Monday, April 30, 2012

Spring Fling Giveaway Hop! ~ Love Bites~

So Spring is here and as I've posted before it's my favorite time of year :) As part of my celebration I've already reduced the price of Songbird to only $0.99! I'm going to continue that price until I feel like I'm done celebrating :) But that's not happening right now because... 
I have joined the Spring Fling Giveaway Hop hosted by  
I Am A Reader, Not A Writer & Eve's Fan Garden!

For the Spring Fling, I am giving away one new hardback copy of Love Bites (A Vampire Kisses Novel) by Ellen Schreiber. Because of shipping costs, this giveaway is open only to the US (Sorry to all of my international followers. I will be doing an international one later in the month!).

Synopsis

As a mortal girl dating a vampire, Raven knows that love isn't always easy. Now that Alexander's parents have returned to Romania, Raven and her dreamy vampire boyfriend are happy to resume their cryptic romance. 

But soon another visitor comes knocking: Sebastian, Alexander's best friend, arrives for a stay at the mansion. At first Raven is wary, then thrilled--this is the perfect chance to learn more about her darkly handsome boyfriend and his past. Raven has been wondering whether Alexander will ever bite her and make their love immortal, and Sebastian could be her guide to the love habits of Alexander and his kind. But when Sebastian falls for a particular Dullsvillian, will another mortal beat Raven to the bite? 

With suspense, danger, and a fabulous vampire party, this seventh book in the bestselling Vampire Kisses series continues the exciting nocturnal romance of Raven and Alexander.

I haven't read this book yet, even though I did just purchase it. When I originally picked up it I didn't realize it was midway through a series. After debating with myself over keeping it on the off chance I would read the series later, I decided it would be better to pass it on to someone who really wants to read it as I know I just don't have the time to devote to another series.

After entering, don't forget to check out all the other Spring Fling giveaways!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Book Trailer ~ Across the Universe

Across the Universe by Beth Revis


 A love out of time. A spaceship built of secrets and murder.

Seventeen-year-old Amy joins her parents as frozen cargo aboard the vast spaceship Godspeed and expects to awaken on a new planet, three hundred years in the future. Never could she have known that her frozen slumber would come to an end fifty years too soon and that she would be thrust into the brave new world of a spaceship that lives by its own rules.

Amy quickly realizes that her awakening was no mere computer malfunction. Someone-one of the few thousand inhabitants of the spaceship-tried to kill her. And if Amy doesn't do something soon, her parents will be next.

Now Amy must race to unlock Godspeed's hidden secrets. But out of her list of murder suspects, there's only one who matters: Elder, the future leader of the ship and the love she could never have seen coming.


You can  check out my review of Across the Universe here.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

The Month Ahead

After months of blogging I finally realized I was getting way too busy for the system I had of keeping track of when I needed to post, which was a sad little index card pinned on the cork-board above my computer. I was having to rewrite it every few days, and everything was out of order. I was constantly checking to make sure I wasn't forgetting to post something I'd promised to!

So, I made up a calendar list and put down everything I was already signed up to do,and all the ones I just wanted to. Wow, what a list! With my new system working so well I decided that at the end of each month I'm going to start posting a tentative look ahead at the next month.

May

Giveaways:
Spring Fling (1st-7th)
Love in Bloom (18th-23rd)
Splash into Summer (25th-31st)
My Favorite Reads (June 1st)

Blog Tours:
Swipe (16th)
Tallis (21st)

Reviews:
The Unbecoming of Mara Dryer
Inside Out
Empty
Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac
Going Under
Torn
A Million Suns
Legend
Hollyweird

Book Trailers:
** I've decided to keep these a surprise, but if you have any recommendations leave a comment or shoot me an email.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Review: Significance by Shelly Crane


Significance 
by Shelly Crane
Published: June 2011 
Available: Amazon

Synopsis:

Maggie is a seventeen year old girl who's had a bad year. She was smart and on track but then her mom left, her dad is depressed, she's graduating, barely, and her boyfriend of almost three years dumped her for a college football scholarship. Lately she thinks life is all about hanging on by a thread and is gripping tight with everything she has.

Then she meets Caleb. She saves his life and instantly knows there's something about him that's intriguing but she is supposed to be on her way to a date with his cousin. But things change when they touch, sparks ignite. Literally.

They imprint with each other and she sees their future life together flash before her eyes. She learns that not only is she his soul mate, and can feel his heartbeat in her chest, but there is a whole other world of people with gifts and abilities that she never knew existed. She herself is experiencing supernatural changes unlike anything she's ever felt before and she needs the touch of his skin to survive.

Now, not only has her dad come out of his depression to be a father again, and a pain as well, but Caleb's enemies know he's imprinted and are after Maggie to stop them both from gaining their abilities and take her from him. Can Caleb save her or will they be forced to live without each other after just finding one another?

Review:

I have to start off by sharing a slightly funny story. A few weeks back I was on Amazon, searching for some new books and I kept coming back to this idea of a girl and boy who discover they are soul mates when they first touch each other. I searched and searched, trying to find a cover or blurb that sounded familiar. I knew I'd seen it as part of a giveaway blog hop, so I finally went back the the original Linky list for the hop and started looking at the 200+ participating blogs. Well, after about 50 blogs I gave up, figuring if I was meant to read it I would eventually find it. Fast forward three days and I got home to find a large package in my mailbox. And there it was! The book I'd been searching for was one I'd actually one in a giveaway!! That book was Significance.

