Saturday, June 30, 2012

Review: The Lighting Thief by Rick Riordan

Percy Jackson is about to be kicked out of boarding school... again. And that's the least of his troubles. Lately, mythological monsters and the gods of Mount Olympus seem to be walking straight out of the pages of Percy's Greek mythology textbook and into his life. And worse, he's angered a few of them. Zeus' master lightning bolt has been stolen, and Percy is the prime suspect.

Now Percy and his friends have just ten days to find and return Zeus' stolen property and bring peace to a warring Mount Olympus. But to succeed on his quest, Percy will have to do more than catch the true thief: he must come to terms with the father who abandoned him; solve the riddle of the Oracle, which warns him of betrayal by a friend; and unravel a treachery more powerful than the gods themselves.

Genre:  Middle Grade Fantasy
Publisher Type:  Traditional
My Rating:  *  *  *  *  *

My Review:
I always try to read the book before seeing a movie.  I find movies ruin the reading experience but I didn't do that in this case, just didn't get around to it.  But I love the movie and knew immediately I wanted to read the book.  It turns out I love the book more!!!  Love it! Love it!  Love it!!!  It's totally different than the movie, even the who-dun-it is somewhat different ... so I can totally love each independently of the other!  Yay! ...the best of both worlds!

I appreciated the "voice" of Percy Jackson, who narrates his own story.  I enjoyed experiencing his self-discoveries along with him.  I did hate that I knew his heritage from the movie before discovering it the book.  

The mystery is age appropriate and well written with no plot holes that I noticed.  Each character has a good back story making them very real to me; it was so easy to identify with Percy, Annabeth and Grover.  I liked them, cared what happened with them and cheered for them throughout their quest.  This was just such a fun adventure with lots of Greek mythology and plenty of modern creativity!!!  I am totally stoked to continue on with this series!

 I did listen listen to this as an audio book and enjoyed it immensely!  The narrator, Jesse Bernstein, does a fabulous job :)

Cover Art:
This is a book with a LOT of different covers.  The cover I have in my post is my favorite.  I enjoy the coloring and the visual strength of the lightning bolt within the title.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Blog Tour: Book Excerpt and Giveaway of Pack of Lies

Yay!  I love blog tour time and I'm excited to be a part of the Pack of Lies tour.  Pack of Lies by Sara Dailey and Staci Weber is a great YA werewolf PNR that I reviewed earlier this month.  Click here to see my review.

One of the things I really liked about this book is the descriptive writing.  Being a huge werewolf fan, I love an author who can really tap my imagination when it comes to being a wolf.  Dailey and Weber do just that and they do it really well, as you'll see from this sneak peek.  So let's get straight to the good stuff... here is the promised book excerpt:

“I picked up on a scent that stopped all thought, all movement, leaving me standing completely still, breathing in a smell that I would never forget. A mix of earth, and musk, and honeysuckle, and sandalwood filled my senses leaving me with a need, a need to find this thing that was suddenly making me salivate, suddenly making me ache with desperation. Without hesitation, my nose hit the ground as I began to track the enticing smell. I didn’t look up. I didn’t stop moving. I didn’t stop to think about what I might find. None of it mattered. I needed to find the source of that wonderful scent.
In the near distance, I heard a rustling in the brush, which ceased the mission that had held me spellbound. I stopped dead in my tracks and looked around, spooked by what I might find, but what I saw was the last thing I expected.
Peering out from behind a tall oak, a wolf was watching me. We just stood still, staring at each other, neither of us moving a muscle. His amazing green eyes were in sharp contrast to his deep, dark fur. He was a much bigger wolf than me, strong and lean, and the glint in his eyes told me that he was no ordinary wolf.”

Hmmm.... good stuff, huh?  Well, if your interest has been peaked and you'd like to win your very own Pack of Lies ebook, fill out the Rafflecopter form below (click here if it's being shy):
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Review: Crux by Julie Reece

***Like what you see?  Be sure to stop back by for an incredible guest post from this author complete with GIVEAWAY!!!***
Release Date: July 9, 2012

She should have run. Now, she’ll have to fight.

Eighteen year old Birdie may be homeless, but she’s surviving, that is until a mysterious guy throws money in the air like a crazy game show host and she grabs some with the idea she’ll be able to buy dinner that night.

In that singular moment, unassuming Birdie becomes the girl in everyone’s viewfinder. Thugs want to kill her. Money-guy wants to recruit her. The very hot, very rich and very out of her league Grey Mathews wants to save her.

Birdie, though, wants nothing to do with any of them until she realizes fate didn’t bring them all together.

Her heritage did.

Now, with only twenty-one days left, she’s got to decide whether to follow in the footsteps of those before her or risk her life for people she’s only just met.

Genre: YA Urban Fantasy/PNR with Historical Elements 
Publisher Type:  Indie
My Rating:  *  *  *  *

My Review:
Wow, holy cow is this a great read! It has such a creative and unusual premise and I enjoyed the many twists and turns of the fast-paced plot. The plot does get a bit slow mid-book, but that's hardly an issue because the writing is sooo good.  Julie Reece has a gift for conveying deep emotions with her writing (see my fav quote below).  I felt Birdie's regret, distrust, apprehension, excitement and joy.  And I love the characters - small and large!!!  Birdie is amazing (and has such a well-devised back story); I really cared what happened to all the characters and hated to say goodbye at the end of the book.  I'm really hoping that there's another Crux book coming. (Fenris, fenris, fenris ... hmmm, more of you in book 2?pleeeeaaaasssseee .... I'm hoping!!!!).

Cover Art:
I've got to say how much I love this cover!  I love the hints of the story from it.  Mysterious enough that I'd have to pick it up to find out what this book is all about!!!

