Saturday, December 31, 2011

Winner: A Dog's Purpose by W. Bruce Cameron

Factoids: 3 entries, 3 entrants.



Thanks to all participants in this giveaway! Stay tuned to my next giveaway coming soon.


Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Teen Book Scene: Holly Cupala's Inspiring Places Vlog + Giveaway!

Introducing author of Don't Breathe A Word, Holly Cupala...

Holly Cupala wrote teen romance novels before she ever actually experienced teen romance. When she did, it became all about tragic poetry and slightly less tragic novels. She has worked with the Western Washington chapter of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators, been a readergirlz diva, and now serves on the board of the University of Washington Writing Program. When she isn't writing and making art, she spends time with her husband and daughter in Seattle, Washington. These days, her writing is less about tragedy and more about hope.

TELL ME A SECRET is her first novel, and her second, DON'T BREATHE A WORD, is coming October 2011 from HarperCollins. Ten percent of the author's proceeds go toward World Vision's Hope for Sexually Exploited Girls.

Onto Inspiring Places Vlog...

Joy Delamere is suffocating...

From asthma, which has nearly claimed her life. From her parents, who will do anything to keep that from happening. From delectably dangerous Asher, who is smothering her from the inside out.

Joy can take his words - tender words, cruel words - until the night they go too far.

Now, Joy will leave everything behind to find the one who has offered his help, a homeless boy called Creed. She will become someone else. She will learn to survive. She will breathe... if only she can get to Creed before it’s too late.

Set against the gritty backdrop of Seattle’s streets and a cast of characters with secrets of their own, Holly Cupala’s powerful new novel explores the subtleties of abuse, the meaning of love, and how far a girl will go to discover her own strength.

The Giveaway...

HarperCollins was nice enough to contribute enough books for there to be a daily giveaway for copies of Don't Breathe A Word.

-One automatic entry.
-For every post you comment on, it's one entry. (Don't forget to link to where you commented.)
-An extra entry if you tweet, facebook, blog post or in some way incorporate the giveaway on your blog.
-Fill out the form each time you do one of these things, and remember you can only do spread the word through one social media network one time. (Example: only tweet once, other tweets will not be counted as entries.)

-Giveaway is International, as long as The Book Depository can ship to you.
-US/Canada copies will be mailed from Holly and signed.
-Ends January 14 midnight CST.

Fill out this FORM to enter.

Thanks to Holly and Teen Book Scene!


Sunday, December 18, 2011

Daughter of the Centaurs (Centauriad #1) by Kate Klimo

Hardcover: 384 pages
Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers (January 24, 2012)
ISBN-10: 0375869751
ISBN-13: 978-0375869754

Malora knows what she was born to be: a horse wrangler and a hunter, just like her father. But when her people are massacred by batlike monsters called Leatherwings, Malora will need her horse skills just to survive. The last living human, Malora roams the wilderness at the head of a band of magnificent horses, relying only on her own wits, strength, and courage. When she is captured by a group of centaurs and taken to their city, Malora must decide whether the comforts of her new home and family are worth the parts of herself she must sacrifice to keep them.

Kate Klimo has masterfully created a new world, which at first seems to be an ancient one or perhaps another world altogether, but is in fact set on earth sometime far in the future.

I love when stories--particularly with "selfless" female protagonists/heroines--live by the seat of their pants and know the skills--or slowly learn, in this case--how to survive and be independent. When Malora must leave her People and live alone forevermore with just her horses as company, she saw a restless but fortifying life ahead of her. When she went back to discover the desolation of her people it destroyed something in her. That's when they discovered that the People were not as dead as they thought. A society of human and horse hybrids have been living successfully since the war with the People of Mount Kamaria--known now as Mount Kheiron, habitat of the centaurs--occured. From Daughter of the Mountains, to Daughter of the Plains, to Daughter of the Centaurs, Malora "Ironbound" Thora-Jayke does not fail to capture the reader's heart and symbolize inspiration for a whole other race.

Such vivid descriptions of mountainous and barren landscapes. So easy to hear the hoofs of Malora's "boys and girls" stampeding across the plains. Without the need  to learn to read or write, Malora's voice captures more abstract concepts and appreciated the primal nature of the land she knows by heart. Her love of horses became my love of horses for all their nickering, whinnying, snorts and eye-rolls. When first encountering the Highlanders and their method of living, the frivolity was comforting but seen as a waste through the main characters'. The author's writing ability to depict all the monuments, murals and colorful aspects of a Highlanders' life was dazzling and absolutely awe-inspiring to behold. With the minor addition of its own terminology, Daughter of the Centaurs was originally created and uniquely executed. I did not want to put down this book for longer than six hours, couldn't part with it; not the world or the characters.

It was nice to see Malora grow throughout the time that she left her People and joined the centaurs. Granted she did lose herself from time to time with the centaurs but she never truly forgot her roots. That's what excited me the most. She could never truly be a centaur and she didn't spend useless time thinking she could; she just enjoyed the luxuries they provided that she never knew of. The plot was successful in appealing to the no-nonsense side of me. I can't stand when authors make up unnecessary conflict between two parties just to liven up a certain scene. The book's solitary, soothing tone after the bloody mess and grief Malora went through because of the demise of her people was easy to use as a filter to distinguish traits and personalities of other characters.

It is obvious, reading the ending and knowing all the other unanswered questions, that there will be a second book in the series. No doubt the "Centauriad #1" gave that away. Its the waiting that might do me in if I don't get another horse-y book-related fix in the next six months. 

Grade: A-

Highlight for minor spoilers: However, I want to know specifically Centauriad the series and Brion the Blacksmith and how Malora's training with her Hand goes, and not to mention, the decree the Apex made in the end should make life definitely more interesting for both Flatlanders and Highlanders.

e-Galley Source: Netgalley


Friday, December 16, 2011

Winner: Of Light and Darkness!

