Sunday, July 31, 2011

Book Review: Making Waves by Tawna Fenske

SUMMARY:  When Alex Bradshaw's unscrupulous boss kicks him to the curb after 20 faithful years as an executive with the world's largest shipping company, he sets out to reclaim his dignity and his pension. Assembling a team of fellow corporate castoffs, he sails to the Caribbean to intercept an illegal diamond shipment. None of them counted on quirky blonde stowaway Juli Flynn, who has a perplexing array of talents, a few big secrets, and an intoxicating romantic chemistry with Alex...


The Short Version:
Quirky, sexy and funny, Making Waves is definitely a book to escape in. Some of the best sexual tension around drives this book, but there is also plenty of plot and great characters to keep readers engaged. Juli is an easy character to like, her idiosyncrasies making her relatable and her seemingly dry sense of humor sparks some of the most hilarious moments of the book. Coupled with a sexy guy who has his own emotional depth, Making Waves definitely will be a hit with romance readers all over.

The Extended Version:
Juli has a very interesting view on the world, the reasons for which are revealed at the perfect moments throughout the book. Harboring secrets of her own, yet still very open about many things, Juli makes for a great heroine and someone readers will root for. Ignited in all the best ways by Alex, and completely able to taunt him and play his games, Juli is unique enough to be memorable while still having enough qualities that female readers can picture themselves in the book.

Alex is charming yet seemingly moody, but his own reasons are laid on the table pretty early. A temporary pirate, and tempted by Juli almost to his detriment, Alex is a fantastically well done character with plenty about him to swoon over. Perceptive and intelligent, Alex is far more than just a love interest, and his own role in the book has a great impact and his characterization has a smooth progression.

The remaining cast consists mostly of Alex’s three friends on the mission with him, and the way each reacts not only to Juli’s unexpected presence but her personality and everything else goes far to build their own personalities. With plenty of banter between them, and numerous moments that amp up the already potent sexual tension, this is a cast that is well designed and works beautifully together.

The plot has a great pace, allowing for plenty of lust-driven moments that will make readers drool, without letting the story itself be stalled or washed out. Intricate in a lot of ways, there is a certain element of mystery that helps drive the plot while still keeping things quirky and funny. Having a great mix of internal and external motivations, and throwing several twists at the reader that come seemingly out of nowhere, Fenske’s raw talent shines through strongly.

As with any good romance, Fenske does a remarkable job of writing the sexual tension and giving readers just enough pay out to really just make them want more. Hysterical throughout, but unafraid to let in emotions both rough and fun, this one definitely doesn’t rely only on a few well timed kisses and roving hands to drive it or make it something to be pulled off the shelf repeatedly. Engaging in more ways than one, and about as lust-inducing as any standard foreplay, Making Waves definitely can run up against even the best of the romance genre.

Source: ARC received from publisher in exchange for an honest review 
Mass Market Paperback: 352 pages 
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Publication Date: August 1, 2011

Saturday, July 30, 2011

In My Mailbox + Kiersten White's Signing

Kiersten White was in Dallas this week to celebrate Supernaturally's release, so of course I went. I love those books, and that woman, and seeing as to how there is a character named after me in the book then I HAD to have Kiersten Sign my page. And yes. She did sign it. With a heart. Yep. Awesome.

So with that, I bring you guys what books I got this week, and some photos from the signing. Yay!

For Review:
Prized (Birthmarked #2) by Caragh M. O'Brien
Kane Richards Must Die by Shanice Williams
Death Sentence (Escape from Furnace #3) by Alexander Gordon Smith
Boy vs Girl by Na'ima B. Robert
(Huge thanks to Roaring Book Press, Shanice Williams + Lands Atlantic Publishing, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, and Frances Lincoln Childrens Books)

Won From Mindi Scott:
Totally marked up copy of Freefall with notes from her on EVERY page. It. Is. Amazing. 

Supernaturally by Kiersten White
Ripple by Mandy Hubbard
Kiss of Death (Scarlett Wakefield #4) by Lauren Henderson
Sometimes it Happens by Lauren Barnholdt
The Lover's Dictionary by David Levithan

So that was what I got this week! IMM is a weekly meme hosted by The Story Siren.

Now for the pics from Kiersten's signing! And let me say, this woman is seriously hysterical. I cannot even describe how great it is to listen to her talk, and all the tangents she takes, and the natural humor that pretty much finds its way into every sentence she says. If you ever have the chance to go to one of her signings or events, GO. No excuses.

She looks so innocent. I suspect she's not. I also can't tell you what she was actually talking about here, but at one point she said how awesome Texas is so we'll go with that. Because she's right.

About to read her favorite passage in the book! It's a good one too...

Signing! But not my book, because I kind of forgot to take the picture while she signed mine, so this is for my best friend. Which is kind of like me by proxy so it works.

And obligatory photo time! I feel so tall... 

So there you have it! My wee in books and authorly stuff. Yay!

Friday, July 29, 2011

Mini Reviews: Fracture, Catching Jordan and My Beating Teenage Heart

Oh  yes, it's that time again. Mini reviews: Books which don't come out for awhile, but I already ready them and loved them so now I have to talk about them and who else to talk about it to but you guys? So this week we have some grief, some mystery, and some hot romance. Yep. It's a good week for mini reviews!

Fracture by Megan Miranda: Brilliant. Amazing. Engaging. Emotional. Painful. I could probably keep going, but you get the idea. This book seriously blew my mind. I read it in one sitting, straight through, completely gripped from page one. The writing is stellar, and so absolutely real and emotional... I physically ached. Page count wise, this isn't a long book, but WOW does Megan pack so much into those pages. And I'm just going to say it. The comparison to If I Stay and Where She Went that is on the Goodreads summary? Absolutely true and well deserved. You know how those two books exhaust you emotionally, tear your heart out, but you can't let it go? And how your mind is boggled by how much story you actually just read in not so many pages? That's exactly what this one does. The story is original and well developed and the characters are AMAZING. I loved everything about Delaney's character, from her reactions to her motivations to just... her. I love Decker, too, so perfectly broken without being shattered, a guy who can keep going even when he's hurting but who also doesn't completely hide the pain. There's romance, with plenty of bends in the road, but there's so much more too. I can't even explain this plot in just a sentence or two because there is just. So. Much. And I love it. And its amazing. And everyone needs to make sure they read this book.

