Thursday, February 28, 2013

Review: TIDAL by Amanda Hocking

*Read my reviews of Wake, Lullaby, and Forgotten Lyrics!*
With Penn and Lexi determined to kill Gemma and replace her with another siren, Gemma's life is in grave danger...unless she can break the curse before it's too late. With the help of Harper and Daniel, she'll delve deep into her enemies' mythical past--and their darkest secrets. It's her only hope of saving everything she holds dear: her family, her life, and her relationship with Alex--the only guy she's ever loved.
Protect your cuticles readers, because Amanda Hocking is raising the standard for supernatural suspense! Tidal, the third nail-biting installment to the Watersong series, is keeping the sirens in Capri and with Harper gearing up to leave for college, the race to free Gemma from the sirens is more dire than ever.

Oh, how much has changed since Lullaby. Gemma and Alex are no longer an inseparable item, but what really stuns me is the aftermath of Gemma's siren song taking effect on Alex. His change is more than emotional, but physical as well. He's a buff, brooding teen struggling with a break up he can't remember and a change of life plans. What's most intriguing, with a side of trepidation, is how the past comes into play for the sirens. Penn has this emerging obsession with Daniel that stems from an old love, Bastian, an immortal immune to their siren powers of seduction. This obsession not only provides a segue for readers to see a part of the sirens' past that otherwise probably would not have come up, but it shows a different side to Penn. Whether you'll like this slightly alternate side of her is up a difference of taste, but ultimately she's still the villainous, conniving siren she's proven to be since Wake.

Emotions are running high all around, from characters to audience. I had a hard time reading without tearing up, gasping in surprise, or feeling indignation on behalf of one character or another. The plot focuses on Gemma and Harpers's personal lives on a more intimate level and adds a more human layer to the sirens, all while introducing new information regarding whether Gemma can break free from the sirens, once and for all, before Penn decides to kill her. The carefully constructed subplots and the harmony with the series' main storyline is a strong indication that Amanda is further testing the range of her writing style and passing with flying colors!

After Tidal's heart-racing head-to-head, which is a huge improvement over the simple altercation at the close of Lullaby, I'm a little more than terrified at what the series conclusion will bring. The sirens will continue to be a threat to Gemma, Harper, Daniel and Alex, but it seems not only to their lives, but their relationships as well. Nevertheless, if you're new to the series, or just a bit behind, Tidal is an immediate must-read!
*ARC provided via publisher in exchange for an honest review*

Publication Date: June 4, 2013
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Pages/Format: 342; Hardcover, ebook, audio

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Review: Perfect Timing by Catherine Anderson

In Catherine Anderson’s newest installment in the Harrigan family series, an unlikely couple is brought together under circumstances that defy all reason....

Tragedy has struck the Harrigans—Quincy’s beloved sister-in-law Loni is gravely ill and nearing death. Quincy, like his brothers, feels helpless to save her, and the clock is ticking. Then, with perfect timing, a winsome red-haired woman named Ceara O’Ceallaigh mysteriously appears on Quincy’s property and insists that Loni can be cured. Only Quincy, she says, as the sole remaining Harrigan bachelor, can make it happen—by marrying Ceara.

To Quincy, Ceara is a charming and quite likely deranged spinner of dreams who can’t prove she’s telling the truth. But how can he pass up any attempt to restore Loni to health? Against all better judgment, he decides to marry Ceara. Maybe he’s making the worst mistake of his life. Or maybe he’s opening himself up to possibilities that defy explanation...and will send him on a miraculous journey toward enough love to last forever.
Perfect Timing is the perfect read for hopeless romantics. Catherine Anderson brings a time-traveling druid from 16th century Ireland to present day Oregon, with only the hope that she can stop a centuries old curse to carry her through the strenuous journey.

Quincy Harrigan's sister-in-law is dying and the only way to save her is to marry the possibly off her rocker Ceara O'Ceallaigh. I wondered if maybe Quincy was the crazy one, because I loved Ceara from the first moment her character came into the plot. She's young and out of place in the modern world, yet she only wants to marry Quincy so that she can save Loni and the other first wives of Harrigan men. I admire her strength because she willingly left behind her family and home to travel into the unknown. Her charm and innocence will bring every reader to their knees!

I'm usually pretty easy to please when it comes to contemporary romance novels like Perfect Timing, but Anderson is one of the few authors who raises my expectations of such stories. After Ceara and Quincy married, I had no idea where the story would go from that point. I expected the other shoe to drop, so to speak, but I could not predict how it would play out. Not only is the plot different from what I've read before, but the story seems to forge an original path in romance. Ceara has to learn to to live in the 21st century from social conventions to language and technology. It's fun to see how Quincy and his family take her into their care and heartening to see them extend their family bonds so easily, even when the going gets tough.

Perfect Timing is a love story in every sense. As I read, the charming characters made my heart fill with joy and my mind wish they were just as real as the emotions they display. Please, don't miss the opportunity to read Catherine Anderson's latest novel; you won't regret it!
*Book provided via The Catherine Anderson Online Review Team in exchange for an honest review*

Publication Date:  February 26, 2013
Publisher: Signet
Pages/Format: 432; Mass Market Paperback, ebook

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Monday, February 25, 2013

Tour Review: The Dogs of Winter by Bobbie Pyron

A small boy, a cruel city, and the incredible dogs who save him.

Based on a true story!

