Friday, June 29, 2012

3 Review: The Queen's Vow by C.W. Gortner

Title: The Queen's Vow: A Novel of Isabella of Castile
Author: C.W. Gortner
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Published: June 12, 2012
Hardcover, 382 pages
ISBN: 978-0-345-52396-9
Genre: Historical Fiction
Source: Book Tour


No one believed I was destined for greatness.
So begins Isabella’s story, in this evocative, vividly imagined novel about one of history’s most famous and controversial queens—the warrior who united a fractured country, the champion of the faith whose reign gave rise to the Inquisition, and the visionary who sent Columbus to discover a New World. Acclaimed author C. W. Gortner envisages the turbulent early years of a woman whose mythic rise to power would go on to transform a monarchy, a nation, and the world.

My thoughts:
Isabella of Castille is a historical figure that I would think most people are familiar with. If, of course, you paid attention in history class. She is an intriguing person because she did what other women of her time weren't allowed to do: She took her fate into her own hands. In this novel, C.W. explores the life of Isabella, from childhood to adult. Her father died when she was very young. As the kings sister, she grew up knowing what her life might behold. She had no real political desires of her own. However as fate would have it, she was destined to rule. She stood up to those who would resign her to a life not of her choosing. She married for love and ruled a kingdom.
C.W. Gortner has written a highly entertaining novel about Isabella's life. The book begins when she is a young girl who is brought to court after many years away to celebrate the birth of her brother's heir. She's not accustomed to all the finery, the intrigue, the scandal, and the backstabbing. However it's at this court she  meets Fernando, prince of Aragon, the one she is not only destined to rule with but also to unite their kingdoms . They have an instant connection but it seems for a time, fate has other plans. Their road to be together is paved by war and scandal. Isabella has to deal with her brother, King Enrique, who wants to marry her off to secure his kingdom. Defying him is an act of treason.
This novel has many ups and downs. It's a fascinating and emotional journey about one of the most famous queens in history. Gortner brings to light  fascinating details that help seal Isabella's historical legacy. This is a book I would recommend to all you history lovers out there.

My rating:

C.W. Gortner is the author of The Last Queen, The Confessions of Catherine de Medici and The Tudor Secret.  He holds an MFA in Writing with an emphasis in Renaissance Studies from the New College of California.
In his extensive travels to research his books, he has danced a galliard in a Tudor great hall and experienced life in a Spanish castle. His novels have garnered international praise and been translated into thirteen languages to date. He is also a dedicated advocate for animal rights and environmental issues.
He's currently at work on his fourth novel for Ballantine Books, about the early years of Lucrezia Borgia, as well as the third novel in his Tudor series,The Elizabeth I Spymaster Chronicles (US) or Elizabeth's Spymaster (UK).
Half-Spanish by birth, C.W. lives in Northern California.  Follow C.W. Gortner on Twitter and Facebook

Thursday, June 28, 2012

2 Lloyd Lofthouse Guest Post and Giveaway

What I enjoyed most about writing "The Concubine Saga" was breathing life back into the bittersweet love story that Sir Robert Hart (1835 - 1911), the only foreigner the Emperor of China ever trusted, wanted to hide from the world.
Although Hart burned his own journals covering the early years of his romance with Ayaou—a gap of two years and almost nine months—enough evidence survived that Harvard scholars surmised, "Hart's years of liaison with Ayaou gave him his fill of romance, including both its satisfaction and its limitations."
In addition, shortly before his death, Hart started to go through his journals that he did not burn and strike out what he didn't want the world to read. However, he never had a chance to finish the job.
When I think of Robert Hart's bittersweet love story with his concubine Ayaou, two novels come to mind. One is "Gone With the Wind", the love story between Scarlett O'Hara and Rhett Butler, which is the epic tale of a woman's life during one of the most tumultuous periods in America's history—the Civil War.
"Dr. Zhivago", the second novel and another epic, tells the story of Yury Zhivago, a man torn between his love of two women while caught up by the brutality and horror of World War I, the Russian Revolution and the subsequent Russian Civil War.
Similar to "Gone with the Wind" and "Dr. Zhivago", "The Concubine Saga" takes place during the Second Opium War (1856 - 1860) and the Taiping Rebellion (1850 - 1864), the bloodiest rebellion in human history.
Once I started working on the saga, China's turbulent history during that era came to life for a dramatic story where two young lovers from different cultures struggle to keep their passion for each other alive while dealing with people such as the Devil Soldier and surviving in a world gone mad due to God's Chinese son, Hong Xiuquan, the man behind the largest uprising in human history, a rebellion that Robert Hart played a crucial role ending.
What made this love story so interesting to me was Robert Hart himself, who was raised a strict Wesleyan, which meant twice-daily readings of the Scriptures and a life that was all work and pleasure was seen as sinful.
While reading Hart's journals and letters I discovered a young man torn between his Victorian moralistic religious upbringing and his libido. At age fifteen, Hart went to live in the dorms of the Queen's College in Belfast and rebelled. Harvard scholars said, "His rebellion and sinfulness … led him to women of easy virtue", and soon after graduating from college at 19, he accepted a job in China as an interpreter for the British consulate and fled halfway around the world to repent.
However, China was the wrong place for a young man running away from sinful pleasure, because in China, women were for sale in unlimited numbers. In fact, on his voyage to China, Hart became friends with Captain Dan Patridge, the principal agent in China of Jardine, Matheson & Co—the largest and wealthiest opium merchant in the world at the time. The first journal Hart burned covered the summer he spent at Patridge's house in China where there had to be a plentiful supply of Chinese concubines.
In addition, we learn that Hart's experience with Ayaou anchored him permanently in China. Sterling Seagrave in "Dragon Lady" wrote that Ayaou was Hart's live in dictionary and was wise beyond her years.
Eventually, Hart threw himself into his job working for the Emperor of China as Inspector General of Chinese Maritime Customs—today East Asian scholars know him as the godfather of China's modernism, and it all came about due to his love of one woman. Imagine the heated passion and heartache of such a romance.

