Wednesday, February 29, 2012

February Monthly News

Welcome to the February Edition of Monthly News!
We had mixed reviews from the Groundhogs in regards to the weather. The Canadian groundhogs are sure there will be less of a winter, while the American Groundhog is sure for more.Thankfully I live in Canada.
Valentines Day was sweet. The hubster took a day off work, to treat me like a queen. It was awesome! I was definitely spoiled rotten.
I also was Tagged by Shirley at My Bookshelf. It was fun to Tag others, even if I messed up a bit. Read about it HERE.


BOOKS:
1. Flirts - Lisa Scott
2. Beach Flirts -Lisa Scott
3. Holiday Flirts - Lisa Scott
4. Moon Spell - Samantha Young (recommend)
5. Mornings with Jesus
6. The Legacy of Eden - Nelle Davy
7. Heart of Ice - Lis Weihl (recommend)
8. Put on Your Crown - Queen Latifah
9. Fairy Tale Flirts - Lisa Scott
10. Queen Pin - Jemeker Thompson-Hairston
11. The Pocket Therapist - Therese J. Borchard
12. God Never Blinks - Regina Brett
13. Forgive Yourself - Allie Sager
14. 12.21.12 - Killian McRae (recommend)
15. Ponga Boy - Phil Lebherz & Philip Reed
16. Initiation - Imogen Rose (HIGHLY recommend)

PAGE COUNT:
7052


PRODUCTS:
1. Nail Art Stickers

Yearly Total: 27 Books, 1 Product


FREDA'S FAVE FIVE (In No Particular Order):
1. Moon Spell
2. Initiation
3. Heart of Ice
4. 12.21.12
5. Fairy Tale Flirts


BOOK OF THE MONTH:
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AUTHOR GUEST POSTS:
1. 13 Things You'll Learn From Reading Murder, Mayhem and Mama by Christie Craig
2. A Storyteller's Dream - E. Van Lowe
3. With Rita J. Webb


AUTHOR INTERVIEWS:
1. With Dana Michelle Burnett
2. With Andrew Gavin
3. With Nelle Davy
4. With Ernst Dabel
5. With Hilary Thomson


SPONSORED POSTS:
1. #TouchDowny Super Bowl Twitter Giveaway
2. Share Your Kids Funniest Moments on TV!
3. Gravity Cover Reveal
4. Inbetween Cover Reveal with Excerpt
5. Luminosity Cover Reveal


SPONSORED GIVEAWAYS:
1. E. Van Lowe Book Set
2. Sweeter Than Birdsong
3. Embraced by God
4. Initiation

#27: Initiation Imogen Rose (WIth Giveaway)

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Welcome to Bonfire Academy!
Set in the foothills of the alpine mountains in St.Moritz, this exclusive private school caters to a special kind of student. Enter at your own risk... but if you are human, you may not want to enter at all.
WARNING: This YA story is set in a school for paranormals who are very different from normal human teens. Thus, the language and some scenes might not be appropriate for younger YA readers. Recommended for those sixteen and above.
INITIATION is the first book in the prequel series (Bonfire Academy) of the Bonfire Chronicles.

Kindle Edition: 1097 KB
Publisher: Imogen Rose (November 23, 2011)
ASIN: B006DI7XH6


My Opinion:
I couldn't get enough of this book, the idea around it, and everything it was about! It was sooooo good! Paranormal fans are going to go insane when they read this cool tale, that is almost reminiscent of the Xmen school, but so much more.
I couldn't get enough of this book, and I loved the violent nature, which it was at times.


5/5


Recommend? YES!!!


~I received a copy from Bewitching Book Tours. I was not compensated for my opinion.~




And Now the Giveaway....
(Comments here DO NOT count.)


4 signed paperback copies of INITIATION

1 of each:
Inititation Sack Pack
Initiation Bear
Initiation Toiletry bag
Initiation Gym Bag

8 winners total

Open to US Shipping Only!
Fill in the Rafflecopter form to enter.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Nail Art Stickers


Onlinenailbar.com stock a fantastic range of nail art stickers.
Each sheet contains between 30 and 60+ stickers so this means that you can complete multiple manicures or share with friends. This product is extremely affordable at only £1.25 each.
Nail art stickers are easy to use and create a professional looking manicure which ends up costing pennies.

My Opinion:
I had a lot of fun messing about with this nail art. I chose red polish, with art, for my first set.
I'm glad I enjoyed doing it, since they didn't stick on very tight and within 2 days had fallen off.
Still looked good though.
Then I tried a green base with another design.
This one stuck on better, and ironically the last sticker fell off today!
I loved designing my nails though. It was fun and easy to use. I think teenage girls would get a kick out of these things!


4/5


Recommend? Definitely.

I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Tomoson.com. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

Teaser Tuesday

SHOULD BE READING


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Accepting his connection to others, the traveler must take up company on his journey. The giving of gifts symbolizes friendship, love and trust. Loneliness has passed.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Cover Real: Luminosity - Stephanie Thomas

LUMINOSITY (Luminosity, #1) by Stephanie Thomas (September 11, 2012)


"My name is Beatrice. When I was born, I was blessed with the Sight. I was
immediately removed from my parents and enrolled in the Institution. At
the age of twelve, I had my first true vision, earning my raven’s wings.
And when I turned seventeen, one of my visions came true. Things haven’t
been the same since.

The Institution depends on me to keep the City safe from our enemy, the
Dreamcatchers, but I’m finding it harder to do while keeping a secret from
everyone, including my best friend Gabe. It is a secret that could put us
all in danger. A secret that could kill me and everyone close to me.

But the enemy has been coming to me in my dreams, and I think I’m falling
in love with him. He says they’re coming. He says they’re angry. And I
think I’ve already helped them win."

Paperback Available for Pre-Order from Amazon

Add to your Goodreads TBR

Friday, February 24, 2012

#26: Ponga Boy - Phil Lebherz & Philip Reed

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Ponga Boy is the story of a young Mexican boy s journey from small town fisherman to college soccer megastar. Pichu Castillian, alias Ponga Boy, grew up in an impoverished fishing village at the southern tip of the Baja Peninsula. Pichu is the heart and soul of the dock, a local legend who works the bait fishing boats, or pongas, with his father, and amazes locals and tourists alike with his feats of athleticism. One day he attracts the attention of two American collegiate soccer coaches. After witnessing Pichu s abilities, they offer him the opportunity of a lifetime a tryout with the University of San Francisco soccer team and a full scholarship. Pichu embarks on a journey that goes beyond soccer as he enters a world that challenges everything he s ever known and leads him to confront who he is and what he really wants in life.

Hardcover: 180 pages
Publisher: Epic Press LLC (July 19, 2009)
ISBN: 9780615201849


Author Bios:
Philip Reed s first novel, Bird Dog, earned him Edgar and Anthony award nominations. He currently test drives cars and writes features for an on-line automobile site.
Phil Lebherz founded his own company, LISI Inc., based in San Mateo, CA. He has also created the non-profit Foundation for Health Coverage Education to provide health care for people without insurance.


