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1. Review and Spotlight: Bridges Burned by Chris Cannon

 

My Thoughts:

I loved Going Down in Flames, so I was eager to revisit Bryn and her friends in Bridges Burned.  I was a bit disappointed with it.  There was too much boy angst, and the non-ending diminished my enjoyment.  The action picked up in the second half, but it was all setup for the next book in the series.   The book doesn’t end so much as it tapers off to nothing.  I found this very frustrating.

Bryn is settling in at her new school, and as long as she has Zavien, she’s sure she can put up with the mockery and cold shoulders she’s receiving from some of the other students.  As a crossbred dragon, she’s looked on as something forbidden and aberrant, and with the controlling Directorate calling the shots for all of the dragons, her future doesn’t look too bright.  Even though her grandfather is a powerful Blue dragon, there are many in the dragon society who object to her existence.  Her parents, both promised to others, ran away from their restrictive culture and blended in as humans.  When Bryn turned 16, her heritage came banging on her door, and she was forced to attend the dragons’ academy to learn to control her powers.

One of the things I loved about the last book was Bryn’s forceful personality.  She’s pissed that her peers treat her like dirt, she’s fed up with people trying to kill her, and she can’t stand the rigid social structure that she’s been forced into.  Dragons can only marry dragons of the same clan, and even then, only with the Directorate’s approval.  It galls her that her future rests in their hands, and she’s infuriated that she can’t be with Zavien, the Black dragon she loves.  She didn’t take crap from anyone, and since she’s so powerful, she could defend herself from even the most obnoxious of her detractors.

Cut to Book 2, and I kept wondering what happened to that Bryn.  Now she is consumed with Zavien, letting him dictate their relationship.  Did I mention that he’s been promised to another, and that he’s engaged?  Because for the formalities involved in dragon marriage contracts, he can’t just void his engagement.  All through the first half of the book, I thought he was taking advantage of Bryn, twisting the truth about the future of their relationship and lying to her outright.  He really pissed me off.  I don’t like cheaters, and worse, I don’t like cheating heroes.  I didn’t find Zavien or his behavior heroic, and I wanted to slap Bryn and tell her to get over herself.  He wasn’t worth the grief he was putting her through.  She was like a shell of herself, and it infuriated me.  So deep was my aggravation that I almost set the book aside.

I kept doggedly at it, however, and things improved in the second half, after Bryn is forced to move in with her grandparents.  I think Zavien’s absence from the storyline at this point made it more palatable for me.  Jaxon, who I thought was a spoiled bully in the first book, quickly gained my favor.  He and Bryn are thrown together again and again as an enemy faction attempts to tear the dragon society apart at the seams.  This unknown enemy attacks the school on several occasions as they work to divide the dragon clans and cast suspicion on the Directorate, and these upticks in action kept me reading, especially the attack on Dragon’s Bluff.

After all of that intense, pulse-pounding action, the book just stops.  That was so frustrating!  There’s no question that I’ll continue with Book 3, but I’m hoping that Bryn focuses more on herself and less on Zavien, because, really, who wants a lying, cheating boyfriend, regardless of how good looking he is?  So, while Bridges Burned was a bit of a mixed bag for me, I am invested in the story and would like to see what happens next.

Bridges Burned <?XML:NAMESPACE PREFIX = "O" />
By Chris Cannon
January 27, 2015
 
 
Don’t just fight the system…burn it.
Since discovering she is a shape-shifting, fire-breathing dragon on her sixteenth birthday (surprise!), Bryn McKenna’s world has been thrown into chaos. Being a “crossbreed”—part Red dragon and part Blue—means Bryn will never fit in. Not with dragon society. Not with the archaic and controlling Directorate. And definitely not when she has striped hair and a not-so-popular affection for rule-breaking…
But sneaking around with her secret boyfriend, Zavien, gets a whole lot harder when he’s betrothed to someone else. Someone who isn’t a mixed breed and totally forbidden. And for an added complication, it turns out Bryn’s former archnemesis Jaxon Westgate isn’t quite the evil asshat she thought. Now she’s caught between her desire to fit in and a need to set things on fire. Literally.
Because if Bryn can’t adapt to the status quo…well, then maybe it’s time for her to change it.
 
BUY IT ON AMAZON, ITUNES, BARNES AND NOBLE, & KOBO: http://www.entangledpublishing.com/bridges-burned/
 
~*~ABOUT CHRIS CANNON~*~
 
 
Chris Cannon lives in Southern Illinois with her husband and her three dogs, Pete the shih tzu who sleeps on her desk while she writes, Molly the ever-shedding yellow lab, and Tyson the sandwich-stealing German Shepherd Beagle. She believes coffee is the Elixir of Life. Most evenings after work, you can find her sucking down caffeine and writing fire-breathing paranormal adventures. Going Down In Flames is the first book in Chris Cannon’s shape-shifting dragon series.

Excerpt:

On the drive back to school, Bryn reflected on how her life had recently gone to hell. It had all started when flames shot out of her mouth on her sixteenth birthday, proving she wasn’t completely human. Since then she’d been shipped off to a secret school for dragons—the Institute for Excellence—where she was learning how to control her shape-shifting dragon powers. She’d faced discrimination, death threats, and poisoning. She’d been blown up and involved in a battle to the death with a radical Revisionist member—and she’d been there for only a few months.

Though not everything about her new life was bad. She had a sexy boyfriend, Black dragon Zavien Blackthorn, and two good friends, Clint and Ivy. Being a crossbred dragon meant she had both the Red and Blue dragons’ breath weapons, fire and ice, and even though she was the only crossbreed, she could still outfly even the fastest Blue. Of course, that’s why some of the other Clans hated her. She’d upset the natural order of things in this color-coded world, where the Directorate dictated what Red, Black, Green, Orange, and Blue dragon Clan members could do as a profession and whom they could marry. It was absurd. Yet most dragons didn’t question it.

Part of Zavien’s appeal lay in the fact that he headed up the student Revisionist group that petitioned the Directorate to change outdated laws. Bryn glanced at Directorate lawyer Merrick Overton, who was driving the Cadillac SUV hybrid she was riding in. Her classmate and former nemesis Jaxon Westgate rode shotgun. She and Jaxon no longer hated each other. Scratch that: he no longer hated her based on his father’s vendetta against her mother, but that didn’t mean they were friends. Funny how saving someone’s life could turn you from enemies to…what? Not friends. Frenemies, maybe? Who knew? It’s not like she wanted to hang out with him, but there was a weird level of trust between them now that she didn’t know what to do with.

The post Review and Spotlight: Bridges Burned by Chris Cannon appeared first on Manga Maniac Cafe.

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2. Gabi, Girl in Pieces: Review Haiku

We need diverse books
because Gabi's is a
universal story.

Gabi, Girl in Pieces by Isabel Quintero. Cinco Puntos Press, 2014, 208 pages.

0 Comments on Gabi, Girl in Pieces: Review Haiku as of 1/23/2015 6:53:00 AM
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3. Friday Feature: Racing Hearts by Laura Lascarso




He wants to honor his father’s legacy; she wants to prove her father wrong. 

18-year-old Jesse is still grieving from the loss of his father to cancer when he learns his mother has lost her job. All too soon, Jesse, his little sister, and his mother might be put out on the streets. 

Jesse hears of a local car race sponsored by his father's nemesis, Shep Bradley, and the prize money might be enough to keep Jesse’s family from losing their home - if he can win it.

When Shep’s own daughter Brooke asks Jesse to build her a racecar against her father’s wishes, Jesse accepts. After all, he needs the money.

Coming February 10 through Leap Books.

Here's a teaser pic to get you ready for this book:


Want your YA, NA, or MG book featured on my blog? Contact me here and we'll set it up.

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4. Review: Deep Betrayal by Anne Greenwood Brown

May Contain Spoilers

Review:

I had to wait a long time for the library to get a copy of Deep Betrayal, so there has been a huge time gap since I read Lies Beneath.  When I first started reading this, the plot details were a little fuzzy, but things cleared up relatively quickly.  I really enjoy this series, and I was delighted when Deep Betrayal did NOT end on a cliffhanger!  Win for the reader!  I hate cliffhangers, with only love triangles scoring higher on my list of pet peeves.  There’s no hint of that here, either, with Lily and Calder deeply involved with each other for the entire book.  That’s not to say they didn’t have their disagreements, but another guy was never dangled into the reader’s face in an effort to force some tension into the plot.  Double yay!

