Thursday, May 31, 2012

4 Review: The False Prince by Jennifer A. Nielsen

Title: The False Prince
Author: Jennifer A. Nielsen
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Publication Date: April 1, 2012
arc paperback, 342 pages
ISBN: 978-0-545-28413-4
Genre: Middle Grade, Fantasy
Source: From Publisher

Summary (From Goodreads):
In a discontent kingdom, civil war is brewing. To unify the divided people, Conner, a nobleman of the court, devises a cunning plan to find an impersonator of the king's long-lost son and install him as a puppet prince. Four orphans are recruited to compete for the role, including a defiant boy named Sage. Sage knows that Conner's motives are more than questionable, yet his life balances on a sword's point -- he must be chosen to play the prince or he will certainly be killed. But Sage's rivals have their own agendas as well.

My thoughts:
The False Prince by Jennifer A. Nielsen is the first book in the middle grade fantasy, The Ascendance Trilogy. The story focuses on Sage. He's a resourceful orphan who is usually up to no good. He catches the eye of Conner, a nobleman, who has taken three boys off the street to try and make them into a 'false prince'. However only one boy will be chosen and the other two will be executed.
Sage is a great character. He's clever, quick on his feet, and has a good heart. Along with the two other boys, Tobias and Roden, he does his best to be chosen as the long lost prince, Jaron. The boys' relationship is a precarious one at best. They are all in the same boat. This fact alone bonds them to each other and a friendship of sorts develops. Nevertheless they all want to be the chosen one. They are fighting to stay alive and using what ever skills they have to win which means they have to be aggressive and put whatever friendships they have aside. However Sage is astute. He realizes that things are not what they seem.
This is a great book for middle grade and above. Nielsen writes an intriguing story with lots of twists and turns. I had a hard time distinguishing the good guys from the bad. She doesn't give much away and it left me glued to the pages to find out how it was going to end. I can't say anything bad about this book. This is a fantastic read that I would recommend. I can't wait to read the second book in the trilogy.
My rating:
Follow the author on:

Other books by this author:
Elliot and the Goblin War
Elliot and the Pixie Plot
Elliot and the Last Underworld War
Infinity Ring

0 Diane Chamberlain Guest Post

How did closing your private psychotherapy practice influence your writing? Do you have any regrets or do you still believe in following your dreams?

When I first started writing, I’d hoped to continue my private practice, but as the demands of my writing career grew, it quickly became clear I would have to pick one or the other. I loved them both, but my dream of being a writer went back to my childhood. Plus, I knew how hard I’d worked on my books and how fortunate I was to be published. I couldn’t give that up.
It was very hard to end my practice. I’d published three books by that time, but my identity had still very much been connected to being a clinical social worker. Plus, my practice had been primarily with adolescents and I would miss working with them so much. Many of my clients touched my life as much as I touched theirs. I still hear from a few of them and it’s wonderful to see them grow into a happy adulthood and know I had a small part in that.
Obviously, I believe in following your dreams, but I also believe in making enough money to keep a roof over your head and food on the table. In my case, my husband of twenty years was willing to carry the main financial burden as I built my writing career—or so I thought. The very week that I ended my practice, however, he told me he’d fallen in love with someone else, and just like that my “perfect marriage” was over and with it, my financial support. It was a panicky time in many ways. However, I signed a wonderful new contract and for the first time, I actually could support myself writing. That was sheer luck, though, and I don’t advise quitting your day job without a safety net. The bottom line for me is that I feel very blessed to have had two careers that have allowed me to touch people in a positive way.

Join the live chat with Diane Chamberlain today at 3pm ET. Click here to follow the schedule for upcoming tour stops.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

0 Clean Break Give@way

Clean Break: A Novel by David Klein
Broadway Paperbacks | June 5, 2012 |384 pages| $15.00 | 978-0-307-71683-5
A riveting tale of psychological suspense about a woman who finds herself in an impossible situation.
Lured by the hope of a better life for herself and her son, Celeste Vanek must deal with the emotional and physical resistance of her compulsive gambler husband when she asks for a divorce. Though she hopes she is on the verge of making a clean break, her husband demands his family back, and things get violent. Jake Atwood, who witnesses the shocking scene between Celeste and her husband, struggles with his own emotional and ethical issues while attempting to help Celeste escape her marriage. At the same time, Jake is involved with Sara, a married and childless police detective who has a private agenda to pursue when a crime is committed that links all of these characters together and changes their lives forever. With heart-pounding suspense and brilliant psychological insight, CLEAN BREAK will leave readers breathless.

Broadway Paperbacks has given me a copy of Clean Break by David Klein to giveaway to a luck reader. You must me at least 13 years old. This giveaway is for US addresses only. Please fill out the form below.

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5 Before Ever After Give@way

Before Ever After: A Novel By Samantha Sotto
Broadway Paperbacks | May 29, 2012 |304 pages | $13.00 | 978-0-307-71988-1
Three years after her husband Max's death, Shelley feels no more adjusted to being a widow than she did that first terrible day. That is, until the doorbell rings. Standing on her front step is a young man who looks so much like Max–same smile, same eyes, same age, same adorable bump in his nose–he could be Max's long-lost relation. He introduces himself as Paolo, an Italian editor of American coffee table books, and shows Shelley some childhood photos. Paolo tells her that the man in the photos, the bearded man who Paolo says is his grandfather though he never seems to age, is Max. Her Max. And he is alive and well. As outrageous as Paolo's claims seem–how could her husband be alive? And if he is, why hasn't he looked her up? – Shelley desperately wants to know the truth. She and Paolo jet across the globe to track Max down–if it is really Max– and along the way, Shelley recounts the European package tour where they had met. As she relives Max's stories of bloody Parisian barricades, medieval Austrian kitchens, and buried Roman boathouses, Shelley begins to piece together the story of who her husband was and what these new revelations mean for her "happily ever after." And as she and Paolo get closer to the truth, Shelley discovers that not all stories end where they are supposed to.

