Showing posts with label blog tour. Show all posts
Showing posts with label blog tour. Show all posts

Thursday, September 07, 2017

Review: Even the Darkest Stars by Heather Fawcett (and Giveaway)

From Goodreads: Kamzin has always dreamed of becoming one of the Emperor’s royal explorers, the elite climbers tasked with mapping the wintry, mountainous Empire and spying on its enemies. She knows she could be the best in the world, if only someone would give her a chance. But everything changes when the mysterious and eccentric River Shara, the greatest explorer ever known, arrives in her village and demands to hire Kamzin - not her older sister Lusha, as everyone had expected - for his next expedition. This is Kamzin’s chance to prove herself - even though River’s mission to retrieve a rare talisman for the emperor means climbing Raksha, the tallest and deadliest mountain in the Aryas. Then Lusha sets off on her own mission to Raksha with a rival explorer who is determined to best River, and Kamzin must decide what’s most important to her: protecting her sister from the countless perils of the climb or beating her to the summit. The challenges of climbing Raksha are unlike anything Kamzin expected - or prepared for - with avalanches, ice chasms, ghosts, and even worse at every turn. And as dark secrets are revealed, Kamzin must unravel the truth of their mission and of her companions - while surviving the deadliest climb she has ever faced. 

My Rating: 3.5 hearts 

Thoughts on the Novel: Even the Darkest Stars by Heather Fawcett was a fun read that started and ended strongly but lagged a little in the middle. By far the best aspect of this novel though was its worldbuilding since the setting seems to be inspired by the Himalayas. While reading Even the Darkest Stars, I really felt how perilous it must be to climb to the summit of a mountain like Mount Raksha, the book’s equivalent of Mount Everest. Add in fantastical elements like witches and ghosts and I fully expected at least one person to die! (Sadly, there were some animal deaths as well in Even the Darkest Stars that were completely unnecessary.)

The cast of characters was decent, if somewhat forgettable; and I liked that the romance remained in the background and that a love triangle didn’t develop, considering Kamzin became infatuated with River Shara quite early on and was joined on her journey to Mount Raksha by her best friend and ex, Tem. With all the plot twists towards the end of the book, I’m looking forward to reading a stronger sequel!

Even the Darkest Stars was released on September 5, 2017 by Balzer + Bray. 

Comments About the Cover: It’s so, so pretty!

In exchange for an honest review, this book was received from the publisher for free via The Fantastic Flying Book Club. 
 Even the Darkest Stars can be bought from: [Amazon] [Barnes and Noble] [Book Depository]


If you're interested in getting a necklace and signed book plate for Even the Darkest Stars and live in the US, you can enter to win by filling out the form below.

You can follow the rest of the tour by clicking on this link. Also, visit Heather Fawcett's website to find out more about her and follow her on Twitter at @heathermfawcett

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Guest Post: J.M. Kelly

Twins Crystal and Amber have the same goal: to be the first in their family to graduate high school and make something of their lives. When one gets pregnant during their junior year, they promise to raise the baby together. It’s not easy, but between their after-school jobs, they’re scraping by. Crystal’s grades catch the attention of the new guidance counselor, who tells her about a college that offers a degree in automotive restoration, perfect for the car buff she is. When she secretly applies - and gets in - new opportunities threaten their once-certain plans, and Crystal must make a choice: follow her dreams or stay behind and honor the promise she made to her sister.

Today, I'd like to welcome J.M. Kelly, the author of Speed of Life to my blog. J.M. is here to talk about one of her hobbies, building miniatures.

When I'm writing a new book, there comes a point where I'm so absorbed in it that I can't do any of my normal after-work past times, like read, or cook anything fancy ... or clean the house. And that's when I turn to visual arts. I wouldn't say I'm great at painting or drawing, but it's fun to do and it's a release from words, plots, and characters. It takes all my attention because it's not something I do regularly and it gives my brain a break from thinking about the story.

One of my favourite things to do is build miniatures. My college degree is in Theatre Arts and at university I had to take stagecraft and scene design. We learned to build dioramas which I found really fun. A few years ago, when I wanted to have a writing cabin constructed for me, I first built a small one to scale out of foam core. I painted it with kids' poster paints, mixing the colours like I used to do in Grade 7 art class. You can see a video of it here.

My friend is an architect and she and I took it out into the yard with her husband, the builder, and we positioned it in different places on our property, deciding on the building spot and turning it in different directions to get an idea of good placement, which was actually pretty cool and not anything I'd intended to do with it.

