Saturday, December 31, 2011

2012 Audio Book Challenge

Click above to see my join post or to join also!

Goal Set:
Listen at the "Flirting" level with 6 Audio Books reviewed in 2012.

Books listened to:
1. The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
2. Blood Red Road by Moira Young
3. The Whites of Their Eyes by Andrew Clements
4. If I Stay by Gayle Forman
5. Leisl & Po by Lauren Oliver
6. Girl of Nightmares by Kendare Blake
7. Magic Bites (Kate Daniels #1) by Ilona Andrews
8. Magic Burns (Kate Daniels #2) by Ilona Andrews
9. Magic Strikes (Kate Daniels #3) by Ilona Andrews
10. Magic Bleeds (Kate Daniels #4) by Ilona Andrews


Status:
COMPLETED! 



2012 Standalone Reading Challenge

Click above to see my join post or to join also!
Goal Set:
Read 15 standalone books that are released in 2012.


Current links are to Goodreads pages. They will be updated to my review links as I read these books.
(R/R) = Read and Reviewed

1. Fracture by Megan Miranda 
3. The Way We Fall by Megan Crewe
4. The Butterfly Clues by Kate Ellison
5. Graffiti Moon by Cath Crowley
6. Trafficked by Kim Purcell
7. On The Day I Died by Candace Fleming
8. White Horse by Alex Adams
9. Wanted by Heidi Ayarbe
10. Tomorrow Land by Mari Mancusi
11. Glimmer by Phoebe Kitanidis
12. The Mapmaker and the Ghost by Sarvenaz Tash
13. Shut Up by Anne Tibbets
14. The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker
15. Hanging By A Thread by Sophie Littlefield
16. The Downside of Being Charlie by Jenny Torres Sanchez
17. 52 Reasons to Hate My Father by Jessica Brody
18. Speechless by Hannah Harrington


Status:
COMPLETED!



2012 TBR Pile Challenge

Click the button to see my joining post, and to join also!

Goal Set: 
Read at the "A Friendly Hug" level, with 11-20 TBR books knocked out in 2012!


Books read toward this goal:
1. Saving June by Hannah Harrington (November 22, 2011)
2. Heavenly by Jennifer Laurens (August 15, 2009)
3. Death Drop by Sean Allen (December 1, 2011)
4. Phantom Universe by Laura Kreitzer (February 3, 2011)
5. God's Eye by A.J. Scudiere (October 1, 2011)
6. The Comet's Curse by Dom Testa (March 2, 2010)
7. The Iron Daughter (Iron Fey #2) (August 1, 2010)
9. Hereafter (Herafter #1) by Tara Hudson (June 7, 2011)
10. Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech (July 18, 1996)
11. Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor (September 27, 2011)


Status:
COMPLETED!


Friday, December 30, 2011

Year end musings!



It's almost 2012!

I know I don't get to post random, talkative, rambling posts like this one anymore. Life in 2011 is/was whirlwind, crazy, and lots of fun. Now I'm looking forward to a new year with new prospects!

Here are some things I learned about myself, and this blog in 2011:

1. Reading is not a chore, and it never should be.
There was a period of time where I almost gave up on this blog. I was pushing myself too hard, taking on too many books, and it was making me crazy! So, I cut back. I started adding in books that I chose on a whim. I made time for reading when it was convenient for me. Now I've learned, you've got to do that! Otherwise this becomes a job. Heaven forbid!

2. Followers don't equal readers.
Let me start this by saying I LOVE YOU ALL! You are the coolest followers a girl could have, and the amount of interaction we have with one another is fantastic! That being said, I don't care anymore if I have 800 followers, or 80. If those people are reading what I write because they want to, that's all that matters. Thanks for making me feel loved!

3. Reading YA rocks!
Before 2011 started I only had a really small idea of what YA even was. Through you wonderful people, the blogs I follow, and all my awesome Twitter friends, I found more and more books to dive into. YA has now become my favorite category of all time. There's so much variety! Without this blog, that wouldn't have happened.

4. Never feel bad for not blogging.
Again, this isn't my job. So if I need to take 3 days away to go celebrate with my family, or spend some one on one time with my fiance, or even delve into the insanity that is wedding planning, that's okay. No need to apologize! I'll just come back bigger and better, and you wonderful readers are always here when I return. You're the best!

5. Sharing what you love feels great.
There is no better feeling for me than having someone say "Hey, your review really made me want to pick up this book! Thanks!". That makes it all worth while. 


That's a wrap! In case I don't see you tomorrow while I celebrate...
Happy New Year everyone!



Thursday, December 29, 2011

Book Review: Happy Birthday to Me

Media Type: Ebook
Title: Happy Birthday to Me
Author: Brian Rowe
Publisher: CreateSpace
Pages: Kindle; 175
Release Date: April 7, 2011
Source: Author
---------------------------------
Intended Reading Group: Young Adult
Content Screening: Mild Language
---------------------------------
HDB Rating: 4 Keys to My Heart
Recommended to: Readers who enjoy a good heartfelt storyline


Add it on: Goodreads / Shelfari / Amazon / B&N
Seventeen-year-old Cameron Martin has a huge problem: he’s aging a whole year of his life with each passing day!

High school is hard enough; imagine rapidly aging from seventeen to seventy in a matter of weeks, with no logical explanation, and with prom, graduation, and the state championship basketball game all on the horizon. That’s what happens to Cameron, a popular pretty boy who's never had to face a day looking anything but perfect.

All Cameron wants to do is go back to normal, but no one, not even the best doctors, can diagnose his condition. When he finds love with a mysterious young woman, however, he realizes his only hope for survival might be with the one person who started his condition in the first place...

Every now and then I start a book in which I instantly loathe the main character. It doesn't mean that I'll feel that way through the whole story, and usually the author means it to be that way anyway, but it happens. Cameron? He fell into this category instantly. Pretty boy Cameron is the epitome of your high school jock. He's cocky. He uses other people however he sees fit. He doesn't really care about anyone very much, because he's much too self absorbed. Luckily, this is all necessary because it sets up a fascinating story in Happy Birthday to Me.

What comes next is a twisting and turning adventure into assessing self worth and recognizing the worth in others as well. As Cameron realizes that his life is shorter and shorter with each passing day, the reader gets to see his slow build into a real, feeling person. I loved this part of the story so much. At first Cameron fights it for all he's worth. He figures if he just looks good he'll feel good. However as the story progresses you really see Cameron grow into a person who realizes that the world isn't all about him. It was this portion of the story that really touched me. Rowe does a fantastic job of taking this character from an unlikable pain in the behind, to someone that you really appreciate by the end.

