Tuesday, April 30, 2013

And...Discuss! Mount TBR and scheduled reading.


And...Discuss is a way for me to share a topic I've been thinking about, ramble about it for a bit, and then open the floor to your opinions. An open forum for bookaholics!

This time the topic is....

SCHEDULED READING: YAY OR NAY?

This week I thought I'd talk about a topic that's been weighing on my mind a lot lately, especially since my review TBR pile has gotten rather out of control.

 If you're like me, you get so focused on wanting to read ALL THE BOOKS that you forget you're only one person and (rather unfortunately) can't devote your entire day to reading. 


As Mount TBR is nearly toppling over, I've taken a break from accepting books for review. Now the question is, what do I do with the books that are waiting patiently for me to read them? 

 Setting up a calendar has helped a bit, because I can plan to read 5-6 review books a month, and still have the opportunity to read randomly too. I can't deny that I'm one of those people who loves to flit through the library, pick a book on a whim, and take it home to devour. Does my inner bookworm care that there is a pile of books at home? Of course not! 
Libraries are just so... shiny. 


Enough about my lack of self control though, here's the discussion question...

How do you handle ALL THE BOOKS you want to read? Do you schedule out your reading, or read whatever strikes you at the moment?


Sunday, April 28, 2013

Book Review: Professor Gargoyle



Media Type: Print Book
Title: Professor Gargoyle
   *Series: Tales From Lovecraft Middle School #1
Author: Charles Gilman
Publisher: Quirk Books
Pages: Hardcover; 168
Release Date: September 25, 2012
Source: Publisher
--------------------------------------------------------------
Content Screening: Mild Cartoonish Violence

HDB Rating:  Keys to My Heart

Recommended to: Readers who love a good giggle! I think this is the Wayside School of the new generation.

Add it on: Goodreads / Shelfari / Amazon / B&N
Strange things are happening at Lovecraft Middle School. Rats are leaping from lockers. Students are disappearing. The school library is a labyrinth of secret corridors. And the science teacher is acting very, very peculiar. Robert Arthur knew that seventh grade was going to be weird, but this is ridiculous!

With the help of some unlikely new friends, Robert discovers there's more to Lovecraft Middle School than meets the eye. Can he uncover the secrets of the school before it's too late?

Robert Arthur has been plucked out of his usual school, and placed in Lovecraft Middle School on the south side of his town. Sadly none of his friends came with him. Even worse the school bully, Glenn Torkells, did. If that's not bad enough, there's definitely something wrong with Robert's new school. Rats in the lockers, strange looking teachers, and even mysterious ooze?

It's okay though, Robert is no wimp. While he might have a bully problem, I loved how quick he was to take on every other crazy thing that happened to him. This first book spans a mere three weeks in Robert's new school, and what a three weeks it is! When students start disappearing, it is Robert who takes up the role of leader and sets off to make things right. He's a hero in the making, and it's so hard not to fall in love with him.

What really struck me though is how unapologetically Gilman mixes humor, grossness, and even a bit of horror into this book. I remember being a young reader, giggling while I read books from authors like Roald Dahl and Louis Sachar. Books that were a bit creepy, a bit crazy, and a whole lot of fun! That's what I was reliving as I powered through this book. I feel like the balance here is very well done. Best of all the ending sets things up perfectly for another book but, and here's the kicker, it actually wraps everything up too! Who knew you could have both? Thanks for that Mr. Gilman!

As you can see from the copious use of exclamation marks, this is a book I found utterly enjoyable. I know without a doubt that this is going to be a series that flies off the shelves. If you have a reluctant reader, put this book in their hands! The story is great, it's a quick read, and it even has a "lenticular" cover that shifts from human to monster. If that alone isn't a good enough reason to purchase, I don't know what is. Buy a copy and get ready to enter Lovecraft Middle School.


Friday, April 26, 2013

Book Review: The Fourth Channel



Media Type: Ebook
Title: The Fourth Channel
Author: Jen Kirchner
Publisher: Self-published
Pages: Kindle; 312
Release Date: December 3, 2012
Source: Author
-----------------------------------------------
Genre: Urban Fantasy

HDB Rating: 3 Keys to My Heart

Recommended to: Fans of Urban Fantasy with a mix of magic and mystery.

Add it on: Goodreads / Shelfari / Amazon / B&N
For years, Kari Hunter's fooled the world into thinking she's just an everyday girl. Sure, she's the lead singer of world-renowned band Vis Viva, but outside of that, she recycles religiously, is an avid supporter of the environment, and a certifiable coffee addict. But Kari has a secret she keeps from her family, friends, and her fans.

Kari Hunter is a necromancer.

The rarest and most powerful of all magic-born, necromancers are notorious for leaving a trail of sacrifices in their wake. But Kari isn't interested in hurting anyone. She works hard at being as un-necromancer-like as possible: everyone she stabs gets a bandage and a lollipop, and whenever her sacrificial knives get too excited at the prospect of violence, she puts them in time-out... in her lingerie drawer.

But when an agent of voodoo master Ruairi O'Bryne catches Kari using her powers, her secret's out. And if Ruairi finds out who Kari is, he'll stop at nothing to make her his next sacrifice.

The Fourth Channel is a book that amazed me and frustrated me in equal measures. After reading I'm still battling with how to explain how I feel. So here's my best attempt at sharing my reading thoughts with you.

Right off the bat, things were a little confusing. Despite this being a debut novel, Kari's story starts off in a place that feels very much like the middle of a book. I was thrown straight into the action and I floundered at the beginning. I felt stressed trying to catch up with who Kari was, why she so was special, and I wondered what I had missed. 

However, the more I read, the easier it was to keep reading. The world built here is rich and vibrant, and once I understood the idea of channels, I loved the concept. Imagine a world where magic flows through everything. Where a necromancer can use that power to move the earth itself. It's an amazing idea, and I wanted to know so much more than I was given. Hopefully this is the first in a series so I can dive deeper!