Factoids: 7 entrants and entries!

Congrats to...


Thank you to those who entered and don't forget to check out the current giveaway I have going on for a paperback copy of A Dog's Purpose by W. Bruce Cameron.


Thursday, December 15, 2011

Teen Book Scene: A Dog's Purpose Giveaway!

This is the remarkable story of one endearing dog’s search for his purpose over the course of several lives. More than just another charming dog story, A Dog’s Purpose touches on the universal quest for an answer to life's most basic question: Why are we here?

Surprised to find himself reborn as a rambunctious golden-haired puppy after a tragically short life as a stray mutt, Bailey’s search for his new life’s meaning leads him into the loving arms of 8-year-old Ethan. During their countless adventures Bailey joyously discovers how to be a good dog.

But this life as a beloved family pet is not the end of Bailey’s journey. Reborn as a puppy yet again, Bailey wonders—will he ever find his purpose?

Heartwarming, insightful, and often laugh-out-loud funny, A Dog's Purpose is not only the emotional and hilarious story of a dog's many lives, but also a dog's-eye commentary on human relationships and the unbreakable bonds between man and man's best friend. This moving and beautifully crafted story teaches us that love never dies, that our true friends are always with us, and that every creature on earth is born with a purpose.

In order to win your own paperback copy of A Dog's Purpose by W. Bruce Cameron, just fill out this FORM. US residents only, giveaway ends on December 30th at midnight EST.

Thanks to Teen Book Scene!


Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Teen Book Scene: Shattered Soul's Lenzi (This or That List)

Introducing the author of Shattered Souls, Mary Lindsey...

Mary's writing is a natural expression of her love of reading and a fascination with the flexibility of the human imagination. Books make the impossible possible.

Prior to attending University of Houston Law School, Mary received a B.A. in English Literature with a minor in Drama from the University of Houston. She has taught drama and playwriting in a large public high school and English in a private school. Currently, Mary teaches acting to children and teens at a private studio in Houston, Texas.

Mary lives with her husband, three kids, two dogs, her daughter's pet rats, an Australian Bearded Dragon, and dozens of Madagascar Hissing Cockroaches.

She is represented by Ammi-Joan Paquette from the Erin Murphy Literary Agency.

Onto female protagonist Lenzi's This or That List...

Hot-fudge sundae or Banana split?

Hot fudge sundae for sure. Chocolate is my thing.

Coffee or Tea?

I don’t really like coffee, so tea. I like Earl Grey best.

Boots or Sneaks?

Sneakers. Boots are too hot and uncomfortable.

Library or Bookstore?

It depends on whether or not I have money. I’d much rather buy a book than anything.

School Dance or Night club?

School is not my thing. Going to a school dance would be a nightmare. I don’t hang out at nightclubs, but I like the one where Zak played.

Smolder-hot bad boy or Sweet and sensitive?

Selfish of me, but I want all of those things. A sweet, sensitive, smoldering hot bad-boy. I think I’ve found one.

Internet or TV?

I love to lie on the couch and watch sitcoms, so TV.

Car or Bus/bicycle?

I wish I had a car, but we can’t afford a second one. Alden has one, though, so I’m good. Houston has a crummy mass transit system and you are in danger of getting smushed in some parts of town on a bike, so I’ll stick with car.

Indoor-sy or Outgoing?

I’m pretty indoor-sy. Maybe because I don’t really like the beach and that’s where I grew up.

Concert or Book signing?

Concert for sure.

Music or Movies?

Those are so different. I guess if I had to live without one, I’d choose music over movies. I need music.

A thrilling debut story of death, love, destiny and danger.

Lenzi hears voices and has visions - gravestones, floods, a boy with steel gray eyes. Her boyfriend, Zak, can't help, and everything keeps getting louder and more intense. Then Lenzi meets Alden, the boy from her dreams, who reveals that she's a reincarnated Speaker - someone who can talk to and help lost souls - and that he has been her Protector for centuries.

Now Lenzi must choose between her life with Zak and the life she is destined to lead with Alden. But time is running out: a malevolent spirit is out to destroy Lenzi, and he will kill her if she doesn't make a decision soon.

Thanks to Mary and Teen Book Scene!


Saturday, December 3, 2011

Touch of Power (Healer, #1) by Maria V. Snyder

Paperback: 394 pages
Publisher: Mira (December 20, 2011)
ISBN-10: 0778313077
ISBN-13: 978-0778313076

Laying hands upon the injured and dying, Avry of Kazan assumes their wounds and diseases into herself. But rather than being honored for her skills, she is hunted. Healers like Avry are accused of spreading the plague that has decimated the Territories, leaving the survivors in a state of chaos.

Stressed and tired from hiding, Avry is abducted by a band of rogues who, shockingly, value her gift above the golden bounty offered for her capture. Their leader, an enigmatic captor-protector with powers of his own, is unequivocal in his demands: Avry must heal a plague-stricken prince—leader of a campaign against her people. As they traverse the daunting Nine Mountains, beset by mercenaries and magical dangers, Avry must decide who is worth healing and what is worth dying for. Because the price of peace may well be her life....

What a lot of you may not know is that when I won signed copies of Snyder's Study series--how lucky was I?--I devoured them consecutively. Since then, I've been wanting to read another Snyder novel no matter what. When I heard about Touch of Power, I knew I'd have to read it as soon as possible in order to get my fix. What shocked me the most about the first book in her new Healer series was how similar it was to Poison Study, the first in the Study series. Yes, it is a whole new batch of characters, with as intricate and distinct a setting and world as Ixia and all the other nations in the Study series, but it resembled the previous series so much I fell in love all over again. What? Did you honestly expect me to say it was a BAD thing?

