Friday, May 31, 2013

May Wrap Up

(YA) = Young Adult / (A) = Adult / (MG) = Middle Grade / (C) = Children
** Books read in previous months

Books Read and Reviewed in May:
(A) The Magic Circle by Jenny Davidson - Review (3/5)
(A) 24 Bones by Michael F. Stewart - Review (4/5)
(MG) Deadweather and  Sunrise by Geoff Rodkey - Review (4/5)**
(YA) Don't Hate the Player, Hate the Game by Katie Ashley - Review (3/5)
(MG) New Lands by Geoff Rodkey - Review (4/5)
(YA) Forbidden Sister by V.C. Andrews - Review (3/5)**
(A) First Born by Tricia Zoeller - Review (3/5)
(YA) The Rules for Disappearing by Ashley Elston - Review (4/5)
(YA) Tristis Manor by J.R. Wagner - Review (3/5)
(MG) The Trickster's Totem by H.B. Bolton - Review (3/5)
(YA) Game (Jasper Dent #2) by Barry Lyga - Review (5/5)
(YA) The Eternity Cure (Blood of Eden #2) - Review (3/5)

Total Reviewed: 12
Towards month totals: 10 

Books Read but not Reviewed:
(YA) The Fault in Our Stars by John Green (5/5)
(YA) Dirty Little Secrets by C.J. Omololu (4/5)
(MG) The Land of Stories: The Wishing Spell by Chris Colfer (4/5)
(YA) The Reece Malcom List by Amy Spaulding (4/5)
(YA) Strangelets by Michelle Gagnon (3/5)
(MG) The Accidental Time Traveller by Janis McKay (3/5)
(YA) The Program by Suzanne Young (5/5)
(A) The Blue Blazes (Mookie Pearl #1) by Chuck Wendig (5/5)

Total Books read in May: 18
Goal Progress: 73 out of 150 (49%)

Thursday, May 30, 2013

An Interview with Toni De Palma

Toni De Palma, author of The Devil's Triangle, is my guest on the blog today! She was kind enough to spend a stop on her blog tour here on HDB, and I even had the opportunity to interview her. Please enjoy, and don't forget to enter the giveaway at the end!

When 17 year old Cooper dies in an attempt to burn down his school, he finds himself in the afterlife. Lucy, the Devil's sister who has crossed party lines, decides to give Cooper another shot at heaven. The deal? Cooper returns to Earth and has to find a girl named Grace. The rest is up to him.

While Cooper figures out his mission, he's thrown into the life he's always wanted. Great parents, a spot on the Varsity football team and a real future are all within reach. But what he really wants is Grace, a feisty girl with an abusive boyfriend who can pound Cooper into pulp if he doesn't watch out.

While Lucy plays demonic-puppeteer, clues to an unknown past between Cooper and Grace start to unravel. Cooper discovers that what's keeping him and Grace apart is far more sinister than anything this bad boy could have ever imagined.

1) Hello Toni, and welcome to the blog! Let's start by getting to know you, shall we? If you were to sum yourself up in a tweet (just 140 characters) what would you say? 

I started off as Little Red Riding Hood and then realized I would much rather be The Big Bad Wolf.

2) I read in your bio that you grew up in Brooklyn. Can you share with us a favorite memory from your childhood there? 

Oh so many. I lived over a candy store and Saturday Night Fever was filmed in my neighborhood. I even caught a glimpse of John Travolta's ankle!

3) How would Cooper, our protagonist in The Devil's Triangle, try to convince us to read his story? 

He would probably try to bribe you with a pizza and then eat it himself. Then he would apologize profusely and you would just have to finally give in because he's so dang cute.

4) Random question time! What is one snack food that you simply cannot live without? 

Uhm...I probably gave that one away already. PIZZA! I even did a blog on pizza once. That's how much I love it.

5) What is your favorite part about being a writer? 

I love living in my own head and making sense of the world, since the world doesn't really make sense.

6) Finally, what would you like to say to potential readers out there? my book :) Actually, read my book and let's start a conversation. I love hearing other people's reviews of my work. I learn so much from the experience. Oh yeah, and have a slice of pizza while you're reading it :)

I grew up in Brooklyn, New York and when I was a kid I loved to wander the streets with my best friend John. We'd disappear for the whole day, returning conveniently when it was time for dinner. During the summer, I'd dance in the spray of the johnny pump (the fire hydrant). Some summers I'd spend in Ischia, the Italian island where my dad was from.

