Thursday, December 29, 2011

Feature and Follow Friday 12/30

Feature & Follow Friday is hosted by Parajunkee's View and Alison Can Read. It's a fun way to gain followers and meet other bloggers.
This week:
Question of the Week: The New Year is here -- and everyone wants to know your New Years Blogging Resolution! What are you going to try to revise, revamp and redo for 2012 on your blog?
A. I really love this question because I've been thinking about this a lot lately. I have been very fortunate to have a steady (overflowing) stream of review requests. While I enjoy reading these books, I have had a hard time keeping up with all the requests and still finding time to focus on my main goal: writing my novel.
I know I'm not the only blogger/writer out there. There are tons of us. It's a natural progression from voracious book reader to aspiring writer. The problem occurs when my free time is factored in. I have about 3-4 hours after my kids have gone to bed to read/write/blog/social network/think about doing housework but never actually do it. And that's if I'm staying up waaaay later than I should be. When I've told someone that I will review their book I feel like that takes priority. Which means writing doesn't always happen for me.
So finally to my Resolution: Accept fewer requests (ouch...this is hurting already), have a wider variety of posts on the blog, and *stands proud, gazing into the distance* write my novel.
:-)
Any other writers out there struggling to find that perfect balance?

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Giveaway and Interview: James A. West, author of The God King

About the Author:
When James was thirteen years old he read The Talisman, by Stephen King, and a seed of an idea was planted that someday he, too, wanted to create different worlds and realities. After a stint in the US Army, a year as a long-haul truck driver, and a couple as a log home builder, he enrolled at the University of Montana. There, he majored in Psychology and, by chance, took a creative writing course that allowed him to revisit that idea of writing. Words started to flow, and worlds were born. After college, he started a small woodworking business with the express purpose of using it to fund his writing journey. James lives in Montana with his wife and his bodyguard, a Mini-Schnauzer named Jonesy.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
My Tower of Books: I am excited to have the author of The God King, James West here on my blog today! I'm only about halfway through his book right now (review to come, of course), but I can already tell you it's amazing. He is a great writer, and I will be looking for more of his books in the future.
Moving on :-) James has been so kind as to answer a few questions. So, here we go!
First off, how many story ideas do you have bouncing around in your head right now?
James West: Let me start by saying that I am extremely grateful to you for setting up this interview, and that your questions are awesome!

Now, as for number of story ideas in my head, the short answer is too many. For as long as I can remember, “what if” ideas just pop into my head without any conscious effort. When I begin a new project, I have to force myself to disregard most ideas, which keeps my writing from jumping
all over the place. When a given project is done, I let the ideas flow again. Luckily, they always do. I guess you could say I listen to the voices inside my head!
My Tower of Books: What sort of things inspire you? Music, nature, reading, life in general?
James West: Life, historical or present, is my go-to motivation. One thing I have learned through studying history and observing present life is that humanity, given enough time, always seems to come back around to the same kind of actions. The technology might change, but our motivations really don’t seem to. Music is an interesting choice, as well, because I use it as both a tool and inspiration. It allows me to capture a given mood, which I then transfer to my writing.

MToB: Is Fantasy the genre you read most often? What are you reading right now?
James: While I predominately write fantasy, I rarely read it. When I first started writing in earnest—and I suppose it probably holds true even now—one bit of advice was to read the genre in which you wrote. In following that, I felt that my creativity was stifled, and I inevitably ended up with a variation on a theme.

As to what I am reading now, suffice it to say with the advent of the eReader, I have started reading genres I never would have considered before. While I still enjoy a lot of my favorite bestsellers, I really like indie authors, because in them I feel that the reader has a better chance of being exposed to unique perspectives.
MToB: When did you realize that writing was not just something you wanted to do, but something you were good at?
James: That is a tough one. The short answer is when I took a creative writing class in college. To me I was just a face in the crowd, but then my wife, who specializes in a completely different field, told me about a work-study student in her lab who literally freaked out when he found out she was married to me. Apparently he was extremely excited by just about everything I wrote. Now, having said that, I have never considered myself a good writer, only adequate. That is as high as I will ever consider myself, because after I finish a story, I still see all the warts and blemishes, and I know where I failed to put into words what I saw in my head and felt in my heart. Besides that, if I doubt my skill, then it forces me to strive to do better the next time. If I ever get to where I think I am a great writer, I am pretty sure that will be when my writing goes downhill.
MToB: Are you an outlining kind of author? Or do you just go with the flow?
James: I would say it is a mixed bag. I usually do a rough outline, with the bullet points serving as guideposts. This may sound clichéd, but for me the story always ends up taking over. Past experience has taught me to keep a light but steady hand on the reins. If I give the story its head, it will gallop off, and those separate bullet points have the potential of becoming stories all by themselves. If I am too firm, my writing loses vitality, color, becomes formulaic.
MToB: What can somebody expect when they read your book, The God King?
James: When I started this project, I was looking into the dark ages which, I discovered, tends to be dark in the sense that there is little known about them. Simply put, when a dark age falls, survival becomes key, trumping all else—when you need food and shelter, there is little time or effort spent chronicling day to day experiences.
In The God King, the end of the world starts unfolding from the outset, when a power never meant for mortal hands is unleashed upon the world of men. In this, you could actually consider The God King a prequel. My intention is to let the effects of this power, coupled with human motivations and the need to survive another day, flavor everything else that I write in this world.
With all that said, I don’t know about expectations, but I definitely hope readers discover a new, gripping, and fast-paced fantasy realm. Naturally there are fantasy elements in The God King, but I purposefully veered away from elves, dwarves, wizards, and unlikely/reluctant heroes that save the day at the last possible moment. Neither is my novel set in mediaeval Europe, but rather moves between vast swamps and expansive deserts, all of which are being torn apart by celestial and terrestrial forces. Without question, The God King sets up a world falling into darkness, but in that gloom there is and always will be points of light and hope.
MToB: Do you have fun writing the villains in your stories?
James: I try not to, but I really do.
MToB: What are your hobbies, besides writing?
James: I like studying history, because it gives me an idea where we are going. I know it has been said before, but there is nothing new under the sun, and history really does repeat itself. Depending on where a given society is at the moment, and of course your personal outlook, that can be scary or exciting. As for traditional hobbies, I have lived the majority of my life in a rural setting, so I enjoy all the usual outdoorsy stuff. My wife and I like to fly-fish together, and we like to take Jonesy, our Mini-Schnauzer, with us. He is so funny. He likes to dig up the spiders that hide under the rocks on the river bank. I also have a woodshop, from which I used to make my
living. I have since decided that it serves me better as a hobby, rather than a business. My wife likes it because she gets a houseful of furniture for free!
MToB: James, thanks again for taking the time to answer these questions!
To connect with James A. West check him out on his
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Now for the Giveaway!

James West has been so gracious and has given me ten (TEN) eBook copies of The God King to give away to my wonderful readers! I can vouch that this is a great find and will make a lovely addition to your digital library.

The Rules:

This is an easy one! The first 10 people to comment on this post will receive a copy of The God King in the eBook format of their choice. Don't forget to leave your e-mail address in your comment. See, very simple :-)

Alright, comment away, everyone!

Giveaway Winners for When Grandma's False Teeth Fly!