Avry has always been proud of the powers she matured into during her teenage years. However, now 20, she has been on the run for three years to escape the hostility and accusations from the people of the Fifteen Realms. Her one weakness when it came to staying hidden and surviving manifested itself into the form of a sick child whose piercing cries cut through any hesitance Avry had of using her power. Being a healer in a world where they're executed, it's easy enough to figure out what not to do in order to avoid capture. However, what comes with being a healer is an innate will to heal all that are ill. When Avry's caught and sentenced to her execution, she is surprised by the mysterious band of men that break her out for the sole purpose that they need her magical help. Soon she learns that surviving and living are two very different approaches to life, but when she finds out who and what she will face at the end of the long journey, she may not be willing to stay with the men after all...

Plot: While there was rising and falling action, I can't officially say that Touch of Power had just one climax. One of the many things I like about Snyder's writing is that you can pick one of numerous peaks to be the most surprising, enticing, daring, shocking. The core of this book can be captured in two words: the plague. I know I didn't mention this above, but it's because of the outbreak of this pandemic plague that the healer's have been hunted down. When Avry joins Kerrick's rogue men on their journey to save the man that can potentially lead the Fifteen Realms to prosperity, she finds out she may be the last healer alive. I'd hoped to find out more about the Fifteen Realms and the survivors of the plague but Touch of  Power essentially focused on the constant movement through the forest and woods and the actual journey for the majority of the book. Another aspect of Snyder's writing that makes me keep flipping the pages is that by the time you get to the halfway point, you feel like you've grown to know the characters so well, there's no possible way the writer can pack in anything thing else.
The relationship between Avry and Kerrick grows to be more tumultous than I could have ever predicted but was amusing to read about nonetheless. The tension between those two, I tell ya....Kerrick has a temper like no other and knows what he wants and how to go about getting it. It comes as no surprise that he is the leader of men five years older than him.
As for the relations between the other men in Kerrick's crew, they were all I wanted them to be and more. 'Course two of my favorites had to be Poppa Bear Belen and over-energetic Flea.
The only thing I'm iffy about when it comes to the Fifteen Realms and all their glory are the Lilies. The Peace and Death Lilies could have been better portrayed as the significant figures they're made out to be in the book.

Characters: I honestly can't focus on each character that played a significant role because there were quite a few and I have tons of thoughts about each of them. Some can kiss my beautiful behind and others I'd like to train from, morally and physically. As the heroine protagonist, Avry of Kazan had a nonchalant attitude that was surprising because of it's effective to cause reactions in the people around her. She looked at her problems logically and matter-of-factly while still keeping an aura of nurturing that completed who she was. Kerrick could be aggravating at the best of times and downright cruel at the worst. He hides his heart well and only shows any sign of caring for others through his actions for his men.

Writing: It is not so much the descriptive prose or witty banter between characters that captures the essence of Touch of Power. It is more the syntax and ability to culminate that truly ensnares the reader to not be able to put the book down. At least, that's what happened with me. And I couldn't get enough of it in just the first sitting, I had to keep going. The originality was put into question when the tone resembled the Study series but it was not an issue with me, and ended up being one of the many things I loved about Touch of Power and the start of the Healer series.

Grade: A

e-galley Source: Netgalley


Friday, December 2, 2011

Teen Book Scene: Of Light and Darkness Giveaway!

When one human stands before an army of impossible obstacles, the likelihood of overcoming them in this coming-of-age modern fairytale may result in war between light and darkness.

Abandoned as an infant in Prague, naive and strong-willed Charlotte Ruzikova was raised by one of the last Vampires left alive. As a human, she knows no other home than the one nestled deep in the woods of Eastern Europe, where Witches drew spells of enchantment, Phasers threw tea parties, and Elves are the closest in kin. Charlotte has lived her life in the dark with her Guardian, content to having him to herself and reveling in his attention, until she's realizes she wants more...

Resident medical doctor and Vampire, Valek Ruzik fears the day his ward would come of age and blossom into a fine woman, and he is forced to confront his own motives as time is of the essence once his past catches up to him, and their lives become endangered...

As genocide and war threatens their secret society, the dictator in power is ready to wipe out Valek's race, but Charlotte will not allow that to happen. Fighting for the only one she's ever loved and truly believed in, she will do whatever it takes to save their love...before the sun comes up and light takes over.
In order to win your own paperback copy Of Light and Darkness, just fill out this FORM. Giveaway will end December 10th till midnight EST. Open to US residents only.


Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Teen Book Scene: Guest Post with W. Bruce Cameron

Introducing author of A Dog's Purpose, W. Bruce Cameron...

I’ve been a writer my whole life, but never have I ever written anything as important as A Dog’s Purpose.

I can’t promise you that A Dog’s Purpose will make you love your dog more—how could it do that? But I’ll tell you what a lot of people have told me: after reading A Dog’s Purpose, you’ll never look at your dog the same way again.
Website I Facebook

Onto the guest post...

"His First Dog and Inspiration for A Dogs Purpose"

When I was eight years old, my parents would watch me go off to school each day hoping I would get lost on the way back. Well, not really, but looking back on it I can see just how exhausting I was for them. My father was just starting his career as a doctor and was working double shifts at the hospital. My mother had ignored my petition to remain an only child and had cranked out two sisters; Amy, who was five, and Julie, who was three. They were, as young parents often are, tired all the time, working all the time, questioning their choices all the time.

And then there was Bruce. What little energy my parents possessed went into trying to control and contain this creature they had brought into the world, the boy who did everything in the world at a dead run. If I wasn’t trying to climb into the clothes chute I was throwing rocks at the side of the house or spraying the hose at passing cars. I rolled hedge apples down the street and into traffic, occasioning a visit by the police department. I was just trouble, pure and simple.

They couldn’t afford boarding school so, in a burst of genius, they bought me a puppy.