I have always loved to travel and wander. My most valued possession is my passport. I love to write stories that take me and my readers places and of course I love traveling places to do the research for my books (can you say write offs!). I write Middle Grade and YA both contemporary and paranormal romance but I like to read everything and discover new and unusual books.
Visit Toni: 

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Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday (5/29/13)

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Breaking The Spine! Each blogger spotlight one or more upcoming releases that they are eagerly awaiting.

This week I'm waiting on...

Asylum is a thrilling and creepy photo-novel perfect for fans of the New York Times bestseller Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children.

For sixteen-year-old Dan Crawford, New Hampshire College Prep is more than a summer program--it's a lifeline. An outcast at his high school, Dan is excited to finally make some friends in his last summer before college. But when he arrives at the program, Dan learns that his dorm for the summer used to be a sanatorium, more commonly known as an asylum. And not just any asylum--a last resort for the criminally insane.

As Dan and his new friends, Abby and Jordan, explore the hidden recesses of their creepy summer home, they soon discover it's no coincidence that the three of them ended up here. Because the asylum holds the key to a terrifying past. And there are some secrets that refuse to stay buried.

Featuring found photos of unsettling history and real abandoned asylums and filled with chilling mystery and page-turning suspense, Madeleine Roux's teen debut, Asylum, is a horror story that treads the line between genius and insanity.
Releases August 20, 2013

Anything regarding asylums generally makes my reading list. Where else can such creepy things take place? What I totally love about the synopsis is that it makes everything sound like a movie! Three friends, a mystery, and some horror story type occurrences? Yes please!

What are YOU waiting for?

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Book Review: The Eternity Cure

Media Type: Ebook (ARC)
Title: The Eternity Cure
   *Series: Blood of Eden #2
Author: Julie Kagawa
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Pages: Hardcover; 446
Release Date: April 30, 2013
Source: NetGalley
Content Screening: Violence; Adult Language

HDB Rating: 3 Keys to My Heart

Recommended to: Readers who are looking for a new take on the vampire genre.

Add it on: Goodreads / Shelfari / Amazon / B&N
Allison Sekemoto has vowed to rescue her creator, Kanin, who is being held hostage and tortured by the psychotic vampire Sarren. The call of blood leads her back to the beginning—New Covington and the Fringe, and a vampire prince who wants her dead yet may become her wary ally.

Even as Allie faces shocking revelations and heartbreak like she’s never known, a new strain of the Red Lung virus that decimated humanity is rising to threaten human and vampire alike.

Last year I read the first book in the Blood of Eden series, The Immortal Rules. I devoured it, raved about it, and then began waiting rather impatiently for the next book in the series. When The Eternity Cure was offered to me for review, of course I snapped it up! Julie Kagawa has done for the vampire genre what I didn't think possible; she's made it kick-ass again.

This new installment opens up with Allie on a quest to rescue her sire. I was instantly transported back into the gritty, vampire-run world that Kagawa had built for me in the last book. The difference this time, of course, was that Allie was on the side of the majority. If you're a vampire in a vampire-run world, there's nothing to be afraid of...right? Wrong. From the beginning Allie is thrown twist after twist until it seems like she just can't catch a break.

Now here comes the part where I explain why I didn't quite love this book as much as the first one. The Eternity Cure has a lot going for it. Allison is still a very strong, kick-ass heroine, Kanin is still a heartthrob, and we even get Zeke back (which I can't deny made me giddy). However the problem for me was that I could see everything coming around the bend. I missed being surprised.

I completely understood that there was really no more character growth for Allie to go through. The end of the last book showed a girl who had mostly accepted her transformation. Thus, all the inner battles she waged, and the way she pushed others away from her, felt forced to me. I felt like they placed simply to create tension, and it was tough for me to like Allie as much this time around. I also felt like a lot of the action was very linear and there were a lack of really big confrontations. It made this a much slower read for me.

Despite it all, I know I'll continue the series. I will follow Allison, Kanin and all the rest into the sunset for as long as they choose to travel. What I really believe is just that The Eternity Cure suffered from middle book syndrome in my eyes. There was a lot that needed to happen, that needed to be explained, to set up what is coming next. This book definitely moves things forward. The only thing I am truly grumpy about is the ending, but I'll leave that for you to discover. Suffice it to say that this wasn't my favorite installment, but I'll still be back for more.

Other books in the series:
The Immortal Rules (Blood of Eden #1)

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, May 27, 2013

Book Review: Game

Media Type: Print Book
Title: Game
   *Series: Jasper Dent #2
Author: Barry Lyga
Publisher: Little, Brown Young Readers
Pages: Hardcover; 528
Release Date: April 16, 2013
Source: Library
Content Screening: Violence; Adult Language

HDB Rating: 5 Keys to My Heart

Recommended to: Readers with a strong stomach who don't mind darker reads.

