew I just had to write the book, especially since know I knew how to write more than just one scene!


5) Finally, let's end with a fun question. You're walking in the mall with a crisp hundred-dollar bill in your pocket. What do you spend your shopping spree money on?

Oh boy! That's tough. Either shoes or books! LOL 


Please comment about what you would buy if you were walking in the mall with a crisp hundred dollar bill in your pocket to enter Beth Barany's giveaway. All the rules are here: http://www.writersfunzone.com/blog/beth-barany-novelist/blog-tour/ - rules.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Book Review: The Paradise Prophecy



Media Type: Print Book
Title: The Paradise Prophecy
Author: Robert Browne
Publisher: Dutton Adult
Pages: Hardcover; 400
Release Date: July 21, 2011
Source: Publisher
-----------------------------------
Genre: Psychological Thriller / Mystery

HDB Rating: 5 Keys to My Heart

Recommended to: Readers who enjoy psychological thrillers and are fans of mystery novels.


A spectacular thriller inspired by John Milton's Paradise Lost in which the final chapter of the War in Heaven is about to play out on Earth, with the fate of humanity hanging in the balance.

The Myth

When God cast the archangel Satan into Hell, ending the War in Heaven, peace prevailed on Earth. Until the fallen angels took revenge in the Garden of Eden. Ever since, mankind has been in a struggle between good and evil, paradise and apocalypse: the fall of Rome, The Crusades, World Wars, nuclear proliferation, the Middle East Crisis... The War in Heaven never really ended-it just changed venues. For millennia, God's angels have been fighting Satan's demons on Earth, all in hopes of bringing about Satan's greatest ambition, the Apocalypse.

The Reality

Satan has never been closer to his goal than right now.

Agent Bernadette Callahan is a talented investigator at a shadowy government organization known only as Section, on the trail of a serial killer with nearly supernatural abilities. Sebastian "Batty" LaLaurie is a religious historian who knows far too much about the other side- and that hard-earned knowledge is exactly what Callahan needs. This unlikely duo pair up for a race across the globe, decoding clues left in ancient texts from the Bible to Paradise Lost and beyond. In the process they stumble upon a vast conspiracy-one beyond the scope of mankind's darkest imagination.


Imagine if you will, a world that is on the brink. God has turned his back on the people he created, leaving them to fend for themselves. Every soul on Earth is at the mercy of a Heavenly War. One side is set on creating the Apocalypse, the other side on preventing it. Callahan and LaLaurie have just stumbled into one of the biggest and longest standing battles in the history of the world, and as a reader you're along for the ride. Sound intriguing? I guarantee you, it is.

Meet our fearless team. Sebastian "Batty" LaLaurie is a bibliophile, theologian, and John Milton fanatic who also happens to have a drinking problem. His past is dark, and littered with secrets. Then there's Bernadette Callahan. Section agent, massive cynic and all around bad-ass woman. She might be nearing a collapse, but she'll be damned if she's going down without a fight. These two characters drive the story forward as they take off, across the globe, gathering clues. Murders, sacred relics, and musty archives are just some of what you'll find as you join their journey! It's tough not to be immersed.

What I loved most about The Paradise Prophecy is that it isn't a light read. Yes, I'm serious. The psychological aspect of this book is beautifully done, and really makes the reader think as they are reading. I devoured page after page as I hunted for clues and tried to tie things together. Browne crafts the plot carefully, allowing the reader to keep an eye on the big picture while still paying attention to little details. I never felt like I was drowning in too much information at one time, or being given a watered down version of Milton's epic. Quite the opposite actually. To me, it felt like a balanced read. Giving me just enough to keep me reading on, but not so much that I felt like I was being spoon fed the plot.

Perfectly done Robert Browne, perfectly done.

It's not often that a book has the ability to render me speechless. However as I turned the last page of The Paradise Prophecy that's exactly what occurred. I was utterly blow away by the complex plot that Browne had crafted. He weaves a tale that pulls you in deep, and doesn't let you go until the last moment. Pages just flew by. That doesn't generally happen in a 400 page book, but before I knew it I was finished and gasping for air. I read this entirely through in one sitting.

If you're looking at the cover of Robert Browne's book and thinking of similar titles, let me set you straight right now. Despite his name being similar to another writer, and despite this being a book along the same vein, this is infinitely better! At least such is the opinion of this humble reader. The Paradise Prophecy is a gripping, thrilling, and gorgeously written novel! It's everything I love about the thriller genre.

Highly recommended!



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.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Crazy Summers with Isabel Kunkle



Click the button to be taken to more giveaways and posts!


Please welcome the fabulous Isabel Kunkle to the blog today! Isabel is the author of Hickey of the Beast, which you can add to you reading list and see my review of by clicking the title.

She's here to share a kooky summer story (which I adored reading) and give away some goodies too! Don't forget to leave a comment, and enjoy!



The first thing I have to say here is that my father is deranged.

There’s a fair amount of evidence supporting this--the man came within a stern phone call from his mother to naming me Bathsheba, for God’s sake, and I caught him dancing to the blender once—but none more telling than this: when I was ten years old, he started driving the family to Pennsylvania for summer vacation.
That might not have been a big deal, if we hadn’t lived in California at the time.