Crown Publishing Group has given me one paperback copy of Before Ever After to giveaway. This giveaway is for US addresses only. You must be at least 13 years old to enter. Please fill out the form below.

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0 Q&A with Rob Badcock, author of Big Frog

1.  What made you choose to write in the genre you write in?
I didn't.  Sometimes you don't know what kind of book you're writing until you're part way through.  Big Frog was some five years in the making and over that period it went through a whole life cycle of its own to become the hero's journey in a dystopian world that it is now.  I started off with two guiding principles:  I wanted to write something which would be an easy, fun read for young adults; and I also set out to write something different.
At the first meeting with my publisher, Carol, I told her of my weekly masochistic ritual of turning to the Book Review section in the Sunday papers filled with dread that someone had got there before me.  She smiled, paused, then replied 'I don't think you need to worry on that count, Rob.  Nobody will have written anything like this.'  To this day, I'm still not sure whether she meant this as a compliment...

2.  What would your protagonist think of you?
That's easy.
Rib Meskitoe is fourteen.  I am over forty.  So in his eyes I will be very old.
He'd probably also be pissed off with me for not giving him good looks, a stunning soul-mate and a fast car.  But then he wouldn't be interesting, would he?

3.  Is there anything in your book based on real life experience or is it purely all imagination?
OK, so now it's confession time...

Whilst I indulge myself in letting my imagination run riot at times, I do also draw heavily on the wealth of observational material out there in everyday life.  For example, when Rib finds himself in the closed, secret community of Middlemedes, he is playing unwitting witness to my thinly-veiled sideswipe at a popular family holiday destination. Two of my best mates also make guest appearances as quirky characters in the book.  Therein lies a word of warning to all who know me!

4.Who is your favourite character in your book and why?
Not easy, this one. If I must choose, I feel it has to be Rika Latukartta, the enigmatic shapeshifter from Lapland.  She wears her clothes black.  She wears her hair short, flaming red. She never ventures far without a stay-freeze mini of Koskenkorva in a zip pocket.  Call her a lap girl and you're dead.  What's not to like?

5.  If your book was turned into a movie,  who would you want to direct it?
Edgar Wright, the man who does comedy brilliantly without sacrificing the genre, character or plot.

6.  Twilight Zone or Outer Limits?
Definitely Outer Limits.

7.  What's on your bedside table?
One reading lamp, green.
One copy of 'Wonder Boys' by Michael Chabon.
One half-finished mug of tea, now cold...

8  What book do you recommend everyone should read and why?
'Frozen Planet - a world beyond imagination' by Alastair Fothergill and Vanessa Berlowitz, the book of the BBC series by David Attenborough.  At one level, a treasure of stunning photography - one of those books you just love to hold.  But at another, a chilling climate-change message to us all of shrinking glaciers, rising seas and collapsing ice-shelves.

9  Are you a person who makes their bed each morning?
What makes you think I get out of bed each morning?

10.  What makes you laugh?
The World Through the Eyes of Raj, our cat.

He stands at the front door, shouting at me to open it.  I open it for him.  It's pouring with rain. He stares at the downpour outside, hesitates, then backs into the house.  He then runs through the kitchen and stands at the back door...

Be sure to check Rob Badcok out on:
Twitter:  @RobBadcock1

Big Frog is currently available @ Amazon

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

4 Review: A Night Like This by Julia Quinn

Title: A Night Like This (Smythe-Smith Quartet #2)
Author: Julia Quinn
Publisher: Avon Books
Publication Date: May 29, 2012
ebook arc
ISBN: 0062072919 (ISBN13: 9780062072917)
Genre: Historical Fiction
Source: From Edelweiss

Summary (From Goodreads):
Anne Wynter might not be who she says she is…
Daniel Smythe-Smith might be in mortal danger…

My thoughts:
Have you met the Smythe-Smith's? I was introduced to this delightful family last year with Just Like Heaven. The Smythe-Smith is a family who upholds tradition especially when it comes to the Smythe-Smith Quartet. The family has a lot going for them but musical talent is not one of those things. Every year the family gathers to put on a ghastly musical. This particular book focuses on Anne Wynter. She's is not a Smythe-Smith but rather the governess of Harriet, Elizabeth, and Frances, that steps in when one of the members of the quartet falls suddenly ill.
Daniel Smythe-Smith has just returned from exile. Although he's assured that all has been forgiven, he can't help but still look over his shoulder. He's immediately attracted to Anne. Both characters have secrets they've been hiding. Anne thwarts all of Daniels attempts to woo her. She has a shady past that has taught her to stay clear of men like Daniel but she can't help but be attracted to him and living under the same roof as him threatens to undo everything she's worked so hard for.
I loved every page of this book. Julia Quinn has quite a knack for story telling. She combines romance, humor, and a bit of danger and turns out a fantastic story. The Smythe-Smith's are an endearing family that I wish I was apart of. Daniel's and Anne's story is fantastic but I have to say Anne's students Harriet, Elizabeth, and Frances stole the show.  These three girls are hilarious. Their dialog and banter literally made me laugh out loud at times. I love how Quinn writes her characters. I could picture the expressions on their faces which made me laugh even more. The Smythe-Smith's are characters that will warm your heart and win you over. Overall I thought this is a great story. This is a series that I highly recommend. You won't regret it!
My rating:
Follow Julia Quinn on

Other books in the Smythe-Smith Quartet:

Check out her other series:
The Bevelstoke Series
The Two Dukes of Wyndham
The Bridgertons
Agents of the Crown
The Lyndon Sisters
The Splendid Trilogy