My Opinion:
Young boys will really get a kick out of this story about Pichu, a boy from Mexico who is amazing at soccer.
Parents will enjoy the book for the lessons it tries to teach kids reading it. It references bullying and perseverance, which are great and valuable things to teach kids.
A really fun story too!


3/5


Recommend? To boys ages 10-13.


~I received a copy from the author. I was not compensated for my opinion.~

Thursday, February 23, 2012

The Friday 56

Welcome to Week 64 with me!


Rules:
*Grab a book, any book.
*Turn to page 56.
*Find any sentence, (or few, just don't spoil it) that grabs you.
*Post it.
*Add your (url) post below in Linky. Add the post url, not your blog url.

It's that simple.

(If graphic doesn't load, refresh page.)
 
Pichu heard the words but they didn't fully sink in. There had always been fish in the sea, so many fish you could run across their backs all the way up to the shore. True, there had been some bad days recently, but then the next day of fishing was fine. Now his mother's words frightened him. A horrible image flashed into his mind of a still, lifeless sea, an empty sea. And it made him panicky and hot.



Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Giveaway: EBook: 12.21.12 - Killian McRae

Archaeologist Sheppard Smyth has staked his career and the honorable memory of his deceased wife and partner on proving his widely-panned theory: Cleopatra VII, last ruler of Ancient Egypt, was murdered. When a statue of the doomed Queen is discovered in an Olmec excavation site in Mexico, Shep rushes to investigate and, hopefully, find the proof that has evaded him for so long. Soon, he finds himself in the middle of the rivalry between the sexy, enigmatic international thief, Victoria Kent, and infamous rumored Russian mobster, Dmitri Kronastia. Both hold pieces to the puzzle that will finally shed light on Cleopatras death, as they vie for Shep's trust and assistance. As he is drawn further into their world of ancient gods, supernatural powers, and alternative history, little does Shep know that the fate of all humanity may hinge on his ability to discover the truth in between Victoria and Dmitris' fragmented claims and hidden identities. Working to decode the ancient past while attempting to save the future, Shep becomes a common pawn played by forces working to see out a quest older than the pyramids themselves and cloaked by the Mayan prophecy of 12.21.12.


Thanks to the author, Killian McRae, I have one Nook or Kindle copy up for grabs to a lucky winner.
Fill in the Rafflecopter form to enter, but be sure to complete the mandatory entry, I do check.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Teaser Tuesday

SHOULD BE READING



The stupid bird tried to do even more damage to my nose by pecking at it. Even though it was against the rules, I grabbed her wing and tore it off of her.

#25: 12.21.12 - Killian McRae


Archaeologist Sheppard Smyth has staked his career and the honorable memory of his deceased wife and partner on proving his widely-panned theory: Cleopatra VII, last ruler of Ancient Egypt, was murdered. When a statue of the doomed Queen is discovered in an Olmec excavation site in Mexico, Shep rushes to investigate and, hopefully, find the proof that has evaded him for so long. Soon, he finds himself in the middle of the rivalry between the sexy, enigmatic international thief, Victoria Kent, and infamous rumored Russian mobster, Dmitri Kronastia. Both hold pieces to the puzzle that will finally shed light on Cleopatras death, as they vie for Shep's trust and assistance. As he is drawn further into their world of ancient gods, supernatural powers, and alternative history, little does Shep know that the fate of all humanity may hinge on his ability to discover the truth in between Victoria and Dmitris' fragmented claims and hidden identities. Working to decode the ancient past while attempting to save the future, Shep becomes a common pawn played by forces working to see out a quest older than the pyramids themselves and cloaked by the Mayan prophecy of 12.21.12.

Paperback: 266 pages
Publisher: Tulipe Noire Press (November 1, 2011)
ISBN: 9780983979722

Author Bio:
Killian McRae considers herself a fan of history, and tries to reflect this love in her fiction writing. In her debut novel, 12.21.12, she combined Ancient Mesoamerican and Egyptian history with hints of romance, suspense, and science fiction. Her current release, "A Love by Any Measure," is a historical romance set in the 1860's against the backdrop of English-Irish tensions and the uprising of the Fenian Brotherhood.
Killian holds a BA in Near Eastern History from the University of Michigan. She makes her home in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband and two children.


My Opinion:
I know people are going to see the title of the book and immediately think of the buzz surrounding the event of the Mayan calendar. However, look past the title and delve into a sci-fi mystery with a twist.
It was a great story! It pulled me right into this world, our world, but felt unlike our world. The characters were fun to read while interacting with each other, you really get a sense of the chemistry.
Great writing and story telling! Fans of all types will like this one.


3.5/5


Recommend? Yes.


~I received a copy from the author. I was not compensated for my opinion.~

Monday, February 20, 2012

#24: Forgive Yourself - Allie Sager


Evocative and filled with a rare compassion, Forgive Yourself by new author Allie Sager blends supernatural dreamscapes with affairs of the heart and unforgivable betrayal. Smart and telling, the author enlists a stunning and heartfelt prose to weave one woman’s reluctant love story. On the surface to the outside world, Sammy Logan might appear to be a woman who has it all, but the fact is she is married to a man who has never truly forgiven her for a past she had no control over. Haunted each day by the vivid secret, she turns to Conner Simpson, a man she has always loved—the man without question who makes her feel complete. Caught on the brink, confused, but certainly not alone, Sammy must first forgive herself, make peace with the dark demons of her past and her mystic ancestral visions before she can truly be free.

Paperback: 196 pages
Publisher: BookSurge Publishing (June 14, 2008)
ISBN: 9781419695162

Author Bio:
Allie Sager is an avid poet, essayist, and journalist with keen insight and passion for veterans’ issues. A proud mother and grandmother, she lives with her husband on their Nebraskan farm.


My Opinion:
This wasn't my cup of tea and for several reasons. I appreciate a good story, even if it has immoral things that I don't agree with. Which this did, with infidelity. I know, not the end of the world, but the story was so focused on this "other" relationship, that at times I thought it lacked anything else.
Yeah, not one I'll be writing home about. Sorry.


1/5


Recommend? Um.... no.


~I received a copy from the author. I was not compensated for my opinion.~

#23: God Never Blinks - Regina Brett


Already an internet phenomenon, these wise and insightful lessons by popular newspaper columnist and Pulitzer Prize finalist Regina Brett will make you see the possibilities in your life in a whole new way.
When Regina Brett turned 50, she wrote a column on the 50 lessons life had taught her. She reflected on all she had learned through becoming a single parent, looking for love in all the wrong places, working on her relationship with God, battling cancer and making peace with a difficult childhood. It became one of the most popular columns ever published in the newspaper, and since then the 50 lessons have been emailed to hundreds of thousands of people.
Brett now takes the 50 lessons and expounds on them in essays that are deeply personal. From "Don't take yourself too seriously-Nobody else does" to "Life isn't tied with a bow, but it's still a gift," these lessons will strike a chord with anyone who has ever gone through tough times--and haven't we all?

Paperback: 256 pages
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing; Reprint edition (April 20, 2011)
ISBN: 9780446556514


My Opinion:
There are a lot of valuable lessons in this book, ones that most of us live our daily lives by, or at least try to.
It shows what the lessons are and how to connect them in your everyday life.
Each little vignette in this book I could relate to and found myself really thinking about how close to my own ideals it really was.
I liked challenging my moral compass, and this book was the reason for it.