I was in the back yard, trying to open a can of paint so I could permanently place my handprints on the back patio, when the gate swung open and my father walked in with a 10 week old puppy. It was a little black Labrador we named Cammie, and we ran to each other and rolled together in the grass.

From that moment on, Cammie and I were inseparable. Where I went, Cammie went, a true and real companion. I was so involved in the life of that dog that I didn’t have time to throw my sister’s shoes on the roof anymore, didn’t have time to do pudding art on the refrigerator. Cammie and I explored, and fought against imaginary invaders, and hunted for crocodiles.

She had this way of looking at me, sort of tilting her head.

Years and years later, I was riding my mountain bike in Colorado and I met a spotted dog along a dirt road. I love dogs, so I stopped to say hello, and the way the dog reacted—excited to see me, even overjoyed—and the way she tilted her head, made me feel as if I were meeting my old friend Cammie again after all these years.

It made me wonder, what if?

What if I had really just encountered Cammie, my best friend from boyhood? What if dogs never die, but rather are reborn, remembering their lives? What would that look like from the dog’s perspective?

That’s how I came up with the idea for A Dog’s Purpose, the story of a dog who is reincarnated. That dog, that day, gave me a real gift, and now I’ve shared that gift with the world.

This is the remarkable story of one endearing dog’s search for his purpose over the course of several lives. More than just another charming dog story, A Dog’s Purpose touches on the universal quest for an answer to life's most basic question: Why are we here?

Surprised to find himself reborn as a rambunctious golden-haired puppy after a tragically short life as a stray mutt, Bailey’s search for his new life’s meaning leads him into the loving arms of 8-year-old Ethan. During their countless adventures Bailey joyously discovers how to be a good dog.

But this life as a beloved family pet is not the end of Bailey’s journey. Reborn as a puppy yet again, Bailey wonders—will he ever find his purpose?

Heartwarming, insightful, and often laugh-out-loud funny, A Dog's Purpose is not only the emotional and hilarious story of a dog's many lives, but also a dog's-eye commentary on human relationships and the unbreakable bonds between man and man's best friend. This moving and beautifully crafted story teaches us that love never dies, that our true friends are always with us, and that every creature on earth is born with a purpose.
Website I Amazon I B&N

Thanks to Bruce and Teen Book Scene!


Wednesday, November 23, 2011

There You'll Find Me by Jenny B. Jones

Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: Thomas Nelson (October 4, 2011)
ISBN-10: 1595545409
ISBN-13: 978-1595545404

In a small cottage house in rural Ireland, Finley discovers she can no longer outrun the past. When Finley travels to Ireland as a foreign exchange student, she hopes to create a new identity and get some answers from the God who took her brother away and seems to have left her high and dry.

But from the moment she boards the plane and sits by Beckett Rush, teen star of the hottest vampire flicks, nothing goes according to Finley's plan. When she gets too close to Beckett, a classmate goes on a mission to make sure Finley packs her bags, departs Ireland-and leaves Beckett alone.

Finley feels the pressure all around. As things start to fall apart, she begins to rely on a not-so-healthy method of taking control of her life. Finley tries to balance it all-disasters on the set of Beckett's new movie, the demands of school, and her growing romance with one actor who is not what he seems. Yet Finley is also not who she portrays to Beckett and her friends.

For the first time in her life, Finley must get honest with herself to get right with God.

Finley Sinclair is trying to outrun her not-so-distant reputation of being the party girl with a grief-stricken persona in disguise. When she follow's in her brother's footsteps and goes to Abbeyglen, Ireland for a student exchange program, she hopes to find a relaxing and invigorating town that has the essence of God--and her brother--that's she's been desperately looking for. Off to a rocky start right from the get-go, Finley encounters teen celebrity Beckett Rush not just on the plane but in the B and B her host family runs in Abbeyglen. Add to that a power-crazed, actress-wannabe, Catholic school girl and a project in a nursing home with a crabby old lady already destined to die, and Finley's stress level goes through the roof. Her search for her God gets cloudy and skewed when she is not ready to admit to imperfections that have been staring right in the face the entire time.

I have to say, right off the bat, I'm not one that likes to dote on Christian Fiction that often; if ever. Even when I started There You'll Find Me, I didn't know it had any elements of Christianity in it. Honestly, I was raised on this stuff since I was small but it still gets a kick out of shocking me every so often. I must break this review down into sections in order to explain cohesively how much this book affected me.

Characters: First off, we have Finley. Down-to-earth, heart-broken perfectionist Finley Sinclair. I felt so defensive whenever someone said one bad thing about this girl but she did an unhealthy amount of self-loathing that I just wanted to smack. In a way, this built her up to be the strong but vulnerable person she grew to be throughout There You'll Find Me. Beckett had his own flaws too, and at times I almost believed they were too flawed for each other. Beckett Rush was a conundrum waiting to confuse the heck out of me whenever he was in a scene. I loved his Irish accent and reassurances of his love for Finley, but I hated his corny lines and double life.

Plot: I have to begin with the romance. It truly starts from the very beginning and lasts till the very end. Like I mentioned before, both Finley and Beckett had so many unresolved issues that I almost believed it impossible for them to be together. But then the author inserts something the two have in common and that can no doubt help mend any rough patch they encounter, and that would be God in his almighty power. The other side plots that the author added to make this a whole story and not just a romantic tale, served their purpose in relying on the reader's sense of empathy and compassion. Mrs. Sweeney was a story on her own but I would have also liked to have seen more of a balance between that and Finley's passion for the violin.

Writing: I had no problems with the evenly-paced writing and the melodic tones instilled in the book. Honestly, if I had to guess, I'd say the book followed the flow Finley's composition for Will, her deceased brother. The short and sweet quotes in the beginning of each chapter really added to the book's appeal. Overall, it was the scenery described during Finley's stay in Ireland that took my breath away. I wanted nothing more than to see the beauty of Abbeyglen and its majestic ruins.