I also found myself loving Kari as a character. She's funny, tough, and just emotional enough to show that she is human. The secret that she carries, her necromancer heritage, makes her an intriguing character to follow. I loved uncovering new parts of her as she interacted with her band mates, kicked some gratuitous butt, and solved the mystery happening right in front of her. Again, I would've loved to learn more about her, but she was the most well fleshed out of all the characters.

To be honest, the book really was a fun read. I just wish I would have been able to get more insight into Kari's past before I was thrown into it all. The Fourth Channel seems like it would work perfectly as the second book in a series. Perhaps we can get a prequel with more information about Kari, her family, and her powers? I feel like the lack of explanation is going to turn a lot of readers away from finishing, which is a shame because it truly is a great story! Very original.




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

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Spotlight and Excerpt: The Mapmaker's War




Today I'm spotlighting a book that is currently sitting in my TBR pile, and that looks utterly fabulous. The Mapmaker's War is a book about adventure, loss and redemption. I'm here to convince you that it needs a spot on your reading list as well! Check out the synopsis.

This will be the map of your heart, old woman. In an ancient time, in a faraway land, a young woman named Aoife is allowed a rare apprenticeship to become her kingdom's mapmaker, tasked with charting the entire domain. Traveling beyond its borders, she finds a secretive people who live in peace, among great wealth. They claim to protect a mythic treasure, one connected to the creation of the world. When Aoife reports their existence to her kingdom, the community is targeted as a threat. Attempting to warn them of imminent danger, Aoife is exiled for treason and finds refuge among the very people who had been declared her enemy. With them, she begins a new life surrounded by kindness, equality, and cooperation. But within herself, Aoife has no peace. She cannot share the grief she feels for the home and children she left behind. She cannot bear the warrior scars of the man she comes to love. And when she gives birth to their gifted daughter, Aoife cannot avoid what the child forces her to confront about her past and its truth. On this most important of journeys, there is no map to guide her. In this tale -- her autobiography -- Aoife reveals her pain and joy, and ultimately her transformation.

The Mapmaker's War is a mesmerizing, utterly original adventure about love and loss and the redemptive power of the human spirit. Watch for its epic sequel, The Chronicle of Secret Riven, in 2014.

In case you're not already sold, Atria Books was kind enough to send along an excerpt to entice you to read the full book. As soon as I read this piece, I knew I'd be reading this book. Here's hoping that you'll feel the same way. Enjoy!

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

Chapter One
By Ronlyn Domingue,
Author of The Mapmaker's War: A Legend

You the mapmaker traveled three long years and charted a fraction of the kingdom. The King wished for faster results, but he knew you and your crew gave him more than he had expected. He himself walked some of the maps on his own and encountered no missed marks or wrong turns. Despite your wish to work through that fourth winter as well, the King summoned you home for a long respite. You had earned it and, you knew, others had insisted.

How strange it was to return home, a woman of twenty. You had been away for so long. The first step over the threshold, and you fell under a familiar spell.You slept in your girlhood bed, under your father's roof and your mother's care, above neglected cobwebs, things that go bump in the night, and maps to hidden worlds.

At each daybreak, you sat on a stool long after you'd slipped on your boots. You remembered where you were again. Your mother always thought you were a lazy riser. You were listening to see if he was gone. You listened for signs of your inconsistently indulgent father with a mean streak. No, he never whipped you with a switch or belt. No, you saw him do that to Ciaran. He'd slap you across the mouth, the face. Unpredictable. You were slapped for saying you didn't like runny eggs. Another time for telling your mother you didn't wish to wear a particular frock to a banquet. You weren't a bratty child.You didn't much complain. What did your mother do? It's for your own good. Serves you right, stop that crying, what a lucky child you are to have that food, that dress.

Home again, you wished to see friends, but all had married and moved throughout the kingdom. Your brother Ciaran was far off and weeks away from a visit. Prince Wyl had been sent to another kingdom for a courtly purpose. Then he suddenly returned to his castle rooms unannounced. You availed yourself of his royal requests. Wyl had become a collector of dubious maps. He wanted your expert opinion, but you avoided him otherwise. You knew your place. He had forgotten his.

One sunny morning, you ventured to the forest in a dark green hooded cloak and brown boots lined with fur.You found a favorite boulder, not yet warmed by the sun, and sat with your back against it to see what might come. The winter was not yet so harsh, the animals not yet too thin. Winter is a dream time, you thought. All that is imagined to be lost returns when we wake up.You looked to the sky with closed lids and open ears.

There came a sudden scuffle of hooves and wheezy breath. You rolled your eyes to watch the deer leap over the boulder, over your head, and stumble into the trees. There was blood on your hands. You kept to your seat when you heard the noise of running

footsteps and harsh gasps.You turned only your gaze to see who it could be. You watched Wyl and his brother Raef vie for a lead as they raced ahead. The two brothers resembled each other at rest as much as in motion. The similarity ended there.

Through no fault of his own, Raef was born after Wyl. He didn't receive the same attention, esteem, or respect. By nature or neglect, he was also not as charming or amiable. He seemed desperate to prove himself. In the forest, at least, he could compete with his brother on equal terms.

You peeked through the brush and met the glint of a blade. Wyl grabbed the antlers of the great stag. You clasped your mouth. Raef drew a dagger against the stag's throat. Three arrows jutted from his body. You saw a thick scar on his shoulder. You had seen the ancient creature many times since your childhood. You had drawn him on your maps.

There was some chase left in the old man, said Raef.

Though it was not his season, you said.

The young men startled at your approach.You knelt at the stag's side.

It's the season for boars, you said.

So it is, but we found none today, said Wyl.

She believes she has surely seen them, hiding as she was, said Raef.

You narrowed your eyes at the younger prince. He smiled as he wiped the dagger in his shadow on the beast's fur. You pushed to your heels, wrapped deep into your cloak, and left without a reply. Soon Wyl's footsteps fell in rhythm with yours. He tried to explain the reason for the hunt, the choice of quarry.You had little use for the older brother's defense of the younger.

Be careful of your brother, Wyl. I know this wasn't your doing, you said.

I wanted to hunt today as well, said he.