Anyways, I'm glad that fate found a away for me to read this book. I really enjoyed it. If you love a sweet romance with a paranormal twist then this is definitely a good choice.

When I first started reading, I was a bit worried that Maggie was going to be one of those pity party characters, constantly complaining about everything  and everyone in her life. Thank goodness, she wasn't. She ended up being a pretty likable character, and best of all she's not constantly being rescued by Caleb, and in fact by the end of the book she's the more powerful of the two. 

The love story is really the main part of the book, and everything else just seems to build into that relationship. While there is obviously a planned love triangle heading their way in the rest of the series, I think Crane did an amazing job of developing Maggie and Caleb's connection as one that includes absolute trust and faith in the other. Not just because they are attracted to each other, but because they are able to see into each other's souls, something that isn't just told to the reader, but shown as well.

Part of me wants to give this 5 stars, but there were some awkward phrasings and it started following the too common YA paranormal love triangle formula a bit too much. But I will definitely be checking out the next book in the series, might try to hold out a month or two to see if I can find it in a giveaway :)
    

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Cover Reveal ~ Redheads are Soulless by Heather M. White

Redheads are Soulless By Heather M. White




High School senior, Sofia Black, has had a very hard life. Since her father's death 7 years ago, she has had to look after her drug addicted, alcoholic mother. School isn't any better for her either. The other kids constantly tease, and ridicule her. All she wants is to get out of her small hometown in Alabama.

When new student, Jason, shows up, Sofia's world is turned upside down. She doesn't understand why he wants to befriend her so badly... And, just when she thinks she can trust him, trouble appears.

Jason's twin brother, Robbie, moves into town, and things go haywire. Sofia is now running for her life - and Jason is forced to share hidden secrets with her. She learns the truth about her father's death, and finds out that she may not be as "human" as she once thought. She struggles to accept her fate, while fighting for her life.



Redheads are Soulless

Monday, April 23, 2012

Review: Bumped by Megan McCafferty

Bumped  
by Megan McCaffert
Published: April 2011
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Available: Amazon

Synopsis:

In 2036 New Jersey, when teens are expected to become fanatically religious wives and mothers or high-priced surrogates for couples made infertile by a widespread virus, 16-year-old identical twins Melody and Harmony find in one another the courage to believe they have choices.

Review:

I wasn't sure what to really expect going in to this one. I'm on a current dystopian high, and have loved pretty much all of the dystopians I've read lately. So, when I initially decided to read this I was excited, then I started reading reviews of other reviewers on Goodreads who I usually agree with, and they weren't the best.


Well, I went ahead and read it, and I'm glad. It wasn't the best book I've red this year, or even over the last few years, but I do think it took on a different angle of the dystopian genre. So many of which involve a war, and government oppression, where youth are disposable and looked down on. McCafferty sets up a world where teens have power, although they possibly don't even realize it. She uses the growing obsession with media and fame to demonstrate the huge impact both have on youth and how it effects what we as a society value. 

The contrast between Melody and Harmony was done nicely and despite an obvious lean towards showing how oppressive Harmony's life has been, there is a balance. Harmony's ideology focuses on the value of life, not just the giving of birth but also how you use your life to better that of others. Melody's is portrayed as self-indulgent and  materialistic but with more freedom than Harmony's. Both girls come to realize that neither world is perfect. The alternating points of view build this wonderfully and keeps either girl from becoming too annoying. 


The ending was a bit unexpected although not entirely surprising. It will lead nicely into the sequel, yet even if this were the end of the girls' story I'd feel satisfied. They both learned something about themselves and what they see for their future, even if it might not be perfect.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children ~ Book Trailer

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children 
by Ransom Riggs

 

A mysterious island.

An abandoned orphanage.

A strange collection of very curious photographs.

It all waits to be discovered in Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, an unforgettable novel that mixes fiction and photography in a thrilling reading experience. As our story opens, a horrific family tragedy sets sixteen-year-old Jacob journeying to a remote island off the coast of Wales, where he discovers the crumbling ruins of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. As Jacob explores its abandoned bedrooms and hallways, it becomes clear that the children were more than just peculiar. They may have been dangerous. They may have been quarantined on a deserted island for good reason. And somehow—impossible though it seems—they may still be alive.


 You can check out my review of Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children here.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Review: Pandemonium by Lauren Oliver

Pandemonium 
by Lauren Oliver
Published: February 28, 2012
Publisher: Harper Teen
Available: Amazon

Synopsis:

I'm pushing aside the memory of my nightmare,
pushing aside thoughts of Alex,
pushing aside thoughts of Hana and my old school,
push,
push,
push,
like Raven taught me to do.
The old life is dead.
But the old Lena is dead too.
I buried her.
 I left her beyond a fence,
behind a wall of smoke and flame.

Review:

When I read the first book in this series, Delirium, it was hard to ignore the similarities to Ally Condie's Matched. And even though I knew it wasn't intentional, it was had to keep the books separate. When I picked up Pandemonium, it was unfortunately right after I read the second book in the Matched series, Crossed. So I began with hesitation, worried that it was going to follow a similar path to Crossed. I was pleasantly proven wrong.