I have such clear pictures in my head of places I imagine and all of my books are like little movies in my head. Speed of Life is so visual to me, and I hope it comes across to readers, but in my head, I know every detail of the place Crystal, Amber, and Natalie live in, so I decided it would be fun to build it in miniature.

First I laid it out on paper, planning to build the whole house. But then I realized even at a small scale (1/2" to the foot), it would be pretty big, so I decided to build only the garage-bedroom that they share. I laid it out on a board that was big enough to include the driveway, too. I had plans for that driveway.

Here are some pictures of it:

If you're looking at it in person, you can see a lot more detail, but even these pictures give you a good idea of my vision. Some things are more "representative" of what they are supposed to be, and others look a little more realistic. This is because I'm pretty much winging it and trying to have fun, not judge my abilities as an artist. After all, it's something I do to relax. I figure building miniatures is a lot like cooking…if you want a perfect cake, go buy one. If you want a delicious, homemade cake with ingredients you know about, make one and who cares if it's slightly lopsided?

I knit the bedspreads for the beds and the crib, but I printed out tiny pictures to make the posters on the walls. It was great fun choosing decorations for each side of the room depending on which girl slept where. And I printed out a tiny picture of pampers to make the box of diapers, cut up an ice cube tray to make Rubbermaid storage containers, and used a scrap of old material for the rug. The rug covers a stain Crystal made when she worked on a car part in their bedroom (it might look like I spilled paint there, but I admit nothing). I'm not sure if the toothpick legs on the crib could actually hold Natalie without collapsing, but they look okay!

The reason I included the driveway (and the oil stain) is because like Amber, I have ambitions that there will be a cool Mustang parked there. I bought a plastic model kit last spring that my husband and I were going to put together, but do you know how many pieces those models have in them? Probably as many as a real car, except they're tiny! I could write another novel in the time it would take to put it together. I'm seriously considering making a paper maché car. Or possibly I'll just make some tiny bricks and primer the model and "put it up on bricks." Everyone who restores cars seems to have at least one that doesn't run, up on bricks, somewhere in their yard. Why not Crystal? 

I have a terrible time visualizing settings so these photos should definitely help me with picturing Amber and Crystal's bedroom. Thanks for dropping by, J.M.! 

A bit about J.M. (as found on Goodreads): J.M. Kelly is the YA pen name for the children's author Joelle Anthony. She loves the rain, which is good because she was born and raised in Portland, Oregon and now lives in British Columbia, Canada. She spent her childhood with her nose in a book, often in the backseat of whatever old car her dad had at the time. She's worked as an actress, a Minor League Baseball souvenir hawker, the Easter Bunny, and various other not-so-odd jobs. Now she mostly writes novels, but she still dabbles in sketch comedy, nonfiction articles, and teaching writing to both kids and adults. She recently wrote and starred in her first full-length play, along with her husband. Books by Joelle Anthony include: Restoring Harmony, The Right & the Real and the forthcoming A Month of Mondays.

Speed of Life can be bought from: [Amazon] [Chapters]

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Review: Vassa in the Night by Sarah Porter

From Back Cover: In the enchanted kingdom of Brooklyn, the fashionable people put on cute shoes, go to parties in warehouses, drink on rooftops at sunset, and tell themselves they’ve arrived. A whole lot of Brooklyn is like that now - but not Vassa’s working-class neighborhood. In Vassa’s neighborhood, where she lives with her stepmother and bickering stepsisters, one might stumble onto magic, but stumbling out again could become an issue. Babs Yagg, the owner of the local convenience store, has a policy of beheading shoplifters - and sometimes innocent shoppers as well. So when Vassa’s stepsister sends her out for light bulbs in the middle of night, she knows it could easily become a suicide mission. But Vassa has a bit of luck hidden in her pocket, a gift from her dead mother. Erg is a tough-talking wooden doll with sticky fingers, a bottomless stomach, and a ferocious cunning. With Erg’s help, Vassa just might be able to break the witch’s curse and free her Brooklyn neighborhood. But Babs won’t be playing fair ... 

My Rating: 3.5 hearts 

Thoughts on the Novel: Inspired by the Russian folktale Vassilissa the Beautiful, Sarah Porter’s Vassa in the Night is a bizarre read that probably won’t appeal to everybody. If you like your books to make sense, Vassa in the Night is not that type of book. The plot, at times, took strange turns that I found downright confusing. For example, I still don’t get Vassa’s dad’s desire to be a German shepherd!