So: four people, one Volvo—later a Suburban—seven days on the road. Have I mentioned that my sister and I are a year and a half apart, and that we fought like cats in a sack when we had a whole neighborhood open to us? Have I mentioned that Dad got us up at 5:30 in the morning in order to get the most driving time in? Or that he had a schedule that involved, I swear, picoseconds?

He’d update us about our relationship to said schedule, too.  We’d get back in the car after a stop, and Dad would shake his head—in the resigned manner of a man bearing stoically with whatever divine curse had made him sire daughters who needed to both eat and go to the bathroom—and inform us that we were seven minutes behind schedule. In fairness, he also told us when we were ahead.

Usually at six in the morning.

So, when we pulled into a little town somewhere between Amarillo and the gates of Hell, we were all just a little glad to get out of the car. Yeah, the fold out bed in our motel didn’t have sheets on it, but the management promised to send them up. Yeah, there were some suspicious stains on the ceiling, but…how much time do you spend looking at motel ceilings anyhow? We dropped our suitcases, de-pretzeled our spines, and headed off to the only restaurant in town, which was adjacent to the other motel.

…annnnd also to a slaughterhouse. Well, hey: at least we knew the meat was fresh, right?

And there was probably a perfectly good reason that two long black cars were parked in front of said slaughterhouse at 8 PM.  Yep.

Inside, the restaurant featured the kind of vinyl chair your butt always sticks to when you’re wearing shorts, puke-yellow walls, and the smell of nicotine and despair. And no alcohol: it was a “dry county”, so my father had to purchase some sort of membership card in order to have a beer.

I don’t remember the food, for the most part. I suspect this is some kind of Lovecraft-esque thing where my mind has protected itself by blotting the memory from my recollection. I do, however, remember that our appetizer plate was deep-fried vegetables, which…okay…except that the selection included both carrots and jalepeno peppers. Carrots and peppers look surprisingly similar when deep fried.

This is unfortunate.

The highlight of the evening, or at least the bit that has lodged firmly into my family’s collective consciousness, came when my father asked the waitress about dessert.

She tucked her cigarette behind her ear. “Well, there’s pie, hon,” she said. “But I wouldn’t eat it if I were you.” Leaning forward, she dropped her voice like a convict passing a message in the exercise yard. “It’s microwaved.”

Since she’d gone to such lengths to warn us, we felt we should heed her advice.

Somehow, we survived the evening, and even the rest of the road trip. My father and I were fated to return to the place some years later, as part of a cross-country move: him, me, and the dog, in a series of wacky hijinks that involved me standing in the farm equipment section of Wal-Mart during a tornado warning.
But that, as the man says, is another story.



Sunday, August 28, 2011

Where I've Been



I know I haven't been around a lot lately, and so you all deserve a hug for sticking with me.

Let me tell you that this has been a pretty difficult set of weeks, and yet I feel like I'm stronger because of them. My determination to stay happy in spite of circumstances is really driving me to be productive and have a good outlook. Of course it does help that I have great friends!

*smiles at all of you*

My grandfather is really ill. He's home now, but chances are he won't be around much longer. If I'm not around that much there will still be posts. You know me, always a planner.

I am trying to spend as much time with my family as possible. It gave me the stark reminder that you can never have too many good memories with someone. You never know when the possibility for those memories might be ripped away from you. So make them fun, and make them numerous.

Give someone you love a hug today.

Tell them how much they mean to you.

Most of all, keep smiling. No one can take that positive attitude away from you, as long as you hold fast to it.



Friday, August 26, 2011

Book Review: Fury

Media Type: Print Book
Title: Fury
Author: Elizabeth Miles
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Pages: Hardcover; 352
Release Date: August 30, 2011
Source: Galley Grab
======================
Intended Reading Group:
Young Adult

Content Screening:
Violence

HDB Rating:
2 Keys to My Heart


Sometimes sorry isn't enough....

It’s winter break in Ascension, Maine. The snow is falling and everything looks pristine and peaceful. But not all is as it seems...

Between cozy traditions and parties with her friends, Emily loves the holidays. And this year’s even better--the guy she’s been into for months is finally noticing her. But Em knows if she starts things with him, there’s no turning back. Because his girlfriend is Em’s best friend.

On the other side of town, Chase is having problems of his own. The stress of his home life is starting to take its toll, and his social life is unraveling. But that’s nothing compared to what’s really haunting him. Chase has done something cruel...something the perfect guy he pretends to be would never do. And it’s only a matter of time before he’s exposed.

In Ascension, mistakes can be deadly. And three girls—three beautiful, mysterious girls—are here to choose who will pay.

Em and Chase have been chosen.


It honestly took all my effort to finish this book. I almost put Fury down multiple times, but I have a hard time marking books DNF, especially if I've already made it nearly halfway. I feel it is unfair to review a book I didn't finish reading. So, I kept doggedly reading on. This wasn't a book for me for a few different reasons, and I'll share those below.

I was really excited at first that this book was about Furies. They are fascinating mythical creatures! They punish those who commit wrongdoing, but are also fabled to be very fair (albeit slightly vicious) in their punishments. These Furies were anything but fair. I won't spoil, but the wrongs that are committed in this book are so difficult to imagine being punished for. They are normal teenage problems, normal teenage mistakes. Why on Earth would a Fury punish a girl for thinking she's in love with the wrong guy? If that's the case, I know plenty of people who would have deserved punishment when I was growing up.