Hidden in the folds of this breakneck foray into adulthood are other themes as well. Cameron explores the facade of high school life. He realizes that friendship is a two way street. It's all the little things that come through in Cameron's story that really kept me reading. Rowe manages to address all the petty things that high school students have to deal with every day, and how to see past that seemingly unbreakable wall. Best part? He does it without being preachy, and is instead funny and sincere. Cameron's character does a 180 in this story, and it's a beautiful thing.

Suffice it to say that I really enjoyed this book! It took me two or three chapters to really get fully into Happy Birthday to Me, mostly because I initially wanted to slap Cameron, but once I was immersed I was hooked. I'll honestly say that Brian Rowe has done a fabulous job of sharing this coming of age story with us. Think of it as the Cliff Notes version of growing up!




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, December 28, 2011

Joining the 2012 Audio Book Challenge



It's almost the end of the year, and I'm tying up loose ends and getting ready for 2012!

In that spirit, I'm setting myself up for the challenges I'll be doing in the coming year. Added to the list now is Teresa's Reading Corner and the 2012 Audio Book Challenge.

The levels are:

Flirting - Listen to 6 Audio Books
Going Steady - Listen to 12 Audio Books
Lover - Listen to 25 Audio Books
Married - Listen to +++ Audio Books


I'm going to stick with the Flirting level at this point, just to see how I do! One audio book every other month is a great way to start.


Here's to 2012!



Saturday, December 24, 2011

Book Review: The Printmaker's Daughter



Media Type: Print Book
Title: The Printmaker's Daughter
Author: Katherine Govier
Publisher: Harper Collins
Pages: Paperback; 494
Release Date: November 22, 2011
Source: TLC Book Tours
-----------------------------------------------
Genre: Historical Fiction

HDB Rating: 4 Keys to My Heart

Recommended to: Readers who enjoy vivid storytelling and historical references.


Add it on: Goodreads / ShelfariAmazon / B&N
A lost voice of old Japan reclaims her rightful place in history in this breathtaking work of imagination and scholarship from award-winning and internationally acclaimed author Katherine Govier. In the evocative tale of 19th century Tokyo, The Printmaker’s Daughter delivers an enthralling tale of one of the world’s great unknown artists: Oei, the mysterious daughter of master printmaker Hokusai, painter of theThirty-six Views of Mount Fuji. In a novel that will resonate with readers of Tracy Chevalier’s Girl with a Pearl Earring, Lisa See’s Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, and David Mitchell’s The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet, the sights and sensations of an exotic, bygone era form the richly captivating backdrop for an intimate, finely wrought story of daughterhood and duty, art and authorship, the immortality of creation and the anonymity of history.

Pulling from history, and adding it's own spin, The Printmaker's Daughter tells the story of Ei Katsushika, the third daughter of Hokusai Katsushika. For those of you who may be fans of Japanese art, or of their rich history, this name will ring a bell. Hokusai was a famous artist at the end of an era. A man who openly and vibrantly put his feelings down into his paintings. Faced with censorship and hardship, Hokusai was a man shrouded in much mystery. The Printmaker's Daughter takes what is known to be fact, and mixes it gorgeously with a fictional story.

In the beginning, Ei is shown as the favorite of her father. She is afforded a freedom that most women didn't have at this time. Galavanting around town, meeting people from all different walks of life, and even being allowed to attend places that children weren't technically allowed to go. Ei's ability to slip unnoticed into these places allows the reader to get a through glimpse at what life was like for the common people during this time. I thought it was truly brilliant how much Ei is allowed to experience, and therefore how much the reader is as well.

As Ei gets older, Katherine Govier really shows the truth behind this young girl's life. The reader follows as Ei tries to make a place in the world for herself. Constantly belittled by her father and told she is nothing, it is her strength that really drew me in. Until her dying breath, she faced the world head on and did what she felt was right for her. In fact, all the characters in this story are strong and wonderfully written. The first person narrative is beautifully done, and it is very easy to become immersed in this story.

The Printmaker's Daughter is hauntingly beautiful and well written. The vivid characters bring the story to life, and really were what kept me reading on. If I had one complaint, it would be that there were times when Ei's story became a little heavy in the historical descriptions. However, considering the topic, it makes perfect sense. I'm simply not a reader who often delves into Historical Fiction, so it was a different read for me. The discussion at the end of the book ties everything together, and definitely answered all the questions I had left upon finishing this intriguing book. 

If you are a reader who enjoys historical fiction, this is a book that you will fall in love with. I definitely recommend Katherine Govier's The Printmaker's Daughter and look forward to more from this author.



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

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Book Review: Mine

Media Type: Print Book
Title: Mine
Author: Lin Sten
Publisher: Create Space
Pages: Paperback; 306
Release Date: May 6, 2010
Source: Author
-------------------------------------------------
Intended Reading Group: Adult
Genre: Science Fiction
-------------------------------------------------
HDB Rating: 3 Keys to My Heart
Recommended to: Readers who enjoy hard core science fiction.


Add it on: Goodreads / Shelfari / Amazon / B&N
Selena Castillo publicly claims to be an extraterrestrial. Is it a joke, a delusion, a gimmick, or a reality?

Tony Sturgess must believe that Selena's claim is only a publicity stunt, or that she is insane, as he falls in love with her, because he still struggles with the racism of his white-supremacist childhood; otherwise, he is certainly the right talent agent to exploit the gimmick, despite her radical environmentalism.

Professor Hal Bronson, on the other hand, is desperate to believe Selena's claim after he is labeled a “crackpot” for hypothesizing that the SETI silence is due to a global technological catastrophe that every advancing civilization must face: she might be a witness.

But if Earth is to be saved, from whom and for whom will it be?

Through humor, romance, and suspense, Mine entertains while its human characters resolve a case of mistaken insanity.

I've had Lin Sten's Mine in my possession for a few months now, but it's taken this long for me to really sit down and devote my time to it. I'm going to be completely honest and let you know that this isn't a book for the casual reader. Although Sten has written a fantastic story about human nature and our affect on our world, it is deeply seated in technical science. In other words, this book sometimes reads a lot more like non fiction. Even as an avid reader of science fiction, I still had a difficult time getting started with Mine.

Truth be told, the characters in this book were wonderfully entertaining and were what really drew me in. By far, my favorite was Hal. His professor persona comes through beautifully and his humor, while a little dry sometimes, never fails to entertain the reader. Selena Castillo too is a vivid and intriguing character. While reading I was trying desperately to figure out where she was really from, all the while falling in love with her personality. It's easy to see why the others in the book were so entranced by her. She has a charisma that is hard to explain.

The messages that Mine delivers also drew me in. Existensial and ethical debates abound in Sten's writing. This isn't just a story that you can just passively read. I found myself stopping in the middle of reading a page, just to mull over what I'd just read.  Sten definitely shows his background in physics in this book. There were chapters where most of the scientific talk went straight over my head. If I had a deeper grasp of the science that went into the making of this story, I probably would have grasped the science fiction aspect of it a little more. This isn't an easy read by any means, but it is absolutely fascinating if you can give it a chance.