Deep Betrayal picks up thirty days after the events in Lies Beneath.  Lily has been exiled to live with Jules’ family, and she’s seething because she hasn’t heard from Calder.  She alternately worries about him, then rages about him.  When he finally turns up, he’s  vague about where he’d been, but Lily forgives him.  I wouldn’t have let him off so easily, but since Lily forces him to go back to the lake house, I guess he got what he deserved.  He’s worried that Maris and Pavati will flip out if they discover that she’s still alive.  He also objects when Lily insists that they tell her father the truth about his heritage.  That probably wasn’t the smartest decision, but I think that even Lily could not have expected the revelation to cost her family so much grief.

In addition to her family crumbling in on itself, someone, or something, is attacking people on the water.  When bodies start turning up, Lily is convinced it’s Calder’s sisters feeding.  Calder protests; he knows they would never be so careless with their prey.  Then Lily has the horrible suspicion that her father is causing all of mayhem in the lake, and she’s determined to put a stop to it.

Lily and Calder follow many false leads before unmasking the killer, and even though the mystery isn’t all that difficult to figure out, I loved this book.  I enjoyed Lily’s narrative, and her courage.  She’s not the kind of girl to stand back and let her man take all the risks – oh no!  Lily wanted to save her family and friends, so she was willing to put herself at risk to stop the killer.  In the process, she discovers more about who she is, and what she is.  She even forges an uneasy  alliance with Calder’s sisters.  I really like them; they are treacherous and can’t be trusted.  They are also incredibly dangerous, so Lily has to stay on her toes to avoid their wrath.

When I stop and think about Lily’s relationship with Calder, I cringe.  He’s, what, 40?  She’s 17?  That’s creepy.  I kept telling myself, “He’s not human.  He’s not human.  He’s not human,” but it’s still kind of creepy.  Stop thinking about it!

Overall, this is an exciting book, with plenty of twists and turns that kept me turning the pages.  Great characters, great ending – I can’t wait to read the final book in the series.  Hope the library has it!

Grade:  B+

Review copy provided by publisher

From Amazon:

Fans of Amanda Hocking’s novel, Wake, will dive into this paranormal romance featuring mermaids–the killer kind–and won’t come up for air!

It’s been thirty days, two hours, and seventeen minutes since Calder left Lily standing on the shores of Lake Superior. Not that she’s counting. And when Calder does return, it’s not quite the reunion Lily hoped for. Especially after she lets her father in on a huge secret: he, like Calder, is a merman. Obsessed with his new identity, Lily’s dad monopolizes Calder’s time as the two of them spend every day in the water, leaving Lily behind.

Then dead bodies start washing ashore. Calder blames his mermaid sisters, but Lily fears her father has embraced the merman’s natural need to kill. As the body count grows, everyone is pointing fingers. Lily doesn’t know what to believe—only that whoever’s responsible is sure to strike again. . . .

The post Review: Deep Betrayal by Anne Greenwood Brown appeared first on Manga Maniac Cafe.

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5. Monday Mishmash 1/19/15


Happy Monday! Monday Mishmash is a weekly meme dedicated to sharing what's on your mind. Feel free to grab the button and post your own Mishmash.

Here's what's on my mind today:
  1. Another Campus Crush  So last week I mentioned that fans asked for another Campus Crush story for Mike since he didn't get his HEA. I thought I was going to write a novel for him, but this series insists that it's made up of novellas, and that's what his story has turned into. More details to come.
  2. Friday Feature  I have some Friday Feature spots available this month and next (and beyond, actually) so if you have a new release or upcoming release and would like to be featured email me khashway(at)hotmail(dot)com.
  3. Spotlight and Giveaway  The very sweet and awesome Megan McDade is hosting me on her blog this month and in addition to interviews and guest posts, there's a giveaway (winner's choice of a paperback of Touch of Death or The Monster Within). Check it out here.
  4. Winter Ball  My daughter attended her first school dance last Friday. It was three hours of me sitting on a hard cafeteria stool, but seeing her dance and run around with her friends made it worth it. She's only in second grade, so seeing how outgoing she is really makes me happy. That girl is not afraid to be who she is. :) I'm a proud mom.
  5. Winter Blues  Anyone else have the winter blues? Some of my 2014-year-of-ickiness has carried over and I'm hoping to be finished with it by the end of the month so I can get back to life as usual. And I could really use some sunshine and warmer weather if anyone can make that happen. ;)
That's it for me. What's on your mind today?

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6. Candlewick Press - Best of YA Giveaway

TIME Magazine recently published their 100 Best Young Adult Books of All Time and 100 Best Children's Books of All Time lists. Candlewick Press is offering a chance to win 6 of their titles which appeared on the YA list!

tigerrising.jpeg

The Tiger Rising by Kate DiCamillo

Rob, sickly and devastated by the death of his mother, moves to a hotel with his father for a new start. But after he comes across a caged tiger in the woods outside the motel, the unexpected find helps him overcome his sadness and open up to a new friend.

The Tiger Rising is a National Book Award finalist (2001).

miraculous.jpg

The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by Kate DiCamillo, Illustrated by Bagram Ibatoulline

Kate DiCamillo takes us on an extraordinary journey, from the depths of the ocean to the net of a fisherman, from the bedside of an ailing child to the bustling streets of Memphis. Along the way, we are shown a miracle--that even a heart of the most breakable kind can learn to love, to lose, and to love again.

The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane is in the Top 25 to be voted on for Best of the Best ranking by reader vote: http://time.com/100-best-young-adult-books/

Boy Proof by Cecil Castellucci

An unforgettable debut novel that follows an antisocial cinephile as she meets a quick-witted artist who's savvy enough to see through her sci-fi disguise. 

Boy Proof will celebrate its 10th anniversary in February 2015.

A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness, Illustrated by Jim Kay

An unflinching, darkly funny, and deeply moving story of a boy, his seriously ill mother, and an unexpected monstrous visitor. 

Soon to be a major motion picture!

The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness

A dystopian thriller follows a boy and girl on the run from a town where all thoughts can be heard--and the passage to manhood embodies a horrible secret.

Feed by M. T. Anderson

Anderson takes on consumerism in this smart, savage satire that has captivated readers with its view of an imagined future that veers unnervingly close to the here and now. 

Feed is a National Book Award Finalist (2002).


Thanks to Candlewick, you can enter to win all 6 books using the Rafflecopter widget below! The giveaway is open to the US and Canada only, and ends Monday, January 26, 2015.

Candlewick online: Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest

eVolt online: Twitter | Tumblr

Giveaway Rules:

  1. Open to US and Canada residents only. Ends 01/26/2015.
  2. We are not responsible for items lost, stolen, or damaged in the mail. 
  3. One set of entries per household please. 
  4. If you are under 13, please get a parent or guardian's permission to enter, as you will be sharing personal info such as an email address. 
  5. Winner will be chosen randomly via Rafflecopter widget a day or two after the contest ends. 
  6. Winner will have 48 hours to respond to to the email, otherwise we will pick a new winner. 
  7. If you have any questions, feel free to email us. You can review our full contest policy here
  8. PLEASE DO NOT LEAVE ANY PERSONAL INFO IN THE COMMENTS. Sorry for the caps but we always get people leaving their email in the comments. Rafflecopter will collect all that without having personal info in the comments for all the world (and spambots) to find. Thanks!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

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7. Giveaway: Win Book Bundle from Candlewick Press!

This morning I have a bundle of awesomeness for you to win.  Candlewick Press wants to celebrate, and they are inviting you to enter for a chance to win this incredible bundle of their young adult books that received a nod from Time Magazine’s by landing on their Top 100 YA books of all-time. 

TIME MAGAZINE ANNOUNCES TOP 100 YOUNG ADULT AND CHILDREN’S BOOKS OF ALL-TIME

CANDLEWICK PRESS EARNS 10 “BEST OF” NODS IN THE DISTINGUISHED RANKINGS

One of the most prominent news magazines in the U.S., TIME magazine, has declared we are living in a “golden age” of children’s and young adult books. A claim supported by ongoing sales reports that books for young readers and teens continue to dominate the bestseller charts and lead industry growth as they find wide audiences beyond their intended age demographics.

With the assistance of industry experts, reviewers, and major literacy non-profits, TIME has compiled a list to honor the all-time classics, both old and new.