When Ivan's mother disappears, he's abandoned on the streets of Moscow, with little chance to make it through the harsh winter. But help comes in an unexpected form: Ivan is adopted by a pack of dogs, and the dogs quickly become more than just his street companions: They become his family. Soon Ivan, who used to love reading fairytales, is practically living in one, as he and his pack roam the city and countryside, using their wits to find food and shelter, dodging danger, begging for coins. But Ivan can’t stay hidden from the world of people forever. When help is finally offered to him, will he be able to accept it? Will he even want to?

A heart-pounding tale of survival and a moving look at what makes us human.
Bobbie Pyron has taken a bit of history and turned it into a captivating tale of a little boy's survival. Never could I have imagined a child's bond with wild dogs as seen in The Dogs of Winter!

Ivan Andreovich is only five years old when his mother goes missing and her boyfriend tries to take Ivan to an orphanage. In the City, somewhere in Russia, Ivan decides to run away, hoping that his mother will come searching for him. He spends days and nights on the streets and train station, at first taken in by a rowdy group of young children who steal food and beg money for vodka and cigarettes. In the midst of these kids who will do anything to survive, Ivan tries to hold on to the morals his mother taught him like to not steal or lie. When the dogs come into Ivan's life it gets a little easier to make it. He finds food for them and himself, warm places to sleep at night, and protection from the older street kids and gangs.

But, of course, obstacles take place that hinder Ivan's ability to keep himself fed and clothed. He's very naive throughout most of the story, but the more wild he gets the more cunning. Throughout the novel, Pyron makes me wonder whether anything will go right for the Dog Boy, but time and time again his pack proves that they have his back and they'll endure through the most dire situations. Except for when Ivan is captured and forced back into human society. I found that I didn't feel the big emotional pull until Ivan had been shown just one ounce of kindness from someone who wasn't one of his dogs.

The Dogs of Winter is a novel that I would highly recommend to dog lovers and readers who love an encouraging tale of survival. Even through the darkest parts of the novel, when life just wasn't kind to little Ivan, the dogs lightened the pall.
*Book provided in exchange for an honest review*

Publication Date: October 2012
Pages/Format: 320; Hardcover, ebook

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Sunday, February 24, 2013

Review: Nora's Chicks by Patricia MacLachlan; Illustrated by Kathryn Brown


From Newbery Medalist Patricia MacLachlan comes a reassuring story about new beginnings and making friends.

Nora and her family have just arrived from Russia and are making a new home on the American frontier. The prairie is very different from the forested hills Nora is used to. Most of all, it’s lonely. Papa has the cows he sings to as he milks them. Baby brother Milo has a dog to follow him wherever he goes. But Nora has no one and nothing to call her own until Papa brings home a dozen chicks and two geese. Nora names each one, and they follow her everywhere — even to church! But what will happen when one of her beloved chicks goes missing?
Patricia MacLachlan, author of one of my favorite childhood novels, Sarah, Plain and Tall, is still in the business of creating heartwarming children's books. Nora's Chicks, illustrated by Kathryn Brown, is a sweet story that captures the heart of change, family, and finding friendship.

Nora and her family have moved to America from Russia. While her family settles in their new home and new surroundings, Nora struggles to accept the change. She misses the view of her dear Russia and feels saddened that she also doesn't have any friends. Her father brings two geese and some chicks as food, but Nora has other ideas for the beautiful birds. They follow her around, even to church, and Nora takes care of them as pets. After a little mishap with one of Nora's chicks going missing, Nora receives more than a returned chick, but a budding friendship with neighbor Susannah.

Kathryn Brown's illustrations add a rich softness to the story that glued my eyes to the pages. Even though each page has a few sentences, my eyes wanted to stay on each page to make sure I could fully capture the brilliance of the images. Though it's been years since I've read a Patricia MacLachlan story, I found that Nora's Chicks made me feel as though I was sitting right back in elementary school. Readers will sympathize in Nora's search for happiness, but will ultimately smile at the portrayal of her heartening story.
 *Book provided via publisher in exchange for an honest review*

Publication Date: February 26, 2013
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Pages/Format: 40; Hardcover
Age: 3-5 years

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Review: The Black Rabbit by Philippa Leathers

In this clever picture book, a debut author-illustrator introduces a plucky rabbit and the new companion that he just can’t shake.

Rabbit has a problem. There’s a large black rabbit chasing him. No matter where he runs — behind a tree, over the river — the shadowy rabbit follows. Finally in the deep, dark wood, Rabbit loses his nemesis — only to encounter a real foe! Kids who like to be in on the secret will revel in this humorous look at shadows and friendship, brought to light by a talented animator.
Philippa Leathers's debut children's book is quite the curious read. The Black Rabbit is a tale of Rabbit who believes he's being followed by a scary black rabbit. Rabbit is indeed afraid of his own shadow, but the catch of the story is that he never realizes that it's his shadow.

The Black Rabbit is show of true imagination and humor. There will definitely be a divide between readers of this story. Younger readers will find no fault with Rabbit being afraid of his shadow, seeing it as the mysterious monster-like creature following the innocent little animal. On the other hand, older readers will understand why Rabbit can't get away from the Black Rabbit, but bow to the creative genius of Leathers's story. Leathers is also the illustrator of The Black Rabbit, and she does impressive work. The concept of the story is easily translated through the illustrations, which also add a bit of suspense.