4/5


Recommend? Yes, it's a great book to keep around to keep you grounded.


~I received a copy from Hachette Book Group. I was not compensated for my opinion.~

Cover Reveal: Inbetween by Tara Fuller (With Excerpt)

INBETWEEN (Kissed by Death, #1) by Tara Fuller (August 7, 2012)

Since the car crash that took her father’s life three years ago, Emma’s
life has been a freaky—and unending—lesson in caution. Surviving
“accidents” has taken priority over being a normal seventeen-year-old, so
Emma spends her days taking pictures of life instead of living it. Falling
in love with a boy was never part of the plan. Falling for a reaper who
makes her chest ache and her head spin? Not an option.

It’s not easy being dead, especially for a reaper in love with a girl fate
has put on his list not once, but twice. Finn’s fellow reapers give him
hell about spending time with Emma, but Finn couldn't let her die before,
and he’s not about to let her die now. He will protect the girl he loves
from the evil he accidentally unleashed, even if it means sacrificing the
only thing he has left…his soul.

Paperback Available for Pre-Order from Amazon

Add to your Goodreads TBR


Chapter 1
Finn

Sometimes Emma made me feel so alive, I almost forgot I was dead.
Almost.
I sank down onto the side of her bed, amazed by the blazing wildfire that swept through me whenever Emma was near enough to touch. I took a deep, unneeded breath, and settled down on my side next to her. The mattress didn’t sink. The springs didn’t groan with the weight of an extra body. The distance between us was an impossible void. Inches that might as well have been miles. Miles that left me wanting in so many ways that I ached.
Even the sun couldn’t resist her. Its glowing rays caressed her skin, and stained her hair the satiny color of summer wheat. Before I knew what was happening, my hand followed their lead. Cells ignited. My skin burned, screaming with the agonizing need to touch—
“What do you think you’re doing?”
I jerked my hand away just as Easton melted up from the polished hardwood floor beneath the window. Like an oil slick coming to life, he unfolded his long, shadowy legs until he was just an ink blot against the square of tangerine sunrise behind him. His violet eyes pinned me like a kid caught with his hand in the cookie jar.
Which, I kind of was.
“Nothing,” I lied.
“Yeah, looked like nothing.” He strolled across the room accompanied by a wave of sulfur and smoke, the black serpent tattoo on his neck glinting. “What were you planning to do, recite her poem? I swear to God, if you were still alive I’d confiscate your man card.”
I ignored the barb and scrunched up my nose. “Jesus, Easton. Don’t they have a shower somewhere between here and the afterlife?”
“Screw you. You didn’t just have to tow somebody’s grandpa to Hell.” He brushed something chalky and grey off of his cloak and a shudder worked its way down my spine. God only knows who or what it belonged to. “Besides I wasn’t the one about to feel up a sleeping human.”
“I wasn’t—”
“Save it.” He waved his hand. “We have work to do. I don’t have time for your useless obsession with the human today.”
“Will you please stop calling her that?”
“What?” Easton glanced up from Emma’s vanity, where he’d been inspecting the various lotions and bottles like he was on some alien planet. Then again, Easton had been dead for something like four hundred years, so all of her stuff probably was sort of alien to him.
“The human. You make me sound like a freak. It’s not like we’re a different species for God’s sake. We were humans, too, or don’t you remember that far back?”
“Were. Past tense.”
We could have gone back and forth like that for hours, but the call came. It always did. It started in my bones—a cold so cutting that it sliced through me like a machete. When I looked up, Easton’s jaw was clenched, his muscles taut and ready. He slowly closed his hand around the handle of his scythe that burned black and softly smoked at his side. I flexed my fingers as the icy ribbons of death worked their way through each one of my limbs.
“Can you take this one for me?” I asked. “You’re already going to be there, and I just got back—”
“No,” Easton said. “Hell no. I have my own job to do. I can’t keep covering for your sorry ass. Besides, you’re already on thin ice with Balthazar. Don’t push your luck, Finn. Just keep your nose down, collect your souls, and thank the Almighty that you don’t have my job. Now let’s go.”
“Yeah, but…” My eyes returned to Emma. Sleeping. Perfect. Safe.
“For the love of God. She’ll be fine, you pansy.” Easton clamped a hand over my shoulder and dragged me from the bed.
“How do you know?”
He shrugged. “I don’t.”
With that he vanished, consumed in a flash by the keening wails of the damned. The screams beckoned. Clawed at me from the inside out.
Rule one as a seeker: Death doesn’t wait for anyone.
And it sure as hell wasn’t waiting for me now.

This excerpt is the property of Entangled Publishing, LLC. All rights reserved.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Get to Know Author Rita J. Webb

Happy Sunday readers!
Today we have author, Rita J. Webb, joining us to talk about her book, Transcendent: Tales of the Paranormal, and answer a few questions for us.
So Rita, tell us about Transcendent: Tales of the Paranormal;

Transcendent: Tales of the Paranormal is a YA paranormal romance anthology, consisting of 8 stories by some wonderful authors. But why reinvent the wheel? The blurb expresses it best:
Discover the secrets of a siren, fly with a hawk girl over the mountains of Montana, and flee supernatural party-crashers as the décor comes to life in this magical journey through paranormal stories.
Along the way, watch for ghosts in a haunted house, or ride through the moonlight with a stranger. Save a comatose boy who has lost his soul, and don’t forget to bring your garlic and wolfsbane—you never know when the shadows will snag you.
Transcendent includes eight stories of magic, love, death, and choice by some of the newest names in young adult fiction.

Who or what inspires your writing?
I find inspiration in life—and for me books are just as much a part of reality. Every character contains a little of myself in them—my insecurities, my strengths, my perceptions. I pour my soul into my writing.
But it is my children who keep me going. They love to write stories because I write stories, and they have big dreams for themselves because they watch me dream.

When did you know you would be a writer?
While washing dishes as a kid, I’d invent characters and plan adventures, but it wasn’t until my mom read one of my stories in seventh grade that I was hooked. She read it out loud, and her voice savored every word as if I had created a treasure. High school and college, I thrived on writing and reading but, silly me, gave it all up for a career in Information Technology. Facing layoffs after 10 years of dedicated service, I had to decide what I really wanted to do when I grow up.

How long did it take you to write your first novel?
Working on and off for three years, I finally released Tears last summer.

I always have multiple projects in the fire, short stories and novellas and novels, and so it takes a little longer to produce a polished copy.

What is the hardest part of writing for you?
First drafts are excruciatingly painful because I want perfection from the beginning—I have all the techniques and rules and story elements racing through my head. Implementing them all at once is dang near impossible. I grit my teeth and start slamming words down, promising myself there’s plenty of time to fix it when I revise.

Do you have any writing rituals?
Music. Must have music. The music wraps around me and soothes me. Without it, every little noise—or no noise at all—steals me out of the story.

Have you written any thing else?
I have one novel (Tears) and short stories in three anthologies, but I’m also currently finishing up a few projects. This summer, Daughter of the Goddess, a fairy tale novella with echoes of the Greek myth Eros and Psyche, will be released. I am also co-authoring a short story and a novel with my husband. He shores up all my weak points as a writer, and working with him has been a dream come true.