At other times though, despite the magic making no sense, I really enjoyed the book. Porter’s writing was almost dreamlike; and I loved that the story features a witch who doesn’t hesitate to behead shoplifters and has a great marketing campaign, a pair of bloodthirsty hands who delight in deception and violence, and a kleptomaniac wooden doll with an endless appetite. I also thought the setting was atmospheric and magical.

An odd book that should be given a chance, Vassa in the Night was released on September 20, 2016 by Tor Teen. 

Comments About the Cover: I like how the text stands out against the simple background.  

In exchange for an honest review, this book was received from the publisher (Raincoast Books) for free. 

Vassa in the Night can be bought from: [Amazon] [Barnes and Noble] [Book Depository]
As part of the blog tour for Vassa in the Night, I was lucky enough to ask Sarah a question as well. I asked her, "If you were to write a story inspired by another piece of writing, what work do you think it would be based upon and why?"

Hi Zahida! I doubt I’ll ever write another retelling, but I can think of a few more Russian fairy tales that would make great novels. “Finest the Falcon” could be particularly lovely, though I’m not sure a story that romantic would be the right fit for me. I’d love it if somebody else tackled that one, though. I’ve toyed with the idea of doing something with “Ivan, the Glowing Bird, and the Gray Wolf.” Ivan encounters the Gray Wolf when the Wolf devours his horse in the wilderness; talk about a meet-cute! But then after that violent introduction, the Wolf is passionately loyal to Ivan, even when he doesn’t deserve it. There’s something so moving and fierce about their relationship; I think it could make an amazing book. 

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Review: Suffer Love by Ashley Herring Blake (and Giveaway)

From Goodreads: Hadley St. Clair's life changed the day she came home to a front door covered in slips of paper, each of them revealing the ugly truth about her father. Now as her family falls apart in the wake of his year-long affair, Hadley wants everyone-her dad most of all-to leave her alone. Then she meets Sam Bennett, a cute new boy who inexplicably "feels like home" to Hadley. Hadley and Sam's connection is undeniable, but Sam has a secret about his family that could ruin everything. 

My Rating: 3.5 hearts 

Thoughts on the Novel: Going in, I knew that romance would be a prominent feature in Ashley Herring Blake’s Suffer Love due to the cover. What I wasn’t expecting from it was to explore how an extramarital affair can affect not just a spouse, but the children as well.

Early on in Suffer Love, it’s revealed that Sam’s mother and Hadley’s father had a year-long affair with each other. Months later, both families are still reeling from the news. Feeling betrayed by her father, Hadley no longer believes in love, and seeks meaningless comfort from guys. Meanwhile, Sam’s father has moved away, and his mother spends little time with him. Both Hadley and Sam’s emotions felt realistic, as did the connection between them.

Though it's obvious that Sam and Hadley will eventually fall for each other, I wanted to know whether their relationship would survive, given the awkward circumstances. Unfortunately, I wasn’t entirely satisfied with the answer since it acknowledged, but didn't really address the problem.

Suffer Love will be released on May 3, 2016 by HMH Books for Young Readers. 

Comments About the Cover: I’m glad I had an e-ARC because I wouldn’t be caught on the bus with a cover like that :) 

In exchange for an honest review, this book was received from the publisher for free via The Fantastic Flying Book Club. 

Suffer Love can be bought from: [Amazon] [Barnes and Noble] [Book Depository] [Kobo]

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You can follow the rest of the tour by clicking on this link. Also, visit Ashley Herring Blak to find out more about her and follow her on Twitter at @ashleyhblake.

Monday, February 01, 2016

Review: These Vicious Masks by Tarun Shanker and Kelly Zekas (and Giveaway)

From Goodreads: England, 1882. Evelyn is bored with society and its expectations. So when her beloved sister, Rose, mysteriously vanishes, she ignores her parents and travels to London to find her, accompanied by the dashing Mr. Kent. But they’re not the only ones looking for Rose. The reclusive, young gentleman Sebastian Braddock is also searching for her, claiming that both sisters have special healing powers. Evelyn is convinced that Sebastian must be mad, until she discovers that his strange tales of extraordinary people are true - and that her sister is in graver danger than she feared. 

My Rating: 3.5 hearts 

Thoughts on the Novel: I first heard about Tarun Shanker and Kelly Zekas' These Vicious Masks when I attended Raincoast’s Winter + Spring 2016 TeensRead Preview. Pitched as “Jane Austen meets X-Men,” I was immediately interested in it because I love books set in Victorian England and novels where the characters have superpowers. 