Even though Rabbit doesn't realize that he's afraid of his shadow, his fear is replaced by admiration. I had to laugh at the outcome of The Black Rabbit, because I really expected him to figure it out. Either way, I have no doubt that Leathers will continue to create such exciting and beautifully illustrated children's books!
*Book provided via publisher in exchange for an honest review*

Publication Date: January 2013
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Pages/Format: 40;Hardcover
Age: 3-6 years

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Saturday, February 23, 2013

Review: Quick Duck! by Mary Murphy

Where is that duck going in such a hurry? Mary Murphy brings her surefire baby appeal to this bright concept book.

This little duckie needs to be quick-quack-quick — leaping out of the mud, scooting under the hedge, running around the flowers, and skipping over the stones. Now he can splash into the river, where his mom and siblings are waiting and ready to go!
Quick Duck's urgent pace will captivate its audience. Duck is jumping over stones and running through mud, but where is he going? My first time reading the story I didn't even think that he had a destination in mind, the narration seems to just point that Duck is moving through all these obstacles with key words like under, around, down, and out. I assumed Mary Murphy's intention was to make the story a visual learning experience.

The ending proved me wrong. Duck is going somewhere all right, and I have to admit that what's waiting for him at the end of the story is not what I expected! Quick Duck! is perfect for ages 1-3. The sentences are structured the same, and I'm thinking that the more the story is read to a child, the more they'll remember it and be able to read along. It's also notable that Quick Duck! is a board book with vibrant illustrations and easy-to-turn pages. The story is a quick read, so don't be surprised if you're asked to read this one over and over again!
*Book provided in exchange for an honest review*

Publication Date: February 2013
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Pages/Format: 16; Board Book
Ages: 1-3
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Review: Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi


Juliette hasn’t touched anyone in exactly 264 days.

The last time she did, it was an accident, but The Reestablishment locked her up for murder. No one knows why Juliette’s touch is fatal. As long as she doesn’t hurt anyone else, no one really cares. The world is too busy crumbling to pieces to pay attention to a 17-year-old girl. Diseases are destroying the population, food is hard to find, birds don’t fly anymore, and the clouds are the wrong color.

The Reestablishment said their way was the only way to fix things, so they threw Juliette in a cell. Now so many people are dead that the survivors are whispering war– and The Reestablishment has changed its mind. Maybe Juliette is more than a tortured soul stuffed into a poisonous body. Maybe she’s exactly what they need right now.

Juliette has to make a choice: Be a weapon. Or be a warrior.
Shatter Me took me by surprise. Tahereh Mafi's novel is so beautifully written, her style so poetic, honest and captivating. Mafi has a way with words that sets her debut novel aside as utterly original and fresh. She touches hearts through Juliette's sweetness and light. Not to mention her strength. Through her eyes we see what beauty is left in a world changed for the worst, the grief of the many lost, and the strength of those who have the ability to change the world for the better.

Juliette has been locked in an asylum for 264 days. She doesn't know what touch feels like. She's seventeen years old and been mistreated all throughout her life, but still believes in goodness of human nature. That not everyone she's ever come in contact with has an ulterior motive. It makes perfect sense that she forms a connection with Adam, the boy thrown suddenly into her cell and from a distant memory of her past. Their connection is intense and innocent to a degree. When Juliette learns from Adam that the Reestablishment, who is supposed to rebuild the world to its former glory, is living the life of luxury while citizens are oppressed and left with little hope, their budding relationship is pushed to levels of danger.

Juliette's power may be deadly and rare, but I couldn't help but think of her as a superhero type. Omega Point, Juliette and Adam's destination after escaping the leader of Sector 45, is crawling with humans with a little extra supernatural in their genetic makeup. This addition to Shatter Me made me think of the X-Men, but with a dystopian element weighing on the plot.

I feel ashamed that it's taken me so long to carve out time to read Shatter Me. Deep down I knew that genre-wise it was what I was looking for, and I'm pleased to say that it actually exceeded my expectations! Tahereh Mafi is a very refreshing author whose style will win with readers of all ages. I'm itching to see how she continues the series, because the stunning conclusion to Shatter Me has prepared me for anything!
*Book provided via publisher in exchange for an honest review*

Publication Date: November 2011
Publisher: Harper Teen
Pages/Format: 338; Hardcover, Paperback, ebook

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Friday, February 22, 2013

Review: The Steam Mole by Dave Freer

*Read my review of Cuttlefish*

Steampunk adventure with an environmental point. After a daring chase across the globe, Tim Barnabas and Clara Calland have brought Clara's scientist father's secret formula to Westralia. Here, much of Australia is simply too hot to be habitable by day. Duke Malcolm, of the Imperial Security Service, transports Claras rebel-father to a prison in Eastern Australia, hoping to bait her into attempting a rescue. Clara looks to Tim for help, only to find he has fled a racist incident into the desert. She takes a burrowing machine know as a "steam mole" in search of him. The two head to Eastern Australia, where they discover an invading force with plans to take Westralia.

Dave Freer's Cuttlefish laid the perfect foundation to Clara and Tim's story, from their blooming friendship to their dangerous adventure. After many days dodging Duke Malcolm's army, Clara and the other residents of the Cuttlefish have finally made it to the Republic of Westralia. Their journey begins anew in The Steam Mole as they adapt to life on land and all the trials that follow.

What I love about Cuttlefish and The Steam Mole is how consistent Freer remains with the steampunk and science-fiction elements. Clara is no longer confined to an illegal, coal powered submarine, but Freer easily introduces another intricate, and quite important, machine: the steam mole. The steam mole is a central part of the novel that intrigued me because it took the biggest scenes of adventure underground. It's like exploring a whole new world with the same suspenseful aura and complex storyline.