Congratulations to:
Stephanie P.
aLmYbNeNr
Marybelle
Jessi E.
&
Anonymous
Thanks so much for participating!! I'll be e-mailing the winners to notify them.
I hope you enjoy your cute, little copy of this book :-)

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Review: I Love You More....Than Chocolate by Melanie Milburn

Synopsis:
This book was originally a song, and inside the back cover, you have a CD of Melanie singing the song. When Melanie would tuck her children into bed at night, she made sure they knew how much they were loved. She told them she loved them more than anything even chocolate! Her children knew she was a chocoholic, so they had no doubt, they knew they were loved! Every child wants to know they are loved, and this book conveys what parents want their children to know in a way that speaks clearly and impressively to the child's mind and heart.

Review:
This is such a sweet book! I think I've read it almost 20 times to my kids after having it for about a week. It's got great illustrations to go along with the words and phrases. The pictures help kids recognize what's coming up in the story, and they can really get into following along.

A cd of the author singing the song that goes with the book is on the back cover. The song is word for word what is written in the book. It's all the things the mother tells her daughter before bed. I love you more than...chocolate. The song is great, and we've listened to it so much! Again, it's easy for kids to sing along with and really get into :-) I believe we listened to this song the whole 45 minute drive to my parents' house. Pretty catchy tune!

A great book (and song) that kids will want to hear again and again!

Publication Date: December 6, 2010
Genre: Children's Fiction/Picture Book
Source: Thanks to the author, Melanie Milburn, for my review copy!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Feature and Follow Friday 12/23

Feature & Follow Friday is hosted by Parajunkee and Alison Can Read. Head over to their blogs to join in the following fun.




This week:


Q: If you had to spend eternity inside the pages of a book which book would you choose and why?




A: I have to go with the world from the Night Huntress series by Jeaniene Frost. There are some very obvious down sides to being forever within the pages of these books but . . . Bones . . .


Ahem! Hrrrm! I decided the perks outweigh the danger and whatnot.


;-)



What book do you want to jump into (and never come back)?

Review: Broken Wings by Sandra Edwards

Synopsis:
Rio Laraquette thought the legend was nothing more than an enchanted tale about star-crossed lovers who left behind a fortune. That is, until she figures out that she—in a past life—was the culprit who stole a shipment of gold and silver and buried it somewhere in the hills of northern Nevada.

While searching for the treasure, Rio's heart begins to ache for a man who's been dead more than one hundred years. They say time heals all wounds, but what if it doesn't...?

Review:
Before I even get into the story, I have to mention that cover...not too bad, huh? Moving on, this is a romance novel with class, and it was a really fun read.

Rio Laraquette is a lot of different things. She's strong, independent, and just the right amount of vulnerable. I also saw her as a risk-taker. I like reading about this type of person since I am definitely not a taker of risks. She starts off as a treasure hunter, looking for gold that was buried a long time ago. As she gets pulled deeper into the history of the Native American family, the Tajans, she realizes she is connected to the treasure in an unbelieveable way. Billy Tajan was great as her helpful, caring cousin. Plus, I have a hard time finding any flaws with a hottie type Native American. I love how Rio and Billy's stories played out in the end.

A fun and entertaining read. The end of Broken Wings makes me excited to think of where the next book will take Rio. I love me some Romance!

Publication Date: September 15, 2010
Genre: Adult, Romance
Source: Thanks to the author, Sandra Edwards, for my review copy.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Review: Heir to the Sun by Jennifer Allis Provost

Synopsis:
The Faerie King has entered into a pact with the demon lord, trading his people's freedom for the might to conquer the nine realms. Two unlikely allies are determined to stop him: Asherah, enslaved by demons, and Caol'nir, a warrior sworn to defend the king.

When Asherah, stripped of both her memory and her dignity, learns that King Sahlgren is responsible for her captivity, she leads her fellow slaves in a daring escape and burns their prison to the ground. Then she learns that there are many more prisons across Parthalan, and embarks upon a campaign to free every last faerie.

In stark contrast to Asherah's struggles, Caol'nir lives the comfortable life of a temple guard. He is sworn to serve and defend the king, as his ancestors have done since time immemorial. Now a priestess has been murdered, and Caol'nir learns that Sahlgren's scheming is to blame. Determined to thwart the king, sacred oath or no, Caol'nir joins Asherah's rebellion. What Caol'nir doesn't know is that Sahlgren has promised the demon lord a woman of rare and singular beauty, a woman who is rumored to be the sun god's daughter. She also happens to be Caol'nir's mate

Review:
I really love reading good Fantasy novels written by women. Don't get me wrong, I mean, a lot of my favorite Fantasy authors are male . . . but it's refreshing to get a woman's perspective on things. This novel showcases two couples and their love set within a wonderfully created world with rich history and background.

The thing that stuck out to me the most was how engaged I was with the relationships. There's Caol'nir and Alluria with their forbidden yet sweet love. I loved every minute of them in the book. But what stole the show was Lormac and Asherah. I was kind of mad that Lormac wasn't real because he is absolutely perfect. A powerful king that has every excuse to be self-centered and demanding, but he is caring and gentle and LOVES Asherah more than anything. Lest I only mention the love-y parts of the story *sheepish grin*, the entire plot is fantastic and original. Plain and simple, I just thought this book was great.

For any readers that might be hesitant to read the sometimes-daunting genre of Fantasy, I think this is a good one to pick up. There's nothing too complicated as far as the world-building goes, which leaves you free to enjoy the characters and their stories.

Publication Date: August 9, 2011
Genre: Adult, Fantasy, Romance
Source: Thanks to the author, Jennifer Allis Provost, for my review copy.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Review and Giveaway: When Grandma's False Teeth Fly by Mary Lee

Synopsis:
Katie is not a little girl anymore—she is six years old! But some mean girls at school still tease her about her chipped baby tooth. Katie seeks advice from her grandma, who will tell her a hilarious story that encourages her to use humor instead of anger or sadness to solve her problems. Join Katie and Grandma for a touching, funny, and inspiring story about When Grandma's False Teeth Fly.

Review:
I have a special place in my heart for books I can read with my kids. When I told them the name of this book they were SO excited to read it (and I might have been excited too :-)

Let's face it. Kids can be really (REALLY) mean to each other, and a lot of times it's about something that can't be controlled. In this case, Katie has a cutie little chip in her tooth, and some girls at school make fun of her. Good ol' Grandma to the rescue. She helps her Katie understand that people can only make you feel bad if you let them. Plus, laughter is something that can cure even a chipped tooth.

I read this to my kids, and they loved it! Sometimes a children's book is touching and sweet to the adult reading it, but doesn't translate into something the child actually feels like reading. The illustrations are adorable and easy to follow. A great book to share with that special, little someone (or two . . . or three) in your life.


Ready for the 'Giveaway' part?


The author has been so generous as to provide FIVE copies of this darling book for me to give away!


How to enter:


Leave a comment about why you'd like the book, and don't forget to leave your e-mail address so I can get in touch with you. The winner will be chosen using Random.org.


Giveaway ends: December 27th


Good luck, everyone!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Blogger Interview With . . . Me :-)


I'm a featured blogger over at Heidi Ruby Miller's blog today! She is the author of Ambasadora (see my Review) and an all around nice person. Head over to her blog, Just a Girl to see my (first) interview! :-)

Friday, December 16, 2011

Review: Dangerous Reflections by Shay Fabbro

Synopsis:
Alexis Davenport wants to go home. She hates her new school, her mother for moving her away from her friends, living in her aunt's guesthouse, and her father for walking out.

To make matters worse, Alex is haunted by the images of strange girls reflected in her mirror. It is bad enough juggling homework, a relentless bully, boys, and a deadbeat dad.

Now, she must save the world from an evil presence hell-bent on changing the past - and our futures. Who knew her A+ in history was going to be this important?

Review:
Dangerous Reflections has a storyline that is really unique. I always like when I read something that's new to me.