I wish I could explain more of how I felt, but I don't want to spoil anything either. Overall, Mine was a solid and interesting read. I'd like to see a little more accessibility in the writing if there is to be a sequel, but I did enjoy everything else about the book. It would be nice for it to aimed a bit more at the general public. However I can say that if you are a reader who enjoys hard science fiction, you should give this a try.






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: Youth and Other Fictions

Media Type: Ebook
Title: Youth and Other Fictions
Author: Jonathan M. Cook
Publisher: Self-published
Pages: Ebook; 319
Release Date: September 23, 2011
Source: Author
----------------------------------------------
Intended Reading Group: Young Adult
Content Screening: Violence; Harsh Language
----------------------------------------------
HDB Rating: 4 Keys to My Heart
Recommended to: Readers who are okay with tough issues and graphic violence.

Add it on: Goodreads / Shelfari / Amazon / B&N
Jonathan Cook's debut novel looks at the horrors of a school shooting and its psychological effects on those involved. Told from two perspectives--one a student's and one a teacher's--the story reveals the inner concerns leading up to the moment when the world falls apart and the anxieties of coping with the broken pieces afterwards.

How do I even begin to describe the way that Youth and Other Fictions affected me? In all honesty, I've read books that deal with school shootings before. I know the harsh reality that comes with the discussion of this topic, and how much it hurts to read. I've seen it discussed from all the different perspectives that there can be. Still, no matter how many times I read about this topic, it never gets any easier.

In Youth and Other Fictions we meet a main character who could be any one of our students, children, or even next door neighbors. Jack is just trying to get by. He isn't that well liked, but he isn't despised either. He kind of just coasts through life, trying his best to blend in. That nagging voice in his head? Nothing he can't deal with. Sometimes he's sure that voice might even be right. Just a normal kid, nothing special.

Cook allows us to get into the mind of his characters, and it brings a vividness to this story that is startlingly easy to fall into. When everything heads south, you'll know exactly why. The reader is given an up close and personal look at the daily life of these students, at the cruel way kids can act towards one another, and at the frustration and anxiety that comes with feeling utterly alone. Even when the world falls apart for these characters, you'll still find yourself rooting for them. They are too believable for me to really explain.

What is really interesting about Youth and Other Fictions though is the fact that the second half of the book is told from an adult's perspective. One of the students who witnessed the shooting comes back as a teacher, and we get to see the new batch of high school students through his eyes. I liked the way that Cook showed the stark contrast between the kids of Jack's youth, and the kids of today. It's alarming how much life has changed for kids, and yet there are still similarities. Especially the ones that lead someone to commit a murder that seems so atrocious to everyone else.

I can't say much more without spoiling the book, and so I'll stop here. What I will say is that even if you think you know what happens in this book, you'll still find yourself at least partially wrong. Watching the events unfold really took my breath away, and I found myself reading at a manic pace to find out what ultimately happened. Cook definitely shows his prowess at writing characters that will pull you in and keep you there. Youth and Other Fictions definitely isn't an easy read, but it's one that I enjoyed. I highly recommend it.






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, December 21, 2011

Product Review: Juiceology



Juiceology: All Natural Superjuice



Every once in a while I'm approached to do a product review. In order to keep this blog from becoming filled with promotions, I only accept things I think I'll genuinely enjoy and want to recommend. That being said, Juiceology was something that peaked my interest! Whole fruit juice in a ready to travel package? Yes please.

After sampling the two flavors that you see above I can honestly say that I am ready for more! I was worried that the Blueberry Acai might be a little bitter, but the juice just the right mixture of sweet and tart. The Peach Mango was scrumptious! Perfectly sweet and satisfying. I have a juicer that I use to make whole fruit juice on a daily basis, but Juiceology blows my blends out of the water. Their juice has just enough body to be satisfying, while still being easy to drink.

What struck me most was that each and every one of these bottles contains only 97 calories per serving size (there's approximately 2 servings in the bottle), as well as 18 grams of whole grain extracts and 5 grams of vegetable fiber. So not only is it a delicious whole fruit juice, but you're giving your body the fiber it needs at the same time. How much easier could it be to take care of yourself?

I want to thank Juiceology for allowing me to sample their product, and again I highly recommend it! If you enjoy taking care of yourself while enjoying something that tastes delicious, Juiceology is a drink you need to try. You can find more information, as well as more delicious flavors, at their website.


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Now, as with all things I love, it's time to share!

Juiceology is offering up samples of their product to 3 readers. 
Winners will receive coupons for the juice that they can redeem in store!

Right now Juiceology products are only available in Southern California.

So if you are interested in trying this product, and live in Southern California, go ahead and leave a comment below with your email address. I'll randomly choose 3 people on December 28, 2011.

ENJOY!








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

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

A chat with author Jonathan Cook.

Today I have the pleasure of hosting Jonathan Cook, author of many popular books that now include the one I'll be reviewing: Youth and Other Fictions.

Jonathan Cook is an author who I greatly admire, mostly because he is willing to write about difficult subject matter that most others won't touch. I'm proud to have him here today. Enjoy this look at the influences in his writing career, and make sure to check out his newest book!

I was a solitary child, not out of misanthropy--that would come later--or that dreaded Only Child Syndrome, but out of a desire for quiet. Even as a boy, I preferred the sound of wind blowing through an open field to the sounds of crowd cheering on some overpaid, overgrown, and oversexed basketball star. Growing up in a rural community, this presented no problems--though it did limit the number of friends I had, as most youngsters enjoyed sports and wanton destruction--and eventually gave rise to one of my true passions: the written word.

I've always enjoyed reading. I recall being one of the few in Mrs. Thompson's class genuinely excited by the prospect of reading stories myself instead of having them read to me. At that time, however, a dearth of reading materials aimed at younger audiences made reading an uphill climb. Sure, we had the _Hardy Boys_ and _Nancy Drew_ books--neither series did anything for me--and R.L. Stein was publishing his _Fear Street_ books, but the bulk of what was labeled Children's Literature was simply worthless: poorly written at best, insulting at worst. Finding myself too mature for the _Berenstain Bears_, I fished around for something more my level, but found only books about teenaged athletes and shipwreck survivors, books that read like after-school specials with their capitalized messages of Trust, Family Values, and Drug-Free Life.

Stephen King saved me.

_The Tommyknockers_ had just begun to air on ABC, and though I had no interest in watching the miniseries--I eventually did, much to my chagrin--the cover of the reissued paperback fascinated me with its sinister figure of a space alien, complete with elongated head and a general cast of decay. I wanted to read it. This was my kind of book; I was certain of it. Fortunately, my parents endorsed any reading, no matter what the level or genre or content--in that regard, I feel extraordinarily lucky compared to many children today whose parents refuse to allow them to discover the joys of reading without senseless limitations. The book itself was huge, over 700 pages with small print and no pictures. It took me just under a month to read, and I never looked back.