Raef hunts what secretly reminds him of himself.

He isn't so swift and strong.

That's not what I meant.

Say what you mean, then.

He is cold and weak.

Wyl took hold of your cloak and halted your steps.

What am I? asked he.

A man of good intention, nature, and cheer.

What are you?

A mapmaker, and a subject.

He took your hands and smeared the blood. He found no wound but touched something carnal and raw between the two of you.

What could be, if it were, would come to a dark end, you said. | spoke it into being then, didn't you? |

Aoife, even you can't see that far in the distance, said he.

You turned your head when you heard Raef call out. His bloody hands hovered at his sides. Wyl waved to him, and Raef stood in wait. Wyl took your stained hand and pressed it to his chest. Your palm filled with the heat of the chase, his shirt, your will. All of it pulled away from your grasp as he left to join his brother.

The above is an excerpt from the book The Mapmaker's War: A Legend by Ronlyn Domingue. The above excerpt is a digitally scanned reproduction of text from print. Although this excerpt has been proofread, occasional errors may appear due to the scanning process. Please refer to the finished book for accuracy.

Copyright © 2013 Ronlyn Domingue, author of The Mapmaker's War: A Legend

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

Author BioRonlyn Domingue is the author of The Mapmaker's War: A Legend (Atria Books; March 5, 2013). Its epic sequel is scheduled for 2014. Her critically acclaimed debut novel, The Mercy of Thin Air, was published in ten languages. Her writing has appeared in The Beautiful Anthology (TNB Books), New England Review, Clackamas Literary Review, New Delta Review, The Independent (UK), and Shambhala Sun, as well as on mindful.org and The Nervous Breakdown. Born and raised in the Deep South, she lives there still with her partner, Todd Bourque, and their cats.

For more information please visit http://www.ronlyndomingue.com, and follow the author on Facebook and Twitter

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday (4/24/2013)


"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...


THE OCEAN AT THE END OF THE LANE is a fable that reshapes modern fantasy: moving, terrifying and elegiac - as pure as a dream, as delicate as a butterfly's wing, as dangerous as a knife in the dark, from storytelling genius Neil Gaiman.

It began for our narrator forty years ago when the family lodger stole their car and committed suicide in it, stirring up ancient powers best left undisturbed. Dark creatures from beyond the world are on the loose, and it will take everything our narrator has just to stay alive: there is primal horror here, and menace unleashed - within his family and from the forces that have gathered to destroy it.

His only defense is three women, on a farm at the end of the lane. The youngest of them claims that her duckpond is an ocean. The oldest can remember the Big Bang.
Releases June 18, 2013


I want this book so badly I can taste it! Not only is it by Neil Gaiman, who I love to the ends of the Earth and back again, but it also sounds spellbinding. Don't you think? I was hooked as soon as I saw the words "fable that reshapes modern fantasy" because isn't that what Mr. Gaiman does? He takes us outside of the box and into worlds we never thought we'd visit. I'm so eagerly awaiting this one!


What are YOU waiting for?


Monday, April 22, 2013

Book Review: The Archived


Media Type: Print Book
Title: The Archived
   *Series: The Archived #1
Author: Victoria Schwab
Publisher: Hyperion
Pages: Hardcover; 328
Release Date: January 22, 2013
Source: Library
--------------------------------------------------------
Content Screening: Mild Violence; Adult Language

HDB Rating: 5 Keys to My Heart

Recommended to: Readers looking for an amazing adventure with a strong and capable female protagonist.

Add it on: Goodreads / Shelfari / Amazon / B&N
Imagine a place where the dead rest on shelves like books.

Each body has a story to tell, a life seen in pictures that only Librarians can read. The dead are called Histories, and the vast realm in which they rest is the Archive.

Da first brought Mackenzie Bishop here four years ago, when she was twelve years old, frightened but determined to prove herself. Now Da is dead, and Mac has grown into what he once was, a ruthless Keeper, tasked with stopping often—violent Histories from waking up and getting out. Because of her job, she lies to the people she loves, and she knows fear for what it is: a useful tool for staying alive.

Being a Keeper isn’t just dangerous—it’s a constant reminder of those Mac has lost. Da’s death was hard enough, but now her little brother is gone too. Mac starts to wonder about the boundary between living and dying, sleeping and waking. In the Archive, the dead must never be disturbed. And yet, someone is deliberately altering Histories, erasing essential chapters. Unless Mac can piece together what remains, the Archive itself might crumble and fall.

In this haunting, richly imagined novel, Victoria Schwab reveals the thin lines between past and present, love and pain, trust and deceit, unbearable loss and hard-won redemption.


I missed out on Victoria Schwab's first book, so I knew for a fact that I'd be reading The Archived. After all, I was instantly intrigued by the premise. A place where humans are stored like hard drive copies of themselves? Creepy, yet interesting. I only hoped it would be done as well as the synopsis seemed to promise. Lucky for me this turned out to be everything that I was hoping for! Not only was the concept original, but the execution of it all made this a book I couldn't get enough of.

First off, I have to say that I loved Mackenzie. She's strong, stubborn, and yet amazingly easy to fall into step with. Her character was very layered. On the surface is a girl who has been hurt, and shuns deep interaction to keep others safe. However the more I read, the more I saw beneath her gruff exterior. I saw a girl who just wanted someone to talk to. A girl who missed her brother, and really needed a friend. 

Enter Wesley Ayers, the exact inverse of his female counterpart. I thought they were a perfect match! For every gruff part of Mackenzie that came through, there was an equally friendly and goofy part of Wesley. He is the epitome of a nice guy. The banter between Wesley and Mackenzie is priceless, and their interactions are really what keep the book moving along. I adored him.

In case you're not already sold, I absolutely have to gush about the setting that Schwab picks for The Archived. Set in a crumbling old hotel-turned-apartment called The Coronado, Mackenzie's story has an added bit of creepiness. Old places hold onto history. They have dark, hidden secrets. This building is no exception! No spoilers from me, but trust me when I say this is a perfect companion to the Narrows that the characters wander in and out of. I was genuinely on edge at times as clues to the building's past were slowly laid out, and it made me read that much more ravenously.