On top of this, there isn't even that much focus on the Furies themselves. Most of the spotlight is on Em, Chase and their problems. All that is really said about the Furies is that they are girls, and good looking ones at that. I did like that Miles kept their names true to the original Greek mythology, and just shortened them. However it was bothered me that so little is said about their history, or why they might be there. It is glanced over so quickly that it is extremely easy to miss.

My biggest gripe though was that every time it seemed something wasn't going to be explained, there was an "I don't know" to cover it up. Why were the Furies there to begin with? No clue. Why did they choose to punish those specific characters when there were so many other kids who I'm sure were in the same boat? No idea. I rarely if ever rant about a book, but honestly I feel like this one just left so many things unclear and unfinished.

In defense of Fury, I really believe it would have been a great story without the paranormal/mythological aspect. Em's story is one that a lot of girls can latch on to. Her friendship with Gabby is sweet and believable. Even her not-so-relationship with JD (who I LOVED) is wonderfully written. I think that if this had been a Contemporary novel, one that focused on Chase and Emily navigating the depths of high school while coming from two different walks of life, it would have been wonderful. Sadly it was the additional story line that kept me from really loving this book.

Bottom line, this wasn't a book for me. I know there are plenty of people out there who loved it, and I'm sure there will be many more. I am but one opinion in a sea of readers. That's why I'm telling you straight how I feel. This book fell really short for me, and I'm disappointed. I think Elizabeth Miles has fantastic potential as an author though, so I will keep a lookout for her future works. I loved her characters. I just didn't love this story.







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.

Book Review: Cocktail Hour Under the Tree of Forgetfulness



Media Type: Print Book
Title: Cocktail Hour Under the Tree of Forgetfulness
Author: Alexandra Fuller
Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
Pages: Hardcover; 256
Release Date: August 18, 2011
Source: TLC Book Tours
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Genre: Memoir

HDB Rating: 5 Keys to My Heart

Recommended to: Readers who enjoy a good, heartfelt memoir.


Add it on: Goodreads / Shelfari / Amazon / B&N
In this sequel to Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight, Alexandra Fuller returns to Africa and the story of her unforgettable family. 

In Cocktail Hour Under the Tree of Forgetfulness Alexandra Fuller braids a multilayered narrative around the perfectly lit, Happy Valley-era Africa of her mother's childhood; the boiled cabbage grimness of her father's English childhood; and the darker, civil war- torn Africa of her own childhood. At its heart, this is the story of Fuller's mother, Nicola. Born on the Scottish Isle of Skye and raised in Kenya, Nicola holds dear the kinds of values most likely to get you hurt or killed in Africa: loyalty to blood, passion for land, and a holy belief in the restorative power of all animals. Fuller interviewed her mother at length and has captured her inimitable voice with remarkable precision. Cocktail Hour Under the Tree of Forgetfulness is as funny, terrifying, exotic, and unselfconscious as Nicola herself.

Cocktail Hour Under the Tree of Forgetfulness is a gorgeously written memoir about Alexandra Fuller's life. I had no idea when I first picked this up that this was a continuation of her story, but I can say that reading this has sparked an interest in me to go pick up the first book! The way that Alexandra Fuller writes about her family is so wonderfully vivid that it draws your right in. If it wasn't for the fact that I knew this was a memoir, I could almost believe that Fuller's life was fiction. That's how amazing her memoir really is.

From the beautiful Isle of Skye in Scotland, to the vibrant and lush lands of East Africa, the reader is taken on a journey through Nicola Fuller's childhood and beyond. Alexandra Fuller treats her mother's story as something exotic, but funny at the same time. There were moments that had me giggling out loud, especially as Nicola Fuller is so unabashed about her point of view on things. She says such things as "Here's to us. There's none like us, and if there were, they're all dead."

This book is beautifully written. It swells with wonderful descriptions of the African landscapes and the people who live there. Fuller even goes so far as to incorporate some history lessons on the many wars that have taken place in these areas, since her family grew up in the middle of them. One of my favorite stories was of a "fancy dress party" where Nicola Fuller grabs her girls, grabs her automatic weapon, and packs them off to a party. Unfortunately poor Alexandra doesn't fit in the front (due to her too large costume) and later reflects on how, had they hit a land mine, she wouldn't have been able to tell this story today. Tongue in cheek is the best way to describe Fuller's tone, and I adored it.

Suffice it say that Nicola Fuller is one of those larger than life people who demand the spotlight, and her daughter gives it to her in this gorgeously written memoir. If you were a fan of Don't Lets Go to the Dogs Tonight I am sure you'll find more of the same here, or so I've gushingly been told my numerous people. If you haven't yet had a foray into the life of the Fullers, I'd suggest reading the title above first, then this one. It can definitely be read standalone but then you'll be left like me. Wanting more, and on a search for the first book.

Highly recommended! I give this memoir my gold seal of approval, and my readers know I generally don't read them much. Pick up a copy, and prepare to be swept away into Nicola Fuller's terrifying and exotic life.