Monday, May 28, 2012

0 A.M. Dellamonica Guest Post and Give@way

My Books of Chantment, Indigo Springs and Blue Magic, are often referred to as ecofantasy. What this means is that while they're urban fantasy--they are magical stories set in a world much like the here and now--there's a strong environmental slant to them. The magic has been thrown out of balance by human activity, and while the main character, Astrid, is trying to put things right there is no way she can restore the mystical ecosystem to its original state. Enough has changed that magic itself has changed--fairies, for example, have been hunted to extinction--and whatever new balance she manages to find, it will essentially leave the world a new place, with new rules.
I didn't sit down in the early 2000's and say: "Hey, I'm gonna write an ecofantasy!" I'm an environmentalist and have been as long as I can remember, but these stories grow, primarily, out of my love for the natural world (I am an avid amateur wildlife photographer) and my observations about how society works.
Humanity has been immensely productive since the industrial revolution, by which I mean we've made a lot of *stuff.* In Indigo Springs, magic gets spilled in Oregon and a part of the state's forests overgrow and become, essentially enchanted. When this happens, they take out a number of towns--about a third of the state's land area has to be evacuated--and what's left on the forest floor is rubble and consumer products. There are dead cars and action figures and hunks of concrete and rebar and consumer electronics and dead power and sewage plants and houses full of clothes and furniture, entire dead shopping malls with shelves full of products. All of it's just been crushed and scattered by the growth of the magically contaminated trees, which are skyscraper high and bound together by other enchanted vegetation: ivy runners and other vines, for example. And it's all inhabited by animals who've also grown large and in some cases more aggressive as they've been affected by the transformation.
What's handy about this is that the heroine of both novels, Astrid Lethewood, can turn random objects into magically empowered items, chantments, that are safe for people to use. (People don't do well when they come into direct contact with raw magic, any more than trees or animals do). So she's got an overgrown forest filled with things that are, on the one hand, litter and on the other hand are the raw material she needs to deal with the disaster.
The tie to all of this, within my political backbrain, is essentially fossil fuel. We make action figures and lawn furniture and silverware and all the things we need and have out of fossil fuel (and, usually, underpaid labour). The price is low when you consider what we're spending, in terms of cold hard cash. And it may come to be very high as climate change continues to have its way with us over the coming century.
In the West we're in a place where a lot of us are starting to be concerned about this, and one of the things many of us are doing, to whatever extent we can afford it, is shopping our way out of it. There's a degree to which I support this. I do believe that every time we spend money we're voting for a corporation and, by extension, it's environmental practices. I think a big company's market share has as much or more effect on our lives as our leaders' approval ratings or share of the popular vote. When I ride public transit and I count the number of people who've said yes to Apple's various iGadgetry--and I fall in that category--I know I'm looking at the work of a corporation that could and does have a massive effect on the world, its people, and our quality of life.
On the other hand, I recognize there's real naivete in hoping that buying green products and trying to source all our food from within a 100 mile limit and car sharing will magically stop the Antarctic ice sheet from melting. In this respect, green consumerism might also be like voting: an environmentalist might feel like they have to do it, but they might also wonder whether they're making enough of a difference.
In Indigo Springs and Blue Magic, the eco-magical disaster seems to blow up out of nowhere. People race madly to get ahead of it, and I suppose the central question of the second novel is whether or not it's too late. And if it is too late, what then?

Read the first chapter of Indigo Springs here 

Read the first chapter of Blue Magic here 

Find out more about Alyx Dellamonica by visiting her official site or on LJ | Facebook | Twitter | G+

News, fiction, articles:

Thanks to the wonderful people at Tor/Forge Books I have two paperback copies of Blue Magic to giveaway. This giveaway is for US addresses only. You must be over 13 years old to enter. Fill out the form below to enter.
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Sunday, May 27, 2012

0 Check out this excerpt from Wife 22

WIFE 22 – on sale 5/29/2012
An irresistible novel of a woman losing herself . . . and finding herself again . . . in the middle of her life. If you like Bridget Jones Diary? Or, you like authors Sophie Kinsella, Emily Giffin?  This is a novel for you!

WIFE 22 by Melanie Gideon (Excerpt)

Saturday, May 26, 2012

0 Review: Jackie After O by Tina Cassidy

Title: Jackie After O
Author: Tina Cassidy
Publisher: It Books
Publication Date: May 1, 2012
Hardcover, 276 pages
ISBN: 978-0-06-199433-3
Genre: Non-Fiction
Source: From Publisher

Summary (From Goodreads):
A former "Boston Globe" reporter delivers a remarkable account of one year in the life of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, America's favorite first lady and international icon, as she lost her second husband, saved a landmark, and found her true calling.

My thoughts:
As far back as I can remember, and even before that, the world has been infatuated with Jackie Kennedy Onassis. She first became a public icon when her husband ran for office back in the 1960's. Since then the stylish, soft spoken first lady became a celebrity. Jackie After O by Tina Cassidy focuses specifically on the period in Jackie's life after her second husband passed away. Cassidy writes an introspective view on Jackie's life. This is a fantastic book worth reading!
During this period, Jackie's immeasurable strength is put to the test and she starts doing what she loved.  She was on the board to save and preserve a historical landmark, she ventured into the world of publishing and pretty much reinvented her entire life. I was more familiar with Jackie's earlier life in Camelot than I was in her later years. She used her love of reading as an avenue to be innovative in her life and work in publishing.
I enjoyed reading this biography for several reasons. First, I enjoy reading about historical icons. Jackie O definitely fits into this category. Second, it's a well written book that kept my attention the entire time. Lastly, I learned things that made me even more in awe of her. Jackie O. is a public figure that will always hold a special place in the heart of America.
My rating:
Other books by this author:
Birth: The Surprising History of How We Are Born