I think it's clear to see that I utterly enjoyed this book. I could ramble on about the excellent writing, or the fact that Mackenzie actually has a real family in her story, but the point remains that this is a book well worth your time. The Archived has earned a spot on my shelf of favorites and I am eagerly awaiting the next installment! There are so many questions I have, and I can't wait to see where Victoria Schwab takes me next.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Children's Book Review: I Hate Picture Books!


Media Type: Ebook
Title: I Hate Picture Books!
Author: Timothy Young
Illustrator: Timothy Young
Publisher: Schiffer Publishing
Pages: Hardcover; 32
Release Date: February 28, 2013
Source: NetGalley
----------------------------------------
Recommended to: Parents who are looking for a book to share with their kids.

Difficulty Level: Great parent/child read. Readers with more vocabulary under their belt can read alone, maybe 5-8.

HDB Rating: 5 Keys to My Heart


Add it on: Goodreads / Shelfari / Amazon / B&N
Max hates his picture books and hes throwing them all away. But he soon learns just how invaluable imagination is and has a change of heart. Find out why in this outrageous book that both pokes fun at and celebrates many of the classics of childrens literature. Join writer and illustrator Timothy Young for this irreverent and humorous story ideal for children and adults alike.

I Hate Picture Books! is one of the most adorable stories I've read in a long time. Max is tired of his picture books and ready to throw them away! Why? Well, they just keep getting him in trouble. Like the time he tried to draw on the wall like that Harold kid. Or the time he ate green ham. That didn't end well! However as he slowly remembers all the books he loves, he realizes just how important they really are to him.

I loved that Timothy Young pays homage to some of the most popular picture books out there. Adults, and the young readers they share this book with, are sure find some favorites in Max's story. The best part is definitely the illustrations though. Young uses bright colors and vivid pen strokes. The pictures come to life on their own, and weave a giggle-worthy story

The humor is sweet, the message is simple, and this is the type of book that is sure to become a fast favorite! Just keep your little one away from the fridge and any green ham. Ha. Too cute!


Thursday, April 18, 2013

Blogoversary Giveaway #3 - Rouge by Leigh T. Moore!


Let's keep this party going, shall we? I'm so enjoying spreading the love to all you wonderful followers. Also I thank you massively for your entries! The Indie authors that I'm featuring in my giveaways are wonderful people. People who weave amazing stories that tend to get overlooked. So click away, enter like mad, and get your own copies of their amazing work for your very own!

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

Question of the Day:
What is one book that you'd recommend to everyone out there?

Argh, this is so hard! Let me tell you that I've had my fair share of books in my life that totally stole my heart.  Still, if I can only choose one? I'd have to go with The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster.


This was the first book that really took me on a journey, and honestly the very one I've read until it has fallen apart at least 3 times. Yup, I've owned 3 copies of this book. The witty writing, the play on words, everything about it just makes me smile. I'd highly recommend it if you haven't read it yet!

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

GIVEAWAY!


I loved, loved, LOVED Leigh T. Moore's Rouge (see review here) and because of that I'm sharing it with you! Do you love romance, intrigue and strong female characters? This is a read that you need!

a Rafflecopter giveaway





Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Brad Cotton: Guest Post + Giveaway!



Please welcome Brad Cotton to the blog today! 

Brad is the author of A Work in Progress, an adult fiction novel that follows writer Danny Bayle. Check out the synopsis below!

Writer Danny Bayle's life is in shambles. His true love has left him and his grandfather -- the last and most important influence in his life -- has just passed away. Danny has spent the last few months languishing, unable to write a single word, but at the urging of a friend ventures out into the world in an attempt to jumpstart a new life, befriending in the process an interesting assortment of characters including an author, a musician, an artist, and an elderly retired nurse. Garnering the attention of more than one woman, Danny sees his new friends unwittingly begin to shape what could just be the story of his life. But will he ever let go of the girl that got away?


Sound like a book that you'd like to add to your reading pile? Brad has placed links at the end of this wonderful and witty guest post and also brought along a giveaway just for you! Read on, and enjoy.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Brad Cotton. Author of “A Work in Progress”. 


The questions I get asked most often:

When it comes to reading, writing, and publishing, I don’t have all the answers. In fact, I have about 3. However, I do get asked the following questions most often, so I thought I would take this opportunity to share my answers with you. Please take these responses with a grain shaker of salt.

Questions from readers:

How much of A Work in Progress is autobiographical?
I get this one a lot, especially after someone reads the book. The answer is pretty much none of it. The book starts off with the main character recovering from certain personal traumas – one of them being getting dumped by his long-time girlfriend who then moves out of the country. That particular unfortunate event did happen to me. However everything that follows in the book is complete fiction. I never met or knew any of the characters, nor did anything in the book ever happen to me, or to anyone I know. I think we all learned our lesson from A Million Little Pieces.

Why did you become a writer?
If you asked my beloved high school English teacher about me, she would no doubt tell you, “Never heard of him”. What this means is that, contrary to a popular response, I did not know early on that writing was what I wanted to do. If class attendance and grades were any indication, most would have predicted me not on a bookshelf, but more so on parole.

I won’t give you the old cliché that you don’t choose to be a writer, but that writing chooses you, because I would have to punch myself in the face. But I will say, it’s a cliché for a reason. I can’t paint, I can’t sing, but writing just comes naturally. I can’t help but do it. If you look at my bank statement, you’d know that I didn’t become a writer for the money. So it must be something else.

What would you be if you weren’t a writer?
A neurosurgeon or a grocery bagger. Maybe both.

How long did it take you to write A Work in Progress?
Believe it or not, people ask me this all the time. It took me 8-months-ish to finish the initial draft. I took a 2-month break in the middle and was holding down a full-time job at the time. I think people ask me this to gauge how long it would take them to write one of their own. For that, however, there is no benchmark. I know people who have written a full-length novel in two weeks. I know authors who have been working on the same book for 3 years. If you’re thinking about writing a book – just go and do it. And don’t ask any more questions about it until you’re done. Go and do it right now. There is no better time.