Add it on: Goodreads / Shelfari / Amazon / B&N
Billy grinned. “Oh, New York,” he whispered. “We’re gonna have so much fun.”

I Hunt Killers introduced the world to Jazz, the son of history’s most infamous serial killer, Billy Dent.

In an effort to prove murder didn’t run in the family, Jazz teamed with the police in the small town of Lobo’s Nod to solve a deadly case. And now, when a determined New York City detective comes knocking on Jazz’s door asking for help, he can’t say no. The Hat-Dog Killer has the Big Apple–and its police force–running scared. So Jazz and his girlfriend, Connie, hop on a plane to the big city and get swept up in a killer’s murderous game. 

Jazz's life has gotten somewhat back to normal, or at least as normal as Jasper Dent's life could ever be. Plagued by the same questions, and the same inner battle, he just can't seem to let himself rest. The only thing that quells the demons is Jazz's new passion; hunting killers. So when New York's finest calls upon him to help catch the Hat-Dog Killer, he answers.

Pulled out of the safety of his small town, and taken away from the people who hold him together, Game shows an even stronger Jazz than the previous book. I was amazed at how much he grew during the story. Not only is he faced with an unfamiliar city, he also has to put together the pieces of a brand new serial killer's rampage. Watching Jazz fight off his inner demons, while simultaneously hunting for a true demon, kept things moving lightning fast. True to form, Lyga throws in twists and turns galore. Just when you think you've figured things out, you haven't. Trust me, it's frustrating in the best way possible.

Connie also plays a much bigger role in this book. Jazz's feelings for her have always been tempered with the possibility he might someday snap. That's what I loved about their relationship in the first place. However in this book we really see how strong Jazz has to be to keep his life at an even keel. Best of all, Connie gets much more hands-on with the action! She is one feisty girl, and I couldn't help but want to follow her. If there was ever a girl who was worthy of Jasper Dent, Connie is it.

I could babble on and on about the perfectly placed clues, the brilliant writing style, or the new characters who come into play, but then this review would essentially end up as a book itself. The highest compliment I can give Barry Lyga and Game is that 528 pages flew by in what felt like seconds. I was left holding a book, with a gaping maw, and lamenting the fact that there were no more pages left to read. There's one heck of a cliffhanger here, so don't say I didn't warn you. You should definitely pick up a copy of this book and, in the meantime, I'll be sitting here. Whimpering and waiting for more.

Other books in this series:
I Hunt Killers (Jasper Dent #1)

Saturday, May 25, 2013

What's Your Animal Totem?: A Guest Post by H.B. Bolton

Please welcome H.B. Bolton to the blog! Touring with her newest book in the Relics of Mysticus series, The Trickster's Totem, H.B. is here to share with you some of the myth behind the story!

What’s Your Animal Totem? 

Animal totems instruct and protect each of us as we learn how to navigate through our life’s journey. They are with us for a period of time and then are replaced by another animal, depending on the direction we are headed. The notion of our being guided by an animal is not limited to Native American beliefs. In fact, similar totemlike beliefs have been present throughout much of the world, including Africa, Arabia, Asia, Australia, Eastern Europe, Western Europe and the Arctic polar region.

Animal totems play an important role in The Trickster’s Totem. Not only is the featured Relic shaped like a coyote trickster, but every person in the Native American Spirit World can transform into his/her personal animal totem. This comes in handy when the young Brave, Chayton, needs to soar over the desert sand. It’s no coincidence that his name is Sioux for “falcon.” And things really get interesting when Evan and Claire learn what their animal totems are.

One Winged Totem with Clouds - photo credit

Discover which animal guides you by asking yourself these questions:

1. What is your favorite animal, bird or insect?
2. Is there an animal that you use in your artwork, are in the books you enjoy, or decorate your room?
3. Is there an animal that you see a lot of in your daily life?
4. What animal are you currently interested in learning about?
5. What animal do you find most frightening or intriguing?
6. Is there an animal that recurs in your dreams? 