Alex is transitioning to a new school after her dad walks out on her and her mom. She is overwhelmed by the changes taking place as she goes to a new school and tries to fit in. As if that's not enough to deal with, she accidentally travels back in time and takes over the body of someone from the past. She meets another time traveller that is trying to change different parts of history, and it's her job to stop him.

I liked the relationship Alex has with her friends in the book. She finds out that she can face all the bullying and meanness as long as she has their support. Her friend Jennifer really stood out as the loyal bestie. I also liked the development at the end of the book with Alex's love interest changing. I really liked Drake and hope that he turns out to be what he appears . . . but then again, what fun would that be?

I'm interested to see where the story goes in the next book in this series!

Publication Date: June 5, 2011
Genre: Young Adult
Source: Thank you to the author, Shay Fabbro, for my review copy!

Feature and Follow Friday 12/16

Feature & Follow Friday is a fun meme found at Parajunkee's View and Alison Can Read. Head over to one of their blogs and check out how to join in.


This week:

Question of the Week: When you've read a book, what do you do with it? (Keep it, give it away, donate it, sell it, swap it..?)


Answer: I really enjoy giving books away. It's really fun to read a great book and then be able to give it to someone else. Once they've read it and know how awesome it is, you can have amazingly nerdfully great talks about it. Everybody wins ;-)


It had never even crossed my mind to sell a book to someone. If it's a series I want to proudly display on my bookshelves (or, more realistically, display in a haphazard pile on the side of my bed) then I will lend them out and hope they come back to me one day.


Where do your books end up?

Monday, December 12, 2011

Review: Sacrifice by Alexandrea Weis

Synopsis:
Nicci Beauvoir fell in love with the artist, David Alexander, in To My Senses, and then uncovered his killer in Recovery. Nicci is back to finally confront David’s dark past in Sacrifice. Stunned after seeing a man she believes to be her beloved David Alexander in a crowd outside of the St. Louis Cathedral, Nicci goes on a desperate hunt for the truth about David’s demise. But to get the information she desires, Nicci must team up with David’s former boss, the ruthless Simon La Roy. Nicci decides not to tell her fiancĂ©, Dallas August, about her involvement with Simon. As Nicci becomes hopelessly entangled in Simon’s sinister plans, Dallas discovers her secret, and tries to protect her. But one night on a deserted French Quarter street, Nicci unexpectedly learns what really happened to David Alexander. Now she must engage in a deadly game of intrigue to keep what she has unearthed from Simon La Roy.

In a final confrontation, a revengeful Simon forces Nicci to choose between her life and revealing all that she has discovered. But what mystery is Nicci protecting and is it worth her future happiness? For Nicci there can be no happy ending unless she keeps what she knows about David Alexander hidden from the world. It’s a decision that will cost her everything. Is Nicci willing to pay the price? In the end, there can never be a happily ever after without a little…sacrifice.

Review:
I haven't read any mystery/romances in a while, but this one might get me started again. This is the third book in this series, but if you haven't read the other two you won't be lost. The author deftly catches new readers up without annoying the people that have read the other books :-)

From the opening scene, I was interested in the characters and the story. Nicci finds herself at her cousins wedding being harrassed by her family to marry Dallas. Nicci loves him but can't committ. Mainly because she is still in love with David . . . who has been dead for three years. This obviously complicates things. It's pretty hard to compete with someone that's dead and gone. Her character is in a battle with her emotions, heart and mind. Add in some intrigue and betrayal and the story is complete.

I read Sacrifice pretty quickly because I really wanted to find out what was going to happen. An entertaining book with a lot of great characters. I'll be interested to see where the next book takes Nicci.

Publication Date: October 1, 2011
Genre: Adult, Mystery, Romance
Source: Thanks to the author, Alexandrea Weis, for my review copy!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Review: Mo Wren, Lost and Found by Tricia Springstubb

Synopsis:
Mo Wren knew that eventually she, her dad, and her sister, Wild Child Dottie, would have to move from beloved Fox Street. She just never expected it to happen so soon.

At the Wrens’ new place, things are very different. The name of the street—East 213th—has absolutely zero magic. And there’s no Mrs. Petrone to cut her hair, no Pi Baggott to teach her how to skateboard, no Green Kingdom to explore. She’s having trouble fitting in at her new school and spending a lot of time using the corner bus shelter for her Thinking Spot. Worst of all, Mo discovers that the ramshackle restaurant Mr. Wren bought is cursed. Only Dottie, with her new friends and pet lizard, Handsome, is doing the dance of joy.

For the first time in her life, Mo feels lost and out of place. It’s going to take a boy who tells whoppers, a Laundromat with a mysterious owner, a freak blizzard, and some courage to help her find her way home for good.

Review:
This was such a sweet and touching story. It's the sequel to What Happened On Fox Street, but it can easily be read as a stand alone. I guarantee after you read Mo Wren, Lost and Found that you will really want to pick up the first one!

We find Mo Wren about to leave her home on Fox Street. Her house and the surrounding neighbors have been the anchor for everything in her life, and now she has to figure out what to do with herself in a different place. She is bombarded with uncertainties and doesn't give herself the credit she deserves. She faces these things with a maturity and grace that she is completely blind to until later on in the book. Carmella sees that in her from the beginning. I loved Carmella for seeing the beautiful parts of her Soap Opera customers when they don't see it themselves.

A great book for any age. Middle graders will enjoy the story and can relate to Mo and the things she deals with. Older readers will be touched by the authentic, coming-of-age themes found throughout the book.

Publication Date: September 1, 2011
Genre: Middle Grade, Realistic Fiction, Coming-of-Age
Source: Thanks so much to the author, Tricia Springstubb, for my review copy!

Friday, December 9, 2011

Review: The Boy Who Flew With Eagles by Ben Woodard

Synopsis:
An adventure story of a boy challenged to save a family of eagles or become their meal. With famine looming for animals and humans, the boy works to feed the eagles and learns their wisdom. As a reward for his help, he asks the eagles to teach him to fly. The book depicts his struggle, both mentally and physically, to fly and convince his people that fewer salmon each year are due to their actions. The story combines myth, environmental awareness and the concept of working together. It is a short middle grade novel.

Review:
This is a book specifically geared towards reluctant readers. Mainly middle grade boys. It's a short novel with an easily read story that won't intimidate someone that is hesitant to pick up a book. I love that the author is putting the time and effort into getting kids to enjoy reading (especially those boys).

The story is about a boy that ends up living with eagles for a time. He helps them find food for survival, but he gains a lot in return for his efforts. There is an underlying theme of being conscious of how we use our resources. It presents a positive message without feeling preachy.

A quick, adventurous read that will boost the confidence of those reluctant middle grade readers :-)

Publication Date: November 6, 2011
Genre: Middle Grade, Adventure
Source: Thanks to the author, Ben Woodard, for my review copy!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Follow Friday 12/9

Feature & Follow Friday is a fun meme hosted by Parajunkee's View and Alison Can Read. Head over to their blogs to find out how you can join in the fun.



This Week:

Question: Keeping with the Spirit of Giving this season, what book do you think EVERYONE should read and if you could, you would buy it for all of your family and friends?


Answer: Without a doubt I would want everyone to read Delirium by Lauren Oliver. I guess buying them the book would be a good way to get them to read it :-) It might be the most beautiful book I've read. I more than loved it! If you haven't read it, buy it for yourself for Christmas.


What book would you like to put under the tree for all your friends this year?

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Review: The Secret of Lies by Barbara Forte Abate

Synopsis:
Propelled by an insurmountable sense of desperation, Stevie Burke is recklessly abandoning home, husband, and outwardly contented life under cover of night; at last resigned to defeat in her long battle against the tortured memories of her past.