Candlewick Press, a leading independent children’s book publisher based near Boston, Massachusetts, is proud to announce ten titles from its publishing list have been selected for inclusion – all remarkable works of writing and illustrating – that have established themselves as enduring favorites via critical and commercial success. Both National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature, Kate DiCamillo, and celebrated novelist, Patrick Ness, have the remarkable achievement of having two of their works selected. Candlewick’s titles include:

YA/Novels:

Feed by M. T. Anderson

Anderson takes on consumerism in this smart, savage satire that has captivated readers with its view of an imagined future that veers unnervingly close to the here and now.

$8.99 U.S./$10.00 CAN

ISBNS:  9780763662622 Pbk * 9780763651558 E-book

* A National Book Award finalist

The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by Kate DiCamillo , illustrated by Bagram Ibatoulline

Kate DiCamillo takes us on an extraordinary journey, from the depths of the ocean to the net of a fisherman, from the bedside of an ailing child to the bustling streets of Memphis. Along the way, we are shown a miracle — that even a heart of the most breakable kind can learn to love, to lose, and to love again.

$6.99 U.S./$8.00 CAN — ISBNS:  9780763643676 Digest pbk * 9780763649425 E-book

$19.99 U.S./$23.00 CAN Hardcover – ISBN: 9780763625894

Note: The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane is in the Top 25 to be voted on for Best of the Best ranking by reader vote: http://time.com/100-best-young-adult-books/

Tiger Rising by Kate DiCamillo

Rob, sickly and devastated by the death of his mother, moves to a hotel with his father for a new start. But after he comes across a caged tiger in the woods outside the motel, the unexpected find helps him overcome his sadness and open up to a new friend.

$5.99 U.S./$7.00 CAN

ISBNS:  9780763618988 Pbk * 9780763649449 E-book (Gift edition  9780763652708)

*A National Book Award finalist 

A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness, illustrated by Jim Kay

An unflinching, darkly funny, and deeply moving story of a boy, his seriously ill mother, and an unexpected monstrous visitor.

$ 8.99 U.S./$10.00 CAN

ISBNS: 9780763660659 Pbk * 9780763683474 E-book

* Soon to be a major motion picture

The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness

A dystopian thriller follows a boy and girl on the run from a town where all thoughts can be heard — and the passage to manhood embodies a horrible secret.

$10.99 US/$12.00 CAN

ISBNS: 9780763676186 Pbk * 9780763652166 E-book

Boy Proof by Cecil Castellucci

An unforgettable debut novel that follows an antisocial cinephile as she meets a quick-witted artist who’s savvy enough to see through her sci-fi disguise.

$8.99 US /$10.00 CAN 

ISBNS: 9780763627966 Pbk * 9780763654283 E-book

* Celebrating 10th anniversary in February 2015

ABOUT CANDLEWICK PRESS
Candlewick Press is an independent, employee-owned publisher based in Somerville, Massachusetts. For over twenty years, Candlewick has published outstanding children’s books for readers of all ages, including books by award-winning authors and illustrators such as the National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature, Kate DiCamillo, M. T. Anderson, Jon Klassen, and Laura Amy Schlitz; the widely acclaimed Judy Moody, Mercy Watson, and ’Ology series; and favorites such as Guess How Much I Love You, Where’s Waldo?, and Maisy. Candlewick is part of the Walker Books Group, together with Walker Books UK in London and Walker Books Australia, based in Sydney and Auckland. Visit Candlewick online at www.candlewick.com

US ADDESSES ONLY, PLEASE

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The post Giveaway: Win Book Bundle from Candlewick Press! appeared first on Manga Maniac Cafe.

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8. Friday Feature: 52 Likes by Medeia Sharif



After a brutal rape and near-murder, Valerie wants to get past feelings of victimhood from both the assault and her history of being bullied. She’s plagued by not knowing the identity of her rapist and by the nasty rumors in school about that night. Valerie follows clues from ghostly entities, past victims of the rapist-murderer, contacting her through a social media site—why do all of their eerie photos have 52 likes under them? Their messages are leading her to the mystery man, although he’ll put up a fight to remain hidden.

My thoughts:
After reading Vitamins and Death in one sitting, I knew Medeia could write edgy and dark YA really well, so I jumped at the chance to read 52 Likes. Once again, I couldn't put the book down. The book begins with Valerie being raped. I wasn't sure how I'd endure reading a rape scene, but it was handled really well. I felt Valerie's emotion without being overwhelmed by the horrific act. What I loved about this book was that Valerie doesn't allow herself to sit back and become the victim. She fights. Even when everyone around her is making her feel like she is the one who did something wrong, she continues to seek out her rapist and reveal his identity to everyone.

The ghosts of the rapist's victims appear to Valerie, encouraging her to fight for them, too. Valerie was supposed to die like they did, only a passerby saved her life. And that means her rapist is set on finishing what he started. The mystery behind who the rapist is and the race to reveal him and have him locked up before he gets to her again is what made me keep turning the pages. 

If you like darker YA with mystery and some ghosts thrown in, this is the perfect read. I dare you to put it down once you start reading it. ;)

Want your YA, NA, or MG book featured on my blog? Contact me here and we'll set it up.

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9. Book Review: ‘The Blackwell Family Secret: The Guardians of Sin’ by Jonathan L. Ferrara


blackwellThe Blackwell Family Secret: The Guardians of Sin is book 1 in Jonathan L. Ferrara’s YA urban fantasy series. I must say this was a thoroughly enjoyable read, and I can’t wait to read the sequel.
After his parents are killed by a demon, sixteen-year-old Nicholas Blackwell is put under the protection of the Vatican and sent to a boarding school surrounded by a deep forest: St. Christopher’s Academy, complete with iron gates, gargoyle statues, and gateposts that leer at him. As his life is in danger, this is the only place where he can be kept safe. One night he ventures into the woods and a serpent tricks him into eating the forbidden fruit, with disastrous consequences–for the Guardians of the Seven Deadly Sins have been unleashed, and now Nicholas must go into the City of Demons and defeat the Princes of Hell, and in the process discover his family secret, one that could change the entire world…A daunting task for a teen, even if he happens to be the school’s cockiest leader of mischief.
I loved the book. Nicholas is a charming protagonist, cleaver, arrogant, yet brave and selfless at times. Ferrara’s world, inspired by Biblical tales, of course, is elaborate and imaginative. I especially loved his focus on the Seven Deadly Sins–what they are, where they came from, etc. Angels and demons are intertwined with fantasy elements, and the whole concept of good and evil is explored.
There’s romance, action, adventure, and mystery. It is also a bit dark at times, which I enjoyed. Ferrara is a talented writer, his prose smooth and his dialogue witty. The pace was excellent and the story kept moving forward with increasing tension until the very satisfying ending that left me hungry for book 2. Recommended!
Find out more on Amazon.
My review was originally published in Blogcritics.

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10. Monday Mishmash: 1/12/15


Happy Monday! Monday Mishmash is a weekly meme dedicated to sharing what's on your mind. Feel free to grab the button and post your own Mishmash.

Here's what's on my mind today:
  1. Editing  I've been very busy with edits, which I love. I've gotten to work on some really great manuscripts.
  2. Revisions  I finished up revisions on Out of the Ashes, and I really love this book.
  3. Drafting  Campus Crush fans have demanded politely asked for another book for Mike. ;) I couldn't say no. Mike needs his HEA. So last night I began drafting his book. And yes, I believe it will be a full-length novel instead of a novella, but don't quote me on that just yet.
  4. Balance  This month is all about finding balance as I edit, revise, and draft at the same time. Eek!
  5. Kelly's Coven Giveaways  I have an awesome street team and this month I'm rewarding them in two ways—with the opportunity to beta read Out of the Ashes AND with a giveaway for a signed book (of mine) of their choice. I've gotten several new members this month. Will you be next? You can join us here.
That's it for me. What's on your mind today?

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11. Judging a Book....Eve Ainsworth



I have always been a bit fussy when it comes to books. It goes without saying that I have to love the concept and in a lot of cases I'm swayed by recommendations. But what can often make me decide to pick up a book in the first place is the cover. If it is striking, if it grabs my attention - I very often want it, or at least want to know more about it.


So it goes without saying that I was delighted when Scholastic sent me the design for Seven Days. I immediately loved its bright, bold statement and the fact that words, spiteful words from my text, were plastered across it. It represents bullying so well for me. It's a big, bold statement. I was confident that this cover could have impact.
I guess I'd worried a lot about the cover. I really wanted to love it, so it was such a relief to see it. I just wanted to hug the designer behind it (in fact I did at the Scholastic party...!)