Any advice to aspiring writers?
I recently read a list of things not to give as advice for aspiring writers, and the first in that list was to “Never give up.” The creator of this list said that some people just aren’t any good at writing and will never/should never make it to publication. I sooooooooo do not agree with this.
I am 37 years old and I do lots of things I’m not good at. Example: for the first time in my life, I’m learning ballet. Most people who know ballet learned as kids; some of those continued to follow the discipline of dance into adulthood.
With no training, no flexibility, no talent, little coordination, and only a smidge of strength for keeping my balance, I have attended my class faithfully. Determined to beat this challenge and to even excel, I have added three other dance classes to my weekly schedule on top of my ballet class. My progress is slow and I’ll never be a professional performer or instructor.
But giving up due to some vague concept of “success” is ridiculous. The benefits that dance gives me far outweighs perfection. In the same way, the art of writing benefits any writer, regardless of whether they can make it to the status of “professional author.” You learn self expression and creativity and discover adventures and depths and meaning inside you that you never knew you had.
And nobody can bring to dance the emotions and passion that I have. Nobody can express my heart and soul in dance form.
So my advice: Never give up. Nobody can pour your heart and soul into a story other than you.

Who are your favorite Authors?
The favorite above all favorites is Patricia Briggs.

What are your favorite books, or which book has impacted you the most?
I have favorites within every genre, and favorites for each year. But the ultimate favorite would be impossible to decide. So I will say instead which book impacted me the most: Reading Golden Fool by Robin Hobb is what spurred me to write. Her story crawled into me, and I knew I needed to put my own story to paper.

What are you currently reading?
Dangerous question!
Current audiobook for my car rides to work: City of Glass by Cassandra Clare
Current paperback for my own guilty pleasures: Faerie Ring by Kiki Hamilton
Current read with my oldest daughter: Princess Curse by Merrie Haskill
Current read with my middle daughter: Kaya, an American Girl book
Current read with my youngest: whatever picture book she brings me.
Current read with my husband: Hexed by Ilona Andrews and other various writers

How do readers find out more about you?
I always love chatting about books. You can find me just about anywhere on the internet:
rita@ritajwebb.com
afantasyfiction.blogspot.com
goodreads.com/RitaWebb
Facebook.com/RitaWebb
Twitter @RitaJWebb

Saturday, February 18, 2012

#22: The Pocket Therapist - Therese J. Borchard


Whenever Therese Borchard was weathering a personal storm, and help was nowhere to be found, her one guiding light was the question, "What would a therapist say?" The result was a sort of therapy scrapbook for rough days--a quick reference for anyone who needs a dose of encouragement, support and tried and true ways to cope.
THE POCKET THERAPIST is a compact and accessible guide filled with techniques and advice to help combat everything from addictive behavior to negative thinking.

Hardcover: 224 pages
Publisher: Center Street; 1 edition (April 15, 2010)
ISBN13: 9781599952994


My Opinion:
My first thought a little way into this book was I was glad the author is not really a therapist. What she is, is an in-your-face author who shoots straight talk always. You are either going to love her or hate her.
I didn't care for it, even though I laughed a couple times. I just felt like the old adage "misery loves company" played in here all too well. Not my thing.


2/5


Recommend? No.


~I received a copy from Hachette Book Group. I was not compensated for my opinion.~

Giveaway: The Obamas - Jodi Kantor


When Barack Obama won the 2008 presidential election, he also won a long-running debate with his wife Michelle. Contrary to her fears, politics now seemed like a worthwhile, even noble pursuit. Together they planned a White House life that would be as normal and sane as possible.

Then they moved in.

In the Obamas, Jodi Kantor takes us deep inside the White House as they try to grapple with their new roles, change the country, raise children, maintain friendships, and figure out what it means to be the first black President and First Lady. Filled with riveting detail and insight into their partnership, emotions and personalities, and written with a keen eye for the ironies of public life, THE OBAMAS is an intimate portrait that will surprise even readers who thought they knew the President and First Lady.


Thanks to Anna and Hachette Book Group, I have one copy up for grabs to one lucky person!
Fill in the Rafflecopter form to enter. There is a mandatory question to enter.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

The Friday 56

Welcome to Week 63 with me!


Rules:
*Grab a book, any book.
*Turn to page 56.
*Find any sentence, (or few, just don't spoil it) that grabs you.
*Post it.
*Add your (url) post below in Linky. Add the post url, not your blog url.

It's that simple.

(If graphic doesn't load, refresh page.)

It's easier to collect than dig.



#21: Queen Pin - Jemeker Thompson-Hairston


Jemeker Thompson-Hairston paid a heavy price for her involvement in the drug game. Learning from her sources of a federal investigation, Jemeker went on the run. It was love for her young son that brought her back to Los Angeles, even though she knew she would be arrested. A subsequent 15-year sentence would cost her not only her legitimate business and the fortune she'd amassed through the drug trade, but the most precious thing of all: time with her child. But not all was lost. Fortunately, while Thompson-Hairston was serving out the fifteen-year sentence, one pivotal moment helped her turn her life around, setting her on a path to help and inspire others like her. Now, in QUEEN PIN, written with New York Times bestselling author David Ritz, she reveals in gripping detail her journey of redemption that readers won't soon forget.

Hardcover: 224 pages
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing; 1 edition (June 22, 2010)
ISBN-10: 9780446542883

Author Bio:
Jemeker Thompson-Hairston started the Second Chance Evangelist Ministries (SCEM) in South Central, Los Angeles, to inspire others like her. Her mission is to show children of God that there is always a second chance in life and He will forgive.
Jemeker currently lives in Los Angeles, California.


My Opinion:
A great memoir, though not everyone will be able to handle the content. It's a very graphic and violent look into the world of drug dealing.
Though Jemeker finds God, it seems to be after she got caught. I have to wonder how long it will last now she is back in society. Praise the Lord if she stays with her faith, and heaven help her if she falls back into the game.


3/5


Recommend? To memoir fans who can appreciate the graphic nature.


~I received a copy from Hachette Book Group. I was not compensated for my opinion.~

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Get to Know Author Hilary Thomson

Good evening readers!
Tonight we have author, Hilary Thomson, joining us to talk about her book, A Will to Murder, and answer a few questions for us. Check it out.


A Will to Murder is a humorous mystery novel. When wealthy and
eccentric patriarch James Boyle dies a bizarre death, the DA declines
to investigate, convinced the victim died of natural causes. Yet even
the police are stunned when members of the Boyle family gather for the
reading of James' will--and begin to die, one at a time. Only when
long-lost Boyle relative Bradley Smith appears, along with reporter
Eric Maxwell, do the mysterious deaths finally receive a proper
investigation. Even so, no one is prepared for the lunacy that hides
beneath the family's facade.