The worldbuilding in These Vicious Masks was well-done, and I liked how the paranormal element was introduced and incorporated slowly. I thought the premise was quite believable because of the time period since people were starting to make scientific advances, and it was nice that attempts were made in the book to explain why some people developed superpowers. 

I also really liked Evelyn. She was so sassy, and I loved that she refused to follow the rules of society when her sister was kidnapped. Rather than staying home and pretending her sister was simply vacationing at her aunt’s house in order to preserve her family’s reputation, Evelyn decided to take matters into her own hands and investigate her sister’s disappearance. I did, however, think that Evelyn sometimes took unnecessary risks when she could have had backup in the form of either Mr. Braddock or Mr. Kent. 

Speaking of Mr. Braddock and Mr. Kent, it seems that there may be a love triangle in the future because both men appear to have feelings for Evelyn. I personally think the brooding Mr. Braddock is a better choice, but Mr. Kent did manage to surprise me a few times.

These Vicious Masks will be released by Swoon Reads on February 9, 2016. 

Comments About the Cover: Masks always promise intrigue!

In exchange for an honest review, this book was received from the publisher for free via Xpresso Book Tours. 

These Vicious Masks can be bought from: [Amazon] [Barnes and Noble]

If you're interested in reading These Vicious Masks and live in the US or Canada, you can enter to win a physical copy by filling out the form below.  

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Monday, September 28, 2015

Review: This Ordinary Life by Jennifer Walkup (and Giveaway)

From Goodreads: High-school radio host Jasmine Torres's life is full of family dysfunction, but if she can score the internship of her dreams with a New York City radio station, she knows she can turn things around. That is, until her brother Danny’s latest seizure forces her to miss the interview, and she’s back to the endless loop of missing school for his doctor appointments, picking up the pieces of her mother’s booze-soaked life, and stressing about Danny’s future. Then she meets Wes. He’s the perfect combination of smart, cute, and funny. He also happens to have epilepsy like her brother. Wes is living a normal life despite his medical issues, which gives Jasmine hope for Danny. But memories of her cheating ex-boyfriend keep her from going on a real date with Wes, no matter how many times he asks her. Jasmine can’t control everything. Not who wins the internship, not her mother’s addiction, not her brother’s health - not even where her heart will lead her. She wishes she could just have an ordinary life, but maybe what she already has is pretty extraordinary after all. 

My Rating: 3.5 hearts 

Thoughts on the Novel: Jennifer Walkup’s This Ordinary Life was a book that I thought would be a heavier read because the main character’s brother has epilepsy and their mother is an alcoholic. Surprisingly though, This Ordinary Life is a pretty light read for the most part since its focus is more on the relationship between Jasmine and Wes than Jasmine’s life at home. 

While the characters could have been more fleshed out, I liked Jasmine due to her practical nature. For example, when she finds out that her boyfriend has been cheating on her, she dumps him right away and refuses to take him back. Then, when she finds Wes attractive, she takes the time to get to know him as a friend instead of jumping into another relationship. You know you’re not going to have unnecessary drama when you have a protagonist like Jasmine!

A book that was every easy to get through, This Ordinary Life will be released on October 1, 2015 by Luminis Books, Inc. 

Comments About the Cover: I like the design.

Monday, June 08, 2015

Author Interview: Sarah Alderson (and Giveaway)

When seventeen-year-old Liva came to New York City, all she wanted was to escape the painful memories of her past and finally find a fresh start. Her hopes for a new future were dashed the moment she became the sole witness to a brutal murder. When she’s taken into police custody - supposedly for her own protection - she realizes something isn’t right, but it’s too late. Soon, bullets start flying, and Liva realizes that she is not just a witness, but the target - and she needs to escape before it’s too late. With the help of a sexy car thief that she met at the station, Liva manages to get away from the massacre unharmed, but now the two of them are alone in New York, trying to outrun and outwit the two killers who will stop at nothing to find them. Liva and Jay are living on the edge, but when you’re on the edge, there’s a long way to fall.

As part of the blog tour for Out of Control, I'd like to welcome author Sarah Alderson to my blog. 

A bit about Sarah (as found on Goodreads): Having spent most of her life in London, Sarah quit her job in the non profit sector in 2009 and took off on a round the world trip with her husband and princess-obsessed daughter on a mission to find a new place to call home. After several months in India, Singapore, Australia and the US, they settled in Bali where Sarah now spends her days writing by the pool and trying to machete open coconuts without severing a limb. 