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.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Laid back summers with Lauren Hammond, and a giveaway!





Give a warm standing ovation for Lauren Hammond! *claps*

She is the author of the very popular Love Sucks and now of a FABULOUS book called Famished. Which, you lucky people you, she brought a copy of along to give away! Lucky....so lucky.

Anyway I asked Lauren to share with us a little bit about her summertime traditions, and this is what she sent me. Enjoy, and don't forget to enter the giveaway below!


To me, the summertime is a calm laid back time of year where I get to do my favorite things, relax and spend time with my family.

I'm a family person and with the busy college schedules, high school, and some that live out of town, I rarely see them during the fall, winter, and spring...

Every Summer, a couple weekends a month. My whole family (I'm talking whole family aunts, uncles, cousins, etc.) and I go to my grandparents camper at Geneva On The Lake, a little tourist spot in Northeast Ohio.

We cook out, swim, visit some wineries, and walk the strip.

We've been going there since I was ten years old.

I don't just have one memory of the time I've spent up there during the summers, I have hundreds and I feel like It's something I'll always look back on and smile about as I get older.

I'm twenty-seven now, and I hope that I'll still be going up there during the summers, with my family, (and my own kids someday) for another twenty-seven years.

Family doesn't last forever and what's most important to me is the time I spend with them now, while I can.

Yay! I hope everyone enjoys what's left of summer!


Find Lauren here!

 Find Famished on 


************

And now, it's giveaway time!


This is part of the "Beach Reads" Summer Challenge but I've opened giveaways up to the public! All I ask is that you leave a nice comment below for Lauren after entering!


Up for grabs is a finished signed copy of Famished mailed directly from Lauren herself!

To enter, please be a resident of the U.S. or Canada.


Giveaway ends August 31, 2011.


An Interview with R.T. Kaelin, author of Progeny

You, my friends, are in for a treat today! R.T. Kaelin, author of the epic high fantasy Progeny, is here for an author interview!

Now if you are a fan of fantasy, this is a book you need to pick up. At 672 pages it might seem a bit daunting at first, but I can promise you that this book is absolutely worth the read. It's amazing!

I'll have a review up very soon, but in the meantime I'll give the floor over to R.T. and let him talk. Enjoy!




1) Progeny must have been quite an undertaking! The book is amazing, but massive. What would you say was the hardest part about making it a reality?

Honestly, I think the hardest part about writing the book was the fact that I had never written anything of any significant length before Progeny. I had produced a number of short stories, but I had no idea what I was getting myself into when I said, “Hey, I’m going to write a book.”

I learned a lot about the writing process and storytelling while working on the novel. There were a number of false starts and large rewrites as I learned “my voice” as an author and discovered the type of book I wanted Progeny to be. I would compare my experience to a man stumbling about a very dim room for a long time, searching for a way out. Eventually my eyesight grew accustomed to the dark, giving me a better idea where I was and where I needed to go. Eventually, I stumbled over a flashlight and—boom!—I knew exactly what I wanted to do and how to do it.

While the overarching plot for the series has not varied from my plans, the full story within Progeny was very organic. Many of the characters morphed as I wrote, as they told me who they were instead of the other way around. I wrote scenes in manners that seemed natural and believable. Simply put, I put Characters A, B, and C into Situation Z and said, “Okay, what would everyone do to get out of this?”

The book is long because of this approach, but I think the story is richer and more “real."


2) Was there a specific moment that set your writing career into motion, or was it more gradual?

In a manner of speaking, both.

I liked to write when I was younger—back in high school—but once I went to college, I let it slip away. Life and other activities got in the way. However, my active imagination never stopped. I just did not let it out onto paper. Eventually, it forced its way out, though.

A few years back, I was going on vacation and needed something to read. I went to the bookstore and stumbled over a book I had read back in high school: Magician: Apprentice by Raymond Feist. I remembered really enjoying the book then, so I picked it up and went on my trip.

I absolutely devoured the book. I had to go pick up the second book in the series while on vacation. I tore through that one, too. Then I discovered Mr. Feist had written over twenty books in his world of Midkemia. I read them all, one after another.

When I was done, I moved on to the Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan. After getting though about half of the series, I looked for something else to read for a bit (Jordan’s writing, while phenomenal and incredibly detailed, can be a bit heavy at times).

That is when fate struck.

I picked up three “bad” books in a row. The plots were awful. The characters were one-dimensional and predictable. The writing was…lazy. I did not even finish two of them.

I made the comment, “I can come up with a better story than this.”

So, I did.


3) Is there anything that you obsessively collect?

Now? Not really.

When I was a kid, however, I collected baseball cards. Lots and lots of baseball cards. I still have them all in boxes in the basement of my house. A few months ago, I looked through them and wondered if any of them were worth anything. I am sure there are… I have cards going back to 1985 in there.

Yikes. That makes me feel old.


4) What is one book that you've read so many times, that you know it by heart?

Probably the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Although, like any good book, I learn or find something new each time I pick it up and read it.


5) I saw in your biography that you were part of a local gaming group, so I'm going to try my hand at giving you a challenge. You're in a dark, dank dungeon. Directly in front of you there are three hallways. One in the middle, and one each on the left and right. You see light down the middle one, but there is a warm breeze coming down the one to the right, and a cry for help coming from the one to the left. You need to move soon, because you can hear goblins sneaking up behind you. Which pathway do you take?