Who or what inspires your writing?
That's an impossible question to answer. I've read mountains of
books, and the ones I like the most aren't necessarily the same ones
I'm inspired by. Many authors do bits and pieces of the whole
'formula for creating great novels' quite well. Some authors are
witty, some are excellent at plotting, some create memorable
characters, some have a wonderful style, and others are good at
physical descriptions, etc. If I had to pinpoint what I consider to
be the most important part of a story, it would have to be the
characters. Great characters are the foundation of any novel, and I
love to explore their personalities.

When did you know you would be a writer?
The first time I ever wrote a short story, I heard this confident
narrative voice coming out of my pen and said, "Hey, there's a writer
lurking in here."

How long did it take you to write your first novel?
On and off, it took about five years. A Will to Murder isn't my first
novel, but it took nearly as long. I don't believe you do your
writing any favors by trying to force it. You'll produce better work
if you give yourself time to gather plenty of ideas. You won't need
all of them, but you'll
produce a richer work. Under-conceptualization is one of the most
common faults of first novels, and will always kill your book.

What is the hardest part of writing for you?
Believe it or not, it's coming up with the title. Everything else is
easier, including writing the entire book. My brain balks at trying
to fit hundreds of pages into one short phrase. Doing a blurb is also
hard, because once I've finished a novel, it feels very strange to
tell a micro-version of the story with thousands of details all
shouting inside my head that hey, they're important, too.

Do you have any writing rituals?
Only nagging myself to sit down and do some work. If I'm reluctant to
start, thinking about some aspect of my story usually cajoles my brain
into writing mode.

Have you written any thing else?
Quite a lot, some of which is sitting in my files, and some of which
is (ahem) floating around on the internet under various pseudonyms.
The latter is the more fun and outrageous stuff.

Any advice to aspiring writers?
You need to learn how to be meticulous and detail-oriented, and this
will be tough if it's not a natural part of your personality. Target
each one of your writing weaknesses, and rewrite your book focusing on
improving those particular areas. Be willing to rethink your writing.
If a book/chapter/passage/sentence doesn't work, rethink it until it
does. Can you blend, reposition, cut, summarize, or change narrators
to make your writing work? Being flexible and thinking outside your
mental box are absolute gold in writing. Many authors are wedded to
their rough
drafts. Edit the heck out of your work. Have your computer read your
story aloud to you, because it makes your mistakes much more obvious.

Who are your favorite Authors?
There are way too many to list, but the one I admire most is Tolkien
for his world-building, the quality of his plotting, his characters,
and his high seriousness of purpose.

What are your favorite books, or which book has impacted you the most?
The books I enjoyed most during my teens were fantasy and science
fiction. I like being taken to strange times and places. As I've
grown older, I've fallen in love with history, and I'm a sucker for a
good memoir.

What are you currently reading?
Mainly obscure nonfiction from the 1800s via Project Gutenberg and
Google books. Unfortunately, my recreational reading's come to a halt
because I've been writing and editing so much. My spare time has been
spent on internet blogs, because I can squeeze them in while I'm
eating. Blogs have become my magazine reading, as they appear to have
become for many other people.

How do readers find out more about you?
Author Blog The Pongid Press

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Teaser Tuesday

SHOULD BE READING



All the time I'd been holding out on Daff didn't mean I wasn't having sex. In fact, the sex I was having put me up even higher in my little mind.

#20: Fairy Tale Flirts - Lisa Scott


Five modern takes on classic fairy tales, and the only magic is the real-life kind. Each sweet, funny, romantic short story is 10,000-13,000 words in length. The stories can be read separately, but are linked together in the collection, and wrap up in the perfect happily ever after. Stories include: Cindi, Red, Belle, Snow and Goldie.


Kindle Edition: 654 KB
ASIN: B006Z0LUWG

Read my reviews for the other 3 Flirts books HERE.


My Opinion:
Cindi is a modern-day Cinderella story that had me picturing Sarah Jessica Parker in the starring role. It was a wonderful shoe-affair! (5/5) Red, is a modern-day Red Riding Hood that I enjoyed better than the film that came out last year. This story was "naughty but nice". It made me laugh too, just so you know. (4/5) Belle, is a modern-day Beauty and the Beast, and just as romantic as you might think. It made me smile from ear-to-ear. (4/5) Snow, is a modern-day Snow White that made me think Michelle Pheifer would be great as the wicked step-mother. (Sorry, I can't help but picture everything in film....) Any way, I enjoyed it! (4/5) and lastly, Goldie, is a modern-day Goldilocks and the Three Bears. I have to say, always one of my favorite fairytales, but even more so with a new-age twist. Also my favorite of them all. (5/5) So all-in-all I loved this set. It had all the elements of romance you need on a day like today, Valentines Day. I also loved how each story was a fairy tale, but also connected itself to something in the last. Very clever writing!


4/5


Recommend? YES!!!


~I received a copy from Goddess Fish Promotions. I was not compensated for my opinion.~

Monday, February 13, 2012

#19: Put on Your Crown - Queen Latifah

February is Black History Month.


I read this book in lieu of that, as it was part of the A-Z Blogging Mini-Challenge.



Modeled after Maria Shriver's Just Who Will You Be, Queen Latifah's goal with Put On Your Crown is to help young women build a strong sense of self-esteem. A US Dept. of Justice survey found that females ages 16-24 are more vulnerable to partner violence than any other group, almost triple the national average. Cases like Chris Brown's assault on pop star Rihanna showed an ugly side of adolescent life. However, Queen Latifah has always been a shining example of a woman happy with herself and unwilling to compromise to fit into the "hollywood ideal" of what a confident beautiful woman should look like. The result: She's one of the biggest A-list celebrities in Hollywood.

Hardcover: 208 pages
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing; 1 edition (May 6, 2010)
ISBN: 9780446555890

Author Bio:
Queen Latifah was born and raised in Newark, New Jersey. The Queen got her first break in music when a demo tape featuring one of her raps made its way to Tommy Boy Records. She was signed and immediately became a hit. She won the Best New Artist Award in 1990 for her album "All Hail the Queen" which also went platinum. The second single from the album, "Ladies First," was eventually named by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as one of the 500 Songs That Shaped Rock 'n' Roll.
By the time her second album "Nature of a Sista'" came out in 1991, Queen Latifah had begun investing in small businesses in her neighborhood, and acting both in television and movies. After the death of her brother and a soured deal with Tommy Boy, The Queen released her third album, "Black Reign", and founded Flavor Unit Records and Management. She also landed a regular spot on Living Single and went on to star in a plethora of feature films including: Set It Off, The Perfect Holiday, Taxi, and Bringing Down the House.


My Opinion:
In the very beginning of the book, Queen Latifah talks about how she wanted to write a book that empowered all women, no matter their creed. A book that would show them they are strong and can do anything.
And she did that.
She delivers an in-your-face, but in a good way, approach to all the important subjects that make up our core as beings.
I have to add, although this is not a memoir, I learned a lot about her and what she stands for. I had known enough already, from media, but she fills the gaps about things I always wondered like where'd she get that scar on her forehead?
Women will enjoy this read, fan or not, you soon will be.


4/5


Recommend? Women only.


~I received a copy from Hachette Book Group. I was not compensated for my opinion.~

Get to Know Author Ernst Dabel

Good morning readers!
Today we have author, Ernst Dabel joining us to talk about his book, Pantheons.