In hindsight, yes, there are a number of things in the book that are totally inappropriate for a child of eleven--that scene with the vaginal tentacles comes to mind--but what lingered in my impressionable mind was that first real exposure to adult storytelling, to the ways in which real people communicate. Nothing in my prior reading had prepared me for this onslaught. Here was a book with a massive cast of characters, characters with names and problems and flaws, characters who felt real.

Simplicity was what I had come to loathe; here was, in part, the cure.

I spent the better part of my teens reading everything King had written. Some were better than others, I'll admit, and there were a few clunkers--though my opinion of _Gerald's Game_ has dramatically improved over the intervening years. Today, I have a tendency to dismiss King's works as decent storytelling marred by bad--at times, abysmal--writing. College made me deeply pretentious in that regard, but I've come to believe that King has never tried to write books based on some obscure need to put stylistics above substance. His ability to tell one hell of a story is eclipsed solely by his ability to find authentic voices for his characters.

And that, I think, is what I've taken away from his works: the imperative to put narrative and voice above all else, to find the truth not in what is being said but in how it is being said, to tell the story.

In King's _On Writing_, he opines that themes and symbols and motifs should never be at the forefront of a writer's mind when he/she is writing a first draft; if they are meant to be in that story, they will appear almost unintentionally. It is no accident that upon finishing that book, I began typing the first pages of my novel. I hope while writing _Youth and Other Fictions_, I managed to keep King in mind: tell the damn story first, then figure out what it's about.

There may be far stronger influences on my writing--the philosophic violence of Cormac McCarthy, the rule-breaking of John Fowles, the epiphanies of James Joyce, the meanderings of Paul Auster--but I cannot think of a writer to whom I owe more than Stephen King.


Jonathan Cook's debut novel looks at the horrors of a school shooting and its psychological effects on those involved. Told from two perspectives--one a student's and one a teacher's--the story reveals the inner concerns leading up to the moment when the world falls apart and the anxieties of coping with the broken pieces afterwards.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Behind the scenes with Feyland: The Dark Realm

On the blog today, we have Anthea Sharp! Anthea is the author of one of my favorite new books, Feyland: The Dark Realm. Truth be told, I'm in love with this book. A mixture of fantasy and technology, it's an amazing and fresh new take on the genre. It's definitely something I recommmend you pick up!
In the meantime though, here's a behind the scenes look at the inspiration Anthea used for her book. Enjoy, and make sure to check back tomorrow for my review!


Thanks, Jessica, for having me here at Hopelessly Devoted Bibliophile! To celebrate the release of my new YA fantasy novel Feyland: The Dark Realm, I’d like to share a bit about one of the biggest inspirations I had for the book. 


Feyland is set in the near-distant future, but parts of the story are ancient. The center of the novel is based on an old Scottish ballad that was first written down in 1549. Tam Lin tells the story of an ‘earthly knight’ who is taken by the Queen of the Faeries to dwell with her in her magical realm. All goes well for seven years, but at the end of that time, he learns he is going to become a human sacrifice.

Tam Lin meets a young woman, Janet Carter, as she is picking roses, and they become lovers. He tells her of his fate, and she asks if there is anything she can do to rescue him. Yes, he says¸ on Halloween she must intercept the faeries when they go riding. She must pull him down from his horse and hold him fast while the faeries work their magic upon him.

I first heard this ballad on an album my parents had, performed by the folk-rock band Steeleye Span. From the first listen, I was captivated by the story, and loved that the girl is the one doing the rescuing.

Other authors have found inspiration in the ballad of Tam Lin as well. I was delighted to discover The Perilous Gard by Elizabeth Marie Pope, which is an Elizabethan-set retelling of the story. Later on, I read Fire and Hemlock, a modern version by Diana Wynne Jones. Pamela Dean also used a modern college campus for her retelling, called, appropriately enough, Tam Lin. I’m sure there are other versions out there, as well.

Nearly 500 years later, this story is still powerful, and I’m excited to re-tell it in yet another version for readers today to enjoy. I’m not going to spoil the ending, for those of you who don’t know the ballad. You’ll have to read it for yourself.


Feyland: The Dark Realm is available in paperback and e-book from most online retailers, and can be ordered from any bookstore. To find out more about Anthea, visit her website at www.antheasharp.com or her facebook page http://www.facebook.com/AntheaSharp



Friday, December 16, 2011

Take home a copy of Nightingale by David Farland!



Dear readers, I have the best news for you! 

Do you remember when I reviewed Nightingale and raved about how wonderful it was? If you don't, you can check out my review and see for yourself. I still stand by the fact that it is an amazing addition to the Fantasy genre!

Now a copy can be yours!

Up for grabs is one enhanced copy of Nightingale for you, my dear readers!

To enter, FILL OUT THIS FORM.

Open to everyone. Giveaway ends December 23, 2011.


Thursday, December 15, 2011

Favorite Book Characters with Michelle Madow and a chance to take home a copy of Remembrance!

Please welcome the lovely Michelle Madow to the blog! *claps enthusiastically*

She's here to promote her debut novel, Remembrance, which I reviewed last week. If you're a fan of historical romance, this is one for you!

In honor of  her book, Michelle is allowing us to take a peek into her mind by sharing her favorite book characters! Take a gander. See any you love too? Shout out! Also don't forget to enter the giveaway at the bottom of the post. Enjoy!

TOP 10 FAVORITE BOOK CHARACTERS

1. Bella from Twilight. (I read Twilight when it first came out, during a time when I was primarily reading books with main characters similar to those in the Gossip Girl series. It was refreshing to read about Bella, who didn’t care about drinking, drugs, and partying. I know there are people out there who have issues with her because they think she’s too dependent on Edward, but in comparison to the “party girls” in other books I think she’s a good role model.)

2. Lissa from Vampire Academy. (I love how she grows as a character through the series.)

3. Rose from Vampire Academy. (I know it’s kind of lame to have two characters from the same series, but Rose is such an awesome, strong-willed protagonist!)

4. Ash from Iron Fey. (I love Ash! Yes, I have a huge book crush on him. His love for Meghan is so intense, and he sacrificed so much to be with her. He’s also super hot ;)

5. Jace from Mortal Instruments. (Another book crush.)

6. Percy Jackson from Percy Jackson and the Olympians. (He’s a funny protagonist; I love his sense of humor through the series.)

7. Ren from Nightshade. (I hope Calla picks him!)

8. Tris from Divergent. (She’s so determined, and confident about who she is. I love that about her.)

9. Astrid from Bright Young Things. (She can be a little vapid at times, but she’s so fun to read about! I love her easy-going attitude and confidence.)