Two Totem with Clouds - photo credit

Here are some totems and what they symbolize:

1. Alligator/Crocodile – Fearless, quick, protective of young, adaptable, strong, keepers of ancient wisdom, aggressive and vengeful.
2. Bat – Perceptive, able to pick up the unheard and read between the lines, secrecy, social, and encourages one to release fears and let go of old ways.
3. Bear – Powerful, courageous, natural healer, connection to the moon, protective, wise, fearless, devoted and overconfident.
4. Bee – Aware, hard worker, organized, efficient, clean, compulsive, productive and wise.
5. Bull/Cow – Strong, courageous, passionate, proud, patient and warns against being bull-headed.
6. Cat – Fortunate, mysterious, independent, protective, wise, self-assured, searcher of hidden information, creative, natural healer and observant.
7. Coyote – Trickster, cunning, easily adaptable, instinctive, intelligent, playful, enjoys laughter, plays tricks on people, and is able to hide sadness with humor.
8. Crab – Protection, lucky, shy, sensitive, defensive, having deep emotions, difficult to trust others, nurturing, can be overly cautious and crabby.
9. Dolphin – Kind, wise, happy, playful, having deep emotions, harmonious, communication, empathetic, trustful, aware, generous and curious.
10. Dragon – Honest, courageous, strong, peaceful warrior, mysterious and magical.
11. Dragonfly – Carefree, imaginative, flighty, might have vivid dreams, aware, and encourages one to make changes in one’s life.
12. Dove – Messenger, peaceful, harmonious, gentle, healing abilities and sensitive.
13. Eagle – Intelligent, good eye for seeing the truth, observant, risk taker, courageous, likes adventure and personal freedom, visionary, and puts ideas into action.
14. Falcon – Signifies new beginnings, likes adventure, passionate, leader, focused, determined, quick, and patient with others.
15. Fox – Quick-witted, likes solitude, adaptable, cunning, independent, self-reliant, intuitive, clever, observant, swift, and very good hearing and sight.
16. Horse – Goddess of the land, likes freedom and travel, strong, graceful, loyal, truthful, adventurous, encourages one to follow one’s dreams, and is able to see the good and the bad in others.
17. Ladybug – Love, good fortune, offers protection, cheerful, creative, has strong family ties, social and communicative.
18. Lion – Strong, courageous, leader, protective, family oriented, high energy levels, gentle and patient.
19. Mouse – Quiet, shy, wise, sociable, adaptable, determined, cautious, modest and faces his fears.
20. Owl – Bird of magic, insight, freedom, silently wise, has powers to heal, honest, connection to the moon and night, observant, mysterious and perceptive.
21. Rabbit – Curious, territorial, fertile, cautious, quick thinkers, fearless and self-confident.
22. Snake – Impulsive, wise, representative of transformation, has healing powers, intelligent, aware, patient, and symbolic of a new life cycle about to begin.
23. Spider – Protective, enjoys own company, always busy, fragile, creative, clever, cunning, intelligent, patient and against acting in a manipulative way.
24. Tiger – Strong, high levels of energy, powerful, outgoing, willful, passionate, devoted, ambitious, adventurous, might prefer the night rather than the day, bold and daring.
25. Wolf – Loyal, intuitive, intelligent, sociable, strong family ties, protective, cunning, quick, observant, wise, generous, compassionate, friendly, communicative and faithful.

A magical part of H.B. Bolton’s childhood was being swept into worlds of enchanting characters, fantastical creatures and extraordinary powers—simply by picking up a book. As a mother and a teacher, she was compelled to create imaginary worlds of her own in order to share them, not just with her children, but with all children. H.B. Bolton lives in Florida with her supportive husband and two highly spirited children. Shh, can you keep a secret? Not only does she write books for the young-at-heart, adventurous sort who yearn to dive into a good young-adult fantasy story, she also writes spellbinding, heart pounding women's fiction. These particular books are written under the name Barbara Brooke, but that's another story, altogether.
Books by H.B. Bolton:
The Serpent's Ring (Relics of Mysticus, Book One)
Breaking Down (a short story)
Hungry (a short story)
Coming May 1, 2013
The Trickster's Totem (Relics of Mysticus, Book Two)

Book Links: 

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Friday, May 24, 2013

Book Review: The Trickster's Totem

Media Type: Ebook
Title: The Trickster's Totem
   * Series: Relics of Mysticus
Author: H.B. Bolton
Publisher: Self-published
Pages: Paperback; 226
Release Date: April 15, 2013
Source: Author
Content Screening: Nothing of note

HDB Rating: 3 Keys to My Heart

Recommended to: Readers who love a good adventure story with young protagonists

Add it on: Goodreads / Shelfari / Amazon / B&N
Life has returned to normal for fourteen-year-old Evan and his older sister, Claire. That is until Dunkle, a clever but stinky little imp, pays an unexpected visit to their school. He has come to take the siblings back to Sagaas, the mythical realm of the gods. Once again, a Relic from the ancient Mysticus Orb has fallen into the wrong hands. Only Evan and Claire, with their unique mystical abilities, can help find it.