Speaking of Lord of the Rings…this reminds me a bit of the Mines of Moria.

So, let’s see…

Since I cannot ask you any questions about the scene, I will give you a stream-of-consciousness response.

My first inclination is to go help whoever is calling for help. But I would only do so after asking a few questions: What does the voice sound like? A child? Is it even a person? Is there anything about the voice that might make me a little uneasy? 

The “warm breeze” one scares me a bit. If I am in a dark, dank dungeon, the warmth means there is probably fire or at least a group of individuals down that hall. I think I would leave that one alone.

The middle hallway—the one with the light—might be my answer, depending on if I have a light source with me. If I do not, then I would be more willing to walk down that one. At least I could see what was coming. If I do have a light source, then I am not sure I would care much for the middle hall. Again, light in a dungeon typically means people.

In the end, I think I would probably choose the hallway with the cry for help. Assuming the cry was not all creepy-like.



 

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The Chosen Prize Pack Giveaway!




Ready for another fantastic giveaway?

Earlier this week Sheenah Freitas stopped with with a fantastically adventurous summer story. The summer she almost died. If you haven't read it already, go now!


Now, she's here with a giveaway!


Up for grabs is this adorable The Chosen prize pack! You'll get a mini notebook and two adorable bookmarks to keep your place.

PLUS

The lucky winner will receive an ebook copy of The Chosen


WHAT A PRIZE!

To enter, FILL OUT THIS FORM.


Giveaway ends August 31, 2011
Remember you can leave a comment on the guest post for an extra entry.




Interviewing Jacinda from Firelight and Vanish

Sophie Jordan is here! If you saw me right now, you'd know that I'm grinning like a mad woman. Sophie Jordan's Firelight was one of my favorite books when I first started my blog, and now I'm lucky enough to be able to host her for the sequel, Vanish. I can promise you, if you haven't started this series yet you need to. It's fabulous.

Enough fangirl antics though, I'll give the floor over to Sophie! She brought along her main character Jacinda to shed a little light into the books. Enjoy, and make sure to add these to your reading list!





1) Welcome Jacinda! A quick recap for those who haven't read the beginning of your epic story yet. Describe your experiences so far in just two sentences. (Tough I know!)

Well, I was forced to flee my home (long story!) and enroll in a high school where swarming with draki hunters who would kill me if they knew I was really a draki. Only I couldn’t avoid one of the hunters (Will) because he’s beautiful and different from the rest of them … soooo I end up blowing it and exposing what I am and have to escape and leave Will behind forever.


2) Despite all the hardships, what would you say has been your favorite part about your relationship with Will?

Just knowing him, loving him … I’ll never regret that or anything I did to save his life.


3) Is there anything you wish that you had done differently?

Even knowing what I do, I probably would probably do it all the same again. Hm, well, I might have been up front with Cassian and tried harder to get him to leave me alone for good.


4) How do you feel your relationship with Tamra stands right now?

Oh, well, at the end of Firelight it’s about as bad as it can ever get. But we’re sisters and I’m determined to get our relationship back to what it used to be when we were younger.


5) If you had one wish, what would it be?

To see Will again – to be together again like he promised.


6) What are you looking forward to?

Making things right with my sister and mother.



To save the life of the boy she loves, Jacinda did the unthinkable: She betrayed the most closely-guarded secret of her kind. Now she must return to the protection of her pride knowing she might never see Will again—and worse, that because his mind has been shaded, Will’s memories of that fateful night and why she had to flee are gone. 
Back home, Jacinda is greeted with hostility and must work to prove her loyalty for both her sake and her family’s. Among the few who will even talk to her are Cassian, the pride’s heir apparent who has always wanted her, and her sister, Tamra, who has been forever changed by a twist of fate. Jacinda knows that she should forget Will and move on—that if he managed to remember and keep his promise to find her, it would only endanger them both. Yet she clings to the hope that someday they will be together again. When the chance arrives to follow her heart, will she risk everything for love? 
In bestselling author Sophie Jordan’s dramatic follow-up to Firelight, forbidden love burns brighter than ever.


Courage, a guest post by Helen Laibach

Today I'm pleased to have Helen Laibach, author of A Soul Less Broken here on the blog. I recently finished reading her book and I have to say, it's heartbreaking and empowering at the same time.

Helen is here to share a look into the rape statistics that drive her book. Catherine's situation is terrifying, and yet very real people face that every day. I'll let her explain.

I’ve heard it said that the definition of courage is “doing what you know is right even when you are afraid.” There are the obvious examples of people who display courage every day - soldiers, police officers, firemen, rescue workers, etc. But there is another group of people who display a very different type of courage and those are the women who come forward to report being victims of sexual assault. The main character Catherine, in A Soul Less Broken, endures just such an attack, and must find her own inner strength to face her attacker in court.


Statistics show that:
  • Every two minutes someone in the U.S. is sexually assaulted. 
  • 60% of sexual assaults are not reported to police. 
  • Approximately two-thirds of sexual assaults were committed by attackers known to the victim - often referred to as "acquaintance rape". The number of ambush attacks by complete strangers - the type Catherine experiences in A Soul Less Broken - are much lower.