I have one copy (paperback or kindle) of The Concubine Saga to giveaway. This is open internationally however, those living outside the U.S. will receive the Kindle version. You must be at least 13 years old to enter. You must fill out the form below. Good luck! 

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Wednesday, June 27, 2012

2 Review: The Concubine Saga

Title: The Concubine Saga
Author: Lloyd Lofthouse
Publisher: Three Clover Press
Published: May 9, 2012
paperback, 547 pages
ISBN: 978-0-9819553-8-4
Genre: Historical Fiction
Source: Premier Virtual Author Book Tours

Summary (From Goodreads):
 The Concubine Saga is the deeply intimate story of Hart's loyalty and love for his adopted land and the woman who captured his heart. Historical fiction potboiler, yes. But where The Concubine Saga truly shines is its thought-provoking passages on relationships, attitudes and cultural differences. The heated dialogue between Hart and Ayaou will especially touch a nerve for any westerner who has ever lived and loved in China…" Thomas Carter, photojournalist and author of "China: Portrait of a People

My thoughts:
The Concubine Saga by Lloyd Lofthouse is the perfect blend of when fact meets fiction. When this novel first came to my attention, I wasn't sure if I wanted to read it. I am glad that I did decide to give it a try or I would have missed out on a very entertaining book. I had no idea who Robert Hart was or what role he played in history. However after reading this book and a little Google research, I've come to a better understanding.
Robert Hart came to live in China as a young man. He was blown away by the vast change in cultures. Robert previously lived in Ireland and was a devout Methodist. After moving to China, Robert is inundated by the Chinese culture. It challenges his beliefs and he struggles to make sense of it all. He is considered an outsider and is not really trusted by the local people. After meeting Ayaou, Robert falls in love at first sight. He knows that he will do anything to be with her no matter the cost. This book really has two story lines. The first is Robert's political career and the second is the love story between Ayaou and Robert. Both story lines mesh together to create a captivating story.   
The character development of both Robert and Ayaou is very strong. Ayaou starts out as insecure but she also has an independent streak as well as inner strength. She was raised to be a concubine which is basically a sex slave. This was common place in China for girls. Throughout this novel she has to learn to trust that Robert will love her. Robert was a great character as well. He comes to China as a young idealist. Robert utilized Ayaou to help him learn about the Chinese culture. Robert is hungry for knowledge and vows to learn how the Chinese think. In doing this, he does more than he thinks is possible. He earns the trust of the Chinese government and helps transform the country.
The Concubine is an epic saga about the trials and tribulations that took place during the Opium Wars. The characters are strong and inspirational and will move you. There is action, adventure, romance, heartache, and loss. This is definitely considered a To Read.
My rating:
Come back tomorrow for a guest post written by Lloyd Lofthouse and enter for a chance to win a copy of The Concubine Saga. Click here to read the first chapter.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

7 Q&A with Jennie Fields + Give@way

Q&A with Jennie Fields, author of 

The relationship between Edith and Anna is very complex. Did you always plan on making their troubled friendship central to the book, or did it grow out of your research?
It wasn’t until three months into the writing of the book that I decided to add a secondary protagonist, someone who could view Edith objectively.  Anna Bahlmann seemed the perfect character as she was with Edith on and off since her days as Edith’s governess until the year Anna died in 1916.  To have kept Anna with her so long, I assumed they must be very close, but biographers had hardly mentioned her.

Then after I’d already written many chapters of the book, a miracle occurred.  Over 100 letters from Edith to Anna which had been moldering in an attic came up for auction at Christies! Everything I supposed about their relationship was true.  They were loving and close since Edith’s childhood, and she trusted Anna with a great deal.  I grew more and more intrigued with this shadowy figure.

Questions began to arise.  Why, for instance, during the summer after the onset of Edith’s affair with Morton Fullerton, was Anna suddenly sent to Europe on a trip that was considered a gift from Edith?   Earlier, in letters to other people, it was clear Edith was upset and even annoyed when Anna wasn’t around to help her, so why was it arranged for them to be suddenly so much apart? Though I have no hard evidence that Anna was disturbed by Edith’s relationship with Fullerton , many events suggested she’d been sent away.  I wanted Anna to be the book’s conscience.  If Edith was unhappy, disturbed by her splintering relationship to Morton, it made sense she’d send Anna off on a trip.