10. Harry from Harry Potter. (Because who doesn’t wish they’re a witch/wizard who goes to Hogwarts?)



Now for the giveaway!

To enter, simply fill out the Rafflecopter form below. It's the same on all the blogs, so you can enter wherever you'd like! Don't forget to leave a comment for Michelle, and good luck!

U.S. Only. Ends December 27, 2011.


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

In Leah's Wake excerpt


Announcing the In Leah’s Wake Social Media Whirlwind Tour!  As part of this special promotional extravaganza sponsored by Novel Publicity, the price of the In Leah’s Wake eBook edition has dropped to just 99 cents this week. What’s more, by purchasing this fantastic book at an incredibly low price, you can enter to win many awesome prizes, including Amazon gift cards of up to $500 in amount and 5 autographed copies of the book. Be sure to enter before the end of the day on Friday, December 16th, so you don’t miss out.

To Win the Prizes

  1. Purchase your copy of In Leah’s Wake for just 99 cents on Amazon or Barnes & Noble
  2. Fill-out the form on Novel Publicity to enter for the prizes
  3. Visit today’s featured event; you may win an autographed copy of the book or a $50 gift card!
  4. BONUS: If you leave a comment on this blog post, you have another chance at $100!

...And I can win too!

Over 100 bloggers are participating in this gigantic event, and there are plenty of prizes for us too. The blogger who receives the most votes in the traffic-breaker poll will win a $100 gift card as well. So when you visit Novel Publicity’s site to fill-out the contest entry form, don’t forget to say that I referred you, so I can get a point in the poll.

Remember, it’s all about the books!

About In Leah’ Wake: The Tyler family had the perfect life – until sixteen-year-old Leah decided she didn’t want to be perfect anymore. While her parents fight to save their daughter from destroying her brilliant future, Leah’s younger sister, Justine, must cope with the damage her out-of-control sibling leaves in her wake. What happens when love just isn’t enough? Get it on Amazon or Barnes & Noble. About the Author: Terri Giuliano Long grew up in the company of stories both of her own making and as written by others. Books offer her a zest for life’s highs and comfort in its lows. She’s all-too-happy to share this love with others as a novelist and a writing teacher at Boston College. She was grateful and thrilled beyond words when her award-winning debut literary novel, In Leah’s Wake, hit the Barnes and Noble and Amazon bestseller lists in August. She owes a lot of wonderful people – big time! – for any success she’s enjoyed! Visit her on her website, Twitter, Facebook, or GoodReads.


Now please enjoy this excerpt from the new edition of In Leah's Wake...


Leah’s head felt like a beach ball. She’d stay in bed all day if she could, cocooned in the blankets and sheets, but she had to pee. She dragged herself up, shivering as she threw off the covers. She’d never been this sick in her life. She probably had cancer. Oh God, she was going to barf. She dropped her head between her knees, staying put until her stomach had settled, and dragged herself to the bathroom.

 She could hear her father in the kitchen, fixing breakfast. The odor of maple bacon drifted upstairs, making her gag. In a minute, he would be up here, ordering her downstairs to eat. Her team had a game this morning, at ten, which meant she had to be on the field—she checked her alarm clock—in an hour. She flopped back onto her bed, and pulled the covers defiantly over her head. No way was she playing soccer today. Not after last night, after her father freaked out.

She turned onto her side, burying her face in her pillow. Around midnight last night, Todd had retrieved a blanket from his truck, and spread it over a pillow of pine needles and leaves. She pictured him on his elbows, staring down at her, the planes of his face accentuated by the shadows.

He pushed her hair away from her face. His hand slid from her shoulder to her hips.

Todd, she whispered. Todd. Her shades snapped up, startling her. In the harsh light, Todd’s face vanished. Hearing her name—Todd?—she rolled onto her back.

When she looked up, her father was standing over her bed.

“Time to get up, Leah. The Harvard coach is coming today.”

The nerve of that man.

She curled into a ball, pulling the covers over her head. Her father’s hand slid under the covers, and he wiggled her big toe, the way he used to when she was little. She yanked her foot back.

 “Come on, kiddo,” he coaxed. “You have to get up.” He’d made blueberry pancakes. As if his stupid pancakes made up for last night.

“Go away,” she spat, her words garbled by the mountain of blankets and sheets.

“Leah, your team is—”


Who cares if you’re tired? She heard in her head. The competition is practicing, even when you’re not . . . “depending on you, Leah.” . . . dedication is what counts . . . “talk to you, honey.” . . . suck it up . . . get up, get up . . . do it . . . time to get up . . . time for soccer . . . time . . . practice . . . do it . . . just do it . . . Just do it.

Leah clapped her hands over her ears. “Go away,” she cried. “Get out. Get away from me.”

Why did her father do this to her? Why couldn’t he let her be?

“I’d like to talk to you, Leah. Please.”

“I’m not playing.” She threw off the covers. “And you can’t make me.”

The toilet flushed in the bathroom between her room and Justine’s. The faucet sputtered, and water splashed into the sink. Leah’s sister was washing her hands. Now she was brushing her teeth. Perfect little angel, never in trouble. Perfect little dork. Leah hated her sister. She hated them all—her mother, her father, Justine. Her parents didn’t care about her. They cared about controlling her. They expected perfection, wanted perfect robots for kids. Well, guess what? She wasn’t a robot. They’d have to be satisfied with just one.

“Fine.” Her father, sighing, sat on her bed. “Stay home, if that’s what you want.” He leaned forward, dropping his hands between his knees. “I blew it, baby,” he said, staring at the floor. “I’m sorry.”

Good. She had him right where she wanted him. Leah pulled the covers over her head, and raised her elbows, creating an air tunnel so she could breathe. She’d forgive her father. Eventually. First, she planned to make him suffer.

Her father’s weight shifted. She felt the spring of the mattress.

 No. This wasn’t the way it went. Her father wasn’t supposed to give up. He never gave up. They talked until they’d worked things out.

“Dad?” Leah shot of bed and darted out to the landing. “Dad,” she called, leaning over the railing. “Daddy?”  


By the time Zoe reached the office park, she’d worked herself into a funk. She parked her Volvo by the service entrance behind the building, in a spot reserved for tenants. Normally, she walked to her second floor office, a penitent’s offering to the exercise god she’d forsaken. This morning, anxiety fueling her fatigue, she waited for the elevator.

She’d worked for Cortland Child Services for eight years. She used to love this job. Physicians trusted her, and rewarded her with a constant flow of referrals. Too popular for a while, she’d been temporarily forced to close her practice to new patients. Now she dreaded coming to work.