Friday, May 25, 2012

0 Dog Laughter, Guest Post by Elsa Watson

Dog Laughter
Elsa Watson

Thank you so much for having me on To Read or Not To Read!
My latest book is about dogs, so you’ll have to forgive me if my mind keeps reverting to all things canine.  Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about dogs and their sense of humor.  A year ago, if you’d asked me whether dogs laugh, I’d have said absolutely.
I’ve seen our dog Kota—mouth open in a joyful pant, mischievous gleam in her eye—give what is clearly a silent chuckle at the cat batting the other side of the French doors.  Once, when we heard Kota come in through her dog door, my husband and I hid under a blanket on the couch.  We heard her go upstairs, looking, then downstairs, looking.  When she finally found us, she was full of chuckles.  The look on her face so spelled laughter, I never had any doubts.
Well now it appears there’s some actual evidence to back up what other dog lovers and I have seen for ages.  Dogs do laugh.  Their laughs are silent—at least to us—so they’re easy to overlook.  But they certainly seem to be there.
Long ago, scientists thought humans were the only species that laughed.  But in 1872 Charles Darwin questioned that idea when he observed (in The Expression of Emotions in Man and Animals) that chimps and great apes often made laugh-like sounds when they were playing.  Fast-forward to present day, when Patricia Simonet at Sierra Nevada College in Lake Tahoe is doing research on dog laughter.  She started her work by audio-taping hours and hours of dog play.  Simonet said that dog laughter "to an untrained human ear, it sounds much like a pant, 'hhuh, hhuh."
When Simonet had isolated a recording of just dog laughter, she played it for puppies and found that they romped around merrily when they heard it.  More recently, a recording was played for dogs in a shelter at the Spokane County Regional Animal Protection Service.  These dogs, which had been barking and riled up, immediately became quiet and relaxed.  "It was a night-and-day difference," said the director of the center. "It was absolutely phenomenal."
Laughing dogs—you gotta love it.  My latest book includes a laughing dog.  Zoë, a white German shepherd, sees a touch of humor in everything.  Because Zoë exists in fiction, I was able to take her one step farther.  Not only does she get to narrate her own chapters, but she also gets to try operating a human body.
It’s pretty fun to try to think like a dog.  Now if I could only learn to laugh like one…
Elsa Watson is the author of Dog Days, in which Zoë (a dog) and Jessica (a person) are struck by lightning and switch bodies, leaving Jessica trapped in a dog’s body—and giving Zoë thumbs and the chance to speak.  Find Elsa online at

Thursday, May 24, 2012

0 F.R.E.E. book in the kindle store

Don't have anything to read this weekend? Here's your chance to download Hearts Restored by Prue Phillipson. It's FREE until Sunday in the Kindle store. Check out the blurb below then click on the link to take you to the amazon store.

What can a young man of fifteen do when he is told by his mother that  the
three cousins he is about to meet all want to marry him? Daniel  Wilson
Horden has arrived in London with his parents from their home in
Northumberland on the very day of King Charles II's triumphant return to
his capital. Receiving his own personal wave from the king, Daniel longs
only to serve him, but first he must keep at bay the threat of marriage.
His two French cousins are adamant in their pursuit of him, but Daniel  is
intrigued by his English cousin, Eunice, whose Puritan father
snatches her away from the reunion celebrations. Unaware that his  gallant
attempt to save her has endeared him to her, Daniel only just  escapes the
marriage trap which his younger French cousin lays for him  and is sent off to study at Cambridge University. Once she returns to  her father's home, Eunice is condemned to a life of austerity.
Heart-sick, she is assured by her grandmother that Daniel will come for her when he graduates from university. But, unaware of his cousin's feelings for him, Daniel goes off to join the navy only to find that
fighting in the king's service is not as glorious as he had imagined. While the navy suffers at sea, London passes through plague and fire. Will Eunice survive the hardship? And will Daniel return to fulfill the
promise in his eyes on that fateful day in London?

Amazon UK:

Amazon US:

0 Review: More Stories About Spaceships and Cancer by Casper Kelly

Title: More Stories About Spaceships and Cancer
Author: Casper Kelly
Publisher: Fried Society Press
Publication Date: April 7, 2012
paperback, 158 pages
ISBN: 9780984940707
Genre: short stories,
Source: From Author
Available @ Amazon

Summary (from Goodreads):
Award-winning TV writer and filmmaker Casper Kelly brings his hilarious, absurdist, and dark vision to the page in this debut collection, perhaps the first with a horror host guiding you between the stories. In one story, you enter the mind of one of the seven dwarfs wrestling with his fevered sexual crush on Snow White. In another tale, a cash-strapped elderly man in the future is quietly pressured to “retire” by having his brain put in a vat and live out the rest of his day in a virtual reality paradise. “Sex Fantasies at Work” follows an office drone who suspects he’s always at work and his entire home life is merely implanted memories. And more. The thrilling conclusion just may change your life! Of each and every story! That’s at least eight possible life changes! Read what Charles Yu calls “one of the funniest books I’ve read in years,” what Jack Pendarvis likened to Donald Barthelme by way of E.C. comics, and Joe Randazzo, the editor of The Onion, calls simply “f***ing awesome.”

My thoughts:
More Stories About Spaceships and Cancer is a collection of short stories written by Casper Kelly. Kelly writes for Adult Swim shows on Cartoon Network. He has written for Squidbillies and Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law, as well as others. I tell you this because that is very much what you get in this collection. It’s not often I laugh out loud while reading, but I found myself doing just that many times. Just like Adult Swim, this book is sometimes crude, rude and a bit raunchy but more often than not, very funny. I’m not sure if Kelly is a fan of Douglas Adams but I see many similarities in their humor. It is not all about the humor though. There is some really good story telling here also.  Some of my favorite stories are “Frequently Asked Questions” and “An Aspiring Haberdasher.”
So, overall I thought this was a fantastic collection and will bring back the lost art of the short story, when they were “vital and talked about and studied and a part of culture and could be said to be important, and cool.”(quote from the book) This book was great and I cannot wait to read more from Kelly.

My rating:

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

0 Mary Jo Putney Give@way

Hello fellow readers! I have a great giveaway for you today. Two Mary Jo Puteny books are up for grabs, The Rake and No Longer A Gentleman. This giveaway is for US addresses only. You must be at least 13 years old to enter. You must fill out the rafflecopter form below to enter the giveaway.