Catching Jordan by Miranda Kenneally: Hot. Sexy. Lust driven. And okay, there's a good story too. But seriously, Miranda knows how to write the hormones and the desire and the unadulterated want. I really liked Jordan's character, too- a girl who can hold her own, run with the boys, but who has kinks in her armor and isn't just a totally stereotypical tomboy. Then there's her three closest guy friends, each similar in some big ways but different in bigger ones. The relationship between those four, the interactions, and just the overall humor and spunk really makes this book stand out. But let's not forget Ty, about as hot as a guy can be with a good personality to go with it. Sure, he wasn't as fleshed out as I'd like, but he was still a good character and I could definitely see Jordan's intense attraction to him. This is another one that I read pretty much straight through, able to predict some things but wanting the confirmation and enjoying it more with every turn of the page.

My Beating Teenage Heart by CK Kelly Martin: This one is a book that is centered on grief, and it's as emotional and painful as you'd expect, but done oh so well. CK's writing is beyond words, so talented and flowy. I loved Breckon, and he was so tormented, so broken, so far past hope that it was near impossible to turn away from him and his story. His mentality and voice were spot on, both as a male character and as someone shattered by grief and ready to give up. It tore me apart to watch him push every one away from him, but I loved his girlfriend, Jules, who refused to turn her back. With a few much needed spots of laughs and even lust, there's some relief in an otherwise gripping and exhausting book. Then there's Ashlyn, who is trying to figure out her own story and what's happened to her, tied to Breckon and forced to watch him suffer while feeling completely unable to help him. The way she changes as a result is just as strong as Breckon's own development, and the near lack of interaction between the two narrators adds a very fresh element to this book.

Character Interview: Matt from And Then Things Fall Apart

It's character interview time again, and yep, I've pilfered another YA hottie to entertain you guys! So without further ado, I bring you Matt from Arlaina Tabinsky's debut And Then Things Fall Apart!

Describe yourself in 4 words.

Sure. 132-138 pounds (depending on the weight division I’m wrestling in- and I’m counting that as one word, OK?) Open-Minded. Athletic. Culinary.

What was the very first thing about Keek that drew you in?

Have you met her? She’s just… This sounds stupid but I think it was her laugh. She laughs a lot and then her eyes. Her eyes laughing are the best thing.

What's it like to kiss Keek?

Um. It’s not really “like” anything else. Sometimes when I kiss her I feel like just, crawling inside her, or I feel like I’m floating in outer space. And then sometimes I feel like I’m nuzzling a bunny, and then other times I just want to smash our faces together and crash our teeth. I sound like a serial killer. I just mean that I love kissing her and never really thought about it before. That girl drives me crazy.

Boxers or Briefs?

I wear a kind of hybrid. It keeps me all together. I like Hanes, if you’re looking for a recommendation.

What kind of pen would you describe yourself as?

There’s different kinds? I’m more of a mechanical pencil kind of guy. I always thought mechanical pens were the coolest things when I was a kids and so, yeah, when I grow up, I want to be a mechanical pencil.

What's the craziest thing you and Earl have done together?

Wait- give me a minute because we have done some straight up insane crap together. Well, there was the lunchtime whatever-got-mixed-in-a-glass-I-had-to-drink-for-money stunt. That was a good one. We did this thing with fake bloody noses with ketchup packets in Spanish class that one time. That was pretty hilarious. But I think the craziest thing we did was drive around naked at midnight. We took turns. The Squirrel called it “casual driving” and we dared ourselves to like, drive around naked for as long as we could stand it. It was insane and kind of fun but a little like, weird. I drove and was laughing so hard I could barely steer. I lasted about ten minutes. Earl? He could have driven to the Wisconsin Dells and back naked. That dude is wild, like some kind of crazy undomesticated animal.

Thank you, Matt, for stopping in and congrats Arlaina on the release!

And Then Things Fall Apart is out now, so be sure you guys pick it up and meet Matt, Keek, and the rest of the characters!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Author Interview + Contest Alert: Jennifer Ziegler

And dropping in today is Sass & Serendipity author Jennifer Ziegler to answer a few questions! And I have to say, one of these answers is my favorite so far to that question...

Daphne and Gabby make the front page! What does the headline say?

Sisters Get Through Entire Day Without Arguing!

Or …

Girl Discovers Her Sister Might Not Be As Annoying As Previously Thought!

Or …

Local Girls Make Guinness Book of Records for Repeated Eye-Rolling!

Which character would you make friends with more easily, Daphne or Gabby?

I would have to say Daphne. I sympathize with Gabby, but she’s so hard on people. Plus, she’s built up several protective layers, making it difficult to truly get close to her. Daphne, on the other hand, is wide open – to friendship and joy (and therefore pain). She’s willing to take emotional risks.

Of course Daphne would also show up late to our get-togethers and possibly blow me off if a cute guy asked her out for the same evening. We’d be close, but I’d probably find her exasperating at times.

If you could pair Daphne, Gabby and Mule with any character from any book, who would you pick for each?

Chapter Two of Sass & Serendipity reveals that Gabby, as a young girl, wanted to marry Harry Potter, and I do think they would make a good match. They are both loyal, selfless, and have a well-honed sense of honor.

I have to say that I think Daphne’s love life turns out the way it should in my book. However, if I had to pair her with a famous fictional character, I would choose sweet, loyal, and handsome Stephen Colley from Dodie Smith’s I Capture the Castle – because he would adore her and be devoted to her, but he would also pull her back down to earth whenever she got carried away.

I'd be curious to see Mule paired with Jane Austen's Emma. I believe he would admire her spirit. He'd find her foibles charming and yet gently point out her errors of judgment. She, in turn, would benefit from his steadfast nature and boundless patience.

What god/goddess would be your nemesis?