Another intriguing coincidence is that I had created a warm alliance between Anna and Teddy.  After I’d written most of the book, I found letters from Edith to others that said that Anna was a calming influence over Teddy on his worst days, the only one patient enough to sit with him, that he was asking for her—exactly as I had written it.

Anna supports Edith’s writing as a typist, early reader, and—in a way—editor. Did Edith ever include Anna in her Acknowledgements? How did Anna’s involvement in Edith’s work complicate their relationship?
Though she never acknowledged Anna publicly as far as I know, in letters directly to Anna, she thanked her.  In fact, in one letter early in Edith’s writing career, she sent Anna the check she received for a story saying, “The story is so associated in my mind with the hours that we spent in writing it out together, & I owe its opportune presentment & speedy acceptance largely to the fact that you were here to get it written out at a time when I could not have done so, that I have a peculiar feeling about your having just this special cheque & no other as a souvenir of our work together.”

In her published biography, A Backward Glance, she spoke warmly about her relationship to Anna when she was a child “my beloved German teacher, who saw which way my fancy turned, and fed it with all the wealth of German literature, from the Minnesingers to Heine.”

But in a later autobiographical fragment that was never published she said, “My good little governess was cultivated & conscientious, but she never struck a spark from me, she never threw a new light on any subject, or made me see the relation of things to each other.  My childhood & youth were an intellectual desert.”

If she is referring to Anna in this sentence, (I hope she is not) it saddens me a great deal.  In any case, I believe Edith saw Anna as something of a servant.  She certainly did straddle Edith’s world and the world of the household staff, as beloved and essential as she seemed to be.  At the same time, Edith generously took Anna on foreign trips, out to dinner and to the theatre with her.  Without Edith, her life might well have been merely that of a teacher.

As I have written Anna, she sees her place in life as a helpmate and accepts that Edith is the chosen one.  She is proud of her association with Edith and content with her place in life.

Edith Wharton is one of your favorite writers. How did that influence your writing?
Well, I must say, I felt very conscious of the language I used.  I wanted it to be appropriate to the era, hard-working and beautiful all at once.  I could never dream of writing as exquisitely as Edith.  I often get chills when I read her writing.  If angels could write, they’d write as she did.  The music of her language is instructive and breathtaking.  But I tried to write in a way that I felt might please her.  Also, I often started my writing sessions by reading a few pages of one of her books.  I never get tired of her books, no matter how often I read them.

The book follows Edith’s sexual awakening. What was it like writing sex scenes for such a well-known writer?
Not many people know this, but when Edith died, among her effects, her literary executor found some pornography that she’d penned.  There was nothing shy about this work.  It was bold, shocking, and also, of course, exquisitely written.  While I did not use any of the language of this piece (named Beatrice Palmato, for those who are curious—and yes, it’s on the internet) it did instruct me as to how she viewed sex and passion, and gave me insight into what excited her.

Paris figures heavily into the book. What did the city mean to Edith? What’s your relationship to  Paris  and did it figure into the writing of the book?
Edith adored Paris .  It was everything that New York wasn’t: culturally oriented, worldly, beautiful.  She found New York society closed and stifling.  She blossomed when she finally moved to France full-time, and her devotion to France is clear in how she helped the women of France during World War I with her workrooms and charities. ( France awarded her the Cross of the Legion of Honor for her work during the war.) She had loved Paris as a child, and even more as an adult.  And of course, she fell in love with Morton while in Paris . That would forever insure a place for Paris in her heart.
There was a period where I did not like Paris .  I found it jostling and sad.  But about the time I began the book, I also began a new relationship to Paris , and fell in love with it all over again.

By the end of the book, Edith’s husband Teddy is not a very sympathetic character. Did you know much about Teddy when you began this project? Did you find yourself taking sides?
I knew nothing of Teddy when I took on the project, but it wasn’t long before I discovered that he suffered in later life from Manic Depression at a time when people didn’t know what to make of that or how to treat it.  Truthfully, I see Teddy as a very sympathetic character who married a woman unsuited to him, and then, distraught, fell victim to mental illness (which seemed to run in his family.)  If Teddy could have spent his later years at the Mount with his pigs and horses, he might have been a much happier man.  Edith was an intellectual.  Teddy was anything but.  Yet,  he adored Edith.  And for a long time, he was a kind and patient husband to her.  Thinking of Teddy’s life saddens me.