A Fav Quote:
"A piece of us is gone and won't come back."  His eyes are glassy.  I've learned to recognize pain, and Grey's expression crucifies me with him.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Blog Tour: Moa by Tricia Stewart Shiu

Woo Hoo!  It's always fun to be a part of a tour and today I have the chance to be a part of the Moa tour.  Here's a snippet from Moa, a paranormal YA novel with a literary bent, by Tricia Stewart Shiu. 

And after that ... read on to learn how you can win some crazy prizes as part of this blog tour by Novel Publicity, including $6000 in Amazon gift cards, a Kindle Fire, 5 autographed copies of Moa, and 5 autographed copies of its sequel, Statue of Ku.  

About Moa (Moa #1): 

Eighteen-year-old, Hillary, anticipates adventure as she embarks for trip to Honolulu, but gets more than she bargained for when Moa, an ancient Hawaiian spirit, pays her an unexpected visit. Find it on Amazon.  

About Statue of Ku (Moa #2):

The second book in the Moa Book Series, “The Statue of Ku” follows Hillary and Moa as they jet to Egypt on the Prince’s private plane to reclaim Moa’s family heirloom, the inimitable statue of Ku. Find it on Amazon. 

And now ... drumroll, please ....Here's the promised Sneak Peak...

Eighteen-year-old, Hillary Hause’s left thumb searches frantically to turn on the “I’m Okay to Fly” hypnotherapy recording. Her nerves on edge, fuchsia fingernails press into the blue pleather armrests of her airplane seat.

“No spells can help you now,” she whispers to herself under her breath—then checks to see if anyone notices. Nope, they don’t.

The plane lifts through the early morning, gray fog of California, “June Gloom” giving way to the azure sky, and Hillary covers her curly brown head and retreats beneath the questionably clean plane blanket cranking the volume to drown out the drone of the engines.

“Outer shell close to breaking.” This time she doesn’t care if anyone hears.

I hover just beyond her “outer shell”—a movement in the periphery, a faintly familiar scent, a fond memory just beyond recognition, a non-human observer. Before the week is up, Hillary will save my life, as I will hers. But, for now, more about Hillary.

The drink cart rolls past the blanket, which has, by now become a moist steamy cave.

“Hey, freak. I hope your plane crashes.” The memory reverberates through her brain despite her attempts to distract herself with the hypnotherapy recording. She increases the volume, but the ugly conversation, which occurred just before school ended, still haunts her mind.

“I guess the only people they check on those flights are the suspicious ones,” Krystal Sykes, a bully from her home room, leans in as Hillary hastens to grab books for her next class. Krystal, also a senior, has hounded Hillary since the first day of freshman year and this is the final day during the final hour at this tiny high school of 376 students —where everyone knows everyone else’s business.

“Look, Krystal.” Hillary turns her eyes toward the sneering blonde. “It’s the last day of school, we’ll never see each other again. Can you give it a rest?” These are the most words the two young women have exchanged in the entire four years of high school.

A look of shock replaces Krystal’s smug snick, “Oh, so now you talk.” She leans in, so close that her spray tan becomes a patchy Impressionist painting. Her pores are blotched with cakey, two shades too dark powder, her unblended cream eyeshadow creases across the center of her lid and her tropical breeze flavored breath threatens to strangle the words right out of Hillary.

“I know all about your witchcraft practices and have made a few spells of my own. Trust me. You’ll never make it to your sister’s house in Hawaii.” Krystal’s backpack jingles and Hillary watches her spin around and skip down the hall.

Hillary is not a witch. She has, however, carefully crafted a “shell” to protect herself from bullies like Krystal—who, as far as Hillary can tell—is not a witch either. She has watched Krystal throughout elementary, middle and high school and has not been able to discern whether or not she practices witchcraft. No matter what Krystal’s background, her intent is to harm. And there is nothing worse than a spell with an aim to hurt. Hillary has had no choice but to remain in a constant state of defensiveness.

The twenty-minute recording ends and Hillary falls into a troubled sleep—feeling every bump and hearing every creak of the plane.

With about an hour left in the flight, Hillary awakens with a “turtle headache.” Hillary’s older sister Molly taught her this term which means a headache caused by sleeping too long underneath the covers of one’s bed.

Sadly, Molly lost her husband, Steve, last year in an unfortunate surfing accident. The throbbing pain in Hillary’s left temple could be the result of remaining submerged beneath an airplane blanket and wedged between the window and armrest, or it could be from worry about how Molly and her niece, Heidi are dealing with their devastating loss.

Disoriented, Hillary pokes her head out just in time to glimpse puffy clouds and sparkling sea below. A flood of excitement and sheer wonder flows through Hillary in the form of a tingle from her head to her toes. And then, a lovely thought: “…And for an Everlasting Roof, The Gambrels of the Sky…” She will enjoy this plane ride, thanks in part to Emily Dickinson.

As part of this super cool, special promotional extravaganza sponsored by Novel Publicity, the price of the Moa and Statue of Ku eBook editions have both been dropped to just 99 cents this week.   Woo hoo!  That's almost free.  Tee hee hee!!!

All the info you need to win one of the amazing prizes is here on Novel Publicity's page.

To win the prizes:
Purchase your copies of Moa and Statue of Ku for just 99 cents

About the author: 

Tricia Stewart Shiu combines her addiction to the written word with her avid interest in the healing arts and all things metaphysical in her novels Moa and Statue of Ku and looks forward to finding new ways to unite her two loves. Visit Tricia on her
website, Twitter, Facebook, or GoodReads.

So thanks for stopping by today 
and I hope you win one of those crazy good prizes! 
 Happy reading!!!!  
***waves madly***

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Review: Midnight for Charlie Bone

What's happening to Charlie Bone?