Pandemonium, picks up right were Delirium left off, and we see Lena's struggle to survive from the first page to the last. The story is told in a Then and Now format, with Lena's initial survival alternating with the Now in which she's involved in the revolution and finding a way to move past the death of Alex. With his absence comes the love interest opening for Julian. Initially I couldn't stand his character. He seemed whiny and weak, but as the story progressed he kind of grew on me. Although I did feel like Lena's character wasn't as strong as I wanted her to be. She spends a long time mourning him, constantly thinking about him and what he would be doing if he were alive. then all of a sudden she was in love with Julian. It just seemed like she gave into the need to be with someone.

As for the ending, well, I won't say what happens, but damn! This has to be one of the greatest cliffhangers I've read in a long time! I will unquestionably be picking up the third in this series.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Spring is here and Songbird's on Sale!

I absolutely love this time of year! The weather is clearing up and for now there's no more snow, although nothing is guaranteed in Colorado. There's just such a feeling of newness.

As a teacher, I've never had to give up that sense of freedom that Spring brings to children. In only 34 days I'll be on break and able to stay up late, and best of all, sleep in! Of course, summer for teachers does tend to end a couple of weeks after it begins, when all of a sudden we are consumed with thoughts of planning for the next year. But for now, I'm still looking forward to the days off when I can hopefully finish up the novel I'm currently working on.

As part of my personal celebration of the season, I've placed Songbird on sale! You can now get Songbird in ebook format at Amazon and B&N for only 99¢! Best of the price has also been slashed at all international Amazon Kindle Stores!

You can check out the opening chapter of Songbird here, or by clicking on my page link at the top for the blog.

I'm also interested in hearing any recommendations for Spring reads. Feel free to comment below or send me a recommendation through Goodreads or email.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Review: Welcome, Caller, This is Chloe by Shelley Coriell

Welcome, Caller, This is Chloe  
by Shelley Coriell
Published: May 1, 2012
Publisher: Amulet Books
Available: Amazon

Synopsis:

Big-hearted Chloe Camden is the queen of her universe until her best friend shreds her reputation and her school counselor axes her junior independent study project. Chloe is forced to take on a meaningful project in order to pass, and so she joins her school’s struggling radio station, where the other students don’t find her too queenly. Ostracized by her former BFs and struggling with her beloved Grams’s mental deterioration, lonely Chloe ends up hosting a call-in show that gets the station much-needed publicity and, in the end, trouble. She also befriends radio techie and loner Duncan Moore, a quiet soul with a romantic heart. On and off the air, Chloe faces her loneliness and helps others find the fun and joy in everyday life. Readers will fall in love with Chloe as she falls in love with the radio station and the misfits who call it home.

Review:

There were so many things I loved about this book! First is the cover. It's so fun and bright, and it's kind of obvious that Chloe is going to be one of those outgoing, fun characters. And she is. I might not get her obsession with vintage shoes, but she's believable. She's a bit oblivious to the effect her vivacious and gregarious personality has on the people around her, yet she is caring and ultimately just wants to help her friends and family.

Duncan is a great contrast to Chloe, not completely opposite her, but different enough that it's obvious why they are attracted to each other. Duncan is a bit mysterious, although he's not the rude, or standoffish guy that seems to be common in YA today. When his home life is revealed, his actions become even more understandable, but the best thing is that it also makes it apparent why he would attracted to the bubbly Chloe who always looks on the bright side of life.

It was a quick and easy read. On the surface it seems like a simple read, but it did have a depth to it that had me in tears with how alone and powerless Chloe was at points. I can't wait to read more from Coriell.

Kindle Fire Giveaway with $50 in LLP books and a $25 Amazon Gift Card!

The Kindle Fire Giveaway is here!

Little Prince Publishing, my publisher, is celebrating the awesome 15k sales of author, Sybil Nelson, who wrote the hilarious Priscilla the Great series. Little Prince Publishing is giving away a Kindle Fire, $50 in LPP books, and a $25 Amazon gift card. Check out the other awesome LLP authors on the publishing company's website.

There are tons of ways to enter the content. One way to get extra entries is to buy copies of LPP books or leave reviews for LPP books. You can also blog about the giveaway. Buying any LPP book gets you the most points, but there's no obligation to buy any.


Monday, April 16, 2012

Review: Envy by Gregg Olsen

Envy by Gregg Olsen
Published: August 2011
Publisher: Splinter
Available: Amazon

Synopsis:

Crime lives--and dies--in the deceptively picture-perfect town of Port Gamble (aka “Empty Coffin”), Washington. Evil lurks and strange things happen--and 15-year-olds Hayley and Taylor Ryan secretly use their wits and their telepathic “twin-sense” to uncover the truth about the town's victims and culprits.

Envy, the series debut, involves the mysterious death of the twins' old friend, Katelyn. Was it murder? Suicide? An accident? Hayley and Taylor are determined to find out--and as they investigate, they stumble upon a dark truth that is far more disturbing than they ever could have imagined.
 

Review:

This was definitely not my type of book. I really struggled to get into this book and I actually gave up on it about half way through which is really disappointing, because the first chapter was great. I loved the description and the intense feeling that Olsen create there. But that description becomes the books downfall.

After the first chapter every little thing was bogged down with adjectives and yet nothing felt real. While a well placed adjective or adverb can help build depth, Olsen's frequent over description completely slow down the story and pulled me right out of it. It got to the point that I was skipping page after page of boring useless details.

There was also an endless list of characters that we were introduced to, and get to see a chapter here and there from their point of view. I don't mind third person, in fact I actually prefer it, but Olsen puts us right in these new character's heads and I began to wonder if I was supposed to be getting clues from each of their seemingly pointless thoughts. From the synopsis, I thought this story would focus on the twins, but they're just two more characters that I really didn't care about. They had absolutely no personality and their powers were so badly described (strange, I know, considering Olsen was so detailed about everything else) that I had no idea what they were suppose to be doing with them.