Days later, lost and floundering in a dreary motel room without plan or destination, it is a long ago song playing on the radio that gently tugs Stevie back through the dust of remembrance. 1957 - The last summer spent at the ancient house overlooking the North Atlantic. A season which had unfolded with abundant promise, but then spiraled horribly out of control - torn apart by a shattering tragedy that remains splintered in fragments upon her soul. And it is only now, when Stevie at last lifts her eyes to stare deep into the heart of her long sequestered memories, that the long held secrets of past and future are at last unveiled.

Review:
This is a beautifully told tale of a girl's journey down the twisted path of her life. In this book you get to see the good and the bad. All the things that shape a child into an adult.

You first meet Stevie as an adult, basically running from her own life. At this point it is unclear what the reason is, but you get the idea that she places the blame on herself. She hears a song on the radio that triggers the memories of her past. The story is truly about her journey from a teenager TO the lost and broken woman in the hotel.

The first part is her remembering the summers she spent with her sister at their aunt & uncle's beach house. She experiences so many amazing things, but one year events take a horrible turn. The second part you get to see Stevie at her own home. Followed by all the events leading up to her flight from her husband. She discovers that old guilt and blame never have positive results. While reading, I got to watch Stevie grow up, and be a part of her life. I was sad to see it end.

The story slowly unfolds like honey from a jar. I really felt like I got to know Stevie, maybe better than she knew herself, during the course of reading The Secret of Lies.

Publication Date: April 21, 2010
Genre: Coming-of-Age Fiction, Adult Fiction
Source: Thanks so much to the author, Barbara Forte Abate, for my review copy!

Giveaway Winners - The Last Three



Congratulations to:


Kathy N.
Paul M.
Milton P.
Jessi E.
and
Rachel M.

The winners will each receive an e-book copy of The Last Three. They will be contacted by e-mail. Enjoy, guys!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Guest Post: Are Zombies The New Vampires?

Are Zombies The New Vampires? A Guest Post by Rusty Fischer, author of Vamplayers and Zombies Don’t Cry

I recently attended a horror convention where I was on an author panel called “How to Survive a Zombie Apocalypse.” Now, I was on several other author panels that weekend – how to write for YA, writing supernatural for YA, etc. – and there were a dozen or two people in each one. Not bad, but the zombie apocalypse panel? HUGE. I mean, standing room only, hanging out in the halls just to catch a word huge.

Probably 100 or more people crammed into one of those little hotel conference rooms. It was a great experience, sharing the panel with some bonafide zombie experts and a real live – sorry, living dead – zombie! But I couldn’t help feeling a *little* like an imposter.

I mean, these were hardcore zombie fans; some were even wearing makeup and all were out for blood, if you know what I mean. I couldn’t help but feel that if any of them actually got their hands on a copy of Zombies Don’t Cry, well, forget the zombies – they’d be tearing me limb from limb!

It made me think how far zombies had come from the day, two years earlier, when I’d consciously chosen to sit down and write a zombie story. Back then, of course, zombies weren’t the hottest ticket in town – it was vampires.

In fact, the whole reason I decided to write about zombies in the first place was because they were the literary underdogs at the time. Back then you pretty much had Stacey Jay, Amanda Ashby and the Generation Dead series; period. E. Van Lowe’s Never Slow Dance With a Zombie was brand new when I first sat down to write Zombies Don’t Cry. And now look at us. You literally can’t turn around these days without hitting a new zombie YA release.

Don’t get me wrong; I love it because you’re seeing all these new and exciting variations on the zombie themes, like the great things Jonathan Mayberry is doing with Rot & Ruin and exciting things happening like Warm Bodies being made into a movie.

But I’m wondering how long it’s going to be before the same folks who said “no more vampires” a few years ago are going to say “no more zombies”! So I have to ask… are zombies the new vampires?

It’s funny because if you have the word “zombies” in your title, all different kinds of people are going to read it. (You know, if you’re lucky and all that!) And some of them will be open and curious to read a new take on zombies, and others will want their hardcore zombie fix of blood and guts and BBBBRRRRAAAAIIIINNNNSSSS!!!!

Maybe that’s true of all genres, though. When I read a new vampire book, I’m generally looking for some twist on the genre, something unique and original, like Fat Vampire or The Reformed Vampire Support Group. But I’m sure there are many, many more folks who are looking for straight up love triangle, suck your neck, garlic and stake vampires as well.

But lots of folks, if you don’t write “their” type of zombie; look out – bad reviews a’ comin’. But I don’t think zombies are going anywhere soon. For one, there’s a lot of mythology and world-building left to do. Vampires have been around, it seems, forever. But zombies are fairly recent phenomenon and I think folks are enjoying the world building a lot – both writers and readers. And Hollywood seems downright obsessed with zombies, so that’s a good thing if they keep making good movies like Zombieland, and I have high hopes for World War Z.

Either way, I think I’m Team Zombie on this one. I can’t hate on vampires, though. I’ve got a few more vampire books in the pipeline, and I enjoyed writing them very, very much. It’s fun to work within the old lore and still try to do something new. But there’s something about zombies that keeps me coming back for more. I guess because, no matter how popular they’ve become, there’s still a lot of catching up to do if they want to be as popular, or even “cool,” as their vampire brothers and sisters.

So I guess, even though it may not seem like it at times, zombies are still the supernatural underdogs. And I’m always on the underdog’s side! How about you?

Yours in YA,

Rusty

About the author: Rusty Fischer is the author of several YA supernatural novels, including Zombies Don’t Cry, Ushers, Inc., Vamplayers, I Heart Zombie and Panty Raid @ Zombie High. Visit his blog, www.zombiesdontblog.blogspot.com, for news, reviews, cover leaks, writing and publishing advice, book excerpts and more!


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Thanks from My Tower of Books to Rusty Fischer for the time and effort put into this post. Very interesting stuff :-D

Friday, December 2, 2011

Follow Friday 12/2

Feature & Follow Friday is hosted by Parajunkee's View and Alison Can Read. Both great blogs. Head over to one of them and find out how to join in!

This week:
Question: What is your biggest pet peeve when it comes to books? Maybe you don't like love triangles or thin plots? Tell us about it!

Answer: This will probably be a popular answer, but I get really annoyed when the plot is revealed in a very clumsy way. Especially when it's mainly through the dialogue. Basically it boils down to the basic writing rule of 'show, don't tell'. Show me! Don't spell it all out for me from the beginning. I ain't no dummy :-)

What gets on your nerves most??

Review: Everything You Need to Survive the Apocalypse by Lucas Klauss

Synopsis:
Phillip's sophomore year is off to a rough start. One of his best friends ditches him for a group of douchebags. His track coach singles him out for personalized, torturous training sessions. And his dad decides to clean out all of the emergency supplies from the basement, even though the world could end in disaster at any moment...and even though those supplies are all Phillip has left of his dead mom. Not that he wants to talk about that.

But then Phillip meets Rebekah. Not only is she unconventionally hot and smart, but she has seriously great boobs. And she might like him back.

As Phillip gets closer to Rebekah, he tries harder and harder to turn himself into the kind of person he thinks she wants him to be. But the question is, can he become that person? And does he really want to?


Review:
Let me just say, the title and cover of this book will mean so much more to you after reading the book. It is so heartfelt and real.