Freer extends our view of Clara's world. With her mother's sudden illness, and the fragile hope that her father is imprisoned nearby, the story's plots and subplots diverge. New characters are thrown into the growing pile of perspectives like Lampy, the young aboriginal with a dark past and bright future. Lampy reminded me of Tim because of their similar backgrounds and temperaments; both know how to survive in the most unlikeliest situations and both are the victims of prejudice based on the color of their skin. This aspect brings a certain cultural awareness that is highly overlooked in young adult literature. That it's found in a steampunk, sci-fi novel is even more of a draw.

While I did enjoy The Steam Mole and it's perfectly pieced together conclusion, I have to say that it wasn't quite the sequel to Cuttlefish that I'd been expecting. By the end of the story I got the impression that the characters were settling in their new lives, not gearing up for a possible future adventure. When the subplots finally converged and the wrongs set right, the outcome felt as though forced. Freer made it too easy and not as nerve-wrecking as the explosive conclusion of Cuttlefish. I really love Clara and Tim, their ability to tough it out is awesome, I'm hoping to find their story continue in another novel. Hopefully, one with just as much action and alternate history!
*Book provided via publisher in exchange for an honest review*

Cuttlefish #2
Publication Date: December 2012
Publisher: Pyr
Pages/Format: 300; Hardcover, ebook 

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Monday, February 18, 2013

Review: Earth Girl by Janet Edwards


Earth Girl #1
2788. Only the handicapped live on Earth. Eighteen-year-old Jarra is among the one in a thousand people born with an immune system that cannot survive on other planets. Sent to Earth at birth to save her life, she has been abandoned by her parents. She can’t travel to other worlds, but she can watch their vids, and she knows all the jokes they make. She’s an “ape,” a “throwback,” but this is one ape girl who won’t give in.

Jarra makes up a fake military background for herself and joins a class of norms who are on Earth for a year of practical history studies excavating the dangerous ruins of the old cities. She wants to see their faces when they find out they’ve been fooled into thinking an ape girl was a norm. She isn’t expecting to make friends with the enemy, to risk her life to save norms, or to fall in love.

Earth Girl is a bold and unique novel that is easy to get powered on. From its remarkable cover, touching and thought-provoking, to it's flavorful cast of characters I have no doubt that Janet Edwards will catch a wide variety of readers.

Jarra is a heroine with such a passionate voice, one that makes me sit up and pay attention, especially since she speaks directly to us, the audience. Reading her words as though they were written just for me made me shake my head in amusement, pocket a tissue for tears and focus intently on her hopes and hardships. In short, I've never felt so bonded to a character that I felt every bit of sympathy imaginable for her. It literally took me days to stop talking, or even thinking, about Jarra's story. Under the layer of science-fiction and this highly advanced futuristic society, there's something very realistic about Earth Girl. Jarra has to deal with her being Handicapped and not knowing who her birth parents are. She struggles with making the decision to reach out for the parents who sent her to Earth, a place she's bound to because of her immune system that does not allow her to portal to other worlds. It's this aspect of the story that made Jarra become more than just a fictitious character.

Edwards is a totally zan author who not only goes above and beyond expectations for an entertaining sci-fi novel, but she sets a whole new set of standards. She captures it all: romance, adventure, and intricate subplots that aid in creating a world unlike any I've read before. Even the characters' colloquial speech is lavished with a distinctive style. Earth Girl is a prime example of my gratefulness for the literary convention of a series; Edwards will sure as chaos continue to dazzle and delight with one of the most outstanding heroines of YA literature!
*ARC provided via publisher in exchange for an honest review*

Publication Date: March 5, 2013
Publisher: Pyr
Pages/Format: 271; Hardcover, ebook

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Friday, February 15, 2013

Review: How Beauty Saved the Beast by Jax Garren


Tales of the Underlight #2
Jolie Benoit left her old life behind to become an agent of the Underlight. Training under Sergeant Wesley Haukon, she’s honing her combat skills, all the while coping with the intense sexual attraction she feels for Hauk. She keeps their friendship casual, but when his high school sweetheart transfers into their division, Jolie finds herself grappling with jealousy.

The Underlight gave Hauk a purpose, but he can’t escape his past completely. The physical and emotional scars from the fire that killed seven fellow Army Rangers will mark him forever. Jolie sends his protective instincts into overdrive, but he’s convinced he’ll never be worthy of her love.

Hauk is determined to keep Jolie from harm. But when the Order of Ananke ambushes them with a new weapon that neutralizes Hauk, making him vulnerable, it’s Jolie who must tap into her hidden strengths to rescue him—or risk losing him forever…

Jax Garren seamlessly pulls readers back into her action packed Tales of the Underlight world. The sequel installment to How Beauty Met the Beast is longer and lovelier with dances around Hauk and Jolie's relationship, a deeper look into Hauk's past, and the inevitable surprising plot twist.

Hauk and Jolie's connection to one another is as strong as ever. How Beauty Saved the Beast opens with a very good example of how much closer Hauk and Jolie have become, and how well they've gotten to know each other. I actually liked their dancing around an official relationship because it added a touch of romantic suspense on top of the suspense of not knowing what trouble would befall the Austin Underlight. When Hauk's ex-girlfriend, Ashley, comes into the picture she not only creates tension and jealousy between the two, but gives them both a reason to evaluate their feelings. The introduction of this new character served multiple purposes: showing that there's much more to the Order of Ananke than previously thought, widening our perspective of their goals and resources and giving us the chance to learn more details about Hauk's past.