Envy is loosely based on a real life tragedy of cyber-bullying, but what could have made an interesting realistic story was really just a mess. Technically there was nothing wrong with the book, but I felt no connection to any of the characters, and midway through I had no investment in figuring out what really happened and was completely bored.  I gave up at the halfway point after about a month of having it sit open on my nightstand, and I don't have the slightest inclination to give it another try.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

New Feature - Book Trailers!

Innovative book marketing is something that is becoming vital to gaining momentum in book promotion. And it's not easy. I speak from personal experience, as with Songbird I've tried a number of different marketing techniques that have had mixed results, including a book trailer.

I'd never really thought book trailers would have much impact, and I did one for Songbird more because I enjoyed the challenge than anything else. But recently I was at the Hunger Games movie with my husband and saw a book trailer for Starters, which just happened to be the book I was reading at the time. It was interesting to see what the publishing company envisioned as what the book was and to compare it to my own thoughts. In the case of Starters, I don't think the book trailer would have encouraged me to read the book, but I do think that having seen it I helped spread the word about it, which I suppose is ultimately the purpose of the trailer.

So, I've decided to feature a book trailer each Sunday on my blog, along with a synopsis of the book (and review, if I've read it). So if you are an author (or publisher) and have a book trailer that you would like me to post please email me [angelafristoe(at)yahoo(dot)com] with the title, link to the YouTube video, and any other info you'd like posted. At this time I'm not sure how much interest I'll get so I can't promise to post every book trailer, but I will email in response if I decide to post your video.

Now to set up the rules:

1. The video MUST be a book trailer
2. The book MUST be YA
3. I will not post videos that lack any quality (basically keep it clean enough for a 13 year old see, but not made by one)
4. No hate mail if I don't post your trailer (there is always a chance that I'll post it later on) 

Since I haven't had anyone send me a suggestion or request I thought I'd post two very different trailers - my own trailer for Songbird, followed by the Starters trailer I saw at the theater.


Review: Breaking Beautiful by Jennifer Shaw Wolf

Breaking Beautiful 
by Jennifer Shaw Wolf
Published: April 24, 2012
Publisher: Walker Children's
Available: Amazon

Synopsis:

Allie lost everything the night her boyfriend, Trip, died in a horrible car accident—including her memory of the event. As their small town mourns his death, Allie is afraid to remember because doing so means delving into what she’s kept hidden for so long: the horrible reality of their abusive relationship.

When the police reopen the investigation, it casts suspicion on Allie and her best friend, Blake, especially as their budding romance raises eyebrows around town. Allie knows she must tell the truth. Can she reach deep enough to remember that night so she can finally break free? Debut writer Jennifer Shaw Wolf takes readers on an emotional ride through the murky waters of love, shame, and, ultimately, forgiveness.

Review:  


I absolutely loved Breaking Beautiful! Not the easiest thing to say when it's about an abusive relationship, especially one that is told looking back. For me what made the story so interesting were the characters and the mystery of what really happened.


Allie seemed so realistic to me. With every glimpse into her relationship with Trip I wanted to scream at her for not leaving him and for not telling anyone, but Shaw Wolf counters that with the lack of control Allie felt not just with her relationship with Trip but also with her parents. Her reasoning may not have been logical, but it was real. Her friend Blake was one of those characters that seemed to border on too perfect, but as the story progresses he shows his flaws and it gives him a more human side. He is a nice foil to Trip. While Trip is perceived as the local good boy by just about everyone other than Allie, Blake is seen as the bad boy. Pretty much the opposite of who they really were.


Despite Trip not being in the alive during the story, he was a pivotal character and his rapid and frequent mood swings that Allie lets the reader experience are scary and sad. He is like many abusers, capable of being two completely different people. The mystery of his death was actually one I was hoping would not be solved, because it would cause someone else to be hurt. Shaw Wolfe does an excellent job of making the reader question, through Allie's own conflicting emotions, whether they believe Trip's death was deserved, or if, no matter what kind of a person he was, he didn't deserve to die.

Breaking Beautiful was an amazing debut novel and Jennifer Shaw Wolf is definitely an author I look forward to reading again.
  

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Book Tour: Embrace by Cherie Colyer ~ Review and Giveaway

Thanks go out to YA Bound for hosting the Embrace Tour! Don't forget to check out the other stops on the Embrace Book Tour to read reviews of Embrace, interviews and guest posts by Cherie Colyer, and for other chances to win a copy of Embrace.  


Embrace by Cherie Colyer
Published: December 2011
Publisher: Omnific Publishing
Available: Amazon

Synopsis:

Madison is familiar enough with change, and she hates everything about it. Change took her long-term boyfriend away from her. It caused one of her friends to suddenly hate her. It’s responsible for the death of a local along with a host of other mysterious happenings. But when Madison meets a hot new guy, she thinks her luck is about to improve.

Madison is instantly drawn to the handsome and intriguing Isaac Addington. She quickly realizes he’s a guy harboring a secret, but she’s willing to risk the unknown to be with him.

Her world really spins out of control, however, when her best friend becomes delusional, seeing things that aren’t there and desperately trying to escape their evil. When the doctors can’t find the answers, Madison seeks her own.