Through the power of the Trickster’s Totem, a coyote trickster has escaped. His laughter echoes throughout the realm, as he spreads mischief and mayhem. He burns an entire crop of popcorn, carves his grinning image into sacred artifacts, and things really get interesting when he shape-shifts into Evan’s friends.

Claire and Evan must capture the Trickster, retrieve the Totem, and be careful not to become sidetracked by robotic Steampunk animals, “sweet” pixie-like Pains, and a problematic mermaid … all while dodging Mothman-like aces. Most surprising, Evan discovers the true reason dragons exist in the Native American Spirit World.

The Trickster's Totem is the second book in H.B. Bolton's "Relics of Mysticus" series and, I'll admit, I was a little worried about not starting from the beginning. However I can assure readers out there that this book stands alone just fine. It might take you a few pages to catch up, but soon you'll be adventuring right along with Evan and Claire.

I have to say that I've always been a huge fan of Middle Grade protagonists. Evan and Claire are no exception to this rule. Strong, witty, and very resourceful, I had a lot of fun following along with them in their journey. I will be honest and say that I wasn't a huge fan of Evan at first. He has a bit of a big brother complex! However the more I read, the more I saw the link between these two siblings and how strong it was. Plus I've been assured by other readers that the Evan in the first book was nothing like he is here. Perhaps he's just going through growing pains? Makes sense to me.

In terms of story, I definitely enjoyed the concept of totems and spirit animals that H.B. Bolton brings to life. The Trickster's Totem has a lot of elements from myths and legends I've heard before, but with its own twist. The story does move a little slowly at times. However I really think that this was because Bolton is trying help readers, like myself, who are starting at this second book catch up a bit. Once the book picked up, and the journey began, I was much more involved.

I'm curious to go back and read the first book now, both because I want to see where the story begins, and I want to see how our characters grow. Evan and Claire have a lot of potential, and I know that young readers will adore the witty banter that goes on between these siblings. Truth is, I liked it too. I'll definitely be continuing along with this series.

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, May 23, 2013

1000 Follower Celebration!

Well my friends, you've made me the happiest blogger this side of the blogosphere!

I often talk about how I'll always blog, whether I have 5 followers or 500. How I'll continue to rant and rave about books no matter what. It's the truth! However I think we all know that it feels nice to look at that number in the sidebar and know people are reading your ramblings.

To show my appreciation, and utter elation, I've decided a giveaway is in order!


1 winner will receive a $25 gift card to Amazon
Spend it on books, or don't. Maybe spend it on socks? In fact, if you do spend it on cool socks I totally want a picture.

2 winners will receive a $5 gift card to Amazon 
For those of you who are Indie supporters like moi, that's a fun amount to spend on ebooks! Does anyone else have a huge wishlist going?

Now then, as always, you do not have to be a follower to enter. I will never force you to read my ramblings in order to win a prize :). However if you are a follower, you can claim some extra entries! Consider it my extra thank you for putting up with my randomness.

Once again thank you SO MUCH!
(Oh and if you do choose socks, I totally suggest these...)

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Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Book Review: Tristis Manor

Media Type: Ebook
Title: Tristis Manor
   * Series: Novella in The Never Chronicles
Author: J.R. Wagner
Publisher: Solomon Claw Publishing
Pages: Ebook; 107
Release Date: March 20, 2013
Source: NetGalley
Content Screening: Mild Violence, Tough Situations

HDB Rating: 3 Keys to My Heart

Recommended to: Readers who are okay with tough issues in their reading.

Add it on: Goodreads / Shelfari / Amazon / B&N
Margaret lives in a constant state of fear. Fear of her mother, whose constant state of anger and unwillingness to speak of Margaret's past have long since pushed Margaret away. Fear of disappointing her father should he ever discover the events of that day. Most of all, Margaret lives in fear of her abuser's return. Margaret turns to self-harm to cope with her pain and fear. Only when her self-inflicted injuries bring her near death does she realize she has the power and the support from an unlikely place to stand up to her fears and believe in herself again. Tristis Manor is a novella from The Never Chronicles, an epic fantasy series.

Last year I dove into J.R. Wagner's Exiled, and fell in love with the fantasy world he had built. When I found out that Tristis Manor was an Exiled novella, I was excited. I was looking forward to the opportunity to get to know one of the characters better.

At roughly 170 pages, this is a quick look into Margaret's past. A fair warning to readers, her story is not an easy one to read. We meet a girl whose mother mistreats her, who uses pain to escape her reality and who, most of all, has a deep dark secret she can't let go of. I saw none of the magic from the Exiled world, just the quiet inner battle of a young girl.

