Friday, December 14, 2012

Surviving the Indie Publishing Explosion: Why Book Clubs Matter - Anderson O'Donnell - Giveaway



Surviving the Indie Publishing Explosion: Why Book Clubs Matter
Guest Post by Anderson O’Donnell

I’m about to write something I never thought I’d think, let alone type: With regard to publishing, particularly in the digital era, it’s not just about the numbers.

I realize that, for some, this realization might not be particularly earth shattering. But when I was researching whether to self-publish, statistics were everywhere: Downloads. Amazon ranking. Page views. Indie fairy tales with a six-figure ending. E-readers market share. Decline in print sales.

Every one, it seemed, was talking about devices and distribution, consumers and downloaders. But what about the readers? In the mad dash for visibility and platform creation, some writers seem to have forgotten that not only does our long-term success hinge on cultivating relationships with readers—as opposed to consumers—but the stories themselves depend on devoted readers.

Sexy Statistics

There are a number of indie publishing prophets tossing around a lot of sexy statistics. For example, did you hear about Amanda Hocking’s deal? I bet you did, and hey, it’s one hell of a deal—exactly the sort of fairy tale that can make toiling away in a dark, damp basement seem worthwhile.

In fact, I have a confession to make: When I first waded into the indie publishing waters, I thought that my number one priority should be getting as many copies of KINGDOM onto as many e-readers as possible. Free downloads—that was the ticket. And through Amazon KDP free days and the like, 15,000 or so people downloaded KINGDOM. But lately I’ve been wondering: how many actually read it? The most majority of downloaded copies are probably languishing alongside a hundred or so similar freebies. The sheer glut of content generated by these promotional giveaways is staggering; how many books are being snagged then forgotten?

While these numbers might yield some sort term gain, in the long run, our stories will suffer. After all, when a story gets published, its not actually done; it’s just moving to the next stage in an on-going creative process. By devouring their favorite stories, readers often reveal elements of the characters and story that surprise even the author. Literature needs to be discussed and dissected. It needs to be loved; it needs to be loathed—visceral is always better than lukewarm. If your story is sitting on an e-reader along with 100 other indie books, odds are this will never happen.

Find Your Readers

The fascination with numbers, rather than readers, is understandable; the numbers are seductive, and all writers dream of during their hobby into a profession. But it’s critical to not allow the numbers to get in the way of engaging readers.

So what’s the antidote to all this? Rather than focusing on numbers, let’s concentrate on finding as many ways to engage readers as possible. This month, for example, I’m participating in the Book Club Bash, where reading groups get together and dissect several new indie novels, including my baby, KINGDOM. I’m thrilled, because events like Book Club Bash are going to help authors distinguish themselves from the current glut of indie authors chasing the numbers. Indie publishing is about building relationships, reader by reader.

So the next time you come across those headline grabbing indie statistics, take a deep breath. There are quite a number of writers taking the self-publishing plunge at the moment, and the ones who survive the inevitable culling will be the authors who ignore the numbers and focus on what truly matters: the reader.

About the author:
Anderson O’Donnell lives in Connecticut with his wife and 2 sons. His debut novel, Kingdom, a dystopian, biopunk thriller, is now available in paperback and ebook format. Kingdom is the first part of the Tiber City Trilogy. Look for part two, Exile, in the summer of 2013.

Find out more at tibercitynoir.com.

Synopsis:
In a secret laboratory hidden under the desert, a covert bioengineering project—codename “Exodus”—has discovered the gene responsible for the human soul.

Somewhere in the neon sprawl outside the nation’s collapsing economic core, a group of renegade monks are on the verge of uncovering a secret that has eluded mankind for centuries.

In a glittering tower high above the urban decay, an ascendant U.S. Senator is found dead—an apparent, yet inexplicable, suicide.

And in the streets below, a young man races through an ultra modern metropolis on the verge of a violent revolution....closing in on the terrible truth behind Exodus—and one man’s dark vision for the future of mankind.

Welcome to Tiber City.


Purchase at Amazon for Kindle or in Print.

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Thursday, December 13, 2012

Can Those in a Coma Hear Us? - Lenore Skomal - Giveaway


Can those in a coma hear us? 
Guest post by Lenore Skomal

It’s the pivotal question that launched BLUFF. Not a revolutionary or new question, but one that persists and is debated in the medical community, for one, and the world at large.

In doing the research for BLUFF, I spoke to many physicians and caregivers, and my straw poll indicates the group was evenly divided. While most doctors acquiesce that they don’t rightly know, their druthers list toward the “no, not likely.”

While my mother wasn’t in a coma, technically, she was in a deep, morphine sleep toward the end of her life, thanks to a losing battle with bone cancer. She drifted in and out of long periods of consciousness, and it had me wondering, perhaps obsessively so, about what exactly she was aware of. Her primary care doctors were sensitive about not talking about her condition in front of her, even when she was snoring. I appreciate this more than they will ever know. There was a level of respect that I bow to.

After I wrote BLUFF, an in-law of mine was admitted to the hospital and kept in a medical coma for a month. When I asked him about it later, he wasn’t comfortable discussing it, other than to say, “I don’t remember a thing.”

Others who have come out of comas have had similar responses. But they are not the norm. Actually, there are those documented cases of coma patients who do remember, and can even recall the offhand words of a careless doctor or insensitive nurse telling loved ones that they’ll never come out of it. Those cases are what keep the right to life movement fueled, especially in desperate cases where there is no hope. Oddly, however, there are no numbers to prove the case either way.