Nothing can prepare her for what she is about to discover.
Dangerous, intoxicating, and darkly romantic, Embrace is a thriller that will leave you spellbound.



Review:

Embrace immediately gripped me with the line "Your life's going to change and there's nothing you can do about it". From there Colyer keeps the pace going with the intro of a love interest with some mysterious talents, Madison's friend Kaylee beginning to see things, and a hint that there is more to Madison than meets the eye. What's great is that the action keeps going with some freaky things happening and people not being who (or what) Madison thought they were.

The chemistry between Madison and Isaac is awesome. Madison is a likeable character, and her special talents make her even more interesting. She doesn't have a perfect life, and the hardships she's had make her a sympathetic character. Isaac has the 'new guy' appeal. He's mysterious, attractive, and there is an instant and inexplicable attraction with Madison, which is intensified by the 'electric' connection they have. The love triangle doesn't feel forced, and Kevin, Madison's ex, has qualities that Isaac lacks that make him feel like an authentic alternative to Isaac. Although I have to say I'm team Isaac :)

Coyler has a great start to a possible series here. It's different enough to appeal to readers tired of the vampire/angel paranormals out today, yet still holding on to what draws in those same readers - a great story, hot love interest, and a well developed mystery. Best thing about it is that despite Coyler's plans to write a sequel, she doesn't leave anything hanging. All the questions you form throughout the book are answered. YEA for authors who wrap things up!





Enter to win an ebook copy of Embrace
Winner will be announced April twenty-fifth during the 
Live Chat at  YA Bound




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Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Review: Across the Universe by Beth Revis

Across the Universe 
by Beth Revis
Published: January 2011
Publisher: Razorbill
Available: Amazon

Synopsis:

Seventeen-year-old Amy joins her parents as frozen cargo aboard the vast spaceship Godspeed and expects to awaken on a new planet, three hundred years in the future. Never could she have known that her frozen slumber would come to an end fifty years too soon and that she would be thrust into the brave new world of a spaceship that lives by its own rules.

Amy quickly realizes that her awakening was no mere computer malfunction. Someone-one of the few thousand inhabitants of the spaceship-tried to kill her. And if Amy doesn't do something soon, her parents will be next.

Now Amy must race to unlock Godspeed's hidden secrets. But out of her list of murder suspects, there's only one who matters: Elder, the future leader of the ship and the love she could never have seen coming.

Review:

Okay, so I'm a closet Trekkie and while I wasn't the huge Star Trek fan my dad and sister were, I grew to love it after the long hours they forced me to watch it. The rebooted movie with Chris Pine and Simon Pegg definitely had me loving it and it doesn't hurt that William Shatner is just an awesome Canadian. But what does Star Trek have to do with Across the Universe? Not much, well except the whole part about it being on a ship traveling through space, going where no man has gone before. Okay, so the similarities pretty much stop there, but it was enough to get me interested and considering I hate reading science fiction that really impressed me.

Across the Universe looks at what happens to a society of people trapped together on a ship, unable to see even the stars, generation after generation, and what happens when an individual is added to their environment unexpectedly. Revis does an amazing job of slowly building up the mystery of what happened on the ship to change the people and an even better job of showing how Amy must come to terms with what is going to become her life.

I have to say that even though I figured out certain plot points fairly early on, Revis did manage to surprise me with one aspect of the story, which of course I can't even hint at, or you'd figure it out much quicker then I did. I also loved how Amy doesn't sacrifice her feelings about what happened to her, but she retains her smarts enough to know that a certain amount of acceptance is the only thing that will keep her going.

Definitely a book I would reread, and I can't wait to read the sequel!

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Review: The Book of Blood and Shadow by Robin Wasserman

The Book of Blood and Shadow 
by Robin Wasserman
Published: April 10, 2012
Publisher: Random House Children's Books
Available: Amazon

Synopsis:

It was like a nightmare, but there was no waking up. When the night began, Nora had two best friends and an embarrassingly storybook one true love. When it ended, she had nothing but blood on her hands and an echoing scream that stopped only when the tranquilizers pierced her veins and left her in the merciful dark.

But the next morning, it was all still true: Chris was dead. His girlfriend Adriane, Nora's best friend, was catatonic. And Max, Nora's sweet, smart, soft-spoken Prince Charming, was gone. He was also—according to the police, according to her parents, according to everyone—a murderer.

Desperate to prove his innocence, Nora follows the trail of blood, no matter where it leads. It ultimately brings her to the ancient streets of Prague, where she is drawn into a dark web of secret societies and shadowy conspirators, all driven by a mad desire to possess something that might not even exist. For buried in a centuries-old manuscript is the secret to ultimate knowledge and communion with the divine; it is said that he who controls the Lumen Dei controls the world. Unbeknownst to her, Nora now holds the crucial key to unlocking its secrets. Her night of blood is just one piece in a puzzle that spans continents and centuries. Solving it may be the only way she can save her own life.

Review:

I had really high hopes for this book. The cover is stunning and just left me with a strong idea of what to expect. The synopsis sounded really interesting. Sadly, for me it didn't live up to my expectations. That's not to say it's a bad book, far from it, but it just wasn't what I expected and that left me disappointed.

What didn't work for me was the constant info dumps. There were lots of them, and if you have no interest in the history of the late 1500's you'll probably do what I was so tempted to - skip page after page of it. Oh, it's well written and it is tied to the plot, but it just seemed to take up space that the book could have done without considering it's 448 page count.