On the streets, they call fifteen year old orphan Isaiah Marshall the Indestructible Diamond.  Isaiah is the leader of the Redrovers, a group of teenage misfits consisting of his friends Jeremy, Monty, and Pipsqueak, but when they trespass into Kaliber Academy to get even with the arrogant Jason Ollopa, they are in way over their heads.
Principal Webb enrolls them into the High School and Isaiah soon learns about the existence of the gods of the Ancient World. Because the gods have refused to fight the last War for fear of the Mysterious Dark, the Powers-that-Be have stripped them of their spiritual bodies and given them mortal, teenage forms.
Isaiah discovers he's not only a god, but that he's the child of the Greek goddess Metis, the son destined to overthrow his cruel and sadistic father Zeus, the Darkener of the Sky, and become the greatest god in all the Pantheons. 
Isaiah is thrown into a world where the democratic Olympians, war-mongering Norse, Gothic Celts, firstborn Egyptians, the enlightened Hindu, the animal-like Aztecs, the martial artist Asians, the intelligent Babylonians, the great spirits of the Native American Indians, and the fierce Finnish will war against one another for the greatest of all prizes: the Dominion.

Who or what inspires your writing?
My brother Les who’s also my agent inspired my writing. He is the one who came up with the idea of having a story where all the gods of the ancient world went to school together as teenagers. He asked me if I could imagine how cool it would be if Zeus were to fight Odin. I didn’t need to hear anything else. I was sold with his idea and so I went to work until Pantheons was completed.

When did you know you would be a writer?
I was twelve years old and I had just finished reading J.R.R. Tolkien’s, The Silmarillion. That book had evoked within me the flames of my creativity for the first time in my life. It was then that I knew I would be a writer someday.

How long did it take you to write your first novel?
My first novel, ALBINO, I wrote it in three weeks. ALBINO will be released in March 2012.

What is the hardest part of writing for you?
I would have to say that pulling away from the story is the hardest part of writing for me. As my wife, Aba, can already tell you, once I get into a story, I tend to forget about food, drink, sleep, and yep even breathing, LOL (grins), but thank God, she yanks me away when she feels I’ve been glued to writing for too long, LOL :)

Do you have any writing rituals?
I don’t have any writing rituals, but I am always ready with pen and paper wherever I go. So whenever the story takes me, I can start writing wherever I am.

Have you written any thing else?
Aside from the PANTHEONS and ALBINO series, I’m also writing a third, but for that one, I’m not ready to talk about it yet.

Any advice to aspiring writers?
Never give up your dream of writing! Every morning when you wake up say it out loud to yourself, “I will become a writer! I know I am a bestselling author!” You know it’s true, so say it, believe it, and make your dream come true!

Who are your favorite Authors?
J.R.R. Tolkien, Robert Jordan, Patrick Rothfuss, Anne Rice, Dean Koontz, Paulo Coelho, Richard A. Knaak, Charlaine Harris, Jim Butcher, Orson Scott Card, Laurell K. Hamilton, C.S. Marks, George R.R. Martin, and many others. I’ve had the honor of publishing them all. The only person I missed was J.R.R. Tolkien, because he died in 1973, and I was born in 1975. It’s my greatest regret in life that I did not get a chance to see him when he was alive and therefore missed the opportunity to personally ask him if I could adapt his work.

What are your favorite books, or which book has impacted you the most?
My favorite books are The Hobbit, Lord of the Rings, and the Silmarillion. I can’t believe that once upon a time as a little boy that I hated books. I really don’t know what I was thinking. But one Christmas when I was 12 years old, my brother Les (who’s now my agent) bought me The Hobbit for Christmas! Well, you can very well imagine my frustration. My brother hounded me from one room to another, and would not give me a moment’s peace until I read the book. Eventually, I gave up and ‘pretended’ to read the book. It began with ‘In a hole in the ground there lived a Hobbit.’ I was confused, but very curious about a lot of things. Little did I realize at that moment that Tolkien had hooked me, reeled me in, and baptized me into a voracious reader, I didn’t know this at the time, but my life would never be the same ever again.

What are you currently reading?
Right now I am reading Ravenshade by C.S. Marks.

How do readers find out more about you?
Readers can email me at edabel@dabelbrothers.com if they have any questions. They can also go to my Facebook
and my Fanpage

From Ernst to readers;
“Albino does to woodland creatures what Lord of the Rings did for fantasy back in Tolkien’s time. In other words Albino takes woodland creatures into a story that even adults would care to read. ;)”

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Giveaway: Snow Child - Eowyn Ivey


Alaska, 1920: a brutal place to homestead, and especially tough for recent arrivals Jack and Mabel. Childless, they are drifting apart--he breaking under the weight of the work of the farm; she crumbling from loneliness and despair. In a moment of levity during the season's first snowfall, they build a child out of snow. The next morning the snow child is gone--but they glimpse a young, blonde-haired girl running through the trees.

This little girl, who calls herself Faina, seems to be a child of the woods. She hunts with a red fox at her side, skims lightly across the snow, and somehow survives alone in the Alaskan wilderness. As Jack and Mabel struggle to understand this child who could have stepped from the pages of a fairy tale, they come to love her as their own daughter. But in this beautiful, violent place things are rarely as they appear, and what they eventually learn about Faina will transform all of them.



Thanks to Anna and Hachette Book Group, I have 3 copies up for grabs.
Fill in the Rafflecopter form to enter.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Giveaway: E. Van Lowe Book Set (With Author Guest Post)

E Van Lowe is giving away a signed set of his books: Never Slow Dance With A Zombie, Boyfriend From Hell and Earth Angel.

Along with a fun Valentine theme YA Gift Basket containing a plush puppy, a heart mug, an ARC of Wintertow by Stephen Emond, devil socks, devil and angel duckies, RockStar Sweethearts, Red Hots Lip Balm, Bath and Body Works pocket bac, and travel size Pink Chiffon lotion, pencils and a Bewitching Book Tours bookmark

After the author guest post, is the form for the giveaway.