You were an advertising creative director before becoming a novelist. Both are creative, but in different ways. How did your past career help in your current one?
My advertising career has affected my fiction writing in myriad ways.  For one thing, I am always conscious of trying to tell a story in the least words possible.  After years of cramming twenty thoughts into thirty seconds, one gets pretty good at writing minimally!  Advertising also taught me to be disciplined, to work well under strict deadlines, and to work every day.  What I loved in advertising also interests me in my fiction:  to solve puzzles.  The tighter the strictures of the assignment, the more intrigued I am. I love being creative in a small box. This came into play with this book.  I had to tell a story that already existed but I had to shape it into a book.  It was a Rubik’s Cube.  The elements were all there, but they needed to be twisted into the right order to create a satisfying pattern.  Also, I was forced to read between the lines.  Edith kept such clear diaries; her life was mapped out almost daily.  But what really happened at the theatre that night?  Why did Anna leave at that time for New York ?  Why did Morton act the way he did?  It was a delicious puzzle and I very much enjoyed solving it to my satisfaction.  I hope I’ve done Edith’s life justice.

What’s your writing regimen?
Generally, I walk in the mornings and do errands.  I write in the afternoons.  Usually I read starting at 1 or 2 pm.  (While I was working on THE AGE OF DESIRE I always read something by Edith). Then, with a strong cup of tea I get down to work by three.  I write in my writing room, a large old sleeping porch with windows on three sides overlooking my backyard.  I sit in a comfortable chair with an ottoman, my MacBook Pro on my lap.  I rarely write more than three hours at a time, usually less.  But it’s extraordinary what three dedicated hours can generate as far as pages.  If I get five good pages a day, I’m thrilled.  But not every day can be a successful day.  I always take weekends off—perhaps a holdover from my years in advertising.  My brain needs time to recharge!

What’s next for you?
I am writing a book about a woman caught up in the radical anti-war movement of the 1960s.  She is a woman in her late thirties who married young and had no youth.  She goes back to college, and gets drawn into the Weather Underground.  I’ve always been intrigued with how people who were advocates of anti-violence could justify their increasingly violent activities.

You must be at least 13 years to enter. Giveaway is for US addresses only. You must fill out the form below. 

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Monday, June 25, 2012

0 Review: Indigo Springs by A.M. Dellamonica

Title: Indigo Springs (Astrid Lethewood #1)
Author: A.M. Dellamonica
Publisher: Tom Doherty Associates
Published: October 27, 2009
paperback, 317 pages
ISBN: 978-0-7653-1947-0
Genre: Fantasy
Source: Bought

Summary (from Goodreads):

Indigo Springs is a sleepy town where things seem pretty normal . . . until Astrid's father dies and she moves into his house. She discovers that for many years her father had been accessing the magic that flowed, literally, in a blue stream beneath the earth, leaking into his house. When she starts to use the liquid "vitagua" to enchant everyday items, the results seem innocent enough: a "'chanted" watch becomes a charm that means you're always in the right place at the right time; a "'chanted" pendant enables the wearer to convince anyone of anything . . .
But as events in Indigo Springs unfold and the true potential of vitagua is revealed, Astrid and her friends unwittingly embark on a journey fraught with power, change, and a future too devastating to contemplate. Friends become enemies and enemies become friends as Astrid discovers secrets from her shrouded childhood that will lead her to a destiny stranger than she could have imagined . . .

My thoughts:
The first few chapters of Indigo Springs by A. M. Dellamonica was a little confusing but by the third chapter I was totally hooked. After Astrid's father dies, he leaves her a house that is full of enchanted objects. Astrid begins to uncover the mysteries behind her father as well as unlock memories that have been buried for years. With the help of her brother by marriage, Jacks, and her friend, Sahara, the three embark to uncover the mystery behind the dangerous,blue, magical substance called vitagua.
The story is told from two points-of-view from two different people. The first is told from an investigator named Will. The magic that Astrid unlocks wreaks havoc on their community. It's like a whole epidemic has taken over the town and beyond. Astrid is held in a bunker below ground. Will has come to interview her to find out any information on the fugitive, Sahara. The second point-of-view is told from Astrid. She reflects and tells Will the events that has led up to the present day circumstances.
Indigo Springs is a well-written novel, full of imagination and complex characters. It is a thoroughly fascinating look into the temptation of power and the consequences of using it for one's own advantage. I was completely caught up in the world that Dellamonica created. This is a book that I would definitely recommend. You won't want to put it down until you reach the end.
My rating:
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Other books in this series:
Indigo Springs
Blue Magic

Sunday, June 24, 2012

2 Big Sky Country Book Tour and Give@way

“Still a smart-ass after all these years,” she remarked, sounding almost wistful.
“It’s a coping mechanism,” Joslyn said, only half kidding. She pushed her hair back again and regarded her friend with affection. “Thanks for doing this, Kendra—giving me a job and letting me rent the guest-house, I mean.”
Kendra straightened her elegant spine. She’d pinned her pale, silky hair up in a loose knot at her nape, and her simple jewelry—gold posts in her earlobes and one bangle bracelet gracing her right wrist—looked quietly classy. Her eyes were a pale, luminous green.
“I’ve missed you, Joss,” Kendra said, as Joslyn pulled back the other chair and sank into it. “It’s great to have you back in town…” She paused then, lowered her eyes.
“But?” Joslyn prompted gently.
“I can’t quite figure out why you’d want to be here, after what happened.” Color rose in Kendra’s cheeks, but she met Joslyn’s gaze again. “Not that any of it was your fault, of course, but-“
The coffeepot began to make sizzling noises, and a tantalizing aroma filled the air.