The romance is as hot and spicy as ever, but what really made my jaws drop in this installment was the surprising revelations about Hauk. While he continues to deny the existence of magic and mysticism in his world, he can't deny the uncontrollable rages that he experiences when his Jolie is threatened. The source of this mysterious affliction is unknown, until Hauk is put in a position that means the forfeiting the lives of his friends or the lives of his enemies. I already expected that the Tales of Underlight would, little by little, reveal more beneath the surface of what Jax has already shared, but never did I expect the expertly woven ties to Norse mythology.

The Tales of the Underlight is a series to read! Both How Beauty Met the Beast and How Beauty Saved the Beast are highly entertaining fantasy reads with a kick of romance and action that gets stronger and stronger!
*eGalley provided via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review*

Publication Date: February 11, 2013
Publisher: Carina Press
Pages/Format: 208; ebook

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Thursday, February 14, 2013

Review: Cupid on Deck by Nancy Scrofano

Louise “Lou” Riley agrees to tag along with her friends on a Valentine’s Day cruise around Seattle’s Lake Union. Donning their best 1920s attire, they board the old-fashioned paddle wheeler steamboat for an evening that’s expected to be the bee’s knees. Lou plans to shed her third wheel status onboard when she joins Nate, who she’s been sweet on for months. But when a mishap sends the dashing (and single!) Landon Harper to her aid, Lou discovers that Cupid may have other plans for her love life, and she and Landon share an unforgettable few hours together. Then, a surprise announcement sends everyone into a frenzy. Will Lou and Landon live happily ever after? Or maybe Lou and Nate are meant to be… Find out where the cherub’s arrow lands in Cupid On Deck, a roaring good time aboard a love boat reminiscent of the jazz age.
Nancy Scrofano's latest read, Cupid on Deck, is an incredibly romantic novelette. If you loved Nancy's debut, True Love Way, then you'll feel right at home!

Lou is another fun heroine with a passion for the past. Dressed as flappers, Lou and her best friend Meg are spending Valentine's Day on a 1920's theme cruise, dancing and romance in their sights. Meg's on a date with her boyfriend Max and to keep Lou from feeling like a third wheel he's arranged for his cousin, Nate, to be her date. Lou's had a crush on Nate since she first met him, and she finally has the chance to make her move and show him how she feels. The night doesn't begin so well, though, when Nate shows up with his own date and Lou, sweet,single Lou, is left surrounded by lovey-dovey couples. Then, a dashing hero, Landon Harper, makes his way over to Lou and the romance begins in earnest.

Cupid on Deck is just the right length to put readers in a romantic mind frame. It's a quick read, but I felt like I really got to know Lou and Landon, so rooting for them became a natural occurrence. Nancy's style will be familiar to fans, but also distinguishable. I love that she can remain true to her signature style, but entertain us with something different that her last novel. Cupid on Deck is a light, chick-lit read with a little humor added to the mix. I loved True Love Way, her first full length novel, and I'm a big fan of Nancy's, but I'm looking forward to more of her novelette length reads!
*ebook provided via author in exchange for an honest review*

Publication Date: February 5, 2013
Publisher: Bloomwood Books
Format: ebook
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Get 2:32 AM by Emily Ford FREE on Amazon!

Emily Ford - 2:32 a.m. will be available free to download to your Kindle February 15th - 19th.

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In the early morning hours nearing her 17th birthday, Cat Townsend woke to the sudden blur of a mysterious unknown man sitting on the edge of her bed. She did not feel fear -- rather a strange calmness overtook her. In an instant their eyes locked, he lightly touched her hand, and then he disappeared into the nothingness of night.

Caught in that undefined place between asleep and awake, the moment felt hazy and surreal. A chill ran down Cat’s spine as she glances at the time – it’s 2:32 a.m.

What unfolds in the first book of The Djinn Master’s Legacy trilogy, is young Cat’s personal struggle with the overwhelming choice to accept a destiny of magic. As she contemplates the merits of unparalleled power, her new and ordinary world in Savannah, Georgia is understandably shaken. The closer her decision gets, the more twisted her life with family, friends and boyfriend becomes. Will she choose to give up everything she cherishes?

Find out, in 2:32 A.M. The time everything happens.
You can also read my review of 2:32 AM!
Debut novelist Emily Ford has always been a storyteller. As a kid at summer camp in Maine, she’d make up ghost stories at bedtime for her fellow bunkmates.
Her Djinn Master’s Legacy trilogy also began as a simple bedtime story, intended for Ford’s then adolescent children to have in writing and use to tell their own kids one day. By the time she finished writing, she had three very full books.
2:32 a.m., Ford’s first installment of her young adult series, caught early readers’ attention as a fiction book minus the typical vampire and werewolf characters.
The Texas writer interned each summer with KHOU-TV in Houston while gaining her bachelor’s degree in radio and television at The University of Arizona. She worked on the copy desk at The Dallas Morning News, and eventually started the marketing company KapsMark, Inc.
Connect with Emily: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

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Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Review: Restrike by Reba White Williams