Charlie doesn't want to believe it when he discovers that he can hear the thoughts of people in photographs. But his horrible aunts are delighted – it means that he is one of the chosen and must attend the Bloor's Academy for gifted children. Once there, Charlie realizes that some of his classmates have equally mysterious powers, and soon Charlie is involved in uncovering the mysterious past of one of them.

Genre:  Middle Grade Urban Fantasy
Publisher Type:  Traditional
My Rating:  *  *  *  *  *

My Review:There's an old song (or maybe it's a saying) that goes "You had me at hello."  Well Charlie Bone had me by paragraph two.  I LOVE THIS BOOK!!!!  Truly love it!!!!  Jump-up-and-down-with-happiness love it!

The best thing about middle grade fantasy is the sense of balanced whimsy.  It's fun without getting too silly.  And this book totally nails that.  Strange, unique and creative happenings are afoot throughout the book with an intriguing yet age-appropriate mystery.  As with any middle grade fantasy written since Harry Potter, you can certainly draw parallels between the two series.  Both are amazing, but really aren't anymore similar than any 2 books with similar topics (boys with magical gifts going to boarding schools in the UK).

Charlie is such a great protagonist; perfectly written!  He's vulnerable, brave, smart and resourceful.  You hurt for his loses, are frightened with him and take joy in his victories.  And he is surrounded by the most interesting characters!  The Flames and Charlie's uncle are my favorites.  Even the antagonists were interesting and unique.

I've already gotten the next book out on cd from the library and can't wait to hear what book two holds. There's a mystery about Charlie's father and, though I'm pretty sure I've gotten it figured out, I'm still excited to see how that unfolds.

As this is an audio book, I wanted to note what a stellar job Simon Russell Beale does.  He did a perfect job and made an incredible book all the more a joy to experience!

Cover Art:
There's several book covers available for this book.  I like them all, but this one is my favorite.  I like that it's a drawing, it adds to the whimsy.  All the blue adds mystery and the cat and cloaked figure hints at elements within.  What else could a cover junkie ask for?

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Review Blitz: Pack of Lies by Staci Weber and Sara Dailey

Hi!  **Waves Madly**
So, as a part of the Review Blitz Blog Tour, today I get to share my review of Pack of Lies.  

Like what you see?  Then be sure to stop back by here on June 28th to get a sneak peak of chapter 1 and an opportunity to win this book!!!  Woo hoo!!!

And be sure to stop at these other great sites to see their reviews as well.  
Why?  Because they're awesome.

The last thing Allison Wright ever expected when she moved to Red Ridge, New Mexico was to come muzzle to muzzle with the wolf of her dreams.

Seventeen-year-old Allison Wright is convinced she’s losing her mind. Uncontrollable mood swings, hot flashes, and the urge to punch anyone who gets in her way are suddenly becoming everyday occurrences. Before her erratic behavior gets out of hand, Allison’s mother finally comes clean about her dark secret. Mom is a werewolf, and soon Allison and her brother Aiden will suffer the same fate. When Allison reaches her breaking point, the family leaves their life in Texas to move to Red Ridge, New Mexico where they rejoin the pack that Allison’s mother left behind almost 20 years ago.

Unfortunately, not everyone in Red Ridge is thrilled about Allison’s arrival, especially when she attracts the attention of the very handsome, very taken, soon-to-be alpha, Cade Walker. Little does Allison know, her mere presence is causing a rift in a once unified pack. Not only has Cade been forbidden from being with Allison by his father, the pack’s alpha, Cade’s girlfriend, Kendall Stuart, will stop at nothing to get Allison out of the picture. Well on her way to becoming the next alpha’s mate, Kendall expects to rule the pack by Cade’s side even if it means teaming up with a rogue werewolf with an agenda of his own. Determined to get rid of Allison permanently, when Kendall and the rogue join forces, all hell breaks loose and no one in the pack is safe, especially not Cade and his true mate.

Genre:  YA Fantasy (definitely older YA)
Publisher Type: Indie
My Rating:  *  *  *  

My Review:
So... my thoughts....  Pack of Lies is an entertaining read that I gobbled up in two days.  Yup, nose in kindle big time.  I really appreciate the "voice of the book."   It's descriptive, helping the reader feel the mc's experiences,  yet doesn't get bogged down with extraneous details (I especially loved Allison's first change).  And there's great humor (the way Allison is told that she is a werewolf is priceless)!

The story line is pretty solid, quick-paced and interesting, but the suspense and mystery could have been built up quite a bit more (the blurb gives too much away, telling you pretty much everything).  It's a good story, but had the potential to be a great one.

I liked both Allison and Cade.  But I didn't love either of them, which hurt the book for me.  I had a hard time with them not being more bothered by the sneaking around.  I get the whole irresistible pull of the bond, but the situation showed Allison to have little self-respect and Cade to be cowardly.  I'm a big fan of significant character growth in the books I read, but not enough attention was given to the change of heart our mcs would have to have had in order for this to feel right for me.

 I like Kendall as an antagonist.  I appreciate an antagonist with a good back story.  Her actions made sense for the most part.  I was, however, confused by our mystery bad-guy wolf.  One moment he's getting his kicks my frightening Allison, but then when he has her captured, he doesn't pay her a lick of attention.  He's totally alpha one minute and then totally at ease with Kendall's leadership the next, not a well written character.

So bottom line, this is totally worth the read.  I enjoyed my time with the Red Ridge Pack and look forward to reading more of this series.

Cover Art:
I like the fog and the wolf in the background and monochromatic with red is always a good color choice.  Outside of that I'm not a huge fan of the cover.  This cover does not help the book as it is, but with some minor adjustments and a change of font, there's great potential here.