Whoever is god or goddess of gizmos and gadgets is my nemesis. I don’t know what I did to fall out of his/her good graces, but I have obviously been cursed in that arena. Computers, printers, cell phones, recording devices … they all seem to go on strike when I come near. Even those automatic paper towel dispensers snub me. I’ll do all kinds of tai chi movements in front of the sensors to no avail. It’s like having a really useless super power – a reverse Midas touch. Maybe they should send me into enemy territory.

What kind of dinosaur would you describe yourself as?

I am what’s known as a queso-saurus. This creature lives off enchiladas and other spicy, saucy, cheesy fare, but it will also hunt down and devour anything chocolate. It is gentle by nature – goofy even – but can turn fierce to protect its young (and its chocolate stash). Its call is that of a high-pitched laugh, and its den can be recognized by the teetering stacks of books and abundance of empty coffee cups. The natural enemy of a queso-saurus is the alarm clock.

Thank you, Jennifer, for those fantastic answers, especially the dinosaur one. You pretty much win major points for that answer.

And I mentioned a contest, didn't I? No, I didn't lie, although I'm not hosting this one. Rather, the wonderful people who set me up with Jennifer for this interview are, and here's your details:

A Sassy Giveaway! Three lucky winners will each receive one copy of Jennifer Ziegler's SASS & SERENDIPITY along with Jane Austen's classic, SENSE AND SENSIBILITY. To enter, send an e-mail to In the body of the e-mail, include your name, mailing address, and e-mail address (if you're under 13, submit a parent's name and e-mail address). One entry per person; prizes will only be shipped to US or Canadian addresses. Entries must be received by midnight (PDT) on 8/5/11. Winners will be selected in a random drawing on 8/6/11 and notified via email.

How cool is that?? Fire off those emails, then be sure to check out Jennifer's website and blog to find out more about her, her books, and the inner workings of a queso-saurus. And also be sure to stop by Mother-Daughter Book Club tomorrow for more fun from Jennifer!

Cover Reveal: Ashes by Estevan Vega

Estevan Vega, author of the fantastic Arson, asked me to host his cover reveal for the sequel: Ashes. And I have to say, I seriously, completely, absolutely, LOVE this one.

(Click the picture to make it larger so you can see all the details!)

Do you guys not love it? And how well it fits with the Arson cover yet different and then there's the 219 carved into it now....

Basically. I'm in love. And want this book like nao.

And this is from Estevan himself:

I know it's been a lot of waiting. Trust me, I want this bad boy out just as much as you do, at least, I hope you do. But I am stoked to say that ASHES, book two in the Arson series, is coming very, very soon. Look for it end of summer, early fall. 

So gear up, everyone, and pick up Arson if you haven't yet because trust me, you don't want to miss it or Ashes!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Character Interview: Noah from Back When You Were Easier to Love

I'm sure this comes as a big surprise to everyone, but I've once again stolen a character to interview, and once again it is a hot boy. What can I say? I'm a sucker for them. And with that, I bring you guys Noah from Emily Wing Smith's debut Back When You Were Easier to Love!

Describe Joy in 3 words. 

Intelligent. Hopeless. Beautiful.

If Zan hadn't asked you to look out for Joy, would you have still tried so hard to be friends with her? 

Joy’s a girl worth knowing—and Zan has nothing to do with it.

Boxers or Briefs? 

Both. Just not at the same time.

What kind of dinosaur would you describe yourself as? 

A Brontosaurus, because it’s been misclassified and misunderstood. I can relate.

What part of the road trip was your favorite? 

Getting my picture taken with Joy and the green M&M. I got to put my arm around her (Joy--not the green M&M).

Thank you, Noah and Emily, for stopping in and sharing today!

Back When You Were Easier to Love is out now, so be sure you guys check it out!

Author Interview: Shawn Odyssey

Dropping in today is Shawn Odyssey, the man behind  yesterday's release The Wizard of Dark Street!

Why would you want to be the Wizard's apprentice?

That’s a good question. I think delving into the deeper mysteries of life is something I’ve been attracted to for a long time. Conjuring elaborate spells and concocting smelly potions just seems like a lovely way to pass the time. And let’s face it, learning how to make things float in mid air would never grow old…well, okay, maybe it would, but imagine how impressed your friends would be. You’d surely be the life of the party.

I would also love to live in Pendulum House, which sits at the very center of Dark Street. To be surrounded by such an old and immensely magical structure would keep me on my toes, to be sure. It’s quite an unpredictable place to live. I would especially enjoy the enchanted secret garden in the center of the house, with its glass tree and exotic Faerie native plants. I think I’d be very happy there, so long as I didn’t have to stay in the Captain’s Cabin. I get seasick quite easily (and that’s as much as I’ll say about that. You’ll have to read the book for a better explanation of Pendulum House and its countless quirks and idiosyncrasies).

What was your favorite part about writing in your chosen time period?

The Victorian era has always fascinated me. Always? you might ask. Yes. If what my mother tells me is correct, I was born with a top hat on my head and a fashionable walking stick clutched in my infant hand. So it might be said that the fashion of the period is something that drew me into the time period. Also the air of decorum and propriety in the upper class is something I find captivating; how one face is shown publicly while inside each person there can be something very different. Like caged animals.

One research item I found to be particularly interesting was the physical pace of life. It took an awfully long time to get from one place to another in the days of horse and carriage (though at the time it must have seemed like a great way to travel). For those without horses or cab fair, they walked…or simply stayed at home. This might seem obvious, and maybe even romantic, but when you’re pacing a mystery novel in such a historical context it becomes apparent that travel in 1877 was a different experience entirely than we are use to today. Especially when someone needs to quickly get from one part of the street to another. Somebody call a carriage!

If you could spend one day with any one of your characters, who would it be?

To be honest, I feel as if I have spent days with them. Months. Years. As many authors out there will attest, writing a novel, not to mention the publishing process itself, takes a long time. And I still love all of these characters. It’s surprising that I could spend so much time with the same group of players and they still continue to fascinate me.

That having been said, let me answer the question properly. I think Oona, the books central protagonist, is the one I’d love to take a day with and stroll up Dark Street, so long as Deacon (her enchanted raven/encyclopedia) was riding on her shoulder, and I could hear them banter back and forth over what a nutcase I must be to suggest that I was their creator.