How did you come up with the idea for Out of Control? 
Someone I knew came up to me at a party and told me she had an idea for a book, which is usually my cue to find the bathroom. I listened while she told me that I should write a book about Human Trafficking and smiled politely and told her that I didn’t really have the qualifications. But then I started thinking about how important the issue was and wondered if I should. I spoke to my agent who advised against it (it’s a fairly heavy topic after all) but then I figured out that I could find a way to write about the issue without making it a heavy, issue-based novel. The story was very much inspired though by my time in New York. I went there to research and also researched online. The organisation that Liva’s dad works for is a real organisation. I also did a lot of research into private security companies and human trafficking rings. 

In Out of Control, Liva has to go on the run with Jay. If you had to go on the run with one fictional character, who would it be and why? 
Buffy. She was such an inspiration to me as a teenager. I love Joss Whedon who wrote the Buffy TV shows. She’s so kickass you’d definitely survive on the run whether you were fleeing vampires, zombies or plain old hit men. 

Having grown up under men who are ex-military, Lila knows how to shoot and defend herself. How would you do if there were some killers after you (i.e. do you have any secret survival skills)? 
I would be totally hopeless. I always thought I’d be like Buffy, able to fight like a pro while throwing out brilliant quips, but the reality is that I freeze and panic when faced with danger. I know this because not so long ago there was a snake in my bedroom and I totally freaked out and became paralysed. I couldn’t even scream. Also, recently I was staying in a house by myself and at 4am I heard footsteps walking around and rather than staying in my LOCKED bedroom and calling the police, I got up and walked around the house, in a T-shirt and underwear, not even taking a baseball bat for protection. I was that girl from a horror film who you scream at for being stupid as the serial killer walks behind her. That was me (hangs head in shame). It turned out that it wasn’t a burglar it was actually a ghost (NO JOKE). 

Another one of Liva’s talents is that she’s a good dancer. What are some of your talents (besides writing, of course)?
Oh goodness, that’s hilarious. I don’t have any talent other than an ability to type really fast - like 80 or 90 words a minute. Yep, that’s about it. I can’t sing, I can’t dance, I can’t cook, I can’t play any sport very well. I’m pretty useless at most things in fact. I’m pretty talented at eating chocolate. Does that count? 

I actually interviewed you way back when Hunting Lila came out. Since then, you’ve written some more books. How has your writing changed and/or stayed the same during these past few years? 
I have written about ten books since then, maybe more, and I would say that with each book you do get better. Your writing becomes more fluent and you become much better at editing as you go. I have been writing screenplays for the last six months and that’s been a different experience altogether. With books every word is your own, with screenplays your words are owned by other people. You can’t afford to be precious at all. Not if you want the script to get made into a movie. So you’re constantly having to craft and redraft and then redraft some more taking on board notes from producers and directors and actors. It’s endless and you have to learn to let go. I think writing screenplays has really helped with my novels because I’ve worked with some amazing directors - Oscar and Bafta winners and it’s allowed me to see stories in a much more visual way. I can’t wait to feed what I’ve learned back into my books. 

A big thanks to Sarah for taking the time to answer my questions!

Sarah can be found on: [her website] [her blog] [Twitter] [Facebook] [Goodreads]
Out of Control can be bought from: [Amazon] [Barnes and Noble] [The Book Depository]

Friday, June 13, 2014

Dark Metropolis Giveaway

Cabaret meets Cassandra Clare-a haunting magical thriller set in a riveting 1930s-esque world.

Sixteen-year-old Thea Holder's mother is cursed with a spell that's driving her mad, and whenever they touch, Thea is chilled by the magic, too. With no one else to contribute, Thea must make a living for both of them in a sinister city, where danger lurks and greed rules. Thea spends her nights waitressing at the decadent Telephone Club attending to the glitzy clientele. But when her best friend, Nan, vanishes, Thea is compelled to find her. She meets Freddy, a young, magnetic patron at the club, and he agrees to help her uncover the city's secrets-even while he hides secrets of his own.

Together, they find a whole new side of the city. Unrest is brewing behind closed doors as whispers of a gruesome magic spread. And if they're not careful, the heartless masterminds behind the growing disappearances will be after them, too.

Perfect for fans of Cassandra Clare, this is a chilling thriller with a touch of magic where the dead don't always seem to stay that way.