It got me thinking just how important cover design can be, and how authors could be blessed or cursed with a cover that they do not like, or do not feel reflects their story.

With this in mind, I spoke to a few authors about their favourite covers and asked what it was about them that made them stand out.

What were their cover stories?




Helen Grant - Urban Legends (Random House)


" I was very pleased this cover because it shows a female (dead?) body but in such a way that it appears almost abstract; you can only see one eye and the line of the face runs diagonally across the cover. I thought that was quite stylish."








    Keren David selected Salvage (Atom Books)

  " I love both the published versions of Salvage. They are very different, but still have lots of impact."












Hilary Freeman selected The Camden Town Tales (Piccadilly Press)

"I love all my Camden Town Tales covers. I think that they appeal to the readership because they are pretty and perfectly targeted."  










Emma Haughton  selected Now You See Me (Usbourne)



'I love this cover because it's so simple, and yet so striking, And that gorgeous zingy green!'









Sheena Wilkinson selected Still Falling (Little Island)


"What I loved was the feel of the cover. I couldn't in a million years have said what I wanted but when I saw what the designer had done I just thought, yeah, that's it. I wanted the book to have a sexy grown up feel which I think it does. My last books all featured horses and I really wanted this one to feel like a departure which it does. "








Caroline Green  selected Hold Your Breath (Piccadilly Press)



"I loved the metallic look that gave it an underwater feel. And the colours are gorgeous."










It's fascinating looking at different front covers and wondering what the author felt about each one. I guess when an area such as design is taken out of their hands, it's even more important that it works, that they connect to it.


What front covers do you especially like? Have you ever picked up a book initially because of the design?


I know I have...

Eve x

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12. Friday Feature: Enlighten Me



Sometimes carefully constructed lies can become the truth…

When seventeen-year-old Amanda reawakens, she is faced with the life Chloe lived for 17 years. The adjustment isn’t easy. But as she attempts to acclimate to a life that’s foreign to her, old friends become new enemies and bad habits are hard to stop. When she begins to doubt the story she’s been given to explain her travels through the multiverse, she knows she must find the answers before everyone else. Because if her weird dreams and visions are an indication of who she really was everyone might just be in danger, but not from the enemy they think.

From her.


And here's an excerpt:
A puff of cold air expelled from my slack jaw and scattered in front of my face. I spun around trying to recall when I’d opened my bedroom window.

I’m certain I hadn’t.

The room was bathed in darkness. I could scarcely make out my silhouette against the wall. Still, I slipped my feet softly to the carpeted floor. My family was sleeping, and I didn’t want to risk waking them. On tiptoes, I crept to the open window overlooking our yard. The cool whip of the March wind sliced through my skin. A shiver tore through me as the chill of the New York night tucked me inside my own personal blizzard.

I reached for the lift rail to slam the window closed when a shadow crept into view just below my second story landing. I blinked but held my eyes on the shadow. It didn’t move. But it did watch me. Partially clothed in darkness, the shadow dissolved before my eyes into a haze of gas.

I squared my jaw and took a deep breath. My mind cascaded over the many possibilities for what I’d saw. It could have just been the wind. Or someone was up downstairs and cast a long shadow from the back porch. My contemplation on the shadow was futile. It was gone, so it didn’t matter.

My life was screwed up anyway. Fighting an enemy everyone told me wanted to kill me and everyone else. But that same enemy telling me that wasn’t true and proved it by not killing me on the many occasions he could have. Traveling through multiple universes trying to find and kill said enemy because of his supposed threat. Then having a vision I killed everyone and not said enemy. But even more confusing, I knew said enemy was a threat, but I just didn’t know why.

What difference did a ghost make in the scheme of things?

*Want your YA, NA, or MG book featured on my blog? Contact me here and we'll set it up.

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13. What happens in the middle?

by

Jodi Meadows

I’ve talked about beginnings (here, too) and endings (and here’s one from Sooz), but recently someone mentioned they’d really like some thoughts on middles.

A lot of times, when people get stuck in the middle of their book, it’s because they’re not totally sure what the middle is supposed to do.. Obviously the beginning sets up conflicts and the ending resolves them, but the middle? The middle is all opportunity to make things worse.

Here’s a handy numbered list.

1. Build on established conflicts.

Take a look at what you’ve already done. Build on that by reinforcing something the characters already know, or the reader knows, and show something in action.

  • If there’s a monster marauding through the city in the first part of the story but we haven’t seen it yet, this is a great time to give us a peek. (Cue JAWS theme.)
  • If someone’s threatened war, let them announce the war is on.
  • If there’s a plague, start killing side characters right in front of your main characters.

Show the reader that these conflicts you’ve set up are that serious by giving everyone a hint of what’s to come. The middle is the perfect spot for making everything real

2. Complicate established conflicts.

Yep, I’m counting this as different than building, because by complicating conflicts, you can use twists and reveals and other things to make everything worse.

  • Someone betrays our main characters.
  • Another character appears to shake things up.
  • The characters attempt to solve the problem and they make it worse.
  • Information is revealed and suddenly everything we thought was true is an awful lie.

I always feel like the middle is my last chance to introduce new complications to the story, be it characters or events. For me, introducing those later starts to feel a bit contrived, unless there’s a sequel and something at the very end happens to complicate the situation for the next book.

3. Nudge your characters toward the end.

You’ve just made everything awful. Give them something useful.

  • Information that can help them later (even if they don’t know it yet).
  • A hint about how they might solve the big problems.
  • Even give the poor characters a chance to plan to take some kind of action.

This is your chance to line up those last few dominos so everything can just go horribly (violently!?) wrong in the ending. Godspeed.

So, that’s my basic thoughts on middles. Anyone have anything to add?

Jodi Meadows lives and writes in the Shenandoah Valley, Virginia, with her husband, a Kippy*, and an alarming number of ferrets. She is a confessed book addict, and has wanted to be a writer ever since she decided against becoming an astronaut. She is the author of the INCARNATE Trilogy and THE ORPHAN QUEEN Duology (HarperCollins/Katherine Tegen).
*A Kippy is a cat.

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14. Review: Bittersweet Farm 1: Mounted by Barbara Morgenroth

May Contain Spoilers

Review:

I’ve had my eye on Mounted for a while, so I was beyond thrilled when it was an Amazon Deal of the Day a few weeks ago.  Cost?  FREE!  I loved this book, and once I finished, I promptly purchased book 2.  At $2.99, I couldn’t resist finding out what happens next.

Talia is a 17 year old equestrian.  She lives on her wealthy father’s farm, feuds with her half-sister Greer, and misses her mother who passed away after a painful illness.  Greer’s indiscrete behavior has cost yet another equitation coach his job, and their overindulgent father has just hired Lockie to take his place.  Lockie is young, handsome, and a talented rider, but Talia knows that he won’t stick around long.  No man can resist Greer, and once she gets her claws in him, it won’t be long before he, too, is canned.  Determined to put up with him until the inevitable, Talia is pleasantly surprised with his professionalism and coaching skills.  And, Lockie doesn’t seem to be the least bit interested in Greer.

Mounted is an over the top soap opera, peopled with colorful characters and beautiful horses.  Greer is someone you love to hate; she’s spoiled, selfish, and lazy, and expects everyone to cater to her every whim.  When she keeps placing second to her number one rival, she blames her horses, and demands a constant string of replacements.  Lockie mocks her work ethic, assures her that until she starts actually putting forth an effort that she’ll always place second, and rebuffs her advances with barely contained patience. 

Talia is immediately drawn to Lockie, and she recognizes his swift mood changes for what they really are – indications that he’s in terrible pain.  Ever since he suffered from a traumatic riding incident, he’s been plagued by horrible headaches. Though she’s reluctant to ask her father for favors, she asks if he’ll help Lockie find specialists to help manage his pain.  Lockie reminds Talia of her mother and her final months, when nothing relieved the debilitating pain she suffered because of her illness.  She can’t stand by and just watch the new trainer suffer, so she’s determined to do something to help him.