Besides Voldemort, what Death Eater would you want to fight?

Off the top of my head I’d have to go with Bellatrix Lestrange. Anyone with a propensity for torture really must be “taken care of”…and I don’t mean tucked into bed at night either. I was thinking more old-time gangster, sleeping with the fishes kind of “taking care of” somebody—Mrs. Weasley style. Bellatrix was quite nasty. And besides, I think her lively banter as she fought would make the whole experience much more exciting than dueling most of the other Death Eaters, don’t you?

What kind of dinosaur would you describe yourself as?

The first thing that comes to mind is a pterodactyl. For one thing, it has a silent “p” at the beginning of its name. How wonderful and strange is that? Also, they could fly around and observe the world from a higher vantage point. I like that. And lastly, they had that terrifying, high-pitched cry, kind of like a descending firework. Yes, yes, I know: it’s only a Hollywood sound effect. No one knows what they really sounded like. Sure. But I’ll bet that’s exactly what they sounded like. It could be heard for miles and miles. A spine tingling shriek that said one thing: “Lookout world, here I come!”

The Wizard of Dark Street is available in bookstores nationwide and online in both hardback and eBook formats! And you can check out it's dedicated (and seriously awesome) website at

Also, I don't normally post trailers, but I really love this one of the prologue of the book, so I had to share it!

Waiting on Wednesday

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine.

This week's pick is Perception by Kim Harrington, the follow up to her 2010 debut Clarity, coming March 2012 from Scholastic.

Summary: When you can see things others can't, what do you do when someone's watching you?

Everybody knows about Clarity "Clare" Fern. She's the psychic girl in school, the one who can place her hands on something and see hidden visions from the past.

Only Clare would rather not be a celebrity. She prefers hanging back, observing. Her gift is not a game to her.

But then someone starts playing with her head . . . and heart. Messages and gifts from a secret admirer crop up everywhere Clare turns. Could they be from Gabriel, the gorgeous boy who gets Clare's pulse racing? Or from Justin, Clare's hopeful ex-boyfriend who'd do anything to win her back?

One thing is certain. Clare needs to solve this mystery, and soon. Because the messages are becoming sinister, and a girl in town has suddenly disappeared.

My Thoughts: I loved Clarity, from the characters to the story to the writing, and was absolutely thrilled to hear there would be more. Not because Kim left it in a place that you have to have more, but because she will make you love her characters and world so much you just want more. I really like the premise of this one too, that it focuses more on Clare whereas Clarity had a big element with her brother. I want to know who's sending the messages, what they say, how they morph into something more sinister... and I want to know the circumstances of the girl's disappearance and of course the truth. Also, I might be hoping for some more hot boys because I admit it, Justin and Gabriel are pretty swoonworthy. Then there's the cover, which has the same surreal yet realistic element as the Clarity cover, is gorgeous and breathtaking and enticing, and will look so pretty on my shelf next to Clarity. So now I just need to find a way to get this book sooner rather than later....

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Author Interview: Gabriella Goliger

Here today is Gabriella Goliger, author of Girl Unwrapped, which is set in 1960s Montreal. How many books do you read with that setting?

Describe Girl Unwrapped in three words. 

Moving. Inspiring. Readable.

What would be the hardest thing for you if you found yourself in Toni's position?

Revealing my feelings about girls and taking the consequences. (Yikes, I was in that position.)

If Toni were dropped into the present, yet still holding onto the bulk of the premise and issues of the book as set in the 60s, what do you think would be the biggest change?

Two things would surprise her: 1) people are ho-hum instead of scandalized when she lets on she likes girls; but 2) the lesbian bars have disappeared. It's because there are other places for lesbians to hang out nowadays and because all-girl bars never did make much money.

What was the most interesting part of writing this book? 

Interweaving the Jewish and the lesbian themes. My character faces a double whammy as an only child of Holocaust survivors and a budding lesbian but ultimately these challenges become sources of strength.

What kind of cookie would you describe yourself as? 

Chocolate-coated marshmallow. It's got a bit of a shell, but that's easily broken through and inside all is sweet mush. 

Thank you, Gabriella, for sharing those answers!

Make sure you guys check out Girl Unwrapped, already out and available!

Top Five Reasons to Buy Wildefire and Supernaturally

Soooo. It's an epic release day here in YA, and two of those releases are ones I seriously love. What does that mean? Another round of Top Five Reasons to Buy Them! Let's get started!

Wildefire by Karsten Knight: 

5. The author is hilarious. No, seriously. If you've never watched a vlog of his, you're missing out. But if no one buys his book, then he can't keep writing books, then he stops vlogging and then we all miss out and our lives will be nothing short of sad without the ridiculous, make you grin like a teenager with the swimsuit edition vlogs and general comments that come from this guy's head. So please. Help the world be a happier place.

4. Gods and goddesses. Not half gods. Not quarter gods. Not my uncle turned out to be a god and wow that explains the fire that always shot out of his hand when my mom made fun of him. Nope. These teens are actual gods and goddesses, but not your usual Greek and Roman ones, and not even from one group of gods/goddesses. And they are some pretty awesome ones. Do you really want to miss out?

3. The writing. It's flowy and descriptive and gorgeous and pulled me right in, and has so much voice while still being not just the characters since it's third person and I can keep rambling but Karsten's sentences are much more put together than this one and therefore you need it.

2. There's hot boys. Yes. Boys. As in more than one. More than two even. There is some major eye candy of the male kind in this book (and let's admit it, the author isn't too bad himself). You wouldn't want to miss out on it.

1. This time? My favorite character is NOT one of the hot boys. But Raja. Who is seriously badass. But you won't get to know how badass she is unless you read the book.

Supernaturally by Kiersten White:

5. Sometimes sequels to books aren't as good as the first. Sometimes they're just as good as. Then there's books like Supernaturally that are better than the first but not in a way that makes the first a bad book but because it's just that awesome and it's built on the awesome that was the first book and it still takes your breath away and blows your mind and you cannot put it down and gosh darnit it is three a.m. but you are still reading like a mad woman because you have to know what happens and then here comes another big event and then you're like holy crap what is happening next then you stop and stare at a particularly amazingly well written passage with such fantastic description that you think wow, I probably stink as a writer in comparison but then you remember the story and don't care anymore because being not as good is worth it if you can just. Keep. Reading. Yeah. 