Will you come to my party?
Yes. Yes I will.

Questions from Writers:

Did you study writing in school?
That’s a tough one. The answer is no, and yes. While I didn’t major in English literature, or writing composition, or anything like that, I always read and studied with a discerning eye. The same goes for television shows I watched, movies I went to, lies I told, and so on. After a while, people with a certain disposition tend to pick up on what works, what doesn’t, what makes a compelling story, and what stalls one. Of course, everyone will have a differing opinion on these things, but there are some fast rules that tend to apply across the board. A great line of dialogue, a cool idea, a punchy sentence, etc., will be just that no matter where you come upon it. Authors are just people who instinctively take that stuff in, store it, and then choose to share with others how they see the world (or how they want to see the world) using what they’ve gathered. (It’s a very similar thing for stand-up comedians, I would imagine). It’s about perspective and insight and material, and I don’t think that can really be taught. Delivery, however, can be taught; though it’s something a writer can never finish practicing… unless you’re Hemmingway. But I’m not Hemmingway.

How did you get published?
I got published the old fashioned way. I finished my manuscript, then found a freelance editor and paid to have it edited myself. Once I had a polished piece, I began a querying campaign. Many, many rejections from publishers soon followed, as did self-pity, until one day a letter came in with a positive response. I am truly thankful for my publisher. Though I’m considering going indie with my next book.

What? Why are you considering going Indie?
I’m glad you asked. This answer to this could be a post all it’s own. I think to sum it up would be to do a disservice. For a thorough answer that would be close to my own, check out this post from Hugh Howey: www.hughhowey.com/my-advice-to-aspiring-authors/

Do you have any other advice for aspiring writers?
Yes - there’s no such think as aspiring writers. If you write, you’re a writer. Just like if you run you’re a runner, and if you paint you’re a painter. Some make a living doing these things, but most do not.

Read On Writing by Stephen King. Let as many people read your writing as often as you can. Don’t expect to make money, but don’t ever stop chasing an audience. Help out other writers as much as possible, whenever possible. Be prepared to be your own best marketer/publicist/agent/advocate. Keep writing. Keep reading.

Questions from my mother:

Did you visit your Grandmother?
I did. You left your scarf there.

General Questions:

What’s your favorite Book? Movie? Music?
The book that influenced me the most was Catcher in the Rye. If you’re familiar with all the conspiracy theories related to the title, fear not. I’m far too apathetic to attempt assassination of a President or a Beatle. It was simply the first book I was forced to read that actually resonated, and it piqued my interest in literature. Plus, there’s only two Beatles left… and they’ll get theirs soon enough.

When I was younger my favorite movie was Braveheart, but… Gibson? Really? There’s a train wreck I can turn away from. These days I’m more into indie movies. They seem to have more integrity. I just watched The Words. I liked it a lot. If I had to pick a recent favorite: Barney’s Version.

If you’re looking for good music, look deep. If you hear it on the radio you know it will be replaced very soon. Search out music like you search out books. Follow the path of what you like and find the ones buried. A few bands in my iPod today: Elbow, Cat Empire, Stars, and P.G. Wodehouse. That’s an audiobook. Wodehouse rocks.

When is your next book coming out?
Good question! My next book is called Boundless. It will be out later this year. It’s about two guys, an escape, a road trip, a pretty girl, a dead body, another pretty girl, and ultimately: what happens when two people venture out to discover who they really are.

Were can I buy your book?
http://amzn.to/103af3u

How do I get to the highway from here?
Always head south and hope for the best.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Born and raised in Toronto, Brad has been writing professionally for over a decade. An average guitarist, a sub-par painter, and a horrible juggler of anything larger than a tangerine, he is currently married to a woman, but does not have a cat, a drum set or any children.
http://www.bradcotton.com/



GIVEAWAY!
Up for grabs are 2 digital copies (in your choice of format) of A Work in Progress:
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, April 15, 2013

Blogoversary Giveaway #2 - The Zellie Wells Trilogy by Stacey Wallace Benefiel!


I've said it a ton of times today, eloquently and not so eloquently, but I again send out all my love to everyone out there. Whether you were personally affected by the tragedy or not, we are all hurting. I just feel the need to keep saying again and again that I am thinking of everyone.

I wanted to keep the mood light today, since I think we can all use a smile or two. So here's today's question and answer:

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

Question of the Day:
What is your favorite thing about the book blogger culture?

What I love more than anything, and was utterly evident today, is that we all band together when things get tough. Whether there is something unfair that needs to be fought, someone who is being bullied, or an author who needs love, we are all there for one another. Sure there times when we fight, but it's life. I couldn't ask for a more supportive, more awesome group of people.

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

GIVEAWAY!


Since I've decided to support Indie authors this week, today's giveaway is of The Zellie Wells Trilogy by Stephanie Wallace Benfiel! I was lucky enough to review the first two books in this series and I am in love with the new covers! The winner will take home the entire digital set!

a Rafflecopter giveaway




Sunday, April 14, 2013

Blogoversary Giveaway #1 - The Illumine Series by Alivia Anders!


As I mentioned earlier today marks the day my blog turns a whopping THREE YEARS OLD!

*wipes tears* They grow up so fast...

Anyway I'll be celebrating all week by sharing some goodies with you, talking about what I love about blogging, and just being all around silly. I mean really, that's what I'm all about anyway. Am I right? Bring on the festivities!

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

Question of the Day:
What is your favorite thing about blogging?

The people! All the amazing people I meet on a daily basis, including authors, fellow bloggers, and just downright cool people who make my life a little better by having them in it. By blogging I've found others who are just as book crazy as me. I've made new friends who I would have never met without blogging, so bring on many many more years!

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

GIVEAWAY!


The ever awesome, superb and lovely Alivia Anders, author of The Illumine Series, has offered up an amazing giveaway for you! She is offering up signed paperback copies of her series to one lucky winner. Seriously. Isn't she the best?