I found the dialog confusing at first, but once I got used to the author’s narrative style, I no longer had that problem.  I really enjoyed the banter between Lockie and Talia, and how their love of horses brought them together.  Talia would be more than content to never show again, and she dislikes jumping.  When her old, trusted gelding pulls up lame, Lockie declares that they have to find a new horse for her.  Talia is reluctant to retire her equine friend; he helped her through her mother’s death, and she trusts him. The prospect of a new horse isn’t exciting for Talia, it’s stressful and she doesn’t want to have any part of it.  Greer, of course, ridicules her and laughs at her dislike of jumping, calling her a coward.  I personally completely understood where Talia was coming from.  I have no desire to jump, never did, never will, and so I ride saddleseat.  Lockie finds Talia a warm blood and is excited to teach her dressage.  Talia is not so excited, but at least she wouldn’t be jumping.  I am interested to follow her progress in her new discipline.

The book ends on a cliffhanger, so I immediately downloaded the second book in the series.  This was a very quick read for me.  The chemistry between Talia and Lockie kept me turning the pages, as did the horsey parts.  If you enjoy horses and soap operas, Mounted should appeal to you. 

Grade:  A-

Review copy purchased from Amazon

From Amazon:

Talia Margolin’s life has been marked by events completely beyond her control—her mother’s death, the move to her father’s horse farm, the retirement of her show horse.

Now she faces the arrival of a new coach whose job is to get Talia’s half-sister, Greer, qualified for the finals at the National Horse Show. Greer is brutal on trainers but Lockie Malone is different. Handsome, talented, and with a will of hardened steel, Lockie can be an immovable object. He also becomes the agent for change in the lives of everyone at Bittersweet Farm.

For seventeen year old Talia, change has never meant anything but loss. Will this time be different?


Mature content and sexual situations, nothing graphic.

The post Review: Bittersweet Farm 1: Mounted by Barbara Morgenroth appeared first on Manga Maniac Cafe.

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15. Start Your Engines…TRACKED is Almost Here!

Exactly four months from today, Tracked will hit shelves, and I couldn’t be more excited about it! So I’m celebrating by firing off a double-shot of good news:

1. On the first day of Christmas, my true love (@coachmathmartin) gave to me…the debut present of a lifetime. Seriously. This Tracked-related surprise is made of hand-polished, custom-welded, plasma-cut steel. You can see it below, in Tracked‘s first official trailer! Check it out:

2. Today, we’re also announcing TRACKED‘S OFFICIAL CREW. By joining Phee Van Zant’s circuit rally team, you’ll be the very first to snag book excerpts, custom swag, and exclusive content. And did I mention prizes? Hit the starting line now, and lap the competition by winning BIG. Each month, from now until May, there will be wildcard giveaways and winner’s circle prizes for one-of-a-kind Tracked-related bags, posters, bookmarks, keychains, t-shirts, quote cards, autographed books, skype visits and MORE. There will be loads of opportunities to win, and multiple winners will be chosen for each lap! Trust me. You’re not going to want to miss this race, so join by signing up below!

TRACKED Crew Badge

[contact-form]

See you on the starting line. ;0)

Jenny

1 Comments on Start Your Engines…TRACKED is Almost Here!, last added: 1/6/2015
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16. Monday Mishmash 1/5/15


Happy Monday! Monday Mishmash is a weekly meme dedicated to sharing what's on your mind. Feel free to grab the button and post your own Mishmash.

Here's what's on my mind today:
  1. Editing:  I'm booked for the month of January, which is great. Now I just need more time in my day to work on my own writing projects. ;)
  2. Construction:  We are getting so close! Unfortunately, this weekend set us back a bit when a few things had to be redone. *sigh* But we are making forward process again now.
  3. Secret Projects in the Works:  I have a few things in the works that I can't share just yet. I'm hoping to be able to reveal them by the end of the month.
  4. My Office:  My office is about 99% complete, but it's missing the most important things of all—framed posters of my books. Once I get those up, I'll share pictures with you.
  5. "Best" Lists of 2014:  I'm excited to say that The Monster Within, Campus Crush (Ashelyn Drake title), and Into the Fire (Ashelyn Drake title) all made several "Best of 2014" lists! That makes me so happy!
  6. Kelly's Coven:  I'm putting out an invite to my street team, Kelly's Coven. We have a FB page where we interact, and this month I have a mega giveaway going on. If you'd like to help me promote my books and get exclusive access to content, first peeks at covers and news, and exclusive giveaways, you can join here. (Or let me know you'd like to join and I can give you access to the group.) I'd love to have you. :)
  7. Cover Reveal for 52 Likes by Medeia Sharif 
  8. Evernight Teen, January 16, 2015

    After a brutal rape and near-murder, Valerie wants to get past feelings of victimhood from both the assault and her history of being bullied. She’s plagued by not knowing the identity of her rapist and by the nasty rumors in school about that night. Valerie follows clues from ghostly entities, past victims of the rapist-murderer, contacting her through a social media site—why do all of their eerie photos have 52 likes under them? Their messages are leading her to the mystery man, although he’ll put up a fight to remain hidden.

    Find Medeia – YA and MG Author

    Blog   |   Twitter   |   Goodreads   |   Instagram   |   Amazon

  9. Cover Reveal for The Milayna Series by Michelle Pickett  You've seen the cover for Milayna, book one in the Milayna Trilogy, and now the remaining covers in The Milayna Series are revealed!
  10. Book one, Milayna, is scheduled to release March 17, 2015. Book two, Milayna's Angel, and book three, The Innocent, are both scheduled for release in 2015. And for a limited time, you can pre-order Milayna (Book #1) for $2 off the purchase price! It's available for pre-order at only $2.99, but only for a limited time.
That's it for me. What's on your mind today?

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17. Best Selling Young Adult Books | January 2015

With so many strong novels on this list, all but one young adult novel—Gayle Forman's Where She Went—remains the same on our hand-picked list from the Best Selling Young Adult list.

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18. Alex as Well

   

Alex as Well by Alyssa Brugman

Publication date: 20 January 2015 by Henry Holt & Co.

Category: Young Adult Realistic, Contemporary

Keywords: Intersex, Sexuality, Family

Format: Hardcover, ebook

4 STARS - STAY UP LATE

Boy or girl. Pink or blue. Normal or...? What is it that makes gender such a divisive line? First, consider that the assignment of pink for girls and blue for boys is a social convention based on a 1980's marketing strategy brought on by the advent of pre-natal testing, that President Obama recently subverted gender stereotypes by sorting balls and tool kits into the "girls" box at Toys for Tots, that even now in our modern age there are people who believe certain jobs "belong" to one gender or the other. Then consider that whether a person is male or female is actually determined by genes and hormones at birth... except when it kind of isn't.

Alex, the title character in Alex as Well by Alyssa Brugman, is intersex--a label applied to people whose anatomy doesn't assign them to one gender or the other. Think of gender as a continuum rather than a binary, either-or situation. Raised by her parents as a boy, but identifying as a girl, Alex decides to leave the all-boys school in which she's enrolled after a traumatic experience, and enrolls herself in a co-ed school, instead. Her parents are at the end of their tether--her mom blogs about the trials and tribulations of raising not just any teenager, but one who's gender-confused (and insists on referring to Alex as male); her dad just flat-out leaves when she tells them she's a girl.

Alex herself feels torn in several directions--she struggles internally with boy-Alex, who sometimes whips out their "noodle"--the euphemism their mother came up with for their ambiguous genitalia--for a quick wank. There's a cute boy at her new school who seems to have a crush on her, but Alex has got a crush on another girl instead. Meanwhile, as much as she loves her parents and yearns for their understanding, at just fourteen years old, Alex feels like she can't go on living with them anymore. To top it off, how long can she withstand the strain of keeping up appearances at school? Someone is bound to find out her secret, and what happens next could turn her world upside down.

This story is sensitive and timely, told accessibly with heart and dry humor by Australian author Alyssa Brugman. While the ending may feel too abrupt for some readers, I hope the novel arouses some needed awareness and discussion of intersex, transgender, and other gender-related issues, and shifts our world's view closer to understanding and support rather than derision and disgust. 

- Alethea -

Further reading:

* I know Emily. She's magnificent and you should read her Reddit AMA. We would also both be super thrilled if you would get hooked on the YA series Bloody Jack by L.A. Meyer, particularly on audiobook. Please and thank you!