There were good things about the book, and they are what kept me reading. Despite the issues I had with the slow plot, I did enjoy the mystery of what the machine was, what it's purpose was, and who was willing to kill for it. Wasserman also gives us tons of twists and keeps us guessing about who Nora should trust and what their motives were. I just wish the first half of the book had been more condensed, so that the twists came a bit earlier.

Overall, this was a good read and I did enjoy it. I would definitely recommend this for anyone who likes to read about history and in-depth mysteries.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Hoppy Easter Eggstravaganza Giveaway Hop!!

Woo! Time for another giveaway! Thanks go out to Once Upon A Twilight & I Am A Reader, Not A Writer for hosting this awesome giveaway! Hopefully this is a time some of you will be getting an Easter break (sadly, I will not), but I know that author Courtney Vail will be hard at work on her book blog tour for her debut novel Kings & Queens. I was lucky enough to host Courtney's first stop on her tour and you can check out her interview here.

 Up for grabs is an ebook copy of Kings & Queens and
I am also throwing in a $5 Amazon Gift Card!! 

Check out the beautiful cover and the book blurb:

Seventeen-year-old Majesty Alistair wants police to look further into her father’s fatal car wreck, hopes the baseball team she manages can reclaim the state crown, aches for Derek…or, no…maybe Alec…maybe. And she mostly wishes to retract the hateful words she said to her dad right before slamming the door in his face, only to never see him again.

All her desires get sidelined, though, when she overhears two fellow students planning a church massacre. She doubts cops will follow up on her tip since they’re sick of her coming around with notions of possible crimes-in-the-works. And it’s not like she cries wolf. Not really. They’d be freaked too, but they’re not the ones suffering from bloody dreams that hint at disaster like some crazy, street guy forecasting the Apocalypse.

So, she does what any habitual winner with zero cred would do…try to I.D. the nutjobs before they act. But, when their agenda turns out to be far bigger than she ever assumed, and even friends start looking suspect, the truth and her actions threaten to haunt her forever, especially since she’s left with blood on her hands, the blood of someone she loves.


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Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Review: Gift by Andrea J. Buchanan

Gift  
by Andrea J. Buchanan
Published: March 2012
Publisher: Open Road Media
Available: Amazon

Blurb:

High school sophomore Daisy Jones is just trying to get by unnoticed. It doesn’t help that she’s the new girl at school, lives in a trailer park, and doesn’t even own a cell phone. But there’s a good reason for all that: Daisy has a secret, unpredictable power—one only her best friend, Danielle, knows about.

Despite her “gift” (or is it a curse?), Daisy’s doing a good job of fitting in—and a cute senior named Kevin even seems interested in her! But when Daisy tries to help Vivi, a mysterious classmate in a crisis, she soon discovers that her new friend has a secret of her own. Now Daisy and her friends must deal with chilling dreams and messages from the beyond. Can Daisy channel the power she’s always tried to hide—before it’s too late?

Review

To start off, I have to say the blurb is very misleading. It sounds as if Daisy's gift is at the center of the story, but really this is a story about three girls being haunted by a ghost, and I think the blurb does an injustice to the real heart of the story.

Gift was a really quick read. I finished it in about two days, and that's both good and bad. It's good because the pace was fast, things moved quickly and I didn't have time to get bored. But it's also a downfall because I think there was a lot of missed opportunities to develop the characters and their relationships more.

Daisy is likable enough (despite the whining about being so poor), as are the other characters, but I couldn't quite figure out why they were so connected. The exception is the budding romance between Daisy and Kevin, as the more we learn about him the more understanding it is that he, a senior, is willing to hang out with a sophomore. I especially like how Buchanan has Kevin deal with Daisy's actions, it felt very realistic in a book of paranormal events. It's really the relationships between the three girls or at least their relationships with Daisy that I struggled with, especially between Daisy and Vivi. I wish there had been more individual interactions between them that could make me understand why they so easily made some of the choices they did.


There are so many twists in the story, that it was hard to put down, simply because it always felt like I was on the verge of learning something else that would be vital to figuring out what would happen in the end. Definitely a recommended read for people looking for a quick non-horror ghost story.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Review: Starters by Lissa Price

Starters 
by Lissa Price
Published: March 2012
Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Available: Amazon

Synopsis:

Callie lost her parents when the Spore Wars wiped out everyone between the ages of twenty and sixty. She and her little brother, Tyler, go on the run, living as squatters with their friend Michael and fighting off renegades who would kill them for a cookie. Callie's only hope is Prime Destinations, a disturbing place in Beverly Hills run by a mysterious figure known as the Old Man.

He hires teens to rent their bodies to Enders—seniors who want to be young again. Callie, desperate for the money that will keep her, Tyler, and Michael alive, agrees to be a donor. But the neurochip they place in Callie's head malfunctions and she wakes up in the life of her renter, living in her mansion, driving her cars, and going out with a senator's grandson. It feels almost like a fairy tale, until Callie discovers that her renter intends to do more than party—and that Prime Destinations' plans are more evil than Callie could ever have imagined. . . .



Review:

I finding it really hard to make my mind up about this book. The first hurdle is the cover. The background looks neat and I like the eyes, but the girl just looks like a basic sketch I would have done back in high school. I'm thinking that maybe the physical cover is actually better than it appears as an ebook cover. The cover though does work with the story.