A man's past doesn't have to map his fate, especially when a woman holds the key to his destiny in this timeless novel by New York Times bestselling author and legend in historical romance Mary Jo Putney...
Disinherited and disgraced, Reginald Davenport's prospects cried for a dire end. But fate has given him one last chance at redemption—by taking his rightful place as the heir of Strickland, his lost ancestral estate. Davenport knows his way around women, yet nothing prepares him for his shocking encounter with Lady Alys Weston.
Masquerading as a man in order to obtain a position as estate manager of Strickland, Alys fled a world filled with mistrust and betrayal. She was finished with men—until Strickland's restored owner awakens a passion she thought she would never feel. A passion that will doom or save them both…if only they can overcome their pasts.

Grey Sommers, Lord Wyndham, never met a predicament he couldn’t charm his way out of. Then a tryst with a government official’s wife during a bit of casual espionage in France condemns him to a decade in a dungeon, leaving him a shadow of his former self. Yet his greatest challenge may be the enigmatic spy sent to free his body—the only woman who might heal his soul.
Cassie Fox lost everything in the chaos of revolution, leaving only a determination to help destroy Napoleon’s empire through her perilous calling. Rescuing Grey is merely one more mission. She hadn’t counted on a man with the stark beauty of a ravaged angel, whose desperate courage and vulnerability thaw her frozen heart. But a spy and a lord are divided by an impassable gulf even if they manage to survive one last, terrifying mission….

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0 Q&A with author Richard Stephenson

1. Collapse takes place in 2027, what made your pick that year?
 Well, I knew I wanted the the book to be set in the near future.  It started out as a "What if?" to some of the current events we are facing today.   Little tidbits about the Middle East that are happening right now are mentioned.  Our struggling economic recession grows into The Second Great Depression.  I probably wrote a third of the book before I finally had to slow down and figure out the exact year.  It basically was a problem of continuity growing into a monster that I had to tame.  When I started to reference earlier events in the character's lives it got really hard to keep track of things like.....  OK, so he got out of high school and spent eight years doing that, now he is in his early forties so what year is it now?   When I gave one of the characters children and started writing scenes, I had to make sure that their ages matched up with the present day of the book.   I had to sit down and chart out each character and events from their lives to make sure that the continuity was sound.  Once I was done with the chart, the year was 2027.

2. Our of your three main characters, which one was more of a challenge to write and why?
 My wife asked me early on:  Which character is you?  Well, to be honest, all three of the main characters are versions of me in some fashion.  The character that I most closely relate to is Chief Harris.  Writing him requires me to hold up and mirror to my own life and that can be tough if you don't want to look.

3. What is your favorite thing about the writing experience? 
Creating a world that I completely control.  If I get stuck on something and can't figure out how to make something work, I just remind myself.. "Hey, you're the god of this world, do what you want!"  The answer comes easily after that.

4. What is your favorite scene from this book and why?
The chapter dealing with Richard Dupree's crime.  Hardest to write.  One page of it took me hours to write.   Ended up being my proudest work.

5. Where is your favorite place to write?
Anywhere my iPad and bluetooth keyboard happen to be.

6. What sort of Starbucks coffee would your characters order?
Howard only drinks coffee from his own kitchen.  Richard has never been inside of a Starbucks.   Max prefers caramel macchiato.

7. What is the most amusing thing that has ever happened to you?
  Being thrown into a frozen duck pond.  (My fraternity brothers were kind enough to break the ice first)

8. What is the most important attributes to remaining sane as a writer?  Cigarettes and coffee

9. What book are you reading right now?  Kill Shot by Vince Flynn

10. The Beatles or Elvis?  Beatles      

Read an excerpt or add Collapse to your Goodreads shelf here. Check out Richard Stephenson's website here or follow him on twitter here.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

3 Review: Touchstone by Letitia Coyne

Title: Touchstone
Author: Letitia Coyne
Publisher: 1889 Labs Ltd
Publication Date: March 1, 2012
ISBN-13: 9781926959207
Genre: Historical Fiction
Source: Author

Summary (from Goodreads):

When war is all you’ve ever known, the promise of peace is more terrifying than any battle.
For Freya, there is no life worth remembering before the army, and none worth imagining after. Born to the lowest caste of a brutally bigoted society, she’s found no more horror on the battlefield than she knew on the streets.
And she’s earned a lot more respect with a sword in her hand.
As a young man, Dragan was blooded on the rush of adrenaline and sated by the euphoria of victory. With Freya beside him as his partner, he was indestructible. But age and mortality are gaining ground, and cracks have started to appear.
He’s had fifteen years of war and he’s earned his retirement.

My thoughts:
Together they survived the war. But can they survive peace when it means different things to each of them?

Freya was born into a world of poverty.  Her only out of this life is to become a soldier. She is strong, courageous, and well skilled in the art of war.  This has been her life, this is all she knows, and is convinced there is no life outside the Army.
Dragan is a seasoned warrior.  He has a formidable physical presence that no one would cross.  On his off season, away from the war, he returns home to help on the family farm.  His enlistment is at an end and his dream is to bring Freya home as his wife.
The war has carried on for hundreds of years.  With a new threat every year, more land must be taken and more land needs to be defended.  Trade continues across the front lines.  Merchants get richer and the economy grows.
The seasoned soldiers are sent to the front and new recruits bring up the rear.  What was this war really about?  Questions throughout the ranks are beginning to form.
This book has love, lies, deceit, betrayal, war, and heroism.  Freya is on a quest for truth and Dragan is on a quest for his true love.