Five years ago, patients treated her with respect; they’d listened eagerly and followed her advice. Today, everybody knew everything. Parents, armed with information from the Web, came to her seeking validation, letters attributing their child’s misbehavior to brilliance, drugs to give their child an edge. Zoe’s education and experience meant nothing. She was a service provider. She was tired of that game.

If she and Will could afford it, she’d leave the counseling center, build her seminars and branch out, write a book, go on the lecture circuit, where she could help thousands of people. But that was a pipedream.

She accidentally pressed “Down,” forcing her to ride to the basement and back up.

The stress at home had ratcheted her anxiety, adding to her unease. The small things she used to let slide had begun to get her: a missed appointment, a defiant gesture, an insolent remark. Doing a half-assed job made her feel crappy; these days, she felt like crap most of the time.

Zoe’s mood lifted as she opened her office door. This office, with its soft coral walls, was her sanctuary. Sunlight filtered through the blinds on the picture window, the flecks of sand in the carpet around the turtle-shaped sandbox glittering. Zoe’s grad school books lined the top shelf of a wall-to-wall bookcase. On the lower shelves were toys for the kids: cars and trucks, picture books, puzzles, stuffed animals, dolls.

From her iPod, she selected a soothing Thai instrumental piece, and logged onto her antiquated desktop computer. Her refusal to upgrade to a laptop was a running joke in the office. Zoe still handwrote her notes and transcribed them at the end of each day, the inconvenience a small price to pay for the ability to give her patients her undivided attention.

In no time, she’d printed and scanned her notes.

With ten minutes to spare before her first appointment, she decided to run check on the Corbett boy. (Last night, in her drunken stupor, Leah had blurted his name.) Zoe typed Corbett’s name in the Google dialogue box; feeling guilty, she immediately back-spaced. A Google search felt invasive, like reading her child’s diary or listening to a phone conversation. Yet how else was she to obtain information? She could hardly rely on Leah to fill her in. Other parents Googled their kids’ friends. “I do all the time,” Sheila Li, a colleague, had confided one day. “Can’t be too careful these days.” Corbett had gotten her daughter drunk and driven her home at three a.m. That revoked any right to privacy.

She tapped her desk, impatient for the page to populate.

On the first page she spotted an entry, dated July 10, 1998, the keywords Corbett and Massachusetts emboldened. Something about a drug arrest. The URL linked to an article on the Dallas Star website. Dallas? Drugs? Had to be a mistake, a misnamed file, an erroneous entry.

She hit the link, her pulse racing as she scrolled down the page.


MASSACHUSETTS MAN ARRESTED IN TEXAS DRUG BUST

EL PASO, Texas – A Massachusetts man was arrested early this morning outside the Roadhouse restaurant in downtown El Paso on suspicion of drug possession and trafficking. Todd Corbett, 21, from Massachusetts, works as a sound technician for the alternative rock band, Cobra. Jeff Jones, the band’s manager, was arrested on similar charges in November.  

Insufficient evidence in the Jones case forced the district attorney’s office in El Paso to drop the charges. “We expect to hand down an indictment later today,” said Assistant District Attorney Len Ahearn. Ahearn declined further comment regarding the details of Corbett’s arrest, citing a judge’s gag order. If prosecuted, Corbett faces a sentence of up to twenty years in prison and a $10,000 fine.


A later article reported that the charges had been dismissed.

Zoe had expected to find something—a DUI, a petty theft, a drunk and disorderly—nothing like this. Leah pushed boundaries. She’d been drinking last night; she’d come in at three a.m. No way was she was mixed up with a drug dealer. She was a good kid, a talented athlete, with a bright future in front of her. She was too smart to throw it all away.

Zoe clicked back to the first article, reread it, and logged on to boston.com, the website for the Globe. In the “Metro” section of the July 11 edition, she found a single paragraph that began:

“Todd Corbett of Cortland, Massachusetts, was arrested. . .”

Reeling, she logged off. This was impossible. Zoe was a therapist. She worked with teenagers. If her daughter were involved with drugs, she would know. She’d recognize the signs. Moods? What sixteen-year-old girl wasn’t moody? Slipping grades? In high school, Zoe and Will had both flunked biology; maybe Leah had inherited the gene. Leah had missed her curfew a few times, until last night never by more than ten minutes. Granted, Leah had lied about being with Cissy. Yes, Cissy’s being MIA this last month was certainly strange. But girls fight. Junior year, Zoe’s best friend had dumped her cold, all because the girl’s crush had called Zoe “pretty.”

Normal teenage behavior—all of this. Zoe’s stomach went hollow.


Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Book Review: Can You Survive? Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Adventures of Sherlock Holmes

Media Type: Print Book
Title: Can You Survive? Adventures of Sherlock Holmes
Author: Ryan Jacobson
Publisher: Lake 7 Creative
Pages: Paperback; 152
Release Date: November 1, 2011
Source: Publisher
-----------------------------------------------------
Intended Reading Group: Young Adult
Content Screening: Nothing of note.
-----------------------------------------------------
HDB Rating: 4 Keys to My Heart
Recommended to: Those who enjoy choose your own adventure books, or lovers of Sherlock Holmes!

Add it on: Goodreads / Shelfari / Librarything / Amazon / B&N
He's the world's most famous detective, and thanks to this brilliantly adapted book, he's you! The cases, the clues, the suspects, they're yours to sort through in this exciting Choose Your Path book. You are Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes. You make the choices. But be careful; the wrong decision could lead to your doom.

It has been so long since I had a chance to read a Choose Your Own Adventure book, but I devoured them when I was younger! My favorite part was about them was getting to be a part of the story. Ryan Jacobson has brought this series back in a really big way! I love that Sherlock Holmes gets to be one of the main characters that readers will follow. What a great way to bring a classic story back to life!

Let's be honest, I'm obviously not cut out to be a detective. This book proved to me that in Sherlock Holmes' shoes, I'd probably be meeting my doom. However, this was a blast to read! Sherlock Holmes is a great character to follow. Jacobson makes sure that the story stays true to the way that this classic detective thinks, but also allows the reader to follow along easily. The original 12 stories are cut down into 3 adventures that you get to follow along with. I had so much fun navigating the twists and turns. Even though I'll fully admit after 3 times reading through I still had to cheat to get to an ending where I didn't meet an evil fate....I won't lie.

Anyhow I see this being a fantastic book for younger readers, and especially those that are looking for something to immerse them in the story! Best of all, like I mentioned above, it brings a classic story back to life. I can't see a better way to introduce a new generation of readers to such an important character. Love solving mysteries? This is a book for you!






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, December 11, 2011

Cassidy's playlist! From The International Kissing Club!

Today on the blog something a little different!

Ivy Adams, who is a an author that is actually made up of some of my favorite YA authors combined, is here to share a post on The International Kissing Club tour!

This stop is all about music. What music describes these girls? How do they get their groove on? Paired with some excerpts from the book, this is a post to peak your interest!