By creating this dilemma for my protagonist, I wanted to push the envelope and explore not just the idea that a comatose patient could hear, but much more. I wanted to know what it might be like to be trapped in one’s body, with no visible means of communication. And not just be trapped, but forced to face the decisions you’ve made and live with those outcomes while not being able to defend or explain yourself. My protagonist, Jude Black, finds herself in that position. And as she lies there, immobile, some strange things happen. One of them is that she actually finds herself communicating and developing a friendship with someone she loathed in her waking life.

As with most of my writing, this unusual outcome underscores something much larger and pervasive—a human frailty—basically, our tendency to judge one another. When everything is stripped away—social setting, class-consciousness, petty differences, toxic gossip—sometimes that’s enough to truly see someone. And find a commonality that can create a relationship, a bond. I played with this theme in the book, and I think you will agree that the unlikely friendship that transpires between Jude and Mary Shannon is not just poignant; it’s heartfelt and true.

To be certain, the question about just what someone in a coma can experience won’t be answered definitively by BLUFF or by me, that is unless I find myself in a hospital bed one day in a persistent vegetative state. And if that happens my friends, you can rest assured—I will get back to you about it.

About the author:
Lenore Skomal is the author of the recently released novel Bluff. As an author, Lenore wants you to eat her books. She wants you to chew them in your teeth, savor them on your tongue, breathe them in, and feel her words in your skin. Her passionate desire is to touch your heart, inspire you, and luxuriate in the world of the written word. Winner of multiple awards for blogging, literature, biography and humor, Lenore Skomal’s catalogue spans many genres. With 30 years of writing experience, over 17 books published and a daily blog, the consistent themes in her work are the big issues the human experience and adding depth and voice to the intricacies involved in living a multi-dimensional existence.

Find out more at LenoreSkomal.com.

Synopsis:
"To the medical world, I was a host body, surviving only to bring a new life into the world. And while I wanted to die more than anything in the world, I never wanted this. No, I never wanted to cease to exist. This was the worst death of all.”

Jude Black lives in that in-between, twilight place teetering on death but clinging to life in order to bring her baby into this world. Only she knows the circumstances surrounding her mysterious fall off the bluff that landed her in the hospital being kept alive by medical intervention. Only she knows who the father of her baby is. In this poignantly crafted literary novel, the mystery unfolds and the suspense builds as the consequences of Jude’s decisions threaten to reveal everyone's deceptions, even her own. Bluff offers a sensitive look at essential questions such as the value of human life, the consciousness of those in a coma and the morality of terminating life support. At the core is the story of a tragically misunderstood woman who finds peace, acceptance, understanding and even love on her deathbed.


Buy on Amazon for Kindle or in Print.

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Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Finding a New Author is a Little Bit Like Falling in Love - Monique Domovitch - Giveaway


Finding a New Author is a Little Bit Like Falling in Love
Guest post by Monique Domovitch

Finding an author I really enjoy is a little bit like falling in love. I never know quite what it is that author has, but I sure know it when I read him.

The first time I fell in love like that was years ago and the author was Wilbur Smith. I think I hadn't read ten pages of his book--can't remember the title anymore--when I knew this was it. I could spend the rest of my life in bed with this writer's books.

Over the next few years, Wilbur and I traveled Africa together, and he introduced me to animals I'd never heard of, and villains the likes of which I hope to never meet. I was swept into his stories of love and passion and greed; stories from which I never wanted to walk away. But then, the inevitable happened. I caught up with his books and was left adrift until his next book hit the stands. And I, fickle reader that I am, had an affair with a few other authors and then it happened again. I read Dominic Dunne. And wham. I was in love again.

With Dominic, I spent time with the truly rich and the truly manipulative. How can anyone forget books like The Two Mrs. Grenvilles, or An Inconvenient Woman, or A Season in Purgatory. Once I discovered them, I devoured his books. Forgive me Dominic, for I betrayed you when I discovered my next big love, Nelson De Mille.

De Mille is a master of sharp, snappy talk and he makes all those words come out of the mouth of a sexy good cop with a bad attitude--John Corey. Now here's the funny part. I don't really know what John Corey looks like,  except that he has scars on his chest from some bullet wounds. I also know that John Corey is almost as fickle when it comes to love as I am. He seems to fall in love with a different woman in almost every one of his adventures. That is, until he met and married Kate. But who knows, so far she's only been around for a couple of novels. For all I know she'll be dropped off, maybe even killed off in the next book, and then sexy John will be available again and I can go on dreaming.

Now here's something you might not know about me. I'm married, and, get this, my husband doesn't mind my little dalliances with all these authors...as long as I don't meet them in person that is.

And why am I blabbing about all these loves of mine? because, my dears, every time I start a new project, I hope with all my heart, that I infuse my novel with enough passion and ambition and greed that when you, dear reader, read my work, you will fall--perhaps just a little bit-- in love with my characters. And this I promise you. I will be kind to you, even knowing that I will never be able to write fast enough, and that you will someday leave me for some other writer. Ah, l'amour.

About the author:
Monique Domovitch was born in Canada, where she led a number of successful careers, from top model during the 70s, to financial adviser with her own national television show. Now, in what she calls the best part of her life, she launches into yet another career, this time as a fiction writer. Now, with two novels under her belt, and a contract for three murder-mysteries with Obsidian, she seems once again, headed for success.