Philip Flowers tells this story, and he tells it like a dude. As a girl, there are still a lot of mysterious things about the opposite sex that I just don't get. How they interact is very alien to me and also very fascinating. That is such a strong driving force in this book, and I loved it. It was like peeking into a window to the male mind :-)

Philip Flowers is a real boy. He really was an actual person to me. This is a boy that you could meet anywhere, and he has the same issues and questions that we all have had at some point. He's not sure what he believes about life and God. He finds faith...and then doubt. Not just in regards to God and religion, but faith and doubt in people. His friends and his family.

I would say this book has a strong religious message, except I'm not sure that it does. What I took away from it was that belief isn't about what people tell you to believe, but something that you have questioned and come to truly believe for yourself. Philip has to make this decision, and I won't say what he ends up deciding since I don't want to spoil anything. But I was really engaged in his journey for truth and answers.

A lot of great things to be found in Everything You Need to Survive the Apocalypse. A true to life coming-of-age story.

Publication Date: January 3, 2012
Genre: Young Adult, Realistic Fiction, Contemporary Fiction
Source: Thanks so much to Simon & Schuster for my eARC!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Review: Ambasadora by Heidi Ruby Miller

Synopsis:
If everyone told you love wasn't real, would you still be willing to die for it?

Citizens of a six-moon system in our arm of the Milky Way don't remember Earth, only the History of a generational worldship culture. In their multi-partner society a caste system rules tradition, but the governing body of the Embassy rules everything else. Obsessed with celebrity, beauty, and power, relationships and conceptions are based more on DNA than emotional ties...or should be.

What the citizenry can't escape are the human feelings of love and jealousy that turn the sterile to honorable suicide, force a couple to make the ultimate sacrifice, and allow rebels to spin their world into a violent revolution.

Ambasadora Sara Mendoza becomes the unwilling face of this revolution. Captured, tortured, and given a second chance at freedom, she proves that sacrifice for the man she loves is more honorable than sacrifice to a society's antiquated mores.

Review:
The setting in Ambasadora is so unique and interesting. It grabbed my attention from the start of the book. I like when an author puts a new spin on a genre. There were alot of little details that added up to create a rich environment with characters that I loved.

There are a few different view points throughout the story, and they are all strong. There was never one I just wanted to 'get through' so I could read about someone else. (You know you've read books like that too. . . :-) Everyone in this book is looking for something. Whether it's love, power, change, a way to forget the past, or to find a better future. They cross paths at different points and impact each others lives. Sara is used and abused and finds her entire life philosophy questioned. When she meets the sensitive drug-using Sean, she finds the other side to her own battered coin. I love their storyline.

Rainer was someone I wanted to like, but he just couldn't actually be a nice guy. He let what people would think and how it would affect his position ruin his chance at something more real than the 'love' their society told them was right. Sara made him question the very foundations of his existence, and he faced the choice. Love or duty.

This isn't just a Sci-Fi book. It's a Sci-Fi love story. Well-written and engaging, it is one to check out.

Publication Date: May 3, 2011
Genre: Science Fiction, Romance
Source: Thanks so much to the author, Heidi Ruby Miller, for my review copy!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Review: Zombies Don't Cry by Rusty Fischer

Synopsis:
In the sleepy small town of Barracuda Bay, Maddy Swift leads the life of a fairly typical teenager, but while attending a party one night, Maddy is struck by lightning and awakens to realize she has been reanimated and turned into a zombie. While becoming acquainted with her new "lifestyle," Maddy stumbles upon two unexpected undead chaperones, fellow students Dane and Chloe, who begin to teach her the ways of zombie life, including defending the populace from Zerkers—the bad zombies. Together, on prom night, the three teens must ultimately defend Barracuda Bay High from an all-out zombie Armageddon.

Review:
I love zombies. It verges on obssession. Strangely enough, I haven't read a whole lot of zombie novels. Finding out about a YA zombie novel made me very (very) happy. This is such a fresh take on the undead, and it is a really enjoyable read.

Maddy's voice throughout the book is humorous and easy to relate to. She is a typical high school girl with a quirky best friend and a crush on the hot football player. Just when things seem to be going her way, Bam . . . Hello, newest member of the undead. Don't you hate when that happens?

There are 'good' zombies and 'bad' zombies which is an idea that I love. The good zombies are just like us, aside from the whole eating brains thing. This also makes it possible to have some undead romance that is truly believable. A crush-worthy dead guy? This book has that.

If you're not sure how you feel about the whole zombie thing, I think this is a great book to pick up and get in touch with your inner zombie lover :-) A fun book, and I highly recommend trying it out.

Publication Date: May 1, 2011
Genre: Young Adult, Paranormal, Romance
Source: Thanks to author, Rusty Fischer, for my review copy!

Giveaway! The Last Three by Almon Chu

I am pleased to be hosting a Giveaway of The Last Three! I have FIVE digital copies of this little gem of a short novel up for grabs. Not into short novels? That probably means you haven't tried them! :-)

This Giveaway will run from November 27th through December 5th. The winners will be announced on December 6th, and the FIVE winners will also be contacted by e-mail.


Click on the above cover to see what Goodreads has to say about The Last Three. Also, check out my Review and Interview with the author.


Here's how to enter:



Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Author Interview: Almon Chu - The Last Three

I'm happy to have author Almon Chu here today. I recently reviewed his short novel, The Last Three. He was willing to answer a few questions that I had for him about his novel and about writing in general. Here we go!


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My Tower of Books: I was sad to see this book end. Why a short novel?



Almon: I never really planned on the length of the story. I generally just plan out a basic frame, fill the setting, and let the characters do the rest. The characters just happened to push things into a short novel length, as corny as that sounds.


MToB: The plot of The Last Three had a surreal kind of feeling to it, but felt very real at the same time. How much of the story is fiction versus non-fiction?


Almon: Overall it was a blend of non-fictional events and people laced together with fiction to produce a cohesive story. I could go on forever about what was based off of what. Though I must admit that it was a tad strange to write as the real-life events had occurred so long ago. It was kind of like a window into my past self.


MToB: In the story Jon kind of self-destructed, but I also felt like his friends let him down. Was there anything they could have done differently to reach out to him?


Almon: In the story I feel like it wasn't so much that Jon's friends let him down but that Jon refused to seek their help. Though I was actually tinkering with the idea of fleshing out the characters a little bit more, and letting Jon attempt to redeem himself through Rean. This would have created a longer story, probably closer to novel length. However I felt that it would dampen the story as a whole. I wanted Jon to be the sole reason for his self-destruction.


MToB: What kind of things inspire you to write? Do you see something special in the mundane?


Almon: I take inspiration from my day-to-day, just small things that spur random epiphany. I find the best stories to be grounded within the mundane, gives them a sort of relatable realism.

MToB: When you aren't creating stories, are there any other creative outlets that you enjoy?


Almon: Gaming and kick boxing are my main outlets, though I'm not entirely sure how creative you could deem them. Gaming is definitely the more dominant of the two. I dream of writing a story for a game one day.


MToB: What are you working on next?


Almon: I'm currently planning the spiritual sequel to The Last Three. I say spiritual because it won't feature (most) of the characters from The Last Three and the main character will be completely different. Overall I'm leaning more towards dark humour in this upcoming story, though that can all change when I actually start writing it.


Also in March I'm planning on working with a friend on a graphic novel with a zombie related story, though I assure you that the zombies will not be portrayed in any way that has already been done.


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


Thanks again to Almon for taking the time to answer some questions. I look forward to your future projects!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Short Novel Review: The Last Three by Almon Chu

Synopsis:
"'Just three more stops,' I thought to myself. I gripped my knife, the handle digging into my flesh. I closed my eyes and tried to think of Eris." A descent down the path of self-destruction, does salvation lie around the corner or is it merely an illusion? The Last Three is a captivating story of a lost soul on the streets of a modern dystopia.