How unsuspecting this novel starts out to be...only to transform any opinion or expectation I had going into the book. I've never really experienced any other novel on such a soul-deep level before and it definitely captured my heart till the very last sentence.

Grade: A

e-galley Source: Netgalley


Monday, November 21, 2011

Teen Book Scene: Of Light and Darkness Character Interview

Introducing author of Of Light and Darkness, Shayne Leighton...

Shayne's first year out of high school (after meeting mentor, friend, and executive producer, Marcie Gorman), she penned, co-directed, and starred in the feature-length film, The Incubus a paranormal romance, which obtained distribution and opened in over fifteen theaters across South Florida among popular chains like Regal, AMC, and Cinemark. The Incubus has obtained a fan-base of over 60,000 girls online, and has garnered the attention of reporters from the Miami Herald, CBS News, and NPR Radio. Leighton also starred alongside Scream Queen, Tara Cardinal in the film, Legend of the Red Reaper. Now, 20-year-old Leighton is excited to release her debut young adult novel series, Of Light and Darkness, set in contemporary Prague as well as penning several other screenplays, a novel adaptation for Legend of the Red Reaper, an original pop/rock album, and acting in various film roles.

Onto Charlotte's Character Interview...

What was your first memory when you began living with Valek?

It's funny, but I have this really hazy memory of just walking around the house, being carried by his large hangs. I'm not sure how young I was. All I can recall, was that the house was dark, except for the golden glow of the kitchen light, and his hands were a little cold. But I do remember the distinct feeling of being safe. That might be the memory from the night he found me, and we entered our house for the first time together, but I was a baby...and who can remember that far back, anyway?

What were some of the reasons you liked staying with Valek and having his attention focused solely on you?

Well, Valek is my family. I couldn't imagine living anywhere else. He's the only family in this world that I have. But what's more, is that Valek is extremely attentive and protective. There's just something about the way that he looks at me. I guess I just love that secure feeling, knowing that he'll never leave me. We'll always be together and that I'm always safe. He's a bit distracted with so many vampires living in one space now, and I do miss that one on one attention from him.

How did you find out Valek was a vampire?

It was never really something I "found out". It was just something I've always known. I grew up from infancy with Valek as my guardian, so the surprise of what he was never really came. In fact, for the beginning years, I thought we were the exact same. What I did need to find out was that I wasn't like him. He let me know when I was about five years old how different we were, and then I understood as much as a five year old can understand. That's when, in the back of my mind, he became the slightest bit scary. Just the slightest.

What kept you from running away?

I never really wanted to run away. As I stated before, Valek is my family. I'd never want to leave that for anything. Valek is the one I treasure most in life and I couldn't imagine where I'd be without him. Of course, growing up, there was a couple of times when I threatened to run away, as any angst-ridden teenager does, I suppose. But they were all just empty threats.

What surprised you the most while you were living with a vampire?

Living with a Vampire, life lacks surprises. You begin to expect the unexpected. But I suppose the best answer to this question, was when I discovered the freezer-room in his office at the back of the house with all of his "left-over" meals. I had nightmares for weeks while he tried to explain to me that he would use the left-over human parts for the good of medicine. I just couldn't seem to get past the fact that...everyone in that room was just like me. The human. The meal. The prey.

When one human stands before an army of impossible obstacles, the likelihood of overcoming them in this coming-of-age modern fairytale may result in war between light and darkness.
Abandoned as an infant in Prague, naive and strong-willed Charlotte Ruzikova was raised by one of the last Vampires left alive. As a human, she knows no other home than the one nestled deep in the woods of Eastern Europe, where Witches drew spells of enchantment, Phasers threw tea parties, and Elves are the closest in kin. Charlotte has lived her life in the dark with her Guardian, content to having him to herself and reveling in his attention, until she's realizes she wants more...

Resident medical doctor and Vampire, Valek Ruzik fears the day his ward would come of age and blossom into a fine woman, and he is forced to confront his own motives as time is of the essence once his past catches up to him, and their lives become endangered...

As genocide and war threatens their secret society, the dictator in power is ready to wipe out Valek's race, but Charlotte will not allow that to happen. Fighting for the only one she's ever loved and truly believed in, she will do whatever it takes to save their love...before the sun comes up and light takes over.

Thanks to both Shayne and Teen Book Scene!


Friday, November 18, 2011

Kismet Tour: Why I Dance by Carol Tanzman

Introducing the author of dancergirl, Carol M. Tanzman...

Carol M. Tanzman's performing arts career is eclectic. She was a dancing poppy in a production of the Wizard of Oz that toured to the Soviet Union, an abstract chicken in a New England mime company, and the assistant director for a play in Germany where her major responsibility was making sure the sheep entered and exited on cue. She's directed regional and Off-Broadway productions of new plays, was the artistic director of a children’s theatre company in upstate NY and has been honored (twice!) by the Bravo Awards for her work with the Los Angeles Unified School District.

Her first YA novel, The Shadow Place, was on YALSA's Quick Pick List of Recommended Books, the National Council of Teachers of English ALAN List of Best Books, and the CA Collection for Middle & Senior High Schools.

Onto the guest post...

"Why I Dance"

There’s a scene in my new YA thriller, DANCERGIRL, in which Ali, the sixteen year old main character, tries to explain why she dances. After struggling with the question, she finally comes to understand her motivation, exclaiming, “This is why I dance!” But Ali’s reasons for dancing, and mine, are not the same.

Unlike other writers who’ve written a dance-themed book, I’ve never been a professional dancer. I did, however, take tap lessons when I was five. I adored those shiny, patent leather shoes with the metal taps on the soles. I learned the Time step, Shuffle Ball-Change, the Shim Sham. I was making noise—and it was fun!