A Storyteller’s Dream - E. Van Lowe
Early in the spring of 2006 I hit a wall with my career. I had reached what felt very much like a crossroads in my life. After several months of talks with a studio, I had failed to land a job writing and producing a popular TV drama. I had the feeling I wasn’t hired because of my age. I had had a stellar career writing and producing many great TV shows and some not so great shows. But in show biz, people over fifty have been known to hit a wall. I was over fifty.
I wasn’t certain I’d hit the wall, but I didn’t want to knock on doors for several more years only to discover I was unhireable--not because of my lack of talent, but because I had allowed myself to grow old. I decided I wasn’t going to wait to find out if I had been, what we in the biz call, “aged-out.” It was time to begin my next career.
I grew up loving to read. I had started my writing career as a novelist and playwright. In grad school, I wrote two very popular horror novels of the 80s under the pseudonym Sal Conte. I decided it was time to return to my great love—books. Only this time I would write under my own name.
I also decided to write Young Adult. I chose Young Adult because when I was at Disney I developed a show for the Disney Channel called Even Stevens. I had a great time developing that show and felt writing for a younger audience was my thing. I went into writing YA for girls as a neophyte. I had done no research. I didn’t know anything about the genre—other than I’d read quite a few books, including those of Meg Cabot, and the Fearless series by Francine Pascal.
I then told my Hollywood agent and manager not to send me out on any job meetings for a while. I was writing a book. Never Slow Dance With A Zombie. While neither of them liked that I was not earning them a commission, they both embraced my new career. Midway through writing the book I asked my manager host a reading for me at Sony Studios. I wanted to get some feedback, but mostly I wanted to hear the book for myself, and decide if I was wasting my time. I figured if it was at a studio a lot of people would show up—they did.
As soon as the reading ended my agent, Jim Kellem, came up to me and said “I can sell that.”
“You don’t know anything about selling books,” I told him. “I’m talking to a New York agent to sell the book for me.”
The reading went very well. The book was fairly well received, so I continued writing. A few weeks after the reading, my agent called and told me he’d scheduled a few meetings for me. “What did you schedule meetings for? I told you I was writing a book.”
“These are movie meetings,” he said. “People want to hear about the book.”
“I haven’t even finished it.”
“People still want to hear about it,” he said. Both he and my manager, Sheree Guitar, started setting meetings at studios and production companies to talk about the book. Suddenly Hollywood seemed interested in me again. That’s when that old saw came to mind: “There’s more than one way to skin a cat.” Or as far as I was concerned: There’s more than one way to skin a cat and have a career in Hollywood.
I love writing novels. It’s much more fun and rewarding than writing for TV. But I also enjoy working in Hollywood. I realized as an artist that our art can take many forms. Sometimes it can begin in one form—a book—like Harry Potter, and wind up in another, reaching an even wider audience. That’s what I wanted to do. I wanted to write books and help my books exist in broader mediums that can increase my audience. My art is not just writing. As a storytelling artist I include film and TV and theater and video games—even the internet as my medium. As a storytelling artist I want to be somewhat experimental.
As of this writing that first novel, Never Slow Dance With A Zombie, is slowly winding its way to the big screen. The screenplay for my Sal Conte horror short story, The Toothache Man is currently being written by a screenwriter. I have two more novels, Boyfriend From Hell and Earth Angel. They are the first two books in the Falling Angels Saga. Earth Angel just came out and is on blog tour as of this writing. I’ve also been in discussions about doing something fresh and different for the internet. I am busier than ever.
It’s exciting to be able to use everything I’ve learned in my twenty plus years in Hollywood in my new career as storytelling artist. My dream is to have my stories exist in more than one medium, reaching people wherever they may be.
Looking back, I am actually happy I didn’t land the job on that TV drama. I may not be making as much money (sometimes I don’t make any money) but I am much happier. I am no longer wondering about the end of my career. I am at the threshold of something new and exciting. You’re never too old to chase a new dream. Trust me; I know—I’m having the time of my life.
By the way, even though I signed with a New York agent, it was my Hollywood agent, Jim Kellem, who sold Never Slow Dance With A Zombie to Tor (McMillan/St. Martin’s Press) in the spring of 2007. Go figure.


Giveaway is open to US Only.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

The Friday 56

Welcome to Week 62 with me!


Rules:
*Grab a book, any book.
*Turn to page 56.
*Find any sentence, (or few, just don't spoil it) that grabs you.
*Post it.
*Add your (url) post below in Linky. Add the post url, not your blog url.

It's that simple.

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This one seventeen year old girl was so tired and angry because she had to get up every morning to feed her younger siblings breakfast and get them ready for school while her mom was still in bed, too strung out on crack to move.



#18: Heart of Ice - Lis Wiehl

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Elizabeth Avery could easily be the girl next door. But what she has planned will make your blood run cold.
At first glance, the crimes appear random. Arson. Theft. Fraud. Murder. But these are more than random crimes. They're moves in an increasingly deadly game. And the one element they have in common: a woman who is gorgeous, clever . . . and lethal.
Elizabeth Avery has a winsome smile and flawless figure, but underneath is a heart of ice. She's a master manipulator, convincing strangers to do the unthinkable. And she orchestrates it all without getting too close. Until now.
When Elizabeth ruthlessly disposes of an inquisitive young reporter, her crime catches the attention of Federal Prosecutor Allison Pierce, FBI Special Agent Nicole Hedges, and crime reporter Cassidy Shaw. They know they're dealing with a cold-blooded murderer who could strike at any time. What they don't know is that they're already on a first-name basis with the killer.
And one of them may be next on her list.

Hardcover: 336 pages
Publisher: Thomas Nelson (April 5, 2011)
ISBN: 9781595547071


My Opinion:
I had no idea this was a third book in a series, and good thing it was enjoyable. It can easily be read as a stand-alone book. I didn't feel lost in the least.
I love these triple threat ladies. They are tough, cool, kind and a laugh. I loved how 4 different crimes got molded into one. That was exceptional writing on the author's part to bring it all together as she did.
I can't wait to backtrack and read the previous two books, and whatever is ahead in the future too.


4.5/5


Recommend? YES!


~I received a copy from BookSneeze. I was not compensated for my opinion.~

#17: The Legacy of Eden - Nelle Davy (With Interview)

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For generations, Aurelia was the crowning glory of more than three thousand acres of Iowa farmland and golden cornfields. The estate was a monument to matriarch Lavinia Hathaway's dream to elevate the family name—no matter what relative or stranger she had to destroy in the process. It was a desperation that wrought the downfall of the Hathaways—and the once-prosperous farm.
Now the last inhabitant of the decaying old home has died—alone. None of the surviving members of the Hathaway family want anything to do with the farm, the land or the memories.
Especially Meredith Pincetti. Now living in New York City, for seventeen years Lavinia's youngest grandchild has tried to forget everything about her family and her past. But with the receipt of a pleading letter, Meredith is again thrust into conflict with the legacy that destroyed her family's once-great name.
Back at Aurelia, Meredith must confront the rise and fall of the Hathaway family…and her own part in their mottled history.

Paperback: 384 pages
Publisher: Mira; Original edition (January 24, 2012)
ISBN: 9780778329558


Author Bio:
Nelle Davy was born in Grenada in 1984 and was raised in London within an Anglo-Caribbean family. She studied English with creative writing at the University of Warwick and then undertook a master of philosophy degree in creative writing at Trinity College Dublin. She currently lives in London with her husband, where she works in publishing. THE LEGACY OF EDEN is her first novel and she is currently working on her second.


My Opinion:
For people who like epic stories of family, similar to John Steinbeck's writing style, then you will really enjoy this novel.
It follows three generations of family, and the bumps and bruises along the way.
While I didn't think it was the story of the century, I did think it was beautifully written and highly well thought out. Even if at the beginning I felt it flipped around a lot and had me confused. That feeling didn't last.
A lot of contemporary fiction or general fiction fans will devour this one!


3/5


Recommend? Yes.


A Q&A with Nelle Davy....
How much, and what kinds of, research went into creating this novel?
A lot. It was so boring researching farm techniques – I am from London, I actively find the countryside an anathema most of the time but I chose to write about something that was nothing to do with my current life and so I had to make sure what I wrote was authentic. I also had to read a lot of American literature just to ensure I got the American voice right. English people and Americans do not speak the same language in many ways contrary to what we believe. For example, in England I would say, I strolled along the pavement to the car with my shopping bag and dumped it in the boot.
In America it would be, I walked down the sidewalk to the car with my carrier bag and dumped it in the trunk.
See what I mean?