Unfortunately, the statistics also show that in many cases, the women who have been victims of acquaintance rape have impaired judgment at the time of the attack, either from the attacker slipping drugs into their drinks, or simply because they have consumed excessive alcohol on their own. Either way, the attacker takes full advantage of the woman’s extreme vulnerability. In these situations, the women often feel ashamed, and reporting the attack becomes very humiliating. The legal tactic for the defense team is to attack the woman’s character, life-style, and morals. So as if being raped by someone she knows and then reporting it wasn’t humiliating enough, the woman now feels as though she is suddenly the one on trial.

And yet, every day across America these women are coming forward and reporting the crimes against them, fully prepared to push through their fears and endure the almost certain humiliation that awaits them. We rarely hear about these courageous women in the news, they are seldom praised for their bravery. But in almost every case, even though the women want justice for themselves, ultimately what drives them to come forward is that they want to prevent their attacker from ever victimizing anyone else. They do what they know is right, even when they are afraid. We should all be inspired by the courage it takes for these women to come forward. If you have been the victim of a sexual assault and haven’t yet reported it, please let these women inspire you. A portion of the proceeds of the sale of A Soul Less Broken will be donated to RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network), so if you or someone you know needs help please use the RAINN resources found here



After majoring in psychology in college, Helen Laibach realized that her aspirations to be a marriage, child, and family counselor did not suit her temperament–so she began a family and chose a more satisfying career as an executive assistant. An avid reader and talented nature photographer, Laibach lives in Southern California with her husband of twenty years and their youngest daughter. A SOUL LESS BROKEN is her first book; 10% of the profits from the sale of the book will be donated to charities related to violence against women and to brain cancer research and treatment. 
You can visit her website at www.helenlaibach.com.



Monday, August 22, 2011

Book Review: Shadow of a Dead Star

Media Type: Ebook
Title: Shadow of a Dead Star
Author: Michael Shean
Publisher: Self-published
Pages: Ebook; 228
Release Date: June 23, 2011
Source: Author
====================
Intended Reading Group:
Adult

Genre:
Cyberpunk, Crime Thriller

HDB Rating: 
5 Keys to My Heart

Seattle, 2078. The future hasn't been kind to the spirit of humanity; commercial obsession and technological fetishism rules the day, religion and belief has died screaming in the fires of war, and what remains is moral decrepitude. Cities of glass and exotic metals reach toward the poisoned sky, and every night sees a host of sins played out under glittering neon. Life in the future is hard on the soul.

As an agent of the Industrial Security Bureau, Thomas Walken knows that better than anyone. His job is to keep the worst kind of black-market technology out of the hands of citizens, technology born out of the shadowy nation nicknamed Wonderland. But the kind of fantasies that come out of that place aren't for the good people of the world, only nightmares made from sequenced proteins and printed circuits. Wonderland technology is like black magic in the flesh.

Walken's newest assignment, intercepting a trio of girls-turned-sex dolls smuggled into the country from Wonderland, starts out simply. But when the girls are hijacked from federal custody and Walken gives chase, he finds a trail of bodies in their wake as he tries to recover them. And the mysteries don't stop there; before he's through Walken will find himself confronted with not only the truth behind Wonderland but the truth behind the rest of his sick and cynical world. The revelations he pursues will answer every question that the troubled lawman has ever had about himself and the world he lives in - but his mind and soul may not survive it.
Add it on: Goodreads / Shelfari / Amazon / B&N


If you're a fan of detective stories, but feel like every single one is the same as the one before, welcome to your answer. I'm not sure whether to call Shadow of a Dead Star cyberpunk, tech noir, or a crime thriller. What I can say without a doubt, is that it's wonderfully original! Ready to step out of that mundane pile of mass market crime novels? Grab a copy of Michael Shean's book.

Thomas Walken, our main character, isn't your typical lawman. His world is dark, gritty, and full of some of the most horrific things he's ever seen. Despite everything that he's been through, Walken definitely isn't a hardened man. Deep down inside he is constantly questioning everything. Especially how he seems to fit into the mess he's found himself in now. What I loved about his character is that he is so believable. Caring and afraid on the inside, but doing his best to put forward a manly bravado on the outside. In a town like his, being soft just might get you killed.

Which brings me to my next point. The world, the city, that Michael Shean builds for his characters is absolutely fantastic. Equal parts terrifying, dark, and seedy, this is a world that is falling apart at the seams. Organized crime runs rampant. The city has pulled in on itself to protect what's left, leaving the outer parts crawling with filth and violence. Add into this a set of new technology that has the power to turn people into mindless drones, and it literally feels like hell on earth. While reading I felt every emotion that Walken felt, heightened by the world around him. Michael Shean builds a world that brims with the possibility of actually occurring, and soon. It's that very fact that allowed me to immerse myself so fully.

Reading Shadow of a Dead Star was like getting into a very fast car. I was terrified the entire time, but elated at finding out what would happen next. Every twist and turn brought something new and interesting to mull over, and with Walken at the wheel I was never sure where we would end up next. Although the pace is lightning fast, it flows beautifully. Michael Shean's writing is wonderfully descriptive and gripping. It was like I was right there, in the scenes. It's no surprise that I devoured this entire book from start to finish, without a single break.