Find out more at MoniqueDomovitch.com.


Synopsis:
Set in New York and Paris amid the glamorous and competitive worlds of art and real estate, Scorpio Rising takes the reader from the late 1940s to the 1960s through the tumultuous lives of its heroes.There is Alex Ivanov, the son of a Russian immigrant and part-time prostitute. He yearns to escape his sordid life and achieve fame and fortune. His dreams of becoming a world-class builder are met with countless obstacles, yet he perseveres in the hope of someday receiving the recognition he craves.Half a world away, Brigitte Dartois is an abused teenager who runs into the arms of a benefactor with an agenda all his own. When she finds out that her boss has an ulterior motive, she flees again, determined to earn her living through her art. This career brings her fame, but also the unwanted attention of her early abuser.

Monique Domovitch’s debut novel, Scorpio Rising, is a compelling tale filled with finely etched characters and a superb understanding of the power of ambition. Scorpio Rising promises to resonate with all who once had a dream.

Buy on Amazon for Kindle or in Print.



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The Storyteller by Jodi Picoult - Waiting on Wednesday

Well, I admit it. I'm a sucker for anything by Jodi Picoult. She has been one of my favorite authors for many years, even before I thought about doing a book review blog, so I am anxiously awaiting her upcoming release.

The Storyteller by Jodi Picoult
Expected publication: February 26, 2013 by Atria 

Sage Singer befriends an old man who's particularly beloved in her community. Josef Weber is everyone favorite retired teacher and Little League coach and they strike up a friendship at the bakery where Sage works. One day he asks Sage for a favor: to kill him. Shocked, Sage refuses…and then he confesses his darkest secret - he deserves to die, because he was a Nazi SS guard. Complicating the matter? Sage's grandmother is a Holocaust survivor. What do you do when evil lives next door? Can someone who's committed a truly heinous act ever atone for it with subsequent good behavior? Should you offer forgiveness to someone if you aren't the party who was wronged? And most of all - if Sage even considers his request - is it murder, or justice? 

Add on Goodreads.

Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Breaking the Spine. 

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

How a Unitarian from Jersey Writes About a Muslim Superhero - Pavarti K. Tyler - Giveaway


How a Unitarian from Jersey Writes About a Muslim Superhero
Guest post by Pavarti K. Tyler


Have you ever gotten that feeling in the back of your head that there's something not quite right about the way you think? I've always daydreamed about things others have considered impossible or ridiculous. I'm the loon who decided statistically charting various vampires' awesomeness was a good idea.

So when the suggestion was made that someone needed to write about a Middle Eastern superhero my imagination went into overdrive. Of course we need a Middle Eastern superhero! Others have tackled this topic to great success, like Dr. Naif of the99.org, what’s different here is that I am not from the Middle East.

I sat down and started writing and a character named Recai Osman appeared on the pages before me. With green eyes and red beard, Recai stood in the middle of a windblown desert, daring me to take the challenge.


A problem soon presented itself. It's impossible to discuss the Middle East in any meaningful way without bringing religion into the conversation, and while I've studied Islam, I am not a Muslim. I'm not Jewish either. In fact, I'm about as far from the religious spectrum of the Middle East as you could get. I'm a Unitarian Universalist.

UUism is based on the idea that we all have the right to our own path to Truth. For some that Truth is God, for some it's not. What connects us within the UU church is the belief that the search is valuable and that there is benefit to having a supportive and respectful community with whom to share that search. (You can read more about our principles here: Our Unitarian Universalist Principles)

For me, the importance of an individual’s expression of faith within a community is huge. I believe in God. Because of this, I often find myself listening to the fundamentalist rhetoric of all religions with a frustrated sigh. Why does someone have to be wrong in order for another to be right?

It was with this in mind that I thought about Recai. What makes a good man? What makes a good Muslim? And in a society in which religion is such a prominent part of day-to-day life, what would be the shape of evil?

Recai is a faithful man; he's erred and he's sinned, but his belief in Allah and in humanity is solid. Underneath his layers of confusion and self-doubt is a good man. His day-to-day life has been isolated from the city he lives in: Elih, Turkey (Google it for a good giggle). What would happen if a flawed man was forced to confront real evil, real sin? Could he rise to the occasion?

Islam and Judaism run throughout Shadow on the Wall. Some of the phrases and cultural idioms may be unfamiliar to Western readers, but I hope that you will see a little of yourself in the characters. The issues they face are written at high stakes, but the questions posed are ones we must all answer. Who am I? What do I stand for? Although Shadow on the Wall has supernatural elements, I like to think heroes exist in life, and I like to think that religion can fuel the good in people. Perhaps we're all capable of great things.



About the Author
Pavarti K Tyler is an artist, wife, mother and number cruncher. She graduated Smith College in 1999 with a degree in Theatre. After graduation, she moved to New York, where she worked as a Dramaturge, Assistant Director and Production Manager on productions both on and off Broadway.

Later, Pavarti went to work in the finance industry several international law firms. She now operates her own accounting firm in the Washington DC area, where she lives with her husband, two daughters and two terrible dogs. When not preparing taxes, she is busy working as the Director of Marketing at Novel Publicity or penning her next novel.

Find out more at FightingMonkeyPress.com.

Synopsis:
Recai Osman: Muslim, philosopher, billionaire and Superhero?