My first thoughts upon finishing Tristis Manor were very jumbled. It's been quite a while since I last read Exiled, and so I couldn't quite remember how Margaret fit in until after I'd read a bit. I was also torn because this story is so sad, yet poignant at the same time. At the end of the day I am glad I took a chance on this novella. I'm now even more eager for the next official installment in the Exiled series.

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, May 20, 2013

Book Review: The Rules for Disappearing

Media Type: Ebook (ARC)
Title: The Rules for Disappearing
Author: Ashley Elston
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Pages: Hardcover; 320
Release Date: May 14, 2013
Source: NetGalley
Content Screening: Nothing of note

HDB Rating: 4 Keys to My Heart

Recommended to: Fans of quick moving novels with vivid characters and true to life situations.

Add it on: Goodreads / Shelfari / Amazon / B&N
She’s been six different people in six different places: Madeline in Ohio, Isabelle in Missouri, Olivia in Kentucky . . . But now that she’s been transplanted to rural Louisiana, she has decided that this fake identity will be her last.

Witness Protection has taken nearly everything from her. But for now, they’ve given her a new name, Megan Rose Jones, and a horrible hair color. For the past eight months, Meg has begged her father to answer one question: What on earth did he do – or see – that landed them in this god-awful mess? Meg has just about had it with all the Suits’ rules — and her dad’s silence. If he won’t help, it’s time she got some answers for herself.

But Meg isn’t counting on Ethan Landry, an adorable Louisiana farm boy who’s too smart for his own good. He knows Meg is hiding something big. And it just might get both of them killed. As they embark on a perilous journey to free her family once and for all, Meg discovers that there’s only one rule that really matters — survival.

Whoa. I'm not sure how else to describe The Rules for Disappearing in just one word, except to start with that. Madeline, Olivia, Meg; call her what you will but our main character is definitely one strong female. Constantly shipped from place to place, sometimes without a moments notice, her life isn't easy. What Ashley Elston builds is a world where a family is on the run, and our main character can't remember why. All that matters is survival.

I have to say that I never really pondered how tough the Witness Protection program could be. I loved reading from Meg's perspective because she wasn't one to sugar coat anything. I met a girl who was so strong, that she would shun real life if it meant keeping her sister safe. A girl who has been so many different people in such a short amount of time, that she can't recall what parts of her are real anymore. Meg is real. She's raw.  She's honest. That's what makes this such an amazing read.

It helps of course that we have a swoon-worthy male lead as well. Ethan Landry is the southern boy we all wish we had. Sweet, smart, and absolutely stubborn, I couldn't help but adore his character. What really impressed me was how Ashley Elston brings these two together. From the moment they meet, there is tension. How do you hide your past and still let someone else in? Watching Ethan and Meg dance around the truth is maddening and intriguing at the same time.

While Meg definitely made some decisions I didn't agree with, and I won't deny physically yelling at the book, everything weaves together into one fantastic story. There is the element of mystery surrounding Meg's situation, the tension filled romance with Ethan, and even a few funny moments. I all but devoured this book, and highly suggest you go and do the same.

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, May 19, 2013

Weekly Rewind (5/19/13)

In which I try to convince you that you absolutely must read two of the series that I adore :). Trust me, I'm pretty persuasive.

                  Bout of Books 7.0 
My sign up post for the Bout of Books read-a-thon! It's nearly over, but trust me when I say that you absolutely must try this next time it comes around. It's so fun!

                  Bout of Books Challenge: Spine Poetry
Creating poetry out of book spines? You know it! This was my first challenge post for the Bout of Books read-a-thon!

A follow up to Deadweather and Sunrise, Geoff Rodkey is back with more pirates and more action! If you haven't had a chance to dive in yet, here's another review to convince you to start.

Clay Held has written a book that is currently capturing my attention. With a quirky main character, and an undertone of witchcraft, this sounds like my kind of book! Check out the link to read a sample!

Are you a V.C. Andrews fan? I remember being a huge one when I was younger, and I'm rediscovering why I loved her writing. 

Tricia Zoeller's First Born was a book with an interesting premise, a rollicking plot line, and just a few issues. Check out my review for more.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Book Review: First Born

Media Type: Print Book
Title: First Born
   *Series: Lily Moore #1
Author: Tricia Zoeller
Publisher: Blue Portal Press LLC
Pages: Not specified.
Release Date: May 6, 2013
Source: Author
Genre: Urban Fantasy

HDB Rating: 3 Keys to My Heart

Recommended to: Readers who are fans of the Urban Fantasy genre, and enjoy tough female characters.