Favorite Quotes:
"I had only thought I had a heightened sense of smell before.  The scents in the air were comforting, like earth, nature, life ... like home.  It was as if I belonged; as if I had finally discovered where I was meant to be."

"I didn't know where I was going, but I didn't care.  The freedom of dashing through the woods was all I needed.  I finally felt comfortable in my own skin, which didn't make a lick of sense being that it was all so new to me."

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Review: Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer

Artemis Fowl (Artemis Fowl #1)

Twelve-year-old Artemis Fowl is a millionaire, a genius—and, above all, a criminal mastermind. But even Artemis doesn't know what he's taken on when he kidnaps a fairy, Captain Holly Short of the LEPrecon Unit. These aren't the fairies of bedtime stories—they're dangerous! Full of unexpected twists and turns, Artemis Fowl is a riveting, magical adventure.

A little teaser from pg 118:

"Looking for something?" said a voice.  A cold heartless voice.

Holly reared back from the wall.  The human boy was standing not two feet from her, his eyes hidden behind mirrored glasses.  He had entered the room without a sound.  Extraordinary.

"Sit please.'"

Holly did not want to sit, please.  What she wanted to do was incapacitate this insolent pup with her elbow and use his miserable hide for leverage.  Artemis could see it in her eyes.  It amused him.

"Getting ideas are we, Captain Short?"

Holly barred her teeth, it was answer enough. ... "Fowl," She said with feeling.  "You have no idea what you've done.  Bringing the worlds together like this could mean disaster for us all."

Genre:  Middle Grade Urban Fantasy
Publisher Type:  Traditional 
My Rating:  *  *  *  *

My Review:

Creative, creative, creative!!!

Artemis Fowl is such a fun twist on good vs evil.  I had no idea how it would turn out, being that our mc, Artemis is the villain.  I had wondered if it would be difficult to connect with him since he was up to no good, but he's a wonderful character with just enough vulnerability to make him likable despite his nefarious plans.

I love the humor, the creative turn on the term "LEPrecon" and the fairy world Colfer creates.  The conclusion is very satisfying with all characters staying true to who they are.

Overall a fantastic start to a series.  I look forward to continuing on with the series (the final book, The Last Guardian is out July 10th).

Cover Art:
Both cover options are really interesting and reflects the fun adventure inside.  I'm probably more partial to the blue cover since we get to see Artemis.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Review: Entice by Carrie Jones

Entice (Need #3)

Zara and Nick are soul mates, meant to be together forever.
But that's not quite how things have worked out.

For starters, well, Nick is dead. 
Supposedly, he's been taken to a mythic place for warriors known as Valhalla, so Zara and her friends might be able to get him back. But it's taking time, and meanwhile a group of evil pixies is devastating Bedford, with more teens going missing every day. An all-out war seems imminent, and the good guys need all the warriors they can find. But how to get to Valhalla?

And even if Zara and her friends discover the way, there's that other small problem: Zara's been pixie kissed. When she finds Nick, will he even want to go with her? Especially since she hasn't just turned...she's Astley's queen.

Genre:  YA Fantasy (Pixies and Weres!!!)
Publisher Type:  Traditional
My Rating:  *  *  *  * 

My Review:
So the blurb for this book totally describes what happens.  And it's kind of hard to go into any more detail without giving anything away.  The action is exciting and surprising and something terrible happens and other amazing things happen.  Then there's Astley.  **happy sigh**  He's a great character (sorry team Nick) and I have no idea how Jones in going to resolve this love triangle?!?  I'm itching to read book 4 because of this!  

My only read complaint is in regards to Zara's pixie-kissed state.  She takes forever to accept her new self.  And while this was believable, it got a little long winded.  This holds true for her friends as well, believable but a little drawn out.  

Overall, great book; can't wait to read the conclusion.  Yay!

Cover Art:
I love the covers for this series!  They are so pretty!!!  I just have to post another cover of Entice :)


Thursday, June 14, 2012

Release Day Celebration: The Dryad Quartet

I'm super excited to be a part of the release day party for the final two books of 
Yay!!!  Woo Hoo!

and... there's a giveaway!  Double Woo Hoo!

So first, let me introduce books 1 & 2...

Breath of Air (Dryad Quartet #1)

Her name was Capri, and she was Air.

She was born with a gift she didn’t understand. A gift so strange, so remarkable that she had kept it secret for as long as she could remember, despising that it made her different when all she wanted was to be normal, to belong. As an orphan, belonging to someone, anyone, would have been an incredible blessing, one she would have given up all that she had just to get a taste of.

But the truth was that she didn’t belong in the orphanage in Virginia, or even in the United States. In fact, she didn’t belong with human beings at all. Because she wasn’t one of them, not really. She was something much more extraordinary.

She could shift the direction of the wind, create billowing clouds out of nothing, and charm birds into dancing on her open palm. She belonged to an elite group of beings, responsible for preserving the balance of nature and the safety of Earth from an underworld that deserved to be feared, and needed to be controlled.

And after years of being lost, she had at last been found, and now the truth of how she had ended up so far from home was becoming horribly clear to her.

But there’s someone who doesn’t want her to return; someone who knows Capri was the only witness to an act of heinous treason and violent murder. And when she begins to search her memories for details of the night she was taken from her home, details that will implicate a killer, she finds herself the unwary target of an otherworldly dark force intent on silencing her by any means possible.

Firefight in Darkness (Dryad Quartet #2)
Her name was Blythe, and she was Fire.

She fought for what she believed in, and wouldn’t hesitate to unleash the fire in her blood on anyone who threatened those she loved.