Controversial and daring, Shadow on the Wall details the transformation of Recai Osman from complicated man to Superhero. Forced to witness the cruelty of the Morality Police in his home city of Elih, Turkey, Recai is called upon by the power of the desert to be the vehicle of change. Does he have the strength to answer Allah’s call or will his dark past and self doubt stand in his way?

Pulling on his faith in Allah, the friendship of a Jewish father-figure and a deeply held belief that his people deserve better, Recai Osman must become The SandStorm.

In the tradition of books by Margaret Atwood and Salman Rushdie, Shadow on the Wall tackles issues of religion, gender, corruption and the basic human condition. Beautiful and challenging, this is not a book to miss.

  • Winner of the General Fiction/Novel Category of the 2012 Next Generation Indie Book Awards
  • Winner in the Fiction: Multicultural category for The 2012 USA Best Book Awards!
  • Honorable Mention in the Mainstream/Literary Fiction category of the 20th Annual Writer’s Digest Self-Published Book Awards
Buy on Amazon for Kindle or in Print.  

Monday, December 10, 2012

The Wig by Renata Suerth - Review from a Teen

The Wig by Renata Suerth
Crazy Summer, Book 1
June 9, 2012

An embarrassing underwear incident? A lesson on a runaway bike? Grandma's wig at the fire department?

These and lots of other adventures await ten-year-old Sofie, whose life is pretty ordinary until she finds out that in two weeks her family has to move in with her grandma - not her favorite grandma - her other grandma.

While Sofie tries to adjust to her new life in Wisconsin, she gets into many humorous predicaments with her wacky, eccentric grandma and learns the tough truth about her family. She must also find time to impress the cute neighbor.

Will she keep herself out of trouble long enough to figure out the shocking reasons for the sudden move? Maybe. Will she have fun along the way? Definitely!

Review from Krazy Book GIRL:
The Wig by Renata Suerth is a middle grade novel about a girl who goes to live with her crazy grandmother. Her grandmother has been wearing the same style of wig for at least twenty years and is not too keen on the idea on giving it up. Sofie gets into many sticky situations including setting the house on fire, almost losing her sister and running down the street in her underwear! She learns a lot, from crushes on the boy next door to having to say good bye to her best friend. She definitely has some ups and downs. 

The characters have very distinct personalities that are well explained. While reading, I felt like I knew the characters personally. It was like being a part of the family. The 10 year old in me loved this book. This is exactly the kind of book that I loved as a tween and still enjoy from time to time. I would recommend this book to anyone from the ages of 9-12 or anyone looking to relive their childhood for a little while. (: 

About the author:
I was born in the Czech Republic (Czechoslovakia back then)and we lived with my grandmother. She did wear a wig and was the inspiration for the novel. My family immigrated to the States in 1980.

The highlight of my life was meeting author/humorist David Sedaris and getting his autograph. He wrote, "To a foxy Czech..." If I wasn't married already, I would have proposed to David on the spot. The fact that I'm a woman is irrelevant.

I was a high-school teacher and an avid reader until I became a full-time mom. Now all I do is change diapers.

I live in the Chicago area with my husband, our three small kids and a French Bulldog named Zoe.

I have a Bachelor's degree from the Univ. of Illinois (in Champaign) and a teaching certificate from Elmhurst College. I would have a Master's degree from the School of the Art Institute in Chicago had I finished that pesky thesis. My current status is ABT (all-but-thesis). I also studied at the Sorbonne in Paris.

Find out more on Twitter and Facebook.

Who is Krazy Book Girl? 
The 16-year-old daughter of Krazy Book Lady! You may see much more of her soon.  

Friday, December 7, 2012

Holiday Romance Prize Pack Giveaway

I am very delighted to have the opportunity to offer my readers a great Holiday Romance Prize Pack from Forever and Forever Yours (imprints of Grand Central Publishing). 

This prize pack includes a print book of Hunk for the Holidays by Katie Lane and Last Chance Christmas by Hope Ramsay and a digital copy (to be received through NetGalley) of two novellas, A Highlander for Christmas by Paula Quinn and Under the Mistletoe by Jill Shalvis.

Hunk for the Holidays 
by Katie Lane
September 25, 2012 by Forever

Cassie McPherson works hard for her family's construction business. With no date for the company Christmas party, she's crazy enough to hire an escort. James charms everyone - including Cassie - and when the night ends, the party doesn't stop. As Cassie falls, literally, into his bed, James falls head over heels in love. Now he has to figure out a way to tell her the truth: he's not an escort. He's her family's fiercest business rival. But all he wants for Christmas is her...


Last Chance Christmas 
by Hope Ramsay
September 25, 2012 by Forever

Last Chance Chief of Police Stone Rhodes has concentrated on raising his three daughters since his wife's death. So when photojournalist Lark Chaikin arrives in town, the last thing Stone is looking for is a relationship. But for the first time in her life, Lark wants to settle down in one place. Can Stone get past his grief and let go of his first love? Not until a certain Sorrowful Angel - and her eight-year-old helper - unleash a miracle or two. 



A Highlander for Christmas 
by Paula Quinn
October 2, 2012 by Forever Yours

As the bard of the MacGregor clan, Finlay Grant is a natural-born charmer. He can easily win the heart of any lass... but somehow, the right words to express his love for stunning Leslie Harrison have always eluded him. When Leslie's betrothed makes a dastardly deal, putting her family and the MacGregor clan in danger, Finn will prove that he's just as fierce in battle as he is sweet in song. Can these two lovers find a Christmas miracle that will grant them a happily-ever-after?