Guest Blog: Do you prefer Slade or Hutch?

Well, heck, that’s a hard one, because I’m crazy about both of them.  Slade is the strong, silent type, physically patterned after a young Rob Lowe (I had his shirtless Vanity Fair cover framed and kept it on my desk throughout.)  He’s big on honor and integrity, and he’s really gun-shy because of a love gone wrong.  Hutch is strong, too, but he’s outspoken and reckless.  Where Slade will examine an issue from all angles, Hutch tends to jump right in and worry about the details later.  Because they’re both LLM heroes, they have certain qualities in common: they want a woman who is an equal, and a partner, they love kids, they love animals, and they will always try to do the right thing.  Like “real” people, they sometimes get it wrong, despite all their good intentions.  They both have a sense of humor, Slade’s being dry and understated, while Hutch’s is more wisecrack dependent.  They never look for a fight, but they never run away from one, either.  I’m often asked if I wish real men were like my heroes—truth be told, I think there are a lot of very fine men out there, doing their jobs, loving their women, raising their children to be good citizens.

Be sure to follow the rest of the tour by clicking on this link:

Thanks to BookTrib and Media Muscle I have a paperback copy of Big Sky Country to giveaway. To enter: You must be at least 13 years old. This giveaway is for US/Canada addresses only. You must fill out the form below. 

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Saturday, June 23, 2012

2 Guest Post: Janiera Eldridge and Her Soul Sister Dream Cast

If Soul Sisters was a movie this is my Dream Cast!

So, just about every author has a dream cast for who they would choose to represent their characters if their book turned into a movie. I can never write a new character without having someone to base it off of (usually more on looks than personality). Below are the people who influenced the looks of Soul Sisters main characters!
Ani and Dana---------------Tia and Tamera Mowry

I’ve grown up with these twin childhood stars all my life. I think I’ve seen just about ever Sister, Sister episode there is. The moment I knew I was writing about twins, Tia &Tamera where the first set of twins that popped into my mind. They’re both just so beautiful!
Diego----- Laz Alonso

I wrote the character of Diego just for actor Laz Alonso. I knew from the very beginning my male character was based on him. I’m a huge fan of his; I even got to meet him in person. He was so nice to everyone who took pictures with him. When I started writing my book after I met him, I knew he was Diego in personality and looks.
Donovan-------- Xavier Samuel

I loved this actor’s all to brief performance in The Twilight Saga: Eclipse.  I had his handsome face in my mind the entire time I wrote about Donavan, the vampire leader.
Christian--------Anson Mount

I’ve been a fan of the actor Anson Mount for years now but his performance in one of my new favorite shows Hell on Wheels is amazing!!!! I would give anything to have him in my movies (you know a girl can dream!) His masculine features and deep down gut wrenching acting made  me create the character of the werewolf Christian just to have someone like him in my novel.
Marcel--------Michael Ealy

This gorgeous blue-eyed  actor was a no brainer. He is just so sexy, charismatic and brooding that he was so perfect for the docile but powerful vampire Marcel. I can’t wait to work with Marcel more in the second book of the trilogy.
I know there are a lot more men in the book than women but hey, this is a vampire book for the ladies. A lot of action but a lot of aristocratic beauty goes on in this book. I loved working with this multi-cultural cast of characters and I hope you enjoy your ride with them through Soul sisters.

Soul Sisters is an urban fantasy novel about African-American twin sisters Ani and Dana who have a rather unique secret: one sister is human while the other is a vampire. While the sisters have lived peacefully with each other for many years one fateful night will change both their lives forever. When a drunken man tries to attack Dana (the human sister) Ani (the vampire sister) protects her sister with all of her ferocious power. However, when the vampire?s leader Donovan finds out about the public display he calls for the sisters to be assassinated for disobedience. Ani and Dana now are in for the fight of their lives to protect each other as well as the lives of their dedicated friends who have joined them on their mission for survival. If Dana and Ani can make it through this time of uncertainty, Ani can take her new place as vampire queen. Soul Sisters is expected to be a trilogy; The book also features a multicultural cast of characters that brings a new edge of chic to the vampire world.

Janiera Eldridge is giving away one e-copy of her novel, Soul Sisters to one lucky reader. You must be at least 13 years old to enter. Please fill out the form below.