As part of the blog tour for Dark Metropolis, I have a giveaway of the book for US residents:
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Friday, December 06, 2013

Excerpt: Covert Assignment (and Giveaway)

Elle is ready for graduation and full-fledged adulthood: no more living like the leftover of her parent’s divorce. She’s about to graduate with her degree in Information Science (the 21st century term for Library Science) and has a ten-year plan as well-designed as any model for analyzing metadata: earn her JD/MBA, enjoy a couple of years as a single professional, then marry her college sweetheart, Adam, and start her own family. Yet Elle feels like she returned to an alternate universe her final semester. There are pictures of Adam with a classmate who must be surgically enhanced, but he insists he wants Elle. CIA recruiters show up on campus, and they aren’t just interested in recruiting Elle for future employment: turns out she’s already working for them since they’re funding her thesis. Hot operative Preston Raddick is tasked to work with her. Preston isn’t just hot: he’s hot for Elle, but is he offering happy ever after or happy for right now? A fling with Preston could be the beginning of a new life plan, which is exciting and scary, especially with espionage thrown in. Elle needs a predictive model to tell her which decisions have the greater likelihood for happiness …

As part of the blog tour for Covert Assignment, I have an excerpt from the book:

“That’s the data itself,” Preston said. “So what is metadata?” 

Elle smiled. Lots of people had that question. “Metadata is the information about the information. For example, players have user names. The easiest way to link a player’s information from the game with the message boards and chat is to gather information that is all from the same user name. But sometimes people use different names. So I also tag information by such markers as time of day of play and posting, IP address, similar game strategies: information about the data. That’s the metadata.”

Preston nodded, brow still furrowed as he thought it through. “So by analyzing the metadata, you can group the players.”

He was hot and smart. Elle was impressed; Marni and Tina still got confused about what, exactly, metadata was, despite her repeated explanations over the years. “How do you like my model now?”

Preston’s eyes seemed to pin her in place with a gaze so penetrating it was as if it stripped away the layers and crystallized her thoughts so he could see them. “Very much,” he said with a sly smile. “She’s been good to me. And it’s the hot, one-of-a-kind model that not even our analysts at Langley can duplicate.”

Elle felt herself blush. So annoying. “Well, I understand gamers.” It was as if invisible lasers were beaming out of his eyes, heating her up. “You know, being in college and everything.” Adam was a gamer, but she didn’t want to bring him up right now.

Preston looked amused at her blushing. “I like how you strut your stuff.”

Of course that had her blushing so much she probably looked like she was suffering a coronary. Elle again laughed while trying to think of something to say. All she could come up with was, “So I take it you’re not an analyst?”

She began typing commands into her computer, and he started reviewing whatever he’d been doing as well. “Clandestine Service,” Preston replied. “I use the data you find in the field.”

Clandestine Service. So he was a spy. A super sexy secret spy. Elle managed to block a giggle from escaping but felt her cheeks get warm. She was working with a real live spy. She could see Preston in a tuxedo, doing the tango with some long-limbed woman before stealing state secrets and zooming off in a sleek sports car.

After a while, Preston said, “So if you can put together the right combination of variables, you can predict what will happen.”

“Within a certain degree of accuracy, yes.”

“So what variables would I need to guarantee dinner with you?”

Covert Assignment can be bought from: [Amazon

Monday, November 18, 2013

Review: These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner (and Giveaway)

From Goodreads: It's a night like any other on board the Icarus. Then, catastrophe strikes: the massive luxury spaceliner is yanked out of hyperspace and plummets into the nearest planet. Lilac LaRoux and Tarver Merendsen survive. And they seem to be alone. Lilac is the daughter of the richest man in the universe. Tarver comes from nothing, a young war hero who learned long ago that girls like Lilac are more trouble than they’re worth. But with only each other to rely on, Lilac and Tarver must work together, making a tortuous journey across the eerie, deserted terrain to seek help. Then, against all odds, Lilac and Tarver find a strange blessing in the tragedy that has thrown them into each other’s arms. Without the hope of a future together in their own world, they begin to wonder - would they be better off staying here forever? Everything changes when they uncover the truth behind the chilling whispers that haunt their every step. Lilac and Tarver may find a way off this planet. But they won’t be the same people who landed on it. 