Soon after, my family moved from NYC to the suburbs and—shades of Footloose––there were no dance lessons. One happy day, Miss Maria moved into the neighborhood and turned her basement into a studio. Mom agreed to let me take tap again. Seeing how much I loved it, Miss Maria gave me a “scholarship” so I could also start ballet. Just like when I was five, I was sort of good at it. More importantly, dancing was fun!

When the teacher got divorced and moved away, my “dance career” went with her. But the lessons I learned about rhythm and moving to the beat stayed.

In college I took Beginning Modern to satisfy the physical education requirement (a very good option). Once again, I loved being in class, loved the moment when I “got” the day’s combination and could just let it flow. The closest I came to any type of “professional” dancing was in the university’s production of The Wizard of Oz that toured to the Soviet Union. I was cast as a dancing poppy who “dances” Dorothy to sleep before she gets to the Emerald City. Performing in Moscow was a transformative experience. It showed me that the arts cross boundaries and countries and ideology, bringing people together in so many ways.

After college, I became a professional theatre director. I used dance, movement, and music in many of my productions as a way of exploring “total theatre.” I worked with tap dancers, dancers who studied modern at Alvin Ailey, mimes and new vaudevillians who used the body in exciting ways. Together we created unique pieces that we hoped would bridge the gap between spoken word and movement, that which is seen and heard, and that which is felt.

That’s why I dance. I dance because it feels great to move to the beat, not thinking, just being. I dance because dance communicates with all kinds of people on so many levels. And I dance because, like the five year old that’s still inside of me, it’s a whole lot of fun.

Ali Ruffino loves to dance. When her friend posts videos of her online and they go viral, she thinks her unexpected fame might propel her straight to center stage. But along with some real admirers she gets some nasty detractors—and a stalker who isn't content to watch from afar.

Contest Info: Carol and Harlequin are offering two give-aways for this tour!

1.) The first give-away is copy of dancergirl. Enter by leaving a comment on this Tour Stop (and then confirm that you left a comment via Rafflecopter)

2.)The second give-away is an iPod nano, skinned in the dancergirl artwork!
Simply enter via the Rafflecoper widget and get extra entries for tweeting (once per Tour Stop), following Carol on twitter,"Like" her on facebook, leaving your mailing address (for faster shipment of the prize) and for leaving a comment at each Tour Stops (one extra entry for each Tour Stop).
See full contest rules here.

Make sure to stop by the rest of the tour stops:
Monday, November 14th - The Unread Reader
Wednesday, November 16st - YA Liberian Tales
Friday, November 18rd - ChicaReader

Monday, November 21st - Musings of a Reader Happy
Wednesday, November 23th - Alice Marvels
Friday, November 25th - A Cupcake and A Latte

Monday, November 28th - Fire and Ice Reviews
Wednesday, November 30th - Books with Bite
Friday, December 2nd - Well Read Wife

Thanks to both Carol and Heather & Danny!


Monday, November 14, 2011

Teen Book Scene: Saving June's Jake This or That List

Introducing author of Saving June, Hannah Harrington...

Hannah Harrington resides in Michigan with one dog and too many cats. When she isn't busy writing like a crazy person, she enjoys arguing about politics, watching documentaries, playing guitar (very badly) and speaking about herself in the third person.

Onto the Jake's This or That List...

Fiction or Non-fiction?

Musical biographies are his favorite books.

Mystery or Horror?

Jake will never admit it, but he’s kind of a baby about horror movies. He loves watching true life crime shows, though!

James Patterson or Neil Gaiman?

Jake stole Good Omens from his brother one day when he was bored and ended up loving it.

Sweet or Sour candy?

Sour Patch Kids are Jake’s favorite!

Mac-n-cheese or Pasta?

Mac-n-cheese, because it’s a holdover from his childhood when he made it for himself all the time.

Comics or Manga?

I don’t think Jake is big into either but I bet he went through an X-Men loving phase in middle school.

Music or Movies?

Music, no question! Music > life for Jake.

Concert or Sports game?

Since he’s obsessed with music, it has to be concerts.

Texting or Calling?

Jake prefers calling to texting; he thinks texts are too impersonal. And he’s not the greatest with technology.

Hot summers or Cold winters?

Cold winters give him more reason to wear his leather jacket all the time!

Big city or Small town?

I think Jake would be happiest in a big city, where there all more people and things to do.

‘If she’d waited less than two weeks, she’d be June who died in June. But I guess my sister didn’t consider that.’

Harper Scott’s older sister has always been the perfect one so when June takes her own life a week before her high school graduation, sixteen-year-old Harper is devastated. Everyone’s sorry, but no one can explain why.

When her divorcing parents decide to split her sister’s ashes into his-and-her urns, Harper takes matters into her own hands. She’ll steal the ashes and drive cross-country with her best friend, Laney, to the one place June always dreamed of going California.

Enter Jake Tolan. He’s a boy with a bad attitude, a classic-rock obsession and nothing in common with Harper’s sister. But Jake had a connection with June, and when he insists on joining them, Harper’s just desperate enough to let him. With his alternately charming and infuriating demeanour and his belief that music can see you through anything, he might be exactly what she needs.

Except June wasn’t the only one hiding something. Jake’s keeping a secret that has the power to turn Harper’s life upside down again.
Thanks to Hannah and Teen Book Scene!


Saturday, November 12, 2011

Winner: The Pledge Swag

Factoids: 5 entrants



Thanks to the people who entered! I know the giveaway didn't have an ending date but I'm stopping it now because it hit a stag so I decided to cut it short.


Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Teen Book Scene: The Sharp Time Playlist

Introducing the author of The Sharp Time, Mary O' Connell...

Mary O'Connell is a graduate of the University of Kansas and the Iowa's Writer's Workshop. Her stories have been published in literary magazines including The Sun and Mid-American Review. She teaches at the Lawrence Arts Center and lives in Lawrence, Kansas, with her husband and two children.