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Friday, June 22, 2012

2 The Best Books You're Not Reading

Sourcebooks has a fantastic sale going on right now until June 24th. The books listed are $1.99 or less. Check it out and add these books to your reading pile! Click on the links below to purchase the books. Find more deals at Amazon by clicking here. T

Water Wars by Cameron Stracher.
WATER WARS is set in a post-apocalyptic dystopia, where two teenagers, Vera and her brother Will, race against time to rescue their friend from the corporations that run the world by controlling the limited water supply. In a world that has collapsed from environmental catastrophe and war, water is hoarded by governments with access to it, rivers are dammed, polar caps are melted, and clouds sucked from the sky.  One morning Vera meets and befriends a mysterious boy named Kai, who seems to have limitless access to fresh water and claims to know about an untapped river but is sworn to secrecy.
Vera and Kai become friends, and soon something blossoms between the two teens.  But one afternoon Kai doesn’t show up at their usual meeting place and his home is ransacked. Vera and Will set off on a dangerous journey in search of their friend and his secret source of the life-affirming liquid. The siblings are pursued by pirates, a paramilitary group and greedy corporations, hell bent on controlling the world’s water supply – all of which want to get their hands on Kai and his uncanny ability to find fresh water.

Real Mermaids Don't Wear Toe Rings by Helen Boudreau
Freak of nature takes on a whole new meaning...
If she hadn't been so clueless, she might have seen it coming. But really, who expects to get into a relaxing bathtub after a stressful day of shopping for tankinis and come out with scales and a tail?
Most. Embarrassing. Moment. Ever.
Jade soon discovers she inherited her mermaid tendencies from her mom. But if Mom was a mermaid, how did she drown?
Jade is determined to find out. So how does a plus-size, aqua-phobic mer-girl go about doing that exactly? And how will Jade ever be able to explain her secret to her best friend, Cori, and to her crush, Luke?
This summer is about to get a lot more interesting...

Undertakers: The Rise of the Corpses by Ty Drago
"On a sunny Wednesday morning in October, a day that would mark the end of one life and the beginning of another, I found out my grouchy next door neighbor was the walking dead. When you turn around expecting to see something familiar, and instead see something else altogether, it takes a little while for your brain to catch up with your eyes. I call it the 'Holy Crap Factor.'"
Forced to flee his home and family, twelve-year-old Will Ritter falls in with the Undertakers-a rag-tag army of teenage resistance fighters who've banded together to battle the Corpses.

We Hear the Dead by Dianne K. Salerni
It starts as a harmless prank...then one lie quickly grows into another. Soon Kate and Maggie Fox are swept into a dizzying flurry of national attention for their abilities to communicate with the dead. But living a lie is sometimes too much to handle, even if you have the best intentions. Based on a true story, We Hear the Dead reveals how secrets and lies can sometimes lead you to what's real and what's right. And how sometimes talking with the dead is easier than talking with the people around you.

Horrid Henry by Francesca Simon
Horrid Henry and his neighbor Moody Margaret decide to make the most sloppy, slimy, sludgy, sticky, smelly, gooey, gluey, gummy, greasy, gloppy glop possible. Is it the best glop in the world or the worst thing that's ever happened to them? Plus three other stories so funny we can't even mention them here.
Eyes in the Mirror by Julia Mayer
amara is a troubled and lonely adolescent, prone to cutting, who desperately craves both intimacy and escape from her unfulfilled life . . . until she meets her reflection, Dee, the seeming answer to all her problems. With dual--and dueling--points of view, "Eyes in the Mirror" provides a perspective from one girl's life and from her freer, wilder reflection.

Beast Friends Forever by Nate Evans
Featuring beastly fun comic strips inside!
Is there a monster living under your bed?
Meet Otto! Zeke and Hannah’s new best friend—even if he is a beast.
It’s up to Zeke and his sister to keep this mini-monster out of their candy, out of their school…and out of trouble! Will they be able to keep him a secret? Will the school bully discover why he’s swinging upside down from the basketball hoop in his underpants? More importantly, what does Otto want with Hannah’s dolls?

1 David Broughton Interview and Give@way

1. What made you choose to write the genre that you write in? 
Surprisingly enough it started late one night while laid in bed watching t.v. I think there was a show about St. George (The Patron Saint Of England), when my wife Laura asked about him, to be honest I didn't truly know at the time and told her I would work at finding out, well safe to stay I'm still researching, and still writing six years further on.

2. Please tell us about the protagonist, Jacob Hamilton.
The obvious thing about him he's an assassin, but not through choice. His family has lineage that traces back to the early days of the creed, a lineage that weighs heavy on his shoulders. At the start of the book House Of The Hidden Blade, he's taking on a final last mission, after which he's leaving the world of hired killer behind, he's tired of hiding in the shadows, and yearns for a normal, family life, little does he know there's no easy way out.

3. What does you protagonist think of you?
He'd probably be aggravated at me for not giving him some down time. Jacob is on one of those missions every assassin dreams of, yet secretly dreads. At the end I'm sure he would be thanking me for giving him an appreciation of how the world truly works.

4. What would you do if you found a folder marked "For Your Eyes Only"?
Depends on whose eyes !!!! If it was meant for me I'd probably read it, if not I'd probably hand it over to the authorities.

5. What is your favorite scene from the book and why?
I'd have to say it would be the opening scene..... It's dark, it's foreboding, and it sets the tone for the rest of the book.  I really love the fact that Jacob thinks he's meeting
a contact for a normal run-of-the-mill operation, yet he's on the precipice of something much bigger than he realizes.