Also, don't forget to leave a comment on this post for a chance to win some great prizes! You can see more information at the bottom of this post.


The International Kissing Club is a story about four best friends who join a foreign exchange program in search of life, love and internet redemption after one of them is humiliated by the town’s mean girl and the video goes viral online.

Each girl has her own story (and romance) as she goes abroad, so they each had their own soundtrack.

Cassidy Barlow is the resident tomboy, a basketball phenom, and the girl from across the tracks, whose mother’s past their small town won’t let her live down. She decides the further away from home the better, and makes her way to the sunbaked beaches of Australia, where she meets Lucas, a sweet, gorgeous surfer and, well...it’s not called The International Kissing Club for nothing. ;)


The Cassidy and Lucas Playlist:

Brighter Than The Sun by Colbie Caillat
Oh. God. Those were the only words that formed in her mind when she saw him. Tall and tanned, in a white tee, frayed cargo shorts, and flip-flops, the golden streaks in his tousled sun-bleached hair setting off deep-set hazel eyes to perfection, the guy looked like summer at the beach.

Sleepyhead by Passion Pit
It rang a fourth time. If he didn’t pick up now it would go to voice mail. Cassidy decided this would mean she’d given it her best shot, but it just wasn’t meant to be. She would leave a message.

“Hello?” answered a groggy, gravelly Aussie voice on the other end.

She glanced at the clock and cringed inwardly: 7:58--she’d woken him up! Smooth. Desperate much?

40 Dogs (Like Romeo and Juliet) by Bob Schneider
This was getting dangerous. All this niceness, all this touching, all these feelings, it was too much. He was too much. And she was Cassidy Barlow: things this good didn’t happen to her; boys like Lucas didn’t happen to her. Her mom’s mantra ran through her mind: when a guy seems to good to be true, run like hell and don’t look back.

Except she didn’t want to run away. Not this time.

Arms by Christina Perri
Cassidy whirled to see him coming up from the water’s edge several yards away, carrying his shortboard under his arm. Her hearted started hop-skipping around in her chest and she ran what had to be her record best in the fifty-yard dash. Lucas barely had enough time to drop the board and catch her as she jumped onto him, wrapping her arms around his neck, not caring that she was getting soaked to the skin. Good thing he was so strong, because any other guy would have been knocked to the ground by her body slam.

Fools by Temper Trap
“What about me, Cass? Are you going to miss me?

More than she wanted to think about. Eight weeks ago, she’d been counting the days until she could leave, but now she wished the hours would slow to give her more time. It was true she couldn’t wait to see her friends and her mom after so long apart, but the fact that she might never see Lucas again was like a punch in the gut. It was on the tip of her tongue to tell him so, but the words got stuck between her brain and her vocal cords. Cassidy decided showing him would be easier.

Rain by Patti Griffin
Cassidy checked her luggage, waited through the endless line at security, and mentally slipped out of Vacation Cassidy mode when she walked through the scanner. On the other side of security, she turned and glanced back the way she’d come, half expecting to see the discarded shell of the girl she’d been here in Australia. But all she saw was the flood of sunburned tourists and impatient business travelers, oblivious to the emotions churning inside of her. So much has changed in the ten weeks she’d been in Australia, it was hard to believe that there was no physical evidence. But then, why should there be? All the changes were inside of her.



Shellee Roberts along with Emily McKay and Tracy Deebs write under the psuedonym Ivy Adams. They shop, gossip and watch movies in Austin, Texas.

Leave a comment (with your email so we can contact you) to be entered to win the Around the World In 80 Kisses daily and weekly prize and also become eligible to win the Grand Prize, a Kindle Fire. For a list of all our Smooch Posts you can visit and earn more entries to win, visit us here.


Saturday, December 10, 2011

The Black Sun's Daughter series can be yours!



If you follow my reviews, you might have seen these four books pop up the last few weeks. The Black Sun's Daughter series by M.L.N. Hanover was my first official foray into Urban Fantasy, and I had a blast reading them! You can see my reviews for each book below:


Pocket Books was nice enough to provide me with a set of these to review (and subsequently hook me on them) and now they are offering up a set to you, my readers!

Up for grabs is one entire set of The Black Sun's Daughter series. That means you'll get books 1-4 for your very own, so you can get hooked on JaynĂ© and her story as well.


Open to U.S. entrants only.

To enter, FILL OUT THIS FORM.

Ends December 16, 2011.



Friday, December 9, 2011

An sneak peek at The Gaia Wars by Kenneth G. Bennett


As part of this special promotional extravaganza sponsored by Novel Publicity, the price of The Gaia Wars eBook edition has dropped to just 99 cents this week. What’s more, by purchasing this fantastic book at an incredibly low price, you can enter to win many awesome prizes, including a Kindle Fire, Amazon gift cards up to $100 in amount, 5 autographed copies of the book, and 5 autographed copies of its recently released sequel, Battle for Cascadia. Be sure to enter before the end of the day on Friday, December 9th, so you don’t miss out.  

To Win the Prizes:

  1. Purchase your copy of The Gaia Wars for just 99 cents on Amazon or Barnes & Noble
  2. Fill-out the form on Novel Publicity to enter for the prizes
  3. Visit today’s featured event; you may win an autographed copy of the book or a $50 gift card!
  4. BONUS: If you leave a comment on this blog post, you have another chance at $100!

...And I can win too!

Over 100 bloggers are participating in this gigantic event, and there are plenty of prizes for us too. The blogger who receives the most votes in the traffic-breaker poll will win a $100 gift card as well. So when you visit Novel Publicity’s site to fill-out the contest entry form, don’t forget to say that I referred you, so I can get a point in the poll.

Remember, it’s all about the books!


About The Gaia Wars: DEADLY SECRETS have been buried in the Cascade mountain wilderness for centuries. Hidden. Out of sight and out of mind. Until today… Warren Wilkes, age 13, doesn’t like what a greedy housing developer has done to his peaceful mountain community, so he vandalizes the developer’s property, flees into the wild, and stumbles upon an ancient human skeleton revealed by torrential rain. More than old bones have been exposed, however, and the curious artifact Warren finds makes him question his own identity, and his connection to an ancient terror. A terror destined to rise again and annihilate all that Warren loves. He must fight or see his whole world destroyed. Get it on Amazon or Barnes & Noble.