The concept is one I like, that in the not too distant future a war wipes out everyone between the ages of 18 and 65. Price does a great job of explaining that the young and old were immunized as they are the most vulnerable to illness. This really worked for me, and I even liked how the older people were in control of things. I loved the body bank idea. It felt a bit like that movie Surrogates, but with the younger generation being forced into letting the 'Enders' relive their youth.

What didn't work for me plot wise was that the 'Enders' were living up to 200 years. This felt like it was added in just to make the 'Starers' downtrodden fate all that much longer. This is where I doubt who was immunized. If people are living to 200, then 125 would be the new 40, right? But I could over look that and just think of these people as being old. What I really didn't get was how in only a few short years these 'Enders' who are the grandparents, great-grandparents, etc. of the 'Starters' let children be abused an neglected to such an extreme. Maybe a small portion would let it go for their own benefit, but not all of them, not to the extreme here.

The main character Callie started off good. I liked her dedication to her brother and her ability to do what she needed to. That said, once she wakes up in mid-way through her rental she starts to sink. It felts so contrived. She meets a cute boy, and immediately feels connected to him, and trusts him explicitly with the location of her brother and a ton of money. Then of course there is the obsession with the expensive clothing and cars. I couldn't believe that this girl who was the sole caretaker of her little brother, who had donated her body for recreational use for him, was suddenly going on dates and worrying about if a boy likes her, while her brother is sick, possibly starving.

The ending had some great potential, especially with the love triangle aspect due to a great twist Price threw in to tempt us into the sequel. But at the last moment it became a mess of superficiality and made me lose respect for one of the main characters. It just felt like the beginning of another forced love triangle.

I would read the sequel, but I would probably go in to it with slightly lower expectations than I did this one.




Monday, April 2, 2012

Review: Passion by Lauren Kate

Passion (Fallen #3) 
by Lauren Kate
Published: June 2011
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Available: Amazon

Blurb:

Luce would die for Daniel.

And she has. Over and over again. Throughout time, Luce and Daniel have found each other, only to be painfully torn apart: Luce dead, Daniel left broken and alone. But perhaps it doesn’t need to be that way. . .

Luce is certain that something—or someone—in a past life can help her in her present one. So she begins the most important journey of this lifetime . . . going back eternities to witness firsthand her romances with Daniel . . . and finally unlock the key to making their love last.

Cam and the legions of angels and Outcasts are desperate to catch Luce, but none are as frantic as Daniel. He chases Luce through their shared pasts, terrified of what might happen if she rewrites history.

Because their romance for the ages could go up in flames . . . forever.

Review:

Since I've blogged about the Fallen book covers a number of times I have to start off by saying that I absolutely hate this cover. Yes, it is nice they they have added some color in, making it finally stick out a bit from the pack, but still an anorexic girl, standing in a very uncomfortable position, with long black hair that Luce doesn't have?

So, this is just one long chase book. Luce runs, Daniel runs after her, Cam runs after them, Gabe, Molly, etc run after them. It made absolutely no sense that any of them would be running through the past, as though trying to catch up to Luce, especially when she didn't even seem to know what the purpose of doing it was. It just felt like Kate was struggling to build suspense, and fulfill a four book contract.

The plot is a complete mess, and honestly I am struggling right now to remember everything that happened. There are angels, and Elders and Outcasts and demons, and the devil mixed with a love story where the characters are now traveling erratically through time in search of something that they don't know about yet.

My first instinct had me rating this a 4 but as time passed and the clarity of what actually happened in the story rapidly faded, I just couldn't justify it, so I've put it at a 3. Daniel's point of view was what saved this for me. He always seemed like a bit of a jerk, but in Passion he actually seemed to come to life a bit.

Cover Reveal ~ Astarte's Wrath by Trisha Wolfe

Astarte’s Wrath by Trisha Wolfe
e-book
Expected publication: July 2012
A Kythan Guardians Novella 
Prequel to Destiny’s Fire


Two thousand years before Dez Harkly developed her secret powers, Kythan Astarte vowed to free the Kythans from the binds that enslaved them to the Egyptian pharaohs and sorcerers. Discover the prophecy that originated from a very different time, and spans generations to link two very different girls...This is the beginning.

Set against the backdrop of the Battle of Actium, in the city of Alexandria, Star struggles with her guardian duties as her feelings for the newly named pharaoh of Egypt grow deeper. Not only is Caesarian her duty, he’s the son of Cleopatra, and he’s…human. All of which makes their love forbidden.

But when a conspiracy linked to Caesar, Caesarian’s own father, creeps its ways into Alexandria, Star must choose between helping her fellow Kythans free themselves of their servitude, or protecting her charge—the last pharaoh—while Egypt burns around her.


Excerpt:

           Whenever the sky bleeds, covering the once-blue pallet with crimson, and the bright ball of fire burns through billowy puffs of white, staining them and the earth in hues of red-orange and amber…and ash floats on a non-existent breeze, I know the Narcolym Guardians are waging a battle.
            Shuttering my window, I unloose the hemp thread, and a sheer curtain veils the sand-covered horizon from my vision. My fingers trail the cream fabric, the tips tracing the darkening clouds against the light material as my other hand curls into a fist by my thigh, dousing the swirling vortex rising up at the charge in the air.
            “Star…?”
            Astarte, I correct inwardly, but pinch my lips closed. “Yes, Habi?”
            Habi’s footsteps echo throughout the mud-brick room as he approaches. “It’s time…”

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Interview with Courtney Vail, Author of Kings & Queens


I am thrilled to be a part of the Kings & Queens book tour hosted by Supagurl Books! I'm actually getting to kick off author Courtney Vail's book blog tour with an interview.