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19. Holiday Buffet of Free Ebooks compliments of Musa Publishing…

Holiday season is upon us, and with it comes some wicked-awesome deals! Anyone who has an ereader or tablet will benefit from this wonderful opportunity to score 40 fabulous reads for the holidays. Musa Publishingis offering 13 Days of Free Ebooks starting December 13th—whoa that’s TODAY folks! Below is a list of ebooks and authors on board with this promotion, but you better act fast, as their ebooks are available for free download for only ONE day. BTW—I’m on the list too, and anyone who gets an ereader or tablet for Christmas will benefit from my free download day! Ho Ho Ho…

December 13th, 2014:
The Rhesus Factor by Sonny Whitelaw
Returnby Lynn Rae
Struckby Clarissa Johal

December 14th, 2014:
Tournament of Chance by S.G. Rogers
Obsessionby JoAnne Keltner

December 15th, 2014:
Bridge to Desire by Alice Cross
Saving Hope by Liese Sherwood-Fabre
The Grimm Legacy by Addie King

December 16th, 2014:
Spire City: Contagion by Daniel Ausema
Stained Glass Summer by Mindy Hardwick
Time Will Tell by Mary Palmer

December 17th, 2014:
Guarding His Heart by Carolyn Spear
An Unstill Life by Kate Larkindale

December 18th, 2014:
Hunter’s Find by June Kramin
Five Golden Suitors by Jen Coffeen
First Frost by Liz DeJesus

December 19th, 2014:
The Reluctant Bridegroom by Arabella Sheraton
Persephoneby Kaitlin Bevis
The Glass Sealing by Andrew Leon Hudson

December 20th, 2014:
The Exile of Elindel by Carol Browne
Michaela’s Gift by Cordelia Dinsmore
Pantheonby Josh Strnad

December 21st, 2014:
Only a Hero Will Do by Susan Lodge
Prentice and Desiree by Brita Adams
The 13th Guest by Rebecca Royce

December 22nd, 2014:
Silhouette of Darkness by George Wilhite
Long Haul by Tom Olbert

December 23rd, 2014:
DEAD series by Lizzie T. Leaf
Looney Dunes by Anne Skalitza
Her Name by Alicia Joseph

December 24th, 2014:
Regarding Eliza by Viki Lyn
The Sun God’s Heir by Elliott Baker
Hard Pressed by Sharon Maria Bidwell

December 25th, 2014:
To Catch A Fish by Mary S. Palmer & David Wilton
She Dreamed of Dragons by Elizabeth Walker
Identity Crisis by Elizabeth Ashtree


I hope you take advantage of this wonderful offer from Musa Publishing. There’s a book for every taste on the list from romance, science fiction, horror, thrillers, paranormal, fantasy, speculative fiction, and young adult, so please help yourself to this buffet of ebooks! Wishing you, and your family, a safe and happy holiday season! Cheers and happy reading!

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20. Monday Mishmash 12/15/14


Happy Monday! Monday Mishmash is a weekly meme dedicated to sharing what's on your mind. Feel free to grab the button and post your own Mishmash.

Here's what's on my mind today:

1.  Medeia Sharif's New Book!  A huge congrats to Medeia on her new release. She has a giveaway going on to celebrate. Check it out:

VITAMINS AND DEATH, Prizm Books/Torquere Press, December 10, 2014
Purchase from Prizm, Amazon – Vendor sites will be updated on the author’s site.

Deidra Battle wants nothing more than to be invisible. After her mother, a public school teacher, engages in an embarrassing teacher-student affair at Lincoln High, they relocate to a different neighborhood and school. Being her mother's briefcase, Deidra joins her mother at her new workplace, Hodge High. Since her mother has reverted to her maiden name and changed her appearance, she thinks no one will figure out they're the Battles from recent news and that they're safe. Neither of them is. Hodge brings a fresh set of bullies who discover details about the scandal that changed Deidra's life. Feeling trapped at home with an emotionally abusive, pill-addicted mother and at school with hostile classmates who attempt to assault and blackmail her, Deidra yearns for freedom, even if she has to act out of character and hurt others in the process. Freedom comes at a price.

Find Medeia – YA and MG Author

Blog   |   Twitter   |   Goodreads   |   Instagram   |   Amazon

Book Blast Giveaway

a Rafflecopter giveaway


2. Reading  I'm trying to get in a lot of reading this week. I've gotten behind on the books I need to read and review, and now it's time to catch up.

3. Editing  Another week of editing for clients. :)

4. Renovations  I finally have a kitchen! Okay, it's not 100% finished. We still need to finish the backsplash, but my new countertop and new sink are both in! Yay! The den is also finished. The floor is down and the walls and window casings are painted. Unfortunately, my carpet for the upstairs won't be installed until the 29th though, so not in time for Christmas.

5. Getting Ready for the Holidays  Did I mention I'm hosting Christmas and the house is still a mess? Yup, it is. Furniture everywhere. Unwrapped presents everywhere. I feel like I could be on an episode of Hoarders. *sigh* The good news is that it HAS to get cleaned up before Christmas, so this can't last much longer.

That's it for me. What's on your mind today?

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21. Review: The Vault by Emily McKay

May Contain Spoilers

Review:

This series is proof that even if the first volume doesn’t work for you, maybe the rest will.  I couldn’t get through The Farm – I’m not sure why.  I don’t know if I just wasn’t in the mood, or the pacing left me feeling impatient, or if it was just the wrong day of the week to start reading it.  I set it aside and moved on, forgetting about it,  until I was given the opportunity to review The Lair.  Now there was a book I couldn’t put down! 

I really enjoyed creepy darkness of Emily McKay’s nightmarish world.  A virus has ravaged America, turning its victims into mindless, violent monsters with a never-ending craving for blood.  To stave off the annihilation of humans, young Americans have been quarantined onto Farms, their blood collected and fed to the starving Ticks.  After forming an uneasy alliance with a vampire, Lily and Carter, two teens,  are determined to save the world.  Their little rebellion faces one challenge after another, and Lily lies in a coma at the end of The Lair, victim to the virus.

The Vault picks up right where The Lair left off.  Carter is desperate to obtain the cure for virus, which Sebastian claimed is hidden in his territory.  Carter and Mel, Lily’s twin sister,  can’t enter the lab where they think the cure is secured because of the security measures the vampire left in place to guard his domain.  They need Sebastian, or at least parts of Sebastian, to get inside.  The problem?  Mel left Sebastian staked to the ground after the battle with Roberto.  While she goes back to see if he’s still alive or salvageable, Carter heads to Sabrina’s territory.  The cruel vampire is rumored to have some vials of the cure, and a desperate Carter will do anything to get his hands on them if it means saving Lily’s life.

The Vault kept me on the edge of my seat as Mel and Carter attempt to save Lily from turning into a monster.  Told from all three characters’ POV, they all struggle to survive in their new deadly world.  Lily wakes from her coma, and she knows that it won’t be long before she turns into a Tick.  She can already feel her humanity and her reasoning skills slipping away.  Together with Marcus, Ely’s brother, she heads for a Farm, where she thinks she’ll find safety and medical assistance.  I enjoyed her POV the most, and was a bit disappointed when her voice went silent for part of the book.  I would have loved a first hand account of her experiences, instead of relying on Carter to narrate that part of the story.

There’s a lot of action in The Vault, which made it a rollercoaster read.  My biggest nit-picks? Sabrina was such a one-dimensional character I had a hard time taking her seriously, and Carter got a little (okay, a LOT whiny) near the end.  I just didn’t have the patience to deal with his sudden hang-ups about his relationship with Lily.  They both survived the end of the world, for goodness sake!  Just cherish the love that somehow flourished amid so much death!  Lily did, and even Mel got a HEA, so Carter’s reluctance to take things at face value grated on me.

Grade:  B

Review copy provided by publisher

From Amazon:

There is no rest for the damned in this thrilling follow-up to Emily McKay’s The Lair and The Farm, in a series New York Times bestselling author Chloe Neill calls, “Equal parts Resident Evil and Hunger Games.”

In a world where vampires rule and teenaged humans are quarantined as a food source, there is only one choice—resist or die. But fighting the vampires comes at a terrible cost to twin sisters Mel and Lily and their best friend Carter . . .

With Lily exposed to the vampire virus and lying in a coma, it’s up to Mel and Carter to search for the cure. Time is not on their side. With every passing heartbeat, Mel is becoming more and more purely vampire.

Desperate, Carter and Mel decide to split up. Carter will recruit human rebels from the Farm in San Angelo to infiltrate the guarded kingdom of the vampire Sabrina and steal the cure. Mel will go back to her mentor, her friend, her betrayer, Sebastian, who is the only one who can access an underground vault that may house the secret to the cure.