Under the Mistletoe 
by Jill Shalvis
December 3, 2012 by Forever Yours

New York Times bestselling author Jill Shalvis continues her Lucky Harbor series with a new novella. Mia Hutchinson, Tara and Ford's daughter, has asked her college boyfriend, Nick, to travel to Lucky Harbor for her aunt Maddie's Christmas Eve wedding. When Nick refuses her invitation, Mia returns alone and faces her high school sweetheart, Carlos Rodriquez, for the first time since refusing his marriage proposal - only to find that he is happily dating someone else. With love and holiday spirit everywhere, Mia wonders who will kiss her this Christmas under the mistletoe.

How to enter:
Fill out the form below and let me know how you follow Krazy Book Lady. (MUST be a follower to enter.)

Optional extra entry: Leave a comment.

Giveaway details:
Sorry, but this giveaway is US ONLY! Giveaway will end at midnight on December 14, 2012 so that, hopefully, the books will reach you before Christmas. Since this is romance novels, please only enter if you are over 18. Winner will be determined using Random.org. Winner will be emailed and this blog post will be updated showing the winner. Winner has three days to respond or a new winner will be selected.

Sorry! This giveaway is over.
Winner: Kayla

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Splintered by A.G. Howard - Review

Splintered by A.G. Howard
Expected publication: January 1, 2013
Amulet Books

Alyssa Gardner hears the thoughts of plants and animals. She hides her delusions for now, but she knows her fate: she will end up like her mother, in an institution. Madness has run in her family ever since Alice Liddell told Lewis Carroll her strange dreams.

But perhaps she's not mad. And perhaps Carroll's stories aren't as whimsical as they seem.

To break the curse of insanity, Alyssa must go down the rabbit hole and right the wrongs of the real Wonderland, a place full of strange beings with dark agendas, a twisted fun-house reflection of Alice's childish tales. Alyssa brings her real-world crush - the protective Jeb - with her, but once her journey begins, she's torn between his solidarity and the enchanting, dangerous magic of Morpheus, her guide to Wonderland. But no one in Wonderland is who they seem to be - not even Alyssa herself...

My review:
If you ever wondered what happened after Alice left Wonderland, this is the book for you. A.G. Howard stays true to the original, but this is a much darker Wonderland than Lewis Carroll ever dreamed of. This book revisits the familar characters, such as the White Rabbit, and the familar scenes, such as the tea party; however, everything is much more twisted than in the original. We realize that what we thought we knew about Wonderland is not what really is because it had been told through the eyes of a young child, and Alice's interpretation of Wonderland is not the reality that Alyssa finds.

A.G. Howard's Splintered lets us revisit the Wonderland that we remember from childhood on a whole new "grown up" level. This is a wonderful tale that combines the dark and sinister with a strong sense of family and a touch of romance. (Team Jeb or Team Morpheus, anyone?)

I had high hopes for this book even before I received an ARC to review, and I was not disappointed. After reading it, I was blown away. It was even better than my expectations. The characters, even the minor ones, are well developed and well described. Everything is written in such a way that it easily brings the story alive in your mind. A.G. Howard did an outstanding job on her debut novel, and I am very much looking forward to reading anything she writes in the future.

About the author:
A.G. Howard is most at home when weaving the melancholy and macabre into settings and scenes, twisting the expected into the unexpected. She was inspired to write SPLINTERED while working at a school library. She always wondered what would’ve happened had the subtle creepiness of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland taken center stage, and she hopes her darker and funkier tribute to Carroll will inspire readers to seek out the stories that won her heart as a child.

A.G.’s pastimes are reading, rollerblading, gardening, and family vacations which often include impromptu side trips to 18th century graveyards or condemned schoolhouses to appease her overactive muse.

Find out more at AGHoward.com, on Twitter, and Facebook.

I was very honored to have been able to set up a Traveling ARC Tour for Splintered. Please check out the reviews of the participants of this tour below.

To everyone who participated: Please add a link to your review. (You can ignore where it says to comment after linking.)

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Splintered by A.G. Howard - The Red Queen's Castle - Giveaway

On the third day of Splintered, we’re whisked by card guards into the Red Castle. Our footsteps glide along slick, black marble floors. Candles in brass sconces light the glittery red walls. We arrive at an arched wooden door painted red and fitted with brass fixtures in the shapes of card suits: diamonds, spades, hearts, and clubs.

Inside, upon a throne cushioned with black velvet, sits a queen who wears enchanted red bows on every finger and toe. She shushes the ribbons as they whisper to remind her of things she’s forgotten. Her memory has been lost for some time, but she’s given up trying to find it. If not for her ribbons, she wouldn’t even remember the love of her life. Perhaps if we’re quiet, we might overhear one or two of the mysteries harbored deep in the recesses of her failing mind. Although fair warning, some of her reminders might be cryptic to those who haven’t yet visited...


The one thing this queen doesn’t need reminding of is Christmas, because the delicious aroma of a feast swirls throughout the halls of the castle. We could stay and have dinner here, but we should save our appetites for tomorrow. Katie's Book Blog is hosting a Christmas Tea Party where all sorts of Wonderland delicacies will be laid out for our feasting pleasure. Hope to see you there at tour stop number four!