Add it on: Goodreads / Shelfari / Amazon / B&N
When twenty-six-year-old graphic designer Lily Moore shapeshifts for the first time, Atlanta police detectives consult wildlife experts to sort through the bizarre forensic evidence she leaves in her wake. Her traumatic transformation coincides with murder and Lily finds herself the center of a mad vortex of area crimes.

On the run, Lily turns to her younger brother to help unravel the secrets surrounding her boyfriend’s death as well as unlock the mysteries of their Chinese heritage. When a loved one goes missing, Lily finds herself scrambling to find purchase in this new world where there hasn’t been balance for a century.

As she learns to master her new preternatural abilities, she must cut through the lies of those around her. With the police and a killer hot on her trail, can she solve the mystery of being First Born or will family secrets prove deadly?

When I first saw the blurb for First Born, I knew that it was something I'd definitely read. Lily Moore sounded like exactly my type of character. A woman who is put into a crazy situation, and deals with it like the strong female she is. I eagerly broke into this book and waited to be blown away.

What I noticed first off was that the beginning was a little choppy. I'll fully admit that it may have been that I was reading an ARC, but it took me around 30 pages to fully figure out what was going on with Lily. From the synopsis I surmised that she was a shapeshifter, but it is what she shifts into that was so confusing. Once I had a handle on what was happening, I had a little better time following along. I'm glad I kept reading, because things really picked up after that.

In fact, I actually liked Lily the further I read. She starts out a little bit lost, and definitely not a confident character. I sympathized with her and the craziness of the situation she was put into. Still, I really wanted to see the girl who mastered her fear. I wanted to see some butt-kicking! I did eventually get my wish. However, as I mentioned above, it does take a while to get to this point. There is a lot that Lily needs to learn about her past, and we learn it right along with her.

While First Born wasn't everything I was hoping for, it was a pretty solid read. I definitely see potential in Lily Moore's storyline, and I'd love to learn more about her. In the next book I hope the beginning is a little more fleshed out. As I said though, give this one more than just the first few pages and you'll likely enjoy it in the end! I'm looking forward to more from Tricia Zoeller.

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, May 16, 2013

Book Review: Forbidden Sister

Media Type: Print Book (ARC)
Title: Forbidden Sister
   *Series: The Forbidden #1
Author: V.C. Andrews
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Pages: Paperback; 432
Release Date: February 26, 2103
Source: Publisher
Content Screening: Mild Violence and Sexual Situations

HDB Rating: 3 Keys to My Heart

Recommended to: Readers who enjoy V.C. Andrews as an author, and books with tougher subjects.

Add it on: Goodreads / Shelfari / Amazon / B&N
When Emmie Wilcox, the younger daughter of Norton and Vivian Wilcox, was seven, her father, frustrated with his older daughter Roxanne's misbehavior and defiance, told her to get out. At seventeen, Roxy left. Norton forbid her name be mentioned again and refused to call the police to find her and force her to return. Nearly eight years later, Emmie learns that her sister has become a highpriced New York call girl, living in a fancy hotel only a dozen blocks away. She sets out to spy on her sister and thus sets off a series of events and adventures that nearly tear her fragile family apart.

I haven't read a V.C. Andrews book in many years, so I was very excited to be offered Forbidden Sister for review. It took me a little while to get into the grove of this book, as it moves a slower than what I've been reading lately. Andrews does what she does best, and gives the reader a window into a flawed family and their hidden lives. A father that is military in his parenting style, a mother that is a wilting flower, and two daughters who are as different as night and day make up our cast of characters. I settled into the book, and hoped to learn more about them.

It took me a while to warm up to Emmie. Living in the shadow of her older sister Roxy, her father micro manages her life to keep her out of trouble. What is surprising, or at least was to me, is that Emmie isn't more upset about her situation. In fact, she almost thrives on it. Truthfully, this does make the tragedy that occurs even more devastating. The end of her innocence, and the need to grow up in a hurry, end up being what really drive this book forward.

Which of course brings Roxy into the picture. Although she comes across as extremely cold, it's hard not to see underneath the frosty shell. I met a young woman who was so tired of being held under her father's thumb, that she fought back the only way she knew how. By escape. Turning to the world of high-priced escorting was the means to an end. Emmie thinks it must be a glamorous life filled with money and clothes, but is it? This book doesn't just touch on growing up, it touches on the difficult choices we have to make to survive.

My biggest problem with this book, and the reason I didn't rate it higher, is just that it moves so slowly. I'll also admit that I also didn't always agree with Emmie's decisions. It's tough to love these sisters when you really look at the lives that they've built for themselves. Nonetheless, this is a definite V.C. Andrews book. I can see fans of her work adoring this slightly dark 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.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Spotlight on The Warner Grimoire - Book One: Bad Apple

Today's spotlight is on a book I have on my wishlist, and you should too! It was brought to my attention a few days ago, and I'm desperately working to clear space so I can devour it whole.