Review:
This story packs a big punch for being novella or short story length. The gritty cover is perfect for what is inside its pages.

I was completely immersed in this sliver of world. It was like I could feel the environment being described. It's a sad tale of betrayal and wasted life. The main character, Jon, is living his entire life based on a lie. A lie that ruins his life, crushes his psyche and destroys whatever else is left of him. It made me very sad for him mostly because he is so fervently loyal and committed to sacrificing for the person he loves. And those very traits are used against him.

I was so engrossed in this book while reading and was sad to see it end. I guess you could even say I was riveted :-) It does have some strong language, but if that doesn't bother you I would suggest checking this little gem out.

Publication Date: October 15, 2011
Genre: Modern Noir, Dystopian, Adult
Source: Thanks so much to the author, Almon Chu, for my review copy!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Review: Expense by Jason Letts

Synopsis:
Spencer Nye thought she had done something to change the world for the better, but she quickly finds out that eliminating one problem often leads to others. The only difference now is that any solution requires the cooperation of everyone on the planet, and no amount of fame will help them all overcome their fear of another looming disaster. Even though Spencer knew that she needed to change the world, in Expense she’ll find out exactly what it cost.

Review:
The second book in The Spencer Nye Trilogy does not disappoint in any way. It stays true to the same gripping and non-stop action that was in the first one. I love futuristic books that show a glimpse of how our world might look if technology continues to evolve as quickly as it currently is. But I truly hope we never have any issues with aliens . . . aliens are bad news.

Expense picks up after the events at the end of Suspense. Spencer believes she has caused an intergalactic war between Humans and the alien Orra. Killing another planet's ambassador can have that effect apparently :-) Spencer is a take-action kind of girl, and she finds herself at a loss when it comes to being a leader and spurring others to action. Especially since most people are murderously angry about losing their sources of food, clothing, etc.

As if trying to get everyone to work together to rebuild their world isn't a hard enough job, the Orra are coming for Spencer. Plus her love life gets even more complicated . . . which I would have found hard to believe until reading Expense. Spencer makes a lot of mistakes and wrong choices, but she never becomes unlikeble. It really just made her more real to me.

A great follow-up novel, it left me really excited to find out how the story will be resolved in the final book.

Publication Date: October 26, 2011
Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Dystopian
Source: Thanks to the author Jason Letts for my review copy!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Follow Friday 11/18

Feature & Follow Friday is hosted by Parajunkee's View and Alison Can Read. Head over to their blogs and see how you can join in!


This week:

Question: Letter to Santa: Tell Santa what books you want for Christmas!


A. Bookstore giftcards are always a safe bet with me, but if Santa were to bring me an actual book I would have to ask for Alloy of Law by Brandon Sanderson! I love everything he has written, and he just keeps getting better. I can't wait to read this one :-D


What book(s) do you want Santa to put under your tree?

Review: Unraveling Isobel by Eileen Cook

Synopsis:
Isobel’s life is falling apart. Her mom just married some guy she met on the internet only three months before, and is moving them to his sprawling, gothic mansion off the coast of nowhere. Goodbye, best friend. Goodbye, social life. Hello, icky new stepfather, crunchy granola town, and unbelievably good-looking, officially off-limits stepbrother.

But on her first night in her new home, Isobel starts to fear that it isn’t only her life that’s unraveling—her sanity might be giving way too. Because either Isobel is losing her mind, just like her artist father did before her, or she’s seeing ghosts. Either way, Isobel’s fast on her way to being the talk of the town for all the wrong reasons.

Review:
I hadn't heard anything about this book going into it. I loved the cover and that is initially what drew me to it (yes, I sometimes judge books by their covers).

The story is told from Isobel's perspective, and her narration throughout the book is laugh-out-loud hilarious at some points. She is very easy to relate to as a character. Then there's Nathaniel. He's her new stepbrother, and they don't get along at first mainly because of misunderstanding each other and miscellaneous other teenage emotional issues :-) Eventually they call truce and try to solve the mystery of what's really going on in the enormous and oldly creepy house they now share.

The story is a little scary at some points, but not too much. It's like mystery and romance with a side of creep thrown in. The interactions between Isobel and Nate were fun to read. I also loved the way Isobel talks about her stepdad, Dick. Obviously, I don't condone being attitudinal to parental figures, but if you read the book you'll see why that's not an issue here.

A great read. My only complaint would be that it had a very tidy ending. I guess I should make up my mind whether I like that or not. I'm either complaining that a book ended how I wanted or that it didn't :-) That doesn't detract from the book as a whole. Definitely one to check out.

Publication Date: January 3, 2012
Genre: Young Adult, Paranormal, Mystery, Romance
Source: Thanks to publisher Simon & Schuster for my review copy.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Review: Etchings of Power by Terry C. Simpson

Synopsis:
Death feeds life in the world of Denestia. The shade advances, bathing the land in blood as they massacre all before them. Magics and creatures long thought dead rise again.

To the east, in Ostania, an ancient clan re-emerges to begin their conquest anew, leaving carnage in their wake. To the west, the ruling Granadian Tribunal tries to maintain its stranglehold on its empire while expanding into Ostanian lands under the premise of converting the ‘uncivilized’ to the path of enlightenment.

Hope rests on the swords, intelligence, and power of four: Ryne, a living legend at the edge of madness, haunted by a murderous past, the voices of his power that whisper in his head, and hunted by the Tribunal, strives to defend a village he swore to protect. Ancel, a gifted student who has lost his way due to a love spurned, is stalked by the shade's minions and must learn to accept who he is or perish. Irmina, Ancel's former lover, also a Tribunal assassin sent to find Ryne, is mired in her quest for revenge on Ancel's parents, and must set aside her emotions or fail her final test. And Galiana Calestis, Ancel's Teacher, and an old Matus whose greatest wish is to help her people survive, must manipulate whoever she needs to if she's to see the Chronicles come to pass.

Between warring nations, vengeful leaders, magic and steel, myth and men, the fate of the world hangs in the balance. Who can unite the kingdoms against the encroaching darkness? Who shall bring the power that drives the world to heel? Who will walk the knife’s edge of harmony? If none can, then Denestia is doomed.

Review:
I have to say, I was really impressed by this book. Fantasy novels can be tricky and insanely hard to write. The world created by Terry Simpson is well thought out and nicely executed. This author is one to watch in the Fantasy writing community.

What would any Fantasy tale be without the Hero? Ryne Waldron is a warrior with great powers at his disposal, but he's not the typical good guy. He can't remember much of his past, but the things he does remember are very troubling to him. He must keep his bloodlust tightly controlled at all times. I find it very easy to root for the tortured warrior type :-) What's not to like? Then there's Ancel. He is a lost young man and is wasting his potential when the story begins. Circumstances force him to either stand firm in his training or allow his emotions to control his actions.

Etchings of Power has giant warriors, hidden pasts, girls that kick butt (with style), a mysterious companion, and most everyone has a secret they are guarding. It all comes together to create a rich setting and characters that don't fade into the background. If you like a good fantasy novel, you won't want to miss this one.

Publication Date: October 6, 2011
Genre: Fantasy, Adult
Source: Thanks to the author, Terry C. Simpson, for my review copy.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Feature and Follow Friday 11/11

Follow Friday is hosted by Parajunkee's View and Alison Can Read. Head over to one of their websites to find out how you can join in.


This week:

Question: In light of 11.11.11 and Veteran's Day tell us about your favorite soldier and how he or she is saving the world. Fictional or real life.