Seventeen-year-old Majesty Alistair wants police to look further into her father’s fatal car wreck, hopes the baseball team she manages can reclaim the state crown, aches for Derek…or, no…maybe Alec…maybe. And she mostly wishes to retract the hateful words she said to her dad right before slamming the door in his face, only to never see him again.

All her desires get sidelined, though, when she overhears two fellow students planning a church massacre. She doubts cops will follow up on her tip since they’re sick of her coming around with notions of possible crimes-in-the-works. And it’s not like she cries wolf. Not really. They’d be freaked too, but they’re not the ones suffering from bloody dreams that hint at disaster like some crazy, street guy forecasting the Apocalypse.

So, she does what any habitual winner with zero cred would do…try to I.D. the nut jobs before they act. But, when their agenda turns out to be far bigger than she ever assumed, and even friends start looking suspect, the truth and her actions threaten to haunt her forever, especially since she’s left with blood on her hands, the blood of someone she loves.

Interview:

Did you always want to be an author?
 
Um, I always knew I wanted to write in some way, maybe commercials. I was a Journalism Advertising major in college, but I had trouble with the journalism side of it. 

In my newswriting class, we had this book with blocks of information that you had to turn into articles, and I always wanted to write beyond the facts. The why and how have always fascinated me as much, if not more, than the who, what and where. Digging into contradictions and the ugly sides of human nature is where I see the real story. 

My passion to become on author only struck when my stories came to life and needed to be shared. Being an author was not something I really planned to do or saw myself becoming. My husband had taken this writing course, and I read his course books, and they got my mind turning. My books are not for everyone because I’m not afraid to examine the ugly in life and take readers right along with me. No matter how much I try to make my books normal, the freak in me is forever pulling them in strange directions. Not everyone likes strange and quirky, so I expect mixed reactions to my work.

Tell us a bit about Kings & Queens.

My novel is about a tomboy who overhears two fellow students planning a church massacre. When cops don’t believe her, she aims to ID the nut jobs herself before they act, but they have an agenda far bigger than she ever assumed, and she gets sucked into a ruthless game that casts even her closest friends under suspicion.

How did you come up with the idea for your novel?

So lame, but I got the idea from a dream. I had a loose love triangle in mind with Majesty and her two best friends, who play on the baseball team she manages, but I had no plot for it. One night, I dreamt the massacre thing, overhearing the massacre plot while on a run, yes, in my sleep, and as soon as I woke up, I knew I’d found my plot. I just didn’t know when I started it that it would become such a rollercoaster ride with twisty turns, dark tunnels and heart wrenching descents, but, I’m sure glad it ended up that way. I love rollercoasters. 

Majesty is very unusual name, how do you come up with names for your characters? 

All my characters’ names just came to me in the instant they blossomed in my mind. Majesty (Maj) was always Majesty, long before the dream. I considered changing her name because this weird royal thing ended up emerging, and the plot embodies the move-for-move strategy play of chess, it’s like a living match, but her weird name gave her so many things, like inner strength, nerves of steel, a quick wit and a sharp tongue. It just fit her rarity, so it remained. Alec was Alec for being a smart aleck. And Derek, I’m not sure where he got his name, but he’s a darkly minded, all-American boy on a quest for substance, so that’s the name he holds.

If you got the chance to spend a day with any character from your books, who would it be and why?

Probably Warren Niles, a gothic outcast. I’m sure he could teach me a thing or two.

What do you hope readers will obtain from your book?

A resonating experience.

Are there any books and stories that have influenced or stuck with you from your childhood or young-adulthood?

It never really influenced me, but I loved Anne of Green Gables. Something about those books, and the movies too, sucks me it every time. And The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe and A Wrinkle in Time showed me that imagination in fiction was limitless.

Is Kings & Queens part of a series? If so, when can we expect more of Majesty?

Yes, the sequel to Kings & Queens, Sapphire Reign, will be coming out this summer through Little Prince Publishing. It opens 10 years later. 

Do you have any current writing projects? Can you tell us a bit about them?  

I am working on three YA novels. Startstruck, where an unknowingly dangerous, stalked movie star on the run collides with a male Irish traveller who’s on a mission to kill her in order to save the world, Genie about a female djinn who gets captured and somehow stuck to a nerdy surfer without the magical skills to grant him his deepest desires, and Dropping Like Flies, in which a girl gets cursed with a magical, never-ending hit list that has everyone on it dying in some weird way, and her crush happens to be on it. See what I mean? My books are weird.

Thanks for hosting me! Great questions.

 
Author Bio

COURTNEY VAIL writes totally twisted YA and adult suspense. She enjoys braiding mystery, suspense & romance with some kind of weirdness. Her addictions to crazy coffee concoctions, Funny Bones, Ben & Jerry's, and bacon keep her running and writing. She currently lives in New England with a comedian stud and a wild gang of kidlets.

   
Connect with Courtney:

 

Thanks go out to Courtney for stopping by and sharing with us a bit about herself and her debut novel Kings & Queens! Don't forget to visit the other stops on the Kings & Queens tour which can be found here.

Come back April 6th for a chance to win Kings & Queens when I will be giving away an e-book copy of Kings & Queens as part of my Easter giveaway! Or if you can't wait to win your copy, you can purchase Kings & Queens at Amazon :)