Meet Simon Warner, a fourteen-year-old who drowned. Death was just the beginning. Dying awakens an angry and malevolent force inside Simon–magic, and before he can comprehend his mystical transformation his adopted father is kidnapped during a mysterious fire that destroys their home.

Within hours Simon is violently yanked into the supernatural world, where the real trouble starts: he is the descendent of an evil sorcerer, and the magical community isn't exactly welcoming of him. Making matters worse, Simon finds himself on a collision course with the forces of the deranged Silas Darrow, a charming yet xenophobic warlock who fears humanity will one day eradicate all magic. In order to protect "his" people, this false messiah intends to strike first.

Magic--it may have saved Simon's life, but it may have just doomed the world.

The Warner Grimoire sounds like something I would totally love! Quirky male main character, witchcraft, and best of all an internal battle between good and evil. I don't know about you, but this sounds like quite a read to me!

Visit The Warner Grimoire Website for a FREE SAMPLE!

I'm Clay Held, a refugee from wild world of video game testing, currently a project manager passing my days in the wild (and very flat) plains of Central Illinois. Once upon a time I was the editor for Grassroots Literary Magazine at Southern Illinois University Carbondale, where I earned my Bachelors of Arts in Creative Writing. Today I help make sure software ships on time, and at night I'm busy making things up and writing them down.

 In my spare time (what is that again?) I like to read and cook and play with my cats and maintain my blog at When the weather is right, I go storm spotting. Illinois is good like that.

You can find Clay Held at:

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Book Review: New Lands

Media Type: Print Book (ARC)
Title: New Lands
   * Series: The Chronicles of Egg #2
Author: Geoff Rodkey
Publisher: Putnam Juvenile
Pages: Hardcover; 336
Release Date: May 2, 2013
Source: Publisher
Content Screening: Mild Violence

HDB Rating: 4 Keys to My Heart

Recommended to: Fans of the series, as well as readers who love a good adventure story!

Add it on: Goodreads / Shelfari / Amazon / B&N
After a narrow escape from Deadweather Island, Egg and his slightly deranged partner Guts head for the remote New Lands. They’re in search of the lost Okalu tribe, who hold the key to the mysterious treasure map that Egg can't decipher.

But the ruthless Roger Pembroke is hard on Egg's trail, and the New Lands are full of new enemies — against which our heroes only weapons are their brains, their courage...and the two dozen swear words Guts just memorized in the local tongue.

They're going to need help.

But who can they trust?

Is Kira, the beautiful and heavily armed Okalu refugee, their ally…or their enemy? Is Pembroke's daughter Millicent on Egg's side…or her father's? Why on earth is the notorious pirate Burn Healy being so nice to them? And the biggest question of all: what shocking secret is Egg about to discover in the shadow of an ancient Okalu temple?

Since I was so very charmed by Geoff Rodkey's first installment in the Chronicles of Egg series, I couldn't wait to read New Lands! I was looking forward to more adventures, and greatly hoping that some of my questions from the last book would be answered. I was nervous as I turned the first page.

Luckily, I had nothing to worry about. New Lands turned out to be just as quirky and enjoyable as its predecessor. Rodkey reintroduces our faithful travelling companions and then, best of all, gives us some new ones to fall in love with. What I loved about this book was how much more in-depth the reader is allowed to see into the characters. Egg, Millicent, and even Guts, each begin to grow up right before our eyes.

Egg especially comes into his own during the course of this book. His new, mature attitude makes a definite impact on his travels this time. He finally begins to understand that he doesn't need to lean on his family for support, but that his strength comes from within. Rodkey allows Egg the perfect balance between childishness and adulthood, making for a beautiful adventure.

Rich with new lands (no pun intended) and problems to face, this is a very fast moving book. Whether it's chasing ancient weapons, battling curses, or figuring out who might be a traitor, Egg and his companions never have a moment's rest. Although this series is a bit darker than I expected, it is absolutely well written. I can't wait to see what happens next!

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, May 13, 2013

Bout of Books - Spine Poetry Challenge

Bout of Books

Time for my first Bout of Books 7.0 Challenge!

Escape Through the Pages has challenged us to create a poem out of book spines. Sounds easy enough, right? The catch is, that you can only add in as many extra words as you have books. *phew* This one took me a while to figure out, but here's what I came up with!

My Dark Life
like a Forbidden
No, Not That Kind of Girl

*giggles* I had to work with what I had.


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