Splintered by A.G. Howard
Expected publication: January 1, 2013
Amulet Books

This stunning debut captures the grotesque madness of a mystical under-land, as well as a girl’s pangs of first love and independence. Alyssa Gardner hears the whispers of bugs and flowers—precisely the affliction that landed her mother in a mental hospital years before. This family curse stretches back to her ancestor Alice Liddell, the real-life inspiration for Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Alyssa might be crazy, but she manages to keep it together. For now.

When her mother’s mental health takes a turn for the worse, Alyssa learns that what she thought was fiction is based in terrifying reality. The real Wonderland is a place far darker and more twisted than Lewis Carroll ever let on. There, Alyssa must pass a series of tests, including draining an ocean of Alice’s tears, waking the slumbering tea party, and subduing a vicious bandersnatch, to fix Alice’s mistakes and save her family. She must also decide whom to trust: Jeb, her gorgeous best friend and secret crush, or the sexy but suspicious Morpheus, her guide through Wonderland, who may have dark motives of his own.


Find out more at Mod Podge Bookshelf.
Tour Wide Giveaway:

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Wednesday, November 21, 2012

The Daring Young Man by Jane George - Waiting on Wednesday

The Daring Young Man by Jane George
The Mumbo Jumbo Circus, Book #2
Expected publication: December 10, 2012
by Paper Grove Publishing 

Once, sixteen year-old Dante Delgado dreamed of being one of the few trapecistas able to do a quadruple somersault in the air. Then a tragic accident took his parents, their circus, and his ability to fly.
Circus is one big family all over the world, and Dante hates everything to do with it.

But to survive, he must choose between joining the ranks of the tiny, yet magical Mumbo Jumbo Circus or its nemesis, the Las Vegas spectacular, Cirque Patron. And it doesn't help that two very different girls are confusing the situation.

If he makes the wrong choice, he won't have a future to worry about.

Add on Goodreads. 

Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Breaking the Spine.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Everbound by Brodi Ashton - Waiting on Wednesday

Everbound by Brodi Ashton
Everneath #2
Expected publication: January 22, 2013
Balzer+Bray/HarperCollins

Nikki Beckett could only watch as her boyfriend, Jack, sacrificed himself to save her, taking her place in the Tunnels of the Everneath for eternity — a debt that should’ve been hers. She’s living a borrowed life, and she doesn’t know what to do with the guilt. And every night Jack appears in her dreams, lost and confused and wasting away.

Desperate for answers, Nikki turns to Cole, the immortal bad boy who wants to make her his queen — and the one person least likely to help. But his heart has been touched by everything about Nikki, and he agrees to assist her in the only way he can: by taking her to the Everneath himself.

Nikki and Cole descend into the Everneath, only to discover that their journey will be more difficult than they’d anticipated — and more deadly. But Nikki vows to stop at nothing to save Jack — even if it means making an incredible sacrifice of her own.

In this enthralling sequel to Everneath, Brodi Ashton tests the bonds of destiny and explores the lengths we’ll go to for the ones we love.

Add on Goodreads.

Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Breaking the Spine. 

Sunday, November 11, 2012

After the Snow Falls by Carey Jane Clark - Review

After the Snow Falls
by Carey Jane Clark
December 9, 2011
Trestle Press

In the middle of a soccer drill, in an awful, awkward moment, Celia Bennett's eight-year-old son Caleb lands on his face and chest in the grass. The diagnosis blindsides her, bringing her face-to-face with every parent's worst nightmare.

Desperate to save her son’s life, Celia pursues a cure through alternative medicine, but her quest ends in frustration and disappointment. Facing despair, hope walks in on the most unlikely set of legs, when her father returns after a 30-year absence. Can she release pain to embrace hope? Will it make a difference, or is it too late?
 

Add on Goodreads. 

Darian's Review:
After the Snow Falls is the story of a family suddenly struck with the news that Celia’s son has cancer. As if this isn’t enough to tear a family apart, Celia’s father, who deserted her, comes back into her life. The trials the family faces begins to claw at Celia’s marriage, and her faith. Celia grasps at anything she can to save her son, and keep the family together.

This was a very emotional read, coming from someone who’s family has been struck with cancer many times; it was more than difficult to get through. In an odd sense that’s good and means the emotions were very well portrayed. If this were poorly written, I would be able to zip through it just fine. But the fear, anger, hurt, and love shown in this story are so real, I had to set the book down several times to gain control of my own emotions to be able to continue reading.

The author does a good job of establishing a true bond between the family members, and the pain and powerlessness they feel from their sons diagnoses. Desperate for a cure, Celia takes it upon herself to go to Mexico to seek an alterative therapy to save her son. Here is where it got a little tricky for me. The fact that Celia would do this is no stretch of the imagination. A mother will do just about anything to save their child. But it was Celia’s time in Mexico and the experiences, I thought, could have been a tad more fleshed out than they were. Granted, it was still a great aspect as far as plot twists. But as-is it fell a little shy of the ‘bang’ affected it could have had, had it been a little less rushed.

The book shifts between Celia’s viewpoint and Alfie’s, her father. I wondered at first why the author would do such a wonderful job of pulling us into Celia’s life, only then to pull us out and stick us in Alfie’s. But, as you delve deeper into Alfie’s you begin to see, and appreciate, the connections between the two stories.