That is, if he’s still alive after she staked him to the ground. Now her worst enemy may be their best hope for curing Lily—and saving the human race.

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22. Friday Feature: The Regenerates by Maansi Pandya



Title: The Regenerates
Series: The Regenerates, Book 1
Author: Maansi Pandya
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Publisher: Radiance Publishing

Blurb: Abolition Day has arrived again, the day when any of Cor’s citizens arrested for opposing the regime are publicly executed in a special ‘cleansing’ ceremony. Sixteen-year-old Ven is an aristocrat. He lives in a palace, goes to lavish parties and wears buttons made of pure gold. To him, Abolition Day is nothing more than an unpleasant holiday that comes and goes. All of that changes when his best friend, Coralie, makes the execution list. In order to save her life, Ven teams up with a mysterious criminal who warns him that his city is in terrible danger. He offers Ven a deal: steal something from the palace for him, and he’ll save Coralie’s life. Not about to watch his best friend die, Ven makes the deal and slowly uncovers the truth behind the criminal’s warning – something out there is desperate to see Cor burn to the ground, and it makes Ven question everything he’s believed in.

Order Paperback/E-book at: http://www.amazon.com/The-Regenerates-Maansi-Pandya/dp/0993884008/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1414240665&sr=8-1&keywords=the+regenerates 


Author Bio: Maansi Pandya is a YA Author who loves Fantasy, especially adventure stories! She currently lives in Vancouver, Canada and studied Creative Writing and Political Science at the University of East Anglia.

Want your YA, NA, or MG book featured on my blog? Contact me here and we'll set it up.

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23. Evil Librarian

evillibrarian.jpg

Evil Librarian by Michelle Knudsen

Publication date: 09 September 2014 by Candlewick Press

Category: Young Adult Horror, Paranormal

Keywords: Humor, High School, Demons, Romance

Format: Hardcover, ebook, audiobook

4 Stars - Stay up late

Cynthia Rothschild is creeped out when her best friend Annie falls for the young and handsome new librarian, Mr. Gabriel. But it's more than just an age ick factor. There's something wrong with Mr. Grabriel, something Cyn can't put her finger on...

Fans of Buffy rejoice because a fun and well written paranormal YA adventure has hit the shelves. Cyn is a typical teenage girl. She loves musical theater and is head stage manager. She's secretly in love with the lead singer Ryan, who is playing Sweeney Todd. She is a loyal and loving best friend to her friend Annie. Even when Annie starts acting very strange.

There's a lot to like about Evil Librarian. The writing is good. Every sentence is fun and I read the book at a medium pace, savoring the funny Cyn-isms and high school situations. Yes, high school is hell and sometimes a demon invades your school and tries to... never mind.

My heart is warmed towards Ryan who is the lead in the high school musical. I love musicals. I went to college for a year for a musical theater degree. Seriously. Their story is like my high school life. You know, without the demon. So it's very refreshing to see Ryan, the romantic lead, be playing Sweeney. And to have Cyn involved in musical theater.

Also, the story really takes you on a ride. A few times, you think you have it figured out--"oh, this is bound to work" and then it slaps you upside the head. I really liked these moments. 

There's a few things that brought the book down for me though. One is that Ryan is Cyn's only side kick. She's trying to save Annie and he is her main partner in crime. This wouldn't be that bad but he's also her HUGE crush so a lot of the book is spent on her swooning over him, talking about his hair or his eyes or if he touches her, etc. Now I'm all about YA romance, but this was a little excessive especially when she is trying to save her best friend from becoming something very evil. I think a second sidekick would have helped, a non-romantic best friend, to help them solve everything. It was just really focused on Ryan and Cyn's crush on Ryan and OMG he touched my hand... A little too much for this reader.

The other thing is that while the plots twists were fun, for some reason, the book felt too long. It's only coming in under 350 pages but the pacing was off in some places. I didn't want to stop reading, but I had no problem putting the book down for a few days and maybe reading something else for a while. That didn't stop me from enjoying it but it wasn't a feverish, frantic I-gotta-know-what-happens type of read either.

Overall I think Evil Librarian is a very fun, well written YA book. There's humor and romance and evil and good.

- Kimberly -

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24. Writer Wednesday: Happy Holidays and Free & Low-Priced Books!

This isn't your typical Writer Wednesday post because tomorrow is Christmas! To celebrate the holiday season I want to help you fill up that new ereader you asked for or that you purchased for someone else. We all know that can get expensive, so here are my books that are either FREE or very low in price. Enjoy!


FREE Books:

Kiss of Death: Young Adult Paranormal Prequel Novella to the Touch of Death Series. This book is told from Alex's POV.


The only life Alex Montgomery knows is raising the dead and having zombie servants, normal stuff for an Ophi. Alex is a necromancer descended from Medusa—or at least he will be once he comes into his powers. So far his life is training to use abilities he doesn't yet possess, which gets him beaten up by zombies on more than one occasion. And his parents Victoria and Troy won't tolerate anything less than perfection from Alex. He has a lot to live up to, and they remind him of it every day. So when an innocent birthday kiss turns deadly, Alex has to work twice as hard to master his Ophi abilities. He isn't the Chosen One, but he's still a Montgomery, which means he's expected to run the Ophi school one day. With a new group of students coming to the school, Alex needs to learn fast because he's about to be sent on the biggest mission of his life.

Want to know Alex's story and what he was like before he met Jodi? Now you can. Download it FREE here.


Curse of Death: Young Adult Paranormal Prequel Short Story to the Touch of Death Series.


When Medusa is caught between the god she serves and the god she loves, there can only be one outcome.

Download it FREE here.












The Imaginary Friend: Lower Middle Grade Two-Part Short Story

Samantha and Tracy have been best friends since kindergarten, but now that Tracy has gotten over her shyness and made new friends, Samantha is feeling left out. This is nothing compared to how she feels when a strange girl named Jessica tells Samantha that she’s actually an imaginary friend. Tracy has outgrown Samantha, and it’s time for Samantha to help another child who needs her. But will Samantha be able to move on and fulfill her duty as an imaginary friend?

Download it FREE on Amazon or B&N.


Campus Crush: New Adult Contemporary Romance Novel consisting of four novellas (written under my pen name Ashelyn Drake)
The co-eds of Timberland College know a little romance is good for the soul. 

Follow four couples as they try to find love in the Campus Crush Series boxset, including Nothing to Tell, Romancing the R.A., Behind Closed Doors, and Rushing Into Love. 

When you're looking for love, you have to be willing to break the rules. 

This novel includes all four novellas in the Campus Crush series: 
Nothing To Tell
Romancing the R.A.
Behind Closed Doors
Rushing Into Love

Download it for FREE on Amazon or B&N.

LOW-PRICED Books:

Touch of Death (Touch of Death series #1): YA paranormal
Jodi Marshall isn’t sure how she went from normal teenager to walking disaster. One minute she’s in her junior year of high school, spending time with her amazing boyfriend and her best friend. The next she’s being stalked by some guy no one seems to know. 


After the stranger, Alex, reveals himself, Jodi learns he’s not a normal teenager and neither is she. With a kiss that kills and a touch that brings the dead back to life, Jodi discovers she’s part of a branch of necromancers born under the 13th sign of the zodiac, Ophiuchus. A branch of necromancers that are descendents of Medusa. A branch of necromancers with poisoned blood writhing in their veins. 

Jodi’s deadly to the living and even more deadly to the deceased. She has to leave her old, normal life behind before she hurts the people she loves. As if that isn’t difficult enough, Jodi discovers she’s the chosen one who has to save the rest of her kind from perishing at the hands of Hades. If she can’t figure out how to control her power, history will repeat itself, and her race will become extinct.

Only $1.99 on Amazon or B&N.


The Monster Within: YA paranormal
The moment seventeen-year-old Samantha Thompson crawls out of her grave, her second chance at life begins. She died of cancer with her long-time boyfriend, Ethan, by her side—a completely unfair shot at life. But Ethan found a way to bring her back, like he promised he would. Only Sam came back wrong.

She's now a monster that drains others' lives to survive. And after she kills, she’s tortured by visions—glimpses into her victims would-have-been futures had she not killed them. Barely able to live with herself and trying to make things right, Sam ends up a pawn in a vicious game of payback within the local coven of witches.

But when the game reveals what Ethan had to do to save Sam, she must make a choice that will change all their lives forever.

Only $3.99 on Amazon or B&N.