Answer: I don't have any soldiers in my immediate family, but I -of course- know of so many friends that have their loved ones overseas right now. They do a great, GREAT service for us, and I can't say how much I appreciate that.


As far as fictional soldiers, my first thought was of Steven Erickson's series, The Malazan Book of the Fallen. Holy crap, those are some awesome books!! The series is filled with some crazy soldier characters, and I would have a hard time thinking of all the ones I loved. I'll stick with my top three :-) 1. Fiddler 2. Whiskeyjack 3. Quick Ben and 4. Karsa.


Ok, that was four, but that series is filled with some of the most kick-A, cool characters I have ever read. I think if you've read those books then you probably agree with some of my choices. I'll leave my answer at that :-)


Who is your favorite soldier?

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Review: The Summer of Hammers and Angels by Shannon Wiersbitzky

Synopsis:
Delia's summer is getting off to a terrible start. First, an inspector shows up at the house and threatens to condemn it. Then lightning strikes, literally, and Mama ends up in the hospital. To make matters even worse, with no other family to speak of, Delia is forced to move in with her nemesis, Tommy "as-dense-as-a-stump" Parker.

Not one to sit around doing nothing, Delia huddles with her best friend, Mae, and reluctantly recruits Tommy, to help. The three of them resolve to tackle the long list of repairs, one by one. But Delia quickly discovers that it takes more than energy and willingness to handle some problems. When things go from bad to worse, Delia has to take another tack, one that starts with admitting she just can't do what needs to be done without a lot more help.

The Summer of Hammers and Angels is the story of an amazing summer in a girl's life, a summer of surprises and challenges, of shocks and recovery, of discoveries and friendship, and of loneliness and community.

Review:
It sounds kind of cheesy to say this is a 'heart-warming story', but truthfully. . . that's exactly what it is. I realize that this book isn't geared towards my age group (pushing 30, if you must know), but I would recommend it to a person of any age.

The sweet girl in the story is Delia. She lives with her mother and they are struck (literally) with some bad luck which lands her mom in the hospital. As she recounts the ins and outs of their lives together, you start to get the feel that she craves love and most of all attention. Her mom is normally so caught up in her own problems that she forgets the most important thing in her life. I wanted to adopt this fictional girl and take her to eat donuts with me.

This book is great for Middle Grade (which is the target audience), but even for adults I think it is a compelling read. It serves as a reminder to adults that kids need our attention and how much they love the small moments. I will even divulge that there was a part at the end of the book that had me teary-eyed (in a good way).

Also, I don't want to forget to mention that the writing is wonderful! Shannon Wiersbitzky has a true talent for putting into words the very spirit of a young girl. I could go on and on about how much I loved it, but I think you get the point :-)

Publication Date: March 25, 2011
Genre: Middle Grade, Realistic Fiction
Source: Thanks so much to the author, Shannon Wiersbitzky, for my review copy!

Inane Interview with Chrystalla Thoma

About the Author:
Greek Cypriot with a penchant for dark myths and good food. She has proven her tendency to settle down anywhere but at home by having lived and studied in France, England, Germany and Costa Rica, before returning to Cyprus two years ago.

She likes to write about fantastical creatures, crazy adventures, and family bonds. She lives in Cyprus with her husband and her vast herds of books.

Rex Rising, the first book in her YA science fiction series, Elei's Chronicles, is already available. She is currently working on the next installment. (My review of Rex Rising can be found HERE)

My Tower of Books: What would I find in your refrigerator right now? (Please do not look in mine)

Chrystalla: *cautiously opens fridge, knife in hand* I have black olives from Kalamata, Greece, (the best olives in the world!), dark bread, white wine, lots of greens for salad and goat cheese. I also see a pen I must have dropped while rummaging inside while simultaneously taking notes about a story, and Saruman weaving evil spells. No, really! (remind me to stop taking those pills...)

MToB: Let's say you're on vacation. Where are you and what does your ideal day there look like?

Chrystalla: Okay, let me close my eyes and visualize this... I am definitely by the sea, which I adore, on a Greek island, with all those white houses and terraces stretching over the blue (not going to the edge, though, because I’m afraid of heights, so sue me). I am sitting at a table sipping my coffee and jotting notes in my notebook about a story. That also gives me a perfectly good excuse to stare at any hunk passing by, for “research purposes”. Yeah. :)

MToB: What is your favorite item of clothing? You know . . . the one that you wear the second it's clean.

Chrystalla: I have a black blouse with tassels on the hem and a logo in gray that says “Always on the Road”. I just love it.

MToB: If there was a movie about your life, who would you choose to play you?

Chrystalla: Eva Green. I mean, I look nothing like her, she’s gorgeous! But she is so mysterious, she looks like she stepped out of a fairytale. I loved her in Kingdom of Heaven and the Golden Compass. Definitely her.


MToB: Let's talk shoes. Flats or heels?

Chrystalla: Flat, definitely. Converse All Star are my favorite ones. I’m a sportive kinda gal.

MToB: It's obvious that your book, Rex Rising, is the product of a creative mind. Do you have any other creative outlets besides writing?

Chrystalla: Cooking! I love creating my own recipes and experimenting on my long-suffering, wonderful husband and hapless guests. When I find the time, I love to draw and paint and do pottery.



Thanks so much to Chrystalla for being such a good sport with all this! It was great working with you :-)




You can connect with Chrystalla via her Blog or Twitter.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Follow Friday 11/4



Feature and Follow Friday is a hosted by Parajunkee's View and Alison Can Read. It's a great way to connect with other bloggers. Check it out and join in!

Today's Question is something new, an activity. We want to see what you look like! Take a pic with you and your current read! Too shy? Boo! Just post a fun pic you want to share.


That's me with my current read: The Summer of Hammers & Angels by Shannon Wiersbitzky.


So that's what I look like . . . and although I felt like a weirdo taking a self-portrait with a book, I am excited to see everyone's pictures this week :-)

Review: The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick

Synopsis:
Orphan Hugo Cabret lives in a wall. His secret home is etched out in the crevices of a busy Paris train station. Part-time clock keeper, part-time thief, he leads a life of quiet routine until he gets involved with an eccentric, bookish young girl and an angry old man who runs a toy booth in the station. The Invention of Hugo Cabret unfolds its cryptic, magical story in a format that blends elements of picture book, novel, graphic novel, and film. Caldecott Honor-winning author-illustrator Brian Selznick has fashioned an intricate puzzle story that binds the reader like a mesmerist's spell.

Review:
I felt very emotional reading it for some reason. Probably picturing if Hugo were my boy, how hard that would be. A boy with so much imagination and potential who is all alone in the world.

This book expertly (perfectly, wonderfully) blends drawings and text to create such a beautiful and touching story. This book was recommended by my sister for us to read with our four year old. He is getting to the age where he likes to be read to, yet his attention wavers easily. It sounded like it was worth a try.

My husband has been reading it to our four year old every night and our three year old daughter joins them (she loves it too). They talk about what's going on in the pictures and then listen intently to my husband as he reads the other parts. I love that they are using different creative parts of their brains and interacting with the book.

The story is so wonderful that I read ahead of everyone because I wanted (needed) to know what happened to Hugo Cabret. I think older kids could relate to this story. Not every child has a loving family or an easy life. It's a great book to read as a family.

Also, a few nights ago we saw that they are making a movie called Hugo, based on this book. The excitement on the kids' faces was a sight to behold. How great is it to be a part of their first book to movie experience? I can't wait to see it with them as a family and talk about how it was the same and how it differed from the novel.