Overall this was a very good read for me. It’s an emotional journey, much like real life. The author did a fine job of creating characters that felt true to the story, and ones you feel connected to. I would recommend this to anyone looking for a good, heartwarming, emotional read.

About the author:
Carey Jane Clark writes to inspire courage, hope and conviction. She is a homeschool mother by day, writer by night. The writing bug afflicted her early in life. The first two stories she recalls writing were about kidnapped insects and dancing pumpkins. (It has been a few years since those stories were penned.) After the Snow Falls is her first novel.

She shares the adventure of her life with her husband and three children. She and her family are expatriates living in China.
 

Find out more at CareyJaneClark.com, on Twitter, and Facebook.   

Maddie World by Kimberly Kinrade - Review

Maddie World 
by Kimberly Kinrade
The Three Lost Kids Trilogy, #3
June 26, 2012
Evolved Publishing

Too scared to stand up to the bullies or tell her teachers, 9-year-old Maddie decides she's never going to school again. Too bad her parents don't agree.

Depressed and feeling hopeless, she doesn't expect to discover the secret door to her magical world in an old box in her bedroom. Only Maddie World isn't the beautiful paradise she's always imagined. When Maddie, her two sisters and her dog TayTay are thrown into the middle of a Fairy War, Maddie has to learn to stand up for herself and face her fears, or her sisters will be stuck in a Fairy dungeon forever!

Will Maddie find the courage to do what she must, without becoming a bully herself? Find out with the this third book in the The Three Lost Kids Special Edition Trilogy.
 

Add on Goodreads.

Darian's Review:
Maddie World is the third book in the series, and I’ve had the privilege of reading them all. Kinrade is a talented writer, and this last book didn’t fall short of the high expectations I’ve come to have when reading her work. True to her style, Kinrade has again painted a vivid picture of an amazing world for kids to become a part of.

Maddie is being bullied at school, and she decides the best solution is to never go to school again. While her sisters try to cheer her up, the girls are once again pulled into a magical world; a world that’s in trouble. The world is at war, and it’s up to Maddie to stop it. In this book, Maddie is faced with a choice, become a bully, or fight the bully. It’s a story of bravery and standing up for yourself (in the right way).

Again, like the other two books in the series, Kinrade has weaved a good lesson into wonderful story. While kids read, they’re shown good ideas on how to deal with a big problem they face in their own lives; bullies. It’s a tough subject to tackle on any level, kids can be so easily swayed, and saying “just ignore it” doesn’t work today. I think it’s the way in which Kinrade approaches the tough subjects the series handles that I appreciate the most. While most books give cut and dry, “Do this…” advice, Kinrade doesn’t. Like the old saying goes, it’s not what you say, it’s how you say it. And how Kinrade shows solid advice, is through a fun adventure kids will enjoy reading.

Overall, this was a great finish to an already strong series. Kinrade is a very talented author who tackles issues on a level kids not only will understand, but a way in which they’ll enjoy. I would recommend this series to any child who loves the chance for adventure, and any parent looking for a way to help their kids understand, and deal with tough emotions.

Also see Darian's reviews on the first books in the series, Lexie World and Bella World.

About the author:
Kimberly Kinrade was born with ink in her veins and magic in her heart. She writes fantasy and paranormal stories for children, YA and adults and still believes in magic worlds. Check out her YA paranormal novels Forbidden Mind and Forbidden Fire and her illustrated children's fantasy chapter books Lexie World, and Bella World, all on Amazon.

She lives with her three little girls who think they're ninja princesses with super powers, her two dogs who think they're humans and her husband, also known as the sexy Russian Prince, who is the love of her life and writing partner. 


Find out more at KimberlyKinrade.com, ThreeLostKids.com, on Twitter, and Facebook.

 
 

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Through the Ever Night by Veronica Rossi - Waiting on Wednesday

Through the Ever Night
by Veronica Rossi
Under the Never Sky #2
Expected publication: January 8, 2013
by Harper Collins

It's been months since Aria last saw Perry. Months since Perry was named Blood Lord of the Tides, and Aria was charged with an impossible mission. Now, finally, they are about to be reunited. But their reunion is far from perfect. The Tides don't take kindly to Aria, a former Dweller. And with the worsening Aether storms threatening the tribe's precarious existence, Aria begins to fear that leaving Perry behind might be the only way to save them both.

Threatened by false friends, hidden enemies, and powerful temptations, Aria and Perry wonder, Can their love survive through the ever night?

In this second book in her spellbinding Under the Never Sky trilogy, Veronica Rossi combines fantasy and dystopian elements to create a captivating love story as perilous as it is unforgettable.
 

Add on Goodreads. 

See Kayla's review of Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi.

Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Breaking the Spine. 

Friday, November 2, 2012

The Shadow Society by Marie Rutkoski - Review

The Shadow Society
by Marie Rutkoski
October 2012
Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Darcy Jones doesn’t remember anything before the day she was abandoned as a child outside a Chicago firehouse. She has never really belonged anywhere—but she couldn’t have guessed that she comes from an alternate world where the Great Chicago Fire didn’t happen and deadly creatures called Shades terrorize the human population.

Memories begin to haunt Darcy when a new boy arrives at her high school, and he makes her feel both desire and desired in a way she hadn’t thought possible. But Conn’s interest in her is confusing. It doesn’t line up with the way he first looked at her.

As if she were his enemy.