Perfect For You: YA contemporary romance written as Ashelyn Drake
Seventeen-year-old Meg Flannigan isn’t very self-confident, but what girl would be after her sophomore-year boyfriend dumped her by making out with another girl in front of her locker? 

Now a senior, Meg catches the eye of not one, but two gorgeous guys at school. Sounds good, right? What girl wouldn't want to be in Meg's shoes? One cute boy happens to be her boyfriend, and the other? Well, he wants to be. And Meg? She's torn between Ash, the boy she's been with for nearly five months, and Noah who is pretty irresistible. 

But Meg is playing with fire. Pitting two boys against one another, even if she doesn't intend to, could end badly if she isn't careful. 

Only $2.99 on Amazon or B&N.


Into the Fire: YA paranormal romance written as Ashelyn Drake
Seventeen-year-old Cara Tillman’s life is a perfectly normal one until Logan Schmidt moves to Ashlan Falls. Cara is inexplicably drawn to him, but she’s not exactly complaining. Logan’s like no boy she’s ever met, and he brings out a side of Cara that she isn’t used to. As the two get closer, everything is nearly perfect, and Cara looks forward to the future.

But Cara isn’t a normal girl. She’s a member of a small group of people descended from the mythical phoenix bird, and her time is running out. Rebirth is nearing, which means she’ll forget her life up to this point—she’ll forget Logan and everything they mean to one another.. But that may be the least of Cara’s problems.

A phoenix hunter is on the loose, and he’s determined to put an end to the lives of people like Cara and her family, once and for all.

Only $3.49 on Amazon or B&N.


Happy Holidays!


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25. Wrapping up the year… 2014 best books for middle grades

Wrapping up the year… 2014 best books for middle grades | Storytime Standouts

Best Books 2014 - 1prncs shares her favorite titles for middle grade readersI always say this but I can’t believe it’s the end of another year. How? Especially since so many of the days seemed so very, very long. Trying to remember what I did yesterday is painful, but I’m going to attempt to recap the best books I’ve read in 2014.










Middle Grade/ Young Adult

2014 best books for middle grades including The Shadow ThroneThe Shadow Throne by Jennifer A. Nielsen

The final book in a trilogy that captivated not only my whole class, but me. A book I’ve recommended countless times. The main character is one that everyone can identify with in some way. The action is gripping as Sage/Jaron shows readers what being courageous really means.

The Shadow Throne: Book 3 of The Ascendance Trilogy at Amazon.com

The Shadow Throne: Book 3 of The Ascendance Trilogy at Amazon.ca

My True Love Gave to MeMidnights by Rainbow Rowell

I should be honest and tell you that this author could write a to-do list on a paper towel and I would love it. There is something about every one of her books that grabs me so strongly, I have to remind myself that, she doesn’t actually know me, but somehow, she gets me. And then I remind myself that she doesn’t actually write her books just for me. Elenor and Park is in our elementary library but I think the subject matter is above grade six. However, this is one of those reads that would delight an early middle school reader as much as it did me. It’s a beautiful and sweet short story.

It’s a Yuletide Miracle, Charlie Brown by Stephanie Perkins

A new author for me that I discovered because she edited the collection of short holiday stories in which Midnight was the first. Aimed at teens and up, it was just absolutely delightful to read.

My True Love Gave to Me: Twelve Holiday Stories at Amazon.com

My True Love Gave to Me: Twelve Holiday Stories at Amazon,ca

2014 best books for middle grades including Will Grayson, Will GraysonWill Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green

I can’t read Fault in Our Stars. I know my limits, I read within them. However, I’ve read just about everything else he’s published. This one is my favourite by him. It’s an excellent teen read that speaks to acceptance, diversity, adversity, and the amazing relationships that can stem from being in the same place at the same time.

Will Grayson, Will Grayson at Amazon.com

Will Grayson, Will Grayson at Amazon.ca

2014 best books for middle grades Including Are You There God? It's Me MargaretAre you there God, it’s me, Margaret by Judy Blume

I re read this for the first time in many, many years. I wanted to read it with my daughter and I was so pleased she enjoyed it as much as I did, both then and now. If there was a “what’s it like to become a teenage girl” book award, this would be it.

Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret at Amazon.com

Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret at Amazon.ca

2014 best books for middle grades including Hook’s Revenge by Heidi SchulzHook’s Revenge by Heidi Schulz

This is a fun book with quirky characters that made the students laugh. Determined to avenge her father’s death, Jocelyn sets out on an adventure that teaches her as much about herself as it does about her past.

Hook’s Revenge, Book 1 at Amazon.com

Hook’s Revenge, Book 1 Hook’s Revenge at Amazon.ca

2014 best books for middle grades including Dork DiariesDork Diaries by Rachel Renee Russell

I started reading these with my daughter this last year. They are laugh out loud funny and so easy to connect with. Nikki is a great character and the teen drama she faces, and how she deals with it, is authentic.

Dork Diaries Box Set (Book 1-3) at Amazon.com

Dork Diaries Box Set (Book 1-3): Dork Diaries at Amazon.ca

2014 best books for middle grades Including Sisters by Raina TelgemeierSisters by Raina Telgemeier

My 11 year old read this first and then I read it with my 8 year old. It’s funny and cute and true to life in that, it’s not always easy being a family. But, when you need them, they’re there.

Sisters at Amazon.com

Sisters at Amazon.ca

2014 best books for middle grades Including FrindleFrindle by Andrew Clements

This is an awesome book. I read it with my 8 year old and it made me laugh even as it opened the door to great conversations with her. The main character makes up a new word for what we call a “pen”. A great read about the power of words and how they impact our actions.

Frindle at Amazon.com

Frindle at Amazon.ca

2014 best books for middle grades Including Wonder Wonder by R.J. Palacio

I haven’t even finished this book but I can tell you without one tiny hint of doubt that it will be one of the best reads ever. Not just this year.

Wonder at Amazon.com

Wonder at Amazon.ca

Picture Books

(contrary to some beliefs, these are not only for small children)

2014 best books for middle grades including This Plus ThatThis plus That: Life’s little equations by Amy Krouse Rosenthal and Jen Corace

A sweet and fun read with adorable pictures that highlights math vocabulary even as it shows kids how things are connected. Me+ Writing= Happy.

This Plus That: Life’s Little Equations at Amazon.com

2014 best books for middle grades Including Those ShoesThose Shoes by Maribeth Beolts

This one was read to me and I have to say, I still love being read to. This is a great one to open kids eyes to the power of empathy and giving.

Those Shoes at Amazon.com

Those Shoes at Amazon.ca

The Invisible Boy by Trudy LudwigThe Invisible Boy by Trudy Ludwig and Patrice Barton

This story is a little bittersweet. You feel bad for the little boy with no friends, but love the fact that he’s okay in his own little world. Also worth noting, the color comes as friendship brightens his life which is beautiful, literally and figuratively.

The Invisible Boy at Amazon.com

The Invisible Boy at Amazon.ca

Storytime Standouts suggests The Very Inappropriate Word written by Jim Tobin and illustrated by Dave CoverlyThe very inappropriate word by Jim Tobin and Dave Coverly

Full of great vocabulary, this book is funny. I’ve read it several times and it’s a great way to get kids to look at the power of words and language.

The Very Inappropriate Word at Amazon.com

The Very Inappropriate Word at Amazon.ca

What Do You Do with an Idea?What do you do with an idea? by Kobi Yamada and Mae Besom

My school librarian shared this book with me and it is such a tangible idea to show how when your brain gets locked on an idea, sometimes you have to go with it.

What Do You Do With an Idea? at Amazon.com

What Do You Do with an Idea? at Amazon.ca

Books I can’t wait to read in 2015

Fish in a TreeFish in a Tree – Linda Mullaly Hunt

The name is part of one of my favourite quotes so of course I’m drawn to it. That and the fact that her book One for the Murphys was one of my favourite reads of 2013.

Mark of the ThiefMark of the Thief – Jennifer A. Nielsen

I think I need to read this one on my own before with my class. When I read the Ascendance Trilogy, I got so hooked that we might have missed some math lessons.

 

What are some of your favorite kids reads this year? Anything you’re looking forward to? Also, in an openly shameless bid for self-promotion, I hope to one day make it onto one of your favorite lists. Either with the adult books I have coming out in 2015 or with the picture book, SWEET DREAM SISTERS, that will be available in 2016. Have a very, Happy well-read 2015.

 

Storytime Standouts - Raising Children Who Love to Read

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