But when an alarming truth is revealed regarding the one man she’s both hated and longed for her entire life, she finds herself in an awkward position of both acceptance and denial. But whichever way she looked at it, she was reminded that there was an evil out there gunning for her and her family, and she would stop at nothing to destroy him, even if it meant sacrificing everything she had and everything she was.

Fortunately for her, she had help. But even with the companionship of a skilled and lethal bounty hunter, Blythe couldn’t escape more of the truth, no matter how hard it was to swallow.

Because the evil she’s fighting has a story to tell, and she’d be a damn fool not to listen.

And now... drumroll, please....

A Life Earthbound  (Dryad Quartet #3) 

Her name was Rhiannon, and she was Earth. 

She was graceful, intelligent, and undoubtedly a workaholic. She could put a crack in the Earth’s surface a mile wide and grow the loveliest flower ever to have existed right beside it, a contradiction she held with both reverence and pride. For she herself was something of a contradiction: a girl, seemingly free, but silently trapped within her own heart and mind, never to be released.

Or so she thought. She never wasted much time on impractical dreams or wishes she figured could never come true. But all her life one person has been there, a constant reminder of the true girl living behind her mask of cool indifference and solitude.

But the tides of her fate were changing, and her helplessness building as a master plan was in the works that would only bind her wrists further, and destroy everything she never even thought she could have.

Throw in a dash of murder, vicious accusations, and plenty of family drama, and it could very well be a recipe for freedom, or for death.

Of Water and Madness  (Dryad Quartet #4) 
His name was Liam, and he was Water.

His heart was as expansive and deep as the ocean, with emotions that could both rage like storms and soothe like a clear and quiet stream. He lived for the smell of rain, and thrived in the knowledge that it was he who made it fall.

But while most everything in his life seemed to be going great, there was still this impending doom just over the horizon, threatening to wipe his home completely off the map. All he had to do was rise to the challenge and fight once the war came.

But there was just one little problem: he had gone, quite simply, mad.

Not that he knew it, nor did anyone else. But he wasn’t himself any longer, and the truth behind the lies would eventually come out. And when it did, Liam would discover the burned bridges and the destroyed hearts he’d left in his wake.

It was a funny thing, madness. A funny, cruel, and violently destructive thing. 

Let's introduce our author...

Katie Jennings is a mid-twenty-something year old girl with an imagination for days and a supportive husband who thinks she’s a colossal nerd. She writes because she loves it, and because breathing life into characters is the greatest escape she’s ever found. Most of her time is spent puttering around online, editing her latest book, or feeding people food to her cat. She lives just north of Los Angeles, and enjoys reading fantasy and romance novels, watching Once Upon a Time, playing around on Photoshop, and finding new music to fall in love with. She believes in, above all else, happy endings.

Get to know Katie better:

Now onto our giveaway.  It is indeed international, but if you are not in the US, the prize will be in ebook form.  Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Blog Hop: Indie Author Giveaway Hop

Woo hoo!!!  It's blog hop time!  I'm super glad you decided to stop by today 
as this hop is all about Indie/Small Press authors and you know how I love my indie/small press authors.  

I've chosen to feaure books by Kate Avery Ellison.  
Get to know Kate on Goodreads, her blog: The Southern Scrawl or Twitter.

A bit about Kate:

I've been making up stories since I was five years old, and now I'm thrilled to be able to do it as a full-time job. I have an obsession with dark fantasy, dystopian futures, and Pride and Prejudice-style love stories full of witty banter and sizzling, unspoken feelings. When I'm not writing, I'm probably tweeting, reading funny blogs, or watching my favorite shows (which include TVD and BSG). I live with my geeky husband and our two bad cats in Atlanta, GA.
Books by Kate that you can choose from:

The Curse Girl
YA Fantasy
I gave this one 5 stars.  See my review here.

When Bee is imprisoned in a magical, cursed house because of her father's selfish choices, she has just one plan... escape! But she must solve a riddle and help her fellow prisoners break the curse that binds them all before she can leave, and that is proving more difficult than she originally thought thanks to the bitter young master of the house, Will.

Will wants nothing to do with Bee or her help (and he certainly isn't planning on falling in love with her), but he might have underestimated just how determined and clever--and irresistible--she can be.

Frost (Frost #1)
YA Fantasy/Dystopian
I gave this one 4 stars.  See my review here.

In the icy, monster-plagued world of the Frost, one wrong move and a person could end up dead—and Lia Weaver knows this better than anyone. After monsters kill her parents, she must keep the family farm running despite the freezing cold and threat of monster attacks or risk losing her siblings to reassignment by the village Elders. With dangers on all sides and failure just one wrong step away, she can’t afford to let her emotions lead her astray. So when her sister finds a fugitive bleeding to death in the forest—a young stranger named Gabe—Lia surprises herself and does the unthinkable.

She saves his life.

Giving shelter to the fugitive could get her in trouble. The Elders have always described the advanced society of people beyond the Frost, the “Farthers,” as ruthless and cruel. But Lia is startled to find that Gabe is empathetic and intelligent…and handsome. She might even be falling in love with him.

But time is running out. The monsters from the forest circle the farm at night. The village leader is starting to ask questions. Farther soldiers are searching for Gabe. Lia must locate a secret organization called the Thorns to help Gabe escape to safety, but every move she makes puts her in more danger.

Is compassion—and love—worth the risk?
Once Upon a Beanstalk
Short Story Fantasy
I haven't read this one yet!

In this humorous collection of fairy tale mashups combining modern day technology with fairy tale sensibilities, Rumpelstiltskin and Red Riding Hood are married and running a royal wedding planner venue, Rapunzel has been rescued from her tower and is about to start her happily ever after, and the Grimm Brothers are a group of notorious thieves who are forced to rescue a kidnapped princess in order to avoid execution.