6. What made you decide on a multiple ending?
First of, I had three different endings for the book, all of which made perfect logical sense, yet I couldn't pinpoint the one I actually like the most.  It was because of that I decided
that the reader should have all three (a bit like the bonus features on a DVD).

7. What projects do you have planned for the future?
I've just finished a spy/murder novel called Tears Of Misery and I'm working on the biggest novel of my fledgling career called Chariot Of Justice (the sequel to House Of The Hidden Blade) based on events surrounding The Twin Tower attacks.

8. What book do you recommend everyone should read and why?
Band of Brothers by Stephen Ambrose. I actually read it because of the television series, and to be honest it doesn't do the book justice. I have a lot of respect for those men and
women who serve, not just in the American armed forces, but all armed forces around the world, we ask them to do things we wouldn't dream of doing, and for that I salute them all.

9. Are there any occupational hazards to being a novelist?
It can be a bit of a lonely profession, but for me the benefits outweigh the hazards, so I'd have to say probably not.

10. What is the most interesting thing on your desk?
A pack of Visconti Sforza Tarot Cards, a crucial piece of equipment given the type of novel I write.

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David Broughton has offered to giveaway a signed copy of his latest novel, Tears of Misery and 2 e-copies of House of the Hidden Blade to some lucky readers! To enter you must be at least 13 years old. You must have a US address. Please fill out the form below.

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Thursday, June 21, 2012

1 Review Untouched: Jus Accardo

Title: Untouched (A Denazen Novella)
Author: Jus Accardo
Publisher: Entangled  Publishing
Publication Date: March 28, 2012
Genre: Young Adult, Paranormal
Source: From Publisher

Summary (From Goodreads):

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.

My thoughts:
Untouched  by Jus Accardo is a novella that takes place between the first and second book of the series. If you haven't read Touch, I recommend that you do so before you read this book. There are some definite spoilers if you haven't read the first book. I haven't read the first book yet so this is my first introduction to Dez and Kale. Accardo did an excellent job with filling in the blanks so I didn't feel lost while reading.
In this novella, the main characters, Dez and Kale are searching for others like them. The find Kiernan McGuire. In order to convince her to come with them, they have to earn her trust. They end up at an amusement park where the atmosphere is more laid back. Kale starts to become paranoid that someone is following them. His worst fears are realized and he has to confront an old enemy.
This is a great story line. The characters have abilities sort of like X-Men. The Denazen want to use them for their own evil purposes. The characters are great. I love the relationship between Dez and Kale. They compliment each other in a lot of ways. I think readers will like this series a lot. It has action, romance, and adventure.
My rating:
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Other books in this series:
Untouched (1.5)
Toxic (available in the fall)

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

2 Guest Post: Five Weird, Funny Novels You Should Read by Jeff Strand

Five Weird, Funny Novels You Should Read

Note that this is not a list of the five funniest novels of all time--just five funny, weird novels you should read, assuming that you like funny, weird novels.

1. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams. Yeah, I'm starting off with an obvious choice, but the books in this series (well, okay, the first three) are some of the most hilariously insane novels of all time. This isn't the place to go for laser-focused storytelling; Adams continually and cheerfully goes off on wild tangents, and that's a lot of the fun.

2. The Unnatural by David Prill. So here's the premise: it's a world just like our own, except that instead of watching baseball, sports fans watch...competitive corpse embalming! Yes, this is the tale of a young farmboy with talent and a dream. If you're always saying that you'd read more sports-themed novels if they were about trying to set the record for number of corpses embalmed in a single season, this dark and funny book is for you.

3. Bad Chili by Joe Lansdale. Lansdale has written several books featuring Hap & Leonard, and all of them mix beautiful writing with lowbrow, laugh-out-loud humor. This one opens with a rabid squirrel attack that is the funniest thing I have ever read in a novel.

4. Go, Mutants! by Larry Doyle. Nobody packs more jokes into a book than Larry Doyle. This one is a loving tribute to 1950's sci-fi movies, and though there's all kinds of over-the-top alien craziness, much of the humor is so understated that if you read too fast, you'll zip right past it.

5. John Dies At The End by David Wong. Yeah, I'm jealous that I didn't think of this title. A combination of Big, Deep Ideas and gross, demented humor. You will laugh. You will think. You will gag.

Tyler was majorly mad when his teacher gave him an F on his final.  But he didn’t really believe one quick poke on a voodoo doll would make Mr. Chick’s leg explode.  He definitely didn’t think his best friend Adam, who gave him the doll in the first place, would blackmail him with a second doll made in Tyler’s image.  And then his car is hijacked…with the dolls inside.

With a group of deadly car thieves, a suspicious cop, parents who demand that they come home “right this minute” and countless other obstacles, they’ll need to work fast to avoid the same gruesome fate as their teacher!

There are some days you just want to crawl into bed and forget the rest of the world. For Tyler, that day was today.