Touchstone is a well written historical novel.  The setting of this book is during Roman times.  It is a hard life and sometimes a short life for those who made the life of a soldier their own.  I liked the strength of Freya as she struggled with decisions she had to make as well as Dragan's compassion and understanding for his wife as he tries to eek out a living on the family farm.  Although  I was not clear where the story was going at times, I found Touchstone a good read.  I was however, left unfulfilled with the abrupt ending.
My rating:

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Monday, May 21, 2012

0 The Dark Garden Free Excerpt

3 Character Envy, Guest Post by Jus Accardo

Character Envy 

How lame would it be to say that I’m totally jealous of my main character, Dez? I know, I know. The grass is always greener in someone else’s field, right? But seriously—that girl is awesome with a side of sauce.
While she has her issues and faults—she’s a little too impulsive at times and doesn’t know when to stop talking—she’s got a lot going for her.
One of the major things I love about Dez is her confidence with the boys. At her age, I couldn’t get a coherent sentence out to a guy I liked. There was stuttering and at times, drool. It was the very definition of a train wreck. Dez? She plays it cool and leaves a trail of broken hearts in her wake.
She’s also not afraid to try new things. Dez is an adrenalin junkie. She’s bungee jumped, skateboarded from rooftops and jumped from moving vehicles. I too jumped from a moving vehicle. Except I didn’t exactly jump. I kind of fell out. And we weren't moving much. The car was pulling up to a red light. In five o’clock traffic. You haven’t lived until twenty cars have honked their horn to salute you for face planting in the middle of rush hour.
I’m a sucker for attitude, and Dez has definitely got it.
“Current relationship status?” Her voice cut like an arctic chill blowing through the room.
“If you mean me, then you’re not my type. If you mean my dad, he’s single, but I don’t think you’re his type either,” I said with a small smile.
Mercy didn’t find it amusing. A small blue vein in her forehead started throbbing like crazy....
“Actually, come to think of it, I don’t think he has a type. I’ve never seen him with a woman. Mercy, I hate to break it to you, but there’s a very real possibility my dad is gay.”
And yanno, she’s got Kale.
“If I had the ability to touch anyone else in this world, I still don't believe I'd want it to be anyone but you.”
Who wouldn’t envy a girl with a guy that?!? If for none of the other reasons, I’d envy her that ;)
So now it’s your turn. What fictional characters do you envy and why?

Book Blurb
Untouched (A Denazen Novella 1.5)
Until he met Dez, Kale’s days were filled with violence and death. He was used as a weapon of destruction by the power hungry men of Denazen. He’s a Six. A person with an abnormal ability. Some people call them gifts, but not Kale. Kale’s touch means instant death.
But now there’s Dez, the girl he can touch, and they’re hunting down Sixes and warning them about Denazen. Kale is learning about the world outside captivity and trying to put his dark past behind him. But they underestimated how badly Denazen wanted him back.
When Dez sacrifices herself to save the new Six they’d rescued from falling into the corp’s hands, Kale is lost. Denazen has brought out its best to get the job done. Samsen, a nightmare from Kale’s past—the only person he’s ever truly feared—has come for them, and it soon becomes obvious he has his own twisted agenda.
Kale will need all his training to get Dez back and ensure they make it out, free—and alive. But will it be enough?
Add Untouched to your TBR pile on Goodreads
Touch, the first novel in the Denazen series, is set to re-release in mass market on June 12th (Complete with additional scenes from Kale’s POV!). You can pre-order your copy here
Toxic (Denazen 2) hits shelves on September 11th 2012. As a thank you to those who pre-order, Jus is giving away a book plate and magnet of choice (Touch, Untouched, or Toxic) Get the details here.
Jus Accardo is the author of YA paranormal romance and urban fantasy fiction. A native New Yorker, she lives in the middle of nowhere with her husband, three dogs, and sometimes guard bear, Oswald. Her first book, Touch, is available now from Entangled Publishing. She is represented by Kevan Lyon of Marsal Lyon Literary Agency.
Give Jus a yell on Twitter, or visit her on Facebook, and her website.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

6 Diamond Jubilee Celebration Hop

Romance at Random will be randomly giving away some of our jewels of romance, to celebrate the UK’s Diamond Jubilee including:

·  1 winner, 1 copy – Born To Darkness by Suzanne Brockmann
·  1 winner, 1 copy – The Proposal by Mary Balogh
·  1 winner, 1 copy – Darker After Midnight by Lara Adrian
·  3 winners, 1 copy of WITCHFUL THINKING by HP Mallory
·  10 winners, 1 copy of a PREVIEW from Net Galley of ABOUT LAST NIGHT by Ruthie Knox
·  10 winners, 1 copy of PREVIEW from Net Galley of DEEP AUTUMN HEAT by Elisabeth Barrett

Us addresses only

a Rafflecopter giveaway

*winners will be selected by Random House. Good luck!

Saturday, May 19, 2012

0 Review: To Marry an English Lord by Gail MacColl and Carol McD. Wallace

Title: To Marry an English Lord
Author: Gail MacColl and Carol McD. Wallace
Publisher: Workman Publishing
Publication Date: March 15, 2012
paperback, 403 pages
ISBN: 978-0-7611-7195-9
Genre: History, Nonfiction
Source: From Publisher

Here is the American Heiress's story. Filled with tales of wealth and marriage, sex and snobbery -- and 100-year-old gossip that's still scorching -- To Marry an English Lord is a heavily illustrated and energetically presented popular history. A rich tapestry of essays, sidebars, fact-filled boxes, and lively anecdotesoXcombined with wealth of portraits, drawings, photographs, and other rare Victoriana -- it chronicles the era of Mrs. Astor, Edith Wharton, King Edward VII, and the Marlborough House Set. Over 100 heiresses swapped dollars for titles. To Marry an English Lord is the only book to tell how they did it.