4. There's a new boy. And his name is Jack. And I'm going to just come out and say it. I really like him. Sure, he could be evil incarnate. Or he could be Lend's air-boy brother. Or he's going to become the third leg of what is going to turn out to be an epic tripod. Or maybe he just thinks Evie is nice to look at. But I like him. And you should be sure you meet him.

3. Lend! Okay, I know he was in Paranormalcy and all, but he's also in Supernaturally. And he's still awesome. And hot. And charming. And kissable. And maybe he's more kissable. Or maybe he really sweeps Evie off her feet and they don't even have to save the world because they are just so perfect together? Or maybe something eats him?? Yeah. I got you worried now. You better get the book to make sure he's safe.

2. There's a character named Kari. No, this is not a coincidence. Yes, it is named after me. And how else will you know what my paranormal twin is if you don't go get this book and read it? Besides, you know you want my namesake sitting on your shelf.

1. Kissing! And some more kissing. And for good measure, a little bit more. And what if the books ends with a kiss? Or opens with a kiss? Or has one of those everything is falling apart around us but we will be super sweet and kiss in a way that everyone will melt at moments? You'll never know, if you don't read, and do you really want to miss out on all that kissing?

So there you have it. The top five reasons you guys should go out today and buy these books! Also, I hear the cover of Wildefire is pretty soft and gropable. And Evie's feelings will be hurt if you get Ash and not her so really, just save the drama, and get the packaged deal of awesome.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Editorial Interview with Jim Maher

Today, I'm mixing up my interview to focus on the editorial and revision process, and pulling in Hemingway Man author Jim Maher to do so!

What part of the revision process was the most challenging for you?

Whenever I have to cut a sentence that I think sounds just great, but doesn’t add anything to the story, it has to go. I can’t have a string of useless words highlighting my cleverness without adding to the whole piece. It still hurts cutting it.

If you could rework your book now, would you change anything?

I’d possibly work Will’s family in more, make them have more of an outside impact on his decisions.

Was there anything you butted heads with your editor on?

Canadian vs. American spellings, but that was it. And she’s British, so she was rooting for me anyway.

Were there any major changes you had to make, or did you have it pretty well already?

I’m a perfectionist, so I edited it about seven times before I put it up on Smashwords, and got some great feedback from readers there. I edited it one more time, and then submitted it to Espresso Books. We still worked together and edited it two more times, but the heavy lifting was pretty much done.

What one thing have you learned that will help you the most in future projects?

Honestly, never give up. Until you close it yourself, every door is always open to you.

Thank you, Jim, for sharing a little about your process!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Giveaway: Dark Parties

In a world shrouded in fear and lies, how can you shed light on the truth?

Sixteen-year-old Neva lives in Homeland, an isolated country separated from the rest of the world by the Protectosphere. The government insists there’s nothing beyond its borders, but as Homeland’s resources dwindle, people, girls mainly, have started to go missing. If there’s no way out of the Protectosphere, where are they going? Suspecting the government is lying about everything, Neva and her friends stage a Dark Party in the hope of uncovering the truth and finding the freedom they dream about.

Does that not sound like an awesome book? Because, I think it does and I totally have a copy to give away to TWO lucky readers!

To enter, just fill out THIS form! Contest is US Only and ends July 31.

Want more? Check out this book excerpt, and the book's Facebook page!

About The Author: Sara Grant is an American living in the UK. Born and raised in Washington, Indiana, Sara graduated from Indiana University with degrees in journalism and psychology. She now works as a freelance writer and editor for Working Partners, a London-based company creating series fiction for children. She lives in London with her husband. This is her first novel.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

In My Mailbox

Area author Rosemary Clement-Moore did a signing last weekend for her newest release Texas Gothic, which of course I didn't miss. Though she just signed books, I still had an awesome time hanging out with people before we grabbed Rosemary and headed off to The Cheesecake Factory for an early dinner and, well, cheesecake. And while I did get a picture of Rosemary and me... my camera went MIA this week in my apartment (I blame the dog, and that also means these pics were taken with my phone so sorry they look weird...), so those will have to come later. But in the meantime... with that... I bring you guys this week's books, both bought and for review!

For Review:
The Pledge by Kimberly Derting
Blood Ties by Mari Mancusi
The Predicteds by Christine Seifert
Stoner & Spaz by Ron Koertge
Now Playing: Stoner & Spaz II by Ron Koertge
(Huge thanks to Kimberly Derting + Simon & Schuster, Berkley Press, Sourcebooks Fire, and BlueSlip Media)

Borrowed from Katie:
The Rivals by Daisy Whitney
The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith

Bought at Rosemary's signing:
Texas Gothic
Prom Dates from Hell
Hell Week
Highway to Hell

So that was my week! Let me know what you guys got!

IMM is a weekly meme hosted by The Story Siren.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Character Top Ten: Bean and Henry from Pearl

To help celebrate the release of her latest book, Pearl, the lovely Jo Knowles has been kind enough to share some favorites for two of the big characters in the book. Sure, you can learn a lot while you read the book, but there's always those little nuggets of info that often just don't make it in... and so with this list, you now get that!

Bean and Henry’s Favorites list:

1. Favorite song: Anyone Else But You, by the Moldy Peaches
2. Favorite movie: An Affair To Remember
3. Favorite snack: Frozen Mini-Snickers dunked in coffee
4. Favorite footwear: Flip-flops
5. Favorite TV Show: Days of Our Lives (but only because they bonded over it)
6. Favorite breakfast: Entenmann’s Raspberry Danish Twist
7. Favorite meal: Roasted Veggie Lasagna
8. Favorite dessert: Suzie Q’s
9. Favorite city: New York
10. Favorite hangout: The river

Thank you, Bean and Henry, for sharing your favorites and congrats, Jo, on the release!