Final verdict? Shadow of a Dead Star was something different and refreshing. It pulled out emotions long forgotten in reading piles of similar books, and reminded me of why it's important to take a chance on something new every now and then. Before this I'd never read a book in the cyberpunk genre, and I thought that all crime thrillers were filled with mundane characters and plots. How very wrong I was. If you're looking for something exciting, something dark and fantastic, look no further than this book. Strap yourself in tight. You're in for quite a ride.








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.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Book Review: The Atomic Weight of Secrets


Media Type: Print Book
Title: The Atomic Weight of Secrets
Author: Eden Unger Bowditch
Publisher: Bancroft Press
Pages: Hardcover; 339
Release Date: March 15, 2011
Source: NetGalley
===================
Intended Reading Group:
Upper Middle Grade/Young Adult

Content Screening:
Nothing of note

HDB Rating:
3 Keys to My Heart


In 1903, five truly brilliant young inventors, the children of the world's most important scientists, went about their lives and their work as they always had.
.
But all that changed the day the men in black arrived.
.
An amazing story about the wonders of science and the still greater wonders of friendship, The Atomic Weight of Secrets or The Mysterious Men in Black , the first book of the Young Inventors Guild trilogy, is a truly original novel. Young readers will forever treasure Eden Unger Bowditch's funny, inventive, poignant, and wonderfully fun fiction debut.


The Atomic Weight of Secrets tells the story of five young children who are absolutely brilliant inventors. Torn away from their homes without warning, they are deposited far from home. Mysterious men in black are constantly monitoring them. All they know is that they have one another, and their parents are missing. Sounds like quite a secretive mystery doesn't it?

Let me begin at the beginning, with the characters. Lucy, Jasper, Wallace, Faye and Noah are a motley crew of kids at first. All from different backgrounds, it takes them a while to understand one another. Eden Unger Bowditch allows each of her characters to have such unique and wonderful personalities. From the quiet and shy one, to the fiery and slightly spiteful one, they are so much fun to follow. As a reader, I fell in love with them more and more as I learned about their pasts.

However it was the story that really held problems for me. So much time is spent giving background to the children, and allowing them to grow, that there isn't much actual story line at all. It's slow. The elements of mystery that are present are great. The men in black are a constant reminder of something much bigger than the children themselves. Still, to be honest, nothing really happens. This isn't a spoiler, it's just true. I know this is a first book in a series and so I suppose that more will be coming later. I just felt a little cheated by how incomplete this book really felt.

Part historical fiction, part mystery The Atomic Weight of Secrets really did have a lot of potential to be fabulous. The children drew me in, but the story killed it for me. There were even times where things were so slow that I almost decided to put the book down, and that hardly ever happens for me. What I hope is that the next book in the series has more action! As I said, the characters are wonderful. I look forward to seeing them use their talents even more, hopefully this time in an effort to do something daring.








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

The Summer I Almost Died, a guest post by Sheenah Freitas

Not participating yet? Click HERE to start!


Please welcome Sheenah Freitas to the blog today! She's here to share her summer memories, which are a little different than most. I literally cracked up laughing when I read this! This, this is summer at it's best.



Family vacations can either be the worst possible torture a parent can bestow upon their teenager or something fun to look forward to. Having been a bookworm and nerd my entire life, I loved those bizarre outings the parents took us on which would prove to be educational. Someone had proposed that we go visit some caverns (might’ve been me). We had been to the Ohio Caverns once before (twice for me) and wanted to take a look at some of the smaller caverns around that area. We decided on one that was close by and made our plans.

The day was gorgeous: sunny, not a cloud in the sky, and just the perfect temperature. It was one of those days where everyone was in high spirits and nothing could possibly go wrong. We remembered to stock up on bottled water, grabbed our trusty directions, and headed out. It wasn’t supposed to be a terribly long drive — a couple hours at most.

Things started to go wrong the moment Dad decided to forgo the directions and street signs. That day, my brother and I learned that when you’re on a country road in the middle of nowhere and the sign says: curve ahead, reduce speed to 15 mph, you should do what the sign tells you to do. It’s not the same as the sign in the city that states the same thing because what the one in the country is really saying: IF YOU DON’T SLOW DOWN NOW, YOU’RE GOING TO DIE.

Dad decided to slow down to about 25 mph, but it wasn’t enough. The curve in question was a sharp right turn on a steep cliff with no guardrails in sight. He pulled the car hard into the next lane and for a precarious second, the car was balanced on two wheels as we made our turn. I looked out of the window, clutching my seat, and someone was screaming (possibly me). As I looked down, I could only see rocks and the canopy of the forest.

We were lucky that a car wasn’t coming in the opposite direction as we made our way back into our correct lane, but the drama didn’t end there. As we continued driving toward our destination, we happened upon a small town. The people looked unfriendly and there seemed to be abandoned cars everywhere. We came up with a list of theories; the popular one was turning the people of the town into serial killers. How else could one explain the abandoned cars? We continued on, hoping that the caverns were nearby.