This collection includes the short stories "Once Upon a Wedding," "Once Upon a Heist," and "Once Upon a Beanstalk."

So we can keep this international, all prizes will be in the e-book format of your choice.
Now, please fill out the Rafflecopter form below and cross your fingers!
 I'll be in touch if you're a winner.
a Rafflecopter giveaway Also, be sure to stop by all these other wonderful sites to win more awesome Indie books!

Monday, June 11, 2012

Review: Frost by Kate Avery Ellison

In the icy, monster-plagued world of the Frost, one wrong move and a person could end up dead—and Lia Weaver knows this better than anyone. After monsters kill her parents, she must keep the family farm running despite the freezing cold and threat of monster attacks or risk losing her siblings to reassignment by the village Elders. With dangers on all sides and failure just one wrong step away, she can’t afford to let her emotions lead her astray. So when her sister finds a fugitive bleeding to death in the forest—a young stranger named Gabe—Lia surprises herself and does the unthinkable.

She saves his life.

Giving shelter to the fugitive could get her in trouble. The Elders have always described the advanced society of people beyond the Frost, the “Farthers,” as ruthless and cruel. But Lia is startled to find that Gabe is empathetic and intelligent…and handsome. She might even be falling in love with him.

But time is running out. The monsters from the forest circle the farm at night. The village leader is starting to ask questions. Farther soldiers are searching for Gabe. Lia must locate a secret organization called the Thorns to help Gabe escape to safety, but every move she makes puts her in more danger.

Is compassion—and love—worth the risk?

Genre:  YA Fantasy with Dystopian Elements
Publisher Type: Indie
Rating:  *  *  *  *

My Review:
This was such a great read!!!  With a unique premise that takes frightening and mysterious creatures you might find in Game of Thrones and mixes in the tough survival situation of The Hunger Games, Frost is a wonderful twist of tension, magic and sweet romance.

There's believable characters that you immediately care about, suspense galore at every step of the way and a sense of hope & purpose by the conclusion that's so important in dystopian. I will say I'm not a huge fan of how the book ended (more of a personal preference), but I'm holding out for book 2 to bring a better sense of satisfaction in that regards (yup, I'm being purposefully vague -- no spoilers here!).

Cover Art:
Holy Freaking Cow!  Did you see this?!?  Self published, yup.  Beyond gorgeous cover, yup!  On Kate's website she's sharing the news about the launch of Sketcher Girls Studio and perhaps they did this cover?  I just love this cover.  Beautiful and mysterious!  Perfection!!!

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Review: Theodosia and the Serpents of Chaos by R. L. LaFevers

Theodosia and the 
Serpents of Chaos

Theodosia Throckmorton has her hands full at the Museum of Legends and Antiquities in London. Her father may be head curator, but it is Theo—and only Theo—who is able to see all the black magic and ancient curses that still cling to the artifacts in the museum.

When Theo’s mother returns from her latest archaeological dig bearing the Heart of Egypt—a legendary amulet belonging to an ancient tomb—Theo learns that it comes inscribed with a curse so black and vile that it threatens to crumble the British Empire from within and start a war too terrible to imagine. Intent on returning the malevolent artifact to its rightful place, Theo devises a daring plan to put things right. But even with the help of her younger brother, a wily street urchin, and the secret society known as the Brotherhood of the Chosen Keepers, it won’t be easy . . . she quickly finds herself pursued down dark alleys, across an ocean, through the bustling crowds of Cairo, and straight into the heart of an ancient mystery. Theo will have to call upon everything she’s ever learned in order to prevent the rising chaos from destroying her country—and herself!

Performed by Charlotte Parry (Brilliance Audio on CD)

Charlotte Parry is a New York and London based actress with extensive theatre experience on and off Broadway, regionally and in the West End. Some of her favorite work includes the inaugural year of Sam Mendes' The Bridge Project - 'The Cherry Orchard and 'The Winters Tale' (BAM, International tour and West End), Coram Boy and The Real Thing (Broadway and West End - 3 TONY awards), two seasons with the Sir Peter Hall Company, and the chance to work with Tom Stoppard and Edward Albee on new plays.

Genre:  Middle Grade Historical Fantasy
Publisher Type:  Traditional
Rating:  *  *  *  *  *
My Review:
**My best British accent** I do so enjoy a well written middle grade fantasy!  Much in the vein of the 2001 movie, The Mummy Returns (one of my all time favorite movies), LaFevers writes a smashingly brilliant adventure (yes, still in the British accent mode).  

Theodosia -clever, bright and under appreciated- has grown up surrounded by ancient Egyptian artifacts.  Theo has learned to survive with her gift of sensing the dark magic (with which many artifacts were cursed) by studying ancient Egyptian texts on magic.  And this gift, both blessing and curse itself, has kept Theodosia on her toes.

This is such a well written and creative book.  I loved the plot premise and the Egyptian history.  LaFever's does a beautiful job of building the historical background without weighing the reader down with extraneous data.  It's fast paced and full of adventure and interesting characters.  I worried and fretted for Theo and those she loved.  I disliked her father, who seemed just hateful at times, but was glad that at the conclusion both he and Theo's mom affirmed their love and concern for their daughter. 

I got this one out of the library as an audio CD (I had just stumbled upon it while waiting for my children to finish up) and am so glad I picked it up!  Charlotte Parry, the actress who acted out the book for this recording, did an amazing job.  She sounded just as I'd imagine Theo would sound like.  Flawless!

In summary:  Loved it!  Loved it!  Loved it!!

Cover Art:
Totally awesome and appropriate!  I love the folk art style and how it's layered on the penciled background.  I'm also glad that Isis the cat made it on the cover.  I enjoyed Isis' part of the story (and yes, I worried about Isis throughout!).