Pearl is out now, so make sure you guys all check it out! Bean and Henry are great characters, and definitely ones you don't want to miss!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Book Review: Stealing Bases by Keri Mikulski

SUMMARY: Reformed mean girl Kylie Collins desperately wants to put the craziness of basketball season behind her. (And with it, her cheater ex, Zachary Murphy.) Maybe she'll finally be able to silence her snarky streak and concentrate on her lifelong dream - being recruited for Division One softball.

But when Kylie arrives at her first softball practice of the season, she comes face-to-face with her worst nightmare: Amber McDonald, the best pitcher in the state.

Now, Kylie's forced to warm the bench as Amber wows crowds again and again. With all the drama happening out on the softball diamond, Kylie finds herself drawn back to bad habits-sabotaging people and hanging out with a certain Zachary Murphy. . .


The Short Version:
Cute and fun yet still having plenty of more emotional scenes, Stealing Games is another great installment in the Pretty Tough series that will leave readers with that can't help but grin feeling. Kylie is headstrong and independent to a fault, yet Mikulski weaves her development perfectly to match this. Withe a range of fun side characters, a cheating yet still frustratingly endearing hottie to contend with, and a well paced plot, Stealing Bases definitely will hit with readers who like their romance with a side of sports.

The Extended Version:
Kylie is the kind of girl who keeps things to herself, even from her best friend, carrying too much baggage to really let anyone in. Still in love with her cheating ex, but trying hard to not get back with him, signs that things are starting to unravel for Kylie show up early. As things continue to rain down on her, things really pick up and her responses to things are completely understandable and logical for her characterization. Though she makes many mistakes, and definitely does things that readers will quirk an eyebrow to, Mikulski has infused her motivations and emotional reasons so strongly into the book that it's easy to overlook the whiny brat that Kylie can sometimes be when things get especially rough.

Zachary is just as hot as he seemed in Head Games, endearing and charming yet still unable to stop being a player. Even as Kylie struggles to resist his attempts to win her back, readers can easily understand why and might even find themselves starting to root for him again. Mikulski easily hits the gray space with this character, but definitely does not leave things dangling at the end.

The remainder of the characters have just enough to make them fleshed out and different, while still letting the story focus on Kylie. From mean girl type interactions to true friendship, there is a big range of relationship types in this book and each one is well placed and adds quite a bit to things overall.

The plot has a steady pace, focused on Kylie more than anything but holding plenty of outside factors that help drive things as well. Though predictable in some ways, Mikulski still weaves a very enjoyable and fun to read story while also not shying away from the inner turmoil that comes with the feeling of everything falling apart. From Kylie seeing the truth about people around her to friends that won't just give up on her to the softball aspect of the book, this one has plenty to keep it going and keep readers interested. Stealing Bases is another great installment in the Pretty Tough series that blends sports, romance, and great characters.

Source: Received from author/publisher in exchange for an honest review 
Reading level: Young Adult 
Paperback: 272 pages 
Publisher: Razorbill; Original edition (July 7, 2011)

Waiting on Wednesday

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine.

This week's pick is Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi, coming Febray 7, 2012 from Harper Teen.

Summary: Exiled from her home, the enclosed city of Reverie, Aria knows her chances of surviving in the outer wasteland—nicknamed The Death Shop—are slim. If the cannibals don’t get her, the violent, electrified energy storms eventually will. In this dystopia, even the very air she breathes could kill her. Then Aria meets an Outsider named Perry. He’s wild, dangerous—a savage. He’s also her only hope.

Perry needs Aria, too. She alone holds the key to his redemption. And their unlikely alliance will determine the fate of all who live under the never sky.

My Thoughts: Cannibals? Electrified energy storms? Air that kills you? Yeah. This one just sounds like a million kinds of awesome. It seems like the kind of dystopian that is obviously not our world and yet, one that we can all easily imaging it turning into in the coming years. Add in that who I assume will be the love interest is a savage?!? Yes please. And if he isn't the love interest, well, he's still a savage and he gets points from me.  Plus, I want to know why Aria is exiled. And what she has to do to survive. And why Perry needs redemption. Basically, I want this book like now. So someone should send it to me. Also, I love love love this cover. The colors are so stunning, and so well put together, mostly dark with a touch of light that ties it all together. The girl looks really intense, and pretty much bad ass, and I love the tree branch type stuff she's walking out of, or perhaps it's something else? Regardless. I like. And I want.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

One Word Answer Author Interview: Jennifer Echols

Instead of the usual question/answer kind of interview, to help celebrate her latest romantic drama release Love Story, I challenged Jennifer Echols to answer my questions with only one word. Easy at first, right? Well, see how you'd answer the questions and check out her answers!

What's your favorite name in the world, besides Jennifer?


If you were a demigod, what god/goddess would be your parent?


You're a shape shifter! What kind?

There’s more than one kind?

Which of the five senses would be hardest for you to lose?


What kind of cake/confection would you describe yourself as?


Thank you, Jennifer, and congrats on the latest release!

Make sure you guys all check out Love Story, out today!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Character Interview + Contest: Ash, Colt and Raja from Wildefire

There's this book coming out next week that I really, really love. And in it, there are quite a few characters who I think are fantastically well done, so when I had the chance to steal a few for an interview, I jumped on it. With that intro, I bring you guys not only a chance to win a copy of Karsten Knight's (stellar) debut Wildefire, but to also meet Ash, Colt and Raja...definitely some of my favorite characters from the book. I will even say, Raja is my #1 favorite. Who is #2? Someone not in this interview, so you need to read the book to find out.

Kari: Welcome Ash, Colt and Raja. To get things started, why don't you each tell me and my readers about yourselves in four words.

Ash: I burn things...accidentally?

Colt: Hopeless romantic park ranger.

Raja: I am NOT high-maintenance!

Ash: Colt, are you saying you're a hopeless romantic, or that you're hopeless and romantic?

Colt: Interpret at will.

Kari: *laughs* I think I might go with hopeless and romantic, for the record. But now for the good stuff of your story. Raja and Ash, what's the best part of being goddesses?

Ash: [Looks at hands] Maybe that I'll never have to invest in a BBQ? I'm still figuring that one out.

Raja: And I'm still waiting for my new goddess status to come with a credit card and a monthly allowance. Seriously, didn't people used to build shrines for us, or make offerings to us?