The caverns ended up being a shady little place outside of the town with a graveyard right across from it. A tow truck was removing a car as we drove in, driving the nail into our serial killer theory. There was a grill that was supposed to be the restaurant on the grounds that looked unsanitary and perhaps it was our imaginations, but there seemed to be dried blood nearby. Only one truck was in the parking lot —the employee’s. It was a quick decision to drive off in the opposite direction and revisit the Ohio Caverns. I’m sure the serial killer was upset at the sight of us leaving but I, for one, am glad to be alive.

************

Isn't that amazing? 
I mean, not that she thought her life was in danger, but wow what a story to tell!

Make sure to check back tomorrow for Sheenah's wonderful giveaway and don't forget that leaving a comment here qualifies you for an extra entry!


Saturday, August 20, 2011

Open Wounds, a giveaway!

Not participating yet? Click HERE to start.


Welcome back everyone!

I'm writing this post really quickly. Family issues have kept me from being around my blog this week, but I'm trying to be positive and trying to make myself feel as normal as possible.

That being said, here's another giveaway for all you wonderful people who are participating in this event.

Earlier this week Joseph Lunievicz stopped by with a guest post.

Today he's here with a giveaway. Up for grabs is one finished copy of Open Wounds by Joseph Lunievicz.


To enter, fill out this form.

You must be a resident of the U.S. or Canada.

Giveaway ends August 31, 2011.


Please remember that you can enter all the current giveaways, just by clicking here.



Friday, August 19, 2011

Interviewing Aphrodite!



Please welcome Suzanne Williams! She's here today to promote the newest book in the Goddess Girls series, Aphrodite the Diva. These books are sugary MG goodness and I adore them! Here you'll get to see a little bit into Aphrodite's life as a goddess girl.


1) Welcome Aphrodite! What do you say to those that call you a diva?

Who? Me? That’s ridiculous! Sure, I can be teensy bit dramatic at times, but only in situations that call for it. I mean, mortals want their goddesses to look and act like goddesses, right? Taking special care with my makeup and hair and dress is important! And if I add a few more flourishes than are strictly needed while performing feats of magic, that’s only because mortals like a good show. Being the goddessgirl of love and beauty isn’t easy, you know? And despite what that hoity-toity Egyptian goddessgirl Isis says, I’m the real deal!


2) Do you have a favorite fashion accessory that we must all know about?

My best friends, Athena, Artemis, Persephone and I, all wear look-alike gold necklaces with double-G charms (for Goddess Girls) everywhere we go. The necklace is stylish, it goes with all my chitons, and it shows that my friends and I share a special bond.


3) If you had to describe friendship in just one 10 word sentence, what would you say?

Friends love and support us in good times and bad. (And I really believe this!)


4) Is there anything that you are really looking forward to that is coming up?

In Aphrodite the Diva, I start a Lonely Hearts Club and help several students (and one annoying sculptor) find love. I also use my matchmaking skills to set up a lonely Principal Zeus with a beautiful and confident shop owner named Hera. I’m very excited about the potential of that new relationship and am looking forward to seeing it grow and flower in the next two Goddess Girls books: #7 Artemis the Loyal (Dec. 2011) and #8 Medusa the Mean (Apr. 2012)


5) Last question, what is your favorite part about being a Goddess?

Being adored by mortals is divine, and most boys find me irresistible, but my favorite part of being a goddess is helping others find love. And though I’ve made a few mistakes (like that unfortunate Trojan War incident), I’ve had lots of successes too!

Thank you so much for interviewing me today, Jessica! xoxo

In book 6, an exchange student from Egypt, Isis, is encroaching on Aphrodite's match-making turf. Will she also edge Aphrodite out of her group of friends?

These classic myths from the Greek pantheon are given a modern twist that contemporary tweens can relate to, from dealing with bullies like Medusa to a first crush on an unlikely boy.

Goddess Girls follows four goddesses-in-training: Athena, Persephone, Aphrodite, and Artemis and their friends as they navigate the ins and outs of divine social life at Mount Olympus Academy, where the most privileged gods and goddesses of the Greek pantheon hone their mythical skills. 




Tuesday, August 16, 2011

The Paradise Prophecy Giveaway!


A HUGE thanks to Penguin for allowing me to host this!

On July 21, 2011 Robert Browne released a book that caused a stir among readers and critics. Although it was just published in July, the film rights have already been optioned by the producers of the Twilight franchise, leaving fans anxious for the second installation.

Taking inspiration from John Milton’s Paradise Lost, Browne creates a thrilling and fantastical read that includes new adaptations of Milton’s characters. Unlike Milton’s classic work, Browne has created an utterly readable novel that readers can’t get enough of. The Associated Press predicts that “the shocking end will compel everyone to want to talk about the reading experience with others…readers of horror and dark fantasy should consider a dip into the Robert Browne pool.”



I was lucky enough to receive a copy of this for review, and I cannot wait to devour it! You can check out the Goodreads page to add it to your reading list, or watch the trailer below. Either way the point remains, you need a copy of this book.



Lucky for you, Penguin has allowed me to give away a copy!
One winner will receive a copy of The Paradise Prophecy directly from the publisher.

To enter, FILL OUT THIS FORM.

You must be a resident in the U.S. or Canada, or have a mailing address within these areas.

Giveaway ends August 23, 2011.




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