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Review, Series Review, TV Show Review: Sookie Stackhouse

by Charlaine Harris

36 works, 13 primary works

Alternate series titles:

The Southern Vampire Mysteries

True Blood Series

Genre: Paranormal Romance, Mystery
My Series Rating: *  *  *  *  *

The Southern Vampire Mysteries, also known as The Sookie Stackhouse Novels, is a series of books written by bestselling author Charlaine Harris that were first published in 2001 and now serve as the source material for the HBO television series True Blood. The series has been retronymed the True Blood Series upon reprinting to capitalize on the television adaptation.

In The Southern Vampire Mysteries series, Harris develops a detailed mythology and alternate history that approaches supernatural beings as real; at the beginning of the series, vampires have only been public knowledge for a couple of years. Other supernatural beings, such as werewolves, shapeshifters, etc., exist but do not go public until later in the series. Its history has otherwise unfolded so closely to that of the real world that the series contains occasional references to popular culture.

The series is narrated in first person perspective by Sookie Stackhouse. She is a waitress and a telepath in the fictional town of Bon Temps, Louisiana. The first book in the series, Dead Until Dark, won the Anthony Award for Best Paperback Mystery in 2001. The eleventh book, Dead Reckoning, was released on May 3, 2011. Harris was originally contracted to write 10 books, but she revealed at Comic Con 2009 that she has signed a contract for three additional books.

My Review:  **Very mild spoilers ahead of first few books, no "who-dun-it" spoilers**

This is an amazingly creative and fun series!!!  Harris' whit and humor flows through the stories with quirky characters and crazy happenings.  Her vampires are somewhat traditional (more Dracula, less Twilight) and definitely dangerous.  There's a whole assortment of other supernatural beings that are introduced throughout the series, keeping it fresh and adding twists.  The mysteries are suspenseful and without annoying plot holes.  I devoured most of the series in the summer True Blood first came out, taking no more than 24 hours per book.  They are just that hard to put down.

I love Harris' characters.  They are so real, flaws & all.  Sookie is a hoot!  I also appreicate that even amidst all the craziness, Harris' characters have very real relationships.  And in line with that, Sookie experiences heartbreak and learns to move on.  This is Sookie's story 100% and there's more than one (very yummy) love interest throughout the series, which makes this series all the more unique.

On the less than positive side, I've got 3 pretty minor complaints:  1. there's some minor inconsistencies (I think it all involves Sam) from the earliest books to later, but nothing that really messes with the story, 2. the latest books haven't been quite as good (still good though and I expect a great finale) and 3. just plan on skipping the short stories; the one's I've read really weren't worth my time.  Regardless, this is not a series you want to miss out on!!!

Cover Art:
I love the folk art that graces the original covers.  It's truly art and it conveys the essence of the story.  The "True Blood" covers are great, too, (very sexy), but I prefer the originals.

True Blood:
Done in true HBO fashion, True Blood is jamb pack of action with over-the-top sex and violence.  It's an amazing show!  The show emulates the book series' true essence, without just retelling what happens in the book.  Some characters (like Sookie, Bill, Eric) remain true to who they are, while others (such as Tara, Lafayette, Jessica) are totally transformed or not even in the book.  I love the plot twists and turns, especially ones designed to trip up book fans (very end of season 1 is a great example!).  As an avid fan of the books, HBO perfects the "same but different" that allows me to still love the characters, but not get bored with a plot I already know.

Most Recent Release Review:

With Felipe de Castro, the Vampire King of Louisiana (and Arkansas and Nevada), in town, it’s the worst possible time for a body to show up in Eric Northman’s front yard—especially the body of a woman whose blood he just drank.

Now, it’s up to Sookie and Bill, the official Area Five investigator, to solve the murder. Sookie thinks that, at least this time, the dead girl’s fate has nothing to do with her. But she is wrong. She has an enemy, one far more devious than she would ever suspect, who’s out to make Sookie’s world come crashing down.

My Rating: *  *  *  *  
My Review:
Deadlocked is very much about moving Sookie and the crew into a place for the grand conclusion of the series, book #13.  It doesn't have the crazy action at breakneck speed that keeps a reader glued to the pages as the earlier books, but it still has a good mystery and interesting plot.  There's plenty of "oh, I din't see that coming."  And I did still read it in day and a half.  All the characters (that haven't been killed off) made an appearance. which was fun (Quinn *happy sigh* ...think Vin Diesel).  There's events that leave me VERY curious as to what will happen in the last book, which is what this book was all about.  I'll be sad to see this series come to an end, but I', looking forward to how it will all play out.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Blog Tour and Review: Guest Post and 2 Giveaways with Twined's A. L. Collins's

Woo hoo!  It's time for yet another Blog Tour complete with giveaway (not just one, but 2!!!).  We'll also get to hear from the author, A. L. Collins on his inspiration for writing Twined (an awesomely unique YA Urban Fantasy) and I'll chime in with a complete review.  So, enough of me prattling on ...  let's talk about our featured book!

Book Description:
Avalin Marsh is used to disappointment. When her mother murdered a woman in the kitchen of her home on her eleventh birthday, Avalin decided that the people in your life were only there to let you down. She built up walls over the years making a mental fortress impervious to disappointment, heartache and sadness. However it also isolated her from others, making her bitter... and lonely.

When her mother was diagnosed with schizophrenia after the murder, Avalin began to see and experience things that she couldn't explain. She thought she could handle these episodes by pushing them back into her mind. Until the day she sees one of her classmates morph into a monster right in front of her eyes. Pushed to the brink of paranoia, Avalin truly believes she's insane. Then a mysterious man named Albert comes into her life. She's wary of his motives yet for some reason finds herself drawn to him even though they've never met. What's even more inexplicable is that Albert knows who Avalin is. She's the daughter of the famous Abigail Marsh. Her mother.