Coleman and Dinah Greene Mystery #1
Cousins Coleman and Dinah Greene moved to New York City after college to make their mark on the art world, and they have—Coleman as the editor of an influential arts magazine, and Dinah as the owner of a print gallery in Greenwich Village. But challenges mount as Coleman discovers a staff writer selling story ideas to a competitor, while Dinah’s Greene Gallery slips into the red. When billionaire Heyward Bain arrives announcing plans to fund a fine print museum, Coleman is intrigued and plans to publish an article about him, and Dinah hopes to sell him prints. Then, unexpectedly, swindlers invade the art world to grab some of Bain’s money, and a print dealer dies under mysterious circumstances. Risking her own life, Coleman sets out to unravel the last deception threatening her, her friends, and the once-tranquil world of fine art prints.
Reba White Williams explores the New York art scene with all the suspense of a well-written murder mystery. Restrike invites readers into the lives of the Greene cousins: Coleman and Dinah. Coleman is a journalist and owner of the ArtSmart magazine. She has a curious mind that really spurs the story's pace. Her cousin Dinah is married to investment banker, Jonathan Hathaway, and the owner of a print gallery. With both girls knee-deep in the art world, it's inevitable that the mysterious murder of a virtually unknown print dealer would attract their attention and have them searching until answers are found.

Restrike is a murder mystery that goes beyond suspense and thrill. Jimmy La Grange's death is the starting point of a chain reaction of events that may take readers by surprise, but will definitely intrigue. The connections between characters becomes a tangled web, deceit, betrayal, jealousy and secrets included. The story was a little slow going in the opening chapters, but once I acclimated to the terminology and really understood what was so significant about Jimmy's death, I felt the excitement start to bubble up. I wanted this crime solved just as much as Coleman and Dinah, even when it wasn't believed to be art related.

Williams's writing style is notable, as well. Restrike is written in third person with multiple perspectives. While Coleman and Dinah are our driven heroines, readers get to know their friends and enemies, too. There's a well rounded variety of characters, some you'll love and others you'll love to hate. I think it shows real talent that while presenting the perspective of many characters, even those under suspicion, Williams was able to keep the truth hidden from readers. While the ending wasn't outrageously shocking, I never would have guessed exactly 'whodunit'.

I am absolutely clueless about art, I didn't even know how wide the range of the art world extended. Williams made quite an impression on me in that regard, because Restrike not only takes readers deep into Coleman and Dinah's lives, but pretty much paints a perfect picture of what goes on in that world. I can say with absolute certainty that even if art isn't your forte, Restrike will be a very appealing read!
*ARC provided via JKS Communications in exchange for an honest review*

Publication Date: June 16, 2013
Publisher: Delos
Pages/Format: 350; Paperback, ebook
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Book Blast: Forever My Girl by Heidi McLaughlin

Forever My Girl
by Heidi McLaughlin
I was never supposed to be a rock star. I had my life all planned out for me. Play football in college. Go to the NFL. Marry my high school sweetheart and live happily ever after.

I broke both our hearts that day when I told her I was leaving. I was young. I made the right decision for me, but the wrong decision for us. I’ve poured my soul into my music, but I’ve never forgotten her. Her smell, her smile.

And now I’m going back. After ten years.

I hope I can explain that after all this time.

I still want her to be my forever girl.
Purchase: Amazon--B&N--Kobo

Author Heidi McLaughlin

My grandma once told me that I can do anything I want, so I am.

Originally from the Pacific Northwest, I now live in picturesque Vermont, with my husband and two daughters. Also renting space in our home is an overhyper Beagle/Jack Russell and two Parakeets.

During the day you’ll find me behind a desk talking about Land Use. At night, I’m writing one of the many stories I plan to release or sitting courtside during either daughter’s basketball games.

I’m also an active reviewer on The Readiacs.

BookBlast $50 Giveaway
Ends 2/24/13

Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader, Not A Writer and sponsored by the author. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.

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Monday, February 11, 2013

Tour Review: The Dragon's Egg + Interview with author Resa Nelson


The Dragonslayer Series #4
In the fourth and final book of the Dragonslayer series, Mandulane's army is poised to attack the Northlands in the name of a powerful god, but in truth Mandulane is using the act of spreading this new faith as a way to disguise his own personal greed and hunger for power. Astrid has succeeded in warning her beloved country of imminent danger, and the Northlanders scramble to set up a clever defense, never realizing a spy in their midst is poised to take critical information directly to Mandulane. After sacrificing herself in order to set her brother Drageen free for the sake of protecting the Northlands, Astrid finds herself controlled by the stone of light. Although it forces her path of destiny, Astrid learns she must make one final choice about who she wants to be. Most important of all, her new sweetheart Trep encounters a dragon that entrusts him with the care of a dragon's egg. Trep embraces a dangerous journey and accepts the duty of protecting the unhatched dragon, knowing that its safety could impact the fate of the entire world.

The Dragon's Egg is the impressive and bittersweet ending to Astrid's journey. It will bring tears to your eyes and leave hope blooming. Resa Nelson concludes The Dragonslayer Series in a show of action and adventure that lives up to her usual style of story telling.

I'm still wrapping my brain around the fact that this is the end of the series. I've become so attached to Astrid and the anxious wait to dive into her next adventure. I feel a little bereft knowing that The Dragon's Egg is her final journey. This journey is filled with familiar faces, danger, and surprise. The plot doesn't lag or feel like it's being stretched to keep interest. Just knowing that whatever awaits Astrid at the end of the novel is something extremely life changing and unpredictable was enough to keep my interest and keep me rushing to finish the story.