To enter, please fill out the Rafflecopter below. 
Open to U.S. and Canada only.

I don't usually require you to be a follower to enter my giveaways, and I still won't this time! However if you ARE a follower, you get extra entries! It's my thank you for sticking with me all this time!


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Weekly Rewind (4/14/13)



Looking for a dark, gritty mystery novel? Set in San Francisco, Robert K. Lewis weaves a tale of what can happen when you hit rock bottom and struggle to pull yourself back out. 

Charlotte Rains Dixon stops by the blog to talk about her new book, Emma Jean's Bad Behavior! Check out what she has to say.

I was so drawn in by this book. Full of intrigue, questions of morality and the line between childhood and adulthood, this is an amazing book.

Alivia Anders, my favorite person ever, has finally revealed the cover for her newest book, A Shard of Ice! It's GORGEOUS. Check it out!

Love twisted romance? Jenny E. Miller's Asylum is set in a sanitarium, the ultimate in creepy scenes! Best of all, you can win a copy! Just click the link above!




It's my blogoversary!!! Three years ago today, I started up this little blog and decided to share my bookish tendencies with world. I've loved every minute of it since then! I'll be giving away little things all week, so make sure to check the blog :).

Thanks for being a follower! Please know I appreciate you all!

Friday, April 12, 2013

Guest Post + Giveaway with Jenny E. Miller



A treat for you today! Jenny E. Miller is visiting the blog with her debut book, Asylum.  Are you looking for a creepy read? One with mystery and twisted romance? Sounds like you're looking for this book.

June Foster’s summer is limping along. Her life on a 1950′s farm in eastern Washington is boring–full of milking cows, picking apricots and tending to the chicken coops. Her only friends are her record player and her books. But when gorgeous, turquoise-eyed Frank falls into her world, her life becomes anything but ordinary.

June falls for Frank hard and fast–he’s beautiful, impossibly strong, and capable of things ordinary humans are not. But she’s wary about his father Jonas, a creepy man with an agenda. She should be. Suddenly June is deathly ill, falling in and out of consciousness. When she recovers, June and Frank discover Jonas’s deadly plans for her–and June takes revenge.

Convicted of murder, declared insane and sentenced to life at Washington Pines Sanitarium, June is stuck. Jonas’s plans are reaching her beyond the grave, and she suspects that there’s a lot more going on in the sanitarium than group therapy and electric shocks. Something evil has followed her here, or maybe it was waiting for her all along. If Frank doesn’t break her out soon, she’ll lose her mind–and her life.
Anyone else as ready to read this as I am? Jenny was kind enough to write up a guest post on YA novels and the "taboo" topics that they deal with.

Enjoy it below, and then scroll down for your chance to win a copy of Asylum for your very own.

**********

YA Novels: What’s not to write? By Jenny E. Miller

While writing my young adult novel ASYLUM, I was constantly asking myself what I could and could not write about. Without giving too much away, the book deals with murder (though not gruesomely), teen pregnancy, blossoming relationships and unstable families. Was I pushing the envelope with a sixteen year-old pregnant character? Could I say the f-word? Could a young girl commit murder?

The long and the short of it is, yes, I could. It was and is my book, and I can write about whatever I want. But the subjects I’ve chosen aren’t usually discussed in young adult writing, unless they’re taking place in an alternate universe (and therefore not exactly taboo). Take the TWILIGHT saga, for example. Sex? Yep. Pregnancy? Yep. Teen marriage? Uh huh. But it’s all with a vampire, and not realistic to our world, so it doesn’t exactly push the envelope. The HUNGER GAMES series contains murder by the main character, but it’s in self-defense, and part of a game in a dystopian world. 

My book delves into the paranormal, but it’s a touch more realistic than TWILIGHT and the HUNGER GAMES. But still, the question is, what subjects do authors use and which do they shy away from in teen books?

I think (and I’m generalizing here—I’m sure there are exceptions) that young adult novels that are set in this world, in present time, tend to shy away from sex, violence, drugs, and language. But once they move to an alternate world, everything is fair game. A dystopian or fantasy world lets you break all the rules and create your own.

So what topics should young adult writers cover and which should they steer away from? In all honesty, my answers are everything, and nothing.

I believe that kids today are much smarter and more self-aware than we give them credit for. Bella Swan didn’t spawn a thousand teen marriages, and Katniss Everdeen didn’t cause a band of young girls to pick up bows and arrows and start shooting. I truly think that we can write about whatever we want (as long as it’s intriguing, smart and well-told) and there are very few subjects that should be taboo.  It’s all about how you handle it. As long as you’re not blatantly encouraging murder, teen pregnancy, drug abuse, etc., go for it. Chances are kids have been exposed to these subjects long before they read it in your book.

That being said, parents should always, always pre-screen the books their kids are reading to make sure the content is appropriate for their age and personality. Just because they can read beyond their grade level does not mean they should. Books at higher reading levels are more mature in grammar and in content. And unless you’re prepared to answer questions and discuss the subject matter with them, don’t let them read the book.

Jenny Miller grew up in Seattle, writing sappy (illustrated!) novels for her obliging parents. She studied creative writing at the University of Washington and holds a Masters in Teaching from Seattle University. She still lives in the Emerald City with her husband, two kids, and a dog who thinks he’s a cat. ASYLUM is her first novel, debuting on Amazon March 25th. You can find more of her at JennyEMiller.com, on Facebook and Twitter


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, April 11, 2013

A Shard of Ice has a cover!



Chances are that you've seen this gorgeous cover peppering the blogosphere today. It's so mind blowing and gorgeous though, that who could blame everyone for wanting to post it? Alivia Anders is an author who is near and dear to my heart, and who is talented beyond measure. I, for one, can't wait to get my hands on a copy of this book! 

Title: A Shard of Ice
Series: Black Symphony Saga
Publisher: Red Alice Press
Release Date: April 14th, 2014

THEIR SOULS, REAWAKENED
When 13-year-old Lilix Morgan is found alive and floating on a bed of ice at sea, everyone counts it a miracle. Kidnapped nearly four weeks earlier, she remembers nothing of her mysterious abduction. When she tries to remember what happened, she hears only a melody – a faint and delicate set of notes, strung together in a tune she doesn’t understand.