Now the two of them will need to put their differences aside and trust one another. If Avalin can't let her guard down long enough to let Albert in, then there might be dire and far reaching consequences in store for them.

It turns out Avalin Marsh isn't as crazy as she thought.

Genre:  YA Urban Fantasy
Publisher Type:  Indie
My Rating: *  *  *

My Review:
I was excited by the premise of this novel.  I was immediately intrigued and wanted to know more about Avalin's situation.  I gave this book 3 stars because portions were 5 stars all the way and portions were 1 & 2 stars.

As we begin, Avalin talks of her 11 year old self.  This was a point of great concern for me because the girl described was at best 5.  And I'm pretty much expert to all things little girl, my daughters being 7 and 11.  I even had my 11 year old read this first portion and she was pretty horrified (ironically, we meet Avalin's 11 year old brother later in the story and he is a completely believable 11 year old boy).  Right after this, teenage Avalin tells us that she is considering becoming an orthodontist because she wants to drill and pull out teeth.  Umm, that's typically a dentist as orthodontists are specialist and don't normally due general dentistry.  Honestly, I almost quit reading at that point.  Luckily I held on because after getting past these issues a really great story emerges.

I loved the creativity that went into this book.  The twined are a completely unique and different race from any other you'll find in speculative fiction.  And how they interact and need their human counterparts was a fresh change.  Avalin is a likable and believable character.  She has backbone and doesn't just swoon at Albert's feet.  Albert is an interesting character with depth.  The plot is 3-dimensional, fast paced and full of the action/adventure I crave with a perfectly delicately growing romance.

I really enjoyed the bulk of this book and was ready to give it a solid 4 stars until the ending.  I'm okay with cliff hangers.  I don't mind unanswered questions hanging out there to be answered in book 2.  But every book regardless of being series or stand alone, needs a solid conflict, climax and resolution.  There was no substantial resolution.  Just a creepy event meant to have you worrying about the character until book 2.  I was disappointed enough in the ending to subtract a star from my rating.

So, overall, a good read, worth the time (I'll definitely be looking for book 2), but has some elements difficult to accept.
Onto Giveaway #1 (keep reading for a 2nd giveaway).....

The author has generously offered up an amazing prize pack which includes a print copy of the book, bookmark, poster, pen and much more. This giveaway is US and International.  Are you Oooo-ing and Ahhh-ing?!?  I sure am!!! (Click here if Rafflecopter is playing hide 'n' go seek)

a Rafflecopter giveaway So, let's get to know our author now...

I'm a character enthusiast and lover of storytelling. I've spent most of my life listening to the tales that people tell and studying what makes a book or characters alive and interesting. Writing is my love and the details the flavor. I hope that people enjoy what I can create.

Get to know A. L. better on his blog and twitter.  Add his book, Twined, to your tbr list on Goodreads.
Now, let's hear from the man of the hour about his experience writing Twined...

The idea for Twined really came quite suddenly. Usually I don’t do romance books. Well, I don’t do books that are entirely romance. It’s just not a strong suit of mine to focus on love or lovers alone. But with Twined I wanted something different. I wanted something new.

I thought of the premise of love. How risky it is to bank all of your happiness on a variable such as another person. You don’t know how they’re going to act, react or even what their motives could be. How can we know, for certain, what their intentions are? Do they truly love you? Do you truly love them back? Do you want to? These are all questions that lovers are forced to decipher on a daily basis. That’s what makes love exciting. That’s what makes it dangerous.

I always thought of romance as one person needing another; one person needing another in order to have true happiness. It’s as if we’re made incomplete, and we can only finish our design with the help of another, or in some case several other, human beings. That concept intrigued me. And then the core idea of Twined hit me. What if there were people out there who literally needed another person to survive? What if there was a species identical to humans that thrived on partnership to exist? To truly be happy? That’s when I thought of this book.

The idea of the book is that the Twined are a species that parallel humans in many ways. However in order to survive past their early twenties, they must perform a ritual called a Joining with another human being. Through this ritual the Twined enters a symbiotic relationship with a human of their choosing, allowing them to live a full life and giving them access to supernatural abilities. The Twined literally need other people to survive. If they don’t form a bond, then they wither and die as their bodies prematurely shut down.

Now the Twined are known as creatures that distort reality. In their hidden language they are called the Sathantia, or the “seam rippers”. They have been around since the beginning of time, hidden from the world. But the secret is slowly revealing itself in these modern times. It is thought that the world is on the cusp of an all-out Twined revealing. However for the time being, the existence of the Twined remains a carefully and well-guarded secret.

The core idea of Twined is that often you must find the other half of yourself within the love of another person. Be that through friendship, true love, fate or happenstance. There’s a whole dimension to a character that can be studied based on how said character treats other people. Relationships are a powerful thing. And it’s interesting to see a man like Albert, who so desperately needs someone to Join with, wind up with Avalin who wants anything but another complication in her life. The chemistry in this book I think is great and I believe it will only get better with time.

The inspiration for Twined did indeed stem from the idea of love. There are a lot of key social values in this book, like loyalty, honesty and trust. We’re a social species by nature. Forming bonds is coded into our brains, into our DNA. I think that we are meant to love for a reason. Because sometimes you have to look through someone else’s eyes to truly realize the best things about yourself.
Okay, ladies, I don't know if our author is single, but with insight into love like that,
I'm not sure he will be for long!!!

So onto the grand giveaway for the Twined Blog Tour for a $50
Amazon Gift Card
!  Woo hoo!!!  (Click here if Rafflecopter is being shy)
a Rafflecopter giveaway