What sets this fourth book of the Dragonslayer Series apart from its previous novels is the perspectives. Readers will be able to view the story from multiple points of view. The bigger picture of Nelson's fantasy world is easier to recognize and the relationship between the dragons and the Scaldings is greatly clarified. The series has truly evolved from the first installment in which readers are introduced to Astrid and her struggle to find peace with her past and with who she truly is. Nelson began widening our attention beyond Astrid and her home in Guell: taking us on journeys to the Northernlands, introducing the dire situation with the Krystr army, and inviting us to where it all began, Tower Island. The Dragon's Egg sees the subtle shift in focus to the present state and future of Astrid's world.

Nelson ties up loose ends and satisfies any lingering questions we may have had regarding Astrid's family history or what the dragon's are up to in the human realm. The Dragon's Egg is a conclusion that I was torn over. I didn't want this to be the last of the Dragonslayer's series, but now that it's here and I've read it, I'm happy it's the finale!
*Ebook provided in exchange for an honest review*

Publication Date: November 2012
Publisher: Mundania Press
Pages/Format: 228; Paperback, ebook
Amazon--B&N--Powell's--Mundania Press (10% off using: MP10)


What was your greatest challenge in writing The Dragonslayer Series?
That's a great question. The greatest challenge was making each book its own unique story (instead of just rehashing the first book over and over again) while at the same time keeping the story moving forward in a way that made sense. When I wrote Book 1 (The Dragonslayer's Sword), I thought it would be just one book. But when I was about 75% through the book, I realized I was nowhere close to the end I envisioned and that it should be a series. Once I made that decision, I wanted each book to have its own vision but one that would fit in with the big picture.

While Astrid is the central character we meet a lot of other important characters over the course of the series. Who was your favorite to create, and why?
I really love Margreet from Book 2 (The Iron Maiden). One thing that was important to me was to create a character from another country who didn't speak Astrid's language. Astrid has a terrible time learning other languages and never really learns more than a few words -- she just doesn't have the knack for it. I wanted Astrid and Margreet to never be able to use language to communicate but to have to figure out different ways to communicate with each other. In the beginning, they're at odds with each other, and there are times when I think Margreet is hilarious. The journey that Astrid and Margreet take in Book 2 is one of the most rewarding things I've ever written.

The Dragon's Egg is the last book of Astrid's journey. How did you prepare to write this conclusion? Did you plan for this to be the final book of The Dragonslayer Series?
Yes! I had a clear vision for how I wanted the series to end as soon as I decided to expand Book 1 into a series. So when I wrote every book, I always kept the conclusion in my thoughts. Ironically, there are many things in The Dragon's Egg that surprised me, things I didn't know were going to happen until they happened. And there were also a few new characters that I didn't know were going to be in the book until they showed up. For example, Trep mentions his sister at the end of Book 2, and I had no idea she would be such an important character in The Dragon's Egg until she showed up. One of my favorite things about writing novels is the way that characters will surprise me like that.

In three words, how would you describe The Dragon's Egg?
Bittersweet. Hopeful. Inevitable.

In parting, can you give us a couple of lines from The Dragon's Egg that stand out to you the most?
"Astrid dreamed she shifted her shape and became a dragon. On four bent legs, she lumbered while she walked through a dense forest, dragging the top of each foot across the ground and then flipping it up just in time to place her weight on it."

About Resa:
Resa Nelson has been selling fiction professionally since 1988. She is a longtime member of SFWA (Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America) and is a graduate of the Clarion SF Workshop. Resa was also the TV/Movie Columnist for Realms of Fantasy magazine for 13 years and was a contributor to SCI FI magazine. She has sold over 200 articles to magazines in the United States and the United Kingdom. Her first novel, The Dragonslayer's Sword, was nominated for the Nebula Award and was also a Finalist for the EPPIE Award. This medieval fantasy novel is based on a short story first published in the premiere issue of Science Fiction Age magazine and ranked 2nd in that magazine's first Readers Top Ten Poll. The Dragonslayer's Sword is Book 1 in her 4-book Dragonslayer series. Book 2, The Iron Maiden, was published last December, Book 3 was published in May, and the final book in the series is scheduled for publication in November. Resa's standalone novel, Our Lady of the Absolute, is a fantasy/mystery/thriller about a modern-day society based on ancient Egypt. Midwest Book Review gave this book a 5-star review, calling it "a riveting fantasy, very highly recommended." Resa lives in Massachusetts.

Connect with Resa: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

Review/Interview in conjunction with:

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Friday, February 8, 2013

Review: Daughter of the Centaurs by Kate Klimo


Centauriad #1
A new character joins the ranks of pwerful, kick-ass heroines such as those written by Tamora Pierce, Kristin Cashore, Esther Freisner, and Robin McKinley—Malora Ironbound. A great read also for anyone who loves horses and the Greek myths.

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.
Daughter of the Centaurs was not what I was expecting, but Kate Klimo has made me a believer in centaurs and this futuristic world she's created. Malora is one of the People, possibly the last of the People since everyone she has ever known was killed by ferocious Leatherwings. In an attempt to save her from the same fate, Malora's mother had packed up her favorite horse, Sky, and sent her out into the plains. After some of years wandering around, surviving, growing her herd of horses, Malora comes into contact with the perfect beings: centaurs. Half man, half horse. Orion vouches for Malora, considered to be an Otherian, and she's whisked into their home, Mount Kheiron. Though, there were certain aspects like the 14 edicts that Malora felt restricted her, she fit in well with the centaurs. I felt proud just to be reading her story, and that's how big a difference she made to the centaurs of Mount Kheiron. I actually got a little teary eyed towards the end!