THEIR POWER, UNMATCHED
A year later and desperate to put the lingering nightmares of her past behind her, Lilix crosses the country to enroll at Baelmorte Academy, aiming to become the violinist she once dreamt of. Things seem to be finally going well, and Lilix settles into a routine of sheet music and inspiration among new friends.

Then the dreams start.

The melody and night terrors she thought she’d left behind return with a vengeance, threatening to ruin her fragile version of normalcy. Then an unlikely ally tells her that she isn’t alone. That there are others just like her, fighting to hide their own shocking truths from coming to light. That they know who she is, and what she’s been through. Now, accompanied by four other girls, Lilix discovers her nightmares are larger than a single trauma; they’re a window to a hidden part of her soul, a place of immense power with a destiny that cannot be ignored.

THEIR BATTLE, IS ONLY BEGINNING
With this knowledge comes a new and frightening reality. For Lilix has been reawakened to stop an age-old enemy, one thought to have been destroyed centuries ago. Trapped by her destiny, Lilix is torn between what feels right and what she remembers. Her memories tell her of a star-crossed love waiting to be reunited, of friendships and trust broken in the past. But can she save that love when reality brings her an enemy, and an evil that will be the undoing of them all if they don’t destroy it?

I wish you could see me sighing happily over here! Anyway below are the links for you to add this lovely little book to any place you choose. Go forth and purchase!



LINKS:
Facebook for Alivia Anders: http://www.facebook.com/aliviaanders
Twitter for Alivia Anders: https://twitter.com/AliviaAnders
Blogger for Alivia Anders: aliviaanders.blogspot.com
Official author website (still under construction): aliviaanders.com
A Shard of Ice on Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/17207178-a-shard-of-ice


Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Book Review: The Guilty One



Media Type: Ebook (ARC)
Title: The Guilty One
Author: Lisa Ballantyne
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks
Pages: Paperback; 480
Release Date: March 19, 2013
Source: Eidelweiss / Publisher
---------------------------------------------------
Genre: Mystery / Thriller

HDB Rating: 4 Keys to My Heart

Recommended to: Readers who love a good crime thriller with an ending you won't see coming.

Add it on: Goodreads / Shelfari / Amazon / B&N
An eight-year-old boy is found dead in a playground . . . and his eleven-year-old neighbor is accused of the crime. Leading the defense is London solicitor Daniel Hunter, a champion of lost causes.

A damaged boy from a troubled home, Daniel's young client, Sebastian, reminds Daniel of his own turbulent childhood--and of Minnie, the devoted woman whose love saved him. But one terrible act of betrayal irrevocably shattered their bond.

As past and present collide, Daniel is faced with disturbing questions. Will his sympathy for Sebastian and his own memories blind him to the truth? What happened in the park--and who, ultimately, is to blame for a little boy's death? Rethinking everything he's ever believed, Daniel begins to understand what it means to be wrong . . . and to be the guilty one.

When a senseless murder rocks London, Daniel Hunter is assigned to the case. Used to being a voice for troubled youth, it's easy to see why this case is so close to his heart. See, Daniel himself was a troubled youth. He navigated the system, he knows what it's like to feel lost and confused. I think this is why I really liked him as a character. Daniel may be a little blinded by is past at times, but he's definitely got a big heart.

Lisa Ballantyne weaves a story that touches on many issues, from morality to mortality, and from childhood to adulthood. Split between scenes from the past and present, each chapter slowly unravels more of both Daniel and Sebastian's stories. I couldn't help but see the similarities between the two of them. Even when I thought I might know what was going to happen next, one of them would do something that completely rocked my world. Ballantyne shows that sometimes it only takes one person's influence to craft what our childhood will turn into.

From a forensic and courtroom standpoint, I think this book is also very well done. It is almost as if you are living the trial with Daniel and his ward. Every piece of evidence, any motivations, all of it is laid out in a way that is easy and enjoyable to follow. I can't say that I didn't eventually figure out what the ending would be. However the writing was more than enough to keep reading on to the end, and of course I wanted to make sure I was correct.

The Guilty One is a book that is well worth your time. Readers who enjoy a good crime thriller will absolutely be drawn in, but even those who normally don't read this genre (like myself) will find a lot to love. Dealing with human nature and behavior, this is very layered read that still feels like it zips by in no time at all. Give it a place on your reading list. I can guarantee you won't be sorry.




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

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Author Interview: Charlotte Rains Dixon




Charlotte Rains Dixon is here on the blog today! Her novel, Emma Jean's Bad Behavior is a new one I've added to my reading list and it looks scrumptious!

Best-selling novelist Emma Jean Sullivan longed for a baby for years, but after she and her husband Peter were unable to conceive, she staunchly vowed to become the standard bearer for all childless couples. And she succeeds spectacularly. At age 48 (43 according to her blog, Life, Full Tilt) Emma Jean enjoys a rabid anti-baby fan base and her novels have sold millions. But now she confronts a dilemma larger than any her heroines have faced: she's pregnant. And the baby's father is not her husband.

Through no fault of her own (he was just so damned adorable), Emma Jean had begun a passionate affair with Riley, a fetching airplane mechanic she met at a book signing in LA. The rapturous relationship reorders her priorities, and she realizes that life isn’t as blissful as she’d made it out to be. Terrified of losing both her fan base and her identity, she struggles to maintain her sham brand and her marriage.

But Peter is busy embezzling Emma Jean's money and completely uninterested in fatherhood, and Riley has his hands full with problems of his own. Not only that, her latest novel is a miserable failure, and a Vanity Fair reporter, who plans to out Emma Jean's pregnancy to her fans, is stalking her. What's a suddenly broke, failing, middle-aged pregnant novelist to do? Why, flee to a glamorous resort town, of course. There, Emma Jean seeks privacy to figure out her next move, but finds instead more conflict, as well as unexpected spiritual and emotional solace.