My Rating: 4 hearts 

Thoughts on the Novel: As part of the blog tour arranged by The Midnight Garden for Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner's These Broken Stars, I’m going to provide five reasons to read their book. Here they are:
  1. The plot: Although I didn’t understand the scientific reasoning behind the major plot twist at the end, I thought the book was very original. I’ve never been a sci-fi fan and previously hadn’t really enjoyed the few books that I read that fell within the genre, but I was entertained by These Broken Stars. 
  2. The writing: Not only was Kaufman and Spooner’s writing descriptive, but they also added an element of suspense. Each chapter, for example, begins with part of a record of Tarver’s interrogation, and you can’t help but wonder what it is that Tarver and Lilac discovered while being stuck on this abandoned planet.
  3. The dual POVs: As long as the voices of the characters remain distinct, I love reading about a situation from multiple perspectives. That’s definitely applicable to These Broken Stars as well. 
  4. The protagonists: Most people might find Tarver easier to like than Lilac, but I had the opposite reaction. I felt sorry for Lilac having to push people away and appearing like a snob. I also realized there was a lot more to her than meets the eye when she hot-wires their escape pod. I was just waiting for her to show her strength and capability to Tarver, who seemed to have this “I know best” mentality that disappears as the novel progresses. 
  5. The slow building romance: Though both Tarver and Lilac are attracted to each other at the beginning of the book, the way Lilac is forced to treat Tarver causes him embarrassment. As a result, both Tarver and Lilac believe that the other person thinks the worst of them even as they start to develop respect for each other. It all makes for some nice sexual tension.
These Broken Stars will be released in December 10, 2013 by Disney Hyperion.

In exchange for an honest review, this book was received from the publisher (Disney Book Group) for free via NetGalley.

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Tour Schedule
Visit each stop for more exclusive These Broken Stars content and additional chances to earn prizes!

Monday, 11/11   The Midnight Garden (World-Building for the Future)
Tuesday, 11/12   Love is Not a Triangle (Author Interview)
Wednesday, 11/13   The Perpetual Page-Turner (Using Technology to Write with a Partner)
Thursday, 11/14   Good Books and Good Wine (Audiobook Sample + Narrator Interview)
Friday, 11/15   The Starry-Eyed Revue (Character Interview with Tarver )
Monday, 11/18   Cuddlebuggery (Author Interview)
Tuesday, 11/19   Books With Bite (Amie & Meg's Favorite Things)
Wednesday, 11/20   Xpresso Reads (Establishing Characters with Role-Playing)
Thursday, 11/21   Great Imaginations (Co-Authoring Books)
Friday, 11/22   Nawanda Files (Lilac's Gorgeous Dress: A Look at These Broken Stars' Cover Art)
Monday 11/25   Promo stops (fun facts about the book!)
Visit the These Broken Stars website for the latest news on the series and follow the authors on Twitter at @AmieKaufman and @MeaganSpooner. You may also sign up for their newsletter as well! These Broken Stars will be available in North America on December 10, 2013.

If you pre-order the book from Malaprop's Bookstore, you can also get a collectible TBS poster autographed by the authors! 

Thursday, October 03, 2013

Review: My Ex From Hell by Tellulah Darling (and Giveaway)

From Goodreads: Sixteen-year-old Sophie Bloom wishes she’d been taught the following: a) Bad boy’s presence (TrOuBlE) + teen girl’s brain (DraMa) = TrAuMa (Highly unstable and very volatile.) b) The Genus Greekulum Godissimus is notable for three traits: 1) awesome abilities, 2) grudges, and 3) hook-ups, break-ups, and in-fighting that puts cable to shame. Prior to the Halloween dance, Sophie figures her worst problems involve adolescent theatrics, bitchy teen yoga girls, and being on probation at her boarding school for mouthy behaviour. Then she meets bad boy Kai and gets the kiss that rocks her world. Literally. This breath stealing lip lock reawakens Sophie’s true identity: Persephone, Goddess of Spring. She’s key to saving humanity in the war between the Underworld and Olympus, target numero uno of Hades and Zeus, and totally screwed. Plus there’s also the little issue that Sophie’s last memory as Persephone was just before someone tried to murder her. Big picture: master her powers, get her memories back, defeat Persephone’s would be assassin, and save the world. Also, sneak into the Underworld to retrieve stolen property, battle the minions of Hades and Zeus, outwit psycho nymphs, slay a dragon, rescue a classmate, keep from getting her butt expelled from the one place designed to keep her safe … and stop kissing Kai, Prince of the Underworld. 

My Rating: 3.5 hearts 

Thoughts on the Novel: My Ex From Hell by Tellulah Darling was a humorous blend of contemporary and Greek mythology. Even better, the characters were likeable and there was a strong display of friendship throughout the novel.