Klimo introduces the centaur society with ease. From what I had heard about Daughter of the Centaurs before reading, I thought I would suffer from confusion or read too much going on at one time. Fortunately, my fears were unfounded because I had no trouble understanding and picturing this fantastical world Malora finds herself participating in. The plot is riddled with danger, fascinating events, and a culture very similar to our own but uniquely different. I thought it was so weird that the centaurs lived life like humans, with a few notable differences of course, but it was all new to Malora who lived primitively in her settlement in the mountains. The centaurs were led by Medon the Apex, who is then ruled by Lady Hylonome, Herself. If it weren't for the strict requirement to follow the Edicts, the separation of prosperous Highland centaurs from the Flatland centaurs, and the dissenting whispers of inequality and poor treatment from the Flatlanders, I would not have considered this story dystopian at all, just fantasy.

Malora was a character with character. She was strong and she knew how to take care of herself, and her horses. I loved the fact that she had such an affinity for horses. Maybe it was Klimo's style of writing, or personal experiences taken to write about these horses, but I was just so captured by the moments when Malora connected with her 'boys and girls'.

There's a bit of a history between centaurs and the People, and whatever other kinds of creatures may be lurking in the shadows of the story, and while Klimo does take a considerate amount of time to establish it I want to know more. Yes, you will find yourself asking many questions about where the centaurs, and even the Twani, originate from but that's the best part of reading Daughter of the Centaurs. It's only the beginning of the Centauriad series and there's opportunity to find out more in it's sequel, A Gathering of Wings!

Publication Date: January 2012 (paperback published Jan. 2013)
Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers
Pages/Format: 362; Hardcover, Paperback, ebook

Review: Peep and Ducky by David Martin; Illustrated by David Walker


Written by David Martin
Illustrated by David Walker
Lucky, lucky, lucky! Follow two adorable friends at play in a read-aloud for the very young that trips off the tongue.

Ready, set, go! Whether you’re playing pretend games (beep, beep) or flying off the slide (ka-thump), flopping into a puddle (splish, splash) or running around a tree ("Can’t catch me!"), an afternoon at the park is so much better when your best buddy is there. Peep and Ducky share giggles and tickles and bumps in this sweet excursion from David Martin and David Walker.
David Martin's Peep and Ducky is quick and adorable. It boasts easy, flowing rhymes that will have kids eager to read, and hear, over and over again.

It's the rhyme scheme that I think will really appeal to children, especially those who are just learning to read. When read aloud, Peep and Ducky's adventure sounds so upbeat and exciting; it's bound to make the little ones smile! David Walker's illustrations work in harmony with Martin's story. The colorful pictures are simple enough for a child to grasp the concept of events, particularly important if the audience cannot read yet, and detailed enough for the older ones to appreciate. Ages at least 1-3 will enjoy the story, but I think it's one that will stick in a child's mind for a while longer.

Whether Peep and Ducky are playing make believe, racing around and playing in the mud, Martin and Walker expertly portray fun and friendship; the promise of another perfect day.
*Book provided via publisher in exchange for an honest review* 

Publication Date: February 12, 2013
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Pages/Format: 32; Hardcover

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Thursday, February 7, 2013

February Kindle Fire Giveaway!

Kindle Fire HD Giveaway!

The winner will have the option of receiving a Kindle Fire HD (US Only)

Or $199 Gift Card (International)

Or $199 in Paypal Cash (International)

This giveaway is sponsored by these Authors:

The Reluctant Bachelorette by Rachael Anderson
For What It's Worth by Karey White
Cascade Brides by Bonnie Blythe
A World Apart by Camelia Miron Skiba
Reality Bites, Tales of a Half-Vampire by Shaunda Wenger
Face-Off by Stacy Juba
Two Equals by Marta Szemik
The Ghost of Josiah Grimshaw by Suzy Turner
One for Kami by Charlene A. Wilson

A World Apart
One Classic Latin
Lover, PleaseThe Reluctant BacheloretteBetrayal (Wounded Heroes, #3)Bellyache: A Delicious Tale Ethan Justice: OriginsI Have PeopleFor What It's WorthA Kiss of Ashen Twilight (Ashen Twilight #1)The
Unraveling (Sage Seed Chronicles, #3)Fateful (Fateful, #1) Dracian Legacy (Dracian, # 1)Cascade Brides: The Complete SeriesReality Bites:
Tales of a Half-VampireFace-Off (Book One)Two EqualsThe Ghost of Josiah Grimshaw (Morgan
Sisters, #1)One for KamiFreak of
NatureGrace DollThe Secret
of the Scarlet Stone (Gabby Girls Adventure, #1)Gallagher's Hope (Gallagher, #2)The Spy LoverPRIZE-WINNING PACIFIC STORIES (SPECIAL EDITION, BOXED SET VOL I-III)RejectedRapunzel UntangledA
Hard Act to FollowStarseed

Giveaway Details
1 winner will receive their choice of a Kindle Fire HD (US Only), $199 Amazon Gift Card or $199 in Paypal Cash (Internaitonal).
Ends 2/28/13

Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader, Not A Writer and sponsored by the authors. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.

a Rafflecopter giveaway