Sounds adorable, am I right? Lucky for you, Charlotte was kind enough to do an interview and so you can learn more about her, and her book, right on this blog! Don't forget to add Emma Jean's Bad Behavior to your reading list. Links are at the bottom!

**********


1) Emma Jean's Bad Behavior is being made into a movie. What is the tagline on the movie poster? 

Middle-aged woman runs wild. This is not my idea; it's the suggestion of my friend and business partner (we run writing retreats together). But I think it gives you a good clue as to the energy of the book. 


2) What quote from the book would you say best describes Emma Jean?

Oh man, that's a tough one. The thing is, Emma Jean goes on such a journey—exterior and interior—that she's a very different character at the end of the book than she is at the beginning. But she does tend to have strong passions, and those stay the same over the course of the novel. So here's a quote from the first chapter wherein she describes some of them: 

"Still, Emma Jean felt it vital to make the effort for the things that were important to her, and her fans definitely counted in that elite group. The others who made the cut were her students and her husband, Peter. They were the three things in life, besides writing, that Emma Jean cared about most—the holy triumvirate, her sacred cows."

(And by the way, the title of Chapter Three is Sacred Cows, Tipping, so it gives you a bit of an idea of what happens in the novel—she is faced with the loss of many things she holds dear, not the least of which are her passionate ideals.)


3) What is your favorite part about being an author?

Can I have several different parts? I love so much about being an author. I love the independence and freedom. I love that I work at home and can take time off to meet a friend for lunch, knowing I can make up for it by working late or getting up earlier the next morning. But I think my most favorite thing is connecting with readers. I love it when someone emails me and says they've just finished the book with tears in their eyes, or when they tweet me and tell me how much they liked it.


4) Do you have a book that you've read and reread multiple times? A standby favorite? 

Yes, A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle. My sister and I read that book over and over as kids and I still read it now and then. It has a timeless message that I just love. A couple others are Hemingway's The Sun Also Rises, and Animal Dreams by Barbara Kingsolver (I still remember how magical reading that book for the first time was for me.)


5) What do you have next on your plate as an author?

I'm working on a novel about a woman who loses everything—her husband, her income, and her home—and how she finds her way back. It's set partially in L.A., as so many of my stories are, and also in a small town up the Columbia River Gorge in Oregon, where I live. I'm not so secretly hoping it is the first of a series.


6) Finally, what words do you have to potential readers of Emma Jean's story? 

If you like romantic comedy movies, give Emma Jean a chance. She is, as I like to say, smart, saucy and spiritual, but she is also her own worst enemy along the way. And that combination creates quite a few humorous moments. And please let me know how you like the book! You can contact me through my blog at www.charlotterainsdixon.com.


**********
Charlotte Rains Dixon mentors creative writers from passionate to published. Charlotte is a free-lance journalist, ghostwriter, and author. She is Director Emeritus and a current mentor at the Writer's Loft, a certificate writing program at Middle Tennessee State University. She earned her MFA in creative writing from Spalding University and is the author of a dozen books, including The Complete Guide to Writing Successful Fundraising Letters, and Beautiful America’s Oregon Coast. Her fiction has appeared in The Trunk, Santa Fe Writer’s Project, Nameless Grace, and Somerset Studios and her articles have been published in Vogue Knitting, the Oregonian, and Pology, to name a few. Her novel, Emma Jean’s Bad Behavior, was just published. Visit her blog at www.charlotterainsdixon.com, where you can find all kinds of tips and techniques on writing and creativity.

Purchase the book:
Amazon / B&N 

Monday, April 8, 2013

Book Review: Untold Damage



Media Type: Print Book (ARC)
Title: Untold Damage
Author: Robert K. Lewis
Publisher: Midnight Ink
Pages: Paperback; 288
Release Date: April 8, 2013
Source: TLC Book Tours
------------------------------------------
Genre: Thriller

HDB Rating: 3 Keys to My Heart

Recommended to: Readers who enjoy dark, gritty thrillers with strong male leads.

Add it on: Goodreads / Amazon / B&N
Sometimes the darkest moments of our lives give us the brightest chance at our redemption

Estranged from his wife and daughter, former undercover cop Mark Mallen has spent the last four years in a haze of heroin. And when his best friend from the academy, Eric Russ, is murdered, all the evidence points to Mallen as the prime suspect.


Now Mallen's former colleagues on the force are turning up the heat and Russ's survivors are in desperate need of answers. But if he wants to serve justice to the real killer, Mallen knows he'll have to get clean. Turning a life around is murder for a junkie, especially when two low-life thugs want him dead. Bruised, battered, and written off by nearly everyone, Mallen must make amends for his damaged past and restore hope for a better future.

Mark Mallen is a man on his way back up. Once an undercover cop, his life hit a downward spiral after he became addicted to heroin. I appreciated how realistic Mallen's character was. There is a truth to the way that he functions as a recovering junkie. In fact, it is the struggle that he goes through, both mentally and physically, that makes him so easy to connect with. You don't have to have experience with withdrawals to know what Mark is going through. He shows you.

In the same respect, the underground world of drugs and violence isn't sugar coated. Living in the "Loin" is portrayed as a daily battle. Robert K. Lewis shows the reader how dark things can get in the parts of town other people avoid. However it isn't all darkness. For every person who holds him back, there is one who builds Mallen back up. I rather liked that he had a few guardian angels here and there.

My biggest issue with this read was really just that the majority of it is dialogue. As a less frequent reader of crime thrillers like this, I'm not sure if this is the norm. However I would have liked to see more action, more suspense, and maybe a little bit more of the dark world Mallen had fallen into. I feel like I would have been more immersed.

The ending did surprise me, and I'll admit that upon finishing I was rather intrigued at what is coming next. It seems this is being written as a series! If that's the case, I'd be willing to follow Robert K. Lewis further in. If you are a fan of books that mesh crime thrillers and mysteries, Untold Damage is definitely a book to check out.




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.

LinkWithin

Related Posts with Thumbnails