I think Darling did a good job of creating strong female characters. I found Sophie to be snarky and amusing, and liked that Hannah was a proud geek. Although I don’t understand why there was such a focus on Hannah’s beauty (since it wasn’t really important to the story), it’s nice that Darling made an attempt to show that beauty and brains aren’t mutually exclusive.

Another thing I liked was how obvious it was that Sophie and Hannah cared about each other. They had their very own rituals as best friends, and didn’t keep secrets from the other person. For example, when Sophie found out that she was a goddess stuck in a mortal body, she told Hannah right away. At no point was Hannah kept in the dark simply for being a human. In fact, Sophie even urges Hannah to accompany her when she goes to kill Delphyne, the dragon appointed to guard the oracle of Delphi, because she knew it would be a once in a lifetime opportunity for Hannah to see a dragon.

Though it could have been a tad more serious at certain points, My Ex From Hell was a fun read overall. 

My Ex From Hell was released in April 2013 by Te Da Media. 

Comments About the Cover: It’s a bit too plain looking for me. 

In exchange for an honest review, this book was received from the author for free via Xpresso Book Tours.  

original image from

My Ex From Hell can be bought from: [Amazon] [Barnes and Noble] [Book Depository] 

If you're interested in reading My Ex From Hell, you can enter to win an e-copy by filling out the form below.

To enter: 
  1. You must be a GFC follower. 
  2. You must be over the age of 13. 
  3. This giveaway is open internationally and will end on Thursday, October 17 at 11:59 PM. 
  4. Make sure your entries are tallied correctly!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Author Interview: Laney McMann

Normal people don't believe their nightmares stalk them. They don’t fall in love with boys who don’t exist, either. Seventeen-year-old Layla Labelle, though, is far from normal. Her delusions walk the earth. Her hallucinations hunt her, and her skin heats to a burn every time her anger flares. Or is that all in her head? Layla doesn't know what to believe any more because if none of that’s true, Max MacLarnon must be an illusion, and her heart must still be broken. No matter how much she wants to believe Max is real, doing so would mean everything else is, too. How, then, is that possible? The answers lie in an age-old legend the supernatural aren’t prepared to reveal, and with a curse that could tear Layla and Max apart forever - if it doesn’t kill them both first.

As part of the blog tour for Tied, I'd like to welcome author Laney McMann to my blog. 

A bit about Laney (as found on Goodreads): With a passion for the supernatural and all things magical, Laney developed a voracious appetite for reading fantasy at a young age. A vivid imagination helped set the stage for creating her own worlds and placed her onto the writing path. By the time she reached her teens, she'd accumulated notebooks full of poems, which led to short stories and finally novels. Young adult dark fantasy, paranormal romance, and mythology are among her favorite genres. A former classical dancer and chef, she grew up in sultry Florida where she still resides with her family. 

What was the inspiration behind Tied? 
I'm fascinated by mythology, and even more so by Irish myths because I'm of Irish descent, so the idea to write something in that direction has always been in the back of my head. The idea to recreate one of the lesser known mythologies just hit me one day, and the more I wrote, the more it took shape and flowed out.

How much research did you do for Tied?
A good amount of research went into the creation of the storyline, and as mythology can be a tangled web to weave through, it was a challenge at times. The story itself is a mixture of history, mythology, and my own fantastical spin on it all.

Tied contains a variety of paranormal creatures. If you could be any paranormal creature, what would you be and why?
Hm ... that's a good question. I'm not sure to be honest. Maybe one of the Fae.

In Tied, Layla finds out that people have been lying to her whole life to protect her. What’s a lie (big or small) that you believed in for a long time and how did you find out it was a lie?
Another good question I'm not sure about. I guess, when we're little, we all believe in different fantasy stories – I did anyway, and as we grow up we lose some of that magic. We start to doubt it and question it. That's probably why I write fantasy. I'd rather still believe.

Layla thinks that Max is an imaginary friend for quite a while. Did you have an imaginary friend growing up and if so, tell me a bit about him/her.
I didn't that I remember, although my mom may say different. ;) My imaginary worlds were entirely built on books. Even now, I can get completely consumed by good stories, and I hate it when they end.

A big thanks to Laney for taking the time to answer my questions!

Laney can be found on: [her website] [her blog] [Twitter] [Facebook] [Goodreads]
Tied can be bought from: [Amazon] [Barnes and Noble] [The Book Depository]