When Conn betrays Darcy, she realizes that she can’t rely on anything—not herself, not the laws of nature, and certainly not him. Darcy decides to infiltrate the Shadow Society and uncover the Shades’ latest terrorist plot. What she finds out will change her world forever . . .
  

Add on Goodreads. 

Guest Review by Sarah:
I chose this book for two reasons:
1) The opening line of the Prologue: "Knowing what I know now, I'd say my foster mother had her reasons for throwing a kitchen knife at me."

I mean, come on! How could I not want to know what that was all about?

AND

2) The girl's boots on the cover. I have serious boot envy.

When I started "The Shadow Society," I was worried it was going to be a rehash quite a few Young Adult novels I've read over the past few years:

We have a girl, Darcy Jones, who feels like she doesn't really belong anywhere.

Cue the arrival of a mysterious new guy at school, Connor McCrea, who apparently either likes or loathes our heroine. It's surprising how many books for teens have this, "I am irresistibly drawn to this guy who is either really into me too, or quite possibly wants to kill me" dynamic going on.

They're paired together for a class project.

Wait, haven't I read this book before? I didn't have high hopes.

And then Rutkoski hit me with the poetry, specifically T.S. Eliot's "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock." Conn and Darcy work together on an English assignment based on this poem.

Y'all, I have a deep and abiding love for Prufrock. There was no way I was going to give up on the book after that sad little man showed up. Plus, the writing style was lyrical without being flowery and I was enjoying it.

I'm really glad I kept reading, because after a slow start, the book started to grow on me. The characters started to grow on me. Darcy is a pretty angsty girl, and hard to warm up to at first. But she is also fiercely loyal to her friends, passionate about her art, and determined to find out about her past and figure out exactly who she is.

Conn turns out to be a more complicated character than we first believe, too. As Darcy's best friend Lily puts it, "You two sound like a pair of misfit toys who are going to end up breaking each other."

The secondary characters had some of the best lines, especially Jims, who serves up the comic relief. And every now and then, there would be a funny sentence that made me smile. Like this one by Darcy's friend Raphael, talking about Conn: "And, speaking of putting on acts, how's Mr. I Wear A Cologne and It's Called Mysterious?"

There are some things that did nag at me a bit. The way the Great Chicago Fire caused the dimensional rift between our world and the reality in which Conn and the Shades live is never really explained.

Another thing that didn't exactly ring true for me was the outcome of the big climatic scene. It was a little Breaking Dawn-ish, since the climax was pretty anticlimactic. However, I do appreciate Rutkoski giving us characters who solved problems with words and not violence.

And since I only read books without strong language and sexual content, I also liked that this was a "clean" read.

If you go into the book ready to push past the slow start and not expecting lots of wham-bang action Shade vs. human action (there's not any), I think you'll enjoy this book. It's a well-written novel with a vividly described setting and characters discovering who they are, where they came from, what they want, and what matters most in their lives.

There was a lot to enjoy, and despite my initial misgivings, I found myself thinking about the book for days after I finished it. For me, that's always the sign of a worthwhile read.

About the author:
Marie Rutkoski is the author of the YA novel The Shadow Societyabout a girl who discovers that she’s not human and that her kind are terrorists in an alternate world where the Great Chicago Fire never happened. The Shadow Society will be published October 30, 2012. Marie has also written the children’s fantasy series The Kronos Chronicles, including The Cabinet of WondersThe Celestial Globeand The Jewel of the KalderashThe Cabinet of Wonders, her debut novel, was named an Indie Next Kids’ List Great Read and a Bank Street Best Children’s Book of the Year, among other honors. 

Rutkoski grew up in Bolingbrook, Illinois (a suburb of Chicago), as the oldest of four children. She attended the University of Iowa. After graduating, she lived in Moscow and Prague. Upon receiving her Ph.D. from Harvard University, she held dual appointments as a lecturer there in both English and American Literature and Language, and History and Literature. Rutkoski is currently a professor at Brooklyn College, where she teaches Renaissance Drama, children’s literature and creative writing. She usually lives in New York City with her husband and two sons, but she and her family are now living in Paris for the 2012-2013 academic year.
 
Find out more at MarieRutkoski.com.

About the guest reviewer, Sarah:
Sarah reviews YA novels at the cleverly titled Sarah's YA Blog. She freely admits she doesn't quite fit the profile of a "young" reader, and the "adult" part is also questionable. :) She lives in Arkansas and chases/chauffers/wrangles her kids, and is always looking for the next great book to obsess over. 
  

Thursday, October 25, 2012

YA Mythology Giveaway Hop - Win a Book of Your Choice

This giveaway is part of the YA Mythology Giveaway Hop hosted by I Am A Reader, Not A Writer and For Those About to Read. There are a lot of great blogs participating in this hop. After you enter here, please hop over and enter their giveaways as well.

My Giveaway:
One winner will receive a YA Mythology Book of Choice! (Up to $10 USD from The Book Depository.)

How to enter:
Just fill out the form below.

Additional optional entry:
Leave a comment letting me know which book you would like if you win.

Giveaway Details:
Giveaway is open internationally (as long as The Book Depository ships to your area). Giveaway is open until midnight EST on November 4. Must be 13 or older to enter. Winner will be decided using Random.org. Winner will be emailed and this blog post updated to show the winner. Winner has three days to respond or a new winner will be selected.

Sorry! This giveaway is now over.
Winner: Melinda 

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