About Battle for Cascadia: When Warren Wilkes, age 13, stumbles upon a mysterious relic deep in the Cascade Mountains, wonder reigns. Brimming with secrets and sentient energy, the relic leads Warren to a fantastic chamber, and to shocking revelations about his identity. Now wonder has turned to dread. A forgotten terror—a demon that knows Warren better than he knows himself—has risen again and is assembling an army; gathering power with a singularly evil goal in mind: to capture and enslave the wild spirit of the Earth itself. As war erupts and the planet slips into chaos, Warren embraces his destiny and finds help where he least expects it. Get it on Amazon or Barnes & Noble. About the Author: Kenneth G. Bennett is the author of the Young Adult novels The Gaia Wars and Battle for Cascadia (the second book of The Gaia Wars), as well as the forthcoming Exodus 2018, a paranormal thriller set in the Puget Sound region of Washington State. A wilderness enthusiast who loves backpacking, skiing and kayaking, Ken enjoys novels that explore the relationship between humans and the wild. He lives on an island in the Pacific Northwest with his wife and son. Visit him on his website, Twitter, Facebook, or GoodReads.  

Now please enjoy this sneak peek of The Gaia Wars...


Chapter 3
The ground climbed steadily and Warren slowed but didn’t stop. He knew how to pace himself, and ran lightly over the soft earth, weaving between the pines.
A plan formed in Warren’s mind. He would make for Pipestone Canyon, roughly two miles distant. He and his uncle had hiked, skied and snowshoed there dozens of times, and he knew it well. Perhaps he could hide among the canyon’s crags, cliffs and massive boulders. Perhaps.
Warren topped a low ridge, entered a clearing, and heard the sudden rush of brawling Nine Mile Creek, two hundred yards ahead. Born in the snowy Cascades, the sparkling stream clattered across the meadow. It was roughly fifteen feet wide here, but shallow, gravel-bottomed and easy to cross.
Now that he was out of the trees, Warren heard other sounds, too: the unmistakable baying of dogs, surprisingly close, and the low, steady whine of ATVs. The Finleys were after him, all right, and they were getting closer.
For the first time, Warren felt truly afraid. He remembered the rage on Mr. Finley’s face. Who could guess what the big brute might do? Or maybe Finley Sr. would simply turn a blind eye as Finley Jr. pulverized him. Junior was a good thirty pounds heavier than Warren, after all.
Wild thoughts flooded Warren’s mind. Maybe the Finleys would tie him up and drag him behind their ATVs, or let their dogs tear him to pieces. He couldn’t guess, and he didn’t want to find out.
Warren had an idea. Instead of running straight across the creek, he would run in it for a while. His shoes and socks would get soaked, but perhaps the ploy would confuse the dogs—at least temporarily. It was a trick he’d read about in numerous adventure stories. Maybe it would help.
He leapt into the clear, frigid water. It was only about a foot deep here, where it crossed the flat, open meadow, but shockingly cold. He sprinted upstream.
Though June meant summer in other parts of the country, it was still early spring here in the higher elevations of the Clement Valley. It had snowed heavily all winter, and the meadows only recently had become snow-free. It had just rained, too, so everything had a fresh, new quality and the air was crisp and clean. Wildflowers carpeted the creek banks.
Warren splashed on—the gravel stream bottom giving a bit under each sloshing footfall. He saw now that the snowmelt and recent rain had caused the clay soil of the stream’s banks to fracture. Here and there great slabs of creek edge had fallen into the water. In some spots, sections of bank teetered, like new islands breaking apart from the mainland after a catastrophic quake. Ahead, the creek jogged sharply to the right.
Warren scanned the meadow. In another hundred feet or so, he’d climb out of the water and run uphill, toward Pipestone Canyon. He sprinted, following the sharp bend in the stream.
That’s when he saw the skeleton.
It was a human skeleton, no doubt about that, lying face up on the soft earth. Warren could see at once what had happened: the skeleton had been buried in the reddish-brown clay of the bank, but a section of creek edge had fractured and fallen away, freeing the skeleton from its tomb. It lay there in broad daylight, as neatly and cleanly as if it had just rolled out of a crypt. Warren stepped forward cautiously and gazed at the remains in silent wonder.
He would have forgotten about the Finleys, his prank and everything else—only now that he’d stopped moving he heard the dogs and whining ATVs once more. Even over the joyful clatter of the creek, the sounds were unmistakable. The Finleys were coming through the forest, within a minute or two of the meadow.
Warren stared at the skeleton. He’d been to enough museums and read enough books to know that it was very old. The bones were light brown and smooth, like aged ivory. It occurred to Warren they might even be fossilized.
The skull, arm and leg bones were large, and the hips narrow, so he guessed he was looking at the remains of a man. The lower jawbone was missing, as were the bones of the right foot. Otherwise, the skeleton appeared intact. Warren leaned closer to the skull, but the empty eye sockets gazing skyward gave him a queer feeling.
He took one last look and …
There was something protruding from the dirt, near the skeleton’s right hip. Warren peered closely.
The “something,” whatever it was, was encrusted with soft clay. It blended with the surrounding soil, and was nearly invisible.
Warren gently traced the object with his fingers, pried some of the clay away, and understood. It was a pouch: leather, bound at the top with a fragment of cord.
Warren teased more soil from the object, marveling that the leather was still supple and intact. Even the design on the face of the pouch—a fine red spiral—had somehow been preserved inside the clay tomb of the creek bank.
Carefully, painstakingly, Warren lifted the pouch free from the soil, loosened the cord, and spilled the contents out.
The first artifact to tumble onto the creek bank—into the sunlight—was a stone spear point. It was about five inches long, brownish-yellow and lovingly crafted. It was still razor sharp, by the look of it.
The spear point made Warren gasp. But the object that thudded onto the bank after it stopped his heart.
It was a heavy, flat medallion of gleaming, hammered gold, inset with sparkling blue gems.
Dazzlingly beautiful, the medallion (medallion was the first word that came to Warren’s mind) could easily have been the centerpiece of a great king’s crown, or of a royal necklace. The object had seven equal sides.
A heptagon, Warren thought. It was a term he’d learned in last semester’s math.
Warren’s hand shook as he traced the perimeter of the heptagon with one finger. The object was about four inches across, and twice as thick as the old silver dollars in his uncle’s coin collection.
In the center of the heptagon was set a perfect circle of highly polished obsidian. The dazzling blue gems—there were seven of them, as well—were embedded in the gold and placed evenly about the obsidian circle. Warren turned the medallion over and saw that the back consisted of gleaming, hammered gold only.
He lifted the object slowly, reverently. It fit neatly in the palm of his hand and was so bright that it flashed in the warm morning light. It was beautiful. It was mesmerizing. It was …
Warren heard sudden, frenzied barking from the forest below and jumped to his feet. How had they scaled the hill so fast? How long had he been kneeling beside the skeleton? With a leap up the bank, he was off once more, bounding across the meadow and toward the sheltering forest beyond.
Warren had run perhaps fifteen feet when he realized he’d left the spear point with the skeleton. No time to retrieve it now. By the sound of it, the Finleys’ dogs would burst into the clearing at any moment. He had to make it to the trees—had to disappear into the forest—if he was to have any hope of escaping.



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