What are you currently reading?
Jeffrey Eugenides The Marriage Plot and Jeanette Winterson Why Be Happy When You Could be Normal?

Who is your favorite literary character?
Ooh going to have to cheat and name a few – sorry: Emma Bovary, Matilda Wormwood, Jo March, Jane Eyre, Rebecca, Blanche Dubois…

What inspires you when you’re writing?
A good window and an even better book.

What is your favorite book?
Could not even begin to answer that one – it would be like choosing a favourite child: Matilda, Rebecca, Madame Bovary, Anna Karenina, The Secret History, I Capture the Castle, Therese Raquin…endless endless lists.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Get to Know Author Andrew Gavin

Good afternoon readers!
Today we have author Andrew Gavin joining us to talk about his book with bite, The Darkening Dream. And just so you know, right now on Amazon you can get the Kindle copy for free! Here is more about the book:


1913, Salem, Massachusetts – Sarah Engelmann’s life is full of friends, books, and avoiding the pressure to choose a husband, until an ominous vision and the haunting call of an otherworldly trumpet shake her. When she stumbles across a gruesome corpse, she fears that her vision was more of a premonition. And when she sees the murdered boy moving through the crowd at an amusement park, Sarah is thrust into a dark battle she does not understand.
With the help of Alex, a Greek immigrant who knows a startling amount about the undead, Sarah sets out to uncover the truth. Their quest takes them to the factory mills of Salem, on a midnight boat ride to spy on an eerie coastal lair, and back, unexpectedly, to their own homes. What can Alex’s elderly, vampire-hunting grandfather and Sarah’s own rabbi father tell them? And what do Sarah’s continuing visions reveal?
No less than Gabriel’s Trumpet, the tool that will announce the End of Days, is at stake, and the forces that have banded to recover it include a 900 year-old vampire, a trio of disgruntled Egyptian gods, and a demon-loving Puritan minister. At the center of this swirling cast is Sarah, who must fight a millennia-old battle against unspeakable forces, knowing the ultimate prize might be herself.

When did you know you would be a writer?
I’m a lifelong creator and explorer of worlds. As far back as first grade I remember spending most of the school day in one day dream or another. I had a huge notebook stuffed with drawings, story bits, and concepts for an elaborate Sci-Fi/Fantasy world I cobbled together from bits of Star Wars, Narnia, and Battlestar Galactica. By fourth or fifth grade not only was I loosing myself in every fantasy or Sci-Fi novel I could, but I was building Dungeons & Dragons castles and caverns on paper. Then from 1980 on the computer.
Over the following decades I wrote dozens of stories and created and published over a dozen video games all set in alternative universes. And as an avid reader (over 10,000 novels and who knows how many non-fiction volumes) it was no surprise that I eventually decided to write some books of my own.

Who or what inspires your writing?
I get very inspired by my own sense of “cool.” This can mean cool scenes, cool characters, cool dynamics, cool symbolism, cool turns of phrase, whatever. As I read and watch media obsessively – and by obsessively I mean 200 novels a year and about four hours of long form film/tv a day, I don’t sleep much – I’m constantly looking for interesting moments and archetypes that can be reinvented and re-purposed. Nothing is ever new in the world. I also read a tremendous amount of history and in both of my novels I used facts about the history and the historical places and times to guide the story. Sometimes it’s useful to have concrete possibilities like this to give you structure. The magical systems in The Darkening Dream are largely like that. I’ll have a practical function in the plot they need to accomplish, then I’ll dig through historic occult books looking for something that is synergistic. Sometimes it goes the other way.

How long did it take you to write your first novel?
Almost 2 years. At least 9 major drafts. As my first novel, this one took a lot of rewriting. It's 95k words, but at it's largest it was 186k!

What is the hardest part of writing for you?
The endless re-reading and careful editing is more tedious (although I do a lot of it!). Sitting down to read the entire book again for the 50th time takes some serious will power. The agent query process is also horrible -- and not nearly as productive. It's really wretched and broken in every way, designed only for the convenience and efficiency of agents. But it doesn't even really serve that. The process is loosely functional but frustrating for both sides in a way reminiscent of American Healthcare.

Do you have any writing rituals?
Unless something distracting is going on I try to have my butt in the chair by around 10am (after working out) and more or less keep it there until around 6pm. If drafting new prose I try to do about 2000 words a day. I write, then I do a polish pass. If I had to rewrite significantly during that pass I’ll do a third sweep to cleanup.
Then I print and run to my wife for instant feedback. Next I email it to my Mom and my “story consultant” (one of my friends who reads it right away). Feedback is good. I find that I’ll often redraft a chunk on the basis of these early comments.

Have you written any thing else?
I have a second finished novel (it’s been through four major drafts and a full line edit). It’s called Untimed and is a YA time travel novel that chronicles the crazy adventures of a boy no one remembers, who falls through a hole in time and finds himself lost in the past. It’s very different with an extremely immediate first person present voice (in this book the only thing anyone can hold on to is the present). It rocks. Seriously rocks.

Any advice to aspiring writers?
The simplest and the most time consuming advice is to read. Read everything you can. In your genre, in other genres, non-fiction. Everything. Of course if you’re one of those people who just never reads but somehow has the burning desire to be a writer… perhaps you should think again. Next, take your craft seriously. Read books on writing and editing, on plot and structure. Editing, and I mean professional editing, is really very important. A surprising number of published books aren’t even well edited. They’re overwritten and redundant, like this sentence. Patience. It takes a long time to improve and you’ll end up doing a lot of waiting on both yourself and others.

Who are your favorite Authors?
I have so many, but to start: George R. R. Martin, Dan Simons, Tim Powers, Orson Scott Card, Guy Gavriel Kay, Sherri S. Tepper, Octavia Butler, Ian M. Banks, Jack L. Chalker, Robin Hobb, Stephen King, Gene Wolfe, Katherine Kurtz, and Vernor Vinge.

What are your favorite books, or which book has impacted you the most?
A Game of Thrones, Hyperion, Carrion Comfort, Dune, The Anubis Gates, A Fire Upon the Deep, Consider Phlebas, The City and the Stars, Time Enough for Love, Great Sky River, Wizard and Glass, To Your Scattered Bodies Go, Wyvern, Assassin’s Apprentice, A Horse and His Boy, The Silmarillion, and many more.

What are you currently reading?
I’m currently in the middle of The Strange Affair of Spring Heeled Jack by Mark Hodder. So far, this is a really engrossing alternative history steampunk novel with Sir Richard Francis Burton (the explorer, not the actor) as the protagonist.

How do readers find out more about you?
I have all sorts of information about my writing available at my website and stories about media, history, and the hit video games I’ve created at http://all-things-andy-gavin.com.
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Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Teaser Tuesday

SHOULD BE READING


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Allison had always known Colton Foley had other victims. And her hunch had been confirmed when a woman answered the ad she and Nicole ran in the alternative paper.

Stella & Dot

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