My thoughts:
To Marry an English Lord by Gail MacColl and Carol McD. Wallace is an introspective look into the lives of American heiresses who took over England by marrying into English society during the Victorian and Edwardian age. This book is also the inspiration behind the series, Downton Abbey.
I can't begin to praise this book enough. It's not only informative and educational but it's also very entertaining. The authors did a wonderful job putting this book together. It has everything from loads of information to pictures, fashion to gossip, quotes to the inside scoop on what was what during this time period. Duke's and Earl's married American's basically for their money. American and English society were alike in some respects but also very different. The money, the right clothes didn't mean a whole lot until you knew the right people. Prince Edward was a great advocate to the American heiress. If they received his approval the heiress was golden.
I'm absolutely fascinated by this time period.  This book is a must have for people who want to find out more about this time period. It's well written and very informative. If you're looking for a book to read while you wait for the next season of Downton Abbey, this is the book for you.
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Friday, May 18, 2012

0 Books to watch out for: The Car Thief by Theodore Weesner

Press Release
Described as “one of the great coming of age novels of the Twentieth Century,” and as an “undiscovered American classic,” Theodore Weesner’s poignant coming-of-age novel, The Car Thief is poised for a new generation to discover.  Once released to wide critical acclaim, The Car Thief, like the vast majority of print editions, was deemed to have “lost its shelf life” decades ago, and was summarily dropped and ignored by the larger publishing establishment.

But now, new Digital First Publisher, Astor + Blue Editions promises to “revive Weesner’s readership and keep it alive indefinitely” through its specialized “Digital First Platform” (DFP).  In the spirit of DFP, Astor + Blue Editions releases The Car Thief  in Digital E-Book format, through all major online retailers—notably Amazon (Kindle), Barnes & Noble (Nook), Apple (iBook/iPad), Kobo, Sony, Overdrive—before the release of the Custom Print Version, due out next month.

“The Car Thief represents the quintessential Astor + Blue title,” says COO Tony Viardo. “It’s a book that rises to the level of true literature, yet wasn’t given the chance to find its full audience, mostly because of limited capacity and narrow-minded publishing traditions. But now, through digital technology and the internet, this classic title can find and sustain the audience it deserves once and for all.”

Check out to be able to access Theodore’s book and info in one spot no matter what e-reader you’re using.


It’s 1959.  Sixteen year-old Alex Housman has just stolen his fourteenth car and frankly doesn’t know why.  His divorced, working class father grinds out the night shift at the local Chevy Plant in Detroit, kept afloat by the flask in his glove compartment and the open bottles of booze in his Flint, Michigan home.

Abandoned and alone, father and son struggle to express a deep love for each other, even as Alex fills his day juggling cheap thrills and a crushing depression. He cruises and steals, running from, and to, the police, compelled by reasons he frustratingly can’t put into words.  And then there’s Irene Shaeffer, the pretty girl in school whose admiration Alex needs like a drug in order to get by.  Broke and fighting to survive, Alex and his father face the realities of estrangement, incarceration, and even violence as their lives hurtle toward the climactic episode that a New York Times reviewer called “one of the most profoundly powerful in American fiction.”

In this rich, beautifully crafted story, Weesner accomplishes a rare feat:  He’s written a transcendent piece of literature in deceptively plain language, painting a gripping portrait of a father and a son, otherwise invisible among the mundane, everyday details of life in blue collar America.

A true and enduring American classic.


Theodore Weesner, born in Flint, Michigan, is aptly described as a “Writers’ Writer” by the larger literary community.  His short works have been published in the New Yorker, Esquire, Saturday Evening Post, Atlantic Monthly and Best American Short Stories.  His novels, including The True Detective, Winning the City and Harbor Light, have been published to great critical acclaim in the New York Times, The Washington Post, Harper’s, The Boston Globe, USA Today, The Chicago Tribune, Boston Magazine and The Los Angeles Times to name a few.

Weesner is currently writing his memoir, two new novels, and an adaptation of his widely praised novel—retitled Winning the City Redux—also to be published by Astor + Blue Editions.  He lives and works in Portsmouth, NH.

*I received the information in this post courtesy of Astor + Blue and Blue Dot Literary. 

Thursday, May 17, 2012

6 To Cuss or Not To Cuss, Guest Post by Mary Sisson

In Defense of Cussing . . . at least some of the time

Cussing, like porn or musical theater, divides people: Some people love it, others can’t stand it.

I know this well because my father was very much in the first group, while my mother was strongly in the second. The result was that I had one parent who taught me rousing songs about masturbation, and another parent who banned words like “jeez” and “golly.” (Theirs was an interesting union.)

When the time came to write my science-fiction novel Trang, I was faced with the question of whether or not to have some of my characters use profanity. Some background: The book’s titular character, Philippe Trang, is a diplomat—Earth’s first diplomat to aliens, in fact. He is chosen for the job because he is, by nature, very diplomatic, considerate of other people’s feelings and careful not to offend them.

Philippe Trang does not use profanity.

For this mission, he is provided with guards. Philippe Trang expects this; but he does not expect his guards to be, in essence, the Navy SEAL Team Six of the future.

His guards are not peacekeepers; they are warriors. They kill people. That’s what they’ve trained for, and that’s what they’re good at.

They’re not so good at being diplomatic.

So, that was the premise: Kindly diplomat meets crude soldiers. The question became, just how crude should the soldiers be?

I’ll cut to the chase and say that I went with very crude indeed. Hard profanity. Vulgar language. My mother has not read the book, and furthermore, she’s not going to.

Why would I write a book my own mother can’t read? Why would I write something that requires me to stick a language advisory in the book description? Why would I do something that I know will strongly turn off some readers? Especially since I’m writing in a genre that turns off plenty of readers all on its own?

For me it boiled down to a question of verisimilitude. I used to be a reporter, and one big complaint about covering the military is that you can’t just massage what soldiers say so that it can be published in a family publication—you basically have to translate their words from Obscenity into English. Whenever I feel like I have gone too far, I just crack open Anthony Swofford’s Jarhead and that feeling goes right away.

There is also the issue of emotional verisimilitude. Since I enjoy science fiction (well, some science fiction), I’ve watched some of Farscape and all of the new Battlestar Galactica. Which means that I’ve been driven crazy by their fake cuss words, “frell” and “frack.”