JEFF STRAND is a three-time nominee for the Bram Stoker Award, lives in Tampa, Florida, and doesn’t believe in voodoo.  But he thinks you should carry a doll around, go up to people you don’t like, and chuckle while you jab at it with pins, just to make them squirm.  Poke around his gleefully macabre website.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

0 Review: Scotsmen Prefer Blondes by Sara Ramsey

Title: Scotsmen Prefer Blondes (Muses of Mayfair #2)
Author: Sara Ramsey
Publisher: Spencerhill Associates Ltd.
Publication Date: March 29, 2012
ISBN: 978-1-938312-01-4
Genre: Historical Romance
Source: NetGalley

When a friend is forced to consider a marriage of convenience, Lady Amelia Staunton is determined to rescue her. But her plans trap her in an illicit seduction, and Amelia must marry him herself. Malcolm’s all-consuming kisses and devilish humor might make up for her lost freedom, but she believes he will force her to abandon the Gothic romances she yearns to write. Since she can’t escape him, she must distract him from her secret…

My thoughts:
Scotsmen Prefer Blondes is the second book in the Muses of Mayfair series. The series is about a group of women who live in the Regency Era. They all posses talents in the arts that would be considered scandalous and ruin their reputations if word ever got out about it. Lady Amelia Staunton is an author. She writes under a pseudonym but enjoys it tremendously.  She has no desire to be married. In fact she's called The Unconquered by her peers. Lady Amelia travels to Scotland with her dear friend, Prudence. They are there to meet Malcolm, a possible match for Prudence. At first glance, Malcolm is instantly attracted to Lady Amelia. However, she doesn't want anything to do with him. She tries to scheme to get Malcolm and Prue together, but it backfires causing all sorts of backlash.
The Muses of Mayfair series is enjoyable. I love the characters. Lady Amelia is very beautiful and talented. She's got a lot of spunk but her schemes always seem to cause more problems than she can handle. Malcolm is every girls fantasy. He's  torn by duty and love. He wants Amelia desperately but his duty to his country and his people drive him. Their relationship is a complicated one. Nevertheless, they have quite a bit of spark between them.
Scotsmen Prefer Blondes is an excellent read. It's has humor, scandal, and fire. The characters are endearing and you want them to succeed in life and love. This is becoming one of my favorite series. I can't wait for the next book!
My rating:
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Other books by Sara Ramsey
The Scotsmen Prefer Blondes
The Marquess Who Loved Me (coming soon)

0 All the Broken Pieces Cover Reveal and Excerpt

Imprint: Entangled Teen
Audience: Young Adult 
Novel length: 304 pages 
Format: Trade paperback and eBook 
Publication Date: December, 2012
available for pre-order on: Amazon | Barnes & Noble 
Be sure to add it to your TBR pile on Goodreads

What if your life wasn’t your own?

Liv comes out of a coma with no memory of her past and two distinct, warring voices inside her head. Nothing, not even her reflection, seems familiar. As she stumbles through her junior year, the voices get louder, insisting she please the popular group while simultaneously despising them. But when Liv starts hanging around with Spencer, whose own mysterious past also has him on the fringe, life feels complete for the first time in, well, as long as she can remember.
Liv knows the details of the car accident that put her in the coma, but as the voices invade her dreams, and her dreams start feeling like memories, she and Spencer seek out answers. Yet the deeper they dig, the less things make sense. Can Liv rebuild the pieces of her broken past, when it means questioning not just who she is, but what she is?

Olivia reached up, feeling the tender spots on her head. Her fingers brushed across a row of—were those little ridges made of metal?
“Careful. The staples are almost ready to come out, but it’s still going to be sore for a while.”
Staples?!Her stomach rolled. I have staples in my head? She lowered her now-shaking hand. “Can I get a mirror?”
Mom looked at Dad, then back at her. “I don’t think that’s a good idea. Not until you’ve healed a little more.”
Mom patted Olivia’s leg. “You just relax. We’ll be back in a few minutes.”
The two of them left the room, but when Mom swung the door closed, it didn’t latch. Olivia could hear their voices in the hall.
“I still think we should…” She couldn’t make out the rest of Dad’s muffled words. “…know if I can do this.”
“…late for that,” Mom said. “We’d lose everything, including…” Her voice faded as they got farther away. “…have to move.”
Olivia could tell the conversation was tense, but the words were impossible to decipher now. Holding a hand in front of her face, she turned it back and forth. A plastic tube ran from her arm to a machine next to her bed. She peeked into her nightgown and stared in horror at the long red stripe running down her chest.
You’re alive. You shouldn’t be thinking about looks.

Lowering her hand, she scanned the room. I wonder how my face looks. From the way Dad stared at me, plus the fact Mom won’t let me see a mirror, it must be bad.
Brains are more important than looks.
That’s what ugly people say.
Olivia put her hands on her head and squeezed. “Stop it,” she whispered to her arguing thoughts, hysteria bubbling up and squeezing the air from her lungs. What was happening to her? Why didn’t she recognize her parents or know where she was? Who she was? Tears ran warm trails down her cheeks. “Just make it all stop.”

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