Onto the playlist...

I listened to The Clash obsessively while I was writing The Sharp Time. My main character’s mother was a Clash fanatic, who just so happened to name her daughter after the seminal Clash album Sandinista! My favorite song off this album,” The Street Parade”, has lyrics that were particularly meaningful and resonant to me as I was writing:

When I was waiting for your phone call
The one that never came
Like a man about to burst
I was dying of thirst

Though I will never fade
Or get lost in this daze
Though I will disappear
Into the street parade

It's not too hard to cry
In these crying times
I'll take a broken heart
And take it home in parts
But I will never fade

I was in this place
By the first church of the city
I saw tears on the face
The face of a visionary

Though I will disappear
To join the street parade
Disappear and fade
Into the street parade

I tried my best to bring a bit of the Clash—their punk rock aesthetic juxtaposed with Joe Strummer’s tender lyrics—to The Sharp Time. Here are some other songs I was listening to while I wrote.

Redemption Song—Bob Marley
Johnny Appleseed—Joe Strummer and the Mescaleros
Ring of Fire—Johnny Cash
Fight the Power—Public Enemy
Boys Don’t Cry—The Cure
Supernatural Superserious-- REM
Something Beautiful—Sinead O’Connor
William, It Was Really Nothing—The Smiths
The Man In the Corner Shop—The Jam
Children Go Where I send you—Nina Simone

There was something beautiful, something hopeful, in each of these songs that inspired me or pushed me forward when I was stuck in a scene. The iPod is my cure for Writer’s Block.

Rock on, and thanks so much for hosting me!

Sandinista Jones is a high school senior with a punk rock name and a broken heart. The death of her single mother has left Sandinista alone in the world, subject to the random vulnerability of everyday life. When the school system lets her down, her grief and instability intensify, and she ponders a violent act of revenge.

Still, in the midst of her crisis, she gets a job at The Pale Circus, a funky vintage clothing shop, and finds friendship and camaraderie with her coworker, a boy struggling with his own secrets.

Even as Sandinista sees the failures of those with power and authority, she's offered the chance to survive through the redemptive power of friendship. Now she must choose between faith and forgiveness or violence and vengeance.

Thanks to Mary and Teen Book Scene!


Sunday, November 6, 2011

I'm part of Panem now!

Thanks to Tynga for posting this on her blog! I'm part of District 12 just like Katniss. :) Here's the link where you can get your own District ID Pass!

Let me know in the comments what district you were assigned to.


Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Winner: The Faerie Ring by Kiki Hamilton

Factoids: 24 entries and entrants!

Congrats goes to...

Stacy W.

I've sent you an email and await your reply. Thank you all for entering and showing your support for the novel!


The Pledge by Kimberly Derting Review and Swag Giveaway

Hardcover: 336 pages
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books (November 15, 2011)
ISBN-10: 1442422017
ISBN-13: 978-1442422018

In the violent country of Ludania, the classes are strictly divided by the language they speak. The smallest transgression, like looking a member of a higher class in the eye while they are speaking their native tongue, results in immediate execution. Seventeen-year-old Charlaina has always been able to understand the languages of all classes, and she's spent her life trying to hide her secret. The only place she can really be free is the drug-fueled underground clubs where people go to shake off the oppressive rules of the world they live in. It's there that she meets a beautiful and mysterious boy named Max who speaks a language she's never heard before . . . and her secret is almost exposed.

Charlie is intensely attracted to Max, even though she can't be sure where his real loyalties lie. As the emergency drills give way to real crisis and the violence escalates, it becomes clear that Charlie is the key to something much bigger: her country's only chance for freedom from the terrible power of a deadly regime.

Everyone knows a smile is universal. When you can understand all the languages known to man, how is it that you incorporate smiling in your vocabulary? Kimberly Derting's The Pledge follows a working school girl with a unique talent living in a dystopian class system that's on the verge of its own societal apocalypse. The four sectors of Ludania's class system: Counsel, Vendor, Serving, Outcast, is all Charlie has ever known. She pledges everyday to a disembodied queen, a loyalty she blindly believes in to keep her safe. Thoughts and murmurs of the resistance and revolutionaries have been trickling down the grapevine. It's not until Charlie and Brook--Charlie's best friend--revisit a night club that is bound to close shop soon--for the night clubs can never stay long, not without being caught--that Charlie encounters her brief glimpse into the underground's underbelly. Even then she never quite suspected that all the secrets that's she's all her life would manifest into something completely unthinkable.

I'd have to give Derting points right off the bat for her originality and the whole premise of The Pledge. Creating this unique dystopian world took some imaginative doing and she definitely flexed that muscle. With only brief glimpses into the world as it used to be ordinarily, the things kept from "back then" is names of long-lost cities; Brooklyn, Charlie's friend's name. The writing and descriptive prose accentuated the novels rural and industrial cities and towns. It vividly painted the picture of all the places Charlie encounters and segments of other locations when the book was broken up by brief chapters with other narrators.

The main character's interactions with other friends could have been more profound but it did not fail to reveal some of Charlie's naivete and self-consciousness. The interactions enhanced her character and helped develop her to see the constructive views other had on what Ludania's downfall will be and process them to make her own opinion. The sparking romance between Max and Charlie was sweet to watch grow, reading about how they both tested each in their own subtle ways. Their connection was built upon their reactions toward one another, reactions that the other couldn't always visibly see.

The plot that carried the story line to its climax and unwinding was evenly paced and smoothly executed. The Pledge vowed to be about a dictator-ruled country divided by the languages they speak and how that determines their values as human beings. It delivered that way of thinking into a constituted reality reinforced by visible executions and constant security checks if anything were to attempt discord to the pledge.

Grade: B

ARC Source: S&S Galley Grab + Publicist


In order to enter to win some "Pledge" swag, just leave a comment below with your email address.