Ash: If you couldn't tell already, Raja really has her priorities straight.

Raja: Oh shut up, see if I let you borrow a pair of gladiator sandals again.

Kari: I can't say I really blame Raja on those priorities. Now, getting a little more into things, and without spoilers, what scene was the most intense for each of you?

Raja: I don't know how to answer this without spoilers, so I'll just say "the Masquerade Ball."

Ash: My forest meeting with the Cloak. And the entire second half of the book.

Colt: Page 392. 

Kari: *makes a face at Colt* Yeah. I bet you like that page. Well. I think we should about rap this up, so is there anything else any of you want to say to my readers before you go?

Ash: Happy reading, and you might want to invest in a good pair of oven mitts before you open the book. Maybe a fire extinguisher too. 

Thank you, Ash, Raja and Colt for stopping by, and congrats Karsten on the release!

Wildefire is out next Tuesday, the 26th, and you definitely do NOT want to miss this one! And to spice things up for Karsten's release even more, there's a twitter party going on July 25 starting at 9 pm EST. Make sure you're there, because it is going to be awesome. And you can interrogate Karsten. And maybe win things? You'll have to come to find out!

But if you just can't wait that long, then now is your chance to win a copy! Just fill out THIS form, and you're automatically entered.

Contest is US Only, and ends July 25.

No entries will be accepted through the comments, but they are more than welcome!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Character Top Ten List with Tens from Wildcat Fireflies

I'm mixing things up a bit here today, and instead of doing a character interview, I've asked Tens, from Amber Kizer's Meridian and Wildcat Fireflies, what his ten favorite things are. And I have to say, this list gives you a really good idea of how Tens is, and I can totally see these things after meeting him.

Tens’s Top Ten Favorite Things:
10) The Ugly Burger at Bub’s in Carmel, but really food in general
9) SafetySuit “Someone Like You”
8) Kid Rock “Born Free”
7) Joi’s Kitchen Sink cookies—anything with butter and sugar in them.
6) The iPad—all technology toys
5) Fast cars and open roads
4) Custos—she’s my best friend—hell, that sounds mushy.
3) Clean socks—too many weeks of wearing the same pair until they could walk by themselves make me enjoy new ones everyday now
2) Running
1) Meridian, especially when she’s relaxed and sleeping with her head on my chest and her fingers wrapped around mine

Thank you, Tens, for sharing some of your favorites, and congrats, Amber, on another release!

Make sure you guys all check out Meridian and its follow up Wildcat Fireflies, both out now!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Vanish Teaser Tour: Team Will! + Annotated ARC Giveaway!

Okay, so I know all week long, an ongoing excerpt from Sophie Jordan's Vanish has been making you guys all drool. And on Thursday, Alex over at Electrifying Reviews told you why Cassian is a better pairing for Jacinda. But today? I'm telling you why Will is the hottie du jour and the one you should be salivating over. Or, you know, you could stick with Cassian and leave Will for me and only me. I wouldn't necessarily complain.

So I have a lot for you guys today, from my Team Will argument to a chance to enter to win a TOTALLY marked up, annotated ARC of Vanish. I have no idea what Sophie's writing in it, but she's telling you her comments and maybe even a secret or two. Yeah. I'm jealous of who wins this.

Now let's get this kicked off! I bring you guys: Team Will All the Way

While I can appreciate Cassian, and admit that he has his moments of hotness, it’s Will that my heart lies with… and who I think makes a better pairing for Jacinda. In an environment where Jacinda’s draki side was being wasted away, a dry place that made even her skin uncomfortable, Will reignited the part of herself that she seems to value the most. And face it, when a guy can literally make you steam, he gets major points in his favor.

But Will’s hot looks… angsty tormented side… and gentle ways aside, he and Jacinda connect in a way that she doesn’t connect with Cassian. With Cassian, she has to worry about being some huge celebrity practically when it comes to the pride. While I don't doubt that Cassian views her with far more emotion and sensitivity than the rest of the pride, Will just views her as… well, pretty much as someone to love and take care of.

And if that’s not enough, then there’s the kissing. Holy hormones batman, these two have some steamy kisses, and not just because Jacinda’s wings have a tendency to want to expand and her breath becomes a steamfest when Will’s around. Nope. There is an undeniable chemistry between them that frankly, Cassian just doesn’t have, locked at the lips or otherwise. (Gasp! Did I just tell you she kisses Cassian? Uh. No. I didn't. But there IS kissing in Vanish. And it's hot. And you should read it to find out because seriously, some of the hottest kisses around.) Plus! She's known Cassian for years, with not much more than a wrinkled nose in response. But with Will? Instant attraction, and by the time Cassian could even come close to that kind of hot attraction, Jacinda and Will are, well, let's just say it's a few notches above Cassian.

Yeah, Cassian is kind and endearing, but Will is the guy who wants to break out of the life he knows not only for Jacinda but himself as well. He’s the guy that will put her first. And he’s the guy that risks everything so they can be together. Besides, you will get a lot more of Cassian in Vanish, and maybe not as much Will (or is he splashed across the pages? Read to find out!), and yet I still am totally Team Will. That's saying something.

So yes please, Will Rutledge is the winning guy. He’s the best of both worlds, and you know what I mean if you’ve read Firelight (and if you haven’t, why not? You should get on that like now!). Also. He drives a Hummer. And it's loaded with weapons. Yeah. It’s hot.

And that, lovelies, is why Will is obviously the way to go. Rawr. Times like ten.

So what do you guys think? Team Will or Team Cassian?

Because with that, and the answer to a trivia question related to the excerpts posted throughout the week, now is your chance to win Sophie's very last Vanish ARC that is up for grabs, marked up with her commentary. Absolutely one of a kind item, so get ready!

To enter, just fill out THIS form and answer this question: Who is driving the car when Jacinda's group runs into the hunters?

This contest is US only (focused on getting buzz for the US release of Vanish, coming September 6!) and ends July 27.

But international readers (and everyone else), don't fret! You have the chance to win signed Firelight and Vanish swag simply by leaving me a comment! Easy, right? Fill out the form to enter for the ARC, comment to enter for the swag, and just because surely you have something to say about Will or Cassian or the books or Sophie.