Those shows taught me that if you are going to convince anyone that your characters are tough and mean, your characters need to use words that are tough and mean. “Frell” sounds like a word one might use to describe an especially pleasant day. When one character tells another to “frell off,” they don’t sound remotely angry. “Frack” at least has those hard consonant sounds, but honestly—why not just have your tough fighter-pilot character go with “fudge” and complete her imitation of a kindergarten teacher?

Perhaps I am like my mother in this regard: Her opposition to “jeez” and “golly” was that they were weasel words, dishonest substitutes for harder swears. I feel like you should either use the actual profanity or figure out a completely different way to say something.

This is especially true when someone is supposed to be saying something that is offensive, inappropriate, and shocking. “Motherfracker” is none of those things; it’s just silly. Even when writers aren’t using made-up cuss words, straight substitutions never work. “Gosh-darn it, I’m frigging tired of this crap,” does not pack much in the way of shock value.

And I needed these soldiers to shock.

Philippe Trang is, as you might expect, the heart of Trang. He’s not a perfect guy: He can be waspish and a bit of a snob, plus he’s dealing with some pretty horrible trauma that doesn’t always bring out the best in him.

But his job matters to him—he is absolutely convinced that diplomacy is very, very valuable. And it was vital to the book to have the reader on his side, to have the reader convinced that diplomacy is indeed very, very valuable, and that Philippe Trang is the guy to handle this delicate and important diplomatic mission.

What better way to do that than to force him, right off the bat, to handle a pack of cuss-o-holics? The reader might not know much about diplomacy, but they’ll certainly understand that accusing a new acquaintance of engaging in sexual relations with animals is an unwise approach, and they’ll sympathize with Philippe Trang’s efforts to get it to stop. The cultural barriers between this diplomat and his guards are emblematic of the cultural barriers between the humans and the aliens—which of course are emblematic of the cultural differences that separate people from each other out here in the real world. It is important that they be overcome.

--Mary Sisson is an award-winning writer and the author of Trang, as well as its sequel Trust, which will be coming out this June. And has a language advisory.

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Wednesday, May 16, 2012

2 Review: Nothing Special by Geoff Herbach

Title: Nothing Special
Author: Geoff Herbach
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Publication Date: May 1, 2012
arc, ebook
ISBN: 1402265077 (ISBN13: 9781402265075)
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Source: NetGalley

Summary (from GoodReads):
Felton Reinstein thought he had it all-a great girlfriend, an athletic scholarship in the bag, and football friends he could totally count on. Wrong Like an elephant storming a house of cards, it all comes crashing down. And it's Felton's fault. Turns out his little brother has taken an impromptu road trip to Florida (aka desperate flight from all the talented people) to make a bid for stardom (aka fronting a hotel rock band with escapees from a retirement community). What's a big brother to do but help pick up the pieces, even if it means giving up all the status, all the glory and once again facing a life of nothing special.

My thoughts:
Felton Reinstein is the center of his own universe. He's very talented in the athletic department and it has made his ego swell to epic proportions. His brother, Andrew, has always been a big supporter of Felton. That is until Felton's in-sensitivities gets the better of him. With hurt feelings, Andrew runs away. Felton is then forced to take a hard look at him self. He implores the help of his ex-best friend to drive him across the country to help brother.
This story is written in a journal type that's actually a letter to Felton's girlfriend, Aleah. It's told completely from Felton's point of view. It gives you insight into Felton's head. He's completely clueless to everything around him. He's let down his best friend, he's upset his girlfriend, and he's been a jerk to his brother. However Felton doesn't see what he's done wrong. His character can be very frustrating but you can understand a bit where he is coming from. Nothing Special also deals with the tough subject of suicide. Felton and Andrew's father committed suicide when they were both young. This book shows the devastating, long term impact suicide can have on a family.
Felton goes through an intense emotional journey through Nothing Special. He has a lot to figure out and also to deal with. He has to find a way to make amends to the people he's hurt.  Geoff Herbach wrote a deep story about what it is to be a teen who has suffered a great loss. The characters and the way they reacted and interacted with each other felt very real. Overall I thought this was a good story. It has a lot of depth to it. The story line flows easy and the characters are believable. I also think there's a little of Felton in each of us.
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Tuesday, May 15, 2012

2 Review: The Hero's Guide to Saving Your Kingdom by Christopher Healy

Title: The Hero's Guide to Saving Your Kingdom
Author: Christopher Healy
Publisher: HaperCollins Publisher
Publication Date: May 1 ,2012
ebook arc
ISBN: 978-0-06-211743-4
Genre: Middle Grade, Fantasy
Source: edelweiss


Enter a world where everything, even our classic fairy tales, is not at all what it seems.
Prince Liam. Prince Frederic. Prince Duncan. Prince Gustav. You've never head of them, have you? These are the princes who saved Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella, Snow White, and Rapunzel, respectively, and yet, thanks to those lousy bards who wrote the tales, you likely know them only as "Prince Charming." But all of this is about to change...

My thoughts:
The Hero's Guide to Saving Your Kingdom by Christopher Healy is a brilliantly funny take on the classic fairy tale stories. This is one of those books that adults as well as kids will love. Healy does a fantastic job in giving Princes Charming his own story. This book just isn't about one prince, it's about four princes who are angry at their kingdom's minstrels for getting their stories wrong. It's about the relationship they have with their princesses, and it's about overcoming obstacles to become the princes they want to be. So before you think this is the same old fairy tale that you have read over and over again. Think again.
Prince Liam, Prince Fredric, Prince Duncan, and Prince Gustav are on a quest to find the missing minstrels of their kingdoms. The princes all have their own set of problems and insecurities to deal with. The dialog between them is very witty and funny. There are many laugh out loud moments. The characters play off each other really well. The story line is really good too. It's highly entertaining. There is action, adventure, magic, and much more. This book is a joy to read from cover to cover. The Hero's Guide to Saving Your Kingdom is a fantastic book for kids of all ages. Once you pick it up, you won't want to put it down until you're finished. I highly recommend this book!
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