Thursday, October 27, 2011

Teen Book Scene: Amplified by Tara Kelly

Hardcover: 304 pages
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co. (BYR); First Edition (October 25, 2011)
ISBN-10: 080509296X
ISBN-13: 978-0805092967

When privileged 17-year-old Jasmine gets kicked out of her house, she takes what is left of her savings and flees to Santa Cruz to pursue her dream of becoming a musician. Jasmine finds the ideal room in an oceanfront house, but she needs to convince the three guys living there that she's the perfect roommate and lead guitarist for their band, C-Side. Too bad she has major stage fright and the cute bassist doesn't think a spoiled girl from over the hill can hack it...

In this fresh new novel by critically acclaimed author Tara Kelly, Jasmine finds out what happens when her life gets Amplified.

Thrown into such life-challenging situations, the reader can witness for themselves how irrevocably engaging Kelly's writing soon comes to be. She takes being an ordinary girl with an extraordinary talent to a whole new level. That's how I came to love Jasmine's realistic view of the obstacles taking over her life and debating which path she should--and wants--to take. She ultimately had the perseverance to work out the inner demons stopping her from going full-out on her dream of being a rock star. Not once did I hate any of the characters in Amplified, at most I was just mildly annoyed with a few. As a supporting role, Veta was eccentric and sometimes dramatic but totally trusting, and as a love interest, Sean had the baggage and barbell but unexpectedly dependable when he wanted to be.

It was easy to see how Kelly's writing portrayed Jasmine as such a captivating character because of her obvious vulnerability, from the history with her father to being left to her own devices in an unfamiliar situation. Jasmine encounters grueling life decisions at the brink of adulthood when most of the population would still categorize her as a child. Shining a light on her weaknesses, Kelly was easily able to pinpoint them as attributes that eventually manifest themselves to progress the story. The music and her love of playing the guitar gave support to all her choices and mistakes, coinciding to become the basis of her life. Dealing with a whole new scene, this contemporary read rocked hard.

Grade: A-


Monday, October 17, 2011

DNF Review and Giveaway: The Faerie Ring by Kiki Hamilton

Hardcover: 352 pages
Publisher: Tor Teen; First Edition (September 27, 2011)
ISBN-10: 0765327228
ISBN-13: 978-0765327222

Debut novelist Kiki Hamilton takes readers from the gritty slums and glittering ballrooms of Victorian London to the beguiling but menacing Otherworld of the Fey in this spellbinding tale of romance, suspense, and danger.

The year is 1871, and Tiki has been making a home for herself and her family of orphans in a deserted hideaway adjoining Charing Cross Station in central London. Their only means of survival is by picking pockets. One December night, Tiki steals a ring, and sets off a chain of events that could lead to all-out war with the Fey. For the ring belongs to Queen Victoria, and it binds the rulers of England and the realm of Faerie to peace. With the ring missing, a rebel group of faeries hopes to break the treaty with dark magic and blood—Tiki’s blood.

Unbeknownst to Tiki, she is being watched—and protected—by Rieker, a fellow thief who suspects she is involved in the disappearance of the ring. Rieker has secrets of his own, and Tiki is not all that she appears to be. Her very existence haunts Prince Leopold, the Queen’s son, who is driven to know more about the mysterious mark that encircles her wrist.
Prince, pauper, and thief—all must work together to secure the treaty…
Did-Not-Finish Review:

Pick-pocketing the streets of Victorian London, Tiki knows who to go after in order to feed the stomachs of her orphan brothers and sisters. Caring for her family in Charing Cross has become her life since the death of her parents and running away from her perverted uncle. In order to keep her family healthy enough she--and Shamus and Fiona--must risk thieving in the flagrant pubs and teeming shops around their home. As her nose leads her astray in a kitchen where a feast is being concocted, Tiki soon finds her in a library of Buckingham Palace, where she proceeds to steal the most invaluable treasure in all of London; the truce that holds the threads of their home together, the Faerie Ring.

Thrust into the world of cobblestones and horse-drawn carriages it is immediately evident the atmosphere of a thief in 1871 London will be carried through in every word, phrase and description of this book. It's when the characters are introduced and when the faeries are thrown in the mix that things got a little "out of wack." I wanted to sympathize with these orphans that take care of each other while living under terrible circumstances. The only time I felt that really happened was whenever little Clara was being taken care by Tiki wholeheartedly. Usually each of the characters all have a little background shown in the beginning of the book so as the story progresses the reader gets a growing sense of who they are as a person. However, in The Faerie Ring all the characters were immediately introduced without so much as a physical depiction of their appearance, except for Rieker who Tiki feels an unquestionable attraction to. I'm getting tired of all these romances that have no basis to explain the connection and develop the relationship between two prominent characters.

When the faeries come in the picture and the truce is actualized, I couldn't help but just put the book down and inwardly complain about the elusiveness of such creatures. I have NOTHING against faeries as a whole, one of my favorite series ever has faeries as the forefront characters, but the author failed to pronounce the importance of these creatures in the plot line. I got up to page 172 before I finally gave up and said, "I don't care what happens with the ring, the faeries or Tiki and Reiker." Honestly, it just didn't matter to me what was going to happen next. Out of the half of the book that I was able to swallow, I only appreciated the setting and the fleeting chapters where Prince Leo and Prince Arthur were talking. That's it, and that is sad. Obviously it wasn't the author's writing style or originality that lacked something, just the plot and characters weren't enough to carry on this tale of "gritty slums and glittering ballrooms" and the Otherworld that held the creatures seeking the reclamation of their city. The suspense and dangerous tone came through loud and clear, but the romance was white noise at best.

Source: Publisher


In order for you to make up your own opinion of The Faerie Ring I'm giving away a finished copy to one lucky person. Just fill out this FORM and you'll have to be a US resident and wait till October 30th to find out who the winner is...