And did you miss any of the stops this week, or aren't sure the answer to the trivia question? Then just check out the links of the awesome bloggers who helped put this together, and comment on each of their posts for an additional chance to win a swag pack!

Sunday, July 10: Mundie Moms
Monday, July 11: The Book Scout
Tuesday, July 12: IB Book Blogging
Wednesday, July 13: Reading Teen
Thursday, July 14: Electrifying Reviews
Friday, July 15: Once Upon A Twilight

Friday, July 15, 2011

Into the Past with Lisa Papademetriou

I always think it's interesting to find out what books authors loved as kids, and how that changed as they got into their teen years. So now, quick and concise, I bring you the past loves of Siren's Storm author Lisa Papademetriou!

Age 5: 
The Tale of Peter Rabbit: I found Farmer MacGregor terrifying, but oddly compelling. Also, the idea that he would want to turn Peter into a pie seemed particularly perverse. Rabbit pie? Um, gimme strawberry rhubarb.

Book of Fairy Tales: This is an ancient book of fairy tales that my great-grandfather bought for my grandmother when he was stationed in France during World War I. My grandfather was German, but the book is in English, and has the most beautiful illustrations I’ve ever seen. I was obsessed with this book for years--long after most children stop reading fairy tales.

Age 11: 
Chronicles of Narnia: I read all of these books multiple times. The one I liked the least (the Magician’s Nephew), I still read thirteen times. I guess I was a weird kid.

Earthsea Cycle: I recently re-read A Wizard of Earthsea, and found the syntax surprisingly challenging. This was a relief, because I had trouble reading this when I was a kid. I still loved it, though. It’s a true novel of ideas--it has the utmost respect for young readers’ intelligence.

Lord of the Flies: I *loved* this book, even though I found it horrifying.

Age 16:

Brave New World: I had to read this for an English class, and it was the book I loved most that year. It’s one of those futuristic novels written long ago that gets some of our present hilariously wrong, and some of it terrifyingly right. If The House of the Scorpion had existed then, I think I would have loved that, too. it has a similar theme.

Slaughterhouse Five: Kurt Vonnegut is the kind of writer I liked to read for fun. He’s easy to read, but there are really interesting concepts and characters in his work. I remember liking this much more than the word “Slaughterhouse” suggested I would.

Dune: When I went on my Yale college interview, the interviewer asked, “What is the last book you read?” Instead of saying something intellectual, like, “I really enjoyed Middlemarch,” I told the truth, and said, “Dune.” I think that--and the fact that I laughed, snorting water out of my nose and into my lap--is why I didn’t get into Yale. But I don’t even care, because Dune really was awesome. And I liked going to Vassar, anyway.

Age 20:
The Marriage of Heaven and Hell: I wrote my thesis on William Blake. This book has a lot of really witty, insightful things to say.

The Screwtape Letters: More C.S. Lewis. I just love this book. It’s written from the point of view of a demon trying to help his nitwit nephew worm his way into someone’s soul. It’s really short, very funny, and a really great guide to life.

Northanger Abbey: Best Jane Austen novel ever. It’s really funny, and about writing.

So there you guys have it, a look into the past book loves of Lisa! How many of those were favorites for you guys?

Make sure you guys also check out Siren's Storm, coming July 12!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Book Review: Dead Rules by Randy Russell

SUMMARY: Till death

Jana Webster and Michael Haynes were in love. They were destined to be together forever.


But Jana's destiny was fatally flawed. And now she's in Dead School, where Mars Dreamcote lurks in the back of the classroom, with his beguiling blue eyes, mysterious smile, and irresistibly warm touch.


Michael and Jana were incomplete without each other. There was no room for Mars in Jana's life—or death—story. Jana was sure Michael would rush to her side soon.


But things aren't going according to Jana's plan. So Jana decides to do whatever it takes to make her dreams come true—no matter what rules she has to break.


The Short Version:
Fresh in concept and witty overall, Dead Rules definitely puts a unique spin on life after death. Though the characters came off as flat many times, and there was an overall lack of voice for this reader, it's a well put together mix of mystery and a new existence. With some very interesting elements mixed in, and classifications that are easy to understand and get behind, Russell's debut shows promise.

The Extended Version:
Jana is admittedly annoying a little too much, too focused on and obsessed with the idea of her perfect relationship with her boyfriend, but she also has a strong internal drive that overrides this often. Though blind in some ways to things, but very willing to experience and take in others, Jana has many aspects about her that will resonate with readers. Her frustration and determination come through in a strong way, and the development she goes through will leave a lasting impression on readers.

Mars is well done overall, and though a little more depth to him would have made him a highly memorable character, he still stands to be remembered in a positive manner. Tormented in all the right ways, with a solid motivation behind his actions, Mars definitely puts the sexy and enticing into ghosts. Able to strengthen Jana as well, Mars is easily one of the best aspects of this book.

The remainder of the characters fall into various categories, be it the looks into the lives of those Jana has left behind, and other ghosts that she now encounters. The various stories of how people died are intriguing and original, though beyond this look, many of the characters were admittedly flat and not as well fleshed out as they could have been.

The concept of this one is very interesting, although the first chunk of the book comes off as a little too question then answer, telling more than showing in terms of the world Jana now finds herself in along with its confines and restraints. Though there are certain aspects of this world to be explored, the actual reveal of many of them wasn't as gripping as it could have been. Though the murder mystery aspect was not strong enough to carry the book, and was washed out by everything else, it was well put together, unique in presentation, and well motivated overall.

While there was a lack of voice given the genre, Russell's writing is solid and interesting. Despite being written in third person, Russell does a remarkable job of avoiding mind jumping while letting the reader get fully into Jana's head, and giving looks at other characters in sections all their own as needed. The alternations and transitions are smooth and easy to follow, building on the overall plot at a steady rate. This, mixed with the very fresh concept, lends Dead Rules to be a promising debut that is quick but enjoyable to read.

Source: ARC received from author/publisher in exchange for an honest review 
Reading level: Young Adult 
Hardcover: 384 pages 
Publisher: HarperTeen
Publication Date: June 21, 2011