Publication Date: March 1, 2007
Genre: Middle Grade, Realistic Fiction, Graphic Novels
Source: Public Library

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Novella Review: Love by Secrets by Debra Elizabeth

Synopsis:
Eighteen-year-old Emily Richardson is excited to attend this seasons society balls and begin her search for a husband. She is thrilled when the dashing and handsome Connor Preston begins to show her more attention. After each ball, Emily finds a love note in her drawstring reticule, and she expects a marriage proposal from Connor any day.

When her father objects and forces Emily to accept the proposal from Lady Tisbury's shy nephew, Ethan Richardson instead, her heart is broken. How can she love her new husband when her heart belongs to the man who wrote her such beautiful love letters?

Review:
I have to say that there is something great about reading a novella. It's like fast food. It's a quick read, but still really good. Love by Secrets is a sweet, bite-size love story.

Emily is being wooed by the handsome Mr. Preston. He makes her feel so in love and on fire. She has only to wait for his marriage proposal . . . or so she thinks. When her future takes a sharp turn, she is devastated by the thought of being in a loveless marriage. The title 'Love by Secrets' is very appropriate for this tale.

I really liked the time period the book was set in. It reminded me of Pride & Prejudice in that regard. I think one of the appealing things about that era is the way love and marriage were viewed. Love and propriety create nice conflict for me in a story. And in this story there is alot of misunderstanding and naivete involved which makes it even better.

Publication Date: October 20, 2011
Genre: Romance, Love
Source: Thanks to the author Debra L. Martin for my review copy!

NaNoWriMo, Baby!

I am very excited to be taking part in National Novel Writing Month! I've had a book in the works for awhile, but with reading, mothering, wife-ing (?) and all the other daily things, I just haven't made as much progress as I would like.


This is the perfect opportunity to unite with other aspiring novelists and either write your entire novel, or at least put a significant dent in it. I will still be reading and blogging, but writing even if I have to lose sleep I will be writing every day.


My goal is to write 2,000 to 2100 words per night. If you want to connect with me there, my username is JackieRenee.


Happy Writing!!

Monday, October 31, 2011

WINNER of my Scary Good Giveaway!

And the winner of Anna Dressed in Blood, Rot & Ruin, and Frost is . . . sablelexi at Reading is Dreamy!! Congratulations and enjoy your books!


The winner will be notified by e-mail and will have 72 hours to claim their prize before a different winner will be chosen.


Thanks to ALL who entered. It was a great first giveaway, and I look forward to many more :-)


*Winner was chosen using random.org*

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Review: Rex Rising by Chrystalla Thoma

Synopsis:
In a world where parasites create new human races, Elei leads a peaceful life — until a mysterious attack on his boss sends him fleeing with a bullet in his side. Pursued for a secret he does not possess and with the fleet at his heels, he has but one thought: to stay alive. His pursuers aren’t inclined to sit down and talk, although that’s not the end of Elei’s troubles. The two powerful parasites inhabiting his body, at a balance until now, choose this moment to bring him down, leaving Elei with no choice but to trust in people he hardly knows. It won’t be long before he realizes he must find out this deadly secret – a secret that might change the fate of his world and everything he has ever known – or die trying.

Review:
First off, I want to address the cover of this book. I pretty much love it. It's got a cool looking guy and makes you wonder why he looks that way. Plus, it is one hundred percent perfect for the story and the character it's portraying.

Now, the story in Rex Rising is like nothing else I've read. The idea is that if a person is infected with a parasite it changes how their body functions, and it also changes how they look. Elei grew up on the streets and lived through two of the toughest parasites infecting his body. The two fought and eventually came to a sort of stasis within him. He has lived with them for so long that he wonders if the person he has become is really who he is . . . or if he's only a product of the parasites within.

Elei is caught up in a fight between the ruling (not to mention all female) Gultur and the ones fighting to break free from their increasingly hostile methods of rule. The first we see of him, he is shot, bleeding out and running for his life. He has something the Gultur want, but he has no idea what it is. The pace doesn't slow throughout the entire story as he finds help in unexpected places, but also finds out that not everyone is what they appear.

A cool and unique idea. I can't wait to see where the story takes Elei, and all the rest, in the next book!

Publication Date: August 11, 2011
Genre: Young Adult, Sci Fi, Dystopian
Source: Thanks to author Chrystalla Thoma for my review copy!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Feature and Follow Friday 10/28

Follow Friday is hosted by Parajunkee's View and Alison Can Read. It's a great way to meet other bloggers!


This week:


Q: If you could have dinner with your favorite book character, who would you eat with and what would you serve?


A. I would want to have dinner with Lan from Wheel of Time. I would do my best to steal him from Nynaeve over the course of our meal . . . Sorry, Nynaeve! I don't much care what we'd be eating. Maybe some sort of manly meat and potatoes meal, haha.


What's your answer?

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Review: If I Tell by Janet Gurtler

Synopsis:
Jasmine Evans knows one thing for sure... people make mistakes. After all, she is one. Jaz is the result of a onenight stand between a black football player and a blonde princess. Having a young mother who didn't raise her, a father who wants nothing to do with her and living in a small-minded town where she's never fit in hasn't been easy. But she's been surviving. Until she sees her mom's new boyfriend making out with her own best friend. When do you forgive people for being human or give up on them forever?

Review:
If I Tell hooked me in from the very beginning. The style of writing, the characters, story. It was all so addicting to read, and I had a hard time putting it down. I don't normally read a lot of contemporary fiction, but this book makes me think I might be missing out.

Beautifully told, the story pulls you in and makes you really care about Jasmine. She's had a rough life and learned to deal with it in her own way. After being betrayed by people she loves over and over, she finally reaches a breaking point. Her journey to forgiveness is twisted and painful, but her eyes are opened to a lot of truths about others and about herself.

A touching story of family, love and forgiveness

Publication Date: October 1, 2011
Genre: Young Adult, Realistic, Contemporary
Source: Thanks to Sourcebooks Fire and Netgalley.com

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Review: Big Boys Don't Spy by K.E.M. Johnston

Synopsis:
Set in the Washington, D.C. suburbs, with the CIA Headquarters around the corner, 12-year-old Will Wand, Agent 003.5, has his first assignment - to save the world, or at least to uncover the mole in his mother's advertising company. Will strongly suspects his bossy, annoying cousin Penelope, visiting from the U.K., is a double agent, and when he finds he diary written in code, he knows he's onto something ... but if you hear any more, he'll have to kill you (or at least confiscate your Star Wars walkie-talkie).

Review:
I can't say enough good things about this book. Big Boys Don't Spy is the ideal book for any Middle Grade boy or girl. Full of the whimsy of childhood and the real-life hardships that many families experience, it is a fun and relatable read.

Will Wand is an imaginative and eccentric middle child. He is obsessed (to put it mildly) with all things SPY. His father died two years ago and he lives with his busy mother, distant older brother and can't forget his Monster of a younger brother, Tristan. His British cousin Penelope (Pen) comes to visit him for a few weeks in the summer. He is most certainly not looking forward to it . . . until they find common ground when it comes to their interest in the art of spying. During their covert adventures they end up forming a great friendship that was wonderfully developed. I truly loved this book!

My kids aren't old enough to read this one yet, but it is one that I will for sure be reading to them in the future. I think it is appealing to boys AND girls (and parents as well). A lot of the quirky, weird things that kids do was portrayed perfectly throughout the story. The more serious issues of loss and sadness were addressed in an appropriate and understandable way for younger readers.

I highly recommend this one!

Publication Date: December 1, 2010
Genre: Middle Grade
Source: Thanks to author K.E.M. Johnston for my review copy!